GREEK MYTHS HIT MODERN TIMES

percy jackson 1TITLE =PERCY JACKSON & THE LIGHTNING THIEF

AUTHOR =RICK RIORDAN

GENRE= ADVENTURE, QUEST, MYTHS & LEGENDS, FANTASY

INTEREST LEVEL =YEARS 7 – 9

Percy Jackson has always felt a bit of a misfit at school – suffering from ADHD and dyslexia, he often finds the academic side of school a bit of a struggle. And he somehow seems to always get into trouble. Six schools in six years is not a great track record.. from the outside it seems he might be a troubled kid …but from the inside he is just a bit confused. And he rapidly becomes even more confused when he finds himself battling his Maths teacher (who has somehow transformed herself into a monster with bat wings and talons) and not long afterwards, trying to survive against a minotaur! Percy has never met his dad – and when he learns who his father really is… and that Percy himself (fullname: Perseus) is a half-blood, who has been accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt, then the stage is set for an epic quest across America. Fortunately, Percy is not alone on his quest, with the beautiful Annabeth (daughter of Athena) and Grover (a satyr) to help him on his way. Still, it is Percy who must unravel the mystery and bravely face not only Hades and Zeus, but also the Furies who are out to destroy him before he can complete his quest. This is a thoroughly entertaining merging of Ancient Greek myths and the modern world – the action is non-stop and brilliantly woven with humour (the chapter titles  alone are quite often very funny). So readers are sure to enjoy this novel, which is the first in a series of five. So, there is plenty more to enjoy o9nce you have finished this one!

Why not check out the official Percy Jackson site – there is some fun stuff here about the books, the movie, interviews with Hades etc. Or you could catch the author at his blog.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

The power of story

merrowTITLE = Merrow

AUTHOR = Ananda Braxton-Smith

GENRE = Mystery, Supernatural, Folk Tales

INTEREST LEVEL = Years 9 up

This is an unusual story but quite powerful in its impact and the lyrical, slow manner in which it gradually develops. Life for Neen isn’t easy. She lives in relative isolation on an island with her cold and hard Aunt Ushag. They eke out an existence from the sea and country around their shelter, farming and fending for themselves, with only the occasional visit to market. But even the market town seems cold and harsh – with its unforgiving stories about Neen’s dead parents. Neen is desperate to know the truth – about her family and about herself – and struggles to make sense of the stories she hears – a combination of mean spirited gossip and folktales about sea-folk: the merrows. But her aunt refuses to talk and set the story straight, so neen remains confused.

Neen clearly has an affinity with her wild surroundings, especially the sea, where she finds solace – loving to watch the sea creatures unobserved on the sea floor. And it is the sea that causes the change of circumstances that brings Neen and her aunt closer together, indeed brings a new warmth to Aunt Ushag – when a stranger is delivered to them one night in their fishing net. Finally, her aunt agrees to tell Neen the story of her mother.

Yet is her Aunt’s story the real story of Neen’s mother – or does Neen have to find her own story?? Again, the sea provides her with the answer.

This is a beatifully crafted novel and the writing is wonderfully lyrical. Whilst it may seem a little slow at the start – the evocation of place and the raw authenticity of the key characters will soon draw readers in to learn more about the mysteries of Neen and the mysteries and power of story in general. And a satisfyingly uplifting ending, too.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Percy Jackson & the sea of monsters

percy jackson sea monstersTITLE= PERCY JACKSON AND THE SEA OF MONSTERS

AUTHOR =RICK RIORDAN

GENRE=ACTION/ADVENTURE

INTEREST LEVEL=9/10

This story is about a boy named Perseus Jackson who sneaks out of summer camp in order to retrieve the fabled GOLDEN FLEECE because  only with its powerful nature magic will Percy  be able to restore the sacred pine tree. The force of this pine protects the camp from a whole horde of monsters.

I liked this book because of the way it turns a famous legend into a powerful fantasy. Full of satyrs,centaurs and ancient greek gods and goddesses.

