ARC: The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp

The Lost City of Fortunes

Rating: 3/5
Release Date: April 17, 2018

***This book was given to me for an honest review, but all my thoughts and opinions are my own***

It took me forever to get to this book and not because of what you think, because you know, life gets in the way of reading sometimes. I was suppose to read this back in March, but March and April were not good months for me. So I definitely took it upon myself to read this book for May, and I think forcing myself to read this book made me draw back from the reading experience. I’m not entirely sure what about the book that took me forever to get into it, but I just could immerse myself in the world or the characters.

I usually ask for ARC’s that draw my attention and one that I know I would enjoy, that’s why I seldom ask for ARC’s, because I don’t really enjoy giving bad reviews. If I know that a certain book is not up my alley, I really don’t bother asking for a copy. I think it’s unfair for myself and the author to ask for a book I know I will never pick up. So when The City of Lost Fortunes came my way, I grabbed the chance to get an ARC. Not only is it set in New Orleans, a location I haven’t read from, but it also incorporates the magical realm of voodoo culture and the fantastical aspect of the city. Unfortunately, I have to say it, but this book was not for me. I can’t really pin point the exact reason this book didn’t work for me, but its the small little details that added up as the book progressed.

I really enjoyed the setting of the book. I haven’t really picked up a novel set in New Orleans and I think it was a fantastic idea for Camp to include his hometown in his novel. Me not being familiar with anything New Orleans, it was a bit difficult for me to picture where the book is set. I would have enjoyed a more in depth description of the world of our protagonists. It would also help if there were a bit more fantasy elements within his New Orleans world. In many of the other urban fantasy novels I’ve encountered there has always been a ‘veil’ around the human world that the regular people are made to see, compared to the reality of it in the magical world. I know that Camp was trying to be original and depict a more realistic fantasy world, but I did miss that.

I do applaud Camp on his use of different fantastical creatures/characters. It’s amazing how many he tried to incorporate within this book and there really isn’t any black and white characters. Each have their own agenda and all are willing to play dirty for the ultimate goal. I would have enjoyed more in depth coverage on voodoo magic, but maybe I’ll look elsewhere to get my fix. I must admit though, I wasn’t really a fan of any of the characters, no one really jumped up to me to be a favorite. Everyone is so morally grey, that it’s really difficult to see who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Then again in Fantasy novels, you are never 100% certain. I’m actually surprised that I’m not that fixated on the protagonists. He’s really the type of character that I’m usually fond of, but in this book, I found him to be a little bit flat, and repetitive. I think that’s one of my major concern on this book. Our main character, Jude, would venture off on his own, but then when he meets up with someone, he would repeat all his adventures, which is basically us readers, reading his actions twice. Which got a bit frustrating after a few chapters. For me, Jude was a bit bland, he was neither a hero or antagonist, so he’s just there, solving a mystery.

The mystery is really what got me through the end, I really wanted to know what happened, how it happened and why. So I had to finish the book. I would have wished it went a little bit faster and I would have enjoyed the book more if the pace of the events when a bit faster. Although I do commend Camp on his use of various characters from all over the world, I would have wished he didn’t use every folk story he knows of in every chapters. I understand all that research needed to be used, but I hope on the next book he tones it down a bit. They’re all interesting facts, but I think really unnecessary for the story line.

That being said, I hope Camp doesn’t tear my review into pieces. I understand why some people would enjoy this book, but this one wasn’t really for me.


Heroes of Olympus: The Blood of Olympus (Book 4) by Rick Riordan

Blood of Olympus

Author: Rick Riordan
Rating: 4.5/5
Protagonist: Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Leo, Hazel, Frank
Other Character(s): Rhaena, Nico, Gleeson

Synopsis: The final battle for Percy Jackson and his friends in this last epic novel by Rick Riordan. We find the seven demi-gods in the brink of war with the Titans, which of the gods/goddess will come and help them defeat this impending doom. At the same time, the quest of Rhaena, Nico and Gleeson is on the verge of failing due to forces that is out to stop them. Will the demi-gods find the strength to defeat their foes in this last battle or fail and see both their camps burn to the ground.

