The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan Book Review

Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe – a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

 

I spent my childhood going to museums and my favorite exhibits were always the ones about Egypt. When I found out one of my favorite authors was writing a series about Egyptian mythology I was ecstatic! I couldn’t wait to see how Rick Riordan would weave his story.

 

Here are a couple of things i enjoyed about The Red Pyramid(very minor to minimal spoilers ahead):

  • The world building was phenomenal! I loved how Riordan blends his stories with realism and mythology.
  • The character building. The way the author writes his characters and makes you become attached despite your best attempts to not become attached because let’s be honest here, Mr. Riordan is not the kindest when it comes to characters. He can enjoy seeing them suffer.
  • The fact that incest is actually addressed.  There is a lot of incest in Ancient Egyptian history.  It actually makes learning more about the culture of the pharaohs a little difficult. The way Mr. Riordan handles it is graceful and leaves no doubt in your mind that there is no incest in his books.
  • I have always enjoyed how the love story is not a big deal in Riordan’s books.  It helps us keep in mind that the character are in their young teens.  No young teenager needs to worry about being in love and finding the love of their life. There is plenty of time to do that when they are older.
  • In Chapter 9 she says ‘My dear, i’m a cat everything i see is mine’.  I have always loved cats i have 3 of them. They are simply the most precious and sassy animals in the world.
  • Not many authors are comfortable about addressing race in their books but something Riordan has always done well is talk about the realities of being one race or having a specific belief.  In The Red Pyramid the relationship between PoC(in particular African American men) and the Police. He is very open and honest and states things exactly how they are. He does not gently blow this topic off(which would be difficult since one of the main characters is a PoC)
  • One of the final things I appreciated in this book is the fact that Riordan makes little references to his other books. In particular he references the Percy Jackson Series. If you have not read the Percy Jackson books you won’t understand the reference but if you do you will immediately be saying to yourself ‘I see what you did there’.

This book is perfect for anyone who wants a story that has an adventure but isn’t all consumed in romance. I feel like most adventure books are more absorbed in the romance and use that as a point to move the plot along but in my opinion none of Riordan’s books do that.  This book is technically middle grade so it is also very easy to read.

Overall I give this story 4.5 Bards!

The Kane Chronicles, Book One: The Red Pyramid


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

Review Repost: No One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace

20605405Sometimes, the cost of love is too steep

Olivia’s twin brother, Liam, has been her best friend her whole life. But when he starts dating, Olivia is left feeling alone, so she tries to drive away Liam’s girlfriends in an effort to get her best friend back.

But she meets her match in Zoey, Liam’s latest fling. A call-it-like-she-sees-it kind of girl, Zoey sees right through Olivia’s tricks. What starts as verbal sparring between the two changes into something different, however, as they share their deepest insecurities and learn they have a lot in common. Olivia falls for Zoey, believing her brother could never get serious with her. But when Liam confesses that he’s in love with Zoey, Olivia has to decide who deserves happiness more: her brother or herself?

First things first, I love the cover. It tells you a lot about this book without giving away much. I could tell it was going to be a LGBT YA book, and there is some sort of love triangle. So naturally I was like yes, I want to read this. And I loved the book.

I loved that I was able to connect to the characters despite not being LGBT. Olivia, on the surface seemed like a spoiled brat, but she is more relatable than she seems. Zoey is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. She is poor, and works hard to get what she and her family needs to survive. Now the idea of a rich person sweeping in to help lift a poorer person out of their personal hell is nothing new, however Amanda Grace gives it a nice little twist.

I thought that having the two come together initially to work on a group project was a cute idea. And then to throw the twin brother as a potential love interest was nice. I liked how the book didn’t address the social stigma of being gay as much as some other books have in the past. There was very little worry as to how society would see them and if they would be accepted. The concern was how do we tell Liam and not lose him as a friend. I love that. I think that really demonstrates how have we as a society have come in the last 5 years in regards to LGBT relationships. I bow down to you Amanda Grace, thank you, thank you, thank you.

The story and the development of the characters was great. I thought it flowed nicely and liked that the attraction was not instantaneous. It is refreshing to read a YA book that the characters do not have that whole love at first sight syndrome. The only negative was that I wanted slightly more from the Liam and Olivia dynamic. It lacked some feeling and depth. But other than that I thought the book was great!

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

Paperback Celebration & Giveaway

To celebrate the paperback release of Sophie Kinsella’s Finding Audrey, we are reposting our 4.5 Bard review of this amazing contemporary novel, and we are hosting a giveaway!

