The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

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5stars

The world will end. The big picture cannot be changed. But in the meantime, as Loki once said, we can choose to alter the details. That’s how we take control of our destiny.

Title: The Ship of the Dead
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3
Number of pages: 423 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: Funny, intriguing, mysterious.
Bad things about this book: The lack of fluidity of Alex seemed done on purpose. I didn’t like it very much.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I always recommend a Rick Riordan.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

As soon as I read this was going to be the last book of the Magnus Chase series I knew my book was going to be late because I’m lucky like that. I placed a pre-order that was mysteriously refunded a couple days before the release and that was the beginning of “The Epic Journey of Kristel and the missing Magnus”. It took it one whole spoiler-avoiding month to get here and now that I’ve read it my mind is trying to come to terms with what happened and is going to happen in the next Apollo book. I’m scared!

Magnus and friends are set to sail towards the place where they know the ship of the dead, made of toenails, is, defeat Loki, his undead army, and stop Ragnarok from starting. Sounds easy, right? No, it doesn’t, and it’s not even only those things they need to do. How do you defeat a god? How do you stop an army of zombies when you don’t have a plan? You wait for godly advices and try your best not to die in the meantime. That’s the plan; wing it until you win it.

My first task was my favourite one – getting out of the way.

As usual I loved Magnus, everything about him and his inner monologues. I also loved the whole set of characters accompanying him on this almost impossible quest; we get to know more about all their background stories, the way they died as heroes earning them a place in Valhalla. Each one of them has so much to give to this quest and each one of them is essential for this quest to be a success. I always love how the story is never about a single hero who magically wins everything: this is a team effort and I wouldn’t have loved it as much as I did otherwise.

Alex Fierro, Sam’s green-haired gender-fluid half-sibling chaperone of doom.

One thing I didn’t like was the Alex situation. Alex is gender fluid, right? So if you give us a character that is fluid then you have to allow them to be fluid, on page. When Alex was male it felt through the pages, he was different and I couldn’t wait to get to know him better. I have read books with gender fluid characters and their fluidity was wildly shown and we got to see every aspect of what made them the wonderful beings they were. Instead with Alex we got three scenes with him as a male, three scenes, two right at the beginning then the issue was kind of forgotten! With more scenes it will have shown us more about how Magnus felt about Alex as both male and female. It will have given him and us more info about who he was more interested in. If the whole fluidity was shown off-page, I don’t think I’m okay with it. Give us representation the way we deserve it. All things said, I love Alex and I hope we’ll see more of them, even just a tiny mention, in future books. I’m hoping we get a short story. That’ll be nice!

I will have given this book a 5++ rating if it wasn’t for the Alex situation but The Ship of Dead is still one hell of a book. It has everything I like. It was entertaining, full of mythology, diverse characters, originality, and it has The Lord of the Rings references. Who doesn’t love pop references, right?

My friends were all dressed like me, in white wool, so we looked like a secret society of very clean monks – the Fellowship of the Bleach.

I think it’s time for a Lotr marathon. I just need almost 10 free hours, maybe double if I also want to watch The Hobbit. I will do the re-watch while anxiously waiting for the next Apollo book. I think bad things are going to happen and I will never be ready for those! Please, Rick, don’t kill anyone; make them lose a leg, an arm, but not their lives, I’m begging you! We’ll just have to wait and read, I suppose. Patience is not always a virtue I’m fond of.

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The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo #2) by Rick Riordan

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5stars

“The longer you live, the weirder the world gets.”

Title: The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo #2)
Author: Rick Riordan
Good things about this book: I loved everything so maybe you will, too!
Bad things about this book: I would love to see again old characters but that’s not really a bad thing.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I always recommend a Riordan.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

If there’s a certainty in my life is that any book Mr. Riordan writes is a book that’s not going to disappoint me. So far it has never happened and I’m positive it’s not going to happen anytime soon. I may be 31 years old but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to like stories about teenagers saving the world. Add mythology to the mix and you got me hooked for life.

