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Tag Archives: mythology

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

51R8i55EtAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBone Gap

In this stand-alone coming-of-age mystery, the town of Bone Gap, Illinois has mostly small town charm, but a few residents think it is a little unusual. Perhaps it isn’t just the town but the people too? Finn O’Sullivan has never been “quite right,” as the rumor goes. After his father died and his mother left town for a new life and husband, the only family he had left was his older brother, Sean, whose college plans changed to a career as an EMT. Neither Sean nor Finn is prepared when they find a girl, dirty and much abused, hiding in their barn. They offer her a home, however temporary, and it’s like she belongs to them, and they to her, or perhaps they’ve found each other at just the right time.

Roza and Finn are close friends, while Roza and Sean slip slowly into love and Sean is preparing to ask her to marry him. Suddenly, Roza disappears and leaves everyone stunned and mourning, even the townsfolk of Bone Gap. No one believes poor Finn when he swears she was kidnapped by a dangerous man, not even his brother; in fact, the townsfolk might even believe Finn O’Sullivan did something to Roza. While Finn tries to process her disappearance and his brother’s reluctance to go after her, he discovers another surprise in the barn, a mare that seems magical. Through his and the mare’s wanderings, Finn becomes closer to Priscilla, “Petey” Willis, the beekeeper’s unusual spitfire daughter. Petey brings out the best in Finn and as their relationship blooms, Finn finds new courage but learns of secrets that change his self-perception. This new awareness enables him to find out what happened to Roza in a wild attempt to save what is left of his family.

*Winner of the 2016 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and a National Book Award finalist.

My summary fails to capture the ethereal magic and captivating use of language that characterizes this novel. I loved how the reader really can’t trust the characters and also cannot predict the plot. Author Ruby presents various viewpoints in the novel to juxtapose with the main narrator, Finn, thereby revealing that our perception of Finn is vastly different from the opinion others have of him. This use of characterization is most excellently well done, as each character credibly feels like a real person with a unique voice, strong feelings, and perspective. Then, add in the mysterious setting, the disappeared but strongly present Roza, and underlying themes of love, truth, and acceptance, and this novel won’t stop surprising you. While this book may appeal to more literary or older teens, the overall quality and dearth of details speak to the hard-won praise and mark a story that will stay with any age of reader, teen or adult.

Notes: Themes of violence and sexual abuse are noted only in subtext of story.

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Posted by on February 2, 2016 in YA Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

cover Cruel Beauty

An adventurous romance with an intricate twist of fairy tale and Greek myth.

The island of Arcadia is under a spell and ruled by the Gentle Lord, a demon who lives in a castle atop the hill. The Gentle Lord makes deals with his desperate citizens, but usually there is a hefty price to pay. Nyx Triskelion was one of those bargains. When her mother could not have a baby, her father asked the Gentle Lord for children. He was given twin girls, Nyx and her sister Astraia. In exchange for this boon, one of the girls was to become the Gentle Lord’s wife while the other lived her days out happily and peacefully. Nyx was the chosen daughter. As she wrestles with the burden of her fate, that she must be the Gentle Lord’s wife but also be the agent of his destruction for the entire island, she comes to find her new husband, Ignifex, is not at all what she had anticipated. Her sacrificial destiny is not her undoing but rather a blessing in disguise. While growing to know her new husband, his powers, and his labyrinth of a house, she discovers she is not a pawn in her father’s game, and that she deserves the love she was never afforded.

After all the comparisons of this book to the tale of Beauty and the Beast, the novel caught me much by surprise in that it only very loosely has ties to Beauty and the Beast. Rather, it takes another spin on Greek mythology, one that is not much written about either. With that being said, a video game about this book would probably be really fun, but the book had to gloss over a lot of the setting (which you’re very glad of, as you would’ve gotten lost!). As Nyx grows more familiar with Ignifex and his ways, as well as the mysteries of his house, her perceptions are changed and what she originally believes is no longer true. It’s a wonderful story of how blind prejudice or hatred can be overcome in closer proximity. It will pull you into such a mind-bending romantic mystery that you almost can’t predict what will happen!

Note: Graphic topics and sexual circumstances.

