Audiobook recommendation- Harry Potter series

It is finished.

Can you believe it? After 6 long months, we’ve finally finished all 7 books of the Harry Potter series! We literally listened to a chapter per night, and as soon as one book ended, we embarked on the next and after 180+ nights of this, it is finished!!!!

And has it left a Harry Potter shaped gaping hole in our lives? According to my wife, “I feel all empty inside.” Was her response to me after coming home from work the first evening after we’d finished Deafly Hallows. But for me? I was left reeling from the ending. As the first time when I had listened to the Deafly Hallows, I had actually unknowingly skipped the second last chapter! Yes, I only came to this realisation 2 nights ago, so for the past 12 -13 years? However long it has been, I had always thought that the ending of the Harry Potter series was one big, massive disappointment! If you do recall the third last chapter, this was where Harry Potter was in that dream like after life scene, speaking to dumbledore where Dumbledore explains a whole bunch of things which fills in the gaps for both Harry and the listener, before he informs Harry that he had an option to stay or to go back and fight.

And for me, the next scene was 19 years later when Harry has his own kids and their about to start school at Hogwarts. So, you can imagine my shock when this time round Harry leaves the dream state and he awakens in the forest, surrounded by Death Eaters, and there’s actually a final showdown between HP and Voldemort and the tying up of some loose ends. Mind blown! Throughout that chapter I kept muttering under my breath, ‘is this a re-imagining?’ As to me it felt like a fanfiction, a re-writing  of the ending, to end in a more satisfying way according to diehard fans!? But no, it was just silly me from 12 -13 years ago, I probably fell asleep during the first listening and had entirely skipped this chapter (and I hadn’t seen the movie ither). So now that we’ve finally finished the Harry Potter saga after 6 long months leaving my wife in a funk,  but for me it has entirely changed my perception of the series and  it has left me in a greater appreciation of the artistry of J. K. Rowling!

And a big special mention to Stephen Fry, I think he really made the audiobook version of Harry Potter amazing! I think he brought each character to life and in my wife’s opinion the Audiobooks have been better than the books and better than the movies. As the movies were too brief, and the novels relied upon the reader to do all the hard work. But the audiobook was the perfect coming together of the two medias, to create a 100+ hour long feature length film for your ears and your imagination!

So again, if you haven’t listened to the books before, and you’re a massive Harry Potter fan! Check-out the audiobook version, it’s pretty special!

Audiobook recommendation- And Then She Vanished

How I too, became a time traveller!

‘Included’, isn’t that the best single word to Audible subscribers!? And how chuffed am I since Audible introduced Audible Plus, an all-you-can-listen smorgasbord of select audio books, podcasts, and original Audible content, and here is where I found ‘And Then She Vanished’ by Nick Jones, the indicator that it was included in the all-you-can-listen catalogue was that single word “Included”! Yay!

  I have to admit, the title of a book heavily influences whether or not I’d ever listen to it. Perhaps it’s because I’m blind, and I’m not drawn in by the pretty colours and illustrations of a book jacket, so if the book title itself sounds boring? I don’t invest the 30 seconds to click into the title and read the blurb. And “And Then She Vanished”, was almost a victim of this character flaw of mine. To me, the title didn’t speak to me. However, when I saw it again listed under Science Fiction, I clicked in, as I was now intrigued as the title originally suggested of a run of the mill Murder Mystery, but it was science fiction and I wanted to know why?

And if you’re like me, and was going to pass-up on it? Don’t! The book is darn good, darn good.

So, the story’s protagonist Joseph Bridgeman (a 30 something guy), lives alone in his old family home, haunted by the past- where his younger 7 year old sister vanished back in the late 90s never to be seen again. The incident caused the gradual unravelling of his family and particularly Joseph’s life, and where the novel starts Joe hasn’t been able to sleep for days, he hasn’t left the home in a while, he’s all out of food and the bank is going to repossess the family home- all that he has now. Then he’s talked into seeing a psychiatrist to help him with his sleep problems and whilst practicing the relaxation methods, he accidently time travels back in time. And once he comes to grips with his newfound ability, his mind entertains the thought “what if he travels back in time to the day when his sister goes missing, could he save her?” Which would then right all the wrongs which plagues his family after her disappearance!?

Sounds interesting right?