Check out the review and enter to win below!

Finding Audrey Paperback Cover

As a reader who devoured Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for her first foray into young adult literature.

Kinsella has expertly tapped into the growing contemporary corner of young adult that focuses on teens dealing with mental illness.  There are a number of narratives out that deal with depression and suicide, but Kinsella takes on the equally complex social and generalized anxiety disorders.

The characterization of Audrey’s family is really a shining point in this story.  I absolutely adore how Kinsella has explored how different parents and children are in relation to technology.  Granted, a lot of this is exacerbated by Audrey’s mother’s obsession with the Daily Mail.  As an American a lot of my knowledge of the Daily Mail comes from my roommate, who is British, and John Cleese.  Both of them hate the Daily Mail and consider it trash news, which is exactly how it is portrayed in this story so it really just firmed up my belief that we shouldn’t read the Daily Mail.  It’s kind of sad that Audrey’s mother is so wrapped up in believing what some article tells her that it dictates what she does in relation to her children, but it isn’t wholly unbelievable or unrealistic.  It makes her a bit ridiculous and endearing at the same time which is why it is brilliant.

Kinsella Jacket Photo credit John Swannell

Audrey is such a wonderfully complex character.  Her voice is distinct and witty, but still reserved at the same time.  In fact, her voice is one of the things that sets her apart and exemplifies her anxiety almost as well as the situations she describes.  I also enjoyed the breaking of the fourth wall in certain parts of the story.  Frank was what I would consider a typical 13 year old boy to be.  He is obsessed with playing a World of Warcraft type of game and aspires to do that as an official job.  I mean, I think that is a dream job for a lot of gamer kids.  He is snarky, stubborn, and just a bit insufferable.  Frank was an excellent character. The other two family members, Audrey’s father and youngest brother Felix, are the least developed, but it definitely didn’t take away from the narrative.  I actually quite enjoyed the father’s befuddled and somewhat absent-minded attitude.

There is an adorable first love situation going on in Finding Audrey and it is just everything I wish I could have had at 14.  It’s realistic and awkward and really well done.  The synopsis kind of makes it seem like Linus is the whole reason for Audrey being able to start down the path to recovery, but I think that Audrey just needed that little push.  Linus was just a side effect of the push, a good side effect.  Kinsella did such a good job of explaining how recovery and learning to live with mental illness really is like a jagged graph.  There will be highs, lows, stable days, completely messed up days, and everything in between.

Overall I think that Kinsella kicked off the young adult aspect of her career very strongly, and I hope she will continue to contribute to the genre.

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

8705784One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

 

So I guess I am late to the game with the series.  I see on Goodreads that everybody has already read and loved the book…  This is what happens when I see a book store on vacation!  I end up with like 5 books to read that were all on sale!  I am a cover person, if the cover of a book looks cool or intriguing than I am sold.  Sometimes I don’t even read the back cover to see what the book is about.  I loved this cover, it drew me in and made me want to read the book immediately.  And then I figure out the rest of the books in the series are there, and on sale, done!  So the next couple of reviews will be on the Shadow Falls series.

I felt that the synopsis of the book is misleading, it leads you to believe that the book is going to be about a girl who is going down the wrong path, drugs, sex, and all that but that is not what the book is about at all.  In fact Kylie has had a relatively normal, calm, un troubled upbringing.  She comes off as slightly whiney really.  But not bad or annoying enough for me to stop reading.  I liked the concept of the camp, it was a really cool idea.  How much fun would it be to go to that camp!

You can tell that this is the first book in a series, it does a lot of stage setting for future books.  I will say I thought the other books were better, and the stories were more developed than this book.  So if you were eh on this one I encourage you to read the other books.  Kylie gets less whiney and more independent and strong.  The secondary characters have more of a voice and the love connections are great!

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

 

 

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

 3636Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

So I guess I am one of the few people that did not have to read this in high school, so I thought better late than never.  I have to say the cover is less than appealing to look at, it doesn’t really make me want to read the book.  Anyway I read it and really enjoyed the book.  It was short but good.  I do not understand how they made a full length movie from it but I guess I will have to go see it.

I can see why you read it in high school.  It makes you think about memories and feelings and while you would love to get rid of the hurt and sadness, you would also have to get rid of the pleasure, and happiness, and the feeling of being content.  It would be a very boring life.

