The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan — A Book Dragon Review

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Red PyramidBook Review Profile of the Red Pyramid

Title: The Red Pyramid

Author: Rick Riordan

Genre: Middle Grades Fiction

Main Characters: Carter & Sadie Kane

Small Bio: Sadie and Carter Kane find out their boring archaeologist dad is actually an Egyptian magician, who is trying to save the world from Apophis (the Chaos Snake). After Set (Egyptian god) captures their dad, Sadie and Carter must find out Set’s plan and save the world before Chaos has a chance.

Favorite Quote(s):

“I saw magicians dueling in a place. A man in tattered robes, with a shaggy black beard and wild eyes, threw down his staff, which turned into a serpent and devoured a dozen other snakes. I got a lump in my throat, “Is that…”

“Musa,” Zia said, “Or Moshe, as his own people knew him. You call him Moses. The only foreigner ever to defeat the House in a magic duel.”

Reviewer Thoughts: I love mythology. The stories about good vs. evil always get my blood pumping and normally it is greek mythology I cling to, but Riordan has opened up a soft spot for Egyptian mythology now. The format for this story is much different than others I’ve read from him. This is the first book series (before the seven Olympians) he goes back and forth in point of view. His first series was all Percy, so it was refreshing hearing from both of the narrators. Also, something I always enjoy is Riordan has small references to Christianity such as the Moses part and in other books, he references how there is an all powerful God above all the mythological ones. I can’t wait to read the next adventure for Sadie and Carter!

Goodreads.com Rating: 4.06 out of 5

Reviewers Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars —  Recommend to any pre-teen who loves fantasy, mythology, and adventure.

Keep the Reading Fire Going,

BookDragon

2017 Reading Challenge: Follow the Book Dragon through the Year

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My Reading Challenge Thoughts

I always like to have a reading challenge for myself every year and this year I am upping the amount of books I want to read. I am going to read 50 books over the course of the year and I am going to document reviews of all of them as I finish each book. I already have a list of books I am going to start on Goodreads.com. Click here if you want to see and become friends with me on Goodreads! 
Anyways, here are the books on my 2017 To-Read Book Shelf:
2017 Reading Challenge

Many of these are from series I want to finish up or are right in the middle of. All of them are ones I am really enjoying! So be on the look out for reviews from these novels and from others. If you have suggestions about what I should add to my shelf comment below or friend me on goodreads.com and talk to me there!

If you want to do a reading challenge, but don’t know where to start comment below and I will send you some helpful hints or write a helpful hint post. 🙂

 

Sincerely,

 

The Book Dragon

The Winner’s Crime {A Short Book Review & Recommendation}

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winner's crimeTitle: The Winner’s Crime

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Genre: YA Romance/Fantasy & Adventure

Age Group: Young Adult

Short Description: Kestrel is now awaiting her marriage to the prince of the Valorian Empire and Arin is the new governor of Herrani. Although, everyone has their place and it seems as if peace has finally been achieved there is still something lurking in the shadows. Kestrel becomes a spy against her own country  to save her father and the love of her life, but will her lies help her or be her doom? Read to find out!

Reviewer’s Thoughts: For being a middle book in a trilogy, Rutkoski kept me on the edge of my seat through the whole thing. My attachment to the love between Kestrel and Arin fuels a passion in my as I read. This isn’t just some typical romance, but a sacrificial love and the reality of falling for an enemy. Rutkoski brought tears, angry cries, and a heavy longing for resolution. I still have one more book to read and I can say I will be going to Barnes & Noble after work to collect it.

Recommendation: I recommend anyone who loves a well-rounded themed story to pick up the trilogy. The first book in the trilogy is The Winner’s Crime.

Overall Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ (out of 5 stars)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child {An AshleyDannie Book Review}

Book Review:

The 8th Installment–The Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Title:  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Author: J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, & John Tiffany

Genre: Screenplay, Fantasy

Age Group: Adult, YA Literature

Short Description: The Cursed Child starts up at the epilogue from The Deathly Hallows. The focus is on Albus Potter, who is now a Slytherin student, and his new best friend Scorpius Malfoy. Rowling brought to life the reality of what life would be like for a child of Potter’s and a new adventure of facing an evil that seems to never die.

