Top 10 Tuesday: Best Books I’ve Read in 2018 (So Far)

This week’s top ten Tuesday topic is a list of your favourite reads of 2018 so far. I touched on this briefly when I did the mid-year freak out tag a few weeks ago but since it’s always fun talking about fantastic books, I thought, why not expand on it here. Creating this list was really tough in places because I’ve read some great books this year. If you were to ask me the same question again tomorrow, I’m likely to have changed the list by then, it’s just that hard. I’m so indecisive – did I like this book better than this book? Oh, but I rated this book higher, but then I read this one super quick, it’s just crazy. So here are the ten I’ve come up with for today. The books are listed in order of the date I read them (because who wants the grief of trying to rank them, heaven forbid)


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Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli)

★★★★★

I feel like I’ve raved about this one enough for you guys to know how much I enjoyed it. Like I said in my review, it’s better than Oreos – sweet, funny, emotional, and uplifting, this is the definition of a good YA contemporary.

Review here.


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A Torch Against the Night (Sabaa Tahir)

★★★★

It’s always a nice thing when books avoid sequel suckage syndrome. This was a great adventure. I love both Helene and Elias so it’s was really interesting watching them play cat and mouse across the country. The prison scenes were also extremely entertaining and the book ended in a place that left me super excited to read A Reaper at the Gates.


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The Cruel Prince (Holly Black)

★★★★

I’ve never been a huge fan of fairy books, with a few exceptions, but it’s books like this that have started to change my mind of late. Yes, the world building is a little lacking and some of the plot is on the slow side but I had a great time reading this one. The characters are morally ambiguous, there’s scheming and backstabbing, and the ending is fabulously dramatic. I can’t wait for The Wicked King.

Review here.


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Red Rising Series (Pierce Brown)

★★★★★

Yes, this is three books so I’m cheating but 1) they were all excellent and 2) I didn’t want a third of this list to just be RR books. I loved this series. LOVED. Well written characters, epic action scenes, dramatic twists, amazing world building, and some intense emotional moments, what more do you want? Also, unlike some other series, it finishes even stronger than it begins. Definitely would recommend to sci-fi fans!

Series review here.


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Call Me By Your Name (Andre Aciman)

★★★★

This book was such a change of pace for me. I picked it up after falling in love with the film and the novel is just as magical. The writing is absolutely beautiful and the book itself is just heartbreaking but so, so worth it.


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Warcross (Marie Lu)

★★★★.5

This was my first experience with Marie Lu and it was wonderful! The Warcross matches themselves were so much fun and Emilka was a strong, smart and well developed MC. The plot twist at the end is predictable but still enjoyable because of the direction it takes the story. The sequel, Wildcard, is one of my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2018.


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Scythe (Neal Shusterman)

★★★★★

I had to wait for ages to get this book in Australia but it was worth it. The world is unique and extremely well constructed, the book deals with some big questions about morality, power, and life itself, and the characters are complex but likeable. The plot will be a bit slow for some people but I enjoyed it immensely!

Review here.


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Leah on the Offbeat (Becky Albertalli)

★★★★.5

I’ve had a good year so far with Becky Albertalli books. Leah was one of my least favourite characters in Simon but after this book, I gained such a new appreciation for her. She has her stubborn moments but she’s also super relatable and I loved the development of her relationship with Abby. Plus I got to spend some more time with the other adorable Simon characters. Winner!


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The Last Olympian (Rick Riordan)

★★★★.5

Up until this book I’d had fun reading the Percy Jackson series but I had yet to reach a book where I was genuinely super keen to find out how it would end. That was this book for me. The plot was exciting and actually felt like it’d have a lasting impact on the world of the books instead of just being Percy and co’s latest adventure. I loved that the stakes felt real and there was a chance for characters to showcase true bravery. It was a much more mature read and I really appreciated that!


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The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)

★★★★.8

Wow. I cannot believe I waited so long to read this one because it was AMAZING. Miller puts so much detail into the book but without bogging down the story. I loved Patroclus as a narrator and the romance between him and Achilles is beautifully done. The downside, however, is that the book leaves you an emotional wreck at the end.

Review to come soon!

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And that rounds out my top ten! Are there any favourites we’ve shared? What have been some of your best reads of 2018 thus far?