Review: I was finally able to finish this series and just in time for Trials of Apollo to be release, which ties up to PJ and HOO series. If you have read my previous reviews from this series, then I think by now you have realize that I a big Riordan fan. I’ve read most his middle grade book and absolute love them! So it won’t come as a surprise when I say that Blood of Olympus was fantastic and such a great conclusion to the series, not my favorite book in it, but still amazing. I did have my share of complaints, but in the end I enjoyed reading every moment of this book and nearly broke my heart that it’s already done.

Let’s get the grittier part of the review out of the way first. As much as I proclaim my love for Blood of Olympus, I did have my share of complaints. One of them being the battle between the Titans, god/goddess and the demigods. For Riordan to build up the suspense for this battle from book one, I really did expect and epic fight between these three enemies. Unfortunately, I was mistakenly mislead. Yes, it was amazing that all the gods/goddess showed up to support their children, but it ended as abruptly as it started. I’m not really sure if my expectation was just too high, or the battle is really as dull as I remember it to be. This is pale in comparison to the other battles that Riordan included in the previous books. While I was reading this book, I had no idea that Trials of Apollo was in the works at all and so this other bit of ‘complaint’ shouldn’t really be a part of my review now, but I’ll still mention it. There was a time at the end of this book when I wanted to fling it across the room because of what Riordan did to one of the characters. Now that he included Camp Half-Blood in his new series, I’m really hoping that he will alter his ending with one of our heroes. If you’ve read this book, you’ll understand what I mean. Now that I’ve mentioned all my dissatisfaction regarding this book its safe to say that they’re minor compared to my love for this series.

I think the main reason why I love Rirodan’s books is because of all the character development and friendships that he includes in his books. Yes, the story he creates are all beautiful and intricately woven, but for me its the characters that are the main attractions. All throughout this book and the previous dour, you see the growth of each individual characters and even those who did not have their own narration shill showed their strengths. I love how both camps were able to unite with each other to fend off the attack of Gaea, and ultimately defeat her. I enjoyed the final teamwork of the three that was chosen to overthrow her reign over the land. I don’t think Leo favored the two over the others, but rather they each know the strengths and weakness of each demi-god, and this choice is crucial at the end. The end was amazing because it enable each of them to showcase their strengths, not just our main protagonists, but the other supporting characters as well. As seen in my previous reviews in this series, I really do love all the friendships and pairings that happen all throughout this series. Not only are they amazing together, but they make each other better as an individual and as a couple. I don’t really have a favorite couple, since Riordan created them all wonderfully! Of course I can’t end my review without mentioning all the friendships that was formed in this last book. It’s really hard not to become close friends between the seven protagonists considering what they have experience together, but I’m glad that the author showed us different people being included in their small circle as well. It shows that they work very well with each other, but are not afraid to be an individual, separate from the group.

As much as I hate to see this series end, I feel that the conclusion is beautifully done, which ties up many of the loose ends that was present since book one. I do believe that Riordan has exhausted this story arc and glad that he didn’t extend it any further. However, I wouldn’t mind seeing glimpses of all of my favorite characters that I grew to love in Trials of Apollo. I don’t think I would ever get tired of reading more about Percy Jackson and company.

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

Ending: I’m taking this ending and running with it. Sorry no spoiler for this book, but I do have to say…I love it!