Apollo is still very human and very mortal and he has to go on quests to get his father, the mighty Zeus, to make him a god again. This time he is flying to Indianapolis with Leo and Calypso riding the metal dragon Festus. I loved these quest companions! I already loved Leo from the Heroes of Olympus’ books and now we get to know the half titan Calypso, newly freed from the exile on the prison island Ogygia.

“Don’t test me, Valdez. When I am a god again, I will make a constellation out of you. I will call it the Small Exploding Latino.”

Apollo is starting to understand how is it to be human a little better than in the previous book but he still has a very long way to go. In order to become a god again is pretty obvious that he has to start seeing things the way demigods and mortals see it. He has to understand sacrifice. He has to understand love. He is starting to see it but it’s still not enough. Well, there are still 3 books to go so I guess we’re going to see funny and frail human being Lester Papadopoulos fight against powerful immortal emperors for a little bit longer.

“It’s not how long you live that matters. It’s what you live for.”

There is a new set of amazing characters that are involved in this quest, and there are also old friends we already knew and surely missed. Hunters, former hunters, a headless cheddar-colored ghost, demigods, griffins, ostriches, a sweet elephant called Livia, and many others. There weren’t plot twists but the story unfolded a little at a time and mysteries were revealed when they were supposed to be revealed.

I guessed the name of the new Emperor they were facing this time because I am a little familiar with roman history, living in Italy and having studied like a good student back in the day. I have to say that I may have not paid much attention in class because a lot of things were new to me; it was nice learning new stuff. I have to admit that my knowledge may have come from movies. A lot of my knowledge nowadays comes from TV shows, movies and books. That’s me, always quoting The Simpsons in everyday conversations!

His eyes gleamed with confidence as if to say, That’s right. I just crawled out of a tunnel, and I still look gorgeous.

As usual, the diversity in Riordan’s books is a breath of fresh air. I love to imagine a world in which no matter who you love, the gender you identify with, the color of your skin, or where you come from, you are not object of hate and violence from ignorant people. The world is a melting pot of human beings and we cohabitate in a world that is amazing. Less hate and lots more of love doesn’t have to be hard to achieve, it has to come naturally like it’s supposed to.

I sighed inwardly. First it had been the zoo at first light. Then the Canal Walk at first light. Now the caverns. I really wished dangerous quests could start at a more suitable time, like perhaps three in the afternoon.

That being said, I just loved how Apollo was a lot more flirtatious with the boys in this book, and hearing about his past love stories was nice; I’m sure there are a lot more stories to be told. I love seeing Apollo, the narcissistic, egocentric, and hilarious god I obviously adore, becoming a better person; I just can’t wait to see this different version of him on Mount Olympus dealing with the other gods and his daddy.

Have I said something to spoil the story? I hope not. Things happen, there are a lot of carrots to peal, dishes to clean, toilets to scrub, monsters to kill and enemies to fight; no time to rest, our heroes are going to be pretty busy.

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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5stars

“Believe,” said the rumbling voice. “If you are to survive, you must believe.”

Title: American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Good things about this book: Everything (Shadow!).
Bad things about this book: I can say it was very long but then you finish it and you think that maybe it wasn’t long enough.
Do I recommend it? Yes, of course.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Shame! I am ashamed! So ashamed! It took me almost a month to finish this book and it took me years to take it from my bookshelf and open it. SHAME! The TV show made me finally read it and I’m so thankful because it’s a beautiful book, something very different to what I’m used to read.

A story so detailed you believe it’s real. You start believing alongside Shadow that these Gods, old and new, are part of our everyday reality. These characters are interesting and each one of them is put there to capture your attention, some sort of misdirection from the big picture happening in the background: the big storm. It may not seem important at first but just you wait and you’ll be surprised by how much is going on that you are not really seeing.

This book is really long and everything I want to write about it is part of something bigger and it’s hard to tell you a detail without spoiling you what all of that means for the developing of the story so I’m going to analyze a little bit the two main characters of the book.

