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Results 1 - 25 of 51
1. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | April 2014

It's just so great when The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book turns out to be a great classic. Such is the case with this months title, The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy, by Padraic Colum—what a great introduction to the always intriguing Greek mythology. The hand selected titles from the nationwide best selling middle grade books, as listed by The New York Times, feature books by super-talents Kate DiCamillo, Katherine Applegate and R.J. Palacio.

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2. Medusa's Head

As you can tell from my Medusa book (or if you've taken one of my Humanities courses), I'm a bit of a mythology junkie.
I thought I had looked upon almost every depiction of Medusa imaginable, but today, I just found another new one:

Now that one creeps me out. It's not just scary, but it's realistic, as if I'd be scared to get within a few feet of that dead head--and the snakes don't look dead at all! EEEk.
One look would indeed petrify me with fear.
Another creepy one that isn't as scary, but is more famous is by Caravaggio, the Baroque painter:



And then another fairly common image in relief sculptures:
http://www.loggia.com/myth/images/medusa01.gif.

There, your Medusa for the day.

0 Comments on Medusa's Head as of 3/30/2014 5:17:00 PM
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3. Greek Mythology Easy Readers by Joan Holub | Book Giveaway

Enter to win autographed copies of Do Not Open: The Story of Pandora's Box & The One-Eyed People Eater: The Story of Cyclops, by Joan Holub. Giveaway begins March 4, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends April 3, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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4. Goddess Girls, Book 12: Persephone the Daring | Giveaway

Enter to win an autographed copy of Goddess Girls, Book 12: Persephone the Daring. Giveaway begins September 20, 2013, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 18, 2013, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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5. Book Review-The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Title: The Song of Achilles
 Author: Madeline Miller
Series:   N/A
Published:   September 2011
Length: 384 pages
Warnings: gently described sex scenes, taking of women as prisoners to most likely be used and abused, the normal gore/death/blood that comes with Greek mythology and war
Source: library
Summary : Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.
Achilles, 'best of all the Greeks', is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.

Review: Patroclus, son of a king,  is just a boy when he is exiled for accidentally kiiling another boy. Sent to the court of King Peleus, he gradually befriends and falls in love with his son Achilles, growing close over training for war and despite sea-goddess Thetis, Achilles’ mother, disapproving. Carry on a few years. Helen of Sparta’s been kidnapped. Achilles is destined to go to war and be the greatest of the Greeks. Patroclus is honour bound to go to war because of an oath he swore when he was nine and being put up as a suitor for Helen. Together they go to war and meet their destinies.
I’ve been in love with Greek mythology since I was...eight? maybe. And ever since we studied the Trojan War in history when I was ten, I’ve loved it (even though the thing I’ve always remembered most is that Hector dies and Achilles drags his body round Troy three times). So yeah. Retelling of Illiad. Fun times.
Patroclus is really the main character, despite the title. You follow him from an early age, you get into his head a lot, you see him following around Achilles a lot. Achilles is a bit annoying at times, but also kind at times, mainly because Patroclus asks him to be. My favourite character is Briseis, a girl from one of the villages raided that Patroclus asks Achilles to claim, and then befriends. I also really liked Odysseus. Some of the Greek kings were idiots.
The romance features heavily. The connection between Patroclus and Achilles is different to the typical male/male relationship structure seen in Ancient Greece-it’s a very deep one, grown over years, that you can easily see how it would set up the climax of Patroclus’ story-Achilles sulking after Briseis is taken, Patroclus going off in Achilles armour, and the following events.
You get a lot of action written well. It’s all very quick, you feel as though you’re there. Madeline uses the mythology really really heavily, giving sea-goddess Thetis a starring part, and having gods like Apollo show up onthe battlefield. I would have liked to go a little more into the way that the gods interact with humans, but I guess that wasn’t really the focus. Also, there’s a lot of stories from along the timelines of Patroclus and Achilles, for example the killing that sets it up, the training of Patroclus and Achilles with centaur Chiron, the hiding as a woman at someone’s palace that Achilles does to avoid  being called to war and so on. I would have liked Madeline to put in a bit more of her own spin on things like plot and characterisation, instead of the only major additions to the stories I already know being Patroclus gushing over Achilles (which he does fairly regularly).
The writing is poetic, the dialogues a little less so. It’s kind of awkward going into a book knowing that your narrator dies. However, Madeline keeps the story going after this happens, really well, before drawing it to a good conclusion.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a beautiful retelling of the Illiad, with further backstory and character interaction.

1 Comments on Book Review-The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, last added: 9/11/2013
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6. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1), by Rick Riordan


Release Date: April 1st, 2006
Age Group: Middle Grade
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Source: Bought
Overall: 5 Monkeys
Interest: Series, Greek Mythology
Categories: Fantasy, 
Greek Mythology
Read in February 2013

Summary:
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.

My Opinion:


Ever since watching the film, I've wanted to read this book. Now I have more bookish friends who love anything Riordan, so I thought it was time for me to read this. I started it yesterday morning and finished it just a little while ago. I haven't read a book that fast in a long while! 

A lot of people compare this book to Harry Potter and I guess now I see why. Percy is a 12-year-old boy who keeps experiencing weird things in his life, and is forced to go to a summer camp for demigods to learn  (among other things) how to stay alive. Another comparison I made was the fact that this book also featured a trio of MC's: Percy, Annabeth and Grover (much like Harry, Hermione and Ron). 

But apart from those little things, TLT is a book that stands on its own, and is packed with excitement, magic and Greek mythology, something a geek like me loves! (I'm placing this book under the MG category, but a YA fan can be just as enthralled by it.)

The first chapter alone is a mind-boggling one, that traps you right into the story. I think that is just what books today are lacking, the ability to grab your attention in just the first chapter; instead, they make you wait until the third, fourth chapter to let you know what's really going on. 

