Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer
Author: Rick Riordan
Page Count: 491
Keywords: Norse Mythology, Wolves, Asgard, Valkyrie, Adventure, Quest
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Younger Readers: As with most of Riordan’s book this one is fine for kids. No cursing or sex scenes. Some mention of alcohol but not a main point.
I have been sick in bed for about two weeks now. That combined with a massive amount of school work due to midterms and approaching finals made me want something a little lighter than what I had been reading. Rick Riordan seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
This was everything I had hoped for and more. Taking a peek into the world of Norse mythology was a fun adventure and Riordan’s writing introduced the convoluted stories in an easy to follow way that I think children and adults alike will enjoy.
Magnus is a strong character, but not in the traditional sense of muscles and brute strength. His other skills are what make him powerful. Slowly discovering this, that a hero does not have to be a traditional warrior, was a fun twist on the normal male led adventure story. Those looking for alternatives to this traditional trope will enjoy his companions, Blitz and Hearth, as well.
Sam is an amazing character! She certainly breaks norms. As a Muslim Iraqi girl who possesses a magical hijab and is facing an arranged marriage (that she actually wants), she was fascinating and serves as a good lesson in diversity to younger readers. Her strength and dedication with dashes of humor added in make her a fun and extremely likable character.
Of his various middle grade books this may very well be my favorite cover. The colors work nicely and the design is gorgeous. Adding this to my ever-growing book collection was a great delight.
As always with Rick Riordan’s works, I recommend this one wholeheartedly. Working with students previously, especially reluctant readers, I can say his various mythology based series are a great choice for younger readers. Students are able to gain a fairly thorough understanding of myths without a lot of the dense words that accompany such tomes as Edith Hamilton’s classic Mythology. Diverse characters also give a wider range of readers aspects to connect with.
Parents reading with their children or just adults looking for a fun read will not be disappointed with Riordan’s witty writing and fun tales either. I especially enjoyed that Magnus, at 16, is a bit older than some of his previous characters.
The Tiger’s Daughter
Author: K. Arsenault Rivera
Page Count: 526
Format Read: Paperback
Keywords: Friendship, Loyalty, Demons
Kid Appropriate: Teens and older
I really loved this book. While like City of Lies it was a bit slower, there was a great deal of interest in the characters and their development from small children to grown women. Their relationship unfolds in a natural way (with the exception of a spoiler I will discuss below) and the format of Shefali writing a letter to Shizuka about their own story was entrancing.
In one sitting I read well over 200 pages on one day and did it again the next. The writing style is definitely within the realm of an adult fantasy but it is done in a way that never feels heavy and allows for quick reading, so do not allow the larger page count to deter you.
And while this book reads a bit closer to historical fiction than fantasy at certain times, the inclusion of demons and a folklore of gods added just the right amount of magic to make me fall for this story head over heels.
If you are looking for a solid fantasy series, I recommend beginning here. It is not too heavy for newer fantasy fans and is more focused on the central couple. The world building is more gentle in nature and grows with the maturity of the girls as they grow up and are able to comprehend more.
I mentioned in my Friday Reads for this book that around page 214 a scene occurred that had me confused. Shizuka is sick and dying from a fever. She is extremely ill and they fear that she will not make it through the night. This was important because you can see the worry that Shefali has and it ages their relationship from the childhood friendship. WHY WAS THIS A GOOD TIME FOR THEIR FIRST SEX SCENE?! I am certainly not against smut in books. But the placement of this scene makes no sense to me and I wish it had occurred at a different time in which one person is not near death and incapable of doing what was described.
Another issue I had was the nature of their relationship. Shefali is constantly being used by Shizuka and thrown into unnecessary situations. I wish that there had been more respect and less childish greed there.