Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book Review: How to Fight a Dragon's Fury (How to Train Your Dragon #12)

How to Fight a Dragon's Fury (#12)
by  Cressida Cowell
Date Read:  8/5/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

I completely forgot I never wrote my review for this either!!

Alright, I’m first going to bring up that if you hate amnesia stories, then you’re going to hate the first half of this book. I’m one of those people. I think it is a cheap cop out for authors. While I know Cowell likely used it as a way to recap the entire series (11 books), it was super frustrating as a reader.  Once Hiccup got his memory back, it got a lot better. Hiccup knew what he was fighting for and why it was so important for him to become King of the Wilder West.

What I was probably most disappointed in was the fact that Fishlegs and Comikaze were barely a part of this book. Hiccup was on his own for most of the book, and even when they began the war, he was still fighting by himself.  They have been such a strong part of Hiccup’s story that it was really disappointing to see him not require their help in this situation.

I really enjoyed the war at the end of the book. I think every single dragon we encountered along the 12 book journey was mentioned, and every single character we’ve encountered was participating in the war.  It was nice to see some characters that had iffy morals make the right decisions, and it was nice to see the bad guys get their comeuppance.

The Dragon Furious’ transformation in this book was pretty impressive and she did it pretty well.  It didn’t seem forced or too fast. His ending is heart-warming and heart-wrenching. I’ll say no more to this.

While you initially get the ending you want, it wasn’t as epic as I was hoping for. It’s still really good and definitely worth the read through the entire series. This is one of my favorite book series, and by far my favorite audiobook I’ve ever listened to. David Tennant is incredibly talented and I hope he reads more books because I will listen to them all!!!

My favorite part of this book was the epilogue. Holy. Cow. Probably one of the best I’ve read.  It was probably a little longer than it needed to be as Hiccup repeated the moral of the story over and over again about the human race, but it’s a good message. You get the answer to the question: What happened to the dragons??

It was a satisfying conclusion to an amazing adventure. I wish it was more epic and didn’t have the cheap amnesia plot device and had Hiccup’s friends a much larger part of his attaining his Kingship, but I am still happy with the ending. Thank you for giving us such a wonderful adventure, Ms. Cowell! I can’t wait until my daughter is a little older and we can read this with her again.  Perhaps if we read it to her early enough, she will love dragons as much as we do, and work hard to help bring the dragons back.  ;-)

Book Review: The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1)

The Hidden Oracle (#1)
by  Rick Riordan
Date Read:  8/2/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

I completely forgot that I hadn’t written my review for this yet!  Hopefully I remember everything I wanted to say now…4 weeks later…

Let me start with what I loved about this book: 
  1.  Riordan went back to just ONE POV.  While I enjoyed the Heroes of Olympus series, it was too overwhelming having 4 or 5 POVs in each book. Over the course of that series you had seen at least 7 POVs, but I think it was more than that.  Having just the one POV made it much easier to follow and you really got to connect with Apollo. I feel like Riordan does a much better job with his characters when he is only focusing on one of them.
  2. Percy!!!  While this series is not specifically about Percy, it is still in his world. Percy was in this book for a lot longer than I thought he would be at the beginning.  Percy is by far my favorite character from all of these books so it’s a lot of fun to catch up with him.
  3. Updates on a lot of our favorite characters!  We get to see a lot of previous characters in this book. We also meet a few new characters. You’ll love seeing where everyone is today and what they’ve been up to since the end of Heroes of Olympus.
  4. The Oracles. Having actually been to Delphi and saw where the Oracle actually sat, I’ve always been intrigued with this part of the story-line. I really enjoyed learning about the other oracles and the end explanation for what was going on. Riordan does a good job of making things seem irrelevant to each other, and then bringing them back so it make sense at the end.
  5. Apollo learns a lot in this book.  I didn’t particularly like him much at the beginning, but by the end I was rooting for him. He grows a lot and learns a lot. He makes some connections with his kids and Meg.
  6. Meg was an interesting character.  I can’t say too much about her without spoiling things, but I really liked her and her history.
Things I didn’t like about this book:
  1.  Apollo was way too self-absorbed at the beginning. While I understand that it’s the personality of the God, it just didn’t translate well in book format. I also think that Riordan may have over done it so that it was more obvious the growth that Apollo has in the book.
  2. The book was a little slow in the middle. Not a lot of action happens in the middle of the book and you are not given many answers…which leads me to #3…
  3.  I HATED the plot device Riordan used of Apollo’s amnesia-like situation. Apollo would know everything and have the background info you needed, but then he’d always conveniently “forget” it before he translated that info to another character and the reader. As a reader, it’s infuriating to be teased with info and answers, to only have it dangled there and then pulled away.
Overall I enjoyed this book. I feel like it was a little better than Heroes of Olympus, just because more happened in the book when it wasn’t following 7 characters at the exact same time, and you really got to know the main character much better in one POV.  But it didn’t surpass Percy Jackson.  Riordan just does Percy right, so I don’t think he’ll ever be able to top his original series – unless he goes back to writing only from Percy’s POV.