My Reviews for Book 2, 3, 4 of Heroes of Olympus:
Son of Neptune mark of athena house of hades

Heroes of Olympus: House of Hades by Rick Riordan

house of hades

Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Protagonist(s): Percy Jackson, Jason Grace, Annabeth Chase, Piper McLean, Leo Valdez, Frank Zhang, Hazel Lavesque
Other Characters: Coach Gleeson Hedge, Nico di Angelo, Calypso
Gods/Goddesses Mentioned (Roman/Greek): Mars/Ares, Cupid/Eros, Hecate/Trivia, Khione, Pluto/Hades

Review: I vowed to myself to finish this series before The Magnus Chase series is released (October 2015). Obviously enough, I failed on this goal. So now I vow to at least finish this series before the year is over. Since I’m practically done, I think I can make this promise stick. Well enough of that tidbit and on with the review. Every time I read a Riordan book. I’m always have a certain hesitation, fearing that this might be the book that will ruin the series for me or even the author. Alas, I have not yet come to such a book. Fortunately for me, every book I’ve picked up pf his has become one of my favorites and it’s really not hard to tell why. There is always action, adventure, friendship and romance in all his books, which is totally what I look for in a book. I mean who doesn’t. So it doesn’t really come as a surprise that this book, in my opinion, is just as fantastic as the others in the series. To be honest I can’t find anything wrong about House of Hades. I don’t know if the book is just very well written or I was too pre-occupied in my reading to realize the negative factors. Which just goes to say how good the book is. Since I really can’t find something bad to say I will give a reason as to why I gave it a 4.5.

For me, I always wonder why a reviewer wouldn’t give a 5 if the book was so perfect for them. So not wanting to look like a hypocrite, it’s only fair for me to defend my rating. When I read, or even watch a movie, I always get annoyed at the smaller details. Meaning the convenience of things For example, if our hero is in trouble, a weapon, or a way to get out, just conveniently appears. Now, don’t get haughty on me. I actually get annoyed at myself for this as well. Obviously movies and books will always have a convenient solution for difficult situations because they are the hero/heroine. I mean if they accidentally die or get harmed tragically, then there really isn’t much of a story. Right?!?! Yes, I know, but I really can’t help myself. So back to House of Hades. I just found that the heroes always find the answer too fast and there were too many freaky ‘accidents’ that they stumble on that leads them to the right path. This though doesn’t make me hate the book, just a personal annoyance of mine.

Now moving on. The one thing I Really enjoyed about this book, in fact the whole series, are the different POV. I love getting the insights of all the main characters, there fears, weaknesses and their strengths are very well written in all their POV’s. I would have enjoyed a POV from Nico, but really beggars can’t be choosers. I also find that the different POV’s add to the character/reader relationship. Meaning you get a lot more attached to the characters when you know their thought process. We get to know them on a personal level. Which is a very important factor to any series. I especially loved this book just because of all the POVs. There are some books that gets overwhelming when too many POV’s are introduced, but Riordan does a really great job on not over loading the readers. With the length of this book, you really don’t feel the bulk of it because the voices changes from one character to the next. Hopefully, the last book will do a great job on this as well.

Another aspect I enjoyed about this book are all the relationships. I know I always say this, but Riordan really does a good job in creating bonds between his characters. Since there are seven different main characters in this book, plus Nico, it would have been difficult to make all of them work well together, but by creating different challenges, Riordan was able to alienate a rift that could have formed. I especially enjoyed the quest between Nico and Jason. It was heartwarming and a different pairing from the usual three. I’m actually glad that he chose Jason instead of other girls, since it’s an uncommon situation. This same quest also enlightens us to Nico’s brooding and explains his hesitation towards Percy and Annabeth.

As for the actual quests of the heroes/heroines it was pretty good. I especially enjoyed the quest of Percy and Annabeth. Yes, I could be biased because it’s my favorite couple, but to be honest, it’s mostly because you really get to see how much the two characters has grown from when we first saw them in the Lightning Thief. I especially love the world that Riordan created on this part of the story. It somewhat gave me the chills just thinking about Tartarus as a ‘someone’ not a ‘something’ and this made me enjoy the last few chapters of Annabeth’s and Percy’s POV’s. I’m not saying that the other quest was a total dud, because it wasn’t. It’s as full of action just as the other one. I’m glad that Leo is getting his own little part in the book, I really hate love triangles, so this small side story was an amazing addition. He deserves his own…story. There were so many things that happens in this book and it literally keeps you on the edge of the seat, it did with me.

