Tag Archives: action

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

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percy1Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, paperback novel, 375 pages, published by Puffin Books in 2005.

Percy Jackson has issues. He is dyslexic with ADHD, and has been booted from six schools in six years. He doesn’t try to get expelled, he just seems destined to screw up at school. As the school year comes to a close, Percy yet again finds himself in trouble, but soon school is the least of his worries, as he and his mother are chased by a minotaur, and he discovers that he is not all human after all. Being half Greek god, monsters are trying to kill Percy, and the only safe place for him to go is to Camp Half-Blood, a camp just for kids like him; children of the gods. When he is presented with a hero quest, Percy embraces it as best he can, and along with his friends, Annabeth and Grover, he sets out across the country to find some stolen property and oust the thief.

I had been trying to convince my ten year old to try reading the Percy Jackson series for a couple of years now, but she was stubbornly refusing. So when I picked up a copy of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief at my favourite secondhand bookshop (Canty’s), I decided to start reading it aloud to her. She very quickly became intrigued by the story, and began begging for more chapters. She is quite capable of reading it herself, but sharing books aloud is a lovely way to spend time with my children, so I kept reading it. We read some everyday, except for when my daughter was away on a school trip for three days, it was incredibly hard for me not to read the rest of the book without her! Once she arrived home, we finished the book quite quickly. About five seconds after finishing Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, she asked could we start the next one, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters. Luckily I had it on hand to get started!

I am thrilled that my daughter loves Percy Jackson as much as I do. It is an exhilarating ride full of adventure, action, monsters and heroes. I felt like we were given a good lesson on Greek Gods and mythology while we read too, which is fascinating. The story is obviously well researched, my only complaint is that the Greek names really stretched my pronunciation skills! The plot was intricately weaved and fast-paced; I loved the action scenes. There were a few surprises along the way as we followed Percy’s journey with great enthusiasm.

The characters are complex and realistic, flawed and special. Grover was probably my favourite. He is always so worried, but he comes through when required. He is an excellent friend to Percy, and helps keep him safe. Annabeth is also a great friend, but she performs her role with more sarcasm and bluntness. She is quirky and valuable, and while a little prickly at times, she is also a lovely person who cares for her friends. Percy is very lucky to have such friends by his side. We really liked Percy too; thrust into a life he never imagined, he battles through and works hard to right a wrong and prevent a war. I’m looking forwards to seeing how he progresses as a character through the series.

It was interesting discovering some of the Gods and their personalities. Most displayed a high level of arrogance and self-importance, which I suppose can only be expected after thousands of years of immortality and rule. They were also pretty scary, and I am glad that I don’t have to face any of them, especially Ares and Hades. Even scarier, though, were the monsters sent to stop Percy, truly nightmare inducing.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is most suitable for middle primary school and high school students (and up!). We have already started the next book in the series, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters. We will definitely be reading more of these awesome books.

 

 

Creeping Shadow by Caroline Peckham

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image1-1Creeping Shadow (The Rise of Isaac #1) by Caroline Peckham, e-book ARC, 341 pages, expected publication 10th December 2015.

Oliver and May Knight find themselves alone in the world when their mother mysteriously vanishes from their home. The authorities ship them off to live with a grandfather that they have never met, and don’t know anything about. He lives in a strange house and is keeping secrets from them. When May awakes screaming under the pain of a powerful curse, some truths must come to the surface. The earth is but one of seven worlds connected by gateways, there is real magic and mages who can control it, dark creatures, and more family secrets. Oliver and May must accompany their grandfather into the next world, and as they discover more about their family and themselves, they find that there may be danger lying ahead for them, and perhaps for all of humanity.

Creeping Shadow was an intriguing and complex novel that captured me right from the start and hooked me to the very last. It was a real page-turner, and so so hard to put down at bed time! The plot was fast, well constructed and gripping. The creation of seven worlds is interesting, and I love the idea of being able to travel through them via gateways, though passing the challenges to be allowed to travel through sounds a little daunting. The landscapes, new animals, plants and food are all described beautifully, making me feel like I could just step into Aleva myself.