Reviewer’s Thoughts: The excitement overtook my emotions as I opened the first page of the book. I returned home to a fantasy world I walked in for over a decade with the books and movies Potter had given me. Now it was time to re-enter it as an adult. As a college student, the epilogue satisfied me with knowing the Potters and Granger-Weasley’s grew up okay, creating families, and no trouble found them. I actually still had that mindset as I started to read the familiar and new words of the Potter series. What I found out quickly is life isn’t a happily ever after–even in books. Rowling (and the others) explored what it would be like after the fact. How maybe Potter’s kids wouldn’t be the highlight of good or even Gryffindor. How maybe  Potter wouldn’t know how to parent a rebellious child because all he knows is war.

My reaction to it all surprised me the most. I loved it. The heartache and the struggle drove the screenplay. It made the Potter world even more real to me that yes it is a fantasy world of magic, but it also has the elements of real life family problems.

What I struggled with was the ‘bad guy’ of the novel. I don’t want to give anything away, but in my head, it doesn’t make sense where they brought her from. If I say too much it will ruin the joyous reading, so I will leave it at that. Although once I got past the confusion of the evil, I fell back into step with my Potter emotions.

I could imagine being on the train again and walking the halls of Hogwarts. I could smell the banquet meal and I cried when portrait Dumbledore talked with Harry. So to all the Potterheads out there, it is worth the read, because it is more than just another story, but it is another piece into the world that helped our generation define good and evil within the pages of a book.

Recommendation: I fully recommend this to any Potterhead who is of teenage age and older.

Overall Rating: ✮✮✮✮ (out of 5)

Don’t Ever Stop Reading,

AshleyDannie

Want to Go Back to Camp? Five Summers Will Take You There.

Five Summers

Book Review Profile

Title: Five Summers

Author: Una LaMarche
Genre: YA Fiction

Main Characters: Jo, Skylar, Emma, &        Maddie

Small Bio: Five years of camp and friendship are in their past, but reunion weekend is about to bring up memories & betrayals that they have been hiding from each other since their last summer three years prior. Will the JEMS of Camp Nedoba survive the heartaches?  

Favorite Quote: “I get it,” Skylar said, “No one loves you like your camp friends do.”

Reviewer Thoughts: Five Summers took me back to the campfires, late night cabin talks, crazy games, and life-long friendships I had in my 10 years of going to summer camp as a camper and counselor. The sting of betrayal from friends and from your crush is the worst, but it is life. LaMarche brings the reality of camp to life and the realistic ending you hope to always have. I loved reading about the JEMS and they made me relive some of my own memories, but just like them, you need to move forward, even though sometimes the first step is going backward.

Goodreads.com Rating: 3.61 out of 5

Reviewers Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars —  Recommend to any teen who has gone to or is going to camp.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road–Dorothy Must Die

Follow the Yellow Brick Road because Dorothy Must Die

A review by Ashley Dannie

Dorothy Must Die We all know the story of Dorothy, Toto, and their adventure through the world of Oz to get back home to Kansas, but what happened after they made it home? Did they stay? Did they have a full life? According to Danielle Paige in her novel, Dorothy Must Die  things didn’t turn out like we thought.

Dorothy got bored and came back to Oz, becoming greedy enough to take over the kingdom, destroying the good she originally saved. Except forces beyond the control of any magical being of Oz has decided it is time for this to stop. Here enters Amy Gumm. A girl who lives in a trailer park with an alcoholic mom and a popularity score of -10 and counting. When a massive tornado hits Dusty Acres, Kansas (yes, Kansas…coincidence? I think not!), Amy experiences the same ride Dorothy felt all those years ago, but when she arrives it looks nothing like the storybooks she read of Oz.

On the side of the pit on which I stood, a vast field of decaying grass stretched into the distance. It was gray and patchy and sickly, with the faintest tinge of blue. (Paige 28)

Oz looked as if it was dying and through a complicated journey to Emerald City, getting captured by the spoiled Princess Dorothy and escaping for her life into the clutches of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, where Amy trains for the most important task of a lifetime–kill Dorothy.

“What had I done to make them think I was a potential teen girl assassin?” (Paige).

Paige takes us on an adventure I never thought I would embark on. I have continuously looked at Dorothy Must Die over the past year off and on, not knowing if I wanted to read it, but I am glad I did. The way she used the classic base of Oz with her own devices to morph the story into the dark entity it needed to be was fantastic. I can’t wait to pick up the next book in the series. You will see all the familiar characters from the Cowardly Lion to Glinda to the Wizard. You will also meet characters you don’t know about unless you read Frank L Baum’s actual story.

