Monday, March 20, 2017

Review - Agnes Grey

Original Title: Agnes Grey
Series: -
Author: Anne Brontë
Published: 1847

Publisher: Alba editorial (Spanish edition)

THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
I read this one back in 2014, and I've decided to share the review I wrote back then. 

Agnes Grey has, no doubt, Anne Brontë's mark, in the feminist tone, defending women, that she uses from start to finish. The heroine, Agnes, is the daughter of a humble family, she doesn't know many luxuries, and in the time of need, she insists on making her own living, working as a governess, in a time in which a working woman was synonymous with poverty.

I must say that the best character was Agnes' mother; she seemed a lot stronger than her husband, and ahead of her time, especially when she suggests that her daughters don't need to get married to be happy. She's a determined, willful woman, something she transmits it to both Agnes and Mary, and she follows her heart. There were two moments I particularly liked about her: one, when her husband worries about money and wonders what will happen with his wife and daughters when he passes away, and she tells her that how can he think that, if the pain of losing him would be bigger than any material deprivings. And the other, that she's not worried about ending up in misery, because as long as she has two hands and her own will, she would use them to earn her living, the same as her daughters. That is the thinking of a woman ahead of her time, don't you think?

As for Agnes, well... she's very mature for her age, humble, hard-working, and willful. But I feel she lacked depth as a character. She's always in the victim part. It is true that the governess in a big household was, most of the times, treated as a servant, and she couldn't rebel or protest if she wanted to keep her position; that nor the Bloomfields or the Murrays were delicate with her (especially the Bloomfields, I myself don't know what would I have done with such terrible kids), but Agnes rarely has faults. She doesn't seem to make mistakes. She suffers, but she bears it because she knows her salary will help her family, and altogether, the character has a lot of Puritanism in it. And, as I said before, that seems to be a trademark in the Brontës' work; both Charlotte's Jane Eyre and Anne's Helen Graham have that feature of women who suffer in silence, with no one there to care for them, but when they do something to change their stars, there the rest of the world realizes how important they were and that they shouldn't have been ignored.

The love story was... how can I say it? Nice, but not completely satisfying. I like Edward Weston's Christian attitude, that she sees surprised, and likes it; although she falls in love with him, she keeps it to herself, and in despite that the Murray sisters mock her and laugh about it, nothing he says or does makes Agnes think he returns her feelings. Which leads me again to my previous point, with Agnes always in the victim part. However, she knows Edward well, and when Rosalie Murray, who knows herself beautiful and believes herself to be irresistible, says she wants to make Edward fall in love with her and then break his heart, to tick every single man on the county out of her list, Agnes is not afraid. She knows a man like him is too smart and superior as to feel atraction towards a shallow fool as Rosalie. But even so... It didn't convince me. To love each other as they did, Agnes and Edward's relationship lacked passion, plain and simple. All of the sudden he appears at the school and asks her to marry him, without further ado, no tears, no kiss... I'm not saying the book is bad because of that. I know that giving us such a scene is not its point. I just mention it because I would have like it if there was some more feelings developed in that scene. After all, you are talking about two people who love each other deeply, and I, as a reader, have to believe it, right?

Oh, and Rosalie Murray is a whole case on herself, a lesson for life and marriage. She got married without any love for her fiance, on a whim, wanting only to be mistress of Ashby Park, and it had consequences. She paid the price of her frivolity, her flirting and her immaturity. She didn't even bear the sight of the man she would spend the rest of her life with, and I was surprised and angry when she said she had a daughter, and the good thing was that she didn't had to take care of her, because she had servants to do it for her. How can anyone live like that?

In short, it is a good book, a classic that deserves a reading, although, from Anne Brontë's work, I liked The Tenant a Wildfell Hall a lot more. Do not deprive yourself of reading it, especially if you like classics; the Brontë sisters wrote all of their books of great quality, and this one is not the exception.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Review - Tehanu

Original Title: Tehanu
Series: Earthsea Cycle, #4
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Published: 1990

Publisher: Minotauro (Spanish edition)
THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This book confirmed for me that Tenar is my favorite character; I loved her in her previous book (The Tombs of Atuan), and I liked her here it. She's no longer a girl. She's a widow, and mother of two children of her own, and a girl she adopts because she sees herself in her suffering. She takes her in when everyone else thought it was better for her to die, and takes care of her, and gives her the love no one ever gave her.

I honestly didn't expect to find Sparrowhawk again in this book. But the fact that he came back, and even without his magic, had a part in this story, showed me how magic is not what makes a hero. That sometimes, a hero is not such because he saves the world from destruction, but because he can show his courage and his heart in everyday life, in the daily existence, and that his life hasn't ended for the fact that he's no longer a man of greatness (in his case, the Archmage). Finding Tenar again gave him a new goal, and for the first time he stopped serving others, and listened to the voice in his own heart.

