“The Staff of Serapis” by Rick Riordan

Staff of SerapisTHE STAFF OF SERAPIS (Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles Crossover #2)
Author: Rick Riordan
Read Date: 14 April 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In this adventure, Annabeth encounters more oddities in the subway than usual, including a two-headed monster and a younger blond girl who reminds her a little of herself.

Review Summary: A more cohesive, more imaginative, and mythologically richer crossover than “The Son of Sobek”, but still too formulaic.

*SPOILER WARNING FOR PLOT DETAILS* Continue reading

“The Son of Sobek” by Rick Riordan

THE SON OF SOBEK
Author: Rick Riordan
Read Date: 26 June 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Carter Kane is investigating rumored sightings of a monster on Long Island when he runs into something else: a mysterious boy named Percy Jackson. And their meeting isn’t exactly friendly. . . .
 
 
 
 
 

“The Son of Sobek” is a dream come true for many Riordan fans as we see a crossover of two of his popular mythological worlds.

Before I even read this short story, I already imagined that Percy Jackson and Carter Kane will get involved in some kind of…well, a pissing contest, really. And hey, what do you know, they did! It was predictable, but of course, since Riordan wrote this, it was also hilarious.

I like that they each had a moment to shine while fighting the Long Island Monster, and that they each were in awe of the other’s powers even though they didn’t understand how everything works. They each had to put their trust in a stranger, and the dynamics of that relationship set in the middle of a battle was definitely interesting to see.

I’m not sure if I’m up for a longer crossover. This was a good experiment for Riordan, but the Greek and Egyptian worlds are so different that I’m not sure if we can have stories that are as seamless as the melding of the Greek and Roman worlds in “The Heroes of Olympus”.

Riordan certainly kept the door open for more crossovers, but for now, I would rather that he make up another new mythological world or focus on finishing “Olympus”.

But really, thanks for this one, Rick. It was fun!

Read this book:

  • If you are a fan of Rick Riordan
  • If you’ve read either the Percy Jackson books or The Kane Chronicles series.
  • If you fancy some Crocodile Dundee in your Greek or Egyptian mythology..

To Hell and Back Again: A Demigod’s Tale (or so we hope)

Rick Riordan has revealed the cover and synopsis for “The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus #4)” at BEA. The book will be published on 8 October 2013.

house-of-hades-us-coverAt 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.

The post at Hypable.com mentioned that Riordan said this is the book that Percy and Annabeth shippers (I refuse to call them by their ‘ship name even though I root for them being together) have been dying to see. I don’t know about you, but I prefer no dying.

The cover art and the synopsis definitely look and sound ominous, and I expected that. Or rather, I prefer that, but had second thoughts about Riordan going there. If he was willing to age people up for the romance, though, he should be willing to age them up in terms of the stakes and the sacrifices, so I’m not going to settle for anything less than Percy and Annabeth going through a more harrowing experience than they did in the other books. After all, Riordan IS putting them through Hell, right?

not-me

I dread the “book that Percy and Annabeth (still refusing to use ‘ship name) shippers have been waiting for” part, to be honest, because damn it, does this mean we are going to get hit by the Relationship Anvil more times than we deserve?

Okay then, I’m buying a heavy-duty magically-reinforced helmet.

Postscript to “The Mark of Athena” by Rick Riordan

Title: The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus #2)
Author: Rick Riordan
Read Date: 8 October 2012
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Status Updates: click!
Review Preview: Rick killed The Book on board the Argo II with a Relationship Anvil
——————————————————————————————————————————

I’ve already said my piece (at least most of it) about “The Mark of Athena” in my review, which was published on GMA News Online (click!). But before I finally close the book on this…well, book, here are two postscripts.

The Voices

Sis Lianne asked what I thought of the other voices in the book aside from Percy’s.

Actually, I like Percy least in “The Mark of Athena” because of his hyper-awareness when it comes to Annabeth. I think I’m experiencing a kind of “Percy culture shock” considering this is the first time we truly see them together as boyfriend/girlfriend.

“The Mark of Athena” is also the first time I can remember Percy ever entertaining some rather selfish thoughts.

Percy swallowed back his anger. He wasn’t sure if he was mad at Annabeth, or his dream, or the entire Greek/Roman world that had endured and shaped human history for five thousand years with one goal in mind: to make Percy Jackson’s life suck as much as possible.

So when did everything become all about Percy Jackson? But I do get that he is entitled to a bit more angst–1/7 of the fate of the world rests on his shoulders, after all. But that line is rather glaring.

LEO: I liked Leo because his voice is a break from all the angst and the overly-romantic pining. I also love his humor, which is reminiscent of Grover from the first series. It’s difficult to not like Leo, really. More Leo next time, please, Rick.