Here’s to many more fantastic books in the second half of the year!

Love Ashley

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And That’s a Wrap: June Edition

And just like that we’re half way through 2018. Everybody remain calm!

Books I Read

At the beginning of this month I had a major panic for some reason that I was reading at really slow pace and I’d get to this wrap up with essentially nothing to share. I clearly need to have some chill pills on standby. In the end I read 6 and a half books (the half being a DNF) which I’m pretty happy with. Once again there was a wide range – some highs, some lows, and a few in the middle.

June Reads

Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman: ★★★★.5

I had been really looking forward to reading this one after recently finishing Scythe and I wasn’t disappointed! This book introduced some new characters, gave us additional insight into the mind of the Thunderhead, and ended with a fantastic, cliff hanger of a climax. You can find my full review here.

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians 4#) – Rick Riordan: ★★★

While I wanted a little more out of this one, I did like the idea of the Labyrinth and had fun with Percy, Annabeth and Grover on their new adventures. The books still read a bit young at this point but as usual the mythology is awesome and so are the characters.

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians 5#) – Rick Riordan: ★★★★.5

Now this is what I’ve been looking for out of a Percy story! The characters are a bit more mature, the stakes are higher and the ending ties things up really well. I’m not sure how I feel about how the prophecy ended up being resolved (it’s a bit muddled) but overall I had a blast with this one and it’s probably my favourite of the series. I’m so keen to read The Heroes of Olympus series now.

The Crown (The Selection 5#) – Kiera Cass: ★★★

I read this series because it’s trashy fun but even I had to say this one was a little lackluster. Eadlyn’s character certainly improves a lot and I was happy with who she chose in the end but a lot of the story is well… eh, for lack of a better description. Not bad but not good either. A palate cleanser if anything else.

Fingersmith – Sarah Waters: ★.5

I can’t say I didn’t try with this one. The book is over 550 pages long and man, there are times when you really do feel it. I made it to 59% before finally deciding to DNF. The book has a good concept but there’s so much useless description and repetitiveness. Points for a good twist at the end of part one however it’s dampened by the fact that part two requires you to then read nearly all of part one over again from another character’s perspective. I’m afraid, I just don’t have the patience.

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller: ★★★★.8

I was so tempted to give this one a perfect score. I usually only do ratings in half or full stars but the rule had to be broken here. The characters are so rich and the amount of work that went into this novel is evident from every page. I loved the romance, mythology, battles, even the heartbreak of the ending. The only minor negative for me was that I found the events after a “certain person”’s death a little rushed. But still, one of my favourite reads this year so far!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han ★★★★

Hello, absolute adorkableness. I went into this one with low expectations. I thought it’d be silly, childish, and that the main character would be annoying as hell. It turns out the hype was actually correct for a change and I ended up enjoying it a lot! Lara Jean was silly and naive at times, yes, but she was also very relatable and sweet, and I just wanted her to get her happy ending. The ending of the book is a bit incomplete and sudden but I really liked this one. I’ll be picking up the sequel as soon as I can.
Books I Bought

June buys

Three books and one graphic novel for this month seems pretty good to me! I was actually sitting on just the 1 book and graphic novel until about a week before the end of the month – I was shocked! And then, of course, I went to the book store.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get some of the books I wanted so my tally ended up being less than it would have been. Technically, I’ve also ordered an additional four books off book depository but I’m not going to count those because I haven’t received them yet. Therefore, when they’re in my hot little hands next month, they’ll count (way to skirt around the rules, Ashley).

I’m so keen to read these and three of them I’m potentially using to fulfill prompts for my July readathon so I’ll be getting to them really soon if all goes to plan! Watch this space.

blog posts

Book Reviews

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Yes, I very much failed on the ‘write reviews for all books read in June’ front.

Top Ten Tuesday

Books I feel like Everyone’s Read but Me

Best Book to Movie/TV Adaptations, Part 2

Series I’d Like to Finish or Continue Someday

Book Tags

The 20 Questions Book Tag

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

Miscellaneous

New Additions to My TBR

WWW: Wednesday | 13.06.18

Harry Potter Readathon/ July TBR

Personal Life

In the middle of this month I turned 25 which was a bit of a ‘whoa’ moment. I feel so old and yet ridiculously young at the same time which is kind of hard to reconcile with. It was a bit of a boring birthday but there was chocolate cake, The Incredibles 2 and Thai food so I can’t really complain much.