Even though there is a lot of good in this book, there are a few concerns I have for it. It is violent and graphic. I would examine yourself and see if you are ready to read something like that. Also, she cusses more than I would like in the book for a YA novel. I know kids say worse things than what we find in their books, but as a small group leader, I find it concerning.

Other than those few issues I just stated above, Dorothy Must Die is an action-packed adventure to add to your Oz reading list. I rate it 8/10 stars and will be picking up the second book here very soon.

Happy reading!

AshleyDannie

Modern Meets Norse Mythology in Rick Riordan’s New Series

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

Welcoming Norse Mythology

An AshleyDannie Review

Norse Mythology“Far off places…daring sword fights…magic spells…a prince in disguise!” (Belle, Beauty & the Beast).  Oddly enough, this quote is the first thing I thought about when opening up Word to write this review because it has all of these elements and more! Rick Riordan’s new series called Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard begins an adventure into the world of Norse Mythology. Magnus marks the third mythological series Rick has given the world and I am telling you he doesn’t disappoint.

Magnus is a 16-year-old boy, who lost his mother and is wandering the streets of Boston as a homeless teen. He does have a family, but they had been fighting for years, so he avoided them at all costs, but hiding won’t last forever. Magnus is found by his Uncle Rudolph, who tells him tall tales about a sword and being connected to the gods of Asgard. Oh you know, it is just a normal day in the Riordan world when his character finds out his father is a god and in the case of Magnus his father is Frey. Except within the first few chapters, he finds the legendary Sword of Summer, which used to belong to his father, battles a fire giant named Surt, who is big bad news, and dies in the process, but of course in the world of mythology, there are many twisting plans at work. As he dies, he is rescued by a Valkyrie named Sam(antha) and taken to Valhalla.

Of course, nothing goes right and Magnus is whisked away from Valhalla by two bums who had been watching him on the streets, who are actually an elf and a dwarf because Magnus and his sword at the key to either starting or stalling Ragnorak. Magnus, Blitz, Hearth, and Sam start on this adventure to reclaim the Sword of Summer after it is lost when Magnus died, find the island where Fenris Wolf is being held captive, and stop Surt from freeing Fenris and starting the end of days.

I know this is a small and unrevealing summary of what is going on, but telling you any more than what is above would spoil the book! As I have read Rick’s works over the years I have noticed he is getting better and better at intense, complex plots and interweaving them with his other books. What do I mean? Well, if you are Riordan fan you love Percy Jackson. In Percy’s world is Annabeth Chase, the blonde demi-god of wisdom—mother being Athena. Wait, her last name is Chase and Magnus’s last name is Chase, so does that mean? No….Yes! Yes, Annabeth from the Greek Mythology world is cousins to Magnus who is a child of Norse Mythology. Mind. Blown.

This isn’t the first time Riordan has merged together his mythology books. With the Percy Jackson series, in the second set of five books Riordan combines the Greek and Roman mythology together, which isn’t much of a stretch, but technically they are still two separate entities.  In the Red Pyramid series, the Kane characters acknowledge the world of Greek gods in a small way while in New York with their Uncle. He tells them they don’t go into a certain portion of New York (Empire State Building) because it is the territory of other deities—aka Greek gods. So it didn’t shock me when I saw Annabeth as Magnus’s cousin and Frey elude at the end of the book that Magnus is going to need Annabeth. Talk about your mixing myths.

He also made many references to the Greek stories of demi-gods, which made me giggle.

“I dunno. Something pocket-size and innocuous. A pen, maybe?” The sword pulsed, almost like it was laughing. I imagined it saying, A pen sword. That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Hearthstone Passes Out Even More than Jason Grace (Though I Have No Idea Who That Is)”

Yeah, I would love to see a show done between Riptide and Jack (Sword of Summer). I would find it very amusing.

I did get mad at myself for not see the merge between stories coming. I mean come on the name is right there on the front of the book Magnus Chase. I wanted to slap myself when I saw Annabeth’s name. Other than that moment I loved the book! I mean for having such high expectations for it, Rick met them without issues. Norse Mythology is very intricate and much more complex than Greek Mythology in the sense of the different worlds. Greek gods only have the Underworld and Olympus, but Norse gods have nine worlds, including Earth or Midgard and then their afterlife areas as well. In the center of all of it is the World Tree, which connects the different worlds. Can you see how I am happy he waited to write this series? Starting his readers with a lesser confusing world of Mythology helped them expand their mind to accept the world of Norse gods. I mean as a teenager or adult it isn’t hard for us to do, but for a kid or pre-teen, it might be harder to fully comprehend.