"...and there she taught Ged the mystery that the wisest man could not teach him."

Even when he was no longer important for the world, there was someone who, at home, needed him, and only him. And the world was reduced to that. To the simple things, that also can fill and satisfy the soul, beyond all the power and wisdom one can possess.

Therru, poor thing, was an interesting character. I loved seeing everything from her point of view, calling Tenar her mother, and mostly, Ged his father. But I must say, her real name wasn't that surprising, I had guessed it a long time ago. Although her real nature -that I'm not revealing here, of course- was a surprise indeed, and I liked it.

In general terms, was a great conclusion to the Earthsea Cycle. I recommend it, it's worth it!

Review - The Farthest Shore

Original Title: The Farthest Shore
Series: Earthsea Cycle, #3
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Published: 1972

Publisher: Minotauro (Spanish edition)

THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This book was my least favorite in the saga. I  started it, then left it a few chapters away from the ending, and I didn't take it again for months. Finally, I finished. And it left me with a bittersweet sensation.

I liked Sparrowhawk very much as a character, but in this one, he went down. There was something in him that I didn't like this time. The only salvageable thing about him was his selfless sacrifice, giving everything he had to save Earthsea from a terrible fate. But in general terms, he, as a person, didn't make me very happy.

The book is Arren's coming of age journey, but him, specifically... well, I don't want to say I didn't like him, but neither was fascinating. Plus, the crossing through the mountains of Sorrow, and the whole death thing in that part, was very confusing. There was a moment in which I just couldn't follow them, neither understand very well what was happening.

It wasn't a bad book. It is short, a quick read, and interesting thanks to the world of Earthsea in itself. I recommend it for fantasy lovers who may find a lot more inside these pages than I did. The fact that it was dense for me it's just my thing, maybe for others is a different experience.

And please, believe me, the next book, Tehanu, is a lot more interesting. This one is not bad, and although I don't think it is the best, is an overall entertaining read.

Review - The Tombs of Atuan

Original Title: The Tombs of Atuan
Series: Earthsea Cycle, #2
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Published: 1970

Publisher: Minotauro (Spanish edition)

I loved this book! Even more than the previous one, and definitely, it made me keep reading the rest of the saga. It was a short read, but excellent in every possible way.

Ursula Le Guin does something with words that is pure magic, I can't explain it differently. I don't know if this happened to other readers, but to me, that I devoured the first few chapters in such a little time, it happened that as Ahra came and went through the tunnels underground, she didn't see anything, but she guided herself remembering, and I was the one who had the feeling that I was going to get lost. And that terrible, black, opressive darkness that ruled in there is told in such a way that, when there was suddenly light, Ahra and I went blind at the same time. It was something incredible that took me by surprise. The light, gleaming on the diamonds on the walls, was so sudden that I too, reading from my bed, was dazzled. 

Ged... ups, sorry. Sparrowhawk. Your real name must not be revealed to anyone. Anyway, I loved to read again about him, and seeing how wise he has become, in addition to how powerful, in comparison to who he was in the previous book. I love that character just the way he is, that learned from his mistakes, and truly wants to help Arha, not just get away himself and leave her to her fate.

The only rather unpleasant thing were some of the priestesses' rituals and offerings in the Tombs of Atuain, but it's not that it was the most disgusting thing in the world, so it's not a bad thing, or a fault, and it's not a reason for someone who wants to read the saga to back off. As for me, it was a minor thing, and it didn't stop me from reading the rest of the saga.

And to finish this review, I loved this paragraph:  "Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake. It is not easy. It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one. The road goes upward towards the light; but the laden traveler may never reach the end of it.". Obviously, in context, it has a lot more meaning, depth and truth.

Anyway, it is a very good book. After all, every fantasy lover can't miss the Earthsea Cycle, right? Really, it doesn't disappoint. ¡Absolutely great!

**Sorry, but as a fan of period dresses and movie/series costumes in general, I loved this: "The heavy black she had worn for years was gone: her dress was of turquoise-colored silk, bright and soft as the evening sky. It belled out full from her hips, and all the skirt was embroidered with thin silver threads and seed pearls and tiny crumbs of crystal, so that it glittered softly, like rain in April." It is a beautiful dress, I couldn't help quoting it.**

Review - A Wizard of Earthsea

Original Title: A Wizard of Earthsea
Series: Earthsea Cycle, #1
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Published: 1968

Publisher: Minotauro (Spanish edition)
 

I read this book back in 2014, but I decided to translate my original review, to share it with all of you. I couldn't find a good picture of the Spanish edition cover, so I picked this one, by Houghton Mifflin. 

I picked the A Wizard of Earthsea because, back then, I wanted to read fantasy again, after a long time, and I have to say that the Earthsea world always seemed interesting to me; it was something that, as admired of Fantasy Literature, couldn't be missing from my reading lists. I hadn't read many things about wizards in a long time during those days, and I although I liked this book, it didn't have me at the edge of my sit during many pages (as I would have liked). But towards the end, I have to admit that I couldn't put it down. It was very good.

