Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Review: The Hidden Oracle - Rick Riordan

The Hidden Oracle
The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
Series : The Trials of Apollo
My rating: {★★★★☆} 

MiddleGrade Fantasy Adventure
Published May 3rd 2016 by Disney-Hyperion

Source: Borrowed

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus's favour.

But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go... an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

I've always enjoyed Riordan's books and this one did not disappoint me in any way. It was full of adventure, action, diversity, humour and also a depth of emotion that is rare to find in books such as these.

I loved seeing some old favourite characters, although not as many as I would have liked (though the next book promises more on that front) and I loved getting to know Apollo. Riordan has done a marvellous job of portraying a Greek God who has been cast down to Earth by his father, Zeus. I've only ever read Riordan's Percy Jackson universe books, but I love his unique twist on the mythology and the personality that he gives to each of his characters.

The plot felt fresh (yes, even after completing the previous two series!!) and left me wanting more, more, more! I actually loved Apollo and his character development through out the book - he was completely narcissistic and annoying and terribly flawed, but all these things just made his character that much more appealing.

Exercise is nothing more than a depressing reminder that one is not a god.


I loved Meg and the fact that she's such a tough little cookie as well as being a total kick-ass daughter of Demeter (the goddess of grains and fertility). It's not only the hunters of Artemis or daughters of Athena that get to be awesome here in this world.

Now here I was—a servant to Meg McCaffrey, the most ragamuffin daughter of Demeter ever to swing a sickle.


I mentioned diversity but I want to go into that a little more seeing as I read this book as a part of my #FantasticallyDiverse read-a-thon.


  • Cultural Diversity

There are characters of all cultural backgrounds featured in this book (and most of Riordan's books: He's always been wonderfully diverse).

  • Canon Gay Couple

Nico and Will are (still) in a relationship and this is featured nicely in this book

  • Openly Bisexual Protagonist

Apollo openly recognises his bisexuality and mentions how this wasn't controversial at all and that 'we Gods are not hung up about such things'.

We gods are not hung up about such things. I myself have had…let’s see, thirty-three mortal girlfriends and eleven mortal boyfriends? I’ve lost count.


Overall I completely enjoyed this most recent installment of the PJ universe and Camp Half Blood. It was snarky, funny and touching and something I think everyone should have a chance to read.

"When one is a god, the world hangs on your every word. When one is sixteen…not so much."
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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Weekly Round Up #20



Here's my weekly roundup. I'm linking to The Sunday Post hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and #IMWAYR hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.


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Please leave a link to your blog (if you have one) in your comment or make sure your Disqus profile has your address so that I can visit you back! 


This month has been a pretty terrible month for my 'free time' in which I read and blog... I will endeavour NOT to still be answering comments and visiting back for a week AFTER this post... but no promises. Seriously I will try though! Work has been crazy and then there was the small one's birthday party planning happening and then a bit of impromptu travelling (for work) so overall it's just been a super busy February.

On Friday's I've been posting with 'The Blog Squad' where we are doing collaborative posts about book blogging in general. If you're interested have a look at our first two posts:

What I read last week:

Buzz Books YA 2017

The only book I actually managed to shelve as read this week was the Buzz Books 2017 YA Spring Summer edition. This is a fantastic collection with excerpts from a lot of upcoming YA titles being released at the moment. It's available on NetGalley as a 'Read Now' or if you aren't on NetGalley you can download it from the Buzz Books website. There's also a regular, non-YA edition available. It's obviously going to be terrible for your TBR, but it's well worth a peek!

What I am currently reading:


Black SnowAn Ember In The Ashes

Hopefully I get to finish one of these this week.... 

Up Next:


Rebel Of The Sands

Really looking forward to this one and hopefully I get a good reading week and even finish this one! 

New Arrivals:


The Last MagicianIsland of Exhiles


Guys!!! I got my first ever book from Edelweiss! I'm so excited! The Last Magician is one I've been excited about since I heard about it from Alyssa over at The Eater of Books. SOMEHOW (I don't even know how) S&S granted my Edelweiss DRC request!!!!!! Soooo thrilled.

Island of Exiles was also a surprise 'Wish Granted' from NetGalley. I first heard about this from Danya at Fine Print and I'm really excited to check that one out soon!



And that's my week! How did yours go?
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Friday, 17 February 2017

The Blog Squad: A Blogger Collaboration - Part II


We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions.


BOOK REVIEWS BY DI - Di Hewlett






Di says....

