Category Archives: Book Reviews

Fantasy Review: The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze

The Trials of Apollo: Book Three: The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

Synopsis:
The formerly glorious god Apollo, cast down to earth in punishment by Zeus, is now an awkward mortal teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. In order to regain his place on Mount Olympus, Lester must restore five Oracles that have gone dark. But he has to achieve this impossible task without having any godly powers and while being duty-bound to a confounding young daughter of Demeter named Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.

With the help of some demigod friends, Lester managed to survive his first two trials, one at Camp Half-Blood, and one in Indianapolis, where Meg received the Dark Prophecy. The words she uttered while seated on the Throne of Memory revealed that an evil triumvirate of Roman emperors plans to attack Camp Jupiter. While Leo flies ahead on Festus to warn the Roman camp, Lester and Meg must go through the Labyrinth to find the third emperor–and an Oracle who speaks in word puzzles–somewhere in the American Southwest. There is one glimmer of hope in the gloom-filled prophecy: The cloven guide alone the way does know. They will have a satyr companion, and Meg knows just who to call upon.

Review:
Apollo (currently in the mortal body of Lester) and Meg team up with more familiar characters in this third installment in the Trials of Apollo series. Apollo has to brave the Labyrinth and discovers the 3rd evil emperor – who happens to want to steal his godly powers as well.

This latest installment had plenty of humor, adventure, drama, and heart. The story dragged a bit in the middle – it felt like it was purposefully made to stretch to a certain book length. There’s something to be said that my favorite books were the original Percy Jackson stories that were half of this length with all of the action and adventure, but a tighter (and more memorable) story. That being said, I love this incarnation of Apollo. He’s become humble, but still a bit of a coward, expecting others to fight for him. I still love the mystery, adventure, suspense, heartbreak, and humor. I look forward to the next in this inspired series.

Fantasy Book Review: Potion Masters

Potion Masters: The Eternity Elixir by Frank L. Cole

Synopsis:
Twelve-year-old Gordy Stitser is one of the few people who knows the truth about the secret society of potion masters, because not only is Gordy’s mom on the Board of Ruling Elixirists Worldwide (B.R.E.W.), but she has also been training Gordy in the art of potion-making.

Gordy is a natural, and every day he sneaks down to the basement lab to invent new potions using exotic ingredients like fire ant eggs, porcupine quills, and Bosnian tickling juice.

One afternoon, Gordy receives a mysterious package containing an extremely rare potion known as ”The Eternity Elixir.” In the right hands, the Elixir continues to protect society. But in the wrong hands, it could destroy the world as we know it.

Now, sinister potion masters are on the hunt to steal the Eternity Elixir. It’s up to Gordy, his parents, and his best friends, Max and Adeline, to prevent an all-out potion war.

Review:
Gordy is an apprentice of potion-making. He’s fascinated with his mother’s work. So, when he received a package meant for his mother when she’s out of town, Gordy decides to do his own experiments. But the Elixer is very dangerous. And his mother has been keeping secrets.

The Eternity Elixir is first in a new middle reader, fantasy series. The story is fast-paced and full of mystery, suspense, and humor. The characters are engaging and kept me guessing – from Gordy’s mother’s side of the family to his friends. And I loved the unique idea and clever use of magic through potions and the backstory of B.R.E.W. Events build to an exiting finale that doesn’t disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and look forward to the next installment.

Fantasy Book Review: The Stone Girl’s Story

The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst

Synopsis:
Mayka and her stone family were brought to life by the stories etched into their bodies. Now time is eroding these vital marks, and Mayka must find a stonemason to recarve them. But the search is more complex than she had imagined, and Mayka uncovers a scheme endangering all stone creatures. Only someone who casts stories into stone can help—but whom can Mayka trust? Where is the stonemason who will save them?

Review:
The Stone Girl’s Story is a sweet story with the feel of a fairy tale. Mayka and her friends are living stone creations. Their creator has long passed, and now the stone creations need fixing to go on living. So, Mayka and her friends go on a quest to find a gifted stonemason. The characters are likable and engaging. And while a bit predictable, the story has plenty of adventure, suspense, humor, and heart. This coming-of-age, middle reader novel is fun for all ages. Durst’s novels are always unique and must-reads for me. And this novel is one of her more feel-good, light-hearted stories.

SciFi Book Review: Avengers of the Moon

Avengers of the Moon: A Captain Future Novel by Allen Steele

Synopsis:
Curt Newton has spent most of his life hidden from the rest of humankind, being raised by a robot, an android, and the disembodied brain of a renowned scientist. Curt’s innate curiosity and nose for trouble inadvertently lead him into a plot to destabilize the Solar Coalition and assassinate the president. There’s only one way to uncover the evil mastermind―Curt must become Captain Future.