I’m becoming over repetitive in this series, but I’m really, really loving Heroes of Olympus and I think it will become one of my favorite. It’s been awhile since a series has impressed me from beginning to end – *ahem* Harry Potter! So I’m really glad to say this book has done just that. Still not as good as HP, but it has come close. I really can’t wait to see how Riordan will end the series, and I hope that I won’t be disappointed.

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

We’re almost at the end of the series, so I won’t start spoiling anything about it.

Heroes of Olympus: Mark of Athena (Book 3) by Rick Riordan

mark of athena
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mythology
Rating: 4/5
Protagonist(s): Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, Piper McLean, Leo Valdez
Other Characters: Jason Grace, Hazel Lavesque, Frank Zhang, Coach Hedge
Gods/Goddess Mentioned (Roman/Greek): Bacchus/Dionysus, Heracles/Hercules, Minerva/Athena, Nemesis, Venus/Aphrodite

Synopsis: The third installment of Heroes of Olympus takes us right after the end of Son of Neptune. Here we witness the anxiousness of Annabeth towards her reconciliation with her boyfriend, Percy Jackson, and meeting finally meeting the Roman camp. As unfortunate events occur with canons, eidolons and Leo, the seven demigods, consisting of Romans and Greeks, must now embark on a journey to the ancient lands to unify the two camp and try to save the world from the wrath of Gaea. Unknown to the other six demigods, the daughter of Athena, must travel her own path to avenge her mother, a trial that most Athenean kids have tried to accomplish but failed. If Annabeth is successful, she will not only make her godly mother proud, but also restore peace between the two camps, in hope of defeating Gaea.

Review: As much as I enjoy reading Percy and his adventures, its always been Annabeth that I favored between the two. She’s such a great female character that exudes confidence, intelligence, bravery and wit. Its been such an amazing two-part series watching her grow up from a young uncertain girl, to this confident person. I especially enjoyed this book because we get to see more of her. The first two doesn’t really talk much about her so this book is a great balance. I also didsn’t realize that I missed Piper and Leo’s POV until I started reading it again. I admit, Piper is not exactly my favorite character, but she did start to grow on me and her importance to the groups became clearer. I’m glad Riordan went more in depth with Leo, Hazel and Sammy’s connection, which is a pretty fascinating and interesting back story. I didn’t really mind that Percy Jackson’s POV was only a few chapters since the a bulk of the story had to do with the Mark of Athena.

As much as I loved the character development in this book, the story line is just as amazing. We are taken to two different quests that needs the co-operation of each demigod. Throughout there journey the group also needed to fulfill smaller tasks and I think this is were most of them shined. Since the two major prophecies seems to fall in the hands of Percy Jackson, Jason Grace and Annabeth Chase, including these other obstacles allowed the others to showcase their individual strength and weaknesses, which I feel will be vital during their final battle with Gaea. Although we don’t really get a POV from Jason, Hazel and Frank it doesn’t mean they were altogether eliminated from the story. As Always, Riordan cleverly included the three in the others’ POV and evident enough that all seven have their own parts to play in the prophecy.

Even though I’m really glad to see Annabeth in her role as ‘leader’, I feel that her journey for the Mark of Athena was uneventful. I’m not saying it wasn’t action-filled, I just thought it would be a longer journey, but for three obstacles and for many before her to have failed, it was unbelievable. Riordan claims that the Athenean children are smarter and quick-thinkers, then to have generations of them to fail in the second trial seems unlikely. Now the actual battle, that was intense. It was creepy, it was action packed, and at the same time it shows Annabeth’s strength and smarts. Even if the journey was a let-down, I’m glad that Annabeth was successful.

