Showing posts with label Rick Riordan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rick Riordan. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus #3) by Rick Riordan

The Mark of Athena
by Rick Riordan
The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus #3) by Rick Riordan picks up right where The Son of Neptune leaves off, just as Jason, Piper, and Leo arrive at Camp Jupiter led by Annabeth to pick up Percy. Their mission is to convince the Roman demigods that in order to defeat the vengeful Earth Mother, Gaea they must complete the Prophecy of Seven by choosing two Roman demigods who will accompany them in their perilous journey to find the Doors of Death in Greece. But first they must stop in Rome where Nico has been taken prisoner by two giants and where Annabeth has her own quest to follow.

Unfortunately just as the two group of demigods are exchanging prophesies all hell breaks loose and our friends barely get away with their lives. On the bright side Hazel and Frank help and go along for the ride, completing the Greek/Roman team. But is Annabeth really one of the Seven? Another prophecy says that "the daughter of Athena shall walk alone." Time is of the essence, but with all the obstacles they encounter along the way --attacks by Gaea's minions, mini-quests presented by spoiled gods, battles with demi-gods and monsters -- our friends don't even know if they'll get to Rome on time to save Nico never mind to the Doors of Death.

In the The Mark of Athena, Riordan again uses the third point of view and divides the chapters by featuring the different characters' perspectives -- that's seven points of view in total! Each character stars in their own mini-adventure along with one or two of the others, so it gets pretty busy along the way. As in the previous two books of this series, action is relentless making this a quick and enjoyable read.

The purpose of these mini-adventures and the journey is to forge a bond between the Roman and Greek demigods. They must learn how to work together or all is lost. Along the way, each character's weakness is revealed as well as self-doubts. Riordan uses these weaknesses to showcase the characters' strengths, then uses those strengths in a group situation to build a cohesive team. Character growth is also evident as each character works through lack of confidence and learns to trust him/herself as well as the others throughout the journey.

As opposed to those light, fun moments with the quick give and take and the amusing dialog we have all enjoyed in the previous books, particularly from Percy and Leo, self-introspection and yes, some darkness prevails in this installment. As a result this journey, although action packed and enjoyable, lacks that fun atmosphere found in The Son of Neptune. All the characters seem to keep information and details to themselves and it takes a while for them to share and trust each other with facts and visions. Annabeth in particular keeps a lot to herself by necessity, yet her point of view is really a winner. The final resolution to her lonely, frightening quest is a brilliant one.

There are moments and characters that I love in this book: I love how Riordan portrays the division of the gods (Roman/Greek), and how that division affects them. Dionysus/Bacchus is absolutely wonderful in this installment. Pepsi? Really? That is precious! And, the two giants keeping Nico prisoner had me in stitches! Those are some of the light moments that really made this book worth it for me. Percy still has the touch when it comes to witty dialog and clever lines and Leo is second best, although in my opinion his sense of humor was a bit off this time.

The Mark of Athena is a solid addition to this series, and now that Jason, Percy, Piper, Hazel, Leo, and Frank have bonded, there should be less of that transitional feel to the next book and hopefully the adventures will flow with a bit more cohesiveness. I do have questions! Will someone finally love Leo? How will Percy use his powers if there's no water in Hades? Will Jason ever develop a sense of humor, or is his resemblance to Jupiter too strong to do so? Will Piper finally learn to appreciate her powers? Who does Hazel really like? Will Frank ever get his pants back? Is Nico one of the Seven and will we get his point of view in the next book? If Annabeth is part of the prophecy, then does that make it Eight?

This book ended at a crucial moment, and needless to say I can't wait for the next book. Do we really have to wait until next year?

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Heroes of Olympus
Publisher/Release Date: Hyperion Book CH/October 2, 2012
Grade: B

Visit Rick Riordan here.

The Lost Hero, #1
The Son of Neptune, #2
The Mark of Athena, #3

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This 'n That: I'm back, YA LGBT Books Charity Campaign, Vacation

Hi everyone! My computer was resuscitated. I've no idea what happened, but my husband found help and somehow gave it CPR and got it to work again. It's still going in for a nice check up at the Apple store, though.

