Friday, July 8, 2016

Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Hi all!

It's been a while again...



Title: Starflight
Release date: 2nd of February 2016
Series: Starflight #1
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Sci-fi, Romance, YA
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 369 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

Solara Brooks needs a fresh start, someplace where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. The outer realm may be lawless, but it's not like the law has ever been on her side.

Still, off-world travel doesn't come cheap; Solara is left with no choice but to indenture herself in exchange for passage to the outer realm. She just wishes it could have been to anyone besides Doran Spaulding, the rich, pretty-boy quarterback who made her life miserable in school.

The tables suddenly turn when Doran is framed for conspiracy on Earth, and Solara cons him into playing the role of her servant on board the Banshee, a ship manned by an eccentric crew with their own secrets. Given the price on both Doran and Solara's heads, it may just be the safest place in the universe.

It's been a long time since Solara has believed in anyone, and Doran is the last person she expected to trust. But when the Banshee's dangerous enemies catch up with them, Solara and Doran must come together to protect the ship that has become their home—and the eccentric crew that feels like family.

Review:

I live for hate to love romance, especially if it's full of awesome snappy banter, electric chemistry and heaps of reluctant, oh so reluctant, scene by scene, crawling through the mud, from hostility to genuine feelings, romance. If you add an unfair difference in social standing, which at first, ads fuel to the hate fire, and an actually likable heroine and hero to this equation as well, then the recipe for a squeal-worthy evening is guaranteed.

The story really stuck out for me with its strong space adventure and sci-fi core, which is a setting that from the get go promises a lot of close calls, chases, dangerous situations, heightened emotions, pirates? pirates!, you-never-know-if-we'll-survive-this-so-we-better-kiss-now-or-never moment possibilities -- basically it's a perfect breeding ground for an exciting emotions-all-over-the-place I-hate-you romance to thrive. No insta love here, no way! The romance is slow and develops more or less naturally. The dark, endless and mysterious background just adds depth and options. Thanks to the vastness of space, there are a million ways and places the plot can go and, luckily, there is a sequel coming up soon. It's not your typical kissy kissy love story, there is a heavy emphasis on adventure, exploring and the perils of being part of a ragtag crew of space misfits, as well.

Solana is just my kind of girl, tough, skilled, smart, down on her luck and in a point in her life, where she would do anything to escape, including tie herself to be, basically, a slave to an arrogant and self-centered trust-fund brat. Worse yet, a douche who made bullying her a pleasant pastime in school. But, in addition, to her notable mechanic skills and fast-thinking, she is also sarcastic and quick-witted, especially with Doran, which leads to some oh so mean, but oh so delicious dialogue, with both trying to out do the other. And while memory loss is more of a soap-opera plot device, it was brilliant how Solana span the explosive situation in her favor and got some well deserved revenge against Doran, all at the same time. The end destination my as well be prison or death for her, but at least she got to even the score with him just a bit. As a con, she seemed too impressive in her skills and too tortured in her past for me to completely worship her.

Yes, Doran wasn't a prince on a white horse in the beginning, quite the opposite, but he did give Solana the chance she desperately needed to start her journey towards freedom. Also, not being a noble rescuer at first, was made up to her when he took on the big bad pirate, especially for Solana. Still not a prince who fights for his princess? And, I have to admit, he took his new memory-wiped-clean position as her servant quite well too. Luckily, the deception didn't drag out and both of them had to face each other in their correct states of mind soon. And it was glorious.

Irreplaceable in fighting through the rocky path with the main couple, were the initially secretive and with their own ton of baggage, crew of the Banshee. They had pasts, colorful pasts, that have yet to be fully pulled to the light of day, and they had quirks, both annoying and adorable (Acorn was super huggable!) that made them distinct. Together they made for a colorful and it's-so-bad-it-cannot-possibly-function-but-it-surprisingly-does team.

