The Hidden Oracle (Rick Riordan)

The Hidden Oracle (Rick Riordan)The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Mythology
Pages: 376
Source: Library

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.

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★

My sister is a big fan of Rick Riordan, so every now and again I get the urge to read a few more and understand a little more of her obsession.  I read the original Percy Jackson books years ago, then started the Heroes of Olympus back in 2016, finishing those and then the Kane Chronicles in 2018.  I then hit a bit of a standstill – do I read Magnus Chase yet? Trials of Apollo? Does anyone really know?! Finally I bit the bullet and decided to start with The Hidden Oracle, mostly because it was available through the library.

The Hidden Oracle is the first Trials of Apollo book, and funnily enough it follows Apollo himself, who has recently been turned into a mortal following the events of Blood of Olympus.  Stuck as an unattractive, unskilled mortal isn’t a huge amount of fun for Apollo, who’s used to be being adored and firmly believing he deserves nothing less.  Now, he’s desperately trying to regain Zeus’ favour and stuck helping Meg McCaffrey; a demigod who’s not in the slightest in awe of him, through all the usual chaos and disasters we expect from a Riordan book.

Apollo is, to start with at least, intensely arrogant, whiny and unlikable. Honestly, I had to re-write that sentence more than once to make it family friendly, I found him pretty much unbearable at first.  His ego is like a small planet (anyone else’s brain just go off on a minor Guardians of the Galaxy 2 detour?), and he seems to have nothing to justify that – sure he’s lost his godly powers now and they would have been something to admire, but his personality hasn’t changed and that is distinctly unpleasant.  Having said that, he does grow throughout the book, becoming both less self-obsessed and more funny.  His growth is a bit predictable and borderline-saccharine at times, but then, this is a children’s book after all, and I’m sure if I’d read it when I was younger I wouldn’t notice so much.  The supporting characters, as I’ve noted more than once with Riordan’s books, are almost of more interest to me.  While Meg is interesting, I don’t feel any particular attachment to her yet, but I was thrilled to see some characters from earlier books reappear – Nico DiAngelo, Will Solace, someone-else-I-can’t-mention-because-they-don’t-appear-until-the-end, Chiron, Harley….

The Hidden Oracle feels slightly younger than the Heroes of Olympus books did, which is a little disappointing because the slightly older feel was one of my favourite things about the Heroes of Olympus series. It’s still a very enjoyable, quick read though, and I’ve already reserved the second book, The Burning Prophecy, at the library.  I look forward to getting to know more about the new characters and getting more attached in the next book, as has so far happened with every Riordan series I’ve read!

Buy it? This is one I’d be happy enough to buy and add to my shelves permanently.
In a nutshell: Light, fun read with new characters I’m not yet attached to but sure I will be, and featuring returning characters I love!


One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Spider-Gwen V1: Greater Power (Jason Latour)

Spider-Gwen V1: Greater Power (Jason Latour)Spider-Gwen, Vol. 1: Greater Power by Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez, Tom Taylor, Chris Visions, Rico Renzi, Marcio Takara, Various
Published by Marvel on May 24th 2016
Genres: Comics and Graphic Novels
Pages: 151
Format: ebook
Source: Prime Reading


THE SPIDER-WOMAN of Earth-65 was convinced that the Lizard's threat died in her arms along with Peter Parker. But a new reptilian rampage leaves her with doubts not only about Peter's life, but also his death. While her father, Captain George Stacy, struggles with Gwen's double life, troubles mount as the Osborns make their debut — and Gwen finds herself on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s most-wanted list! Perhaps Jessica Drew, the Spider-Woman of Earth-616, can offer some wise lessons about power and responsibility that might come in handy when Gwen battles the Goblins! Plus: Discover who wields the shield as Earth-65's Captain America joins the fray — but will she be on Gwen's side?


Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★★★

I’ve recently discovered the Kindle Prime Reading feature, and have been pleasantly surprised to find it has quite a lot of options for comics and graphic novels. I’ve no shortage of books I want to read on my shelves, but I never buy comics or graphic novels, although I am curious about them.  When I was working as a bookseller Spider-Gwen was always a reasonably popular title so when I saw this was on Prime Reading I decided to give it a go.

In this parallel universe storyline Gwen Stacey was bitten by a radioactive spider and became Spider-Gwen, while Peter Parker is dead.

So the first and probably most important thing to realise is that although this is volume 1, it isn’t actually the best starting place for Spider-Gwen.  Turns out there’s a Volume 0 (Most Wanted), which I didn’t realise.  As a result, I found the storyline a little disjointed and complicated at times, which I’m sure could have been avoided if I’d actually started in the right place!  I didn’t find it too bad though; when something came along I didn’t know about I basically just accepted it and moved on – I didn’t have to go googling backstory or anything to keep up.