I've missed almost a whole week of returning emails and posting, although admittedly that had as much to do with cleaning up at work as I get ready to go on my week's vacation, as it did with computer problems. Lots of late nights and exhausting days. But I did finish reading ONE whole book! The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan, the second book in the young adult fantasy series Heroes of Olympus series. I'll be reviewing that book!


In the meantime while away, I found out that Steve Berman editor of Speaking Out, the young adult anthology I reviewed recently, is starting a charity campaign to donate books to school libraries. I love it! This is a wonderful project and one that I wholeheartedly support. There is such a need out there for books like Speaking Out, and there's just not enough inspiration (or literature in schools) for LGBTQ kids. Here are Mr. Berman's own words on the matter:
"According to GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), a 2009 National School Climate Survey revealed that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students suffer harassment in school because of their identity.

While there has been renewed calls for legislation to fight homophobia and bullying, while there have been countless videos of "It Gets Better," kids are still dying by their own hand. And some kids are seeing the It Gets Better campaign as a bit empty--they want to know when does it get better.

I edited Speaking Out: LGBT Youth Stand Up to offer teens stories that aren't about coming-out but rather about living life openly as well as overcoming intolerance and bigotry. I wanted to inspire readers, to help them realize that they are not alone or powerless, that their voices can be heard."
Of course as with all campaigns, the more awareness, the more people who see the campaign, the better! So you can spread the word, make a contribution to Mr. Berman's charity campaign or both! Here's the link where you can find out more about this campaign and/or make a contribution:

And last, as I mentioned above I'm going on vacation! Yesss! I mentioned before that I would be around, and later there were plans to leave for a few days for places unknown (lol!), but due to a (another) health-related family emergency that cropped up yesterday, I will be hanging around the area after all. My husband and I will be taking advantage of living across New York City for the week, and will be celebrating his birthday too!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Minis: Garcia Marquez, Kresley Cole, Rick Riordan

Today, I have three of my ini-mini, short first impressions for you. These are books that I've read, or attempted to read, but didn't share with you at the time.

In a Latin American port city during colonial times, a young girl named Sierva Maria de Todos los Angeles the only child of the ineffectual Marquis de Casalduero is bitten by a rabid dog. Her father, who has shown no interest in the child, begins a crusade to save her life, eventually committing her to the Convent of Santa Clara when the bishop persuades him that his daughter is possessed by demons. In fact, Sierva Maria has shown no signs of being infected by rabies or by demons; she is simply being punished for being different. Having been raised by the family's slaves, she knows their languages and wears their Santeria necklaces; she is perceived by the effete European Americans around her as "not of this world." Only the priest who has reluctantly accepted the job as her exorcist believes she is neither sick nor possessed but terrified after being inexplicably "interred alive" among the superstitious nuns.
A couple of months back I picked up Del Amor y Otros Demonios by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Of Love and Other Demons) again, Marquez' last work of fiction written in 1996. I've attempted reading this short work twice before and haven't been able to get past the 30th page. This has nothing to do with the quality of the writing, instead I'm affected negatively by the content because of personal baggage. This time I got as far as half-way through the book before going to bed and had nightmares. I didn't have the heart to pick it up again the next day. Maybe later on I'll see if I can finish it, get rid of that baggage, just give it a push, have one more nightmare and see how it all ends. LOL!


Malkom Slaine: tormented by his sordid past and racked by vampiric hungers, he’s pushed to the brink by the green-eyed beauty under his guard.

Carrow Graie: hiding her own sorrows, she lives only for the next party or prank. Until she meets a tortured warrior worth saving.

