Middle Grade Review: Maya and the Rising Dark

Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

Series: Maya and the Rising Dark
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 2
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her friends try to find an explanation—perhaps a ghost uprising or a lunchroom experiment gone awry. But to Maya, it sounds like something from one of Papa’s stories or her favorite comics.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Maya herself is a godling, half orisha and half human, and her neighborhood is a safe haven. But now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.


Maya and the Rising Dark is a Middle Grade fantasy novel based on West African mythology in the same vein as the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. It’s fun, upbeat, and easy to read.

Continue reading “Middle Grade Review: Maya and the Rising Dark”

Review: The Ship of the Dead

The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

28006120Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
Genres: Middle-Grade, Young Adult, Action/Adventure, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin’s chosen warriors. As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn’t naturally inclined to fighting. But he has strong and steadfast friends, including Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, and together they have achieved brave deeds, such as defeating Fenris Wolf and battling giants for Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Now Magnus and his crew must sail to the farthest borders of Jotunheim and Niflheim in pursuit of Asgard’s greatest threat. Will they succeed in their perilous journey, or is Ragnarok lurking on the horizon?


Well, it’s finally happened. I’m bored of Rick Riordan books.

I’m sure this was a fun and exciting middle-grade/YA read, but I just personally didn’t enjoy it at all. I talked in my review of The Sword of Summer about how this Magnus Chase series is too similar to the original Percy Jackson series. Plus, I have just read sooooo many Rick Riordan books. Even though it’s about Norse gods, it’s just lost that freshness. It’s predictable, the humor isn’t funny anymore, and I’m just not connecting with it. Continue reading “Review: The Ship of the Dead”

Review: The Blood of Olympus

18705209The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Series: The Heroes of Olympus
Genres: Action/Adventure, Young Adult, Kids (Middle Grade), Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it “might” be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.


I have mixed feelings about The Blood of Olympus.

Continue reading “Review: The Blood of Olympus”

Review: The House of Hades

12127810The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

Series: The Heroes of Olympus
Genres: Action/Adventure, Young Adult, Kids (Middle Grade), Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆


At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.


House of Hades continues stylistically and thematically where Mark of Athena left off. This book continues on a slightly darker path than the previous three. While Riordan’s trademark sense of humor is still present, it feel subdued compared to previous books. The whole thing feels a lot more serious than any of Riordan’s other books, probably appropriate considering the context of impending world destruction and a journey through Tartarus. Yet the story continues to be compelling, fun, interesting, and well researched, everything I have come to expect from Riordan. Continue reading “Review: The House of Hades”

Review: The Mark of Athena

12127750The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Series: The Heroes of Olympus
Genres: Action/Adventure, Young Adult, Kids (Middle Grade), Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆


In The Son of Neptune, Percy, Hazel, and Frank met in Camp Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Camp Half-blood, and traveled to the land beyond the gods to complete a dangerous quest. The third book in the Heroes of Olympus series will unite them with Jason, Piper, and Leo. But they number only six—who will complete the Prophecy of Seven?

The Greek and Roman demigods will have to cooperate in order to defeat the giants released by the Earth Mother, Gaea. Then they will have to sail together to the ancient land—Greece itself—to find the Doors of Death. What exactly are the Doors of Death? Much of the prophecy remains a mystery…


I’ll be honest, the thing I was most looking forward to about this book was reading from Annabeth’s point of view. Annabeth has been my favorite character since the first book of the first series, and finally getting to read about her was a real treat, even if it did involve several rather frightening spider sequences. Continue reading “Review: The Mark of Athena”

Review: The Son of Neptune

9520360The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Series: The Heroes of Olympus
Genres: Action/Adventure, Young Adult, Kids (Middle Grade), Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆


Percy is confused. When he awoke from his long sleep, he didn’t know much more than his name. His brain fuzz is lingering, even after the wolf Lupa told him he is a demigod and trained him to fight with the pen/sword in his pocket. Somehow Percy manages to make it to a camp for half-bloods, despite the fact that he has to keep killing monsters along the way. But the camp doesn’t ring any bells with him. The only thing he can recall from his past is another name: Annabeth

Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she didn’t do a very good job of it. Sure, she was an obedient daughter, even when her mother was possessed by greed. But that was the problem — when the Voice took over her mother and commanded Hazel to use her “gift” for an evil purpose, Hazel couldn’t say no. Now because of her mistake, the future of the world is at risk. Hazel wished she could ride away from it all on the stallion that appears in her dreams.

Frank is a klutz. His grandmother says he is descended from heroes and can be anything he wants to be, but he doesn’t see it. He doesn’t even know who his father is. He keeps hoping Apollo will claim him, because the only thing he is good at is archery — although not good enough to win camp war games. His bulky physique makes him feel like an ox, especially infront of Hazel, his closest friend at camp. He trusts her completely — enough to share the secret he holds close to his heart.

Beginning at the “other” camp for half-bloods and extending as far as the land beyond the gods, this breathtaking second installment of the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives fearsome monsters, and features other remarkable creatures, all destined to play a part in the Prophesy of Seven.


As the second book in the Heroes of Olympus series, one might expect a bit of a sophomore slump from the Son of Neptune. But it maintains that fast pace, sense of humor, and emotion that made The Lost Hero stand out. Continue reading “Review: The Son of Neptune”

Review: The Hidden Oracle

The_Hidden_OracleThe Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

Series: The Trials of Apollo
Genres: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Young Adult
Maturity Level: 2
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⋆⋆⋆⋆


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.


Apollo’s a jerk,
Which I think’s hilarious.
Please Zeus, not acne. Continue reading “Review: The Hidden Oracle”

Review: The Sword of Summer

The_Sword_of_SummerThe Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
Genres: Action/Adventure, Young Adult
Maturity Level: 2
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .


Rick Riordan never fails to deliver a novel full of humor, action, and friendship while also teaching young readers about mythology. The Sword of Summer introduces the Norse gods, which is cool because aside from what we “learned” in the Marvel cinematic universe, we probably don’t know much about these guys. Like all of Riordan’s books, it’s fun, exciting, silly, and a little bit deep. Continue reading “Review: The Sword of Summer”

Review: The Hammer of Thor

The_Hammer_of_ThorThe Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
Genres: Action/Adventure, Young Adult
Maturity Level: 2
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.


It’s hard to not love books by Rick Riordan. Who else can make mythology so accessible and silly at the same time? Continue reading “Review: The Hammer of Thor”