From the not so great side, I wasn't very fond of the change in tone and pace in the end. The stakes were suddenly high again and not in an exciting fashion, but more in the forced drama category. It also got a little too soap/space operaish for my taste with the unexpected revelations, which kind of came from nowhere and didn't fit the overall picture, even though, there were mini seeds planted beforehand. It simply didn't click for me.


4 stars!

LIIS

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

4th of July Giveaway, July 4 - 20! Win 150$ amazon GC!


Happy Tuesday!

Several authors have put their efforts together to give us, readers, a lot of chances to win 150$ amazon gift card!!!

It starts today and runs throughout 20th of July!

Have fun and good luck!

FinishedSummerofReadingGiveaway$100GC
 
 
Welcome to the 4th of July Summer of Reading Giveaway!
The authors below are offering up $150 Amazon Gift Card to you can get your read on!
Please check out the books below, some are Free, Free with KU, or Inexpensive.
 
 
Young Adult
 
 
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New Adult
 
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Contemporary Romance
 
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Women's Fiction
 
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Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy
 
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Science Fiction
 
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Want to win a $150 Amazon Gift Card? Follow the authors in the rafflecopter below for a chance. Open WW 18+ Ends July 20, 2016 @ 11:59 PM EST
 
 
 

summerGWfinished

Monday, April 4, 2016

SEP Review: Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Hi all!

It's been a while again...



Title: Dream a Little Dream
Release date: 13th of October 2009
Series: Chicago Stars #4
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: HarperCollins e-books
Pages: 404 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

A Desperate Young Mother

Rachel Stone's bad luck has taken a turn for the worse. With an empty wallet, a car's that's spilling smoke, and a five-year-old son to support, she's come home to a town that hates her. But this determined young widow with a scandalous past has learned how to be a fighter. And she'll do anything to keep her child safe—even take on. . .

A man With No Heart

Gabe Bonner wants to be left alone, especially by the beautiful outcast who's invaded his property. She has a ton of attitude, a talent for trouble, and a child who brings back bad memories. Yet Rachel's feisty spirit might just be heaven-sent to save a tough, stubborn man.

Dare To Dream

Welcome to Salvation, North Carolina—where a man who's forgotten what tenderness means meets a woman with nothing to lose. here two endearing lovers will set off on a funny, touching journey of the heart. . .to a place where dreams just might come true.

Review:

It’s no secret that SEP has figured out a magic formula for her stories that coincides precisely with what I look for in a highly satisfying romance: top-class humour, off-the charts banter and sexual tension, quirky yet tough down-on-her-luck heroine, a great redeeming act of love with a topping of angst, and a reluctantly in love hero. This is also everything the current book offered, in loads. This time the emphasis, however, was on the angst (less so on the humour), which I don’t mind at all, but there was an aspect of unnecessary cruelty there as well, that I kind of did have an issue with.

I cannot stress enough how much I adored, respected and admires Rachel. She had been through hell and her path of pain and humiliation did not end with meeting the hero. She was constantly mocked, bullied, offended, discriminated against… the whole package. And, while I somewhat understand the motivation of the townspeople, knowing the truth, that she was not the big bad, instead she was the most direct and unfortunate victim of her conman husband, I was very protective of her and took her troubles to heart. And, wanted to beat up and give a piece of my mind to all the ignorant morons. This included the brothers of Gabe, however charming they allegedly were supposed to be, and however much I sympathized with Cal in his own book. Despite this constant bullying, Rachel was hardworking, determined, upbeat and, most of all, she was an incredible sacrifice-herself-in-a-heartbeat mother to her adorable son Edward aka Chip.

Chip was simply delightful. I just wanted to take him and put him in my pocket to protect forever. I did feel, however, that the fearful, somewhat borderline abusing relationship between him and Gabe went a bit too far. I can try to understand Gabe’s pain and the cause for his behaviour, but Chip was such a sweetheart that even a slight wrong look towards him made me jump with my fist up, ready to bounce.

