Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

In Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again. (From Goodreads.)

Personal Take: By now, anyone who knows me knows about my obsession with Neil Gaiman and his work. So it’s no surprised that I got this the moment it was released, especially as I wanted to get into Norse mythology for a while now. The stories were organized perfectly, starting from the beginning of creation, through events and adventures that brought about the end of the world.

The interesting thing about the way Gaiman approached this, is that he wrote the gods to be casual, adopting a colloquial dialogue in the way they spoke. It wasn’t jarring, but unexpected, which only Neil Gaiman is able to pull off. This in no way hindered how the stories were told though. The gods came to life with each story, slowly revealing their personalities, but also, ultimately, showing what the vikings valued in themselves and their deities.

The end of the arc was the one the that really got me excited– the final culmination of all the choices made by the gods brought into one point, and it was epic. I was still buzzing from the it long after I finished the book. This is a book I’d definitely read again, and it’s opened by appetite to read more about Norse mythology.

It acts a great, light introduction to the subject.

Audience: I’d say adults for the complexity of the stories themselves.



Other recommendations: As a huge fan of Gaiman, I’ve made it a point at least try to read everything I can get my hands on. Two I recommend (but did not review yet!); American Gods, Anansi Boys, Stardust, The Graveyard Book and  The Oceans at the End of the Lane. Of the books I reviewed: Neverwhere, Make Good Art, The Sleeper and the Spindle, Good Omen: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnus Nutter.

Review: Getting the Girl (Wolfe Brothers #3) by Markus Zusak

Brothers Cameron and Ruben Wolfe have always been loyal to each other – even when Rube goes through dating girls he has no intention of being serious with. Until Cameron meets and falls in love with Rube’s latest girlfriend, Octavia. Already struggling to not hide under Rube’s shadow, Cameron isn’t even sure if a beautiful girl like Octavia would go for a guy like him. And even if she was, would it be worth breaking the brotherly bond between him and Rube?

Personal Take: After being given an amazing spoonful of such good, emotional writing in the second installment of this series, I had high expectations for the last book, specifically when it came to Cameron’s personal growth. There was growth, but not the “awakening” kind I was expecting.

But before I go into that, I want to point out one thing I noticed was that Zusak approached this book without referencing a lot from events in the previous book Fighting Ruben Wolfe, which was weird, as it was a turning point for both brothers. In Getting the Girl, it felt like Rube was the one that found his ground, while poor Cameron had maybe a semblance of a foundation (and there were plenty!), but not enough to prop him up.

Having said that, the self-discovery and struggle Cameron goes through is still emotional and heartfelt (and sometimes quite shitty, actually), and the beautiful prose keeps blossoming as he finds his ground. For the romance though, it was eh. It was too fast, and it didn’t feel like Octavia was much of a character. I think that, along with the constant awkwardness of Cameron, were the two only downsides.

While this series doesn’t show the best of Markus Zusak’s writing, it’s still brimming with his talent of writing.

Audience: I’d stay older teens for a few choice words.


Other recommendations: I’ve read and reviewed the first two books in this series; Underdog and Fighting Ruben Wolfe. Also read the much critically acclaimed The Book Thief, and I Am the Messenger.

Review: These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


When the most luxurious spaceliner in history gets yanked out of hyperspace and crashes into an unknown planet, it leaves Lilac LeRoux and Tarver Merendsen as the sole survivors of the tragedy. Two complete opposites, Lilac being the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy and Tarver, a young war hero with a simple background, the two must learn to trust each other in the harsh environment of the planet. While it seems that they’re both alone at first, it soon becomes clear that that’s not the case. And whatever it is, it’s old and desperate.

Personal Take: I knew before getting into this that it was a sci-fi book, which isn’t my cup of tea. The first few chapters were a bit of a struggle, trying to understand the level of sophistication in the futuristic world, but the authors did a great job simplifying it. Before I knew it, I was so absorbed and so addicted to both the characters and the writing style.

These Broken Stars isn’t only a YA romance. It’s so layered, and beautiful and complex, and it took its time building up to be what it is. The writers were not afraid to be daring (as one certain scene suggests), which had me guessing the whole time. I loved every moment of it.

I wouldn’t say this book is for everybody– it requires patience to appreciate the pace and details that went into it, but I do recommend it if you’re looking for something new.

Audience: Older teens, and adults.



Other recommendations: This is the first of the Starbound series, and the second is This Shattered World. I’ll definitely be checking out both authors’ work after this series concludes.

Review: Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4) by Patricia Briggs


Still grappling with her personal trauma, Mercy Thompson finds herself at the doorstep of a possible relationship, and whatever answer she gives could affect her protection status with the werewolf pack in the area. In the midst of figuring it out though, the vampires and their leader make a move, marking Mercy as their enemy and pray. Thinking that putting distance between her and the angry vampires is the best solution, Mercy decides to help an old friend with a supernatural problem, which quickly turns ugly when she realizes what she’s up against.