Shadow is a marvelous man, all abs and inner (and so much outer) strength. He is enjoyable from the very beginning. The choices he make, the words he says, his inner monologues, everything appears to be well thought and in character. I was surprised I never got angry with him, not even once; I liked him from the first page to the very end.

Wednesday is a flawed character, one that you like not really understanding why; a very old God afraid of being forgotten and to disappear from the world. He is very peculiar and you understand after a little while that he is not entirely honest with anything so you start questioning everything he said. There are so many layers to Wednesday and even after finishing the book I’m still wondering so much about him.

There are so many Gods introduced throughout the story, many well known to me, others only heard a few times and a lot completely unknown but that I wish to learn more about. I can’t start mentioning the gods or I’ll be here writing until august; each one of them is particular, has depth and importance to the story. The new gods has names that are a bit ridiculous and are made fun of in the book so it’s fun to laugh with Shadow and co. I am fond of mythology and I am also very fond of books that know how to mix reality and myth into a well-developed urban fantasy.

People believe, thought Shadow. It’s what people do. They believe.

This a very well written book, there’s not doubt, but often well written doesn’t mean it’s also fast paced and enjoyable. It can lose track of the story and become boring. This is not the case. American Gods has everything and everything is in its rightful place. It’s worth your time and it’s worth to be read at least once in your life before it’s too late. So, come on, go get the book and start believing!

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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

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4stars

“The Norse myths are the myths of a chilly place, with long, long winter nights and endless summer days, myths of a people who did not entirely trust or even like their gods, although they respected and feared them.”

Title: Norse Mythology
Author: Neil Gaiman
Good things about this book: Really well written and interesting stories.
Bad things about this book: Maybe too short, if I really need to find something bad in it.
Do I recommend it? Yes, who doesn’t love mythology?
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

There are storytellers and then there is Neil Gaiman. The way he retells these norse mythology stories is sublime and I had so much fun reading and learning. I already knew a few things thanks to my own curiosity, watching Vikings, and reading Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase books. Norse gods have always got my interest and of course I was going to read a book about them and if it’s a book by Neil Gaiman, even better!

Gaiman writes the stories of the gods from their birth until Ragnarok, the apocalypse that is also the beginning of new things. The stories are all interesting and, needless to say, extraordinarily well written. The modern feeling of how the gods are introduced doesn’t bore you and it keeps you glued to the pages. Even knowing about how gross some of the gods were is interesting if written the way Gaiman does it. They drank the spit and blood of some god to become wise. Gross! And that story with Odin having sexy times with a giant was a surprise: who would’ve thought that old fox had that in him?

I knew Thor wasn’t the smart one among the gods but knowing also how much he could eat, drink and how much he knew how every single bad thing happening was always Loki’s fault, made me like him even more than I already liked him and his Marvel version. Thor of the long blonde hair is dreamy. Thor of the red beard maybe isn’t as dreamy but he has a special place in my heart nonetheless.

Tyr, Thor’s brother, is also one my favorites now. I didn’t know him at all and it surprised me how much involved he was in everything. The part between him and Fenrir wolf made me emotional. As much as I knew how dangerous the wolf was and was going to be, I didn’t like what the gods did to him.

“Because,” said Thor, “when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.”

Loki, well, is just like I imagined him. Not the Hiddleston Loki I was used to and neither Riordan’s version, but just like I pictured the mischief blood brother of Odin. Something bad happened? Loki’s fault and, guess what? It indeed was his fault. It was like he wasn’t even trying to hide his guilt; it showed all over his glowing with pride face! You’ve got to love Loki, his monstrous children and his shape shifting abilities.

The book is short and it’s easy to read and that’s always a plus. I finished it and I wanted to know more and I think that’s beautiful. I admire Gaiman and I curse myself because I haven’t read many books by him. That’s something I promise to do!

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The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2) by Rick Riordan

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5stars

“Just like the good old days: marching together into the unknown, searching for missing magical weapons and risking painful death. I’d missed my buddies!”