The kitty-bears, Archie and Lexie, are growing! It’s crazy how small they used to be and how big they’ve gotten in only a few months. They’re super cuties but they do have their moments… *ahem* attacking the curtains…

TV

This month I finally started watching The Handmaid’s Tale and just as people have said, it’s fantastic. It’s a lot closer to the book in season one than I’d been told and I’ve been enjoying it immensely. Don’t get me wrong, as a woman it’s extremely maddening and freaking terrifying, but so well acted and brilliantly done. Later in the month I also started re-watching good old Game of Thrones from the beginning. I’ve only watched it all the way through once, which is surprising (even though I’ve seen bits here and there more times), so it’ll be a good way to kill time in the agony that is waiting for the final season. Can it be 2019 yet?DividerHow was your June? What was your favourite read? Which book are you most excited to read in July?

Love Ashley

WWW: Wednesday | 13.06.18

Let’s get the usual spiel out of the way *clears throat* ahem, WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words designed to keep people updated on how you’re going with your reading by answering three questions: what did you just finish, what are you currently reading, and what are you planning on reading next?

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Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe 2#) – Neal Shusterman

33555224It took what felt like FOREVER for this book to finally come out in Australia. The minute I found it in the bookstore, I jumped up and down, squealed loudly and then proceeded to do a cartwheel down the aisle. Okay, maybe just in my mind. I had such a great time with this sequel. It was exciting, unexpected, and creepy all at the same time. Unfortunately after that ending I’m extremely sad I don’t have book three to jump straight into. Cue tears. If you haven’t tried this series out yet, I definitely recommend you do. It’s fantastic.

SYNOPSIS:

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into

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8130423The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson & the Olympians 4#) – Rick Riordan

I’ve been slowly making my way through the PJO series since about July last year. I’ve finally cracked onto book four. These are really fun reads and as I’ve said before, they’re great palate cleansers in between the more serious adult or YA fantasy novels I read. I do kind of wish that the characters would grow faster. They’re 14 at this point and I’m like, gosh…you guys are still SO YOUNG. Regardless, the mythology is as good as always and the characters are adorably sweet.

SYNOPSIS:

Percy Jackson isn’t expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears at his potential new school, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse.
In this fourth installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos’s army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth – a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn.

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And to no-one’s surprise ever, I’m torn about my next read. Here’s just two of many, many options:

The Last Olympian & Shatter Me

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & the Olympians) – Rick Riordan

I could just go for gold and finish up the series now that I’m so close. These books are quick and easy reads so it wouldn’t take very long. However, it’s hard to know if I’ll still be in the mood for more Percy, Annabeth, Grover and co. after I finish book 4. Hmm….

SYNOPSIS

All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows. While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time. 

In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

Shatter Me – Tahereh Mafi

Yes, I know. I blame bookstagram/wordpress. Part of me knows I’m not going to like it but I feel like I just have to give it a go to see what people are talking about. Hey, maybe I’ll end up surprised like I was with Cinder by Marissa Meyer? Then again, maybe it’ll all just crash and burn. Guess I’ll never know until I do it.

SYNOPSIS

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

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Up to speed! Now it’s your turn! Catch me up on what’s going on with your reading life.

Love Ashley

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I feel like Everyone’s Read but Me

I wasn’t really feeling this week’s allocated TTT topic or any of the variations I could come up with for it. Instead I’ve dug up this older topic from the archives on The Broke and the Bookish which is top ten books I feel as though basically everyone out there has read except for little old me. I could come up with a whole lot more than ten for this one but for now here’s a few.

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Shatter Me – Tahereh Mafi

This series is everywhere. Like EVERYWHERE, but it got even worse when Restore Me came out this year. I plan on giving it a read soon just to see what all the fuss is about.

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Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

When you talk about YA contemporaries, this is one that constantly seems to come up. It entered the top 100 reads list at my bookstore this year which definitely increased the feeling of being the only one who hasn’t read it.