Personal Take: After the shocking intensity of the last instalment, Bone Crossed continues from that cliffhanger. And let me tell you, no matter what, the intensity is still high. There are a couple of things I loved in this book. First and foremost is that we finally, FINALLY get some answer to Mercy’s romantic life.
Second, the fleshed out politics of the supernatural creatures, mostly vampires. It touched on others creatures as well too. The whole lot have an interesting dynamic, and I enjoyed reading about it, not matter how brief.
And finally, just the big bad boss of this instalment– freaky but necessary, and simply blew my mind.
Again, I say it, this is THE best supernatural series I’ve read in years, and it keeps getting better.
Audience: Older readers, definitely.
Other recommendations: In the Mercy Thompson series, I’ve read and reviewed Moon Called, Blood Bound and Iron Kissed. I’ll be reading no only the rest of this series, but others as well.

Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld


Darcy Patel’s dream comes true when she lands a book deal and a chance to perfect her novel. Putting off college and moving to New York, Darcy begins her life as an independent young woman, and living the writer’s life in the city with her new friends. As it happens, being a writer is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Told alternatively is Darcy’s novel, which follows Lizzie, who face a traumatic incident that almost gets her killed. Instead, Lizzie discovers the Afterworlds, the world of the dead, and a spirit guide that keeps here at bay of what this new world has in store.

Personal Take: It’s really hard to describe what this book is about. I felt like I was reading two completely different books, and I guess that was the point, so I’ll speak about them separately for now.
I wasn’t exactly impressed with the characters in both stories, or the writing style. It felt two dimensional, and the were events just… flat and monotone. I did enjoy Darcy’s side of the story more though, because I related to her struggles in writing. That part of the novel was also like research to me, as it went into some detail about how the publishing industry works.
Having said that, I wasn’t exactly attached to Darcy or the other characters.
In the Afterworlds side of the story– it was the typical YA that I would drop after first signs of cliche. Unfortunately, I had to continue to get the full sense of the whole book, believing that both sides would somehow be connected (it’s not). I just couldn’t connect at all with Lizzie or her story, and the insta-love and lack of clarity and solidity of the story just put me off.
I had a lot of high expectations for it, but unfortunately, it didn’t deliver for me.
Audience: There is a bit of violence and language, so it’s definitely older teens.
Other recommendations: Even though this is my first Westerfeld novel, I’m still looking to read more of his books. Some of his books are the Uglies series and Leviathan. Check out the rest of his books!

Review: Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5) by Richelle Mead


Sydney knew the consequences of her feelings for Adrian, and she was ready for it. Now that the Alchemists have her in their clutches, Sydney is determined not to give up. But the re-education center she’s imprisoned is near impossible to escape from. Meanwhile, Adrian’s control of spirit magic is slipping, especially since his desperate efforts to find Sydney proves fruitless. So when a chance to distract him from his failures comes his way, he grasps at it like a lifeline.

Personal Take: I was SO STOKED to be reading this! I had such high expectations, especially after the way the last book ended. I was expecting Silver Shadows to reduce me into an emotional mess because the stakes got so high.

And I did enjoy it. I did feel for the characters in their time of turmoil (one more than the other). I couldn’t stop reading, and it was still a good read. But I wasn’t completely blown away by it. For most of the book, I was waiting for a new revelation that would shake my view of Mead’s world, but nothing much happened.

One thing I noticed was that there were too many characters in this book for my liking. It wasn’t too hard to keep up with them, but the chapters were a little crowded, with me trying to remember the characters from the previous book. Some were memorable, but others weren’t, and I didn’t feel they played a big part in the story.

The events in the book were a little predicable, and wrapped up a little too nicely in the end, except for the last bit of cliffhanger that made feel a little exasperated because in someway, we’re back to where we started.

I was a little disappointed, but I still can’t wait to see how it ends.

Audience: For older teens, for alcohol and somewhat adult themes.



Other recommendations: In this series, I’ve reviewed Bloodlines, The Golden Lily, The Indigo Spell and The Fiery Heart. Also a huge fan of The Vampire Academy. Check out the rest of Mead’s books!

Review: Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson #3) by Patricia Briggs


Mechanic Mercy Thompson recently finds herself right in the middle of the supernatural world. When her fae ex-boss is accused and arrested for a murder he didn’t commit, she is more than determined to find the real culprit. But her involvement in the fae business stirs the supernatural creatures and puts her under serious threat. Meanwhile, the two alphas in her life are proving hard to handle, forcing Mercy to make a choice.

Personal Take: I am so deeply in love with this series, I’m still not tired of saying it. This instalment went faster than usual, but it explored a part of Mercy’s universe that we haven’t touched on yet, and opens great possibilities in the future.