Also, I loved the modern additions to the story. There were more references to the real world than in previous books with nods toward the Thor marvel movies and modern tv shows such as Breaking Bad and Doctor Who.

“People said the towers looked like giant salt and pepper shakers, but I’d always thought they looked like Daleks from Doctor Who.”

For any reader and geek/nerd, the references to modern culture really hit home. Another reference I appreciate as a Christian woman is Rick’s acknowledgment of the capital G, God.

“Wait. You’re telling me there’s such a thing as God.”
“Well now, God-capital G, God. That’s a different matter altogether. We shan’t deal with the metaphysical.” (The Lightning Thief).

In the first book, he gives the hint that there is a God, unlike the greek gods. He only leaves it at that. In my mind, it almost alludes to the idea that the Capital G God is the all powerful being in charge of the creation of the little g gods in which Riordan’s stories are about. You really don’t see much about Capital G God until now in Magnus.

“Because Anno Domini, in the Year of Our Lord, is fine for Christians, but Thor gets a little upset. He still holds a grudge that Jesus never showed up for that duel he challenged him to.” “Say what now?”

Again, small mention, but it says a lot! Now, everybody’s interpretation of this references are going to be different, but in my mind, Capital G God and Jesus are more of the final cosmic source of power that could destroy any of the little g gods at will. Ragnarok? End of Days? Yeah, God’s got this.

But I am going down a long rabbit hole. All in all I loved the book. I didn’t really see anything I didn’t like or would critque. Riordan has found another great adventure for his mythology universe and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Later Gators,

AshleyDannie

Sarah J Maas Wins Me Over Again! Review of Her Latest Series

 

Sarah J Maas

A Court of Thorns & Roses Review

Written by Sarah J Maas

Combine the survival nature of Katniss, the fantasy world of Harry Potter, the classic Beauty & the Beast conundrum, and Sarah’s amazing writing style, you get a thrillingly romantic adventure you can’t stop reading.

Feyre is the youngest daughter of three in a poverty-stricken family, who lost their mother many years ago. The family lives in a small village in the Southern most parts of the island. Why? Because the tip of their island has a wall dividing it from the massive lands of the Fae. Rumors of the Fae coming across the wall doesn’t stop Feyre from going hunting to save her family from starvation. While hunting she comes across a deer, which was being stalked by a giant wolf and if she was going to eat she had no choice.

“His remaining golden eye now stared at the snow-heavy sky, and for a moment, wished I had it in me to feel remorse for the dead thing. But this was the forest, and it was winter.”

What she didn’t realize about the wolf was he was Fae and there were consequences. Brought to their land by Tamlin, a very attractive, but emotionally stunted High Lord, because of a treaty law, Feyre tries to find any loophole possible to break free and go home. Although, she learns quickly that staying might be the safest route for her. Now she must live in a magically dangerous world with a sickness that only effects magic spreading on the lands, but she doesn’t realize is she is their only hope in stopping it.

This being Sarah J Maas’ second series I have started I already knew going into the book I would love it. In a matter of eight-ish hours, I started and finished the novel, feasting on every word and every scene Maas gave me. Her new character Feyre, I will admit doesn’t compare to Aelin, but she has her badass moments. What I also like about the character of Feyre is she knows she has made mistakes and she doesn’t magically let them go by the end of the book. The pain of them still courses through her, which is more realistic, even though it takes place in an imaginary world.

” I lifted the ash dagger, something inside me fractured so completely that there would be no hope of ever repairing it. No matter how many years passed…”

Where the Throne of Glass series is more about saving the world and the love elements are just minor plots, in A Court of Thorns and Roses the plot roles are reversed. It is essentially a love story and has many influences of Beauty and the Beast, which Sarah told Teen Vogue was how the story started. First, there is the mere fact that Tamlin can transform into a wolf beast, with horns. Sound familiar? No. Okay, what about this. Feyre must sacrifice herself to living in Tamlin’s land for the rest of her life to protect her family. And if you know the classic fairytale, you know there has to be a witch and a curse, but I don’t want to spoil it.