 
 

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Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Antigoddess

AntigoddessIn this first installment of the Goddess Wars, the immortal Greek gods are dying. Their civilization is long gone, and they are all being cursed. Hermes has an illness that is slowly eating away his body from the inside. He’s practically skin and bones. And his sister, the once mighty battle goddess Athena, is not so impressive now. She’s dying from owl quills molting out of her organs. In the present day, they are searching for the goddess Demeter to find out about their afflictions. Demeter, suffering from her own problems, reveals they need Cassandra of Troy, whom Athena once called an enemy. But Athena and Hermes aren’t the only ones searching for Cassandra. Hera, Poseidon, and Aphrodite have banded together to use and destroy anything in their path towards life, mortal or immortal. As for Cassandra herself, she is a happy girl living in New York who happens to be able to correctly predict a few things like coin tosses and such. She has a best friend, Andie, a good brother, Henry, and her boyfriend, Aidan and is popular at her high school for her coincidental prediction skills. Then Cassandra begins receiving visions more frequently which, unbeknownst to her, concern the devastation surrounding Athena and Hermes who are searching to win her to their side. Cassandra is torn between wanting to live her regular life and fighting against destruction – a choice embracing almost certain death. When she is finally discovered, her once paltry tricks have transformed into a great unknown power that means man finally gets to meddle in the affairs of the gods.

From the author that brought us the amazing series of Anna Dressed in Blood, this modern imagining of the Greek gods is akin but not alike to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. There’s definitely less humor and romance and more graphic scenes than Riordan’s bestselling books, but neither does it bring us the immediate wow-factor of Anna Dressed in Blood either. I found it a so-so read. I’m going to reserve full judgment until I read the next in the series. I thought it would have had better value if the immortals had more of their historical memories described, maybe in flashbacks, rather than simply alluded to. As it is, the plot seems very scattered and it’s hard to fully relate to the characters. Still, the premise itself is interesting, especially since Cassandra of Troy is not as popular in retellings as is the love story of Paris and Helen or the fight between Achilles and Hector, as seen in Troy. (Hector, Paris, and Cassandra are all children of Priam, king of Troy.)

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Fantasy, Young Adult/Teen

 

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The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, Four)

The House of Hadesthe house of hades

It’s dire circumstances for all in this fourth novel of the Heroes of Olympus series. Percy and Annabeth have fallen into Tartarus and must make their way deeper through Tartarus past the hordes of monsters and former enemies to find the Doors of Death. Meanwhile, the Argo II manned by Leo, Hazel, Frank, Jason, Piper, Nico and Coach Hedge is headed to Epirus to find the House of Hades and close the Doors of Death on their side. Back at home, the Romans are getting closer to attacking Camp Half-Blood, and Gaea’s influence is reaching even further as she works to coerce nymphs, dryads, satyrs, and many others who would normally be on the side of Olympus. The gods themselves are still caught in an inner turmoil with their Greek and Roman sides warring against each other. It’s up to the demigods to work by themselves to close the Doors.

When Percy and Annabeth fall into Tartarus, they are both quickly injured and must find help. It arrives in the form of Bob, the memory-wiped Titan, and his trusty broom. But Percy and Annabeth need to earn Bob’s friendship if he’s to escort them to find allies in Tartarus. These allies have their own powers and desires to be wary of, and it’s up to Percy and Annabeth to convince them to help. Escaping from the Pit of Darkness is the hardest thing they’ve ever done…

As for the crew of the Argo II, they keep being blocked by the mountain giants of Italy to read Epirus until Hazel finds a patron goddess, Hecate, to help them. Hecate shows Hazel their future choices, and if she wants to succeed at everything, including delivering the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood to stop their war, she must learn how to manipulate the Mist. When they’ve passed the mountain range, a set of tiny men rob the ship causing Leo and Jason to chase after them. Their finds cause them to head for Venice where Frank must earn to embrace the warrior aspect of his father to save Hazel and Nico from being poisoned. They encounter a pirate and an enemy goddess and her cronies; one discovers love; one hides love; and they all add their valuable talents and strengths to work together to find and destroy the Doors of Death while saving their friends.

But not without sacrifices because the worst is yet to come…

The Blood of Olympus coming October 2014.

“Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen-all of them, and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood-the blood of Olympus-in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it might be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.”                                                                         – Amazon.com

I absolutely love this series; it’s so addicting! Can’t wait to read the finale. You just can’t help loving all the characters and desperately hoping they succeed. One of the controversial elements (SPOILER) presented in this book is that of Nico’s true feelings. In the past it had been shown that he hated Percy because of his sister Bianca’s death. Also, they had thought he disliked Percy because he had a big crush on Annabeth. In this book, we discover that Nico, in fact, loves Percy though no one knows. He is scared and angry for anyone to find out. So he comes into conflict with himself because he’s still angry at Percy, yet would do anything to protect him even sacrifice himself. It’s terribly beautiful how much he loves his friend, and when Jason finds out his secret, it’s a whole new idea for Nico to actually trust his friends with the information. Can’t wait to read where this goes in the final installment of the Heroes of Olympus.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2014 in Fantasy, Young Adult/Teen

 

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The Heroes of Olympus series (1-3) by Rick Riordan

Since I absolutely loved the Percy Jackson series and to celebrate the fourth book’s release, I started reading the Heroes of Olympus series. Different from the previous series, this series adds a new cast of narrators in addition to those of Percy and Annabeth. Be aware of some spoilers!

The_Lost_Hero_FINALIn The Lost Hero, Jason cannot remember anything beyond waking up on a school bus for a camp for unruly kids, holding a girl’s hand. Apparently, she’s his girlfriend, Piper, and his best friend is Leo. When a thunder spirit attacks them and kidnaps their camp counselor, a satyr in hiding, they encounter Annabeth, who arrives searching for Percy. She takes them to Camp Half-Blood, where they discover something odd. Jason, Leo, and Piper are demigods. Beyond that, they have some very unique gifts too. Piper is the daughter of Aphrodite and has a very powerful way with words and influence, Leo is a son of Hephaestus and has the power of fire, while Jason is the son of Jupiter, Zeus in his Roman form. Oh, and apparently Jason is supposed to be dead! When they are visited in dreams upon arriving at Camp Half-Blood, they must go on a quest to save Hera before something terrible happens, the possibility of Olympus being destroyed.

Note: Because Percy is absent, it gives the reader a chance to love a new set of characters almost as much as Annabeth and Percy.

The-Son-of-NeptuneThe Son of Neptune

Percy has returned in this second book of the Heroes of Olympus series. He, too, has lost his memories except for being trained by Lupa and her wolf pack before being chased by a pair of daily reforming gorgons to what he finds out is the camp for Roman demigods, Camp Jupiter. There he finds his father is one of the most disliked in Camp Jupiter because of their mistrust of the sea, and therefore, so is Percy. After being accepted into camp by power-mad Octavian and Praetor Reyna, Percy joins the disgraced Fifth Cohort, who always get the butt of jokes and the worst jobs on the battlefield. With him are his new friends, Hazel Levesque, daughter of Pluto (Hades) who is under a curse, and Frank Zhang, a large, kindly, yet clumsy boy with a well-kept secret. After Juno and Mars both appear to them, they are commanded to go on a quest to rescue Death (Thanatos) from the clutches of the giant Alcyoneus and hopefully restore the Fifth Cohort’s greatness.

Note: Our favorite side characters make an appearance in this one, and we learn to accept the Romans, even loving Hazel and Frank, despite their instinctive dislike of the Greeks.

Mark-of-AthenaOur two groups of Greek and Roman heroes (Percy, Hazel, Frank, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Leo, and Coach Hedge) are back in The Mark of Athena. They meet up together to join forces and sail to Rome to find restore Athena’s greatness, rescue Hazel’s brother, Nico, and defeat the twin giants who are the opposing nemeses of Dionysus/Bacchus. Unfortunately, Leo, possessed by something under the influence of Gaea, attacks the Roman camp, and they all have to make a hasty exit. Now the Romans are determined to make war on the Greeks, and they head full-strength against Camp Half-Blood. This mistake and that of Gaea’s ever approaching rising give their mission a quick deadline. They must learn to work together, despite the ancient hatred between Greeks and Romans; otherwise, how do they expect their gods to work together against Gaea and her allies?

Note: Some really neat details are revealed in this book, and the ending will leave you begging to read the next one!

the house of hadesI can’t get enough of these books! They’re so addictive and oddly full of great knowledge and trivia about Greek and Roman mythology. It’s almost like having a history lesson embedded for fun. Great long reads for middle readers but can be very enjoyable for all ages. (Finally!) There is a bit of romance, but nothing sexually suggestive. As always, humor is a great part of Riordan’s novels, and these are no exception.

The fourth title in the series, The House of Hades, came out in October, but with a lengthy request list, I’ll be lucky to get it by February! Until then, Kara

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Fantasy, Young Adult/Teen

 

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