Absolutely NOT!! In fact, I’ve visited blogs that don’t accept (or request) any ARCs at all - they are totally dedicated to the backlist.


In my opinion if you have a blog and you talk about books for the majority of your posts then you are a ‘proper’ book blogger. It does also help to have a mildly serious book acquisition problem - you borrow, buy or get books thrown at you left, right and center but let me just tell you that if you START a blog you’re going to have an even bigger problem than the one you have now. I acquire WAAAAY more books now than before I had a blog, which is saying something….


Uma says...

Absolutely not! Like Di says, I’ve seen blogs who don’t accept or request ARCs. I think a ‘proper’ book blogger is one who talks about books for the most of their blog posts.

That being said, I do understand it feels ‘important’ or ‘cool’ to be reading and reviewing an ARC. I’m guilty of that feeling. Everytime I get approved for ARCs on NetGalley it just feels so awesome but it’s because of this feeling that I now have tons of ARCs piled up and no time! An advice to new (and old) bloggers, kindly exercise caution and control while using Netgalley or you might just find yourself buried in a mountain of ARCs!

Amy says...

Definitely not! Clue’s in the name ;) If you love books, blog about them; whether you receive them for review or not. I still get library books and blog about them, even when I do receive review copies (or ARCs). As Di says, if the majority of your posts are about books, then you’re  a book blogger. It doesn’t matter where you get the books from.

Since I blog about movies too, I guess I’m not strictly a book blogger. I call myself that because I accept review copies and the majority of my posts about about books, but I use the term loosely. Movies are just as important as books on my blog, so I guess I’m half-half :)   




Di says....

In general I will take a few notes while I read a book (if I remember!!) and I also try to pick out the quotes that mean the most to me while I’m reading and save those away for later too.

I always try to rate a book as soon as I finish it so that I’m rating it on ‘feel’. I might note glaring technical errors in my review, but I don’t want the writing of the review to affect my rating which is based on how the book made me feel and the overall enjoyment factor at the end.

Due to my less than stellar organization skills at the moment AND lack of spare time (in which I do my reading and blogging) I have been totally failing at writing my reviews timeously. I always try to get them out as soon as possible (before I forget any of the details) but sometimes I’ll have to flick back through the book while I’m doing the review.

Uma says...

Alright! Confession time. I don’t take notes while reading. I tried a couple of times but decided that I couldn’t treat the process of reading a book like a job. Having to take notes distracts me from the joy of just reading. I try to do my reviews as soon as I finish reading to capture exactly what I think and feel as I close the book.

I know I’m currently a bit behind on my reviews. I blame the thousand and hundred assignments and tests my Professors at college are throwing at me. But I’ve come up with a new time management plan and will hopefully have all my missed reviews up by the end of the month.

Anyways, while I write a review I focus on three main aspects of the book - Characters. Plot, and Writing. I also make a list of things I liked and didn’t like about the book (I’ve had people tell me they find the list really helpful) and then I conclude by mentioning what I thought of the book in a maximum of 3-4 sentences.

Amy says...

*coughs* I may or may not but totally do OCD about my blog schedule and review process ;) I’m a freak when it comes to organising, and blogging and reviewing just takes that a huge step further.
I take a lot of notes when I’m reading. Always. I have a folder with review notes, and I also write down the dates I started and finished the book. Then, when I’m finished it, I’ll mark it as read on Goodreads with a short “review to come” as the review.  After that, I’ll look in my diary and fit the review in, so I always know at least three days before when I’m going to type the review out and post it on my blog. I try not to hold off longer than two weeks.
Confession: I never write a review as soon as I’ve finished the book. Never. It’s just never worked like that for me. And personally, I don’t find  the review changes because I’ve waited - as soon as I start the review (notes in front of me) all the feeling comes back, so I’m able to type from the heart. (Hopefully).

As for the review itself, I usually do the same as Uma does: divide it into sections of Character, Plot, and Writing.  And occasionally, depending on the book (or movie), I’ll do a “Liked” and “Disliked” list, although I think that can sometimes make the review seem too impersonal and “lazy”. Thus I try to avoid doing that.  

Like Uma, I also provide a three sentence (give or take) concise summary of my overall thoughts, at the end of my review.  



Di says....