I wish the ending had a bit more, but there are 3 other books (they have been added to my to read pile).  I thought the writing was excellent.  I loved Jonas and The Giver’s relationship, there was something special there.  I cant wait to read the other books.  Also if you have not read this book or it has been a long time I encourage you to pick it up.  It was a great short read.

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

Book Review: Sway by Kat Spears

19286535High school senior Jesse Alderman, or Sway as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop.  He also specializes in getting things people want—term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs.  It’s all business with Jesse.  He has few close friends and he never lets emotions get in the way.

But when Ken, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things.  While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s younger brother who’s belligerent and self-pitying after spending a lifetime dealing with cerebral palsy.  Suddenly Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him.  The tinman really does have a heart after all.

 

 

This is one of those books that teachers give to high school students and expect them to learn from it.  It is marketed as a modern day Cyrano De Bergerac with a twist and that description is dead on.  I normally hate books like this, but, wait for it, I loved this book.  Kat Spears does an incredible job writing the story of Jesse Alderman, that I immediately got sucked into the story.

I loved Jesse’s personality and his sense of humor.  He is the kind of guy in high school I would have crushed hard over, but never acted on it.  Jesse has seen some horrible stuff in his short life span and handle’s it the way most teenagers would, by going into complete denial.  And by trying to control everything around him, including his emotions.  They way that Kat Spears weaves his personality and life made me feel like I knew him, that we were best friends.  It was an awesome experience.

I think the best part of the book for me involved Jesse and Pete’s friendship.  Jesse doesn’t treat Pete differently because he has cerebral palsy, he doesn’t make up allowances for him or allow him to be an ass.  That was what Pete needed, for someone to treat him like a normal kid.  I also loved the stories Jesse made up to explain who Pete is and why he acts slightly off.  They were clever and funny and really added some levity to the plot.  I love that you can tell the mutual love and respect those two had for each other (the bromance if you will).

While the plot centers around the love story between Bridget and Jesse, there was so much other plot points and general things going on that the love story takes a back seat.  Don’t get me wrong, the romance is there and it is good, but it is just a small part of the book for me.  I loved reading about Jesse’s struggles to keep his emotions in tact, and the little things he does to help the underdog, and his interactions with Pete and the other misfits he runs with.  Those parts of the book make it a must read for me.  I have to take a 1/2 a point away for the adult content in the book, there was a lot of foul language and mentions of drugs and underage drinking.  Other than that the book was great.

4.5 Bards

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Book Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

12578077Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring… until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something… unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

I think I love Jennifer Armentrout.  She basically wrote this book for book bloggers, I mean the the main character is a YA book blogger and she is freaking awesome.  Now I am about to say something slightly controversial so bare with me here, this book is what Twilight could have been.  When I started reading it I got slightly scared, because it had some similarities to Twilight.  Girl moves to small town, meets a mysterious guy who doesn’t like her, he acts weird, and has a big family, and of course has a big secret.  Now do you see where I am coming from?  Fortunately our protagonist is not a vapid, shallow girl like Bella.  Katy is awesome, she is a reader and a blogger (bonus points), she is smart, and witty, and she doesn’t need some guy who is an a hole around her.

So I was a little skeptical that this book was about aliens.  It’s not something that is done much in the YA genre, and when it is done the aliens are not the main characters in the book.  But I liked what Jennifer (I feel like we are on first name bases now, we have a major friendship happening in my head in a none creepy way) did with the characters.  I understood their standoff ways and even thought well yeah, that’s how I would be.  I must say Daemon is hot.  But so are all the Aliens, one day I would like to have a supernatural character be not so hot…

I really appreciated that Katy wasn’t some helpless girl that stuck with the hot dude even know he treated her like crap.  She has backbone and chutzpah (sometimes I turn into a Jewish old lady).  Even at the end of the book when he starts to admit he likes her, she is skeptical and keeps him at arms length.  That is awesome and exactly how she should react.

Lets talk about the action in this book because it is not all about the romance.  I really dug the idea of having the light and dark dichotomy.  It was simple but at the same time complex.  And it causes some amount of tension and some awesome fight scenes in the book.  That thing that happened at the end, well that was something.  It was weird and I didn’t quite understand it.  But it was better explained in the other book (Onyx) that was ever so cleverly attached to Obsidian for my reading pleasure (I have Lux beginnings).  In fact it was so convenient that I didn’t stop reading once I finished Obsidian.  I have also learned there are 5 books so expect more reviews from me soon!

I would highly recommend this book.  Please ignore the similarities to Twilight, this is much better I promise!