In order for Malkom and Carrow to survive, he must unleash both the demon and vampire inside him. When Malkom becomes the nightmare his own people feared, will he lose the woman he craves body and soul?
Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole was an interesting mix for me. I loved the hero, Malkom, in that book. He was just so darn sweet! I don't even know how to say it, but he's hot and sweet at the same time. There he was, a Vemon and considered an abomination (even in his own mind), and after all that time alone considering himself a monster, Malkom's heart and goodness were pretty much intact. I hurt for him and for a while I couldn't stand the heroine -- Carrow -- because she knowingly used him and was going to hurt him. He didn't deserve it. Malkom's character made this story enjoyable for me. The plot was interesting and it did move the overall storyarc forward slightly, so I'll definitely read Regin and Aidan/Chase's story, Dreams of a Dark Warrior. I can't wait to read how Cole redeems Aidan. :)


Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.
One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.
Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe - a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan is another book I read a while back. A buddy review with Nath is on the works for Breezing Through. This is definitely a fast paced adventure and quite exciting. A story about a brother and sister of mixed ethnic background who lose their father and suddenly find themselves in the center of a battle between worlds and gods. There's magic, Egyptian-based mythology, gods, and enough creepy crawlies to make this a really fun read. The premise is similar to the Percy and the Olympians series, but that's about it. The rest is quite original and I didn't feel as if I were reading the same books. The kids are great and different. The situations and villains are dangerous and the action and pace make this 516 page book seem short.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review: The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, Book 1) by Rick Riordan

I read the Percy and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan last year and fell in love with Percy and his crew. The Lost Hero is the first book in The Heroes of Olympus series and a continuation of the those adventures. However, in addition to the already established characters and Greek mythology-based world, Riordan introduces new heroes and villains, quests, a new prophecy, a looming battle and adds Roman mythology to the mix.

Mr. Riordan begins this new adventure by introducing his central characters, Jason, Piper and Leo as they're on a field trip away from the Wilderness School for incorrigible teenagers and on their way to the Grand Canyon. Immediately we know there's something wrong when Jason wakes up in the back of the school bus and doesn't remember who he is or where he came from. He doesn't even recognize his girlfriend Piper or Leo, his best friend.

As our three friends work on essays or admire the views, strange weather turns violent and soon Jason, Piper and Leo find themselves under attack from dark forces or venti. Their teacher Coach Hedge comes to their defence saving their lives. After a quick and messy battle where Coach Hedge is lost, the three are rescued by Annabeth and taken to Camp Half-Blood for safety where they learn who and what they are.

While at camp, Piper and Leo are claimed by their respective god (parents) and mysteriously, Jason finds he has already been claimed and by whom. After a series of on-camp adventures, visions and prophecies, the three are sent on a quest to save the (not-so-likable) goddess Herra who has been imprisoned by an unknown evil. A month earlier Zeus closed off Olympus and no one has heard from the gods, so the three friends must succeed without help from the gods or even Annabeth who is off to find a lost Percy! The adventure begins and our heroes will meet cyclops, wind gods, giants, werewolves and more as they prove their loyalty and bravery to themselves and each other along the way.

Since the Lost Heroes is a continuation to a series, there's no worldbuilding to set up and secondary characters have already been developed, so the readers can get right into the story. However, Riordan does add newness to the worldbuilding by incorporating Roman mythology and weaving it with the Greek mythology introduced in the Percy series, giving this book a fresh feel.

Although Riordan stuck with three heroes and the same formula: two boys and a girl, the characters themselves also felt different and unique.

  • Jason is brave, a true hero and his powers are strong. But they are already developed even if he doesn't remember exactly how or where he learned them. He is also confused, depressed and leery for most of the story, something that sets him apart from the other two, even when he's there for them. He's still a bit of a mystery by the end.
  • Piper is distraught for much of the story and suffers from self-esteem issues due to what she perceives as her father's neglect or lack of love. She has to make some tough choices and that sets the tone for her character development. In Piper, Riordan gives us an ethnic heroine -- she's half Native American and her background and some of those myths are used in the story. Piper is not super duper smart, but she's strong and she knows how to use her powers of persuasion. I enjoyed her character growth from beginning to end.
  • Leo is undeniably my favorite character and provided those 'aww moments.'  He lost his mother as a young boy in a horrific 'accident.' But although he also suffers from guilt and loss, as opposed to his two friends, Leo knows what it is to be loved and his way of coping is through his sense of humor, mechanical know-how and loyalty. I loved his ingenuity and bravery. 