Percy's voice is so rich, and his way of talking to the reader flows beautifully off the pages. I know this is a book I'll be giving to my little brothers in their future birthdays. Every character is as tridimensional as Percy, they all have their quirks, and there are so many of them! I was fascinated by the way Riordan crafted so many people and never once lost me along the way. I knew just who everyone was, and I started feeling different emotions toward each of them.

I especially enjoyed the descriptions in this book, going from the Half-Blood Hill and its Camp for Half-Bloods, to the layout of NYC and Las Vegas, and finally, the Underworld and the Olympus. Everything was beautifully detailed; the film didn't do this book any justice. 

The Lightning Thief is going to my favourites shelf right away! 

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7. “Studying Mythology? Consider Reading These Contemporary Fiction Novels for Added Insight,” by Patricia Garza


From the stories of Hades and the Underworld to Persephone and Zeus.
Thousands of years ago brilliant minds like Homer and Plutarch told and wrote the tales of characters like Zeus, Hades and Persephone. The stories ranged in theme, moral and purpose, but had such far-reaching, universal appeal, many of the motifs can still be found in the literary works of today. At its core, mythology served as a way for humans to analyze both themselves and life as a whole—something people still do—either independently or in classes— to this day.
Humans seem to have this innate desire to make sense of their existence and the world around them, and that is reflected in the arts such as writing, music and dance. That being said, it comes as no surprise to me that several contemporary teen fiction/young adult novels mirror these thoughts and ideals. Below are just some titles to consider if you are looking for some added mythological context. Many of them use the myths and characters in modern settings, which eloquently displays their timeless relevance.
Iris, Messenger
Centered around middle-schooler Iris Greenworld, this book by Sarah Deming puts ancient Greek gods and goddesses like Dionysus, Aphrodite and more in modern day Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Throughout the novel, Iris learns some lessons in self-confidence and strength, while also instilling some morals of her own onto the gods and goddesses. She also learns of various myths. It’s a great take on a traditional coming of age novel as it has an element of escapism I think many adolescents crave, while giving a cool, relevant history/culture lesson all at the same time.
Overall, it’s a story about self-discovery, which, if you think about it, is all the myths really were to begin with. Trying tales of a species trying to make sense of its existence.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Really any book in this series is a great example of the juxtaposition of the modern world and ancient characters from myths of the past—this one just happens to be my favorite. Taking place in New York, the story centers on Percy Jackson—a demigod who is just 12 years old. The ever-present reminders that they are, in fact, in modern times, such as the presence of magical sneakers and references to a Las Vegas Casino, help the reader connect to what might otherwise be a foreign, unrelatable topic.
It keeps readers grounded in reality, while giving them just enough room to slip into the fantasy realm. Overall, just like the other works mentioned, it helps remind people that no matter how far we’ve come as a species, the human experience will remain the same—same hopes, fears, dreams and emotions curse through us as they did through the people around during the heyday of these myths.
Oh.My.Gods
Authored by Tera Lynn Childs, this book examines the life of Phoebe, a high-schooler with dreams of attending USC. When a strange, unexpected turn of events places her on a secret island in Greece, amongst peers who have god-like superpowers, she is forced to find her inner strength in order to persevere. Along the way, she is faced with her fair-share of distractions, because after all, everyone has their own “Achilles heel.”
That is perhaps the biggest take-away from this book, that regardless of era or culture, people are imperfect and must rely on a sense of self and willpower to succeed.
Psyche in a Dress
Call me bias, but this book just might be my favorite on the list. It follows the life of Psyche—a young woman struggling to find her identity. I find it so compelling, because it gets right down to the fact that the struggle of self-acceptance is far from a new concept. It is an age-old dilemma that, women especially, struggle with.
All about lost love, and loving one’s self, this is a great read for anyone trying to have faith in themselves as an individual.
Nobody’s Princess
Written by Esther Friesner, this story recounts the tale of Helen of Troy—only this time from a different perspective. Although unlike the other books listed this novel does not take place in particularly “modern times” its approach is definitely contemporary as it allows the reader to hear and connect with Helen’s inner feminist. Unlike the traditional tale where Helen is seen as an object, she is given real personality and character here. She’s an individual with her own thoughts and feelings and girls everywhere can connect with her.
This is a must-read for anyone who can relate to the feeling of being ignored and overlooked—a timeless emotion far too many people experience….
So, whether you’re studying it for a class, or just interested in it yourself, you might consider reading one of these books. They offer new, fresh perspective on age-old tales we’ve all heard.
Patricia Garza is a freelance blogger and education writer that can offer suggestions on anything from choosing between accredited online colleges to picking a major. She welcomes your comments below.

0 Comments on “Studying Mythology? Consider Reading These Contemporary Fiction Novels for Added Insight,” by Patricia Garza as of 10/2/2012 1:02:00 PM
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8. Giveaway: Heroes in Training Book 1: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: August 7, 2012

Enter to win a copy of Suzanne Williams’ and Joan Holub’s first book in their newest series, Heroes in Training Book 1: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom—plus a Heroes in Training bookmark.

After pulling a magical thunderbolt from a stone, ten-year-old Zeus goes on the adventure of a lifetime in this thrilling start to a brand-new series!

Giveaway begins August 7, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends September 4, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

Reading level: Ages 6 and up

Paperback: 112 pages


Overview

The terrible Titans—merciless giants who enjoy snacking on humans—have dominated the earth and put the world into chaos. But their rule is about to be put to the test as a group of young Olympians discover their powers and prepare to righteously rule the universe….

Ten-year-old Zeus is mystified (and super-annoyed) by the fact that he keeps getting hit by lightening. Every. Single. Year. He also longs for adventure, as he has never been far from the cave where he grew up.