I mostly do - even if it’s going to be a horribly negative review. I do this for a number of reasons:
  • Publishers and authors NEED honest feedback - if you have no constructive criticism from your audience it is very difficult to improve. In my reviews I’m not going to attack the author or just say that ‘This book is AWFUL: don’t read it’ and leave it at that - I will back up my reasoning and I will EXPLAIN why I didn’t enjoy something. No matter what, an author has worked on their book a heck of a lot longer than I will work on my review and I will respect that.
  • A lot of readers that first want to check out the reviews of a book will not trust a book that only has highly rated reviews (myself included).
  • I have pretty high standards in a lot of cases and I don’t want to fool any people that read my reviews into thinking that I will rate everything highly - I will not. I am an honest reviewer and I think that’s so important to have any sort of credibility.

At the end of the day, reading is so subjective and no reader will enjoy everything. Publicity is important for a book and I still want to put it out there for other people to hear about something that they might like to read. If a publisher or author asked me to pull a book from my blog - I would do it - but I would still leave the review on my Goodreads because that’s just who I am.

Uma says...

YES! (Please let it slide that I’m currently behind on writing reviews and so technically, I haven’t written reviews for all the books I’ve read. I promise to get to them soon.) But as for whether I write negative reviews or not, I DEFINITELY DO. I’ve written reviews for book I gave 2 stars or almost DNFed.

I think negative reviews are important for readers ,authors and publishers. Authors and publishers are looking for honest feedback and readers are looking for reasons why they might or might not like a book. A a reader, before I begin reading a book (especially a hyped book), I go onto Goodreads and look for spoiler free positive AND negative reviews.

As a reviewer, I make my negative reviews as detailed as I would a positive one. I explain why I didn’t like certain aspects of the book. I also mention the positive aspects about every book I review. I understand that as an author it’s scary to put your book out there and let people judge it so I never just say “OMG, the book was horrible guys. Skip it.” That’s not fair. I never tell people in my reviews not to read a book just because it wasn’t my cup of tea and also I give concrete reasons as to why I didn’t enjoy the book.

Amy says...

Yes and no. If it’s a school book, then no. But if it’s a library book or review copy or simply a book I’ve bought myself, then yes.
Negative reviews are really hard - and awkward - to do, especially if you’ve received the book for review. In that case, I try to focus on the positives while still being honest. I’m also much more aware of what I’m saying and I try not to rant.  
In short, having to write a negative review doesn’t stop me from reviewing the book. But I’ll try not to rant (even when it’s REALLY hard!) and, if it’s a review copy, I’ll be a lot more “gentle” - while still being honest.

So I do review every book I read, unless it’s a school book.



That's all for this week! I hope you will check out the other collaborative posts too!


We hope you’ve enjoyed our discussion post! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Weekly Round Up #19



Here's my weekly roundup. I'm linking to The Sunday Post hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and #IMWAYR hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.


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Our 'Wild West' party turned out well for my now three year old daughter. She absolutely loved it and the weather held out sunny and dry for the day! The kids enjoyed their pony rides and everyone was full to the brim on snacks and cake. I'm marking that one off as successful.

What I read last week:


The Rose and the Dagger

The Wrath and the Dawn totally derailed my reading schedule by making me NEED to read the sequel immediately. So I did. :) And I'm so pleased. 5 Stars.

What I am currently reading:


Black Snow

Unfortunately between party planning and everything this week it's been a slow one for me so I'm still reading Black Snow. I'm hoping to catch up on some #FantasticallyDiverse reads this week.

Up Next:


An Ember In The AshesRebel Of The Sands

Two more for #FantasticallyDiverse

New Arrivals:

I've actually got a couple of books in the mailbox that I haven't managed to look at yet, but I'll include these in next week's post. 



And that's my week! How did yours go?
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Friday, 10 February 2017

The Blog Squad: A Blogger Collaboration - Part I


We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions.


BOOK REVIEWS BY DI - Di Hewlett






Di says....

For me it was a path that started with a love of reading books which led to wanting to know more about the books I wanted to read and that in turn led to Goodreads which led to Book Blogs. I had so much fun reading about other people’s opinions and feelings that I wanted to get my own out there too!

It’s also a really great way to connect with like-minded people; people that you already know love books. I am sure it’s also given my real life friends a reprieve from getting unsolicited bookish advice and recommendations (which sometimes come in the form of constant shrieking about NEEDING TO READ THIS!).

Uma says...

I think expressing my views every which way I can has always been a part of me. I need to talk about things. Blogging is pretty much the best way to express my views about the things I love the most - books. I’m the kind of person who when I read a book first, can’t wait for someone else to read it so I can discuss the plot, the twist, the spoilers!