I’ve been so hesitant to read this series because I enjoyed Percy Jackson and the Olympians a lot. Now that I’m done with the third book, I’m glad that I started this series. No, it didn’t replace the previous series, but I think it’s just as equally good. I can’t wait to see what happens to our heroes in House of Hades.

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

If you do not want the ending to be revealed, please do not read any further.

Ending: Now I’m really not sure how to go about spoiling the book for people since there are so many things that happened in it. So I think a point form version of the important details will be sufficient.

* Leo is actually the great grandson of Sammy. Hazel allowed Leo to view a part of her past about her and Sammy, then by accident they were also able to see a past of Leo’s. They saw Sammy as an old man talking to his new born great-grandson, Leo, regarding Hazel. Tia Callida, who really is Hera, informed Sammy that he will not be able to see Hazel in his lifetime, but Leo will. He then tells baby Leo to take care of Hazel since he won’t be alive to do so. (tear worthy scene, especially when Sammy says “I guess we ran out of time” – MOA Pg. 273 [Hardcover ed.])

* The vision of Percy Jackson drowning with Piper and Jason came true when they were trapped in an underground grotto dedicated to the long forgotten nymphs. Since there has not been any water to cleanse the nymphs they became bitter and evil. Promising a future surrounded by nature and clean water, they were willing to follow Gaea’s instructions to kill Percy Jackson and his friends. Filling up the grotto with dirty, oily water, Percy was unable to control the water or even breath underneath it. With the help of Piper’s cornucopia, and the positive thoughts of the demigods, they were able to release fresh water from the hollowed out horn. The purity of their thoughts and of the water cleansed the nymphs, which allowed them to be free of their prison. Piper’s loving nature saved them from the curse.

* The Mark of Athena has been a journey handed down by Athena herself to avenge her for what the Romans did to her. Athena, a powerful Greek goddess was reduced to a minor goddess in her Roman form. She also believes that the Romans took an important part of her when the Roman Empire was established. Annabeth’s task is to avenge her and find the relic that symbolizes her strength and wisdom. She also believed that in finding this source of power, it will help in defeating Gaea. The actual statue in question is the mysterious Athena Parthenos, that was believed to have been destroyed and its gold re-used to make weapons for the Roman army. In all actuality it was stolen by Arachne, the woman that Athena turned into the first spider, to seek revenge to the woman who turned her into a monster. Annabeth conned Arachne to weave a larger version of a Chinese finger trap, and out-witted her in trapping herself in it.

* The other demigods were left to defeat the twin giants, Otis and Ephialtes, the anti-Dionysus. This was an epic battle between the six demigods and the two giants. In order to defeat them, they needed the help of a god. Previously, Percy sent out an offering to Bacchus in hope that the god will help them in their battle. This did the trick, since Bacchus appeared and helped them defeat the giants, with dramatic effects that included the coliseum. I think most people would agree that Bacchus is a great big A**, but a powerful version of the Greek counterpart.

* If you didn’t realize it, since I didn’t at first. The book cover is actually Jason, on the left and Percy, on the right. Fighting each other. I’ll let you guys read that one on your own.

Heroes of Olympus: Son of Neptune (Book 2) by Rick Riordan

Son of Neptune
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mythology
Rating: 4/5
Protagonist(s): Percy Jackson, Hazel Levesque, Frank Zhang
Other Characters: Reyna, Octavian, Nico Di Angelo
Gods/Goddess Mentioned (Roman/Greek): Juno/Hera, Mars/Ares, Iris, Bacchus/Dionysus

Synopsis: Just like The Lost Hero, the second installment of Heroes of Olympus introduce us to the well known Percy Jackson, and similar to Jason, he too, has lost his memory. Percy, having no recollection of his past, except for the name Annabeth, Lupa sends him off west, to a safe haven. Fortunately for Percy his instincts sets in as he battles off monsters that won’t get killed. Eventually, he makes his way to Camp Jupiter where he tries to blend in and be one of the Romans demi-gods. Even though he is similar to many of the other kids in the camp, he can’t help but feel a sense of loneliness. At the camp, Percy, befriends two other demi-gods, Hazel and Frank, daughter of Pluto and Son of Mars, where they embark on a treacherous journey to defeat Alcyoneus the Giant and try to bring death back. Along the way we learn the story of the other two demi-god and understand more about the Prophecy of Seven.