And let me tell you, the book doesn’t disappoint! It’s thought provoking, as the concept of time travel is so intriguing that my wife and I had to stop the recording several times, just to discuss the theory of time  travel. Multiple times we thought that Nick Jones had incorrectly captured the outcomes of travelling back in time and space, but I think Nick did get it correct in the end.

And when the book was starting to unfold, we started to think, “was the sudden disappearance of his sister? Could it have been the result of Joe’s meddling as a time traveller?” But you’ll just have to read the book for yourself, to find out how the story unfolds.

And in the process, I too came to the realisation that I too was a time traveller! Yes, I am a time traveller! And let me explain.

So, living here in Australia, as a blind person we have access to the Vision Australia Talking book library service. So long before Audible came onto the scene, I was already listening to FREE audio books. Now this library wasn’t like the 2 shelves found in your local library, which housed a limited assortment of cassette tapes, but we’re talking about thousands and thousands of titles! From what I’ve heard, it was a huge warehouse like space with shelves and shelves housing countless containers of cassette tapes, a robot arm was required to retrieve the containers off the shelves, so they could be mailed out to their Vision Australia Library users.

And since I’ve been blind (2003), I’ve seen the Vision Australia library service evolve. When I first joined they had started to phase out four track cassette players and their accompanying four track cassettes. Then it was the gradual phasing out of two sided cassettes, to be  replaced by standard Compact Discs (which actually occupied the shortest stint). Then it was the introduction of the DAISY player and DAISY CDs, and at that time it was revolutionary! As here were single standard CDs which could store 20+hours of audio recordings! And you have several options now, you could wait for the VA library to send you your single CD in the mail, or you could burn your own copy onto your own blank CDs so now it was close to on-demand, or later on with a portable audio player you could download the title straight to a SD card and do away with the wastage of buying blank CDs!  What would they think of next- so I thought? And finally, the VA Smart phone app was introduced, and all titles were streamed from a cloud based library, which brought it in-line with how we access most of our medias these days. So, in a way I’ve been brought up on the idea of free all-you-can-listen to audiobooks, but here is where I started to realise I’m a time traveller.

If you can imagine, the average Vision Australia Library user is probably an older person, as deteriorating vision is often associated to age related illnesses. And you can imagine, once an audio book has been recorded (oftentimes as a result of donations to pay for a professional narrator, or narrated by an untrained volunteer), of course those recordings will not be discarded when the physical title is digitalised. So, you can imagine the types of books which are available in the Vision Australia Library catalogue aimed at this population. You’ve got narrators with prim proper British accents, who sounded like they laid down their audio tracks all the way back in the 1950s (but realistically it was probably the 80s). And you can also imagine the types of stories they were reading- yep, Cold war stories about espionage between the old world order.

And I remember how happy I used to be, when I could get my hands on books about modern conflicts, like accounts from the first Gulf war…… From back in 1990…. Ok, ok, I’m probably exaggerating  a bit now. But being totally honest, a new book in the VA catalogue would be a title from 2008, if the book referred to a modern day time like the early 00s, it would blow me away by its recency!

But now with Audible Plus, the titles you’ll find in there all-you-can-listen-to catalogue are NEW++!I’m not talking about titles which have sold enough copies, that the Author has approved them to be offered ‘free of charge’. But take ‘And Then She Vanished’, it has a copyright date of 2021! Yes, from last year! And the second book in the series, is also included in Audible Plus! It’s almost hard to fathom why they’re giving it away for free, if it’s so brand spanking new!?

So, all of a sudden I’m a time traveller, even last year the majority of books I was binging from the VA library (because they were free), were titles where if the protagonist operated a PC computer, I was already blown away! But now, I’m taring through the Audible Plus catalogue, and the characters have freakin’ Smart phones! Yes! Freakin’ Smart phones! It’s like I’ve time travelled 30 years into the future! Amazing!

So, if you’d like to check out ‘And Then She Vanished’ by Nick Jones, and other awesome Audio books. Just search for them in your Audible app, or consider subscribing? Currently there’s a 2 month free trial offer going on! Check it out, you’ll see why listening to books is the best way to consume a good story!  

Audiobook recommendation- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone

If you haven’t listened to it before, you should really give it a go!

I’m going to start by saying I’ve caught COVID! I know! After 2 years of the pandemic, COVID finally caught-up with me and my wife, so this week we were both down with the virus. But it wasn’t all bad, I think the worse of the pandemic had been the anxiety and not knowing. Like, “How might it be?” “How severe could it get?” “Would I be that rare case…..?”