Even though I have much love for this story, there was one disappointment for me. I felt as if I figured out the story within the first third of the book. As I read I kept figuring things out quickly and then wanting to yell at the characters, especially Feyre, for not seeing it! There is a riddle given toward the end and as soon as I read it I knew the answer. Maybe I figured everything out so quickly because Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairytale, but my disappointment in my picking up foreshadowing doesn’t change my excitement for this tale.

I will say though A Court of Thorns and Roses is going on my top books shelf for YA Literature and I can’t wait for the next in the series. Honestly, I can’t wait for anything by Sarah J Maas! Since I have fallen in love with Aelin and Fayre, she has moved onto my favorite author list, which is actually quite short. J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, Sarah Dessen, and now Sarah J Maas.

Don’t Ever Stop Reading,

Ashley Danielle

What’s with Paper Towns and this so called Teen Whisperer?

Move over Veronica Roth and Suzanne Collins, a new voice for young adults everywhere has emerged and he doesn’t just write for them but writes as them. Yes, John Green is moving YA Literature away from the unrealistic characters teens have fawned over in their own little fandom worlds to writing about actual teenagers and their reapaper townsl life struggles.

Quentin is a normal senior in high school, living in Orlando, who loves hanging with his friends, playing video games, and of course, crushing on his extremely gorgeous, popular next door neighbor—Margo Roth Spiegelman. In his mind, her world is perfect and untouchable, but all that changes when she knocks at his window one night, bringing him on an adventure of a lifetime. What could be better than playing pranks on all the popular people whose mission in life was to humiliate you until graduation? By the end of the night, he found a new confidence he was going to use to somehow get Margo to hang out with him and the boys until grad, but that came crashing down when he found out Margo was gone.

“I could feel her on her tiptoes and then her mouth was right up against my ear and she said, very clearly, ‘I. Will. Miss. Hanging. Out. With. You’” (Green 81).  That one line became his first clue to the mystery that was Margo Roth Spiegelman—she was leaving.

Now, Quentin’s on a mission to follow Margo’s other clues to find her, so he can have his happily ever after with the girl he has always loved from afar. But as he searches the clues he starts to see that maybe everything he thought was actually just a mask she wore to get her through living in this paper town.

Green conveys what a paper town is on his popular vlog called VlogBrothers. They are fictional places companies place on their maps and if another mapping company has the same fictional town then they know they are copying them. This does play a little bit into the novel, but paper towns have different meanings as the story moves.

It’s a paper town. I mean look at it, Q: look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the house that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper house, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And the people too (Green 58).

Green uses this starting point to fuel the symbolism of a paper town, but I will leave it at that, so no spoilers are revealed. It’s funny though reading that quote, because as soon as I read it the first time it made me think of what I thought of my hometown. All these paper thin people around me, thinking that life couldn’t get any better being on top in a small town. I, like Margo, wanted to get out of it and like her I did—the only difference is I told my parents and friends.  

I mean isn’t that every teens’ dream? To get out of the shadows, whether they are someone else’s or their own? How Green brings to life the characterization of not only the mysterious Margo and the quirky Quentin, but the detailed personalities of his friends and the misleading identity of Margo’s so called friends greatly qualifies him to be dubbed the “Teen Whisperer.” As I read, learning the different personalities of the characters, I could pinpoint classmates from my own school who acted the same—even Margo.  I guarantee you will do the same as you read. What is also very real about the story is the life lessons Green coveys and one young adult need to learn by the end is this: “She spoke quietly then, the tiniest crack in her voice, and all at once Lacey Pemberton was not Lacey Pemberton. She was just—like, a person” (Green). Green breaks stereotypes and the masquerade teenagers create as they go through middle and high school.  

Except just like every piece of writing, nothing is ever perfect. The flow of the story can be slow at times, making us wait until the third section (the book has three sections) for the story to speed up and head toward his ultimate goal, but isn’t that life? We go about our mundane routines, trying to find something exciting, but a lot of times the excitement only lasts for a day or two, just like in the novel. Oh, I might have said too much about the ending…but don’t worry I didn’t spoil it altogether. Even though the flow can be slow when it comes to the overall plot Green intertwines mini plots that include the friends which helps lead to the overall theme and I couldn’t imagine Green writing the story any other way.

So pick it up, because whether you are a teenager trying to navigate school life or an adult feeling stuck in one spot, Green’s novel will enlighten and challenge you to look beyond your own Paper Towns.