I thought that the whole shadow part was very deep. Although, when Ged turned into a hawk and flew back to his master's house, he gave him an advice I had been yelling at him chapter after chapter: that he couldn't run forever, that, no matter where he'd go, the shadow would follow him, and that the only solution was to face it, go from pray to hunter.

The Earthsea world-building is great, although so many islands and cities' names, I ended up a bit dizzied. My edition came with a map at the beginning, and I kept looking at it every so often, to know where the characters were.

I also like the dragons in this one, on their part as wise creatures, though wild, and although I would have like for them to have a bigger part -because I particularly like dragons-, that didn't take away how good the book is.

Generally speaking, I liked this story. Very entertaining and recommended, that made me read the rest of the saga!


Friday, March 10, 2017

Review - The Blood of Olympus

Original Title: The Blood of Olympus
Series: The Heroes of Olympus, #5
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: October the 7th, 2014

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Books
THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

I have absolutely no idea why, every time I grab a fantasy series, this is what happens (with rare exceptions, of course). The first couple of books are excellent -or very good- and the final one ends up being… rather disappointing. Don’t get me wrong. I liked this book, and every character on it. But there were a lot of off-putting things, that, in my opinion, shouldn’t appear when the book must wrap up the story that has been built in four whole books. Let me explain myself.

In The Blood of Olympus, once again we join the Seven heroes in their quest to stop Gaia, but this time, we get to perspective and POV from two different characters, who had their own chapters for the first time in the whole saga: Nico di Angelo, and Reyna Ramírez-Arellano, daughter of the Roman war goddess, Bellona. Together, they journeyed back to the States to return the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood, and heal the rift between Greeks and Romans, which has also been affecting the gods and messing with their personalities, making their two versions violently war against each other. Reading about Reyna was probably one of the best parts in this book, I ended up loving her, and admiring her courage. She’s truly worthy of the “heroine” title, and she proved to be a born leader, something that Octavian’s stupid orders couldn’t just change overnight. Her point of view, and her story, were amazing, and I loved how she and Nico grew on each other, almost like brother and sister. After all, war and death are not so different. As for Nico, he really surprised me in this book. He proved to be more powerful than he thought, and learned to be a little more open to other people, understanding that not everyone is going to hurt him, or intends to do so. He was already some sort of a shadow before getting so intensely into shadow travel, barely appearing at camp, and refusing to see that in despite of everything, he could have friends and be accepted; that being the Lord of the Death’s son doesn’t mean that you are -or have to be- dead inside.

Speaking of death, I really didn’t see how “an oath to keep with a final breath” could come true, but Leo, the crafter of the impossible, always finds a way. He being dead, but not dead, thanks to the physician’s cure, could have been so much better if at least we could have had a reunion scene with his friends, that were back at Camp, grieving his passing. On the bright side, I like that Riordan chose to redeem Calypso and set her free from her curse. But I hate when the things I most want to read about end up being left for the very last page, and end before I can truly savor them. I mean, Calypso’s unfair punishment lasted millennia, her heart breaking over and over again by unrequited love, but her redemption and happiness lasted only one page? I don’t doubt she loved Leo, but come on! I was really eager to see how that story played out, but it fell short. On the other hand, I didn’t quite get where Nemesis’ threat lead in the end. Was his death the price she required, after helping him? Or his broken heart in the previous book? And also, we never get to know what Asclepius saw wrong with him. Heartbreak? Lovesickness? We can only guess.

The battle scenes were somewhat disappointing. The gods -the rift finally rectified- appeared at last, making me say “finally they show their faces to clean some of this mess!”. The heroes did a lot more than them through the entire quest, with half of their power, but it was good, however, to see them fighting side by side with their children. As for the battle with Gaia, oh, my goodness! So much expectation, sacrifices, fear and training for it to last only ten minutes or so! As soon as Gaia wakes up, she goes back to sleep! I would have preferred her waking up by the middle of the book, so we could have seen the heroes in action to defeat her, because, although the prophecy mentioned seven heroes, in the end, only three of them were responsible for winning the battle. And there’s something I can’t help wondering: if Piper’s charmspeak was so powerful as to induce such a terrible and elemental goddess into slumber for another eon, then, why did the gods need Piper at all? She has only half of Aphrodite’s power, then, why couldn’t just Aphrodite herself charmspeak Gaia into sleep again, being ten times more powerful? It doesn’t make much sense, at least for me.