The romance between Rachel and Gabe was somewhat bittersweet, a lot more emotional and mature than other SEP books. Both of them hid tons of pain inside, but while Rachel forced the sun to shine over her head against all odds, Gabe revelled in the constant dark cloud over him. They were the couple you just cannot see working out, due to, among everything else, the mountain of baggage, but that surprise you in the end with outlasting everyone. The slow burn was also welcome and I appreciated that it took some time for them to have their relationship even slightly functional. A steady and constant development is key to an enjoyable romance that makes you cheer for the main couple and become invested. The epilogue was like balm on a wound and I thought it was a perfect bright sunny day in the end of years of rain. It did come across as too good to be true though, due to that drastic change, but enough angst and agony is enough.

The typical side romance, which SEP always ads as a side dish, didn’t do it for me this time. The coming together of Gabe’s younger brother Ethan and his overlooked secretary Kristy, was too superficial, short and cliché. It had potential though, so maybe a more detailed approach would have guaranteed better results. Maybe they should have had their own book? I think so. It would have also provided time to have a more positive image painted of Ethan, who was smeared with quite a bit of mud due to his treatment of Rachel. Also, being part of the Chicago Stars series, the story doesn't have much to do with football or it's hunky athletes, only Cal makes an appearance.

4 stars!

LIIS

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Review: Misconduct by Penelope Douglas

Hi all!

It's been a while again...




Title: Misconduct
Release date: 1st of December 2015
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: NAL
Pages: 401 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

Former tennis player Easton Bradbury is trying to be the best teacher she can be, trying to reach her bored students, trying to forget her past. What brought her to this stage in her life isn’t important. She can’t let it be. But now one parent-teacher meeting may be her undoing…

Meeting Tyler Marek for the first time makes it easy for Easton to see why his son is having trouble in school. The man knows how to manage businesses and wealth, not a living, breathing teenage boy. Or a young teacher, for that matter, though he tries to. And yet…there is something about him that draws Easton in—a hint of vulnerability, a flash of attraction, a spark that might burn.

Wanting him is taboo. Needing him is undeniable. And his long-awaited touch will weaken Easton’s resolve—and reveal what should stay hidden…

Review:

I’ve really enjoyed the author’s previous New Adult books (the Fall Away series) and was pleasantly surprised to know, that she had penned something revolving around hot-blooded adults this time. And while the transition from teenagers to grown-ups was smooth and all-around successful, I do have some bones to pick with this, initially more than promising, story.

First of all, I have worked as a teacher, so I quite welcomed the fact that the heroine was also one. I appreciated that she didn’t succumb to stereotype and wasn’t a wilting flower eg. a shy solitary girl with glassed, who perceives herself as plain, actually being drop-dead gorgeous, but being mentally impaired in seeing herself anywhere near objectively. Easton was confident, outspoken, knew she was sexy and held her head high. Yes, she did have some baggage from her painful past, but nowadays it’s a must in smutty romance, because characters are mostly defined based on them being oh-so-wounded. This already provides steady characteristic without much effort, and lessens the task of actually providing an even slightly unique non-cardboard personality. Be it as it may, I respected Easton and, an especially huge bonus from me, she gets for her work as an innovative, open-minded, intelligent and kick-butt teacher. Her methods, her stance on her choices and passion for her job, where more than commendable.

I also know how excruciating it is to battle, yes battle, with parents, those who think they obviously know better and are, on their own account, self-proclaimed experts on anything education related. I cheered for Easton, when she took on Tyler and I was desperate for her to put him in his place. She didn’t disappoint, even when she supposedly messed up, which to my mind, she didn’t as a whole. He was an über douche and low for using his powerful name and influence to put her down. While she didn’t claim total victory, she did end up leaving the battlefield with her head held high. Bravo for that!