Probably my favourite thing about Spider-Gwen v1 is the artwork; more than anything I loved the vibrant colours and Gwen’s costume which is so different.  What let the book down, for me, was the character depth; Gwen has plenty of guilt (from events in v0!) but not a huge amount else going for her. She tries to be funny but while some of it was amusing some of it fell really flat, and aside from her interactions with her Dad her connections with other characters were a bit underwhelming. Ultimately, at this stage, I want Gwen to succeed more so that her dad doesn’t get hurt than because I actually care about Gwen herself.  I wanted to see more of her as a person – we get almost nothing in terms of her as a friend, as a person with any kind of hobbies or life outside of being a superhero.  Obviously I realise this is a comic about superheroes, but no one cares about a hero they don’t like or who seems completely two-dimensional.

I’m intrigued by the concept, and if Volume 2 appeared on Prime Reading or at the library I’d give it a go, but I won’t be rushing out to buy it.  In the meantime, I may well go back and read volume 0 and see if that gives me more reasons to emotionally connect with Gwen!

Buy it? This is one that I’d probably borrow personally.
In a nutshell: It was interesting, the artwork is beautiful, and it almost certainly makes more sense if you start with volume 0!

Harry Potter Make Up Brush review

Harry Potter Make up Brushes (sadly the bag didn’t come with them but it’s a cute match I think!)

So something completely different from me today – make up brushes?! I apologise in advance for the photos, I’m most definitely not a beauty blogger, I just came across these and thought some other book nerds might appreciate them too.  A few months ago I came across Harry Potter make up brushes online which were super cute and tempting. They were by no particular brand which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence BUT I’m also not a huge make-up person (Nights out only really) so I don’t really need anything amazing.  I tried looking online for reviews and didn’t really find anything conclusive – some people said they were great, others said they were awful, and every set had been purchased somewhere different, so who knew which would apply?  For about £5 though, I figured they were worth a go, and today I’m sharing my thoughts! The particular seller I ordered mine from isn’t listing them anymore, but they’re back on Amazon at the minute.  Interestingly, I’ve since discovered that a while ago Storybook Cosmetics did a set that looked very similar but has been discontinued because it didn’t have the proper licensing.  I figure these are probably a knock off set of those which makes my brain hurt a little if I think about it too much.

So, in each set you get five brushes. Mine arrived wrapped in plastic, with each brush individually wrapped as well – plus points for protecting them while they travel but a negative on the envrionmentally-friendly front.  Personally, for a fiver I wouldn’t have minded if they’d been just wrapped once, and better yet wrapped in something like brown paper instead of plastic.  When I first opened them, the first thing I noticed is that they’re heavier than I expected. Some of the reviews online say they’re metal-handled but the ones I’ve got are definitely plastic, and come in a silver tone – when I bought them they came in a choice of silver, gold, gunmetal or rose gold, but most places seem to just have either the silver or gunmetal now.  I went for the silver because I was worried the gunmetal might just look dirty, and I’ll always choose silver over gold/rose gold. Despite that, they feel substantial and sturdy.  The second thing I noticed is that they’re really soft – before these worked their way into my regular make up bag I was using a mixture of ecotools and body shop brushes and these feel just as soft, not scratchy at all.  They’re quite long (longer than a standard pen for a size comparison) which I love because it gives me plenty of room – I can hold near to the brush for fiddly work, or further away for broader sweeps of colour.  Also, while the Harry Potter design is purely for the love of fandom rather than any practical use, I quite liked having something ridged to hold onto because I’m a clumsy soul.

From left to right: Harry, Dumbledore, Voldemort, Ron & Hermione

Each brush is themed around a particular Harry Potter character, from the left I think we’ve got: Harry, Dumbledore, Voldemort, Ron & Hermione.  Honestly, my make up knowledge basically extends to being able to tell you that they’re all eyeshadow brushes, so I’ll just talk you through what I’ve noticed & what I use them for!

To photo the product pick up, I used a Collection 2000 palette I had lying around, just because it had a variety of colours, though they’re not the best in terms of pigmentation. Otherwise though you’d probably be looking at five different shades of metallic because I’m a creature of habit and that’s what I tend to buy!  For each swatch, I used the brush to pick up product just once, dry, picking up product the same way I would for putting on makeup normally.  From left to right: Harry (purple), Voldemort (green), Ron (blue), Hermione (black), Dumbledore (bronze).

Left to right: Harry (purple), Voldemort (green), Ron (blue), Hermione (black), Dumbledore (bronze).