But, catching it, and now 5 days on and the worse is behind me, I’m glad to say that things honestly look more positive now! I have a more positive outlook in life, as we’re probably going to be dealing with COVID for years to come, and this wouldn’t be the first and last time I’m going to catch it. So, at least within myself, I know I’ve beaten it once, and I’ll beat it again! So, moving forwards like the 90s skate brand so eloquently put it, ‘No Fear!’

Thus unexpectantly my wife and I found ourselves in 7 days of home isolation- thankfully we both came down with the virus at the same time, so at least we could keep each other company. Passing time and the ability to entertain ourselves in the middle of the night was the biggest struggle- due to being unable to remain asleep because of the chills, the sweats, the difficulty breathing when lying down etc. So, after the first full day of COVID, we had to find something to pass the time, as I’ve realised, that being off work and having nothing to do, sucks!

So, finding 15 minutes to burn before our Wednesday Bible study session (which had moved back on-line as half of the group had COVID), we just wanted to watch something on Youtube, like some quick 5–10-minute clip which just passes the time. And the other week my wife was watching the Harry Potter 20-year anniversary show while I was in the other room, and I heard sound bites and was curious so I asked if we could find some clips from that program. But instead, we found some hour-long documentary about the making of the first film, it was probably a 10-year anniversary type program when they were wrapping up the movie series. So, it got us thinking, ‘what if we re-live the entire Harry Potter series again, but this time on audiobook?’

I only met my wife in 2008, so we had our own separate Harry Potter experiences. For me, I only started in my mid-twenties and all I knew of the series were through the audiobooks. As by that time I was already blind. For my wife, she had started to read the books while she was in High school, and by book 4, she was reading them as soon as they were released in hardcover. While I, I only listened to my first when book 6 was released, so there was a period where I was listening to them back-to-back as I had so much catching-up to do!

So, to re-listen or to listen to the audiobooks for the very first time, it seemed like a brilliant idea to pass time while recovering from COVID, as what helps time pass faster? Then with a good book!?

And there isn’t real need for me to review the book right? But what I’m going to say is this, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, a fan since a kid, and you’ve read all the books (multiple times), and you’ve watched all the films (multiple times), but you’ve never listened to the books? I’d say you must try it!

Stephen Fry, the narrator of the books really brings the book to life! So, listening to it, is like experiencing a director’s cut version of the film! Which is now 3 times as long! So, 3 times the enjoyment! And we all can admit that the acting in the earlier films were a bit rubbish, but the performances by Harry, Ron, and Hermione right from the get-go is outstanding! Utterly first rate! Because….. They’re voiced by Stephen Fry, who has a real gift for voice acting and making you think that they’re 50 different people acting alongside him. And once you listen to the audiobook, and if you think to yourself “Hey, the voices in the book sound exactly like the voices in the movie?” Like right down to the various accents and timbre? Well, it’s because the original audiobook version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, was recorded in 1999, two years after the original release of the novel. While the first movie was filmed and released in 2001. So, it’s no far stretch of the imagination, to assume that the Producers and the Director probably had heard the audiobooks first and based their actor’s accents and speech cadences on what they had heard in the audiobooks. And this is super important! Because the last thing you want in this late stage in your Harry Potter fandom, is to hear a version of Hagrid or Dumbledore which doesn’t gel with your memories of them from your childhood and create this weird disconnect for you. You know what I mean? Right? So yeah, don’t worry about that, the audiobooks and the movies go hand in hand! Just like Dudley and his Smelting stick. Hehehe.  

So, like I said, listening to the books is just like an extended version of the movie. So, you can re-enjoy the series again, over hours and hours. And I know it doesn’t need to take illness to get you back into Harry Potter as an adult. My sister is re-living the Harry Potter audiobooks with her kids, as they’re 7 and 9 years old now and my sister has deemed them old enough to experience the books for the first time. And I’m sure my sister’s enjoying the books in a whole new way now as well, considering that she had read the Harry Potter books for the first and only time in French (her attempts to maintain her High school French). So yeah, there’s so many reasons for you, an adult to re-live the joys of Harry Potter all over again!

To start listening to the Harry Potter series on Audible, just click HERE! It’s time to return to Hogwart!      

Audiobook recommendation- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

I kept asking myself “where is this book going?” But it’s such a page turner!

