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

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr


For my stop on the Penguin Teen Blog Tour, I was able to interview Emily Barr about her first young adult novel, The One Memory of Flora Banks!  Not sure what this book is about?  Check out the synopsis below!

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Now that you’re all informed about what this book is about, let’s get to the interview!


Midsummer Reads-Jess:  After years of writing adult fiction novels, what made you want to delve into the world of Young Adult fiction?

Emily Barr (EB): It was really the book that came first: Flora’s story was in my head even though I was trying to write something completely different. When I started writing, it as an adult book, but it didn’t quite working. I tried making her younger and writing it as Young Adult fiction and everything fell into place. That opened up a whole new wonderful world for me!

MR-Jess: What was your inspiration for Flora’s story?

EB: The thing that came first was the Arctic setting. I was dreaming of a book set in the endless daytime of an Arctic summer, with a protagonist who didn’t quite know what she was doing there. Also, I’d always wanted to write about memory and amnesia because I think that human brains are incredible, and this felt like the time to do it.


MR-Jess: What kind of research did you do on short term memory loss/anterograde amnesia in order to make the book true to reality and true to your narrative?

EB: I did a lot of reading. I read books by Oliver Sacks and others, and read medical research and papers. I have an old university friend who works in this area and who was incredibly helpful to me.

From our Instagram @Midsummerreads


MR- Jess: How did you keep the “Boy Cure,” stereotype out of your novel? Did you purposefully want to circumvent that?

EB: Yes I did! I know it looks like a “boy cure” initially from Flora’s unreliable perspective, but as the story progresses it becomes clear that things are not at all as straightforward as they seem. I wanted to take that stereotype and subvert it.


MR- Jess: Why does the memory of her kissing her best friend’s boyfriend stick around? Why did you pick this specific moment for her to remember?

EB: It was a heightened moment for her, and it meant that her memory could be pinned to a specific person which would give her a mission: she would be consumed by the need to find the person again and see whether being close to him again made her memory work.


MR – Jess: What made you choose Svalbard, Norway?  Why was the Arctic such an important narrative choice for you?

EB: I just had it in my head: I’m not sure where it came from but I was longing to write a book set in the Arctic. I did some research about locations, and Svalbard seemed to be the exact place that I was imagining. In the end I couldn’t shake it off, so I cracked, cleared a week and went there. It was everything I’d dreamed of, and more, and the book flowed straight from that visit.

In fact I wrote so much about not going there in winter (when Flora visits, it’s May and daylight all the time; people are always telling her not to go in winter when it’s dark all day and night) that I got intrigued, and went there last January. It was dark and incredibly cold, but there were Northern Lights in the sky and the whole experience was spectacular.


MR-Jess: What are you working on next?  Can we expect another Young Adult Novel from you?

EB: You can! It’s set in Rio (pretty much the opposite of Svalbard in many ways) and it’s about a girl discovering, as her life falls apart, that nothing has been what it seemed. It’s a very fast paced twisty thriller.
Special thanks to Emily Barr and Penguin Random House for this interview and the chance to read FLORA!

Giveaway:

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr (ARV: $17.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 1, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 22, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about May 24, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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The One Memory of Flora Banks


New From: $5.35 USD In Stock

Book Review: Arcana Rising by Kresley Cole

When the battle is done . . .
The Emperor unleashes hell and annihilates an army, jeopardizing the future of mankind–but Circe strikes back. The epic clash between them devastates the Arcana world and nearly kills Evie, separating her from her allies.

And all hope is lost . . .
With Aric missing and no sign that Jack and Selena escaped Richter’s reach, Evie turns more and more to the darkness lurking inside her. Two Arcana emerge as game changers: one who could be her salvation, the other her worst nightmare.

Vengeance becomes everything.
To take on Richter, Evie must reunite with Death and mend their broken bond. But as she learns more about her role in the future–and her chilling past–will she become a monster like the Emperor? Or can Evie and her allies rise up from Richter’s ashes, stronger than ever before?

If you want to check out my reviews of the first three (and a half) installments of the Arcana Chronicles, you can find them by clicking on their titles: Poison Princess, Endless Knight, Dead of Winter, Day Zero

Arcana Rising picks up immediately after the end of Dead of Winter, with the Emperor and Circe battling.  We find out almost immediately that two main characters have died, and Evie is then separated from Aric and goes, well, a bit bat-shit.