Zeus gets his wish—and a lot more than he bargained for—when he is kidnapped by dangerous half-giants who work for evil King Cronus. After a harrowing sea journey and an escape, he is cornered in a temple in Delphi. In self-defense, he grabs the first thing he sees—an actual thunderbolt he pulls from a stone. Because of that feat, Zeus is soon off on a quest to rescue his youthful fellow Olympians from the clutches of the evil king Cronus. Armed with his trusty thunderbolt (named Bolt, of course), Zeus is on an adventure of a lifetime—and a journey to fulfill his destiny as King of the Gods.

About the Authors

Joan Holub is the author of 130 books for young readers, including Zero the Hero, Vincent van Gogh Sunflowers and Swirly Stars, and Shampoodle. She lives in North Carolina. Visit her at joanholub.com.

Suzanne Williams is the author of 35 books for young readers, including Library Lil, Ten Naughty Little Monkeys, and the Fairy Blossoms and Princess Power series. She lives near Seattle in Washington State. Visit her at suzanne-williams.com

Joan and Suzanne are co-authors of the the Goddess Girls series: Athena the Brain, Persephone the Phony, plus ten more titles, and the Heroes In Training series:Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom; Poseidon and the Sea of Fury (Jan. 2013), and two more titles.

How to Enter

  • Fill out the required fields below
  • Enter once daily

Giveaway Rules

  • Shipping Guidelines: This book giveaway is open to all participants.
  • Giveaway begins August 7, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends September 4, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST, when all entries must be received. No purchase necessary. See Add a Comment
9. Giveaway: Goddess Girls Super Special: The Girl Games

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: July 10, 2012

Enter to win an autographed copy of Suzanne Williams’ and Joan Holub’s Goddess Girls Super Special: The Girl Games.

Game on! It’s time for all young readers to embrace their mythical girl power and Olympic spirit!

Giveaway begins July 10, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends August 7, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

Reading level: Ages 8 and up

Paperback: 320 pages


Overview: 
The first-ever standalone Super Special in the Goddess Girls series—let the games begin!

Athena, Persephone, Aphrodite, and Artemis are so annoyed at being left out of the annual boys-only Olympic Games. Their solution? The Girl Games! But as the Goddess Girls work to turn their dream into a reality, they come up against plenty of chaos, competition, and even the cutest kitten ever. Told in the four girls’ alternating points of view, this Super Special is packed with Olympic spirit!

About the authors:  Joan Holub is the author of 130 books for young readers, including Zero the Hero, Vincent van Gogh Sunflowers and Swirly Stars, and Shampoodle. She lives in North Carolina. Visit her at joanholub.com.

Suzanne Williams is the author of 35 books for young readers, including Library Lil, Ten Naughty Little Monkeys, and the Fairy Blossoms and Princess Power series. She lives near Seattle in Washington State. Visit her at suzanne-williams.com

Joan and Suzanne are co-authors of the the Goddess Girls series: Athena the Brain, Persephone the Phony, plus ten more titles, and the Heroes In Training series:Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom; Poseidon and the Sea of Fury (Jan. 2013), and two more titles.

How to enter:

  • Fill out the required fields below
  • Enter once daily

Giveaway Rules:

  • Shipping Guidelines: This book giveaway is open to all participants with a US or Canadian mailing addresses.
  • Giveaway begins July 10, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends August 7, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST, when all entries must be received. No purchase necessary. See official rules for details. View our privacy policy.

Prizing courtesy of Suzanne Willaims.

©2012 The Childrens Book Review<

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10. Giveaway: Medussa the Mean (Goddess Girls: Book 8)

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: April 1, 2012

Enter to win one of two autographed copies of Goddess Girls: Medusa the Mean (Book 8) by the talented author duo Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams.

Follow the ins and outs of divine social life at Mount Olympus Academy where the most privileged godboys and goddessgirls in the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills . . .

Giveaway begins April 1, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends April 14, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

Reading level: Ages 8-12

Paperback: 245 pages

Book overview: The Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams puts a modern spin on classic Greek myths. Follow the ins and outs of divine social life at Mount Olympus Academy where the most privileged godboys and goddessgirls in the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills . . .

Medusa wants to be more like her two sisters and the other kids at Mount Olympus Academy — immortal. Is that too much to ask? As one of the few mortals at MOA, it’s hard not to get jealous when you’re surrounded by beautiful, powerful goddessgirl and godboy classmates. And it isn’t easy making friends either, especially when you have snakes for hair and one mean reputation!

About the authors: Joan Holub is the author and/or illustrator of over 130 books for young readers and Suzanne Williams has written over 40 books for young readers. Visit Joan at www.joanholub.com and Suzanne at www.suzanne-williams.com

How to enter:

  • Fill out the required fields below
  • Maximum entries: Three (3)

Giveaway Rules:

  • Shipping Guidelines: This book giveaway is open to all participants with a US mailing address.
  • Giveaway begins April 1, 2012, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends April 14, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST, when all entries must be received. No purchase necessary. See official rules for details. View our privacy policy.

Sponsored by Joan Holub.

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

.

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11. Giveaway: Goddess Girls #7, Artemis the Loyal

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 9, 2011

Enter to win a signed copy of Goddess Girls #7: Artemis the Loyal by Suzanne Williams & Joan Holub. This dynamic writing duo give classic myths from the Greek pantheon a modern twist that contemporary tweens can relate to!

Giveaway begins December 9, 2011, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends January 6, 2012, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

Reading level: Ages 8-12

Paperback: 288 pages

Book overview: It’s time for the annual Olympic Games, and the four goddessgirls are not happy–especially Artemis. Even though she’s better at sports than most of the godboys, she can’t compete because rules say the Games are boys-only. No fair!