For the past 4 years, I’ve been experiencing Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ vicariously through the NFL Podcaster Marc Sessler. More than just talking about football, the boys from ‘Around the NFL’ also share what popular culture they’re obsessing over, and Marc had been first obsessing over the film, and then gushed about Tarantino’s first foray into writing a novel. So, finding ourselves with too many Audible credits, I spent one of our credits on the ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ audiobook, but I never got around to listening to it until I noticed that Netflix was now streaming the 2019 film.

The interesting thing is this, I started to consume the book knowing some things, while not knowing a whole lot. For example, I knew the film starred Leonardo and Brad, and I’d heard enough True Crime podcasts over the years to be familiar with all the notable American mass murderers, so I recognised the name Charles Manson. However, I started the book not knowing how their stories might converge or how the movie might unfold either.

And at the get go, within the first 20 minutes of the book, you just know it’s a product of Tarantino’s work. As the dialogue and the mundane nature of the conversations between characters were so pointless, yet so riveting and humorous. Just think back to the Royale with Cheese scene from Pulp Fiction, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. And much, I mean much of the book is like this, mundane conversations, seemingly irrelevant backstories and flashbacks, which leave you thinking “What’s going on?” “This seems all so pointless!” But tell you what, it got me binging this thing, I was listening to it when brushing my teeth, I tore through 2 hours while cleaning the apartment, I was listening to it before bed, and I was literally carrying my phone around listening to it through the tinny phone speakers- as I wanted to get through the book so badly, wanting to know why! Why, would someone write an almost 13-hour long audiobook? What story was he trying to tell here!?

And with only 20 minutes remaining in the book, I had to admit to my wife “I still don’t know where this book is going!” And when it ended, I was just left thinking. “What just happened!?” I’d binged this 12 hrs 42 min audiobook over 4 days, and absolutely nothing happened! Like nothing happened! The book literally documented the lives of a handful of characters across a span of a day and a half in late 60s LA. What was the point and purpose?

Then I forced my wife to watch the film with me, now that I had read the book, I wanted to see for myself why Marc Sessler was so drawn to the film- that he had to re-watch the film in cinema more than once! Like whom does that these days? And throughout the film I was going to my wife, “Yep, that was in the book, and yes, so was that scene, and yes, so was that.” But when it came to the final minutes of the film, I was shocked! I was left saying “That was not in the book!” And after watching the film, now I know why the film had received so much attention at the time. As my wife put it aptly, “Now that’s a typical Tarantino scene.” Referring to the attempted massacre by the Manson Family. Which then led my wife to pull an all-nighter, reading all she could about the Tate murders, the film, and the novel. And I’m here to say, although people thought the film was pointless, and I must admit the book was seemingly pointless as well. But both the book and the film exhibited Tarantino’s brilliance. Yes, the man’s brilliance!

As what Tarantino had done to us, was that he fooled us! He fooled all of us! And he refers to this manipulative power in the actual novel when he describes how Roman Polanski achieved the same affect in his film, when he made a room full of cinema goers to all lean to their left, in a vain attempt to see around the edge of a door frame. And that my friends, is what Tarantino did to us!

That is what he did to us first in the film, the Tate Murders were well known enough in the States (although not by us), that I’d say 99% of cinema goers thought they knew exactly how the film was going to end- as the timer ticked down on 8-9 August 1969. But Tarantino flipped the seemingly ‘true story’ on its head when the Manson Family hit the neighbouring home instead. Wow! Mind blown!

And for those who had watched the film, and then proceeded to read his novel. Tarantino did it to them again! As the book followed the film 99% of the way, it just seemed like a movie book, one of those novels which re-tells a motion picture in text- along with colour pics from the film which inevitably appear in the centre pages of the paperback book. But instead of just re-telling the same movie storyline, Tarantino flips the script again! I’m sure 99% of those who reached the final 20 minutes of the audiobook, they too thought they knew how the book was going to end. End in a rapid gush of guts and gore! But nooooo! Tarantino ends the novel with a freakin happy ending. Leaving me utterly confused. And then in complete denial when watching the film for the first time, leaving me in a state of shock, going “No, no, no!” This is not how the novel ends!

So, no matter what order you consume Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, either the film first and then the novel or vice versa, he’ll leave you utterly mind blown! Bravo Quentin, bravo!

So, if you’d like to listen to the novel for yourself, which spends more time fleshing-out parts of the story which were breezed over in the film, check it out! Just click HERE to start listening to ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’!