The story is divided by chapter with the titles Jason, Piper and Leo, but written from the third person point of view making this an easy read. Internal dialogues abound with most of the revelations happening in dream sequences and then related to others, slowing down the pace and isolating the characters in some sections. At times, the dialogue is somewhat stilted and lacks flow. And although the humor is provided mainly by Leo's character, there's not enough of a give and take from Jason and Piper to really make it pop.  Real action is slow to come, although once on their way our heroes encounter plenty of obstacles throughout their adventures.

I enjoyed The Lost Hero, it had plenty of strengths and some weaknesses. It was a quick and easy read with great action and new adventures. I loved the new twists and turns that Riordan added to the Olympus series by incorporating Roman mythology and look forward to the rest of the series. Plus there's definitely a bit of a cliffhanger there at the end, and I must know!

The protagonists in this book are teens, but these books are appropriate for (and I believe will be fully enjoyed by) middle schoolers. I do recommend that the Percy and the Olympians series be read first for a better understanding of the world and characters.

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Heroes of Olympus, Book 1
Released: October 12, 2010
Grade: B

Visit Rick Riordan here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Releases: September/October 2010

I only have two new releases in my list for the month of September, so I've decided to combine my list for September and October and as you'll see it's a small one at this point.

I would like to highlight a book I previously neglected to mention, a book that I've been waiting for with bated breath -- KILLBOX by Ann Aguirre!

I had this book down as a September 2nd release and didn't realize somewhere along the way the date changed and it turns out the book releases today, August 31st! So, I'm getting my Sirantha Jax and Science Fiction/Romance fix a few days early. I cannot wait to read this book!

The rest of the books I'm looking forward to reading are a mix of Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Steampunk, Young Adult Fantasy and Historical Romance.

Bayou Moon (The Edge, Book 2) by Ilona Andrews
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life . William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.

When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.
Visit Ilona Andrews here.

Double Cross by Carolyn Crane
Release Date: September 28, 2010

Justine Jones lived her life as a fearful hypochondriac until she was lured into the web of a mysterious mastermind named Packard, who gifts her with extraordinary mental powers—dooming her to fight Midcity’s shadowy war on paranormal crime in order to find the peace she so desperately craves.

But now serial killers with unheard-of skills are terrorizing the most powerful beings in Midcity, including mastermind Packard and his oldest friend and worst enemy, Midcity’s new mayor, who has the ability to bend matter itself to his will.

As the body count grows, Justine faces a crisis of conscience as she tests the limits of her new powers and faces an impossible choice between two flawed but brilliant men—one on a journey of redemption, the other descending into a pit of moral depravity.
Visit Carolyn Crane here.

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
Release Date: October 5, 2010
First in an all-new series where seductive danger and steampunk adventure abound in the gritty world of the Iron Seas.

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power-and fear-of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.
Visit Meljean Brook here.

The Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Release Date: October 12, 2010
After saving Olympus from the evil Titan lord, Kronos, Percy and friends have rebuilt their beloved Camp Half-Blood, where the next generation of demigods must now prepare for a chilling prophecy of their own:

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.

Now, in a brand-new series from blockbuster best-selling author Rick Riordan, fans return to the world of Camp Half-Blood. Here, a new group of heroes will inherit a quest. But to survive the journey, they’ll need the help of some familiar demigods.
Visit Rick Riordan here.

A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh
Release Date: October 26, 2010
(First released in 1992 as a Signet Regency)
Weddings are supposed to be joyous occasions—especially when a couple seems as well matched as Randolph Pierce, Earl of Falloden, and his bride-to-be, Eleanor Transome. Ellie brings to the marriage a vast dowry, while Falloden, though distant, is handsome, tremendously desirable, and possessed of a title most young ladies can only dream of sharing.

Yet Ellie is not most young ladies. She knows that she must honor her dear father’s dying wish for her to wed the proud earl, but she dreads a lifetime in a union without love—and how can Falloden claim to love her when he married her only for her fortune? As Christmas descends upon the Falloden manor, the warmth of the season may yet melt away the trappings of duty and wealth, leaving behind only a man and a woman destined for each other’s arms.
Visit Mary Balogh here.

