Suramya's Book Review Cafe

September 30, 2020

The Dark Prophecy (Trials of Apollo 02) by Rick Riordan

Filed under: Young Adult Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 2:39 pm

The Dark Prophecy (Trials of Apollo 02)
by Rick Riordan

Description:

Zeus has punished his son Apollo–god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more–by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo/Lester do anything about them without his powers? After experiencing a series of dangerous–and frankly, humiliating–trials at Camp Half-Blood, Lester must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships–with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride. . . .

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Review:

In the second entry to the trials of Apollo series we rejoin the Apollo/Lester, Leo & Calypso who are on the way to Indiana to find the second Oracle. During the quest they need to depend on each other more often and we learn more about Apollo’s past history with some of the major characters in the books and how that is causing the current mess they all are in. Apollo grows up a bit through the course of the novel and even though he is still self-centered and narcissistic to the core its good to see him start showing empathy towards the other characters. Plus his commentary on House-hold chores is hilarious along with the usual pop-culture references.

The book also briefly references other Pantheon’s so it will be interesting to see if that is expanded in the future books and if we have a crossover or not. Since this is a YA Fantasy the fight scenes are detailed enough to be fun but not so that it’s too gory. However there are a few scenes that younger readers might find a bit frightening. So parents would need to keep that in mind.

The book nicely sets up the next entry into the series and I am really looking forward to reading it.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book for any Fantasy book lovers.

September 28, 2020

The Hidden Oracle (Trials of Apollo 01) by Rick Riordan

Filed under: Young Adult Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 11:57 pm

The Hidden Oracle (Trials of Apollo 01)
by Rick Riordan

Description:

He was once an immortal God. Now, he’s a teenage boy called Lester.

Apollo has angered his father Zeus for the last time.

So, how do you punish an immortal?

By making him human. Obviously.

Cast down from Olympus, he’s weak, disorientated and stuck in New York City as a teenage boy.

It’s the first time he’s been without his powers, and he has to survive in the modern world.

Which isn’t an easy feat for a four-thousand-year old deity, especially one with as many enemies as he has.

Apollo needs help, and he can only think of one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

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Rating: (4/5)

Review:

After finishing the previous books I was in mood for something light and happened to see the latest book in the Trials of Apollo in my feed. That made me realize that I had only read the first two books in the series and the 5th book had come out. So I started a re-read of the first two books while I wait for the remaining three to arrive.

The first book in the Trials of Apollo series has Rick’s trademark humor and it was a welcome break after the past few books I had been reading. The book is very light reading with a light-hearted view of the world. The lead character Apollo or Lester as he is now known after he was transformed into a mortal by Zeus is very narcissistic and only thinks about himself, however due to the way it’s written the character doesn’t cross the line into obnoxious which would have been quite easy to do. I loved how he keeps referencing popular culture and taking credit for major achievements like the songs Beatles wrote etc. Over the course of the book Apollo starts to realize that he was way too self centered and how unfairly the demi-gods were treated by the Gods.

Some of the Demi-gods from the Percy Jackson books & the Heroes of Olympus do make a brief appearance but some of them will have bigger roles to play in the future books in the series.

Over all this is a good fun book and a great beginning to a new series in the Percy Jackson universe.

August 31, 2020

Hard Wired by Len Vlahos

Filed under: Science Fiction,Young Adult Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 8:51 pm


Hard Wired
by Len Vlahos

Description:

From acclaimed Morris finalist Len Vlahos comes a grounded sci-fi story about a boy who’s more than human, perfect for fans of Westworld and LIFEL1K3.

Quinn thinks he’s a normal fifteen year-old. He plays video games, spends time with his friends, and crushes on a girl named Shea. But a shocking secret brings his entire world crashing down: he’s not a boy. He’s artificial intelligence.

After Quinn “wakes up,” he sees his world was nothing more than a virtual construct. He’s the QUantum INtelligence Project, the first fully-aware A.I. in the world–part of a grand multi-billion-dollar experiment led by the very man he believed to be his dead father.

But as Quinn encounters the real world for the first time, his life becomes a nightmare. While the scientists continue to experiment on him, Quinn must come to grips with the truth: his mom and brother don’t exist. His friends are all adults who were paid to hang out with him. Even other super computers aren’t like him. Quinn finds himself completely alone–until he bonds with Shea, the real girl behind the virtual one. As Quinn explores what it means to truly live, he questions who he can trust. What will it take to win his freedom . . . and where does he belong?

Award-winning author Len Vlahos offers a perfect blend of science fiction and contemporary in this unputdownable, high stakes tale that explores big questions about what it means to be human.

