The Trials of Apollo: The Tower of Nero – Book Review

Trials of Apollo: The Tower of Nero by Rick Riordan

Synopsis:
Lester’s demigod friends at Camp Jupiter just helped him survive attacks from bloodthirsty ghouls, an evil Roman king and his army of the undead, and the lethal emperors Caligula and Commodus. Now the former god and his demigod master Meg must follow a prophecy uncovered by Ella the harpy. Lester’s final challenge will be at the Tower of Nero, back in New York.

Will Meg have a last showdown with her father?

Will this helpless form of Apollo have to face his arch nemesis, Python?

Who will be on hand at Camp Half-Blood to assist?

Review:
This is the fifth and final installment in the Trials of Apollo series, an offshoot of Percy Jackson. The Percy Jackson series was a favorite of mine, and this latest series is just as fun and exciting. As a punishment, Apollo has been sent to Earth as a mortal. Now, he is working with Meg and his other demigod friends to take down the evil king before he becomes unstoppable.

This finale doesn’t disappoint. With the odds increasingly against them, Apollo and his friends form unlikely alliances and face down an incredible foe. With a big showdown, suspense, drama, and plenty of humor at times to lighten the mood – middle readers to adults will enjoy this fantastic series. And while it’s not necessary to read the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series, it is helpful to know some of the characters who overlap. And Riordan proves once again that he’s a master at middle grade fantasy.

Hero Collector Spotlight – Star Trek, Ghostbusters & 007!

Hero Collector is the publishing imprint of the collectibles company Eaglemoss Most of you have probably seen their Star Trek ship replicas. I’ve eyed quite a few of them! They sell collectables from some of the most popular genre brands such as Marvel and Harry Potter.

Star Trek Nerd Search: Quibbles with Tribbles by Glenn Dakin

I thought this was a simple look-and-find book. But, no. This is a book for nerds! The first page is a scorecard, then you can dig into the description and instructions. There are 4 types of puzzles in this book: find the exploding tribble, find the continuity errors, find the story element in each spread, and find the random quibbles (that only superfans will get).

There are eight, 2-page, full-color spreads. The exploding tribbles are easy to find. But you’ll spend more time on the other puzzles. And there’s a handy answer guide in the back if you really get stuck.

If you’re a Star Trek superfan of the original series, this is a great book to test your knowledge. The artwork is fantastic. And there are a lot of fun Easter Eggs that all Star Trek fans will enjoy.

Ghostbusters Nerd Search: Eerie Errors and Suspect Ghosts by Glenn Dakin

Similar to the Star Trek book above, this Ghostbusters version has a scorecard and 4 types of puzzles. Again, 8 fantastic 2-page spreads with scenes from the Ghostbusters films. Each spread depicts what to look for – from continuity errors to creatures from other mythologies.

There are answers, in the back, if you get stuck. But Ghostbusters fans will really enjoy these fun and unique scenes – whether you find everything or not.

50 Greatest James Bond Cars by Ben Robinson

If you love cars and James Bond – this book was made for you. The 50 cars included in the book are divided up by cars driven by Bond, driven by Bond’s allies, and driven by his enemies. So, quite a few Aston Martins, BMWs, Jaguars, and many more. Even a tank and a moon buggy. The updated Aston Martin from the upcoming film No Time To Die is even included. There is a huge variety of vehicles depicted.

Each vehicle has a nice write-up, specialized details about the car, and noteworthy moments from the movie it comes from. This is a gorgeous book, with a 2-page, full-color spread for each car.

Hush – Book Review

Hush by Dylan Farrow

Synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Shae has led a seemingly quiet life, joking with her best friend Fiona, and chatting with Mads, the neighborhood boy who always knows how to make her smile. All while secretly keeping her fears at bay… Of the disease that took her brother’s life. Of how her dreams seem to bleed into reality around her. Of a group of justice seekers called the Bards who claim to use the magic of Telling to keep her community safe.

When her mother is murdered, she can no longer pretend.

Not knowing who to trust, Shae journeys to unlock the truth, instead finding a new enemy keen to destroy her, a brooding boy with dark secrets, and an untold power she never thought possible.

Review:
Shae is a strong and determined young woman. She is focused on finding her mother’s killer, above her own safety. It turns out that Shae has a rare gift, so she uses her new position to search for clues. But there is something far more sinister going on.

Hush is the first in a new YA fantasy series. It’s set in a unique world that takes a while to start to understand. But the story is captivating from the start. It’s full of suspense, drama, and intrigue. There are several gripping twists along the way, as well as engaging characters. I devoured this one quickly, and can’t wait for the sequel.