Highly Recommended (tamelania) ****

Defending the Grail

youngest templarTITLE = The Youngest Templar

AUTHOR = Michael P. Spradlin

GENRE =Action, Adventure, Historical Fiction

INTEREST LEVEL = Years 7 – 9

Tristan has been raised by monks since he was abandoned at the monastery as a baby. He doesn’t know his parents and he knows little about the world beyond the monastery walls. This doesn’t stop him from bravely answering the call to become a squire to Sir Tristan, a Templar knight who is bound once more for the Crusades in the Holy Land. Soon Tristan is thrust into the middle of the battlefield and must fight bravely to defend his king. Just as he is getting used to this tough life he is thrust on an even greater adventure: to return the Templar’s greatest treasure, the Holy Grail, to Scotland. He is joined on this journey by a brave young archer, Robard Hode and an Assassin, Maryam. Not only must they defend the grail, Tristan must also defend himself against the Marshal of the Order, Sir Hugh Monfort, an evil and cowardly knight who seems bent on Tristan’s destruction. Does Sir Hugh really know the story behind Tristan’s parents? Why does the King sometimes look at Tristan with fear in his eyes? And has his beloved benefactor, Sir Thomas, really betrayed him?

There is plenty of action and adventure in this tale set in the Middle Ages. The mediaeval world is credibly conveyed and the action races along. Cleverly woven into the main story are tributes to the Robin Hood legend, as Tristan meets Little John (a blacksmith) and the archer Robard (a 17 year old farmer’s son from Nottingham) and the brave Maryam.

Perhaps the only downside to this ripping yarn is the final page which says “to be continued…” – keen readers will be awaiting the second installment impatiently, as the novel ends in mid-ocean and mid-adventure. Sure to be enjoyed by readers of The Rangers Apprentice series and anyone who enjoys their adventure mixed with a little history. To read more about this book and its creator, click on the novel cover in this post.

Highly Recommended (dma). *****

An unusual read…

STORMBRINGER: RAVENS RISING by Kerry Greenwood (GRE)
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Interest level: Years 11/12

This is the third book in the trilogy which is set in a future where the world has changed dramatically. Control of this new world lies with the University but when our heroes (the Ravens) return to Melbourne Uni to tell of their exploits from Book 2, they find no-one there – except for a computer that wants to take over their minds. There are strong themes throughout the book concerning friendship, loyalty, kinship and independence. The characters and story line are intriguing; a believable future world has been created, even if the circumstances of this world are not fully explained. The traditional Good versus Evil conflict plays out with some terrific touches: the Twins (Flae & Thel) who finish each others sentences provide an intriguing mix. The main characters are drawn boldly and in pairs: Bran (the hero who is a pure, goodhearted leader) and Scathe (once an Oracle, a Good Angel, an androgynous, beautiful empath); Swart (the Bad Angel – dark in looks & mood, a cynic who hates dirt and finds it hard to share with others) and Ceridwen (a beautiful woman of the wild who brings love & comfort to Swart); Mill (a huge, Hercules type figure, full of brawn) and Tenar (his equal in size & might); the Twins (wild hunters, able to melt into their surrounds with a very close bond) and Dismas (a wily thief, able to break into anything, he thinks of himself as a coward yet he often acts heroically). Whilst this book could be read alone, the reader would be wise to read the first 2 books in the trilogy to fully enjoy the story line. Kerry Greenwood is a clever writer who always provides an entertaining and thoughtful narrative.

Recommended (dma). ***

Another visual treat

Beowulf (Graphic novel version) (HIN)
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic novel, Action, Adventure
Interest level: Years 8 and up

This is a wonderful adaptation of the old Norse legend. A cruel monster has haunted the Danes for years, killing anyone who stays in their meeting hall overnight. The hero Beowulf (a Geat) comes to slay this monster (or be slayed by it) with his Herculean-like strength. Whilst Beowulf defeats the monster he must then face Grendel (the monster’s rather angry mother). An interesting look at a legendary superhero (without the modern day cape or alien powers). Beowulf’s modesty is a key virtue in this adaptation. The illustrations are truly compelling; it is visually a very attractive rendition of the story and would appeal particularly to those readers who like their action to be blood-soaked.

Highly recommended (dma). *****