I’m interested to see how the remainder of the series goes and how often we’ll see previous characters and how involved they will be in helping Apollo with his quest.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Book Review: E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core (The Guardians #2)

E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core
by  William Joyce
Date Read:  7/26/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

It feels like a long time since I finished this. Though really it’s only been like 1.5 weeks. This one is harder to review for me than the first book in the series. I think it was a little slower, especially to set everything up.

What I did really like about this book though, is how much back story we get on Pitch. It really sets Pitch up to show you he was a normal guy, with a family and he was a hero. But the darkness got to him and transformed him in to the villain we now know today. It really makes Pitch related and creates empathy for him in the reader. These are the types of villains that I love right now. The ones that you really get to see their transformation. While we didn’t actually see him as a good guy, Joyce does a wonderful job making the reader feel as if they did.

Bunnymund didn’t come in to the story until much later. I was surprised how late he entered the story, considering he is the title character…  but he is worth the wait. I really liked his personality.  He was so unique and was the last of his kind. It made sense why he would become part of the Guardians. I really liked his Warrior Eggs. Joyce is very creative. And I loved the little tidbit about Humpty Dumpty at the end of the story. What a master weaver Joyce is.

I’m looking forward to continuing this series. I’m so glad I somewhat stumbled upon it. Next up is the tooth fairy – she’s probably the one I’m the least interested in, so we’ll see how this one goes.

Book Review: Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1)

Magic Marks the Spot
by  Caroline Carlson
Date Read:  7/29/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

I’m not really sure how to review this book. I think it is probably better in book format rather than audiobook. There were a lot of letters going back and forth throughout the story, and it was hard to follow sometimes listening to it.  I actually was worried that it was going to be diary format for the 5% of the book!

The one thing that I will say about this is that the narrator of the audiobook actually hurt my ears. She has a high pitch and then when she starts yelling or the story gets exciting, it just hits an octave that really hurt my ears. I was constantly cringing. And because of this, I’m not sure I’m going to pick up the subsequent stories.

I thought Hilary was a good character. She had a strong sense of who she was and she never really wavered from it. She made good friends and was a pretty good judge of character. I really liked her relationship with the Gargoyle.

The thing I liked the most about this story was the magic.  I liked that there was only so much magic and someone had taken almost all of it away. If you had some, you had to keep it hidden. It was really unique. I also liked the ending related to the magic.

However, when the big reveal happens about who the Great Enchantress is, it just fell a little flat. There was a lot of buildup and the reveal and character just didn’t really live up to it. I think perhaps the backstory of the Enchantress needed to be built up a little more rather than just told at the end.  And it all seemed to go really fast at the end. The wrong thieves are put in jail and very quickly the real thieves are discovered and the plot is resolved.

I think the story may have had too many things going on, so it couldn’t quite decide which part it wanted to focus on. So instead of narrowing it down a little to do it well…it did all of them mediocre.

Overall it was decent. I may have enjoyed it more if my ears weren’t constantly cringing. Perhaps one day I will pick up the books to read the sequels, but for now, I think I’ll just stick to this one.
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