Led by Artemis, Athena, Persphone and Aphrodite, the ladies of Mount Olympus hatch a plan to get Zeus to open up the games to everyone. Will they succeed–or end up watching from the sidelines again?

About the Goddess Girls series: These classic myths from the Greek pantheon are given a modern twist that contemporary tweens can relate to, from dealing with bullies like Medusa to a first crush on an unlikely boy. Goddess Girls follows four goddesses-in-training – Athena, Persephone, Aphrodite, and Artemis – as they navigate the ins and outs of divine social life at Mount Olympus Academy, where the most privileged gods and goddesses of the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills.

“…a clever take on Greek deities…” ~ Booklist

“…an enchanting mythological world with middle-school woes compounded by life as a deity…” ~ School Library Journal

Next to comeMedusa the Mean (April 2012)

About the authors:

Joan Holub is the author of over 130 books including eight in the Goddess Girls series: Athena the Brain, Persephone the Phony, Aphrodite the Beauty, Artemis the Brave, Athena the Wise, Aphrodite the Diva, Artemis the Loyal, Medusa the Mean. (ages 8-12; co-written with pal Suzanne Williams). Coming soon: Zero the Hero (illus by Tom Lichtenheld 2-2012, Henry Holt & Co); Wagons Ho! (Albert Whitman & Co 2011); Who Was Babe Ruth? (2012). Her other books include: Groundhog Weather School; Vincent van Gogh Sunflowers and Swirly Stars; and The Gingerbread Kid Goes to School.

Visit her at http://www.joanholub.com and http://joanholub.blogspot.com.

Suzanne Williams has written over 30 books for children, from picture books and easy readers to chapter books and middle grade fiction series. A former elementary school librarian, she lives in Renton,Washington (near Seattle). Her picture book Library Lil (illustrated by Steven Kellogg) won the New Mexico children’s choice award in 2000 and was on several other state award lists. Her most recent series are Princess Power (ages 8 – 12), Fairy Blossoms (ages 7 – 10), and the popular Goddess Girls (ages 8 &n

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12. The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2)

The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2). Rick Riordan. 2011. Hyperion. 525 pages.

The snake-haired ladies were starting to annoy Percy. They should have died three days ago when he dropped a crate of bowling balls on them at the Napa Bargain Mart. They should have died two days ago when he ran over them with a police car in Martinez. They definitely should have died this morning when he cut off their heads in Tilden Park.  

I loved this book. I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book. The Son of Neptune is the sequel to The Lost Hero. In the first book, a new hero, Jason Grace, is introduced to readers. He with two other newbies (Piper and Leo) are trying to reach the relative safety of the Camp Half Blood, the Greek camp. They arrive, of course, meet everyone--including some characters that we know and love--and are sent on a big, big, big mission of their own.

The second book stars Percy Jackson. He is trying to make his way to camp--but not the Greek camp that is his home away from home. No, when readers meet Percy he can't remember who he is--not really. Though he has a very strong but very vague memory of Annabeth. No, he's on his way to the Roman camp for demi-gods.

This book is all about Roman mythology. We see how the sons and daughters of Roman gods and goddesses do things. Is this Roman camp anything like Camp Half-Blood?! Percy becomes close with two campers in particular Frank and Hazel. In fact, the story is told in alternating perspectives of the three.

I really, really, really loved reading all three perspectives. I loved the new characters, the new mythologies, the new stories. I loved the action and adventure of it. I thought it was an exciting read. It was just a great, great book!

I would definitely recommend this one. But I'd start with the first book of the first series, The Lightning Thief, and go from there.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. Giveaway: Athena the Wise (Goddess Girls)

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: April 15, 2011

Fans of Mythology and the Goddess Girls series will once again be thrilled to know that we have the next installment to giveaway. One lucky reader will be the winner of Athena the Wise signed by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams, plus a colorful Goddess Girls bracelet made by the authors. Giveaway begins April 15, 2011, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends May 13, 2011, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

Reading Level: Ages 8-12

Paperback: 240 pages

Book overview: Athena isn’t the only new kid at Mount Olympus Academy. When a mortal named Heracles transfers in, she knows what he’s going through. She started at MOA just a few months ago! Not only does Heracles need help fitting in, he also has to complete twelve “labors” or he’ll be kicked out of the academy. When her dad, Principal Zeus, asks her to secretly watch out for the new boy, Athena winds ups capturing mythical beasts and shoveling poop. It will take all of her famed wisdom to sort out her own problems and help Heracles succeed!

Authors Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams put a modern spin on classic myths with the Goddess Girls series (ages 8-12, Aladdin). Follow the ins and outs of divine social life at Mount Olympus Academy, where the most privileged godboys and goddessgirls in the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills.

“…a clever take on Greek deities…” ~ Booklist

“…an enchanting mythological world with middle-school woes compounded by life as a deity…” ~ School Library Journal

About the Authors: Joan Holub is the author and/or illustrator of over 130 books for young readers and Suzanne Williams has written over 40 books for young readers. Visit Joan at www.joanholub.com and Suzanne at www.suzanne-williams.com

How to enter:

  • Leave a comment in the comments field below
  • An extra entry will be given for each time you twitter about the giveaway and/or blog about it. You will need to paste the link in a separate comment to make this entry valid. Click here to follow us on Twitter.
  • Maximum entries: Three (3)

Giveaway Rules:

  • Shipping Guidelines: This book giveaway is open to participants with a United States address.
  • Giveaway begins April 15, 2011, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends May 13, 2011, at 11:59 P.M. PST, when all entries must be received. No purchase necessary. See official rules for details. View our privacy policy.

Sponsored by Joan Holub.