What are you looking forward to reading in September and October? Any good suggestions?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hilcia's Weekly Reads: Eloisa James, Rick Riordan & Jennifer Heymore

June was a busy reading month for me. I reviewed most of my early reads, but missed posting my Weekly Reads post for a couple of weeks. There were some disappointments with new releases along the way, but in general I would say it was not too frustrating.

I decided to give Paranormal Romance a rest and picked up some Historical Romances and a Young Adult Series, an enjoyable one. Let's see if we can catch up.

Re-read Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James as a precursor to This Duchess of Mine. I remember loving the initial relationship between Jemma and the Duke of Beaumont, the whole chess theme and of course Villiers, the villain. I also loved and enjoyed the main couple in the book, Roberta and Damon , I thought they were both sweet and hot together, although not as edgy as the Jemma, Beaumont, Villiers triangle. I love historicals set in Georgian times and I thought Eloisa James did an excellent job of setting up this historical series and giving us a taste of the Georgian morals, fashions and of course the hot ticket of the day, chess. This book was a winner for me the first time around and I must admit to enjoying it even more this time. Too bad the rest of the books in the series didn't quite catch or keep my attention.

I followed by reading This Duchess of Mine by Eloisa James. I've been waiting all this time to find out what happens to Jemma and her Duke of Beaumont and couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I must admit to being somewhat disappointed in this book. The characters didn't quite
live up to my expectations or to the initial edginess I found in Desperate Duchesses. It all seemed a bit diluted. The overall romance was pleasing, if somewhat angsty with Jemma still playing some incomprehensible games, Beaumont giving it all he had and Villiers having lost most of his bite. Having said all that, it was an average read for me and I will read Villiers story this month. I must find out how much more humiliation this man can or will take. After all this time, if anyone deserves an HEA in this series, I believe it's Villiers.

Continued by reading and reviewing the first three books in the five book Young Adult series, Percy and the Olympians. You can find reviews for The Lightning Thief (Book 1) and The Titan's Curse (Book 2) and The Sea of Monsters (Book 3). I did finish this series. I read both The Battle of the Labyrinth (Book 4) and The Final Olympian (Book 5) and can say that both these books are Grade A reads. 

There were no disappointments waiting for me and no unanswered questions at the end of this series. Rick Riordan finished the series the way he started it, with wonderful characters and great adventures -- all of it told with great wit and a fast paced narrative that I truly enjoyed. The last two books move quickly and are dark, although not overwhelmingly so. I strongly recommend it for 8th to 12th graders, especially the later books, due to content. An overall "Grade A" Young Adult series all the way.

I also read three historical romances this past week, A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore was one of them. Triangles in a romance are not my favorite trope and I had some trepidation about picking this one up, but decided to give it a shot. I must say the triangle part of it was well done. Both men were worthy of Sophie and neither gave up on her. Sophie seemed 
level headed and I was happy with her decision at the end. Having said that, I did find myself rooting for one man more than the other -- I couldn't help myself. That part of the story was well done, but due to personal preference, I didn't really enjoy this book that much. I don't seem to enjoy historicals that focus too much on suspense/crime/spy plots and that part of it was not enjoyable for me. I also found myself being yanked out of the story every time someone called Sophie, "Soph" or Becky, "Becks" -- this reminded me of the beer label. Words can do that to me, specifically in a historical setting.

The other two historical romances I read were Julia Quinn's What Happened in London and Loretta Chase's Don't Tempt Me -- two enjoyable reads. I'll be addressing these as well as the five M/M books I read for the Challenge, the latest Nora Roberts' Suspense Romance, Black Hills and finally the long-awaited Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh, later on.

So, not too shabby -- I've been a busy bee on the reading front. What about you? What have you been reading? Any good recommendations? I'm looking for some good/great Sci-Fi Romances to add to my list!