Piper is a really good character, even when she isn’t exactly my favorite. Her friendship with Annabeth is great, as she teaches her to let go of so many thoughts and learn that logic not always explains everything. After so many years of being a Greek mythology freak, only now something clicked in my head, after reading Piper’s scene in Ares’ shrine, and I said, “of course, that’s it!”. According to the myths, Aphrodite and Hephaestus’ marriage never worked, and I really never stopped to consider why, but I finally see it. They are complete opposites; emotions (especially one as strong and overwhelming as love) can’t be paired with pure, mechanical logic. The only thing they have in common is fire, but Aphrodite’s is all consuming and uncontrollable, while Hephaestus’ is rather related to a tool, used to bring to life the power of the mind. In other words, to obey logic, something that, when it comes to love, is the same as useless.

As for the other heroes, Jason was also never a favorite of mine, but I loved how much he cared for Piper, and their romantic moment in Zeus cabin’s roof, recreating that memory that never really was. I liked Jason’s low profile, because he doesn’t go around boasting about his lineage. The fact of being Jupiter’s child gave him lots of things he didn’t seek for and gained him angry enemies that shouldn’t have been, like Octavian, but he stayed true to himself. He’s overall a very good character. I just wish we could have seen one or two moments with his sister Thalia before the end of the book, after so many years apart, but she was away with the Hunters, and didn’t come for the final battle.

I missed we didn’t get to read so much about Annabeth and Percy, who are definitely my favorite heroes. I was hoping so, especially after everything they went through in Tartarus, that only brought them closer. Here, we only get to see them through someone else’s eyes. On the other hand, giving Reyna the chance to tell her story, nor Frank or Hazel got their own chapters. I hated that, because Frank and Hazel had grown so much in The House of Hades, that they deserved a final word in the whole quest. But here, their roles are pushed to the backburner, even when Frank was raised to praetor and Hazel handled magic so well, she could have been a child of Hecate herself. Oh, and by the way, what happened with Hazel’s curse washed away by a son of Neptune? Nobody mentioned that again.

This last point was due to my own curiosity. I wish we could have met the children of the minor gods, because I was really interested in their powers. I mean, Percy gave up immortality itself to give them some credit, and help them find their own identity, right? But that didn’t seem to affect the story at all. It’s not that I’m not happy with our Seven heroes, because I truly love them all, but after the whole fuss around them, I would have liked if one of them had been a child of one of the so frequently forgotten minor gods, proving, therefore, that they are worthy of being called heroes, and reaffirming their own right to be claimed and properly recognized for their true value, even when they are not exactly children of one of the Twelve. The heroes in this saga are all children of the “big ones”. And I was left with questions about those “minor” demigods, even when the story doesn’t move around them. I mean, what powers could have a child of Hebe? What can Iris’ children do? Or Nemesis’? But that’s just my own curiosity. Luckily, we got to know a little more about the Hypnos, Nike and Hecate cabins. Perhaps there’s more about them in the Trials of Apollo, which gives me a new excuse to read them next.

The Blood of Olympus wasn’t the best book in this saga (my favorite was The Mark of Athena, along with The House of Hades), but it wasn’t a complete disaster. It just had those moments I mentioned, that raised many questions. I will definitely read more by Rick Riordan, and I’m glad I could get to know his amazing stories and utterly lovable characters! Definitely, one of the best authors I’ve ever read!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Review - The House of Hades

Original Title: The House of Hades
Series: The Heroes of Olympus, #4
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: October the 8th, 2013

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Books
THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

In my previous review I said I would grab this book faster than the speed of light. So I did, and so I read it, and it deserves five solid stars, just like the previous one in the saga! After that mean cliffhanger, I practically flew through the pages.

One of the things that impressed me the most in this book were the vivid, terrible description of Tartarus. Riordan truly outdid himself, because it is described all too well. I swear I had nightmares about it, and the worst part is that its aspect wasn’t even the real one, as it was only what Annabeth and Percy’s human eyes could to see without going insane. Which means that the Rivers of Fire and Lamentation, the red-blood, poisonous clouds, the infectious-looking, skin-like surface, full of blisters like amniotic sacs where monsters reform… weren’t the worst thing to see there. My applause, it is really appalling, and it creates such images, that, while reading, I couldn’t help wrinkling my nose out of disgust and horror. Plus, the characters in there! So clear, I could see them and hear them in my head, thanks to Riordan’s amazing storytelling skills -like with Nyx, the elemental goddess of Night, her image simply got seared in my brain: her eyes like quasars, the black void of her dress, her whip like a string of stars… It really reflected how terrible she is. But I also loved that scene, because even with the scary appearance, it was very funny. Perhaps it came out repetitive the fact that Percy and Annabeth relied too much on their enemies’ stupidity to make them fight each other all the time, but still, I loved this book.

As I read Percy and Annabeth’s trip through Tartarus, I couldn’t help but being grateful for the fact that they are already a solid couple, confirmed soulmates who love each other and they know it, being willing to do anything to avoid separation. Their scenes could have been difficult to bear, as a reader, if I had to see them circling around each other, stealing glances and saying phrases with double meaning, as it often happens with a couple about to fall in love. They survived Tartarus, with all its horrors, because they had each other.