Title: The Hammer of Thor
Author: Rick Riordan
Why you should read this book: Because it’s the second book of the Gods of Asgard series and if you have read the first one, this one is a must!
Do I recommend it? Yes, it is funny, diverse, mysterious and interesting, can’t wait for the third one.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

There are certain authors and certain books that know your sense of humor; they just get you. I am not a teenager anymore but believe me, the puns, the jokes, not matter how juvenile, I find them hilarious. I can’t help it. I get entertain by the little things. Give me a pun and I will laugh for days.

There is only one tiny flaw I didn’t expect this book to have: I didn’t highlight any quote. When I read I usually have see-through sticky notes so that I can highlight the quotes I like but, no, it didn’t happen with this book. Zero quotes. For me, that is a weird event. I don’t want to think about that. There was a lack of quotes but it has plenty of funny situations.

“At this point, most people would have thrown themselves down on the ground and given up hope. And by most people, I mean me.”

From the last book we know that Mighty Thor, God of thunder, son of Odin, fart master, has lost his hammer. Stolen, misplaced, who knows? One thing we know; Thor is nowhere near being HemsWORTH. Anyone strong enough can pick up that hammer. You are not special! Our dead and not dead heroes have to find it to avoid Ragnarok. It won’t be easy and we all know it!

I won’t say much about the plot because I don’t want to spoil anyone. I will say that there is a new very interesting character: Alex. It’s not really a spoiler but this character is both male and female but not at the same time. She/he is a child of Loki so he/she is a shape shifter and gender fluid; some days she is a female, some other days he is a male. I liked this fact but we get to see only she as a female and not much as male. Not at all as a male, just a couple of glimpses and that’s all. I wanted to see how Magnus would react to Alex being a male for a while. I kind of ship them, both Magnus and female Alex and Magnus and male Alex.

“Magnus, could you glow a little closer, please?”

I like Magnus, I always have but this book I had my eyes set on Hearthstone, the wonderful elf, and rune magician. We get to know more about him, how he grew up and all I wanted to do was hug him, give him everything he wanted and so much more. I love his friendship with Blitzen and that he cares a lot about his friends. I will now proceed to find and save every single fanart of Hearthstone there is online. No one will be able to stop me!

It was nice knowing a little bit more about Amir, Sam’s fiancé. I can’t wait for them to get married. I need them to have a happy life and a happily ever after. Sam is a wonderful girl and she deserves every nice thing the world has to offer.

I can’t wait for Apollo’s sequel and then the third book of Magnus. Things are going to get more interesting and I just hope no one is going to die and everyone is going to have good things happening in their lives. Mr. Riordan, I will buy everything you give to me so, please, take care of my heart, I don’t want it to break.

“It’s a good thing Jack was no longer in my hands, because I would’ve pulled a full-on Kylo Ren temper tantrum.”

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The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan

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“Check your spam folder
The prophecies might be there
No? Well, I’m stumped. Bye”

Title: The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1)
Author: Rick Riordan
Why you should read this book: Because a new series with new and old characters from this world should not be missed!

Summary from Goodreads:

How do you punish an immortal?
By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.

But Apollo has many enemies – gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

“Gods are almost always depicted as nude, because we are flawless beings. Why would you cover up perfection?”

Such a fun book, as always. Riordan can surely make me laugh and, no, I’m not a teen, not have been a teenager since more than a decade ago. Still, his books take me to adventures and make me happy. I can say without doubt, that I will enjoy his books until the end of my days. Keep ‘em coming, Rick!

The story is simple. Pick a narcissistic self-centered God, in this case, Apollo, who’s being a brat, as usual. He needs to be punished, that’s certain. But, how? Of course, the answer is clear: you made him the most standard looking 16-year-old mortal boy, with acne and a flabby belly. He is so weak he had to be saved by a weird looking 13-year-old called Meg, who claimed herself as Apollo’s master for his trials and will go wherever he’s going. Meg is something else. So zero power, tons of responsibilities. I’d be mad.