She ends up somewhere in Indiana, far from where any of her allies were, and literally runs herself practically into the ground trying to get back to her other Arcana.  I did make the mistake of reading this installment before reading arcanarisingthe 3.5 story, Day Zero, so upon meeting all the new Arcana in this narrative, I was a bit lost about what to expect. (I’ve since read Day Zero and feel like I have a much more well-rounded picture of these new characters)

Side Note: Kudos to Cole for including a polyamorous relationship in this story, and while it isn’t dwelled upon as a major plot point, it is mentioned as a heartfelt and meaningful part of a character’s past.

This is the first installment of The Arcana Chronicles to deviate from Evie’s sole point of view, as it switches to Matthew (the Fool), and another *spoilery* point of view that I won’t explain.  I’m not sure I can say that it adds or detracts from the story as a whole, as the narrative was still dominated by Evie, but it makes me wander if The Dark Calling will start to use her point of view less.

Evie has really grown as a character, minus her weird need to focus her life and mind mostly on the love triangle between herself, Jack, and Aric.  She’s become more vicious and powerful, although I speculate that by not embracing her Arcana persona, The Empress, she will become the weak link in the game, rather than one of the more commanding players.  Sure, she has the most formidable player on her side permanently, Death, but they can only accomplish so much with him compensating for her.

The love triangle is basically solved in this story, and Evie makes the choice I personally wanted her to, although both of her choices were always a bit misogynistic as characters over the course of the books.  I acknowledge that this was a problem for me as a reader, but I was still able to cheer for Evie and pick which character I found to be less problematic as a match for her.  Cole is first and foremost a romance writer, so the focus on the love triangle is to be expected.

I still count this as one of my favorite young adult series to date, because the originality of the story just blows my mind and I just adore the post-apocalypic game being heralded by the Gods through their Arcana game pieces. Plus, every time a new installment comes out, I devour the story within hours and there’s no bigger compliment.

4 Bards (Finally the smutty goodness I needed with Evie and Aric!)

fourbards

Book Review: All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

***North Carolina Author***

So, it’s no secret that I like to support North Carolina authors, but Megan Miranda is one that I’ve known for a handful of years now.  Not only does she live really close to me, she is a fantastic author that is now finally getting the IMG_2126recognition she deserves with the arrival of her first adult novel, All the Missing Girls.

Like the synopsis states, the story is told backwards.  Now when I visited Miranda at one of her book signings here in Huntersville, NC, she said the idea to write the novel this way came during her long drive from New Jersey down to North Carolina (which is around a 9 hour drive depending on your destination) as she considered the character’s journey.  Not a bad way to brainstorm, albeit the caviat of having nowhere to write it down.  But she got it done!

IMG_2128Anywho, the novel starts off quickly and it manages to pick up pace up until practically the last chapter and it is an absolute thrill ride.  Plot-wise the novel is executed well, and the reader is kept on their toes throughout.  I was also intrigued by the dichotomy established between Nic’s life in the North (although other than her being a school councelor and being engaged to Everett, we don’t know a whole lot) and her life back home in Cooley Ridge. It was done really well, and I did appreciate the comment about how the character’s southern accent came back once she arrives home, as it is something she masks in her life up north.  I think that it is a really clever way to hint that it’s not the only thing Nic has been masking while living outside of Cooley Ridge.

Speaking of masking, let’s talk about unreliable narrators.  Nelly from Wuthering Heights is a popular example of this, as she is relaying a story she was only on the periphery of, but what happens when you have a main character narrator that you can’t trust? A damn good novel is what happens. Trust no one in this thriller.

The ending was something I am pleased to say surprised me for the most part and it is one that I literally dreamed about after I finished the book at 1 AM.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this novel, it will keep you on your toes and possibly keep you awake at night.

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

 

 

 


Book Review: The Graces by Laure Eve

In The Graces, the first rule of witchcraft states that if you want something badly enough, you can get it . . . no matter who has to pay.
 
Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They’ve managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they’re rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you’re not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She’s different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. And what the Graces don’t know is that River’s presence in town is no accident.

Release Date: September 6, 2016

This book was an easy read, and one I enjoyed reading while I was enjoying a glass of wine and while I was relaxing in the sun on Lake Norman.  But, there are some really…interesting aspects of the novel that put me off as I first opened it.

