Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

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But one thing I’d learned from being a son of Frey- I couldn’t always fight my friends’ battles. The best I could do was be there to heal their injuries.

The Hammer of Thor is the second book of the trilogy The Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan. I’ve briefly reviewed the first book here. It’s a series based on Norse mythology, and this book in particular follows Magnus and his friends trying to find Thor’s hammer while trying to stop another of Loki’s plans. 

I really liked how this book expanded on Sam being Muslim while interacting with Norse gods. It also detailed more about sign language when Hearthstone, who is deaf, signs which I also liked. This book also introduced Alex who is transgender and gender fluid, and she quickly became one of my favorite characters. I’ve looked through other people’s reviews, and as far as I’ve seen the only people with problems with the representation in this book disagree with Alex and think it’s inappropriate for children. So I think that’s a good sign.

It’s usually common for the second book in the series to have a dip in quality, but I found that I liked this one more than the first one. In the first book, I struggled with the mythology, and it slowed down reading. This time, I knew who was who already so that made reading a lot easier and more enjoyable. 

The characters continue to be the strong point of the series for me. I love all of them individually, and all their relationships with each other. They grow and change, and it’s simply a pleasure to read. Magnus is still a very strong protagonist to me. He’s soft, and the others allow him to be soft without ridicule. It’s very refreshing.

The plot is much the same as his other books. Fetch this, something goes wrong, fetch that, something goes wrong, get information here, something goes wrong, and so on and so forth. But it doesn’t bother me like it does other readers who have read his other two series with Percy Jackson. Maybe if I had read that it would, but to me it’s nice to know what will basically happen. I’m invested in the story, but even with all the action and plot twists I’m not on the edge of my seat with my heart racing. That can be a negative to some people, but it was a nice change of pace for me.

Reading The Hammer of Thor almost felt like coming home. I sank into this book, and I didn’t want it to end. It was comforting, funny, lighthearted, and everything that I needed at the moment. I look forward to the third book coming out in October.

Camp NaNoWriMo Update #3

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Suggested Word Count: 15,833

Current Word Count: 5,700

General Thoughts: Over the weekend, I had gotten into a groove. I was meeting the daily goal. I was developing the relationships between my characters. I was  doing research. I was figuring out the plot. Then, I stopped working on it. I spent the last three days reading the second Magnus Chase book.  On one hand, I enjoyed the book, and I feel refreshed and ready to write again. On the other hand, I know for sure I will never reach 25K this month. I would be happy to get 15K or even 10K honestly. So that’s what I’m going to reach for now, but without officially changing my goal on the site. 

Small Excerpt: 

         “I want to know why you think that I would help you,” she said.

          “You can’t hold onto this misplaced an-”

          “Misplaced?” Lynette laughed. “That’s funny.”

          “You don’t know the whole story,” Terrance said.

          “I know how it ended. That’s enough.”

          Terrance sighed, and dropped his head low. Lynette hated him at that moment. She hated how sad he looked, and how that made her want to comfort him despite everything.

          “Look, Lynette, don’t think of it as helping me. Of helping us. Think of it as doing something you’ve always wanted in life. You’ve always wanted adventure.”

          “Maybe jail took that out of me. Maybe that was all the adventure I needed in my life.”

          “So that’s it? You’re just going to allow this grudge control the rest of your life? It’ll ruin it. Grudges always do,” he said.

          “It won’t ruin my life. Just yours.”

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero – Book Review

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“Why is life so complicated? Why can’t we just kiss who we like when we like? Why are there so many rules?”

This book follows Gabi Hernandez on her senior year of high school. I found Gabi to be completely relatable coming from a Mexican family myself. Gabi is Mexican American, and she’s dealing with a stubborn aspect of Mexican culture as she discovers poetry, love, sex, and every aspect of her body.

I loved the characters so much, starting off with Gabi. She’s a quirky girl who writes beautiful poetry, thinks a lot about food and boys, and is always there for her friends. Her best friends, Sebastian and Cindy, each have their own problems to deal with. There’s a closer insight to the obnoxious Mexican machismo and homophobia that’s very present when Sebastian comes out to his parents. However, I appreciated that the story focused on Sebastian having a happy life in spite of this. Same thing with Cindy and her pregnancy. (These aren’t really spoilers since they happen right at the beginning).

What I enjoyed the most about this novel was all the strong themes Quintero integrated so organically into the story. Gabi spends a lot of time dealing with her feelings about boys, wanting to have sex despite her mom being totally against sex before marriage, binge eating even though her mom frowns upon it, and coming to terms with her own body in ways she hadn’t imagined before.

“Sometimes I don’t want to see myself naked. Sometimes the mirror is my enemy. I mean, I would never dare ask it who the fairest of them all is because I know the response would make me weep. But sometimes I feel okay about how I look and even think, I’d tap that, why not?”

Along with these themes, Quintero tackles very difficult topics, such as rape, abortion, and drug addictions. I think this book was very self-aware and conscious of the message it was sending, which was one of acceptance. I loved the way it interwove so many different themes without it feeling overwhelming, and the message didn’t come through like an after school special in any way.