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Review:

I found this book via Cory Doctorow’s book recommendation on his Twitter feed and the summary immediately caught my eye. An AI who doesn’t know its an AI (or rather Quantum Intelligence – QI) and finds out that he is a QI after living 15 years as a regular boy. The story was well paced and the first few chapters setup the background and stage for us to connect with Quinn before he is told the truth. Once the truth is told things change and Len has really captured how scientists would behave in such a situation. For example there is a scene where Quinn is told that he is a QI and starts crying because of the emotional impact, when the scientists notice this they immediately start celebrating because its a breakthrough in the development of a QI not caring that Quinn is emotionally wroth. This is exactly how any of the scientists/programmers I have worked with would react. Things like this make the book a lot more realistic. The book also has a lot of pop culture references which are fun to catch.

There are a few minor plot holes but nothing that requires you to suspend your belief completely. In fact the scenario explored in the book is something that will come to life in the next few years thanks to the advances in the field of computing & AI/ML.

The ending was a bit confusing at first and it took me a few mins to understand what happened. It would be interesting to see a sequel for the book because while the story is complete there are enough potential threads to be the launch point for a sequel.

Final Recommendation: Good read. Will require a bit of Computer knowledge to understand the depth of the novel fully

June 14, 2010

Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic Book 01) by Patricia C Wrede

Filed under: Fantasy,Young Adult Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 8:54 pm


Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic Book 01)
by Patricia C Wrede

Description:

Eff Rothmer is the twin sister of a seventh son of a seventh son, growing up on the edge of the “safe” settled area of the U.S. in the 1850s (though history has not gone quite the way it did in our world-the Civil War, for instance, happened in 1832, and Lewis and Clark never came back…)

This is the first book of a fantasy trilogy about settling the West in a world where magic works and the New World was not settled until modern magic (of Columbus’ day) made it
possible to fend off the dangerous wildlife (which includes both imaginary beasts like steam dragons and spectral bears, and real-life post-ice-age creatures like wooly mammoths).

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Review:This is a book that I had been waiting to read for a long time. It took forever for the store to deliver it to me but now that I have read it, it was worth the wait to get it.

The book has been written for young adults and stars Eff who is the 13th child in her family and because of that is expected to bring bad luck to everyone around her. The only people who don’t believe her are her immediate family and her twin brother.

The book starts when Eff is quite young and then covers her life till she turns 18. During this period she learns more about herself and the world around her and how even though she is the 13th child that doesn’t mean that she would bring doom to everyone around her.

Its a very nicely written coming of age story that takes place in an alternate universe where magic is real and the wild west is actually wild and the frontiermen have to deal with both magical and mundane threats.

Final Recommendation: A great read. If you know teens who might be interested in reading Fantasy then I recommend that you suggest this book to them.

June 2, 2010

Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help by Douglas Anthony Cooper

Filed under: Young Adult Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 7:44 pm


Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help
by Douglas Anthony Cooper

Description:

No one except Milrose Munce knows that ghosts of former students live in his school. Not only is Milrose aware of these ghouls – he’s on a first-name basis with all of them. Of course, some are more likeable than others: the third floor is the home to nearly all of his good friends. Most of them – like Imploded Ig, Deeply Damaged Dave, and Toasted Theresa – were the victims of science experiments gone wrong though they do manage to maintain a sense of humour about their demise. Then there are the ghost athletes who lurk in the basement – a pretty disagreeable group, the majority of them having died after a particularly clumsy manoeuvre on the school’s sports field.

After Milrose is given yet another detention for offering his teacher an answer that was just a bit too clever, his life takes an unexpected turn. He is sent to a hidden den in the school’s basement to receive Professional Help. Here, he and the quick-witted Arabella, a fellow captive, are put under round-the-clock supervision of the maniacal Massimo Natica. Fortunately for Milrose and Arabella, once they join forces with their ghostly friends, Massimo Natica doesn’t stand a chance.

In the tradition of Edward Gorey and Roald Dahl, the dark comedy and imaginative brilliance of Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help will appeal to adults as much as it will to younger readers.

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Review:Inspite of having a weird name this book is one of the funniest books that I have read in a long time.

The main character in the book is a boy with a higher than normal intelligence who also happens to be able to see and talk to ghosts. Now as expected the staff of the school where he meets most of the ghosts in his acquaintance are not happy about seeing him talk to empty space or laugh at jokes that only he can hear so they send him to “Professional Help” where they try to cure him of his problem along with another student who also shares his ability to talk to Ghosts.

He along with the Ghosts of the students who haunt the school mount a campaign to rescue them from the “Help” and it includes a lot of explosions, bad poetry and sarcastic wit.

The characters were very well written and the dialog between the characters was quite funny.

Final Recommendation: A great read

May 26, 2010

Early to Death, Early to Rise (Madison Avery series Book 02) by Kim Harrison

Filed under: Young Adult Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 7:43 pm


Early to Death, Early to Rise (Madison Avery series Book 02)
by Kim Harrison

Description:

Seventeen, dead, and in charge of heaven’s dark angels – all itching to kill someone.