Tyler, generally, was a decent hero, a definite alpha, but there was a lot of vulnerability there as well, thanks to his relationship with his estranged teenage son. I liked that we also got his point of view, since the story follows a dual voice, alternating chapters between Easton and Tyler. He was a macho man, but he wasn’t as cold, distant and too unreal, as many such romance heroes might at times come across as.

Now to the romance, which started with a big bang! It had several intriguing forbidden love elements: the age difference, her being his son’s teacher, his delicate political career and ambitions, etc. I have to admit, the encounters between Easton and Tyler were explosive, exciting to observe, sizzling with sexual tension, full of awesome banter, promising a delicious slow burn, till… they did the deed. And from there on, the relationship lost 60% of the spark and the levels of all the aspects, that made it spectacular in my eyes, plummeted. Also, the horizontal tango took place too early, too abruptly and it ruined the epicness of the chemistry. Yes, they had a decent romance afterwards as well, but it wasn’t the same, not by a long shot. It lost the electricity and added on the melodrama.

I was also very disappointed and annoyed with Easton, when she told Tyler to try that with the other girl and then got so insecure and upset, because he did as she pushed him to – not cool! Also why was the stalker subplot and totally out of the blue revelation in the end necessary? It all just made Easton’s baggage load bigger, but didn’t really contribute much, except for empty drama.

I did, however quite enjoy the development of the relationships between Tyler and his son and the latter with Easton. It was somewhat refreshing, that the couple didn’t only think of their needs, but also discussed, how their affair could affect the boy. Also, this story is a standalone, which is always something to celebrate. I’m getting so tired of trilogies that stretch a meagre story even thinner and stuff it full of excess drama!


3 stars!

LIIS

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Oldie Review: You Belong to Me by Johanna Lindsey

Hi all!

And here's an oldie!




Title: You Belong to Me
Release date: 2nd of August 2011 (first published 1987)
Series: Cardinia’s Royal Family #2
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Historical
Published by: Avon
Pages: 436 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

In all the world, no man exists who can tame Alexandra Rubilov. A fiery and beautiful free-thinker, Alex's steadfast refusal to marry has frustrated her hapless father. And so he creates a "long-forgotten" agreement and sends his rebellious daughter away, maintaining that Alexandra has been promised since childhood to the handsome, insufferable libertine whom she must now accompany to his homeland to wed.

Dismayed to find himself suddenly engaged, Count Vasili Petroff plans to repulse his unwanted fiancee by acting the perfect cad, unaware that wily Alexandra plans to follow a similar path. But the road to deception is a rocky one and its many unexpected turns can lead two reluctant companions to a most unanticipated destination: that place called passionate love. 

Review: 

I’ve never been a huge historical romance reader. I enjoy them, but I don’t gravitate towards them that much. Except in cases, where the synopsis offers the promise of that specific type of uniquely sweet flavour I would devour, or if it’s a Johanna Lindsay novel. For some reason she has written pretty good historical romance coinciding with my preferred taste. While I have read the first book in the Cardinia royals series, that this story is also part of, and quite liked it, this current one, on the outside, looks humongously promising. BUT, it manages to deceive me with one of the aspects it actually lured me in with: an independent, opinionated and headstrong heroine. It sounds good, but there are always black sheep in the bunch, and Alexandra is it for me. 

So what did Alexandra mange to annoy me (and her initially very reluctant intended, the hero of the story, Vasili) with? Well, almost everything, as she turned on the heat for all aspects, that in moderation, would have made me cheer for her. While I applaud her tactics to scare away an unwanted betrothed by presenting herself off as a mannerless wild child without anything resembling feminine behaviour of that time and age, she went overboard. Especially with her acting all loco savage and violent with all women who caught Vasili’s eye. Yes, claiming and protecting her “territory” is absolutely fine and expected, but to physically attack, offend and threaten those women, who hadn’t really, in most cases, even done anything yet, was beyond irritating and off-putting to me.