That being said, I can’t help feeling bad about Nico. He had the misfortune of seeing Tartarus’ real aspect, and it almost drove him insane; there was no one there to help him through that horrible experience. He’s such an interesting character… in some ways, he is like the Underworld. Cold, distant, unpredictable, and only the people who understand him feel comfortable around him. That’s why he gets along with Hazel. They both have a connection to their father’s realm, and can truly understand each other’s mind. As for the big revelation about him, that not many people were happy to read, well… I’m just going to mention it to say that, certainly, it was unexpected, that I couldn’t see the previous hints of it (or if it was hints at all), and, no matter if we agree with it or not, we have to say that it is realistic. He struggles with something that it is real every day, for many people, and it doesn’t make them any less human. Moreover, let’s not go any further than the Greek mythology itself that is the foundation for this entire world: check Ganymede’s myth (a Trojan prince, so beautiful that attracted Zeus himself), or Callisto’s (a beautiful nymph, follower of Artemis, who was seduced by Zeus in the form of the goddess herself). I mean, Nico’s true nature would not be a rarity in the ancient Greek world, and it allows many readers to feel identified with him. However, nothing could ever happen with Percy, because The House of Hades -along with the two previous books-, left more than clear that Annabeth and Percy are soulmates, each other’s destiny, and nothing could ever drive them apart. 

Oh, and by the way, I definitely prefer Aphrodite over Cupid as goddess of love… I never thought I would say that.

Oh, my, Leo’s story! He’s still one of the best characters, as he is funny, resourceful and smart, with those gags and phrases that had me cracking up as I read. I think his part on this story, besides of him being the son of Hephaestus and the mechanical genius of the group, is something not even the gods saw coming. Calypso is condemned to fall in love with the heroes stranded on her island, but I don’t think the gods considered what would happen if the hero in question falls in love with her in return. Everything I guessed as I read (with a pain in my heart) was confirmed when the raft bubbled out of the sea to take Leo away from Ogygia; it was heartbreaking, knowing that they fell in love, and it was worse than any curse, because she wanted him to stay, and he didn’t want to leave. Leo is not like the other heroes who happened to meet Calypso. There’s no Penelope, Elizabeth or Annabeth waiting for him. But there is a Calypso who helped him, kissed him, and would accept him, and he can’t wait to find his way back to her. He even swore to return on the River Styx, and we all know what that means! I can’t wait to see what happens next.

I think this book gave us the chance to see the true reach of these seven demigods’ powers before the final battle to stop Gaia. Through their fights, their true abilities could come to light, as their understanding of them grew. Like Piper’s charmspeak, that proved capable of awakening a machine, no less, to help defeat a goddess. As for Hazel, she saw she’s more than just her curse. Her destiny is not only to bring death to the surface, but one of great power and magic. She’s brave, and smart, and I understand her frustration, because, as all heroes, she received instructions from Hecate, but no explanations at all about how to do what was asked from her. With every test, she grows stronger, and here, she got to prove herself, and rightfully earn the title of heroine. As for Jason, he’s changing, and with each passing day, he is less Roman and more Greek, as it is in Camp Half-Blood where he’s been the happiest, and met Leo and Piper, who are like family. For some reason, he’s my least favorite in this group of seven, but he’s still great, and powerful. Only one tiny thing about his part in this story: when he and Leo chased the Kerkopes through Bologna, he got trapped by Neptune’s statue, that Leo had previously recognized as mechanic, but there’s no further explanation of it. It doesn’t affect the story, but I can’t help wondering, why was it activated when Jason approached it, and not Leo? Which purpose does it have a monumental fountain with an internal trap mechanism? We don’t know why it is there; it only delays Jason, and then, that’s it. Nothing more. And perhaps it would have been interesting to know why a figure of Neptune -a god that was feared by the Romans, not very popular- would trap a son of Jupiter, no less.

And finally, we get to my favorite demigod in this book, besides Percy and Annabeth. Frank really outdid himself. Both he and Hazel grew a lot in this book, but Frank… He proved he’s a hero, and a born leader, fighting for love and duty. A true son of Mars, worthy of the title, and his blessing. The battle in Venice’s bridge was awesome, but the one in the House of Hades was EPIC. When Jason raised him to praetor, and he brought his true leadership and temper to the surface, was probably his best moment, that sent a shiver down my spine. He’s a leader worthy of being followed, and he truly turned the tide to his favor. The battle was won, because of him. Long live Praetor Frank Zhang!

Once again we are in front of a book with too many details to do properly justice to them. Characters like Bob the Titan and Damasen made Tartarus a bit less traumatic for Percy and Annabeth, and they proved themselves heroes, too. And there’s also those crazy, funny gods like Triptolemus, Calais and Zethes, that at least can make you crack a smile, but also mean, vengeful deities, like Khione, goddess of snow, who are always there to make our heroes’ lives more complicated. 

