Marshmallow reviews The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan

Through the years, Marshmallow has reviewed quite a few books written by Rick Riordan. Today she revisits the world of Percy Jackson, a Greek demigod whose adventures we have read about in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and his friends whom we met in the Heroes of Olympus series. In the review below, Marshmallow tells us her thoughts about The Demigod Diaries, published first in 2012, written after the completion of the first series and before the completion of the second.

(Marshmallow reviewed three books from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series; check out her reviews of The Lightning ThiefThe Sea of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse. Caramel reviewed the graphic novel versions of the same three. See his reviews of  The Lightning ThiefThe Sea of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse.)

(Marshmallow also reviewed all five books of the Heroes of Olympus series: The Lost HeroThe Son of NeptuneThe Mark of AthenaThe House of Hades, and The Blood of Olympus.)

Marshmallow reviews The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow reviews The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you liked some of the other books by Rick Riordan or enjoy books about Greek mythology, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary: This book consists of a couple short stories placed in the Rick Riordan world, games about the Rick Riordan world, special pictures, and one interview with George and Martha, the snakes on Hermes’s caduceus. There are four short stories: “The Diary of Luke Castellan”, “Percy Jackson and the Staff of Hermes”, “Leo Valdez and the Quest for Buford”, and “Son of Magic”.

“The Diary of Luke Castellan” is written from the perspective of Luke Castellan, a major character in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The story details how his friend Thalia found her shield (Aegis) and how they together met a seven-year-old Annabeth, one of the most important characters in the two series involving the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses.

“Percy Jackson and the Staff of Hermes” is written from the perspective of Percy Jackson. The story is about Percy Jackson’s mission to recover Hermes’s caduceus.

Marshmallow is reading The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow is reading The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan.

“Leo Valdez and the Quest for Buford” is about Leo Valdez’s search for Buford, his trusty table friend. We met Leo Valdez in The Lost Hero, the first book of the Heroes of Olympus series. Leo is a son of Hephaestus, a skilled mechanic, and a goofy but faithful friend.

“Son of Magic” concerns a half-blood who chose to side with Kronos during the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The half-blood is in trouble, being chased by a monster, and he needs the help of a mortal. This story was written by Riordan’s son Haley Riordan.

In addition to the four stories, the book contains an exclusive interview with George and Martha, the two snakes on the caduceus of Hermes. There are also some trivia games and a word search puzzle.

Finally, the book includes several full-color full-page illustrations of several of the main characters from the two series. In particular there are full-page images of Annabeth, Percy, Luke, Piper, and Leo, and some illustrations of specific places. The colored illustrations were made by Antonio Caparo and the black-and-white ones were by Steve James.

Marshmallow is looking at the portraits of Annabeth and Percy in The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow is looking at the portraits of Annabeth and Percy in The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan, drawn by Antonio Caparo.

Marshmallow’s Review: I really enjoyed reading The Demigod Diaries. I think it makes a great addition to my Riordan collection, and it really explained some things that happened in the main books of the two series involving the Greek and Roman demigods. Some of the events in this book were mentioned by the main characters in the main series and it was good to have the full stories be told.

I enjoyed the games and thought that the images were really well-drawn. The stories fit right into the world that Rick Riordan created in his two main series, and it was nice to reconnect with the characters from them.

The Demigod Diaries does not involve the later series by Riordan such as the Trials of Apollo, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, or The Kane Chronicles. I haven’t read the Magnus Chase books or the Kane Chronicles yet, but this was fine; the stories in The Demigod Diaries take place before these other series, and so I think there are no spoilers.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.  

Marshmallow rates The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan 100%.

Marshmallow reviews Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor

Today Marshmallow reviews a 2020 novel by Nnedi Okorafor: Ikenga. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.
Marshmallow reviews Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, what do you want to tell us about this book?

Marshmallow: Ikenga is about a twelve-year-old boy named Nnamdi, whose father used to be the police chief in their village in Nigeria. But the father is killed and his murderer has not been caught. Nnamdi feels weak, because he knows who the murderer is but he is too young to do anything about it. But one day, his father’s spirit visits him, and gives him an Ikenga, a small statue of a horned creature who gives Nnamdi great powers, making him transform into a powerful, seven-foot-tall man.

S: That is very interesting. So he transforms like the Incredible Hulk, or like Superman or Batman, into a hero with super powers.