I didn’t like the diary entry format of this book. Although I loved Gabi’s intimate narration in her journal, I wanted more scenes. There was so much more I wanted to know about all the side characters, especially Sebastian and Cindy. Many times Gabi just mentioned brief interactions with them without elaborating and I just wanted more from them. I also didn’t feel any connection to the love interest, Martin. He sounded great, but I saw him as a two-dimensional character. That’s why I think the format didn’t work too well for this book.

Aside from that, I thoroughly enjoyed this. I’m so glad I got to meet Gabi and her amazing love of food, poetry, and boys. She was such a strong character with a powerful voice. I hope many others get to meet her.

Camp NaNoWriMo Update #2

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Suggested Word Count: 9,166 

Current Word Count: 2,121

General Thoughts: So after the first two days of meeting the word count goal, everything kind of went downhill. I would write a sentence one day, and maybe two hundred words the next. It wasn’t until today I finished chapter three. I changed the few parts of the story I had decided on, and it took me awhile to figure out how I wanted it to go. I think it ended up pretty good, but now I get to go on and struggle with chapter four.

Small Excerpt: 

        “Look,” Terrance sighed. “You both messed up. Let’s get out of here before someone catches us.”

          “Yeah, you wouldn’t want that to happen,” Lynette announced her presence.

          She watched, amused and sipping on her slushie, as they turned to face her as one stepping closer together as a team as if they weren’t just arguing with each other.   

          “Lynette?”

          “Long time, no see.” She smiled and tilted her head. “So tell me about these powers of yours.”

          The trio looked at each other shuffling about uneasily.

          “Aw, don’t be shy. I’m just curious,” she said.

          They still didn’t answer. Distantly, police sirens rang. Four heads snapped up in panic. Lynette looked back at her old friends to see them ready to flee.

          “Wait!” she called out. “Let me go with you.”

          They looked like that was the last thing they were going to do other than wait here for the police.

          “Just watch and decide.”

          Lynette threw out her hand toward the metal gate, pictured grabbing onto it, and then pulled her hand back. The gate, instead of simply opening like she had wanted, completely separated from the rest of the chain linked fence. The surprised gasps from her audience filled her with pride, but that swiftly turned to panic as the gate was still speeding toward her. She dove to the side, cradling her slushie in the nook of her arm. The gate hit the wall behind her with a bang.

        “So, now will you let me go with you?” Lynette asked, cheerfully.

Goodreads Tag

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1. What was the last book you marked as ‘read’?

Isis: Green but for a Season by C.S. Pacat. It’s a short story set in the Captive Prince world and I wasn’t going to read it but I have serious Captive Prince withdrawals and it just happened.

Nicole: The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi. I reviewed it here. It was really good.

 
2. What are you currently reading?

Isis: -Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero – amazing so far, but it’s taking me way too long to finish. COLLEGE! FRUSTRATION!

-In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero – same thing here!

-Sweaters & Cigarettes by Mika Fox – I stopped reading this one in August of last year, and haven’t picked it back up. I’m not even halfway through and there’s been so much angst already, kinda. I don’t know how I feel about it.

Nicole: On Goodreads it says I am currently reading 24 books, and I don’t have half of them anymore. I’m actually currently reading Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan which I am loving, Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetanti which I was loving but then I got distracted by Magnus Chase, The Pants Project by Cat Clarke which I’m liking but it’s taking too long to read, and Hero by Perry Moore but the first chapter is so info dumpy and boring I dread picking it up again.  

 
3. What was the last book you marked as ‘TBR’?

Isis: Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce – I bought this one today at a library book sale. It’s a children’s book and it sounds like fun.

Nicole: Peter Darling by Austin Chant. I read a review about it, and it sounds really good.

 
4. What book do you plan to read next?

Isis: Honestly, I have no idea. I know I need to get to Juliet Takes a Breath soon, so probably that.

Nicole: It’s between Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza or Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia since I check them out from the library and they are due soon.

 
5. Do you use the star rating system?

Isis: Yes, and I try not to give 5 stars too often. A lot of my favorite books are 4 stars actually.

Nicole: Yes I usually add them to my reviews. My profile says my average rating is 3.63.

 
6. Are you doing a 2017 Reading Challenge?

Isis: Yes, and it’s for 30 books. I’m currently 6 books ahead of schedule!

Nicole: I set it for 52 books, but I’m currently 8 books behind schedule.

 
7. Do you have a wishlist?

Isis: Yes, it’s one of my Goodreads shelves: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/17632530?shelf=wishlist

Nicole: No I don’t.

 

8. What book do you plan to buy next?

Isis: I ordered on Amazon Saga vol 7 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee, and the paperback version of Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I won’t be getting these in the mail until the paperback of Carry On is released, so until May. 😦

Nicole: I really want to buy The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig.

 
9. Do you have any favorite quotes, would you like to share a few?

Isis: “You wanted to feel alive, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re monster or human. Living hurts.” – Victoria Schwab, This Savage Song

“We are the dead. Our only true life is in the future.” – George Orwell, 1984

“I’ll always hate shoes.” -Benjamin Alire Saenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Nicole: I don’t really keep track of quotes honestly.

