Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

I read this book in a day, oh my god, it was stinkin’ amazing. I tried to read this when I was around 8 or so, but it mentioned puberty and womanhood and was like ‘nope not appropriate’ and returned it to the library. And it was one of those books that just hung around in my mind until one day, about a year or so ago, I saw this series and all Tamora Pierce’s following series on the shelf, looked for the first book, couldn’t, and kept looking for over a year. Until I was at a huge book sale, found it, bought it, read it, and here we are.

This book follows Alanna, a girl who’d rather be a knight instead of a lady as is expected. And since her brother hates idea of being a knight and loves magic, she chops her hair and they switch. Now, she has to hide who she is, keep up with the grueling training, defend herself from bullies, and prove herself as a page. So you have a strong, genderbendy, determined, magic wielding entity of awesome, who still has weaknesses and fears.

So, I would say read this book. There’s some, but minor, violence, some brief mention of what happens when you lay with a man, and Alanna dealing with puberty. The last might make some a little uncomfortable if they’re prepubescent or don’t have a uterus. But, all those parts are brief, and this is still an excellent book. 11+. 


Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Sorry for the gap in posts, vacation week was hectic. I don’t usually rate sequels to books, but for this, I have to because this book was and is an amazing sequel. In this book, all our favorite and diverse characters are here with the addition of a feisty Alex Fierro, who’s gender fluid.

This band of heroes are now fighting against Loki’s plan to marry of Sam to a giant. They go on tons of adventures, trying to figure out a way to get her out of this while Thor’s hammer is also on the line, part of Sam’s nuptial gifts. 

The story stayed interesting, and awesome. Like seriously awesome. It’s definitely for older middle graders (at one point the make magical string out of a cup of blood and hair), but it’s definitely worth the read.

I especially love Alex Fierro’s character, who normalizes gender confusion and explains to kids. I find Alex a decent role model, and wished she was around when I was younger.

Probably 11+. Bit more violence and fighting, not mention some innuendo that’ll go over little kids heads. I recommend highly.

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

A mild warning before you choose to read this book: I do not recommend reading while your depressed. It doesn’t end well. Read this when your in a good mood and can handle a bunch of kids dying and surviving the zombie apocalypse where adults are the bad guys.

I liked this book, once I finally read it when I was in an okay place. I liked the dynamics, the characters I thought were well done, and I liked the setting and language use. This book takes place in London, from the point of view of kids. Yeah, it’s not too unique in the term of zombie novel/movie/show criteria, but since there’s not an excess of young adult zombie fiction that’s well done, this stands out.

It’s gloomy, dreary, just a bit gruesome and definitely violent. There’s death. Fear. Hanging on the edge of your seat tension. But I liked it. I recommend it, if you can handle the grimness. 13+ is what I’d say.

Hellsing by Kohta Hirano

This is one gory stinkin’ book. Like seriously, at times it’s like a never ending gore train. It follows this secret organization, Hellsing, that is led by this Lord and her vampire coworker. I know, I know. Vampires? But these are the cool ones. These don’t sparkle, aren’t good, and are pure weapons of mass destruction.

So, way cool.

Together along with others, they battle baddies and goodies who are more like baddies in a wonderful array of blood.

There are swears. Don’t remember the severity, but swears there are. And the gore is pretty gory. Like, during this one part the head vampire cuts of the top of this guys skull and drips the blood into his mouth. I mean for a manga it’s not that bad violence wise, but still. Can’t say to much on other factors as I’ve only read the first few. But I think this is a great manga for mature teens who don’t mind a little gore in their plotlines.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I am not always bright, and the main reason why I wanted to read this was because my mom told me that I couldn’t. There were other reasons, like the fact that three good friends liked this series, one of which whom whenever recommends a book I drop everything to read it. So, finally, my folks let me read it, even though I had already read a good part without them knowing. And, where my mom hated this book, I liked it. A lot. I mean, so much that I finished that giant books, finished the 1000+ page sequel, and am now nearly halfway through the 1000+ page 3rd book.