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The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

The love for this book is crazy. It was on the NY times bestseller list for ages and ages, and it was all anyone talked about online for a good long while. Now there’s a movie coming out and the FOMO is real guys…

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Milk & Honey and The Sun and her Flowers – Rupi Kaur

I’ll be honest, I’m not a massive poetry person. I can admire a lovely phrase or two but I’m not about to go out and buy a book especially devoted to poems. These two works blew up in a huge way last year and the closest I’ve come to reading them is seeing a couple of photos on bookstagram. However props to Rupi Kaur for making poetry cool.

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Looking for Alaska – John Green

Come on, I had to include a John Green book here because (a) everyone seems to love them and (b) I don’t read them. I’ve been hearing about this book ever since I was in high school and it seems to be the JG book to read other than The Fault in Our Stars (which I actually have read!).

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To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

This is one of those classics that I feel like HEAPS of people have read, likely because it was part of their English curriculum but also because I hear it’s fantastic. I’m not big on classics but part of me is tempted to read it sometimes just to join in on the conversations.

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians series – Rick Riordan

This is kind of a cheat answer because I’m actually three books into the series (only two to go!), however I feel like this series was almost a second Harry Potter for people a bit younger than me. Essentially everyone in the bookish part of the internet has read them and the spin off books, and they’re just crazy about them!

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His Dark Materials Series – Philip Pullman

This is another really beloved children’s series that I feel like A LOT of people read when they were younger but I somehow missed entirely.

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1984 – George Orwell

Another classic that people have read because of school or just out of pure interest, likely because it’s great and still culturally relevant. Again, I’m a bit classically deprived here…

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

Yes, another YA contemporary, I know. I only just recently started picking up a few books in this genre and this one seems to pop up like a game of whack-a-mole. It’s actually so much so, I bought a copy last week. Hopefully I’ll finally get why everyone’s always talking about it. Also apparently the rights have been acquired by Netflix, so that’s cool?

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The Kingkiller Chronicles – Patrick Rothfuss

This is a fantasy series that’s become huge. Basically everyone I know who enjoys this genre has read these. It’s been on my Goodreads to-read shelf for ages but I keep putting it off because I’ve heard the beginning is extremely slow. Then again, I should probably learn from my Nevernight experience and just do the damn thing already.

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Which books do you feel like everyone else has read but you? (Don’t worry, I won’t judge…much. Kidding, I won’t at all, promise).

Love Ashley

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Liked but won’t Re-Read

This week’s TTT topic is, as usual courtesy of Jana @That Artsy Reader Girl, books I liked but won’t re-read. There are quite a few books out there that I can safely say I enjoyed the experience of reading for one reason or another, but even though I appreciated them I know that once was enough for me. There are a number of movies out there that are exactly the same. I’m sure you know what I mean. Anyway, here we go:

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The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

A beautifully written book that I definitely recommend people read at least once but I don’t see myself ever wanting to read it again. For sure will quote til the end of time though.

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Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

I enjoyed the book, I love the TV show, but would I read it again? Probably not.

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The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) – Rick Riordan

I think I missed the prime age for this one to be a re-readable one. I very much enjoyed it, the series is extremely fun, but I don’t think it’ll be one of those things I read over and over like a great number of people do.

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The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch

This is one I definitely appreciated for how well it’s written and crafted. It’s objectively a fantastic fantasy entry but I have no urge to re-read it. Divider

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Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is the queen of crime. Forever and always. The end of this one was just so well done that I think I’d like to preserve the shock of my first read through forever. Divider

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The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

While I may not have loved LOTR, I did really enjoy reading this one as a kid. Great fantasy, suitable for even a young audience but once again, no drive to re-read.Divider

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer

This was such a sweet and refreshing read. I’m so glad I finally got around to it. Definitely would recommend to anyone who loves historical books with good characters. Divider

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The Martian – Andy Weir

An entertaining read but I’m not so keen on sifting through all the science speak for a second time. Will have to settle for re-watching the film.

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Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

I liked this one a lot more than some other people out there. I enjoyed the slow built relationship and Lou was a ray of sunshine. With chick lit books, generally I do want to read them again at some point but I think I’m cool with once for this one.

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Uprooted – Naomi Novik

Overall I quite liked this book but the third act does drag a bit and there are moments a little on the boring side which I wouldn’t want to go through twice. A good one off experience though!