Her dragging her babies, her horses, with the travelling party, through dangerous conditions, was incredibly irresponsible. She claimed that she was taking care of them with having them come along, but it had the exact opposite effect. Also, by her too stubborn, too selfish, too woe-is-me behaviour during the trip, she endangered every person and animal accompanying her. I did, however, appreciate that she didn’t turn to goo for Vasili and maintained her backbone and uncontrollable character (somewhat), but overall, it was very difficult for me to grow fond of and root for her.

I did, in general, like the hate to love storyline, because, it’s exactly the trope I enjoy reading about, because this actually enables the couple time to get to know each other and develop genuine feelings, instead of BOOM! insta-love! In that sense, I quite loved the story, because the hate part was believable, all the logical reasoning was present. The gradual developing of feelings was a welcome slow burn. I particularly liked their first meeting, with attraction and sparks flying galore, without either of them knowing who the other was. Due to that high quality chemistry, the lack of a satisfying steamy scene was disappointing. I’ve come to expect a lot more from the author, than the underwhelming, out of place (considering the situation), awkward and another compulsory romance element receiving a tick feeling I received from that only one scene in this story.

Compared to Alex, toward whom I had high expectations, Vasili, from whom I wasn’t expecting much, except for being hot and alpha, really surprised me with his maturity, considering the situation. Yes, he was still the arrogant and a mega ultra womanizer I remembered from the first book in the series, but he acted almost decently for a man during that time and with a hurry to get rid of his unwanted fiancé. He put up with Alex’s antics with almost the patience of a parent with an unruly child, to a certain degree of course, and behaved much more reasonably than his intended, trying to maintain some sort of control over the situation. She just lashed out and trashed around on the floor like a baby, not considering who she was inconveniencing or hurting. I was, however, annoyed with his hypocrisy (he could dally around, but if she was promiscuous, then it was an issue – but I’m not surprised considering the time and age of the story, and when it was written) and obsession with her breasts, also, rape threats are never acceptable.

The adventure part is always something I look forward to in historical fiction, if included. There was a bunch of it in this story as well with the travels and perils during it. While caused by unforgivable irresponsibility, I most certainly enjoyed the rescue, the bad guys and one-on-one battles. It was also quite lovely to meet up with the main couple form the previous book again and have a glimpse of how wonderfully things are still progressing.

3 stars!

LIIS

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Hi all!

I'm slowly getting back on track with my reviews!




Title: Rebel Belle
Release date: 3rd of March 2015
Series: Rebel Belle #1
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary
Published by: Speak
Pages: 368 in paperback format
Source: Bought from a local bookstore

Summary:

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts. Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.

Review:

Finally, a special snowflake hero, even though, the heroine by sheer proximity gets the title as well, more or less. Okay, he’s not really a special snowflake in the traditional sense, but for a change, instead of the girl being the saviour, the messiah, the big kahuna, the really really awesomely powerful grandmaster of all things grand, blah blah blah, it’s actually the guy this time. Yay for change! What’s more, the girl takes on the role as protector and butt kicker – empowering women and subverting gender roles is always welcome!

I despise to seven hells all love triangles, but while this nasty piece of bane of my existence trope was part of this story, it didn’t feel as irritating, because I kind of sensed that it wouldn’t last and it wasn’t as significant in the grand scheme of things. I also found Ryan to be too annoyingly perfect. He understood, was patient, acted a gentleman, forgave – blah. I do feel very guilty and quite ashamed to whine about his niceness and for preferring the douche (but who means well inside) over the more decent guy, but this is fiction and Ryan was just dull. I need spark, passion or at least some bantery dialogue to be able to root for a couple. Sugary sweet pairs, “I love you pumpkin” – “I love you too honey,” bore me to death. I do have to admit, though, that the final state of the trio was beyond intriguing and hilariously ironic. BAM! Ryan wasn’t so bothersome anymore, but only thanks to his newfound position.