ANNABETH: Annabeth’s voice didn’t irritate me as much as I initially thought it would. I like that, as in the first series, she’s still very focused on her personal quest. I just didn’t like all the conscious romantic stuff.

PIPER: Oh, Piper. I liked her in “The Lost Hero.” And while I still have a soft spot for her, I didn’t like her PoV much here. She has romantic pre-occupations and insecurities more than the three other voices, and I’m not sure why Riordan chose her rather than Jason or Hazel as a PoV character. It seems there’s a conscious effort to build up Piper, what with her saving Jason several times and all. But the way she’s written…yeah, I just want to hit her on the head with that Relationship Anvil.

Speaking of Jason, the way he’s written here is the opposite of Piper–there seems to be a conscious effort to play his character down a little now that Percy is back–and that’s a pity because I liked him in “The Lost Hero,” too. Despite people saying he’s a Percy substitute and a poor one, I had hopes that he would turn out to be a more distinct and likable character. But I think both Jason and Piper are victims of the books’ “hero troika going on a quest” formula in the first place. This formula is tried, tested, and so loved that you can’t fit new characters into that formula and reasonably expect them to not be compared or to live up to Team Percy. I accepted this for “The Lost Hero” and “The Son of Neptune,” but I expected something more creative in the way these other characters are handled in “The Mark of Athena.”

Aphrodite will not be happy with me

The romance, the romance, the romance. I just can’t get over it.

People who regularly read my reviews would attest that I’m all for romance. I am happy for all the characters who have found partners; I just didn’t like that people were being identified or even defined by their relationships, especially in a story like this.

The romance does add to the character development, but I think the themes of coming to terms with who you are and where you’ve come from, of friendship, of courage, of pride and its pitfalls, of learning from history–these are more important to highlight. Riordan managed to strike a balance in this aspect so well in “The Kane Chronicles”, so I expected the same subtle hand here.

I do get why the characters act the way they do. Percy and Annabeth were separated so painfully in the first two books of the series, so the separation anxiety we see here is logical. But I don’t need to see it manifested every time they have to go on separate missions. Piper is understandably insecure because her relationship with Jason is built on a very rocky foundation that is threatened by the ghost of Jason’s past. But it does not do wonders for a character who has to spend an entire quest side by side with the likes of Annabeth and even Hazel.

As I said in my review, there seems to be an effort to age the story up a little because the people who grew up reading the first series are in their teens now, and that’s okay. But other than the romantic pre-occupations, I don’t sense as much maturity when it comes to other aspects of the characters (not that the romance is mature); they seem to act in much the same way they did back during the first book series. I suspect the Quest Formula doesn’t give a character much room to grow, but I’m willing to suspend my final judgment on this until the end of “The Heroes of Olympus”.

Someone who read my review tweeted to me that she feels the same way I do, and she suspects that maybe she’s already starting to outgrow the series. That made me think because I’ve never experienced that before, not even with other children’s books or juvenile fiction. To be honest, sometimes my tastes can be quite juvenile. But I do admit that I didn’t find this book and the characters as funny (except for the Leo stuff and Coach Gleeson singing his own version of the Pokemon song,) or the integration of mythological characters and elements as impressive (Hercules? Meh.)

Do I feel like I’ve outgrown the series? I’m not sure, but I hope not. I do still care for the characters and still look forward to what Riordan is going to put them through. Until I know for sure, I’m going to chalk up all my complaints about this book to the Relationship Anvil that bludgeoned all the other thrills for me.

Yes, Watson. Rick killed This Book on board the Argo II with a Relationship Anvil.

——-
Previously on “The Heroes of Olympus:
#2: “The Son of Neptune”

Miscellany: Prophecies and Fortune Cookies

If I were to wake up one morning to find out that I have acquired a superpower worthy of Heroes, I’d accept almost anything except for the power of prophecy. It seems like such a useful power if you think about it, but it’s also a burden knowing what the future holds because a normal human cannot just sit there knowing what’s about to happen and not do anything about it.

But it’s fun seeing prophecy in action in fiction, though. And if it’s Laini Taylor who’s writing about it, then I’m on board!

Richelle Mead, Lisa McMann, Michael Grant, Meg Cabot, Laini Taylor, and nine more of the hottest YA authors to hit the shelves explore the concepts of prophecy and prediction in this story collection edited by NYT bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan.

Have you ever been tempted to look into the future? To challenge predictions? To question fate? It’s human nature to wonder about life’s twists and turns. But is the future already written—or do you have the power to alter it?