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14. Waiting on Wednesday: Misfit by Jon Skovron

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting!


Coming August 1, 2011!


Misfit by Jon Skovron

Jael Thompson has never really fit in. She’s changed schools too many times to count. The only family she’s ever known is her father, a bitter ex-priest who never lets her date and insists she attend the strictest Catholic school in Seattle. And her mother—well, she was a five thousand year old demon. That doesn’t exactly help.

But on her sixteenth birthday, her father gives her a present that brings about some unexpected changes. Some of the changes, like strange and wonderful powers and the cute skater boy with a knack for science, are awesome. But others, like the homicidal demon seeking revenge on her family? Not so much.

Steeped in mythology, this is an epic tale of a heroine who balances old world with new, science with magic, and the terrifying depths of the underworld with the ordinary halls of high school.


First of all, Jael is an awesome name. Second of all, how did a priest hook up with a demon? Already I'm fascinated. Jael is apparently some kind of epic, mythological superhero -- how awesome is that? Yet another mythology book, and like all the others it sounds PERFECT for me =D Plus, I love the wry voice of the synopsis -- hopefully it continues in the book!

What new release are you most looking forward to this week?

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15. A Sisyphean fate for Israel (part 2)

OPINION ·

Read part 1 of this article.

By Louis René Beres


Today, Israel’s leadership, continuing to more or less disregard the nation’s special history, still acts in ways that are neither tragic nor heroic. Unwilling to accept the almost certain future of protracted war and terror, one deluded prime minister after another has sought to deny Israel’s special situation in the world. Hence, he or she has always been ready to embrace, unwittingly, then-currently-fashionable codifications of collective suicide.

In Washington, President Barack Obama is consciously shaping these particular codifications, not with any ill will, we may hope, but rather with all of the usual diplomatic substitutions of rhetoric for an authentic intellectual understanding. For this president, still sustained by an utterly cliched “wisdom,” peace in the Middle East is just another routine challenge for an assumed universal reasonableness and clever presidential speechwriting.

Human freedom is an ongoing theme in Judaism, but this sacred freedom can never countenance a “right” of collective disintegration. Individually and nationally, there is always a binding Jewish obligation to choose life. Faced with the “blessing and the curse,” both the solitary Jew, and the ingathered Jewish state, must always come down in favor of the former.

Today, Israel, after Ariel Sharon’s “disengagement,” Ehud Olmert’s “realignment,” Benjamin Netanyahu’s hopes for “Palestinian demilitarization,” and U.S. President Barack Obama’s “New Middle East,” may await, at best, a tragic fate. At worst, resembling the stark and minimalist poetics of Samuel Beckett, Israel’s ultimate fate could be preposterous.

True tragedy contains calamity, but it must also reveal greatness in trying to overcome misfortune.

For the most part, Jews have always accepted the obligation to ward off disaster as best they can.

For the most part, Jews generally do understand that we humans have “free will.” Saadia Gaon included freedom of the will among the most central teachings of Judaism, and Maimonides affirmed that all human beings must stand alone in the world “to know what is good and what is evil, with none to prevent him from either doing good or evil.”

For Israel, free will must always be oriented toward life, to the blessing, not to the curse. Israel’s binding charge must always be to strive in the obligatory direction of individual and collective self-preservation, by using intelligence, and by exercising disciplined acts of national will. In those circumstances where such striving would still be consciously rejected, the outcome, however catastrophic, can never rise to the dignifying level of tragedy.

The ancient vision of authentically “High Tragedy” has its origins in Fifth Century BCE Athens. Here, there is always clarity on one overriding point: The victim is one whom “the gods kill for their sport, as wanton boys do flies.” This wantonness, this caprice, is precisely what makes tragedy unendurable.

With “disengagement,” with “realignment,” with “Palestinian demilitarization,” with both Oslo, and the Road Map, Israel’s corollary misfortunes remain largely self-inflicted. The continuing drama of a Middle East Peace Process is, at best, a surreal page torn from Ionesco, or even from Kafka. Here, there is nary a hint of tragedy; not even a satisfyingly cathartic element that might have been drawn from Aeschylus, Sophocles or Euripides. At worst, and this is the more plausible characterization, Israel’s unhappy fate has been ripped directly from the utterly demeaning pages of irony and farce.

Under former Prime

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16. A Sisyphean fate for Israel (part 1)

OPINION ·

By Louis René Beres

Israel after Obama: a subject of tragedy, or mere object of pathos?

Israel, after President Barack Obama’s May 2011 speech on “Palestinian self-determination” and regional “democracy,” awaits a potentially tragic fate. Nonetheless, to the extent that Prime Minister Netanyahu should become complicit in the expected territorial dismemberments, this already doleful fate could quickly turn from genuine tragedy to pathos and abject farce.

“The executioner’s face,” sang Bob Dylan, “is always well-hidden.” In the particular case of Israel, however, the actual sources of existential danger have always been perfectly obvious. From 1948 until the present, virtually all of Israel’s prime ministers, facing periodic wars for survival, have routinely preferred assorted forms of denial, and asymmetrical forms of compromise. Instead of accepting the plainly exterminatory intent of both enemy states and terrorist organizations, these leaders have opted for incremental territorial surrenders.

Of course, this is not the whole story. During its very short contemporary life, Israel has certainly accomplished extraordinary feats in science, medicine, agriculture, education and industry. It’s military institutions, far exceeding all reasonable expectations, have fought, endlessly and heroically, to avoid any new spasms of post-Holocaust genocide.

Still, almost from the beginning, the indispensable Israeli fight has not been premised on what should have remained as an unequivocal central truth of the now-reconstituted Jewish commonwealth. Although unrecognized by Barack Obama, all of the disputed lands controlled by Israel do have proper Israeli legal title. It follows that any diplomatic negotiations resting upon alternative philosophic or jurisprudential premises must necessarily be misconceived.