My favourite of the five is probably Dumbledore’s, which is just a fairly standard, dense and fluffy brush. As you can see from the pictures above (bronze) it packed in the most colour, and this is the one I tend to reach for first for an all over sweep of colour when doing my eye make up.  I find Hermione’s, which is the smaller angled brush, the most precise (black swatches), so although I don’t tend to wear eyeliner, I occasionally would use this brush wet for giving a little bit of definition.  Ron’s, the fluffier angled brush, is perfect for adding colour into the creases (blue swatches) and if I wanted to pack a lot of colour in a smaller area for a smoky eye type look, I’d add that with Harry’s (purple swatch).  Honestly, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to use Voldemort’s wand for (green) – it’s a fluffier and less dense brush – but I tend to just use it for blending.  Alternatively if I’m going for a really subtle daytime look I might use it over Dumbledore’s, though I have to admit if I could only fit one in my make up bag, it’d be Dumbledore’s.

All in all, I have to say I’m really pleased with this set. If you’re a high-end brush fan, of course they’re not going to compare, but as a bit of a novice, and always on a budget, I think they’re great: they’re soft, they’re easy to use, they’re budget friendly and they let me add a little nerd to my make up bag. What’s not to like?

January TBR & Goals

What’s on in January?

January means back to work, Bout of Books 24, new episodes of Riverdale and feeling motivated about new year goals (yes, I am that person).  I’ve started Bullet Journalling again, I’m eating more healthy foods, and in a weird twist of events, I’ve set my reading goal at it’s lowest number ever because I want to enjoy non-reading activities too without feeling guilty! I’ve got an assignment due this month (boo) but I’m also going to a lovely wedding (yay) so it’s a busy month with some good things to look forward to.

January’s TBR list

Trials of Apollo – The Dark Prophecy (432) | Library
Polgara the Sorceress (816) | Scribd
Skyward (352) | Owned (audiobook)
The History of Bees (524) | Owned

Target pages = 2124
Plus one of these three:

TBR winner (approx 310) | Owned



January Goals

  • Being healthier
    • Track my food everyday
    • Come within +/- 100 calories of my calorie count goal on at least 25 days
    • Exercise 10 times
    • Lose 4 lbs – Hopefully this should follow logically on from the first few goals?!
  • Work/Life Balance
    • Plan summer 2019 holiday – I’m currently completing a teacher training course and it’s probably one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. One definite perk though is that I’ll get time off over the summer with my husband, so we’re planning a holiday. I’d like to get something more concrete planned out or booked so it can really go on the list of things to look forward to.
    • Submit assignment before the deadline (at least one night before) so I’m not panicking last minute
  • Blogging
    • Post 8 blog posts (or more!)
    • Schedule 3 posts for February
  • Finance
    • See 2 films at the cinema – I have a cineworld unlimited card which last year saved me nearly £100 but it’d be nice to save even more this year
    • Start an emergency fund
    • Pay off my credit card

What do you have planned for January?

#MyTBRList – January Vote!

TBRMemeMy TBR list is a meme hosted by Michelle at Because Reading which aims to help knock a few books off our TBR piles by letting everyone else vote on what we should read!

One of my goals for 2019 is to focus on series, so this month I’ve picked three books from my endless list of series to catch up on.  For all three of these series, I only need to read one book to either catch up or finish, and I have the book needed on my shelves already, so it’s just a case of deciding which to start with!

** POTENTIAL SPOILER WARNING: This month I’m featuring sequels, so the synopses for these potentially contain spoilers for earlier books. **

Muse of Nightmares – Strange the Dreamer #2

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.
She believed she knew every horror, and was beyond surprise.
She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice – save the woman he loves, or everyone else? – while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with the thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Hellbent – Orphan X #3

‘Do you need my help?’

They called him Orphan X. Evan Smoak used to be a government secret weapon.  Then he ran and became the man you call on when you’ve nowhere else to turn.

This time it’s a teenage runaway called Joey.  Like Evan she’s no innocent: she was brought up inside the same programme that raised him.

Now Evan must find Joey before those hunting her do.  Which is where the trouble begins.  Because this might not be about Joey at all.  And if it’s not, then it must be about Evan.

But finding out why could kill them both …


Zero Day – Skitter #3

The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come.

The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realization that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders, or do we gamble on Professor Guyer’s theory that we need to kill only the queens?

For President Stephanie Pilgrim, it’s an easy answer. She’s gone as far as she can-more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder – and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer. Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don’t agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what can be more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?

Which book shall I read in January?

  • Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer #2) (71%, 5 Votes)
  • Hellbent (Orphan X #3) (14%, 1 Votes)
  • Zero Day (Skitter #3) (14%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 7

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Thank you for voting! Next week I’ll check in to let you know which book won!