Briggs did a great job making the fae powerful and mysterious, with careful rules. You can’t help but be intrigued by them. The characters, as always, were amazing. What I loved most though was the turning point for Mercy and the revelation for one of the characters. I’m always in awe of writers who put their major characters in great pain, with hope the only thing remaining that they’ll come out of it stronger. And Mercy is one amazingly, strong protagonist.

What also made me so happy in this instalment is that we finally get to see who Mercy chooses as a love interest, and while it was the obvious choice, it was still amazingly orchestrated.

Again, this series keeps getting better with each book, and I will follow it blindly until the end.

Audience: Adult themes, and in this one in particular there is a disturbing scene. So definitely for older readers.



Other recommendations: So far, I’ve read Moon Called and Blood Bound in the Mercy Thompson series. Briggs also has Alpha & Omega series among other things I’d like to read– check it out!

Review: Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs


VW mechanic Mercedes Thompson – or Mercy – is used to living in the in-between. Specifically, between the human world, and the supernatural. A shapeshifter who’s grown among wolves, she knows where she stands in the hierarchy of predators, Mercy tries not to get too involved with their business– especially werewolf business. Unfortunately, things get blurred when a new stray werewolf comes to her for help. Just that meeting alone sparks disturbing events for her and her neighbor’s pack.

Personal Take: I’ve read a lot of great things about this series, and I can’t believe I’ve put off reading it for so long. Because Mercy Thompson is WICKED. I love her. I love the rest of the characters. I love the setting. I love Adam. I love her.

Anyway, you get the gist. Moon Called was an amazing introduction to Mercy’s world. It felt like the right amount of information was put in it, that wasn’t always confusing, but definitely necessary for the world building.

Mercy herself was a fantastic character. I could talk ages about why she rocks, but mostly, this woman is smart. And action oriented. And sensible. Every thing she’s done and said makes so much sense, and she’s just…her.

As for the mystery in this instalment – it was quick and very intricate. At some point, I wasn’t sure where it was heading, but it was still smooth and wasn’t far fetched.

I am definitely a fan, and can’t wait to read more.

Audience: While I’d recommend for older readers, it was a fairly clean book.



Other recommendations: Briggs has eight books in the Mercy Thompson series, as well as a spin off trilogy called Alpha & Omega. You can check out what else she’s authored!

Review: Shadow Heir (The Dark Swan #4) by Richelle Mead


Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham didn’t expect to find herself in the situation she’s in. To keep herself and her loved ones safe, and to protect both the Otherworld and the human world, Eugenie exiles herself where she hopes no one will find her. Just as she thought she could attain a certain bliss and peace of mind, she’s called back to the Otherworld to save the very people she’s left to protect in the first place– from a mysterious blight. The journey to discover the source behind the curse unites both her allies and enemies, but will it be enough to face the formidable threat?

Personal Take: So far, I’ve had mixed feelings about this series. Aside from book two, it didn’t blow my mind that much. In fact, I think Thorn Queen is probably the best in the series.

The first half of the book was slow, and even though we were introduced to a few new characters, they really weren’t as interesting as the recurring characters.

The second half of the book was much easier to get through, and I really enjoyed the usual banter and interactions between Eugenie and the other characters (*cough*Dorian*cough*).

I did find the conflict was kind of random to be tacked onto the last instalment though. I expected a Big Event towards the end (in fact, what was the basis of this whole series?), but that part was so…small and contained. I was disappointed. And I was equally disappointed with how the whole book was wrapped up.

In the end, except for maybe one or two plot lines in the story, I was left largely unsatisfied.

Audience: Definitely for older readers due to language and sexual themes.



Other recommendations: I’ve read and reviewed all the books in this series: Storm Born, Thorn Queen and Iron Crowned. I’m also a huge fan of her YA series, Vampire Academy and the Bloodlines series.

Review: Octopussy (James Bond #14) by Ian Fleming


Bond is back after 10 years out of print, the world’s greatest secret agent returns, in two classic adventures brought together in a deluxe James Bond collectors’ library paperback edition. When an old friend’s body is found in the Alps 20 years after he disappeared, James Bond quickly finds himself caught between Nazi gold, the Chinese Tongs and the eight-armed embrace of Octopussy.

Personal Take: So, I didn’t know that I picked up the last volume of the James Bond series (I found it quite hilarious, actually), and I didn’t know what to expect when I started it. What I didn’t expect is how British and cool the writing was. I did roll my eyes at the mostly male-dominated point of view, but it was so fascinating to read. There were a lot of spy and weaponry jargons, but that easily ignored.Even though it’s supposedly the last of the Bond stories, it didn’t really end with a resolution (and not having followed the series, I didn’t take it to heart), but I was really fascinated with Bond’s character,  the world of espionage, and the way Fleming wrote his men in general.

I’d suggest reading this even if you’re not a fan, just to peak into Bond’s world, and if you’re looking for a quick read.

Audience: I think older readers, just because of the jargons in it.


Other recommendations: Fleming is known for his Bond series, so you can see the previous 13 titles here!