Had Israel, from the start, fixedly sustained its own birthright narrative of Jewish sovereignty, without submitting to periodic and enervating forfeitures of both land and dignity, its future, although problematic, would at least have been tragic. But by choosing instead to fight in ways that ultimately transformed its stunning victories on the battlefield to abject surrenders at the conference table, this future may ultimately be written as more demeaning genre.

In real life, as well as in literature and poetry, the tragic hero is always an object of veneration, not a pitiable creature of humiliation. From Aristotle to Shakespeare to Camus, tragedy always reveals the very best in human understanding and purposeful action. Aware that whole nations, like the individual human beings who comprise them, are never forever, the truly tragic hero nevertheless does everything possible to simply stay alive.

For Israel, and also for every other imperiled nation on earth, the only alternative to tragic heroism is humiliating pathos. By their incessant unwillingness to decline any semblance of a Palestinian state as intolerable (because acceptance of “Palestine” in any form would be ruthlessly carved out of the living body of Israel), Israel’s leaders have created a genuinely schizophrenic Jewish reality in the “new” Middle East. This is a Jewish state that is, simultaneously, unimaginably successful and incomparably vulnerable. Not surprisingly, over time, the result will be an increasingly palpable national sense of madness.

Perhaps, more than any other region on earth, the Jihadi Middle East and North Africa is “governed” by unreason. Oddly, this very reasonable observation is reinforced rather than contradicted by the prevailing patterns of “democratic re

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17. New Release Roundup: May 29 - June 4, 2011

A weekly feature I started to showcase the exciting new releases hitting shelves this week.


May 30


Watched by Sharde Richardson

Mikayla doesn’t want much: just to rock out to her favorite band, become the next Kwiki Stop video gaming champion, and keep her Q-tip habit under control. What she does want is the sight of the sudden inexplicable dark auras around everyone to stop. Problem is, those auras are demons and Mikayla is the last trait holder with the power to ban them. Which is a total buzz kill.

To make matters worse, the town folk of Sulphur Springs don’t look the same, and her classmates are a little dark in the eyes. There are murders, suicides, reckless skinny-dipping, gratuitous use of Q-tips, and newfound powers that Mikayla must learn to control.

Her past becomes present when a shape-shifter tells her what her true identity is, and how to keep the demons of Hell from nipping at her Converse. Through him she’ll discover who to trust, who to kiss, and how valuable her abilities are to the right beings. Because the evils of Hell aren’t staying down without a fight.

Or without her soul.


May 31


Nightspell (Mistwood #2) by Leah Cypess
4 Comments on New Release Roundup: May 29 - June 4, 2011, last added: 5/31/2011
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18. Mythology of Graeae and Harpies

The Harpies are old women-bird creatures with such a vile odor one can’t help retching. Their screech can rupture ear drums and cause madness. If one is near Harpies for any length of time, it is possible to freeze out of fear. They work for Narciss, running the Diamond Mine in the Solimon Mountains. All over Dracwald, children of all ages go missing daily. If one looks in the mine, one might know where the kids are and why-which agrees with the original meaning “snatchers”. Continue reading

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19. The Penelopiad

The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus. Margaret Atwood. 2005. 220 pages.

Now that I'm dead I know everything. This is what I wished would happen, but like so many of my wishes it failed to come true. I know only a few factoids that I didn't know before. It's much too high a price to pay for the satisfaction of curiosity, needless to say. Since being dead -- since achieving this state of bonelessness, liplessness, breastlessness -- I've learned some things I would rather not know, as one does when listening at windows or opening other people's letters. You think you'd like to read minds? Think again. Down here everyone arrives with a sack, like the sacks used to keep the winds in, but each of these sacks is full of words -- words you've spoken, words you've heard, words that have been said about you. Some sacks are very small, others large; my own is of a reasonable size, though a lot of the words in it concern my eminent husband. What a fool he made of me, some say. He got away with everything, which was another of his specialties: getting away. He was always so plausible...

The Penelopiad is a novel retelling of the Greek myth of Penelope and Odysseus. The story is told essentially from thirteen points-of-view. That is if you count each of the twelve maids as a person, an individual. In alternating chapters, we hear from Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus, and from Penelope's twelve maids, beautiful young women who were raped and harassed by Penelope's suitors while her husband was missing in action. While Penelope's voice stays the same throughout the novel, the narration by the maids varies throughout. Almost like a kaleidoscope. These twelve voices are united together as one; they are a chorus begging to be heard, and a chorus demanding justice. I found these chapters to be the most creative. Not that I didn't enjoy Penelope's side of things. I did. How perhaps only in her death did she begin to realize what a jerk Odysseus was. How he had a way of spinning things always to his advantage, a way to make himself appear to be the hero no matter the facts.

I thought The Penelopiad was well-written. It was creative, compelling, and  easy to read. (I'm not so sure you'd even need to be all that familiar with the original myth.) I liked it. I'm very glad I read it. It was definitely an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. But I'm not sure that I loved it.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

8 Comments on The Penelopiad, last added: 5/30/2011
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20. Abandon

AbandonAbandon Meg Cabot

Two years ago, Pierce died. She hit her head, fell into a pool, and was dead for over an hour before the doctors could bring her back. Since then though, things haven't been the same. The adults in her life think she's slightly mentally unbalanced, and after what happened at her last school, dangerous. But Pierce knows the truth-- there's evil in the world and she can see it. She has to stop it.

After her mother moves her back to her hometown on the Isla Huesos (Island of Bones-- very much based on Cabot's current home of Key West) Pierce starts to discover more and more clues about what happened, and why.