Originally posted at Musings of a Bibliophile on July 11, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Titan's Curse (Percy and the Olympians, Book 3) by Rick Riordan

When Percy Jackson receives an urgent distress call from his friend Grover, he immediately prepares for battle. He knows he'll need his powerful demigod allies at his side; his trusty bronze sword, Riptide; and... a ride from his mom.

The demigods race to rescue to find that Grover has made an important discovery: two new powerful half-bloods, whose parentage is unknown. But that's not all that awaits them. The Titan lord, Kronos, has set up a devious trap, and the young heroes have just fallen pray.

Hilarious and action-packed, this third adventure in the series finds Percy faced with his most dangerous challenge yet - the chilling prophecy of the Titan's curse.
In this third installment, the battle for Olympus and Western Civilization picks up momentum. Kronos and his army, led by Percy's old friend, Luke--son of Hermes-- has gained ground. Luke has been recruiting half-bloods and monsters who have not existed for centuries and are coming back to life. Now they have a mysterious new leader... more powerful than Luke. The General will prove to be a ruthless and a worthy adversary for both heroes and gods alike.

In The Titan's Curse, Percy, his friends, and the gods have their hands full. Our heroes are successful in rescuing the unknown half-bloods they were charged with retrieving from Westover Hall. Joining the fight and their rescue efforts, the goddess Artemis and her Hunters save the day, but not before Annabeth is lost. 

Following a hunch, the goddess Artemis decides to hunt a mighty monster whose scent she picks up -- one she thinks is capable of destroying Olympus. The Hunters and our heroes must return to Camp Half-Blood and wait. Percy just wants to look for Annabeth. He's convinced she's not dead but no one will listen.

So far, we've met quite a few gods and monsters in our adventures with Percy, Annabeth and Grover. In the Titan's Curse, they are all let loose to both our horror and enjoyment. 

"...The Great Stirring is underway."

"The Great what?" I asked. Anything to keep him talking while I tried to figure out a plan.

"The stirring of monsters." Dr. Thorn smiled evilly. "The worst of them, the most powerful, are now waking. Monsters that have not been seen in thousands of years. They will cause death and destruction the likes of which mortals have never known. And soon we shall have the most important monster of all - the one that shall bring about the downfall of Olympus."

This is where Kronos makes his move and the gods, as a whole, take the situation seriously. In the meantime, our friends must follow a prophecy as told by the Oracle - five of them must go West to rescue the goddess Artemis. On their way, one will be lost and one will die by a parent's hand. It will be a difficult quest, full of danger, feats of heroism, and some terrible mistakes. Our heroes take us for a ride through an adventure full of dangerous, funny and sad situations. 

Thalia will confront doubts and danger, and both she and Annabeth will have to make difficult decisions. Grover's dream will come within his grasp but he'll have to let it go, and Percy will come face to face with his greatest weakness and we'll question his judgment. Other heroes will save the day and our friends will learn some difficult lessons. The gods, as always, will be both a blessing and a curse -- a mixed bag, you just never really know those gods.... 

This book really moves the storyline along. The pace is quick and relentless with danger in every corner and at every turn. The darkest book in the series, so far, Rick Riordan still maintains the same level of wit and fun that he established in previous books. Characterization continues to be excellent in this series. The established characters continue to grow in development. New characters introduced in this installment are both rich and well drawn -- some better than others, depending on their importance to this particular story. 

Favorite chapter titles on this one? "Thalia Torches New England," "I Go Snowboarding with a Pig," and "We Meet the Dragon of Eternal Bad Breath." It was a tough choice, there are quite a few great titles on this one. 

In my opinion, this is the best book in this series, so far. Percy and the Olympians just seems to get better and better as it goes along. I'm truly looking forward to the fourth installment, The Battle of the Labyrinth.

You can find the book here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Review: The Sea of Monsters (Percy and the Olympians, Book 2) by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson's seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get... well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of his friend Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods will be destroyed.

In this fresh, funny, and wildly popular follow-up to TheLightning Thief. Percy and his friends must journey into the Sea of Monsters to save their camp. But first, Percy will discover a stunning new secret his family-one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.
The Sea of Monsters is the second installment in this five book Young Adult adventure series. After reading the first book in the series, The Lightning Thief, I couldn't wait to find out what happened to Percy and his friends.