This book is pretty well loved, and has received mixed reviews. A lot of the negative reviews come from people who didn’t agree with the praise laid on it as unique, or who thought the writing was crap, or thought the plot was too confusing. I can’t really say too much on the uniqueness of this novel, as I don’t usually read this type of fantasy. The writing wasn’t the best, but it was better than some of read. And, to be honest, this book is pretty confusing.

This book follows a crap ton of people, mostly if not entirely nobles, as they deal with the prospect of the throne of this land. The current king hasn’t been on the throne for very long, and is the first of his lineage, so everything is pretty rocky. Some people in this book are all about honor, some are about power, and there’s also a lot of viewpoints from children which vary in what they want. This book is filled with fighting and political danger and decisions, which I liked.

Another thing I liked was how different all the characters are, which must not have been to easy as each book contains half a dozen or more point of views, and too many side characters to keep track of sometimes. But all the main characters are unique, from looks to personality. Also, even though this book is set in a time period where women are seen as property, all the female characters, which there are a lot of, are depicted as fleshed out and strong in some way. I liked that.

This book is not for the faint of heart. Scenes are pretty brief, but there is some pretty graphic stuff. Rape is described, beheadings, murder, semi-graphic sex scenes, rape of children, characters frequent brothels, a large amount of very vulgar language, some detailed incest, and more. I can’t really stick an age on this book. I would recommend it, though, for more grownup teens and adults, and people that aren’t too bothered by this stuff. I know people who started this series at age 14 and were fine, and full fledged adults who couldn’t handle it.

If you are interested in this book series, I will tell you that the first 100 pages are the hardest. There’s a lot of characters and plot points and stuff to wrap your head around. Also, DO NOT GET ATTACHED TO ANYTHING. PEOPLE, ANIMALS, AND EVEN OBJECTS.  Pretty much, everything dies or has horrible stuff happen to them. Also, you’ll want to punch Joffrey. It’s okay. We all do.


The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Wow, it’s been a while. Let’s start with a favorite author of mine.

I have a long standing love for Rick Riordan books. The Percy Jackson series got me out of a pretty low place, and never fail to amuse me. The Heroes of Olympus series I didn’t like as much, but then there was this book. The Sword of Summer. I really, really, really liked this book. And, it was back in first person.

This follows Magnus Chase and his adventures into the world of Norse mythology, with some clear similarities to Percy Jackson. Others weren’t a huge fan of this and rated this poorly because of that, but I didn’t mind to much. I found the new mythology interesting enough to look past that. I also love, in this book, how their was more diversity in the characters, from religion, to skin color, to disabilities. It was nice reading that.

Overall, I would recommend this book. It’s fast paced, interesting, and was totally worth the Barnes and Noble gift card I used on it. It’s a little on the thick side, and deals with the usual fantasy violence. Probably good for 10/11+.

The Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine

I was on vacation in California when I read this book, and I absolutely loved it. This might be one of those ‘Grade Dropper’ books; a book so good that you spend all free time reading or thinking about it (sometimes causing my grades to dip a little bit). I whipped through this book, wanting to know how it ended yet wanting it to go on for ever. This book was a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, a retelling I thought was done rather well. A few reasons being:

1.) The relationship between Romeo and Juliet is minor, and Romeo is seen as naive and spoiled

2.) The author made this book feel sometimes that it was from that time period, occasionally using archaic words

3.) Rachel Caine gave Benvolio, Mercutio, and Rosaline more of a back story (Mercutio’s was particular heart breaking)

4.) And lastly, the author made Benvolio (a character who I loved even before I read this book; he was always tied for favorite character with Mercutio) more badass

In this retelling, Benvolio is the Prince of Shadows, a thief who steals for revenge from the rich, wealthy, and arrogant. The book even opens with him stealing from Tybalt. The author also gives the characters more depth, and highlighted the whole family politics aspect of the play. With elements like a slow, growing romance between Rosaline and Benvolio, a crazy grandmother, fantastic sword fights, Mercutio’s character change, and the family politics, this book was just amazing.

The only thing negative I will have to say is on the occasional use of archaic words. If I didn’t get this book on my kindle (where I can look up a word by highlighting it) I believe that I probably would’ve been more confused at parts.

This book contained occasional vulgar humor, sword fights, and a hanging.