So... this is based on Persephone. Basic premise is Pierce meets John (Death Deity) in a graveyard when she's young. When she dies, she sees him again. He gives her a pretty necklace. Pierce can't accept she's dead, runs away, and ends up back in the world of the living. John keeps showing up to save her from bad guys trying to kill her. And now Pierce has moved right on the gateway of it all (so... like Sunnydale's Hellmouth, but it's the mouth of all dead stuff, good and bad.)

So this is Cabot doing something a bit darker than most of what she does. It's not too twisted or dark or depressing and if you like Cabot, you'll probably like this, but just be warned, it's not funny (and it's not trying to be).

BUT! TOTAL CLIFFHANGER ENDING! Gah! That's how the 2nd book in a trilogy is supposed to end!* Not the first!!!!

I like how this takes a well-known myth and doesn't retell it, but uses it to go in a completely different direction.

I like the world Cabot has built and can't wait to explore it more. I really want to see what's going on with the A-wingers and why Pierce's cousin hates them so much.

I also like Pierce a lot. She's nice and strong, but has believable weak moments, so she seems more real. The tension between her and John doesn't overtake the novel (in fact, there could have been more). I like that she's dealing with some serious other stuff besides boys and her problems aren't of her own invention. She's troubled, but not annoyingly neurotic.

Also, I love that Pierce and her friends who are obviously the good guys are all in the New Pathways program, which is for troubled youth. Yay for a book that paints troubled kids as real kids with yes, problems, but they aren't the bad guys, even if the rest of town sees them that way.

Overall, I really liked it and can't wait to read more.

*This is a rule I learned when Boba Fett carted off Han's carbonite encased body at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. It's not a rule I like, but it's one I have come to accept. Luckily for me, when

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21. Cover Art Revealed: Dreaming Awake (Falling Under #2) by Gwen Hayes

Gwen Hayes recently revealed the cover art for the sequel in her Falling Under series, Dreaming Awake. Check it out:

Coming January 3, 2012!


She fell for him in a nighttime world. But the time for dreaming is past—and the here-and-now can be just as fragile their love…

When Theia Alderson first encountered a mysterious, handsome boy in her dreams, she never imagined how finding Haden Black—and falling in love—could change her life. To save Haden, Theia sacrificed everything. And the dangerous bargain she made could have lasting repercussions.

Now Theia has returned to Serendipity Falls, and she finds herself struggling with the same deadly hungers that have tortured Haden. When students at their high school fall prey to a mysterious illness, Theia can’t help but wonder if Haden’s control is slipping—and how much longer she’ll have a grip on her own.

And still the nightmare realm of Under won’t let them go. Someone from Haden’s past is determined to destroy Theia from the inside out, starting with those closest to her, forcing Theia to choose between family and friends and a love that may have been doomed from the start…


I think this cover is really beautiful. The rose petals she's laying on, her elaborately curled hair and that gorgeous, gorgeous dress all evoke the romance of the story, while the black rose in her hand, and the contrast of the black on her dress with the red of the rose petals gives it a kind of Gothic feel. It's also a nice inversion of the first book's cover -- which had black roses and a red dress. I'm not crazy about the title though -- it just doesn't quite have that ring to it, you know?

What do you think? Does this make you want to read the series? Have you read Falling Under? I need to! I've heard it's really good.

Here's the Falling Under cover for comparison:




In other news...

Rachel Hawkins just announced that the third book in the Hex Hall series has a title! And it is...*drumroll please*...

SPELL BOUND

I think it works well with the other two-syllable titles in the se

2 Comments on Cover Art Revealed: Dreaming Awake (Falling Under #2) by Gwen Hayes, last added: 6/25/2011
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22. Waiting on Wednesday: A Beautiful Evil (Gods & Monsters #2) by Kelly Keaton

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting!


Coming February 21, 2012!


A Beautiful Evil (Gods & Monsters #2) by Kelly Keaton

A power she can’t deny. A destiny she’s determined to fight.

When Ari first arrived in the dilapidated city of New 2, all she wanted was to figure out who she was. But what she discovered was beyond her worst nightmare. Ari can already sense the evil growing inside her—a power the goddess Athena will stop at nothing to possess.

Desperate to hold on to her humanity and protect her loved ones, Ari must fight back. But Athena’s playing mind games, not just with Ari but with those she cares about most. And Athena has a very special plan for the brooding and sexy Sebastian.

Ari is determined to defeat Athena, but time is running out. With no other options, Ari must unleash the very thing she’s afraid of: herself.

I LOVED Darkness Becomes Her, so I cannot WAIT for the sequel! The New Orleans atmosphere, mythology, magic, mystery and even a little dystopian for good measure -- what's not to love? Athena was a killer character in the first book, and I can't wait to see what chaos she has up her sleeve in this one -- especially where "brooding and sexy Sebastian" is concerned. I also hadn't seen this cover until recently, but I think it works PERFECTLY with the books. There's nothing quiet as haunting and creepy as a weeping angel, don't you think?

Have you read Darkness Becomes Her? Wasn't it a-MAZ-ing?
23. Giveaway: Aphrodite the Diva (Goddess Girls)

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: August 17, 2011

Calling all contemporary tweens! Enter to win a copy of Goddess Girls #6: Aphrodite the Diva by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams—a classic Greek myth with a modern twist. Will Aphrodite end up proving she’s a diva with more beauty than brains? We have one (1) signed copy to giveaway to one lucky reader! Giveaway begins August 17, 2011, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends September 15, 2011, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

Reading level: Ages 8-12
Paperback: 220 pages

About the Goddess Girls series: These classic myths from the Greek pantheon are given a modern twist that contemporary tweens can relate to, from dealing with bullies like Medusa to a first crush on an unlikely boy. Goddess Girls follows four goddesses-in-training—Athena, Persephone, Aphrodite, and Artemis—as they navigate the ins and outs of divine social life at Mount Olympus Academy, where the most privileged gods and goddesses of the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills.