From fantastical prophecies to predictions of how the future will transpire, Foretold is a collection of stories about our universal fascination with life’s unknowns and of what is yet to come as interpreted by 14 of young adult fiction’s brightest stars.

Laini Taylor shared her thoughts about the anthology on her blog, and she also shared the first line of her story, “Gentlemen Send Phantoms.”

Once, when the moon was younger than it is tonight and not as plump, three girls gathered by a hearth to bake a dreamcake.

Damn. I think I have to read this book.

★ ★ ★

Lauren Kate released a short story set in the Fallenverse called “Daniel’s Gift.” It ties nicely into the Daniel and Luce Valentine story in Fallen In Love.

 
It kinda hurts reading about Daniel when he’s like this. 😦

★ ★ ★

During the Authors as Readers panel in the 2nd Filipino Readers’ Conference, New Lit author Mina V. Esguerra spoke about the 3 kinds of characters from which most—if not all—love interests are molded from: The Unattainable Crush, The Best Friend, and The Jerk. She blogged about it in more detail here: click! If you like reading romance stories, do check out her post; it’s a revelation. 😉

★ ★ ★

Rick Riordan revealed one of the new characters that we will get to meet in The Heroes of Olympus #3: The Mark of Athena:

This is Nemesis, goddess of Revenge. *cue Temptation of Wife theme music* *yes, here come the Korean drama references*

When I first saw her, I was reminded of War a.k.a. Scarlett, one of the Horsepersons of the Apocalypse in Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens. I don’t know why; maybe it’s the motorcycle. Because the Horsepersons don’t actually ride horses. Because horses are like so last century…so Book of Revelations. (But wait, the Book talks about the future, so horses are so…next century? Ummmm… Processing… Okay, never mind.) Or maybe they’re hippies or something.

Anyway. Nemesis is apparently a shape-shifter and Leo will have an encounter with her in which he does some bargaining. I have a feeling “bargaining” may actually mean “aggressive negotiations,” you know, like in Star Wars Episode II. Or maybe it involves fortune cookies because she’s holding one. Like “you can bargain with me, but first, have a cookie!”

*cracks open a fortune cookie*

*reads out the ambiguous Chinese philosophical sayings*

*interprets the fortune just as ambiguously and makes it twistier than Red Vines*

*announces that it actually means “Sorry, Leo, you lose! I get to beat you up!”*

*drags Leo into a dark alley*

*demigod vs goddess Boss Battle!!!!*

Oops.

Sorry, I got carried away. I don’t even know why I’m blogging right now when my mind is a mess from trying to hold in my fangirl squeeing (I am working in a public place right now) after watching some videos. If I did not make any sense at all, you can blame HIM.

 

Cover Reveal: “The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus #3)” by Rick Riordan

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close— the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare. . . .

Publication Date: 2 October 2012

“Narrated by four different demigods.” Oh, dear. My worst schizophrenic narrator fears just came true.

Scoring the Book: “The Serpent’s Shadow”

For some weird reason, I cannot force myself to write my review of The Serpent’s Shadow. That isn’t to say I didn’t like it, because I enjoyed it so damned much that I crashed Kindle for PC several times when I got bookmark-crazy.

So instead, here’s a Scoring the Book post, and I chose Live to Rise by Soundgarden, from the OST of The Avengers. Our heroes are like the Avengers of Ancient Egypt, aren’t they? People with different skills and powers who were brought together to save the world.


 
I particularly like the chorus of the song, which reminded me of Ra, the old bat. 😛

Like the sun we will live to rise
Like the sun we will live and die
and then ignite again.

Search Term Indulgence: “The Serpent’s Shadow” Philippine Release

WordPress has this cool feature included in their blog stats tracking where they list the search engine terms that lead users to your blog. It is often a source of entertainment for me. Weird, I know, but I get a kick out of finding out the things people look for on the internet and how and why they eventually got here. You know, because I totally do not write about weird stuff like where a certain celebrity’s tattoo is located and what the design is. Right? Right??? 😛

Anyway, I’ve decided that I’m going to indulge some of those search terms when I can. Why? Just because. 😛

Today I chose to “answer” one of the more ummmm… tame search terms (the others are far more interesting, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to answer those)–“the serpent’s shadow philippine release,”–which I assume means there were several people who wanted to find out when Rick Riordan’s latest book will be released here in the country.

The answer is: It’s out now! The major bookstores have it priced at Php695 for the hardcover, and Php375 for the trade paperback. I suggest you call your favorite store’s branches to check for availability, but most of them should have copies in stock now. Don’t forget to use those discount cards! 😉

So I installed Kindle for PC…

 
…and it was as if it can read my mind and it wanted me to like it so much that it included Pride and Prejudice as one of my free books. (Bribe me with the prospect of more Mr. Darcy? I think I love you now.) Or maybe real live Amazons are magically behind it all, just as Rick Riordan imagined.