I live for hate to love romances, because it usually guarantees a delicious slow burn and can make the budding relationship much more satisfying, sweeter and hotter than its lifeless and too convenient insta counterpart. I do, however, have to point out that when the source of dislike between the main characters is not realistically or at least believably explained, and they hate each other just because or due to something insignificant, then there I draw the line for enjoyable hate to love romance. Harper and David were on the borderline, I did understand the origin, but it wasn’t as convincing as I would have preferred. Nevertheless, I loved reading about their "battles" with each other. And I especially loved how Harper couldn’t hurt him, due to her being his protector. Her trying to slap him and being unable to was hilarious. All other instances, where she unexpectedly, due to instinct, dashed to defend him were quite amusing as well. Talk about irony.

Overachievers don’t really draw me in or evict sympathy and rooting for them. Harper was just that, she was like Figaro, here, there, everywhere. She had her finger in every pie, managed everything, was part of everything, made it everywhere and, in addition, was popular, got good grades, had a wonderful boyfriend, a great best friend, etc – she had a good life going for her. Till she forgets her lip gloss… So here’s a lesson to all girls, don’t forget your lip gloss, otherwise, you may unexpectedly become a kickbutt karate queen in stilettos, in addition to being the how-does-she-do-it envy evicting girl. On second hand, sounds exciting to me! Anyway, I wasn’t inclined to like her, but I did end up doing just that. And the scene that changed my mind was, when she was confronted with her new sacred duties and asked to accept them, her blunt reply: “No, thank you!” I loved her attitude, she wasn’t a doormat nor did she shy away from responsibility.

Regarding the plot, I was very excited for how things would unfold and all the potential mystery and mythical background elements for the Oracle and his Paladin story. The premise was a total hit with me. There was a lot of talk and build-up, but I was left hanging, because the fantasy topic was handled too lightly or superficially. I wanted more and, I guess, there will be more in the following books, but there was too much teasing and too little satisfaction in the first one. Also, nothing really happened plot-wise. I mean, something obviously happened, but it came across stretched thin. I’m still anxious for what will be going on and love the fascinating fantasy set-up, but the first book was somewhat stingy in that regard. It did, however, give me some interesting insight into the Southern way, like cotillion, etc, which is a really foreign area to me and which I appreciated.


3 stars!

LIIS

Monday, February 8, 2016

Review: Magnus Chase and The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Hi all!

A new series from Rick Riordan!




Author: Rick Riordan
Title: Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer
Release date: 6th of October 2015
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Fantasy, Adventure, Contemporary
Published by: Puffin
Pages: 505 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he barely knows—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. Uncle Randolph tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die ...

Review:

The Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus (which I still haven’t managed to finish, shame on me!) series are one of my favourite newer children’s fiction. They’re imaginative, full of magnificent methodology lessons, there’s adventure, peril and action to the extreme, the characters are distinct, likeable, grab your attention and stay with you, and the humour, oh the humour, it’s simply wonderful in the exact right dose for a semi-serious semi-fun series. Extra focus on the fun, though.

When I heard that Rick Riordan was starting a new mega adventure ride with Norse mythology at its centre, I was on board before you can say Yggdrasil (the world tree – how do I pronounce it?). On the successful wave of Marvel’s Thor movies and the ultra popularity of Loki, this seemed to be a gold mine, because while the named characters are known, Norse mythology itself isn’t that widespread in all its glorious details. There’s more to it than Thor, Loki and Asgard. And that is exactly what I was most looking forwards to reading about in the new series.

Having read books from Rick Riordan before, then I knew what to expect and I got precisely that. In that sense, there is nothing really original or slightly fresh within this series – same old, same old. The story in all it’s devices, eg. pace, tone, pattern, character outlines, basic structure, it's distinctly similar to his previous books. Nevertheless, I’m not whining, because this formula works, and it works like a well-oiled machine – I wouldn’t want to have these stories anyway else. Except, when he finds another formula that is as successful, then I’m all open for that.