The Race of Aleva reminded me of The Hunger Games, though with less murder. It was physically and emotionally challenging, with each task coming to life through the pages. It really tested the competitors, revealing their true selves. I felt like I got to know Oliver and May intimately, sharing their hopes and worries. All the characters were so well written, they came to life as I read. I became invested in the characters, always a good sign of an excellent story. I cheered Oliver and his team on during the race, my stomach lurched at signs of danger, I smiled at Ely’s concern, laughed at Rogan’s and Quinn’s attempts at disguise, and I wanted to punch Larkin in the face. I felt a thousand emotions as I ripped through Creeping Shadow. And I will be thinking about it for a long time to come.

I don’t normally get hung up much on the covers of books, however, I just love the cover for Creeping Shadow. It would definitely grab my attention from across the bookstore!

Suitable for high school students and older, Creeping Shadow is perfect for fantasy fans. It is the first book in a new series called The Rise of Isaac. It is due to be released on the 10th of December 2015 on Amazon, and would make an excellent Christmas gift for a teenager (or young adult fan of any age!). I can hardly wait for the next installment in the series!

 

*I received this advanced reading copy as a digital version from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Chained by Susanne Valenti

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chainedcoverChained by Susanne Valenti, e-book, 198 pages, published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. in 2015.

Years before, humanity was afflicted by a contamination event, which left many dead, and others terribly mutated. Plants and animals were also affected, further endangering humans. The remaining people fled into the walled cities, and began living as part of the population, contributing to and being ruled by the strictures of the new society. Maya has grown up within the safety of the city, hidden behind The Wall, but when her life takes an unexpected course, she finds herself being led beyond the safety zone of the city. Suddenly her eyes are open to a whole other world, making her question everything she has ever been told.

Chained is a fast paced young adult novel suitable for high school students and up. It is packed with action, adventure and a little romance. Nothing explicit though! The story was rather violent with a lot of fighting and deaths, including the use of weaponry such as knives and guns. I enjoyed the action sequences, they were well written and exciting, perfect for getting the adrenaline pumping!

The plot was well developed and logical. I found the story to be engrossing, in fact I had a difficult time stopping myself from reading the next chapter when it was time for bed! Maya and all the residents of the city were being kept in the dark about so many things, and the Guardians used their fear of contamination to control them, a bit like a large cult. As Maya and Laurie began to discover some of the secrets, it made me wonder just what else was being hidden or controlled and why.

The world that has been created in this dystopian novel has the massive enclosed cities, but the rest of the land is similar to that of today, except that everything is exaggerated in size, speed and cognitive functionality. In some ways this makes it scarier, the animals and plants are familiar, yet like nothing we’ve ever experienced, it made me think of what the world might have been like in prehistoric times.

The SubWar area of the city really brought out the worst in people, who were not only condemned to fight for their lives, but appeared to enjoy the killing of others. This might be a comment on the nature of humanity laid bare. The whole situation with the serial killer Grey was a bit odd though. He was completely unhinged, but the way that he looked at Maya, I thought there would be some prior connection between them. The concept of going to fight in SubWar as a punishment is very scary, but Grey and his cronies were just terrifying.

Maya is the main character, and the narration mostly follows her throughout the book. She is petite with a tendency towards anger when frustrated, and has a habit of being somewhat clumsy. Overall I liked Maya, though I thought she should have been straight with Taylor about how she feels about their relationship. However, I think many teenagers could relate to her situation with Taylor, growing up friends, and then puberty changing things.

All of the characters were well written and likable, though I felt a bit sorry for Taylor, with his unrequited love interest in Maya. He seemed like a nice guy, loyal, caring, playful. I thought he would play more of a role in the story than he did, and I would have liked to get to know him a bit better. It could have been an interesting sub-plot with both Taylor and Coal lusting after Maya! Coal was more of a dark horse than Taylor. He has experienced a hard life that has sculpted him into a more mature and serious character than his years would normally lead to. Coal’s sister, Alicia, is tough, but also cheery and cheeky. She often has something snide on the tip of her tongue, but she genuinely embraces life and the people she shares it with. She was a big personality that I really liked. Laurie was more reserved, yet still strong and tough when required.

Susanne Valenti is an emerging author, and Chained is her first book in a five book series called Cage of Lies. This is the start of a great series for fans of dystopian fiction and I am very excited that there is more to come!

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.