M: Yes. The village he is from is very corrupt, and Nnamdi takes on the criminals who do whatever they want and go unpunished. But along the way he also needs to figure out how to control his powers.

S: So is there a lot of violence in the book then?

M: There are some fight scenes, so I think one could call it violent, but we mainly see everything through Nnamdi’s perspective, and we see him go through his daily life with his mom, and it does not feel like violence is the central theme.

S: What would you say the central theme is?

M: I think it is about controlling your own emotions, your own powers. Nnamdi needs to figure out how to control his new powers, or he might start hurting people he cares about.

S: So would you say it is about self-control or about knowing yourself?

M: I’d say both.

Marshmallow is reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.
Marshmallow is reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.

S: I understand that the author uses a lot of ingredients from Nigerian and Igbo mythology and spirituality. Did you find it difficult to enter into that world?

M: The author really creates a vivid world, a totally convincing one, and so as the reader I found it really easy to get into the story and its story world.

S: That is really great to hear. I’m really getting eager to read Ikenga. Some of what you are telling me reminds me of Children of Blood and Bone, also by a Nigerian-American author, Tomi Adeyemi, who was able to create a completely captivating world in Africa, of magic, spirits, and myths. But of course you have not read that book yet. So let me ask you another question. If you were able to ask one question to the author, what would it be?

M: Let me think. I think the story wraps up really well, and the author doesn’t keep us hanging but I found Nnamdi and his world fascinating, and am kind of curious if the author would be writing more about Nnamdi in the future.

S: Hmm, I think that is an interesting question. This is a recent book, so we do not know if there will be a sequel, and if as you say, the story is already wrapped up well, there may not be. But maybe we will explore other books the author wrote. She does have several others; she apparently was a national-level athlete in high school before getting paralyzed and turning to writing.

M: I did not know that.

S: Yes, her story is very moving. But she is a very interesting writer, and maybe we will read more books from her.

M: I’d like that!

S: Okay, this is probably a good time to wrap up this review. How would you rate this book?

M: I’d rate it 95%.

S: Thanks. And what do you want to tell our readers?

M: Stay tuned for more amazing reviews from the book bunnies!

Marshmallow enjoyed reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor and rates is 95%.
Marshmallow enjoyed reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor and rates is 95%.

Caramel reviews The Titan’s Curse: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan

Last year Caramel began to review the graphic novel versions of the Rick Riordan series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. You can check out his reviews of The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters. Today he finally shares with us his thoughts on the third book of the series: The Titan’s Curse. As usual, Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes.

(You can read Marshmallow’s review of the original book here.)

Caramel reviews The Titan's Curse: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Attila Futaki, Greg Guilhaumond, and Chris Dickey.
Caramel reviews The Titan’s Curse: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Attila Futaki, Greg Guilhaumond, and Chris Dickey.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, you are back to Percy Jackson and the Olympians!

Caramel: Yeah.

S: So it has been a while since you read the last book. So tell us a bit about what the main story line is.

C: Percy Jackson is a demigod, that means his dad is one of the Olympian gods. His is Poseidon, the god of the sea. In these books, he is trying to help the other demigods beat monsters who are trying to bring down the Olympian gods and take over the world.

S: Okay, so this sets the stage for book 3. What happens in this book?

C: Percy and his friends try to save two young demigods, Bianca and Nico, but they are stopped by monsters. Turns out the school principal is a monster, a manticore.

S: Hmm, that reminded me of the book you reviewed way back where the school teacher was a robot.

C: Yes, except robots and manticores are different. Manticores are monsters and robots are robots. They can be friendly. And in the end, in that book, the teacher is probably not a robot. But here the principal is really a monster who is trying to deliver the two demigods to the General. And who the general is is a secret.

S: Alright. That sounds dangerous.

C: Yes. As usual Percy gets into a lot of troubles, small and large.

Caramel is reading The Titan's Curse: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Attila Futaki, Greg Guilhaumond, and Chris Dickey.
Caramel is reading The Titan’s Curse: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Attila Futaki, Greg Guilhaumond, and Chris Dickey.

S: So was this book fun to read?

C: Yes.

S: You also read the original book. What did you think of the graphic novel in relation to that?

C: As always, the graphic novel is a bit different. But not too much. Let me do a scene-by-scene comparison…

S: Really?

C: No.

S: Okay, that sounds more like you.

C: I’ll still say that both books are fun to read.

S: What did you think of the illustrations in this version?

C: They are great!

S: To me they look a bit dark.