First, the summary on the back of my ARC copy is a bit different from the one above, and it focuses much more on River’s obsession with being friends with the Graces and how much she literally wants to become one.  So that’s a bit stalker-ish in an obsessive and not fun way, and the character comes off as desperately wishing for her friendship and relationship with these three kids that she came off a bit one dimensional and just so desperate for them to give her life meaning.  I imagined her annoying Roger on F.R.I.E.N.D.S with her absolute need for them to give her purpose and direction.

So, never to go against the YA trope that the main character is going to be somewhat special and plucked from obscurity in her social caste, Eve’s character, River, becomes exactly what she wanted to be: one of the Graces – or rather, someone the Graces grow to trust and bring under their wing.

Eve’s writing really excels when River is simply observing the Graces and the interactions between the Grace siblings is one that makes me wish I was closer to my own sister, you know, minus all the witchcraft.  In fact, I think that the Grace siblings having more well-rounded character traits was instrumental in showing the progression of River as a character throughout the novel.  River adapts certain aspects of their personalities into her own, and there’s a scene where the youngest Grace seemingly transforms River into almost a carbon copy of herself.

River is just such a troubling character for me, because you go into the novel wanting to root for her since she is portrayed as the protagonist.  However, by the last fourth of the novel I kept thinking to myself that River should really just break out into the song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, “I’m the Villain in my own Story.” Even with her deplorable actions, I found myself still waiting and wanting her redemption. *Shakes fist at Laure Eve* How dare you make me care for someone with so many shades of gray!

The novel could have stood to have a bit more world building in the aspect of witchcraft, and the different types of witches that exist…or even some kind of explanation for River, herself, since she clearly didn’t fit into any of the definitions given to us.

Overall, I found this novel to be a fun and fast read and perfect for a lazy summer afternoon in the sun.

3.5 Bards, because I just really am torn on the main character and the need for a bit more world building, but it comes out soon and you should pre-order your copy now!  Then we can discuss.

3.5bards

 

 

 

 

SIDE NOTE:

Isn’t the cover amazing?


 

Current Reads

Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

queenofheartsAs Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

It has been a long time since I’ve read a novel where I genuinely dislike almost every character.  I understand why this was necessary in a novel like Queen of Hearts as it is the story of a villainess becoming who she is meant to be by the time Alice arrives in Wonderland.

However, I couldn’t quite get past the feeling that all these characters needed a good slap.

Seriously.  Not only is Dinah hardly likable until the events at the end of the novel, but she is a spoiled brat who has some serious daddy issues.  Now if this had been done in a way to make her more sympathetic as a character, then I would be fine with it.  But it is almost as if Dinah is all hard edges and no smooth curves.  The King of Hearts is just as bad, a petulant adult still steaming from a past transgression and taking it out on his oldest daughter and doting on his illegitimate offspring despite the traditional lineage of the throne.

(^^^Seriously, the cover is absolutely gorgeous and it really does look like it could be the companion to the limited edition Queen of Hearts doll by Disney.)

Speaking of Vittiore, she is about as flat as a cardboard cut out and it was fairly obvious from around halfway through that she was simply a plot device and another way for Dinah to be enraged.

I think the only characters that really redeemed anything about characterization in this novel was her younger brother, the Mad Hatter character, who suffers from a sort of mental illness rather than mercury induced mania that Victorian hatters were known to succumb to.  Harris, the white rabbit character, I also found endearing, but he was very simply the same embodiment of the follower that he would be in the original novel.

I think the world building was the strongest point in this novel, as I really enjoyed the different aspects of the Court of the Hearts and the different rankings of Cards (which served as Security, Torturers, Accountants, and Soldiers), and the Black Towers.  That was the only part I found to be significant to the plot, as the rest of the novel sometimes felt like Dinah was just complaining to her long-time crush, Wardley.  Who, by the way, is so obviously uninterested that it made Dinah seem more like a mooning preteen than a teenager and future Queen.

The entire novel really just felt like it could have been a prequel short story in a lot of ways, or maybe a short novella.  However, as I am a giant Alice in Wonderland fangirl, Oakes can count on me reading the next installment, out January 2017.

I’m going to give it around 3 Bards as I found it average but with potential.

threebards

I’ll pair just about any book with a good Shiraz, but this one especially. 

Bonus: Note the Midsummer Bookmark peaking out! 

http://www.amidsummernightsread.com/2699-2/

I am in love with all of my Maas inspired candles by The Melting Library

http://www.amidsummernightsread.com/2705-2/

http://www.amidsummernightsread.com/2712-2/

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