“…a clever take on Greek deities…” ~ Booklist

“…an enchanting mythological world with middle-school woes compounded by life as a deity…” ~ School Library Journal

Book overview: After a teeny misunderstanding in class, Aphrodite is failing Hero-ology. To raise her grade, she concocts a brilliant plan—an extra-credit project for matchmaking mortals. This brings her face-to-face with fierce competition—an Egyptian goddessgirl named Isis. Now the race is on to see which of them can matchmake Pygmalion—the most annoying boy ever! Will Aphrodite wind up making a passing grade after all? Or will she end up proving she’s a diva with more beauty than brains?

About Joan Holub: Joan Holub is the author of over 130 books including eight in the Goddess Girls series: Athena the Brain, Persephone the Phony, Aphrodite the Beauty, Artemis the Brave, Athena the Wise, Aphrodite the Diva, Artemis the Loyal, Medusa the Mean (ages 8-12; co-written with pal Suzanne Williams). Coming soon: Zero the Hero (illus by Tom Lichtenheld 2-2012, Henry Holt & Co); Wagons Ho! (Albert Whitman & Co 2011); Who Was Babe Ruth? (2012). Her other books include: Groundhog Weather School; Vincent van Gogh Sunflowers and Swirly Stars; and The Gingerbread Kid Goes to School.

Visit her at http://www.joanholub.com and http://joanholub.blogspot.com.

About Suzanne Williams: Suzanne Williams has written over 30 books for children, from picture books and easy readers to chapter books and middle grade fiction series. A former elementary school librarian, she lives in Renton,Washington (near Seattle). Her picture book Library Lil (illustrated by Steven Kellogg) won the New Mexico children’s choice award in 2000 and was on several other state award lists. Her most recent series are Princess Power (ages 8 – 12), Fairy Blossoms (ages 7 – 10), and the popular Goddess Girls (ages 8 – 12, with co-author Joan Holub.) You can visit her at her website: www.suzanne-williams.com and

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24. Children's book of Mythical Beasts and Magical Monsters: a review

Dorling Kindersley, Inc. 2011. Children's Book of Mythical Beasts and Magical Monsters: An introduction to fascinating myths and legends from around the world. New York: DK.

Thanks to the prolific writer, Rick Riordan,  kids cannot get enough of mythical beasts and magical monsters.  DK's new book should give them all the background information they need to keep up with Rick Riordan or their favorite fantasy writers.

This book is much more than a mythology book, however.  It is divided into three loosely organized sections, Nature and Nation, Magic and Mayhem, and Quests and Battles.  Each section contains approximately fifteen to thirty different entries covering civilizations from across the globe and spanning all of recorded history.


Nature and Nation features creation and pourquoi stories,  Magic and Mayhem - tall tales, legends, legendary creatures and trickster tales. Quests and Battles is self-explanatory - dragons, Robin Hood, El Dorado, Durga, the Hindu warrior goddess and more.  There are four "types" of pages with the book, each type marked with a color-coded symbol,

  • Around the World: Wonder at the similarities and common elements in myths from around the world
  • Who's Who: Find out about the relationships between gods of certain cultures and characters that feature in famous legends
  • Telling the Tale: Discover the excitement and drama of myths that have been passed down from generation to generation.
  • Character Up Close: Take a close-up look at mythological characters, how they are depicted, their role and their adventures.
With a table of contents, usage guide, extensive index, glossary, and acknowledgments for the hundreds of illustrations from museums and libraries, this is more of a reference book than a browsing book, however, its appealing layout and busy pages will likely attract browsers as well.  The Children's Book of Mythical Beasts and Magical Monsters can easily serve as a starting point for school reports. A well-balanced and informative book.

This images of this cover found on the web are not entirely accurate.  The actual colors are much brighter and more garish than portrayed - jarring, to be sure, but most certainly eye-catching!  Kids will pick this one up.

Today's
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25. The Lost Hero (MG)

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (#1 Heroes of Olympus) 2010. Hyperion. 576 pages.


Even before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a rotten day.

I had my doubts. Even though it's Rick Riordan, I had my doubts. How could The Lost Hero hope to compete with The Lightning Thief. It could be good, it could even be really good. But how could it really compare with such a great book?! For me, that was THE best book, the one that was the best of them all. Yes, the series as a whole was a good adventure, but the first one? Well it was OH-SO-MAGICAL!

I was surprised by how much I loved this one. I thought it was a great read. Compelling, exciting, and magical!!! It has multiple narrators. Now practically every book with multiple narrators has me sharing with you how much I really don't like that element in books, but with this one it WORKED and worked well. It didn't feel awkward or silly like it does in Rick Riordan's other series--The Kane Chronicles, The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire.

Our narrators, our heroes and heroines, are Jason, Piper, and Leo. Two have been under the protection of Coach Hedge, the third appears out of nowhere on a school field trip. The mist effecting everyone's memories--even Piper and Leo. (Piper just KNOWS that Jason has been her boyfriend for weeks. She can almost remember every moment they've ever shared.) But trouble is coming and the three will have to fight to survive long enough to reach the safety of Camp Half-blood. To complicate matters, Jason has NO MEMORY at all of who he is or where he came from.

So the book does feature a quest, and it is EXCITING. I won't go into the details of this one. Chances are if you're familiar with Percy Jackson and his series, then you'll want to read this new series anyway. And if you haven't read Percy Jackson yet, if you've yet to discover the joys of The Lightning Thief, then this is NOT the place to start your journey with Rick Riordan.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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