The first book I finished reading on the KfPC (within 24 hours of installation) was Mina V. Esguerra’s Interim Goddess of Love. It’s my first MVE book! I’ll write a longer review or maybe something else after my interview with her, but for now, I’ll just say that it was a fun, entertaining, and often kilig read. 🙂

Cover Reveal: “The Serpent’s Shadow (The Kane Chronicles #3)”

 
Yesterday, Rick Riordan unveiled the title and cover art for the final book in The Kane Chronicles!

He’s b-a-a-ack! Despite their best efforts, Carter and Sadie Kane can’t seem to keep Apophis, the chaos snake, down. Now Apophis is threatening to plunge the world into eternal darkness, and the Kanes are faced with the impossible task of having to destroy him once and for all. Unfortunately, the magicians of the House of Life are on the brink of civil war, the gods are divided, and the young initiates of Brooklyn House stand almost alone against the forces of chaos. The Kanes’ only hope is an ancient spell that might turn the serpent’s own shadow into a weapon, but the magic has been lost for a millennia. To find the answer they need, the Kanes must rely on the murderous ghost of a powerful magician who might be able to lead them to the serpent’s shadow . . . or might lead them to their deaths in the depths of the underworld.

Nothing less than the mortal world is at stake when the Kane family fulfills its destiny in this thrilling conclusion to the Kane Chronicles.

Publication Date: 1 May 2012

 
Ooh, an obelisk! Is that where the Kanes’ mom met her demise, or is that in Egypt? Hrmmm…

Riordan also gave more details about The Demigod Files (Publication Date: 14 August 2012). The story that I’m most excited to read is the one about the early adventures of Luke, Annabeth, and Thalia, which is told from Luke’s POV. I kinda miss him. 😀


Additional Information: On Rick Riordan’s blog [click!]

I’ve “Fallen in Love” with the cover of Lauren Kate’s “Rapture”

 
It’s no secret that I’m quite invested in Lauren Kate‘s Fallen series, especially after being given the chance to interview her (twice), and to get a glimpse into the kind of work she puts into each of her novels.

One of the things that I love about the books is the striking book design and cover art. Brazilian artist Fernanda Brussi Gonçalves photographed and edited all of the cover images, and, if I’m not mistaken, she’s also the model in the photos.

Yesterday, Lauren revealed the cover art for Rapture, the conclusion of the Fallen series, which will be released on 12 June 2012.

I’ve always thought that we would finally see Luce’s face on the cover of the last book after that bit of a tease in Passion, but I like how this turned out. It feels right that Luce is wearing white (Rhyme on!) It also makes for a dramatic contrast with the darkness of Fallen, the sadness and isolation of Torment, and the colors of Passion. Together, the covers tell the story of Luce’s journey from darkness to enlightenment.

      

But before that, Lauren will also release Fallen in Love on 24 January 2012.

Unexpected. Unrequited. Forbidden. Eternal. Everyone has their own love story.

And in a twist of fate, four extraordinary love stories combine over the course of a romantic Valentine’s Day in Medieval England. Miles and Shelby find love where they least expect it. Roland learns a painful lesson about finding-and losing love. Arianne pays the price for a love so fierce it burns. And for the first -and last- time, Daniel and Luce will spend a night together like none other.

Lauren posted a chapter sampler from the Shelby/Miles story on her website: click! It’s super cute, especially if you like the idea of pairing up Shelby and Miles. (I do!)

In other book-related news:

– Rick Riordan announced that he will release the Kane Chronicles Survival Guide on 20 March 2012. “Fans of The Kane Chronicles series will adore this gorgeous primer on the people, places, gods, and creatures found in Rick Riordan’s #1 New York Times bestselling series. Boasting lenticulars, an easy-to-assemble trading card pyramid, and full-color diagrams and maps, this deluxe, lavishly illustrated guide teaches readers how to compile secret messages, read hieroglyphics, and recite ancient magic spells. Featuring enough information and extras to satisfy avid followers and budding Egyptologists alike, this guide will cast a spell on readers of all ages.” Looks like it’s the same concept as the Percy Jackson Ultimate Guide. This comes before the publication of the still untitled Kane Chronicles #3 on May 2012.

– Publisher’s Weekly recently posted their Best Books of 2011 list, and two of my favorites, The Scorpio Races and Daughter of Smoke and Bone are on it.

– Scholastic is going to release a bunch of movie tie-ins and companion books for The Hunger Games to mark the release of the film. May your fandom budget be ever in your favor!