Review:
Curt is a young man who was orphaned at a young age and raised by his parent’s creations and the brain of a former colleague. When his wards reveal the truth of his parents’ deaths, Curt decides to enact justice. However, his plan is foiled by an assassination attempt of the president.

Avengers of the Moon is a science fiction pulp adventure. The clever and colorful characters make for a lot of humor and fun. And the fast-paced plot is full of mystery, intrigue, and suspense. This is an extremely entertaining read from beginning to end. I would love to see this series continue, as I love these characters and the pulp feel.

Book Review: Avengers: Infinity War – The Official Movie Special

Avengers: Infinity War – The Official Movie Special

Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special

This movie special is great for fans who want to read more about the film – from details about each infinity stone to character spotlights and interviews from all of the main characters. I would’ve liked to see more behind-the-scenes stuff, but this book is already packed with 23 characters from the film. This 96-page, full-color book makes for a great gift or coffee table book.

Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special

Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special Avengers Infinity War: Official Movie Special

Fantasy Book Review: Fury of the Tomb

Fury From the Tomb: The Institute for Singular Antiquities Book I by SA Sidor

Synopsis:
Saqqara, Egypt, 1888, and in the booby-trapped tomb of an ancient sorcerer, Rom, a young Egyptologist, makes the discovery of a lifetime: five coffins and an eerie, oversized sarcophagus. But the expedition seems cursed, for after unearthing the mummies, all but Rom die horribly. He faithfully returns to America with his disturbing cargo, continuing by train to Los Angeles, home of his reclusive sponsor. When the train is hijacked by murderous banditos in the Arizona desert, who steal the mummies and flee over the border, Rom – with his benefactor’s rebellious daughter, an orphaned Chinese busboy, and a cold-blooded gunslinger – must ride into Mexico to bring the malevolent mummies back. If only mummies were their biggest problem.

Review:
On his first trip to Egypt, Rom unearths a great find. However, a curse seems to be unleashed as well. And tragedy soon strikes. Upon his return to America, Rom encounters more obstacles on his way back to his benefactor with the mummies. And he’ll be lucky to escape with his life.

Fury From the Tomb is a fun, dark fantasy that feels a bit like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. With creepy mummies, claustrophobic tombs, ghouls, and vampires – this story doesn’t lack for danger and suspense. It’s action-packed excitement from beginning to end. The strength of this story is the intense action paired with a bit of humor to lighten the mood. I’d love to see more character development from Rom, as the story is told from his point of view. I thoroughly enjoyed this start to a new series. And I look forward to more of Rom’s adventures.

Fantasy Book Review: Ink, Iron, and Glass

Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare

Synopsis:
A certain pen, a certain book, and a certain person can craft entirely new worlds through a branch of science called scriptology. Elsa comes from one such world that was written into creation, where her mother―a noted scriptologist―constantly alters and expands their reality.

But when her home is attacked and her mother kidnapped, Elsa is forced to cross into the real world and use her own scriptology gifts to find her. In an alternative Victorian Italy, Elsa finds a secret society of young scientists with a gift for mechanics, alchemy, or scriptology―and meets Leo, a gorgeous mechanist with a smart mouth and tragic past. She recruits the help of these fellow geniuses just as an assassin arrives on their doorstep.

In this thrilling debut, worlds collide as Elsa unveils a deep political conspiracy seeking to unlock the most dangerous weapon ever created―and only she can stop it.

Review:
Elsa is a scriptologist, like her mother. So when her mother is taken, Elsa is the best person to fix the damaged world books and find her mother.

Ink, Iron, and Glass is the first in a unique, steampunk duology for young adults. The worldbuilding is impressive with alchemists, mechanics, and notably scriptologists who can create worlds from books. I would love to see it fleshed out even more. I would’ve liked to see some more character development. However, this debut was very enjoyable. It’s a fun, fast-paced adventure with exciting twists.

Book Review: The Art of Ready Player One

The Art of Ready Player One by Gina McIntyre (Author),‎ Ernest Cline (Introduction),‎ Steven Spielberg (Foreword)

Movie Synopsis:
Our dystopian world lies on the brink of chaos and collapse, but the people have found their salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday. When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune in the form of a digital Easter egg hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world.

Review:
Fans of the film will enjoy this deeper look into the amazing work that went into creating this immense digital world. I love to look at early artwork and sketches of characters and scenes – and this is an impressive collection.

Movie Spoilers Ahead:
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