As you can see from the above description, the book picks up at the end of the school year when Percy and his friends are due to return to Camp Half-Blood for the summer where they need to continue with training. However, by the time Percy, Annabeth and their new friend Tyson make it there, they realize that the place is no longer the same. It's being besieged by evil, as the magic borders are not holding. Thalia, Zeus' dead daughter's pine tree has been poisoned and this poison is seeping into everything.

In the meantime, Percy is dealing with more than a few friend troubles. He is having horrible dreams about his friend Grover who at the end of the last book went on a quest seeking the god Pan. In his dreams, Percy sees him running from a monster, terrified and in danger. He knows he must go save Grover... but even Annabeth doesn't believe him. Percy also discovers a truth about his new friend Tyson that makes him feel angry, uncomfortable and guilty. These conflicted emotions and reactions put him at odds with himself and with his friend Annabeth and they argue constantly over Tyson. The camp is no longer the heaven he had been looking forward to all year.

If you are familiar with the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, you know where we are headed. Percy must go with Annabeth and Tyson through the Sea of Monsters to save his friend Grover and Camp Half-Blood. His quest is full of danger and all kinds of new monsters we would encounter in Greek mythology are introduced -- Cyclops, sirens, beautiful sea horses and more. At times, it's easy to recognize them immediately and other times it takes a little while to figure out who is who. It's a tough journey for Percy and his friends. They're not always sure who is evil and who is redeemable -- but the action is non-stop.

The overall core of the series continues and, of course, it's the reason for all these events. Western civilization must be saved and Olympus with it. The real enemy is well known by now--Kronos, father of the gods and king of the Titans, the most evil of them all is behind these events. In this second installment his evil plans begin to take shape. As a character, at this point, Kronos is a shadowy figure -- we meet him sparingly through dreams -- however, we do meet his evil underlings and through them, Annabeth and Chiron we learn his history of violence and cruelty.

As a hero, Percy is slowly learning the weight and seriousness of his responsibilities. His mentor and teacher Chiron, the centaur, tries to explain it to him:
"Humans don't exist on the same level as the immortals. They can't even be hurt by our weapons. But you, Percy--you are part god, part human. You live in both worlds. You can be harmed by both, and you can affect both. That's what makes heroes so special. You carry the hopes of humanity into the realm of the eternal. Monsters never die. They are reborn from the chaos and barbarism that is always bubbling underneath civilization, the very stuff that makes Kronos stronger. They must be defeated again and again, kept at bay. Heroes embody that struggle. You fight the battles humanity must win, every generation, in order to stay human..."
Percy is beginning to realize he might be the "key" to many of the events happening around him and he is just not sure he'll survive. Our friend Percy and his friends are brave and true but will they continue to make the right decisions? Heroes have free will and the gods cannot interfere. Riordan leaves this installment with a twist at the end that will make it even tougher for Percy and the gods to defend themselves.

As a sequel, The Sea of Monsters did not disappoint me, it is just as exciting as the first book. The wonderful world Riordan created continues to be grow and manages to seem both simple and complex. As with the whole world of Greek mythology, there is always a dual meaning or a lesson to be learned in Percy's world. In his world, the anger of a child feeling ignored by a parent takes a dangerous twist and being ashamed of a relative for his inadequacies turns into a painful lesson.

Choosing my favorite Chapter titles from this book was tough, but I finally settled for "We Hail the Taxi of Eternal Torment" and "I Have the Worst Family Reunion Ever." Through the whole adventure, excitement, the dangers and funny moments, what really wins the day on this one are loyalty, friendship and compassion.

I'm going on to read the 3rd book in the series, The Titan's Curse. I give this second installment another Solid B.

You can visit Rick Riordan and find out more about this series here.

Originally posted at Musings of a Bibliophile June 22, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Lightning Thief (Percy and the Olympians,Book 1) by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school...again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Young Adult series attracted my attention for a few reasons, first it's based on mythology and second it was written by Rick Riordan, writer of the popular Tres Navarre mysteries for adults. This is a five book series and with the last book released last month, it is now complete.