Review: The first time I ever read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief I disliked Percy, but as the book progress and I read more of him, I can’t help but love him! I think the main reason I enjoyed this book more than The Lost Hero was because of Percy. I admit Jason, Piper and Leo are a great addition to the cast, but that book was missing something for me. Just like every book I’ve read of Riordan, this had phenomenal writing. His characters are well developed and you get attached to the heroes/heroine right off the bat. I love how he incorporate random people from Percy Jackson and the Olympians into this new series. I enjoy reading updates, not just from the main characters, but also characters that were mentioned in previous books. The one thing that I kinda disliked about the book was that Grover wasn’t in this at all. A mention of him is not acceptable. I hope the other books at least include him in greater details. I also wished that there was at least a chapter or two about Camp-Half Blood. I missed the minor characters and the up-beat feeling of the camp, Camp Jupiter was too serious for my liking. However, I do enjoy the option of being able to live in the compound of the Roman camp even the demi-gods has grown up. Although, I love reading Riordan’s books, I’m always hesitant to start his books. I don’t know maybe the size is daunting for me, or maybe I just don’t want to the series to finish. Either way, at the end of every book I’m always happy to be able to read such a great series.

As I said before, Riordan’s writing style is amazing. He has a way of introducing characters in a vivid and interesting way. I think I also enjoyed this book a lot more than the first because of Hazel and Frank. I love their background story and how its so different from the others. As much as I found Piper interesting, Hazel just seems so much more bad-ass in comparison. I especially enjoyed the mysterious heritage of Frank, and even if Leo has such a comedic personality, Frank is very endearing. If I really have to compare Percy and Jason, hands down I’m team Percy. They are so similar in strength and leadership, but I feel that Percy has more personality. Don’t get me wrong, Jason is just as good as the other characters, but I’m more drawn to the characters of the second book. The other reason I’m drawn to Son of Neptune is because of the epic battles. Yes, there are some awesome fights in The Lost Hero, but Percy’s battles are just…better.

As much as I am raving about this book, there are things that could have been improved. I really do wish that they included some aspects of Camp Half Blood. I get that its an introduction to Camp Jupiter and Riordan needs all the pages to set it up, but it would have been nice to see the old camp. I miss all the minor characters that I grew to love/stand from the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series. It just didn’t seem the same without Percy battling it out with Clarisse. The next point probably annoyed me more than anything else in the book. ARGH! I don’t usually get bothered by cliffhangers, but this one really did. So close and yet…Riordan had to cut it off. I’ve never read a series where I want to pick up the next book right away.

That being said, I may pick up the next book right away. If you’re like me, hesitant to start this book, don’t be! It’s so worth the read and a lot better than the previous book. I still do want to read more of Jason, Piper and Leo, but I would like it better if all of them are together. Also, please, more Grover!

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

Ending: There really isn’t that much to spoil. Yes, there is a cliffhanger in the end, but not really a big one. I just really wanted for Annabeth to finally see Percy. All throughout The Lost Hero her anguish and heartbreak was too saddening, so I would have really wanted to see a happier ending for her on this book.

Most of my reviews usually go in depth on my spoilers, but I feel with this one people must go in blind. I enjoyed my reading experience getting to know Hazel and learning the mystery of Frank, so I don’t want to spoil that experience for first timers. I will say this, the surprise in the end, regarding Sammy, really did surprise me O_O.