C: A lot is happening in the dark, at night, or inside caverns.

S: So I see, it makes sense for it to be dark.

C: Yep.

S: So what do you think of the version of Percy in the graphic novels? Does he look like the Percy you imagined him to be when you were first reading the books?

C: Not particularly.

S: How about the Percy in the movies?

C: Nope. My Percy is the one on the cover of the original books that Marshmallow reviewed.

S: It is interesting how the first images we build for characters stay with us. Right?

C: Yep.

S: But if you had seen the movie before the books, it might have been different. I bet when you read Harry Potter, you are seeing the movie Potter, no?

C: Yep. That is true.

S: I find that fascinating. Anyways, before we wrap up, tell me three words you’d use to describe the book.

C: Exciting, action-filled, very close to the original books.

S: Thanks. So what do you want to tell our readers as we finalize this review?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading The Titan’s Curse: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, with Attila Futaki, Greg Guilhaumond, and Chris Dickey, and is looking forward to reading the next books in the series in this format.

Marshmallow reviews The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan

Marshmallow has already reviewed the first four books in Rick Riordan’s Trials of Apollo series for the book bunnies blog. This week she reviews the fifth and final book, The Tower of Nero. Below she shares her thoughts on this epic end of Rick Riordan’s fifteen-book series about Greco-Roman gods and their children who live among us. 

For reference, Marshmallow has already reviewed:

You might also enjoy reading Caramel’s reviews of the graphic novel versions of the first two books of the first series: The Lightning Thief: The Graphic Novel and The Sea of Monsters: The Graphic Novel.

Marshmallow reviews The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow reviews The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you enjoyed reading the first four books of Rick Riordan’s Trials Of Apollo series, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Apollo has been stuck as a mortal for the last four books, and now he is coming to the end of his adventures on Earth. But he has a long list of enemies. He has been fighting the Triumvirate, three evil emperors from Rome’s past who have been trying to all become gods, as well as his archenemy Python. Python is a large and evil snake who has been Apollo’s enemy even when Apollo was a god.

The book starts with Apollo and his demigod master Meg returning to New York. You might recall that Meg is a daughter of Demeter, but she is a particularly strong one. She has unusual powers, even for a half-blood. She is able to summon a karpos, which apparently means “fruit” in Greek, but in this universe, it is a fruit or grain spirit. She names this karpos Peaches, because he is always saying “Peaches”. She can transport using plants and can make them grow faster.

On their way into New York, Apollo and Meg are attacked by Nero’s henchmen. We already know from the earlier books in the series that Nero is one of the main antagonists of the story, so you can guess that his people are not coming to greet Apollo. However, one of them, a Gaul woman named Luguselwa, turns out to be Meg’s trainer. Meg was one of the demigods that Nero had “adopted” and raised to be his minions. Luguselwa, Lu as Meg calls her, had been a role model for Meg.

Even though in the beginning it seems like Lu is on Nero’s side, she has a plan to help Apollo because she really cares for Meg. But they first need rest, so they stop by Percy Jackson’s home. (For Percy’s adventures, click here.) But Percy is not there. (However, his new baby sister is.) After staying with the Blofis-Jacksons for a little bit, Apollo, Meg, and Lu leave to go to Camp Half-Blood. At the camp, Apollo sees his half-brother Dionysus and his children. But they have to leave soon, and when they do, they go to find Rachel, who currently embodies the Oracle of Delphi. When they meet Rachel, they are faced by Tauri Sylvestre, which are basically monster cows.

Apollo and his friends will have to face the monster cows and more before they can finally hope to defeat Nero and Apollo’s archenemy Python.

Marshmallow is reading The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow is reading The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan.

Marshmallow’s Review: I really enjoyed reading The Tower Of Nero. I think that the plot of this book is very well-written, and it is a great finale for the whole series. The new characters are all amazing, they are realistic and relatable. As always, Apollo is a hilarious narrator, and he gets more and more likeable through the series.

This particular book of the series might be slightly scarier than the earlier books. There are some moments where the reader will probably get scared or grossed out, like Lu’s punishment. I’d say that most of Rick Riordan’s books are for ages 8 and up, so this one might be for 9 (or 10) and up.

The Tower of Nero can be a great read if you are reading it alone, but it is also great if you read it to someone else or someone reads it to you. I recommend it as a perfect ending for this fifteen-book saga.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Tower of Nero (Book 5 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan 100%.