When I get some time, I'd love to do a re-read of the earlier Olympians volumes to see how this reads in sequence: it's been a LONG time since I readWhen I get some time, I'd love to do a re-read of the earlier Olympians volumes to see how this reads in sequence: it's been a LONG time since I read the first four. It stands alone just fine, but I'm wondering if it would feel strong as part of the series. I did like how this highlighted some aspects of the mythology that I am not so familiar with, and that early sequence, where Poseidon dives into the depths, is just lovely. ...more
**spoiler alert** Suffers a little from (1) too many POV characters (though it was good to get more time with Annabeth, and Riordan made an interestin**spoiler alert** Suffers a little from (1) too many POV characters (though it was good to get more time with Annabeth, and Riordan made an interesting choice NOT to have Jason as one of the POVs) (2) Riordan's clunky attempts to write romance. Overall, could have used a little more humor to balance the adventure.
On the bright side, the throwaway John Green joke made me laugh and laugh....more
Like the cartoon to which this the companion, good, but not great. It definitely does not stand alone from the show: the comic issues take place betweLike the cartoon to which this the companion, good, but not great. It definitely does not stand alone from the show: the comic issues take place between cartoon episodes, so much of the character development and plot progress takes place (and rightly so) off the page and on screen. It does make a nice extra, though: the tone matches, and I felt like I could hear the voice actors for each of the characters talking as I read. Possibly will improve as it goes on, or at least when Artemis shows up....more
For Georges (named after Seurat), seventh grade is proving to be as tough at home as is at school. His dad is out of work, his mom’s working double shFor Georges (named after Seurat), seventh grade is proving to be as tough at home as is at school. His dad is out of work, his mom’s working double shifts to make up for it, and they’ve had to sell their house and move into an apartment. Meanwhile, at school, his best friend has started sitting with the cool kids at lunch . . . the very same kids who have decided that Georges is their new favorite target. But Georges’s life takes a turn for the weird when he meets his new neighbor, Safer, a coffee-loving twelve-year-old and self-proclaimed master spy. Safer wants Georges to be his first spy recruit. How else will they uncover the secrets of Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs and suspiciously only wears black?
I loved When You Reach Me beyond all reason, so I came into this book with very high expectations. It's excellent. There's lots of wry humor and interesting characterization to balance out Georges's melancholy, and as with Stead's previous books, she carefully sets up her plot to surprise you at the end. I appreciate how this is very much a book of this era (the economic downturn as a backdrop to Georges's family situation) but it also reflects some timeless experiences from growing up, such as dealing with bullies, having friendships that fade away, or even doing a silly taste experiment that I vividly remember doing when I was in seventh grade. (I'm a taster.) Plus, I have to admire any book that has (1) a character named Bob English Who Draws who (2) is a fan of Ben Franklin's reformed spelling.
Great stuff. Deserves Newbery consideration, though I'd be surprised to see a win so soon after When You Reach Me....more
I did this book a great disservice by not rereading the first two Kane Chronicle books before I sat down to read it. As a result, I went in a bit blinI did this book a great disservice by not rereading the first two Kane Chronicle books before I sat down to read it. As a result, I went in a bit blind, with only the foggiest memories of what had been set up in previous books. But I enjoyed this a great deal: Carter's and Sadie's bickering narration is still amusing, and the book had Riordan's usual mix of humor and adventure. I still don't find this series quite as engaging at Percy Jackson ones (I am a lot less invested in the characters, and will probably forget most of the details of this book by the end of the week). On a side note, (view spoiler)[I am intrigued by some end-of-book references to other gods and magicians, which would seem to open up the possibility of a crossover with Riordan's other series. I am both tempted and horrified by the prospect. (hide spoiler)]...more
Perhaps not as quite as good as Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory, but another strong installment in the series. I loved the opening introduction to HadPerhaps not as quite as good as Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory, but another strong installment in the series. I loved the opening introduction to Hades (the place), which reminded me of some favorite bit of Gaiman's Sandman; unfortunately, the very contemporary dialogue between Kore and Demeter felt jarring immediately after that. Still, I appreciated how O'Connor gave Kore a lot of agency in a story where she's usually little more than a stage prop. Now I want to go reread the first three books in this series!...more
Gorgeous middle-grade fantasy novel. Hazel and Jack are next-door neighbors and have been best friends since they were six, bound in friendship by theGorgeous middle-grade fantasy novel. Hazel and Jack are next-door neighbors and have been best friends since they were six, bound in friendship by their love of adventure and fantasy and superheroes and baseball. Now they are eleven, and things are more complicated. Hazel's parents have divorced, Jack's mother isn't well, and no one aside from Hazel seems to be sure Hazel and Jack should still be best friends. When Jack stops speaking with Hazel and then goes away, Hazel leaves on a dangerous journey to find him and bring him home.
This is a loose retelling of the Snow Queen fairy tale, though it seems slightly like a disservice to call it that. There's so much more going on in this story beyond that aspect of it. The details of Hazel's life are so very real--her parents are divorced, her mom doesn't have much money, and Hazel herself is a transracial adoptee (her heritage is South Asian; her adoptive parents are white) who wouldn't fit in her class even if she didn't immerse herself in the world of books. Ditto for Jack's family: his mother is ill (I suspect, from the hints in the story, clinically depressed), and though Jack seems happy-go-lucky on the surface, as he spouts baseball statistics for superheroes (Batman has a lot of strikeouts), that situation obviously affects him. And Ursu puts these details in the story without them ever feeling like perfunctory reasons for angst; they're too authentic for that.
Once Hazel leaves on her journey to find Jack, she finds herself in a mysterious wood full of magical, frightening, and inexplicable things out of fairytales (and not the expurgated versions). This part of the book is very dreamlike. It's also a gutsy move from a writer of middle-grade fiction; it shows a lot of respect for her readers. Then again, the ideal reader of this book is probably someone like Hazel, who has read and breathed and dreamed books like the Harry Potter series, the Golden Compass series, the Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, etc. And that ideal reader can probably get through the more challenging bits of this books without any problem.
I would have loved this book when I was its target audience. (Yeah, I was something of a Hazel, though the specific books I loved were different.) I hope it gets Newbery consideration this year....more
Thoroughly enjoyable second book in Riordan's Heroes of Olympus series, which is itself a followup to his first set of Percy Jackson books. (view spoiThoroughly enjoyable second book in Riordan's Heroes of Olympus series, which is itself a followup to his first set of Percy Jackson books. (view spoiler)[In this book, thanks to the machinations of the goddess Juno, Percy has lost his memory and ends up at the Roman equivalent of Camp Halfblood. Quests and friendships follow, of course. Riordan's casts are carefully diverse--this time around we get a Chinese-Canadian and the daughter of a voodoo queen (no, really)--but Riordan's clear fondness for the characters (and the depth and agency they are given) help balance out the cliches. (hide spoiler)] That said, I worry a little bit about book bloat here: this was quite long and it felt like the narrative could have been tighter.
I already have kids at my library asking for the sequel. :)["br"]>["br"]>...more