Basically, Magnus, a homeless kid, is suddenly confronted with his family and their secrets and, well, he dies… And here is where the joyride begins. He is transported to Valhalla, finds out who he really is, makes some friends, makes some enemies, fights, a prophesy turns up about him, he takes his ragtag team of wacky friends to solve the prophesy and, along the way, meets all sorts of weird, creepy and fun mythical beings. There is nothing remotely new in this journey outline, but it’s okay, because there was simply heaps of hilarity, fun and excitingly tense moments throughout the quest to make up for that.

I loved the insight into Norse mythology, all the big and small details, the nine worlds, famous and less known figures, legends, connections, diverse beings, magic, the dividing of the gods to nature and war gods, the two so called “afterlives”, etc, etc, and especially Ragnarok. The latter I’ve always found fascinating, because it’s predetermined and cannot be bypassed, everything from how it beings to who dies and how, is set in stone. Most mayor gods will die, Thor, Odin, Heimdall – all goners. Norse mythology is a lot more grimmer and fatalistic that it’s Greek counterpart, but it’s none the less fascinating and rich with imaginative stories.

From the important mythological characters, Loki was confusing -- is he evil or just misunderstood? Thor was somewhat of a moron, big, loud and all the time ready for some clobbering – I liked his goats. Freya was too much of a typical vain goddess, but Frey was someone I really liked and found intriguing, based on the short amount of time he was in the story. Apparently, he’s the most similar to Chris Hemsworth, so obviously, I was drawn to him… I, overall, found it funny how Magnus compared everyone to the images we are used to from Thor movies. I assume I would do just the same in his shoes.

Rick Riordan is the ultimate master at writing sarcastic, smart mouth, humorous heroes, and dialogue and general text in the same calibre. It’s light, funny and very effortless to read. There were a multitude of hilarious laugh-out-loud moments, where I actually did genuinely laugh out loud – a rarity with me when reading books. Alone Magnus’ inner thoughts were priceless. In addition, the situations the main characters found themselves in and the weird creatures they encountered were, safe to say, quite comical, eg. pigeon giant, going fishing for world-serpent, talking sword, Thor’s goats, the dwarf stuff creating competition (Blitz’s creations were absolutely supreme) and the sabotage going on there, squirrels, etc.

Despite this awesome humor, I have to spoil the fun somewhat. I was more or less bothered by Magnus’ voice being almost identical to Percy. Both were great protagonists and funny heroes, but I would have preferred them to have more distinct voices. At times, I felt as Magnus was actually Percy and I had to check the cover to see if I was mistaken. Also, as a con, I didn’t really feel a connection to Samirah. From the pro side, Magnus’ other sidekicks, the dwarf Blitz and a deaf elf Hearth, were lovely. The latter leading to a lot of comical situations with his sign language (I loved how Thor misinterpreted everything Hearth said).

The connection to the Heroes of Olympus series was also quite intriguing due to Annabeth being the cousin of Magnus. I’m curious to know if there will be some confrontation between the Norse and Greek/Roman mythology worlds. I did, however, notice that compared to the latter books, the new series story had a lot of info-dumping, which I didn't feel to the extent in the previous series. I guess it is due to Norse mythology being less out there, there being more to introduce to the reader and the information coming across brand new, so there is more intensive attention needed to take in everything.

Further recommendations: The anime (based on the manga of the same name) Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok (2003) was one of my favourites some years back and it focuses on a cursed, but cute as a button and physically little boy, Loki, a quirky wannabe detective girl student and Loki’s children – Fenrir the adorable doggy was soooo squichy (I loved how he said “daddy” to Loki all the time). Nothing really amazingly interesting happens; it’s more a monster of the week or mystery of the week anime, with a cringeworthy magical staff transformation sequence a la Sailor Moon, but it was unexpectedly fun with idiot Frey with his pig, short-tempered Heimdall and other shenanigans.

www.animenewsnetwork.com

4 stars!

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