The ending was not the terrible, maddening cliffhanger we read in The Mark of Athena, but still, there’s a quest to look forward to. Definitely, a great book, in an awesome saga that I’m glad I decided to read!


Monday, February 13, 2017

Review - The Mark of Athena

Original Title: The Mark of Athena
Series: The Heroes of Olympus, #3
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: October the 2nd, 2012

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Books
THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

I’m utterly speechless. This book is, no doubt, the best of the saga so far. It had everything; moments that were funny, sad, terrible and romantic, and of course, there’s that ending, the meanest cliffhanger ever. Thanks a lot, Riordan! I’m afraid this review won’t cover all the amazing details it has, because that would be impossible. I’ll do my best, but know that to understand its awesomeness, and how much I loved this book, you’ll need to read it.

I don’t know where to start to describe my favorite moments! The Mark of Athena is one more proof that, no matter how many new characters come, Percy and Annabeth are always going to be my favorites, but, nevertheless, is great to see the Seven finally together. Every one of them has their own voice, and powers, and it is great to get to know each of them individually, as the book switches their POVs all the time, and you can get to join them to each adventure. Definitely, I fell in love with Leo in this one. I already liked him, but here, it had some of his best moments. I can truly relate to him, I know what it is to be in a group where all the others are couples, so Leo, I feel you, buddy! Oh, my God, in the scene with Narcissus, he completely outdid himself! I cracked up during the whole scene, I couldn’t stop laughing out loud as he tried to distract the fan club, and give Hazel the chance to get the Celestial bronze, delivering some of the cleverest and funniest lines in the whole book! He may be the so called “seventh wheel”, but the whole group would be lost without him. In fact, each demigod has something utterly necessary for the quest to succeed, so Nemesis, shut your ‘dam’ mouth! 

The demigods’ powers are amazing, and I love to see them learning every day a bit more about how to use them, like Leo, when he used his wits to save his friends from the eidolons, and then from Gaia’s power, but also when they work together, combining their abilities, like Jason and Percy summoning the storm. And talking about powers, there’s something I want to mention. Annabeth, upon the quest she must face alone, resented her lack of special powers, unlike the other six people in the Argo II. But that doesn’t mean a thing. She proved that power is not what makes a hero, and that she’s incredibly powerful in her own way, because her wits and her knowledge are unique; they come from her heritage, and she’s gone where no child of Athena ever went and survived to tell the tale! Not having powers like Percy’s, for example, doesn’t mean she lacks of them completely. She’s smart and wise, and is everything a hero should be. She’s a daughter of Athena worthy of the title.

Every book seems to be a challenge to see if I can love Percy and Annabeth even more, and the worst part is that I keep growing fonder and fonder with each passing chapter. Their relationship it isn’t just a silly teen crush. It is love, and the ending proved what Aphrodite said in The Lost Hero: that the noblest, bravest acts are done for love. Their quiet night in the ship’s stables was utterly beautiful and priceless, as they decided to live in the moment, and for a few hours, not to worry about anything else than each other. I loved that scene, because, even for a little while, they stopped being the son of Poseidon and the daughter of Athena. They were, simply, Percy and Annabeth, the missing piece of each other, and the very reason worthy of literally, any sacrifice. Percy preferred to fall into Tartarus itself -a destiny far, far worse even than the Underworld- than being separated from Annabeth again, and I want to sob in pain…! I love them so much! Each loving instant is adorable:

Percy threw his arms around her. They kissed, and for a moment nothing else mattered. An asteroid could have hit the planet and wiped out all life, and Annabeth wouldn’t have cared.

Only one of the best moments they shared. *sigh*

Just like with the other books by Rick Riordan I’ve read so far, I find myself in the impossible task to do justice to all the amazing little details and characters that turn this book in a literary gem. Not a page is a waste, and it has everything that makes a story great, making you want to know more and more with each chapter. You seriously need to read this! The whole saga!

As for me, I’m grabbing The House of Hades faster than the speed of light, I’ll assure you that!



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Time to get epic!

Hi there, everyone!
How are you doing? 

I've been thinking lately, that I've been sharing only reviews with you, and although I appreciate every single one of you who drop by and read, I thought that today we could do something different. As I mentioned, I love writing, but as any other aspiring writer, I have both my strenghts and my weaknesses, and one of the parts I hate the most in the writing process is choosing a title. I know they are necessary, but after a few difficult experiences, I know that it would be better to choose a title BEFORE starting writing; I gave this a lot of thoughts (especially with the contest I told you about a few months ago), and I arrived to the conclusion that titles are hard -for me, at least- because writing takes a lot of emotional involvement, and simply, how can I summon everything my story means to me in a couple of words? How can I define what the writing process was, and show so many emotions in such a short way? 