“Zeus needed someone to blame, so of course he’d picked the handsomest, most talented, most popular god in the pantheon: me.”

Apollo is indeed mad, but what can he do? He has to suck it up and face the consequences for his actions and face trials that will redeemed himself in the eyes of Zeus so that he can be a beautiful god again. Sounds easy. Well, maybe the world is in much worse shape than he’d thought; maybe he wasn’t really paying attention. Things won’t be easy.

“It always disappointed me when mortals put themselves first and failed to see the big picture—the importance of putting me first”

In order to win Zeus’ affection again, he goes to Camp Half-Blood. I missed camp so much; I missed everyone. Well, the only ones I knew there at first were Chiron, Nico and Will (otp) and some other demigods I don’t think I remember. A few cameos from the other series (it’s always a pleasure to see Percy!) and some were sadly only mentioned but I hope we will see more of them in the following books of the Apollo series.

“Good luck! I’m going to get the Lord of Darkness here some Gatorade!”

I want to see Apollo interact with all of his children. He has some; he kept himself busy apparently.

“It warmed my heart that my children had the right priorities: their skills, their images, their views on YouTube.”

Apollo is funny. He uses maybe a little too many puns but I love puns so I’m not really complaining here. For the first time in his very long godly life, he has to do things by himself; he is like a spoiled boy being forced to do the dishes for the first time. He doesn’t have his powers and that’s awful; millennia being able to bring joy and death around the world and now the only joy he has is bacon. Bacon is delicious.

“Or perhaps Zeus was just messing with me again—giving me a taste of my old power before yanking it away once more. Remember this, kid? WELL YOU CAN’T HAVE IT!”

The villains, uhm. I don’t know what to think about them. I don’t want to reveal more because I didn’t know anything and I was genuinely surprised by the few revelations. I will only say that I am afraid someone won’t make it, because those guys are really mean. I don’t like how powerful and scary they are.

“His curly hair extended into a wraparound neck beard. His chin was so weak I was tempted to create a GoFundMe campaign to buy him a better jaw.”

Apollo will have to be brave, get a grip, and start being less self-centered if he wants to succeed, not only for himself but also for the entire world. I love how diverse this book is. I love seeing this because the world is diverse, I go out and see all kinds of people, so if the book depicts the world we live in (plus magic and all kinds of wonderful stuff I would love existed), then it’s natural we have so many different human beings. This makes me happy!

“Things can turn out differently, Apollo. That’s the nice thing about being human. We only have one life, but we can choose what kind of story it’s going to be.”

Do I recommend it? Of course, it’s Riordan and I love his books.
Rate: 5/5

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The Crown of Ptolemy by Rick Riordan

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“I tried to look confused, which is one of my most convincing expressions.”

Title: The Crown of Ptolemy
Author: Rick Riordan
Why you should read this book: Because this is another chance to keep reading about Percy’s crazy adventures.

Summary taken directly from Goodreads:

An ancient Egyptian magician named Setne has come back from the dead and is experimenting with Egyptian and Greek magic, trying to become a god himself. He’s so powerful and tricky that all four-Percy, Annabeth, Carter, and Sadie-have to team up against him. But their usual weapons and spells aren’t going to cut it this time. Will the heroes be taken down by a wannabe god who looks like Elvis, or will they rise to the challenge?

“I’d have to play this smart … which was not my usual style.”

I am really liking these Kane kids. I think I need to read those books in the future, I want to know more about them and about Egyptian magic.

Setne was the usual funny, badly dressed, villain and Percy knows how to deal with that kind of characters. Percy and Annabeth are a powerful couple, they complement each other and that’s what makes them go through every ugly situation they’ve encountered!

“That’s – that’s not fair,’ Sadie said, her voice trembling. ‘Tempting me with destruction.”

Do I recommend it? Yes, Percy is usually a lot of fun to read and Sadie Kane is one hilarious young girl.
Rate: 4/5

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