Audiobook recommendation- Lifespan

And who said, ‘nothing in life is free?’

Honestly, who could go past the introduction of this book? Key words being Harvard Medical School, live younger – longer, aging is a disease and is curable, reverse the genetic clock, living well to 120 or more!

Now do I have your attention?

Of course, I have no intentions to live until 2103, as who knows what we as a race have done to our planet by then? But the first thought which came to mind when I read that blurb was my parents. They’re currently in their early 70s, and their starting to show signs of aging. You can hear it in their voice and when I reference tales of the past, it just takes them a little bit longer to remember the event in mention. And like everyone, I’d just like to see my parents live longer and healthier, even if it’s just for my own selfish reasons that I’d just want them to be around forever! You know?

So, before I went and recommended this book to my dad, I just wanted to first vet it, just to make sure that it was legit. And not to mention it’s a much easier gift to give, when the audio book on Audible is FREE of charge! Yes, FREE! If the content in this book could unlock untold vitality, could you possibly place a price on that insight? Obviously not, as it’s freakin’ FREE!

So, the author of the book is a Harvard Medical School Geneticist (Dr David Sinclair), and from the opening moments I was already bought in, when I learned that he’s an Aussie from Sydney who is now world renowned. Dr David has dedicated his life to study aging, to understand why we age, and to slow or reverse the aging process.

In the book he talks of the science, the discoveries, and shares his own practical steps he has taken to slow his own aging. And if I could say so, I think he’s onto something. I’m quite good at judging the age of a person by their voice alone, as when we age our vocal fold muscles weaken which changes our voice over time. And although Dr David was 50 at the time of writing his book (which he self-narrates), but by his voice alone to me he doesn’t sound like a man who has lived half a century already, but he sounded more like a 40-year-old!

The book does get a bit too deep at times, and a bit too philosophical for a non-deep thinker like me. However, at the end of each chapter, there’s a quick podcast like discussion between Dr David and his co-author Matthew Laplante, where Matt asks Dr David to explain some of those more complex concepts, which brings the simple-minded reader like me back into the book, ready for the next chapter!

And what I was really hanging out for, was a dot point list, telling me what I needed to be doing, and what I needed to stop doing! And Dr David does just that, first explaining the science behind each thing or action which could activate our vitality gene. And in the final chapter of the book, Dr David shares his own daily routine, right down to the grammage of medication he takes with his breakfast! Which unfortunately is a prescription drug which we all can’t get our soon wrinkling hands on. Boo!

But I must admit, he might just be right! As unknowingly I’d been taking one of these drugs for at least a dozen of years in my 20s to my early 30s, to off-set the side effects  of another drug which I’d been taking for my immune disorder. And the past 5 years I’ve been completely off both these drugs. And I must admit, these past 5 years I’ve gone from always looking and feeling younger than my chronological age, but these days I feel my age as a late 30 something…….

But would I recommend this book to my parents? I had mentioned it to my dad at the time when I first came across the book, as it was FREE! But I’m not sure if he ever added it to his Audible library though. And if he hasn’t, I probably wouldn’t hassle him about it. As to actively turn back the aging clock like how Dr David has described? It’s quite a big paradigm and lifestyle change, a change which I’m not sure most people would take-up, given that the concept of aging as a disease which is treatable  is still just that, a concept. But could we all eat fewer animal proteins? Yeah, for sure! In general, can we all eat a bit less? Again, for sure! Can we all do with a bit more exercise? Yes, of course! And can we drink a bit more red wine? Hell-yeah! But can we convince our GPs to prescribe us a diabetic treatment drug when we’re not diabetic? Or can we bother taking an aspirin a day? Probably not. So, we’d probably live an extra 5 or so years if we make the diet and behavioural changes, probably we’d end up looking 5 years younger than we are (doesn’t hurt that we’re Asian), but methinks we’re not going to live to 120 years-old though? And thank goodness for that! As who knows how unrecognisable the world might be, by 2103?!

So if you want to check out Lifespan ‘Why we age and why we don’t have to’, for yourself, click HERE! To access your FREE copy, you never know this book might literally change your life!

P.S. In the book, Dr David predicted that we’d might experience a global pandemic in the next 5-10 years, as the book was written in 2018 and published in 2019, I’d say that he ‘nailed’ that prediction. Nailed-it! So only time will tell which other of his predictions will be shown to be true?