Tough thing. But today, I thought we may have some fun with titles. I did something similar before, with the chart to figure out your Regency lady name. Just, I would need to clarify, I do not own anything, this chart just popped up in my search, and I thought "why not?"

Here it goes:


I'll start! My title would be... The Gates of Ash & Storms.
Oh, awesome, sounds like something I would read!

Can't wait to know yours! Please, comment!







Saturday, January 28, 2017

Review - The Son of Neptune

Original Title: The Son of Neptune
Series: The Heroes of Olympus, #2
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: October the 4th, 2011

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Books

THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

I loved this book! I seriously did; it is another proof of Rick Riordan’s amazing talent as a storyteller, and an awesome way to introduce young people to ancient mythology and history, in a world in which they are both alive, and fending off monsters, hearing prophecies and fighting with swords and bows are everyday things. Here, we found the second installment in The Heroes of Olympus saga, and it was as good as the previous one.

One of the best parts in this book was, definitely, having Percy back. He’s one of my favorite characters, and although in this one I missed both Annabeth and Thalia, I have the hope they will reappear, especially after that ending! But Percy… If he could make me love him even more, he did it here. Even when nothing in his life was certain, and he didn’t remember a thing about himself, he knew that somewhere out there was a girl named Annabeth, looking for him, and even when he didn’t fully recall her, he knew she was his anchor to the world, someone he needed and would give anything to be reunited with her. They are destined to each other, and I can’t wait to read more about them, now that they are officially together. In short, as far as Percy and Annabeth are there, it will be a must-read!

I liked Camp Jupiter, it is the Roman counterpart to Camp Half-Blood, where not only demigods find a refuge, but also their families, and their descendants. It has ancient Rome’s organization and urban plant, and the campers, instead of being divided according to their godly parent, are put in cohorts -a military unit-, and in Percy’s case, he ends up in the Fifth Cohort, the most mocked and maligned one, along with two other demigods, Hazel Levesque and Frank Zhang.

I liked Hazel, and I’m excited to read more about her, to see how her story plays out. She’s a brave, smart and strong heroine, daughter of Pluto (Hades), who goes for what she wants, and is always willing to sacrifice herself for those she loves; but she hides a secret. She’s not supposed to be alive, as she died decades ago, trying to stop Gaea and the giant Alcyoneus from rising, but she was brought back from the Underworld by Nico di Angelo, whom I loved to see back. I liked that, even when her curse costed so much (her mother’s disrepute and death, for instance), and she hated herself for it, she eventually learned how to use it on her behalf. Her story is sad, and tragic, but it shows how corruptive riches can be, and the way that, whatever comes from the Lord of Death, even in the shiny guise of gold, silver, platinum and gemstones, won’t bring anything less than death itself. The only thing that bothered me a little was the fact that she kept mentioning her curse, and all the problems it brought her, but she didn’t give any details, so there was a point in which I was thinking “Please, explain something to me, for once!”. The whole suspense is good, but it can be tiresome, as it takes forever to finally learn, for example, why people who touch the gems and metals that she makes come to the surface end up paying such terrible prices. But still, I loved her, and I’m eager to see the part she will play in the Prophecy of Seven.

As for Frank, I really liked him, and I even felt a bit identified with him. I understand -perhaps all too well- what it is wanting to be accepted, doing your best to fit in, and still, feeling laughed at, bullied, left aside. I felt like I could be friends with this guy. His powers are amazing, he’s a natural warrior, even with all his doubts and insecurities, and comes from an old family with Roman roots, and powers of their own. It wasn’t fair that his life depended on a piece of wood, but he’s a true hero, because even when he was aware of that, was willing to give his life in order to save the Camp and the world. However, there’s something about him that I need to mention. It bothers me when the characters in a book don’t seem to be able to connect the dots. Frank waited for months to be claimed by Apollo as his son, given that his most remarkable talent was archery. But it was pretty obvious that his father wasn’t Apollo. I knew from the start that he was Mars’ son, for the simple and plain fact that his mother was a soldier. I mean, think of all the other demigods’ parents we know, and ask yourself what they did that could attract a god’s attention. Gods are attracted to that very same thing that makes them alive and powerful (otherwise they would fade), Mars is the god of war, and Emily Zhang was a soldier. It wasn’t very difficult to guess. But still, Frank is a great character, and I want to keep reading about him. I loved his relationship with Hazel, seeing how trust grew between them, and changed the way they saw themselves and each other.