I must say that as a kid I did start a blog which I ended up closing due to not knowing much about handling it. Last year, I finally started my blog after a lot of research (Seriously, if anyone needs advice on starting a blog, I have a whole word document filled with my “research”) and I must say, IT IS AWESOME to be blogging and meeting like-minded people!

Amy says...

It’s definitely been a long time coming ;) Ever since I went to my friend’s house in 2014 and saw the piles of books around her room - and then googled her blog - I was desperate to start my own. But I was lazy, and intimidated, and it all looked so confusing. So I stayed on Goodreads and wrote short reviews on there instead.
But I was dying to discuss books and movies with other people on a blogging base, and I felt like I was missing a lot. So after seeing so many blogs listed on Goodreads’ profiles, I finally just decided to do it. I messaged my friend and asked her “how do you start a blog” and she said “Go to Blogger!” and so I did, and TA DA!
And it has been awesome…..I get to discuss what I love with people who love it as much as I do, and that is so amazing and fulfilling!



Di says....

Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to have been contacted on a few occasions by both authors and publishers. Sometimes it’s for review opportunities and at other times it’s been for guest posts and just to spread the word about them and upcoming books.

I’ve also been fortunate to be approved for some titles on NetGalley so I consider myself really lucky being so new to the blogosphere!

Uma says...

Yes! And it’s one of the most amazing feeling ever! More so, considering i’m a newbie at the blogsphere. In my blog, you can see there’s a request a review option (It’s closed for a while now due to my TBR growing like Jack’s beanstalk) and I’ve had about 10 publishers/ authors request via the form. I’ve also worked on Guest posts and Interview posts with authors.

Netgalley is a wonderful site where one can request to read a book. Unfortunately a lot of publishers only look for readers in the US, UK and Australia and hence I miss out on some great titles! But I must say that I’ve read and reviewed books from NetGalley that have become some of my favourite reads💗

Amy says...

Yes, and I always get so overwhelmed and feel so honoured when it happens! (even if it’s not a book I can accept at the time.) So far I’ve received one book from a publisher, and there’re a few books on the way from individual authors. Some authors have also offered guest posts or interviews, and so hopefully I’ll get to do those as well :)
I’m always amazed and touched when an author contacts me, and it feels so weird at the same time cos you’re like “why me?”


Di says....

In my opinion, publishers and authors are not bound to give away review copies and neither are we book bloggers bound to accept them. Normally there are only a limited number of ARCs available (yes, even eARCs) and the publisher and author should have the best possible audience for these. If I’m not really interested in a book or I don’t think I will have the time to review it I’d prefer to decline.
That being said, I really do appreciate when an author or publisher does a little research on me first before approaching me. I typically read Fantasy (all forms) and more often than not I’ll be reading a YA of some sort. If someone approached me to review their new cookbook for example, I’d be pretty certain they have NO idea the type of reader or blogger that I am and I’d be almost certain to decline…

It’s always wonderful to be considered when it comes to being asked to review something, and I’m honoured and excited each and every time, even if I do decline.

Uma says...

I take up requests only via my request form where I very clearly state everything in my Review Policy - what genres I read, how long I take to review a book etc. And while I feel honored that an author/ publisher wants me to read and review their book, I will definitely decline the book if it’s obvious that they haven’t bothered to go through my Review Policy. (For example if they ask me to review a book that does not fall under the ‘genres I read’).

That being said, if an author has taken the time to research my blog before requesting, (they would then definitely know what kind of books I read and review) I would most certainly agree to read and review their book, unless of course I don’t have the time. This has never been a problem for me since I keep my form closed when I’m not accepting requests. But even when I have my form closed, I do accept sequels of books I’ve reviewed before.

Amy says...

I always feel so awful when I have to decline a book, even though I know I’m perfectly within my rights to do so. At first you feel like you should just accept everything you’re offered, and that really isn’t the right way to do things. After all, it’s what you can do for the author, and it’s unfair to accept something you’re not likely to give a positive review for.
On one hand, I don’t want to accept a book I think there’s a big chance I won’t like, and yet I also want to be open to new genres I haven’t read/enjoyed before. It’s a hard decision :(
So I guess if the author offers you a book that’s within your genre preferences, accept!

I personally try not to be too fussy, since my blog is still a “newbie” :)



That's all for this week! I hope you will check out the other collaborative posts too!


We hope you’ve enjoyed the first in our series of discussion posts! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

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