Percy has been tagged as a troubled 12-year-old boy who has been kicked out of every single school he ever attended. He has been diagnosed as suffering from both dyslexia and ADHD and the best he can do in the academic field is a C -- from there his grades go down hill. Percy also has behavioral problems. He seems to get in trouble without even trying and the boy doesn't even know why or how some things happen to him. Yet, even though he seemingly has so much against him, our Percy is a lonely little boy who loves his mother above all things and who will do just about anything for her and for his friends. Percy turns out to be a true hero.

The Lightning Thief begins when young Percy and his classmates from the Yancy Academy go on a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The first Chapter is titled "How I Accidentally Vaporized My Pre-Algebra Teacher." That title should give you an idea of the events. He goes from viewing a Greek tomb and answering questions from his Latin teacher to being confronted by his Pre-Algebra teacher, Mrs. Dodds, who turns into something horrifying -- with help from a pen and a friend, Percy survives a dangerous attack and becomes more confused than ever.

This one incident is just the beginning and it sets up a chain of events that leads Percy to find out the truth about himself, his mother, father and a whole other world. Riordan takes us along into an adventure full of gods and monsters, both human and mythological.

In Percy's world Olympus is hidden in Manhattan and the only place where he may be safe is at a summer camp hidden in Long Island. How does Riordan explain the existence of Greek gods or the fact they reside in New York of all places? Here's a great passage I think sets up the whole series:

"Come now, Percy. What you call 'Western civilization.' Do you think it's just an abstract concept? No, it's a living force. A collective consciousness that has burned bright for thousands of years. The gods are part of it. You might even say they are the source of it, or at least, they are tied so tightly to it that they couldn't possibly fade, not unless all of Western civilization were obliterated. The fire started in Greece. Then, as you well know - or as I hope you know, since you passed my course - the heart of the fire moved to Rome, and so did the gods. Oh, different names, perhaps - Jupiter for Zeus, Venus for Aphrodite, and so on - but the same forces the same gods. .... Olympus is where the great power of the West is. And we are here."
The Lightning Thief sets up the fight for Western civilization -- if it's lost, then all is lost. That seems to be the core of the whole series. In this book however, the focus stays on Percy's self-discovery. He finds out that his father is one of the gods, making him a half-blood or a hero. Half-blood Hill, the summer camp where Percy must go for training, is a place where the children of gods and humans are trained to fight for Olympus.

Percy confronts sad, tragic situations and has to make some tough decisions while undertaking a quest that can stop or precipitate a war between the gods. He decides to take his new friends Grover and Annabeth on his quest -- one will provide protection and the other wisdom--in the process he'll find the real meaning of friendship and loyalty.

The characters they meet along the way are varied. Some of them are fun and horrifying depending on where and when they encounter them. The gods are not exactly your nicest or friendliest of beings and Riordan mixes mythology with contemporary language, mores and culture beautifully. While on his adventure, Percy will meet satyrs, centaurs, a Menotaur, gods, the three Fates and more -- he'll also fight monsters and gods while trying to survive and solve a mystery.

A terrific start to this series, I couldn't help but make comparisons to the Harry Potter books. The only thing I could really find were the three friends, the 12-year-old boy and the fact that Percy has powers inherited from his father. The writing, setting and plot are all different and I was glad of it.

Riordan builds a world with Greek mythology as the core but full of adventure, rich characters, monsters and action. This is a wonderful way to expose young adults to Greek mythology while they have a great time following Percy and his friends on their quest to save it all -- with Chapter titles such as "I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom" and "I Battle My Jerk Relative," you know this is a fun read. I must admit that I fell in love with Percy--he has the makings of a great hero full of wit, attitude, insecurities, strength and insight.

This book is recommended for 6th to 9th graders, but I really feel maybe 8th to 12th graders would enjoy it more -- depending on maturity. I'm looking forward to reading The Sea of Monsters, Book 2

You can find the first 3 books for this series here.