Audiobook Recommendation- The Trials of Apollo

A young adult fiction series which will help you remain ‘young at heart’!

He’s done it again! Prolific Young adult writer Rick Riordan has completed another outstanding mythological fiction series. This time featuring Lester Papadopoulos, an unremarkable chubby pimple faced teen….. who by the way is the god Apollo, banished from Olympus by his father Zeus, to earth as the mortal Lester- until he can complete a series of trials to regain his immortality and return to Olympus to re-join his fellow gods! If this all sounds too fanciful for you? Then Rick Riordan’s books are probably not for you, and I permit you to skip this blog post.

However, if you are a fan of Rick’s, or you’ve always loved the Greek and Roman mythologies, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy this 5-part series which includes the books:

The Hidden Oracle (2016)

The Dark Prophecy (2017)

The Burning Maze (2018)

The Tyrant’s Tomb (2019), and

The Tower of Nero (2020)

But if you’re new to Rick Riordan’s books, reading his earlier series will greatly help you to fully immerse yourself into the Trials of Apollo series, as it leans heavily on prior knowledge and re-visits many past characters from his earlier series (Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus).

   What I liked:

Like an episode of ‘Where are they now?’

For us, a few years had passed since we last heard from Percy, Jason and the rest of the Greek and Roman demigods, so the Apollo series acted like an episode of ‘Whare are they now?’ In this series we learn that the kids are all grown up, now in senior school or about to head off to college. And it was great, some open-ended storylines from previous books were finally closed off. So, for many who grew up with Rick’s character’s, there was a sense of closure- although not all endings were happy ones…….

Surprisingly educational

What Rick is good at, is introducing the subject of ancient history in a fun and culturally relevant way to kids, who otherwise wouldn’t have found it an interesting subject if taught at school. So, suddenly ancient history is totally cool now! Not something irrelevant and out-of-date for kids of the 2020s. Which then translates to more kids wanting to do their own further reading, which is the aim! Rick’s goal of making reading fun and cool for all kids. Not to mention, it has once again piqued my curiosity in Greek mythology, I wouldn’t mind doing some additional reading of my own. 

Humorous

Rick has always worked into his books a healthy amount of chuckles for his readers. As previously he mentioned, the original reason why he got writing books was for his kids- and you can picture him working in these jokes, so he could make his own kids laugh. And to date Trials of Apollo has been the funniest, if the amount of times my wife was laughing out loud is an indication. The chuckles begin right from the funny titles Rick gives to his chapters, to re-occurring supporting characters like the Karpos aka ‘Demon Baby’ Peaches, and Lester’s Shakespearean sounding companion, ‘The arrow of Dodona – each of their appearances are bound to result in chuckles.

Robbie Daymond

And for those who will listen to the book rather than read it, the narration by Robbie Daymond was truly next level! Robbie’s voice acting added to the entire experience, his voices for characters utterly surprised me at times. I honestly couldn’t believe that it was one person who was doing all the voices, they were totally convincing. And the brilliant thing was that the Publishers maintained the same narrator throughout the 5-book series spanning 5 years. Oftentimes in series like these, they change narrators between books, for one reason or another- which frankly ruins books as a different voice applied to the same character can ruin one’s mental image of characters. But the consistency of narrators, and specifically Robbie, this was truly an upside for the series and the whole experience!

What I didn’t like:

Inclusiveness

I know where Rick is going with this, he’s trying to make his books inclusive so none of his young readers would ever feel left out or feel like they don’t see themselves represented in mainstream culture. I get that. But in his attempts to be inclusive and embracing of all, was he unknowingly discriminating and derogative to a large segment of the youth population? That being those who might be unremarkable, or chubby, or pimply, or all the above? I just didn’t like Rick’s/Apollo’s constant self-deprecation and self-loathing of Lester’s outward appearance. As what does that say to his readers who happen to be as he describes Lester to be? How are they meant to feel? So, I can see why he does this, for the sake of the story to highlight how far ‘Apollo has fallen’, but if he could have toned it down just a little? As being a former chubby kid with acne, on-behalf of my 13-year-old self, I felt outrage and was getting pretty put off towards the end. Rick, in attempts to appease the minority, let’s not ostracize a good majority of our youth.

But all in all, The Trials of Apollo series has been a real enjoyment, we literally read the 5-book series back-to-back, taking us at least 6 months to complete. It has been a great quest and if you want to check out the Trial of Apollo series for yourself? Just click HERE!