Madison Avery’s dreams of ever fitting in at her new school died when she did. Especially since she was able to maintain the illusion of a body, deal with a pesky guardian angel, and oh yeah, bring the reaper who killed her to his untimely end. Not exactly in-crowd material. It’s amazing that her crush, Josh, doesn’t think she’s totally nuts.

Now Madison has learned that she’s the dark timekeeper, in charge of angels who follow the murky guidelines of fate. Never one to abide by the rules, she decides it’s time for a major change to the system. With the help of some unlikely allies, Madison forms a rogue group of reapers who definitely don’t adhere to the rules of the heavens.

But as she grapples with the terrifying new skills that come with being a timekeeper, Madison realizes she may not be prepared for what lies ahead – unless she gets some seriously divine intervention.

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Review:This is the second book in the new YA series by Kim Harrison and is quite a fun read. The characters are well developed and even though the plot is quite simple and not very elaborate it is a good read.

I guess one of the reasons that the book doesn’t have a very heavy plot is that its written for young adults and if a book had too many twists and turns then it would loose its target audience.

Another point in the books favor was that you didn’t have to have read the previous book in the series to enjoy this one. Not saying that the book is a complete stand-alone and that it doesn’t enhance a reader’s enjoyment in the story if they know the backstory but still even if you haven’t read the first book you will still enjoy this one also.

Final recommendation: A good read.

May 15, 2010

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles Book 01) by Rick Riordan

Filed under: Young Adult Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 7:03 pm


The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles Book 01)
by Rick Riordan

Description:

Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them–Set–has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe–a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

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Review:In this first book of a new series Rick proves that he is a great author and that you don’t have to load your books with sex or violence to make it good.

The book is narrated to us by Carter and Sadie Kane who take turns to tell us the events in the story. The two are the typical brother and sister and the way they tell their story reflects that, with all the silly comments and fooling around the characters are quite real and well developed.

The plot is also quite interesting and I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out. This was the first book that actually explained well how the Egyptian Gods were interrelated without bringing Incest into it. I like this take better than the standard one.

This is a problem I face with the really good books; I run out of things to write. i.e. I can’t think of items to talk about that don’t also include spoilers.

Final Recommendation: A must read.

May 10, 2010

Kiss of Death (Morganville Vampires Book 08) by Rachel Caine

Filed under: Young Adult Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 4:48 pm


Kiss of Death (Morganville Vampires Book 08)
by Rachel Caine

Description:

A new chapter in the New York Times bestselling Morganville Vampires saga.

Vampire musician Michael Glass has attracted the attention of a big- time producer who wants to cut a demo and play some gigs-which means Michael will have to enter the human world. For this, he’s been assigned escorts that include both a dangerous immortal as well as Michael’s all-too-human friends. And with that mix of personalities, this is going to be a road trip from hell…

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Review:In this latest installment of the Morganville vampire series the war in Morganville has finally ended and things have calmed down a lot.

Now Michael has been approached by a big time producer to record a CD in Dallas, Texas and he along with his friends are to take a road trip from Morganville to Dallas. Unfortunately for them the trip didn’t turn out quite as planned and instead of having a fun enjoyable trip it was business as usual with death, destruction and mayhem.

The plot of the story was a bit weaker than the other books in the series but wasn’t too bad, the fast pace of the book made it easy to ignore the small issues in the plot. Some of the unresolved issues from the previous books were resolved in this book.

I think the author should stop writing more books in the series unless she can think of a completely new angle and plot for the future books ’cause this is a good book to end the series on a high note.

Final Recommendation: A decent read

April 4, 2010

Carpe Corpus (Morganville Vampires Book 06) by Rachel Caine

Filed under: Fantasy,Young Adult Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 4:13 pm


Carpe Corpus (Morganville Vampires Book 06)
by Rachel Caine

Description:

In the small college town of Morganville, vampires and humans lived in (relative) peace – until all the rules got rewritten when the evil vampire Bishop arrived, looking for the lost book of vampire secrets. He’s kept a death grip on the town ever since. Now an underground resistance is brewing, and in order to contain it, Bishop must go to even greater lengths. He vows to obliterate the town and all its inhabitants – the living and the undead. Claire Danvers and her friends are the only ones who stand in his way. But even if they defeat Bishop, will the vampires ever be content to go back to the old rules, after having such a taste of power?

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This is the 6th book in the Morganville Vampire series. It took me three attempts to start this series and now I am glad I did. At first I thought the series was quite boring and slow but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It started off slow but now its quite interesting. The book is based in Morganville where the last vampires in the world live. The vampires control the town completely and humans are virtual slaves to the vampires. In the previous books a vampire turf war had started between Amelie and her father Bishop. This book covers the final stages of the war. It doesn’t have a lot of blood and gore, which is a good thing. But it does cover a lot of soul searching on the part of the major human characters. Can’t cover more about the plot without giving out spoilers so will stop here. Final recommendation: A good read. Read the other books in the series before this one otherwise half the book won’t make sense.

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