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Which books have you read and liked but not wanted to re-read? Why? Were they just so good you’re worried they won’t be the same or was once just simply enough?

Love Ashley

Making Greek Mythology Cool…er: Percy Jackson & The Olympians Books 1 & 2 by Rick Riordan

4 stars

percy jackson categories

At the moment it seems like the number of books that I’ve finished but haven’t gotten around to writing reviews for is starting to pile up. As I read both The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters one after the other, it feels quite right to do them as a joint review, especially as they’re such short reads. I’d been planning to start the Percy Jackson books for quite some time but had always been put off by the worry that I was too far beyond the intended audience age to properly enjoy them as they were meant to be. However, when I managed to find all five books on the kindle store for only $25, I couldn’t resist giving them a go. I know that pretty much everyone out there has already read these books so I’ll direct this review to the very small minority who (a) also haven’t read them and (b) have been thinking about doing so but may have been held back by the same worries I had.

Middle Grade Writing

This was my biggest worry going into Percy Jackson. I have to be up front and say, yes, there is no ignoring the fact that Riordan is very clearly writing for a certain age group and I was highly aware of this the entire time I was reading. The story is quite fast-paced and action-packed, conversations between the characters don’t go on for very long, the chapters are short, and the books themselves are very easy reads. But don’t get me wrong, these aren’t necessarily bad things. If I had a parent who was looking to try and get their kid to read more books, particularly if it was a young boy, I wouldn’t hesitate a second before recommending this series. Riordan is a resounding success in what he seeks to achieve with these books and I am so glad that they’ve been something that has encouraged so many people to develop a love of reading. Reading them as an adult, if you go in not expecting anything too in-depth, and seeking something fun, light and easy-going, you’ll definitely enjoy them. Also, bonus points for having such fantastic and original chapter names which constantly get you wanting to read on just to understand them fully.

Characters

The three main characters are Percy (shocker, I know), the son of Poseidon, a satyr named Grover, and Annabeth, the daughter of Athena. There are numerous entertaining side characters as well but these three are the core trio. Fitting with the intended audience, both Percy and Annabeth are twelve at the start of the series and age a year in between each passing book (from what I can tell). Despite their aging up in the films, the books never really allow you to forget exactly how old they are – the way they speak, think and act are very consistent with their ages but again, this isn’t a bad thing. Sure, they do the odd silly thing on occasion but what 12 year old doesn’t? It’s believable and never really verges too far onto the annoying side of things due to the great dynamic between the characters. Individually, each person is quite likeable. Percy is slightly reckless, regularly sarcastic and still manages to possess some vulnerability, particularly where it relates to his relationships with his parents. It’s easy to see why people have enjoyed reading about him for so long and grown with him over the years. Grover acts to provide a little bit of comic relief without fading into the background as he swoons over enchiladas, scoffs down cans, and spends time engaged to a blind, oversized Cyclops. Annabeth, on the other hand, is both a smart and strong character who provides a great fictional role model for young girls and a fantastic balance to Percy’s rashness. Someone who reads, likes architecture, and can still kick your butt with a sword? Yes, please!

Plot

As someone who loves history, especially Greek history, I really enjoy the way Riordan has adapted Greek mythology in new and exciting ways. There are gods, monsters galore, and plenty of magic – a great combination for any fantasy story. The stories are very straight forward in their purpose – the characters have a quest (find Zeus’s lightning bolt, get the Golden Fleece), they set out to achieve it and end up coming across several setbacks along the way. It’s a tried and true formula that on the whole works very well here but I do have one small criticism. While I’m sure the constant action and new monster for each chapter is great in entertaining younger readers, as an adult I will say that it does get a little tiring after a while. There were moments where I wished for a bit less monster fighting, and some more intimate conversations exploring the characters and the world. However, I’m sure I’ll get much more of this as the characters age, and with them Riordan’s audience. I’d be lying though if I said it wasn’t exciting watching Percy and friends take on a cyclops, sail across a monster filled sea, play fetch with the guard dog of the underworld, or go toe-to-toe with Medusa (among many other things).

I’ll definitely be returning to Camp Half-blood again soon for more of Percy’s adventures.

4 stars