Received in October

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

DC Comics:
Daphne Byrne by Laura Marks

Del Rey:
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: From a Certain Point of View by Seth Dickinson

Disney Hyperion:
The Fowl Twins Deny All Charges by Eoin Colfer
Trials of Apollo, The Book Five: The Tower of Nero by Rick Riordan
City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
Be More Chill: The Graphic Novel by Ned Vizzini

Gallery Books:
Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing by John Jackson Miller
Star Trek: The Unsettling Stars by Alan Dean Foster
Star Trek: The Original Series: The Higher Frontier by Christopher L. Bennett
Star Trek: The Original Series: Agents of Influence by Dayton Ward
Star Trek: More Beautiful Than Death by David Mack
Star Trek: The Original Series: A Contest of Principles by Greg Cox
Star Trek: Voyager: To Lose the Earth by Kirsten Beyer

Random House Children’s / Delacorte Press:
The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White

Saga Press:
Honeycomb by Joanne M. Harris

Simon & Schuster / Adams Media:
The Nemesis by S. J. Kincaid
Star Trek: The Wisdom of Picard by Chip Carter

Subterranean Press:
The Best of Elizabeth Hand by Elizabeth Hand
The Big Score by K. J. Parker

Titan Books:
Sherlock Holmes and the Beast of the Stapletons by James Lovegrove
The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway by Una Mccormack

Tor:
Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow

Gail Z Martin Guest Post – Days of the Dead Blog Tour

Gail Martin, Dreamspinner Communications

Author Gail Z Martin joins SciFiChick.com today along her Days of the Dead Blog Tour!

Raising the Stakes
By Gail Z. Martin

One of the things I love about writing series is the space for characters to grow and for the challenges they face to also become more difficult. This is true whether the story is structured to be consecutive novels that tie up a story line in each book (but also build on each other), or are the more traditional multi-part story spread across several volumes.

I tend toward having each book in a series address a particular threat/villain while other threads continue from book to book. So in my Assassins of Landria series, the continued existence of the Witch Lord poses an ongoing threat, while each individual book deals with a specific plot/conspiracy to be dealt with.

Part of showing that growth in the characters lies in facing more formidable dangers so that the characters are required to utilize the skills and knowledge that they have acquired over the course of the story. They should be able to do things several books into the series that they couldn’t have done at the beginning, and should have a better understanding both of their opponent and of themselves.

As an author that means looking for ways to raise the stakes. Maybe the threat at first is more limited in scope or power, but as the books progress, the bad guy reveals new abilities or the plots grow bolder in the damage they could cause. The hero has to ‘level up’ and acquire new allies, gain new skills, and take a broader view of the problem, growing more strategic and less reactive. Along the way, we want the characters to begin to understand themselves in a new way, gaining wisdom and perception as well as the street smarts necessary to survive.

That story progression is one of my favorite things about writing (and reading) a series, and why I usually feel unsatisfied with stand-alone books. If I fall in love with the world and the characters, I want more than just one taste. I want to follow them and watch them grow and change, see them fail and redeem themselves. And likewise, if I read a series where the characters never grow and remain unchanged from book to book, I get impatient, because even if the stories are set in a fairly short span of time, what’s happened should change the characters in some kind of meaningful way. I want them to be as real to me as possible!

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The Last Druid – Book Excerpt

In honor of today’s release of THE LAST DRUID by Terry Brooks, the final installment in the Shannara Cycle, SciFiChick.com has the first full chapter excerpt!

_______________________

ONE

Tarsha Kaynin was not dead. She should have been, but she was not.

It surprised her when she woke from the blackness into which
she had fallen when she had gone over the cliffs of Cleeg Hold and
dropped toward the churning waters of the Mermidon several hundred
feet below. She could feel sheets of hard rain beating down on
her, soaking her clothing and chilling her body. She could hear the
sounds of the storm all around her—the staccato slap of raindrops against the stone walls of the Rock Spur cliffs, the howl of the wind, and the thunder of the rain-swollen river as it surged wildly down its narrow channel. She was dangling from something that had snagged her and now held her fast. Yet as the buffeting winds set her swaying back and forth, she was reminded of how precarious her situation was.

Still, she was not dead.

Her aching, throbbing head provided further proof. She must have
hit it as she fell. Perhaps the blow was even responsible for saving her.

Perhaps it had slowed her just enough, arresting her fall sufficiently to allow the cliffs to catch hold of her. She could not remember, and she would likely never know for certain. But one thing she did know: She could not remain where she was. Sooner or later, the winds would tug her loose and she would begin falling once more.

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