 
10. Who are your favorite authors?

Isis: BENJAMIN ALIRE SAENZ. I will literally buy anything he publishes. I actually already have, but I mean in the future. Then there’s Rainbow Rowell, Victoria Schwab, and David Levithan. You know, the usual.

Nicole: Victoria Schwab, Rick Riordan, Mildred D. Taylor, Ursula Vernon. I think Karuna Riazi can easily become one.

 
11. Have you joined any groups?

Isis: Nicole and I have a group on Goodreads called Hopeful Wanderers and you’re welcome to join. We do update it, though our reading is veryyyy slow. Still, it’s not abandoned: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/107752-hopeful-wanderers

Nicole: The one Isis linked is all. I tried to be a part of the Austentatious Book Club, but then never read any of the books.

 
12. Are there any questions you would like to add?

How about, what’s the last book you added as “favorite”? And what are the number of books you have in the read and want to read categories?

Isis:  Mine is At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson. I’ve raved about this book endlessly so I won’t do it again. But if you haven’t read it, definitely check it out. I loved it! I currently have 294 read, and 766 to read.

Nicole: I don’t ever put any books in other categories but I would have put The Gauntlet. And I currently have 190 books read, and 583 in the want to read category.

Camp NaNoWriMo Update #1

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April is here and along with it another round of Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ve tried to do Camp NaNo a couple times before a couple years ago. Each time I got around 3,000 words before quitting. This time I’ve lowered by word goal count to 25K, and I’m doing weekly updates here in hopes of pushing myself to complete it this time. 

A couple months ago, I got a shiny new paranormal idea, and that’s what I’m planning on working on this month. As far as planning, I don’t have much done. I have the main characters vaguely made. I have a summary, and I have a vague beginning outline. So this will be fun. 

My very rough summary for this story:

When Lynette starts to experience a strange, new power, her first thought is to harness it to the best of her ability. She stumbles across some old friends experiencing similar troubles, and starts to wonder if its more than a freak accident that she has this gift. Her suspicions deepen as a mysterious stranger comes along to ask for their help. She is going to have to figure out just who she can trust as she’s shoved headlong into a new adventure. 

Suggested Word Count: 834

Current Word Count: 1,281

General Thoughts: I spent an hour at first simply choosing a font that I thought fit my story, but after that everything came pretty easy for not having any outline. I finished two chapters today, and I’m pretty happy with myself.

Small Excerpt: He dove for her, reaching out her arm. Lynette stumbled back with a yell. She tripped over a rock, and she raised a hand up in front of her. As if that would make him stop. But then the strangest thing happened. A prickling sensation spread through her arm like it had fallen asleep. Along with her hand raising, the gravel did as well. Lynette and the man stared at floating rocks for a moment. Lynette looked back at her hand still raised as well.


Curious, she drew back her hand, and watched as the gravel followed along like an obedient puppy. The prickling intensified as it moved. She furrowed her eyebrows, thinking of another experiment she could do, when from the corner of her eye she saw the stranger step forward to her again. She didn’t have time.


Lynette pushed her hand forward with all her might. The rocks flew into the man’s face. Then, it was his turn to stumble away with a yell, his hands covering his face. She darted forward and lifted her knee straight into his groin. Just to put a little icing on the little rock cake she gave him.

 

The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

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First, let me say that I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It in no way changes my opinions on this book. 

 

The Gauntlet is an own voices middle grade fantasy that’s adeptly compared to Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair. It follows twelve year old Farah as she has to find her seven year old brother Ahmad, who has ADHD and has fallen into the game The Gauntlet. Farah and her two friends have to win all the challenges to win the game. If they win, they can get out. If they lose, they are stuck there forever. 

I loved every character in this book. From Farah to The Architect (the master of the game) to the giant talking lizards I liked each of their personalities and how that fit into the book. The three friends Farah, Ellie, and Alex had that whole this is their one trait and everything they do kind of reflects on that. Usually that annoys me, but not this time. I think it helped that with the challenges they had to do it wasn’t just one person having a specialty in that challenge. They all had to work together. 

Speaking of the challenges they had to do, I liked them. I thought they were interesting. Though on the second on I’m still not sure what they were doing. It was a little hard to picture.

The reveal of who The Architect was surprised me. I was suspecting a completely different person, but it all made sense looking back. Which is the best really when you are surprised but it still makes perfect sense.  

The description was wonderful. Though there was one part were Farah thinks that she is just too tired  and frightened to take anymore in, but then proceeds with a full page of description. But, the food that was described sounded great. I have no idea what any of it was, but it makes me want to look it all up and try it.

This is Riazi’s debut novel, and I think she knocked it out of the park. It doesn’t say anything about there being a sequel anywhere, but I think there is room for one. The end left some strings out there that could be tied. Though there is one big question I have that feels less like oh maybe if there’s a sequel it would be addressed, and more like eh I think you forgot something. So I wish I had an answer for that.

Overall, this book was a fun, fast read. I read it in one sitting, and I give it five stars. I think both kids and adults can read this and enjoy it equally. It’s definitely a book I would recommend.