4.5 Bards

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Book Review: The Secret Diamond Sisters by Michelle Madow

17160608The three sisters grew up not knowing their father and not quite catching a break. But it looks like their luck is about to change when they find out the secret identity of their long-lost dad—a billionaire Las Vegas hotel owner who wants them to come live in a gorgeous penthouse hotel suite. Suddenly the Strip’s most exclusive clubs are all-access, and with an unlimited credit card each, it should be easier than ever to fit right in. But in a town full of secrets and illusion, fitting in is nothing compared to finding out the truth about their past.

 

I really liked this book.  It didn’t have a whole lot of substance but it was a great beach read.  I think I even read it in one day.  It was every girls fantasy come true, who wouldn’t want to discover they had a rich father?  And go from poor to very wealthy in an instant!  I would have loved that!  And the fact they got to move to Vegas, how cool!

I thought each sister was great, they had their own unique characteristics and voices.  I do think some of the activities that the girls were getting into may have been a bit far fetched for their ages.  I doubt that even with the social elite a 15 year old would be able to get into a club and drink.  But what do I know.  I thought the bond between the sisters and their father was a bit lacking, but that may be explored later in the series.  There was something off about the father and the fiance’s relationship.  It wasn’t explained to any depth, it could be a book with in itself I’m guessing.  That part doesn’t seem like a big part of the plot so I wasn’t bothered that it wasn’t really explored or explained.

Madow did a great job describing the city and all of the unique things to do there, and now I want to go back!  It also left me wanting more from the sisters.  What happens when they start school?  Will they ever get to know their dad?  The good news is that there is another book!  So I will be picking that up soon!  Like I said this is a great beach read, but don’t expect too much from it!  Just enjoy the ride!

 

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

Book Review: Hysteria by Megan Miranda

Hysteria Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can’t remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn’t charged. But Mallory still feels Brian’s presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her . . . or anything about her past.But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others.

 

Let me start by saying this is one of those books that you cannot put down.  It was great, captivating, and kept me on the edge of my seat for the whole book.  This is a new type of YA book for me, it was a mystery, and I don’t see a lot of those.  I really liked the concept and plot of the book.  I thought the characters were well developed and the supporting characters served a purpose in the book, which for me is always important, as I hate a character that serves no purpose.

I loved the flashbacks to the night of the murder that Mallory (and the reader) experienced.  That added to the drama and kept me reading more.  This is one mystery that I didn’t guess who the bad guy was right away.  In fact I was slightly shocked at who it turned out to be.  I also enjoyed the twist that it wasn’t one person, but multiple people.  The one question that I had, was who was leaving the hand prints and how on Mallory’s shoulder?  For me that was a big creepy part of the plot and I never got an explanation for it.  Or maybe we did and I was reading so fast that I missed it?

As for the love story between Mallory and Reid it was eh.  I didn’t necessarily need it in the book but at the same time it didn’t take away from anything.  I am very practical and cynical so the whole “I know you” thing between 16 year olds was kind of like oh please.  Its more like lust than love at that age, but then I’m a little old to be the target audience for this book so I will let that pass.  All in all I thought this book was great!

4.5 Bards for Megan Miranda

four.fivebards

Book Review: If You Could be Mine by Sara Farizan

17302571Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

What a tough subject to tackle in a young adult book.  Being gay in America is hard and the majority of Americans are actually fine with homosexuality, but being gay in a repressed county like Iran, I can’t even imagine.  The book depicts how hard life really is in Iran.  I find it interesting that transexuality is accepted by the government there and yet its not accepted here.   I thought this book was great because it gave me an insight of day to day life in Iran.  I really don’t know much about life there besides what I see on the news.  And yet at the same time it told a great true to life love story.

I liked how complex Sahar was as a character.  Sara Farizan really explored her character and made her to be relatable to any teen regardless of race, or sexual orientation.  I loved Ali, and not because he was some sort of moral compass, he was the opposite of that in fact.  But he represented the difference between being a male and female in Iran, as well as the freedom of knowing who you are and accepting that.  I didn’t care for Nasrin, I found her to be selfish and spoiled.  I think that is how she was supposed to be portrayed, but it did break my heart for Sahar.  Because I could tell they were not going to end up together.

I thought the book had a powerful message about life, love and the freedoms we as American’s have.  I would recommend this book to everyone.  It is a must read.  And an easy read, it was only like 200 pages, and flowed really nicely.  Great Job Sara Farizan.

4.5 Bards

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