I wish I could do justice to all the great details in this book. Just like in the Percy Jackson saga, The Son of Neptune is full of Riordan’s clever adaptations and gags, like the Amazons being the owners of Amazon (by the way, I had to go to The Sea of Monsters to remember who Hylla was), Percy understanding Arion’s language, Iris in the organic food business, Thanatos owning an Ipad… Things only Riordan can do so well, making me laugh out loud. I’ll definitely keep reading the rest of the saga, even when I still love Camp Half-Blood better than Camp Jupiter. I’m excited about getting to know more about these characters, including those we already know from the previous saga. If it means I can join Percy, Annabeth and Thalia, in their quests to save the world, I’ll read anything!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Review - The Lost Hero

Original Title: The Lost Hero
Series: The Heroes of Olympus, #1
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: October the 12th, 2010

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children

THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

I never thought I would read this book, after seeing it in hundreds of bookstores, and wondering what that cover with a big, mechanic dragon may be about. But Rick Riordan is easily becoming one of my favorite authors. His stories, besides being fast-paced, funny and engaging, have a strong, solid foundation, that links everything and widens the already big and multilayered world ancient Greek mythology built, and in this case, keeps building every day.

First of all, I have to admit that I wouldn’t have liked this book so much if I haven’t met Percy Jackson and Camp Half-Blood first. I really missed him on this one, especially as narrator, because The Lost Hero is told in the third person, following the quest of three demigods, Jason, Leo, and Piper, who arrive at Camp Half-Blood in strange circumstances, as Jason’s memories have been stolen, and he has no idea who he is, and what is is he doing in a school bus full of kids on their way to a field trip. I liked the fact that the author chose to switch the heroes’ POV, so that way we can get to know the three of them at the same time, with their own personalities, struggles, personal stories... And they are demigods, so that never gets boring.

Camp-Half Blood is one of those places that always welcomes you back, and with every book, it feels like coming home. I love to go there, every time to find something new, and meet new campers, and now it is even more interesting, because there’s new cabins and new demigods, so that means new powers, and a new set of characters. Personally, I find really interesting to get to know the children of minor gods, like Iris’, Hecate’s, and Hypno’s, and I really hope there’s more about them, because they were underrated for a long time, and I’m really curious about what they can do. Sadly, I had unintentionally spoiled myself some things before reading this book, like Jason’s last name and Piper’s godly parent, but I have to say that it didn’t kept me from passing one page after another, and easily spending four or five hours straight reading non-stop. Every chapter finishes with a mean cliffhanger that makes you need to keep reading. As for the characters we already know from the Percy Jackson series, I must say, before this book, I really disliked the Aphrodite cabin (except for Silena Beauregard), along with their mother, but Piper really makes me rethink it, especially after her dream with her mother, in which she exposes the true power love has, that it is more than just beauty, pink, and the designer clothes and perfums that seem to be the cabin’s trademark. 

Love is powerful, Piper. It can bring even the gods to their knees.
My point is that love is the most powerful motivator in the world. It spurs mortals to greatness. Their noblest, bravest acts are done for love.

I still can’t believe my favorite quotes from this book came from Aphrodite, but there’s truth in her words. More than once, the gods, in their imperfection, acted out of love and passion (sometimes with catastrophic consequences), proving that Aphrodite, even when she’s usually considered shallow and fickle, is more powerful than she’s given credit for.

I really liked Piper, she’s a strong, powerful demigod, destined for something great, and she really gives another meaning to what it is to be a child of Aphrodite. However, the love story with Jason seems a bit forced. He has no memory of her, and her memories of him are a product of the Mist, so I don’t really like the whole “he’s mine” thing Piper comes up with. I get it when she practically spits it to Drew’s face to get her out of the way, but still, she doesn’t even know the guy!

As for the other characters, well... The ones from the Percy Jackson’s saga are still my favorites, as Annabeth and Thalia (by the way, I also liked to read again about the Hunters of Artemis). I liked Jason, but I still love Percy better. He’s powerful, and I really want to know more about him, the camp he comes from, his family, the battle in Mount Othrys... There’s a whole lot of things to find out about him, and I guess that’s why I didn’t fully liked him; because I need to know more. As for Leo Valdez, I liked that through him we get to know a lot more about both the Hephaestus cabin, and his talents are amazing, as he did a few things not even his siblings could do, in addition to be able to create and manipulate fire, which makes him even a more powerful demigod. He’s a Latin character, moreover! You don’t get to know many of them, and almost always they are horrible stereotypes based in no research. That’s not the case, and I really hope he grows even more to be an awesome character; the only thing about him is that I needed to be reminded of his age, because sometimes he doesn’t seem to be sixteen, but rather twelve or thirteen, by the way he talks and thinks. But still, he’s a great character.

The Roman mythology part sounds interesting and I’m more than willing to keep reading, especially now that we know where Percy is. I want to know more about Lupa the she-wolf, and of course, about the other camp in which the kids born from the Roman version of their godly parent are. I’m really curious about it, and I can’t wait to keep reading! I have the feeling that this saga won’t be better than the Percy Jackson one, but still, it promises to be really good. I’m always open to new fantasy sagas, and after of a couple of trashy ones, I’m very happy that I found an author who can really work magic with his words! Definitely a keeper!