Coming in October! The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

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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.

Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Series: The Heroes of Olympus (Book 5)
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (October 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423146735
ISBN-13: 978-1423146735

Pre-order here!

New Books!

I treated myself to a new book right before going on vacation. I’ve wanted to read the series for a while, but only bought the first book because I got such a deal on it. I really have too many books here to justify buying more.

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Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

 

While we were away, this one arrived in the mail. I’ll be reviewing this book for the author.

little author

Many girls in elementary and middle school fall in love with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What they don’t always realize is that Wilder’s books are autobiographical. This narrative biography describes more of the details of the young Laura’s real life as a young pioneer homesteading with her family on many adventurous journeys. This biography, complete with charming illustrations, points out the differences between the fictional series as well as the many similarities. It’s a fascinating story of a much-celebrated writer.

 

Hope you had a great week.

Guest Book Review: In the Shadow of the Volcano by Wendy Leighton-Porter

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Publisher: Mauve Square Publishing; 1 edition (April 15, 2013)
ASIN: B00CDUXKUC
Rating: Five stars
Age group: 9+

The Shadow of the Volcano is the fifth adventure of twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot and their friend Charlie. Joe and Jemima have been searching for their parents who disappeared several months earlier. Thanks to an old book and a magical key, as well as special charms, the kids and Max (their talking Tonkinese cat) are able to travel back in time to search for the twins’ parents. Sadly, on their previous adventures, it seems the twins’ parents were always just ahead of them. On this trip, they hope they’ll catch up with their mum and dad. Trips back in time can be dangerous, especially if they end up in the middle of a war, or some disaster. The kids have had their fair share of those and this trip is no less dangerous. The kids and Max end up in Pompeii, just a few days before Mount Vesuvius will explode, destroying the whole city. Unfortunately, they also land up on the tail end of a consignment of slaves. The slave dealer Scylax is ecstatic because he’s convinced he was short-changed by three slaves in the last delivery. Jemima befriends a young slave, a Briton called Caris, and tries to cheer her up. Luckily, Joe and Jemima are attractive twins and take the fancy of their new owners, while Charlie, originally thought weedy, impresses the book-keeper with his skill in mathematics. Joe has the hardest time of all, working his fingers to the bone, as he grumbles, while Charlie and Jemima have relatively easy jobs. Max manages to inveigle himself into the household, but on the night of a party, is booted out. He is rescued by a priestess of the Temple of Isis, and she is in love with a gladiator. An adventure to rival all others ensues, with a magnificent fake battle between Leo (a lion that Max helped) and Felix, the handsome young gladiator. All this time, the kids keep trying to warn people about the impending disaster; some listen and will escape the conflagration, but for the most part, people don’t heed the warnings. Vesuvius has rumbled before and they are used to it. Will the kids catch up with their parents? Will they make it back to their own world?
I just love this series and, in my opinion, it keeps getting better with every book. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has such a lovely sense of humour that brings even the smallest characters vividly to life. Max is utterly captivating as himself, with delusions of grandeur after living as the descendant of a god in the Temple of Isis. The kids’ new owner is based on a real Pompeiian, whose villa was discovered and excavated. So much fact is cleverly woven into the story, teaching kids a history lesson without their even knowing it. There are details that young readers will remember, simply because of the way these have been used in the tale to lend credence and veracity. Who can argue with an exciting piece of history? Of course, as in her other books, Wendy Leighton-Porter does not shy away from the gritty realities of life back then. Being a slave was no easy task, and if one was a gladiator, death was just another fight away. I truly enjoyed the rich detail of Pompeiian life pervading the story, down to the descriptions of the eruption and what it must have been like for people at the time. The end material includes some lovely particulars for avid young explorers and historians; a glossary, a floor plan of a typical house, photos of the Pompeiian excavation and more. As always, maps put the leap back in time firmly into perspective. This book is a real winner, and don’t be surprised if your young relative starts sounding like an expert volcanologist. PS: If anyone is wondering how the romance is going between the twins’ Uncle Richard and Charlie’s mum … they are going on another date!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Volcano-Shadows-Past-Book-ebook/dp/B00CDUXKUC

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

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Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (July 22, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0763676209
ISBN-13: 978-0763676209
Genre: Dystopian
Suggested reading Age: Grade 9+

Three stars

Seventeen-year-old Seth drowns; in fact his action is deliberate. He wants to escape the horror of his existence. Racked with guilt over the fate of his younger brother, an event he feels is his entire fault, he doesn’t have much to live for. Then he wakes up, back in his old home in England, and things start becoming very weird indeed. He is wrapped in silvery bandages, and his old street is deserted. The whole place is uninhabited and overgrown. He seems to be the only person left alive in the world. He must now forage and scrounge for clothing, food and water. He wonders if this is hell. His dreams don’t help because his previous life comes back to him in huge, unwelcome chunks of memory. Then he meets two other people, with their own unique and strange tales to tell.

Despite the fantastic beginning, with a description that pulled me right into the ocean with Seth, I struggled to finish this book. Parts of it were incredibly exciting and then would grind to a halt with unnecessary introspective and philosophical meanderings on the part of the main character, meanderings which became boring and one had the urge to say, “Oh, just get on with it!” The plus side: an utterly riveting and plausible story premise that comes much later on (just when you are wondering what on earth this is all about and is he dead or not, and if everyone else is dead, then where are the bodies?); really wonderful descriptions that have the reader in the grip of the moment; action and tension to add to the positively bleak and hopeless situation; events that come out of nowhere that have a cinematographic and surreal feel to them; the depth of emotion Seth feels for the loss of his younger brother and his friends. In fact, Seth’s guilt is so palpable that one is consumed with curiosity to learn the truth. The two characters that join him are so different, so lost as well, and so eager to hide the circumstances of their lives/deaths. One feels the pain of the characters as they reveal the humiliating and tragic burdens they each carry.

What I did not enjoy: the flashbacks were sometimes jarring and intrusive, until I accepted them as part of the story-telling process; the fact that this world, while it began as an interesting construct, did not have enough to sustain the story and/or the last three inhabitants. I found the ending abrupt and it short-changes the reader in a way. There were many loose ends in the unfolding of this tale that I feel the author might have tried to answer. The characters were confused and, as a result, the reader becomes confused. It is as if the author didn’t bother to work things out to the last detail, which is possibly not the case, but feels that way. The reference to same sex love/relationships was dealt with sensitively and delicately, in an almost tender way. However, this might surprise readers who are not prepared for it, especially if the reader is younger than the protagonist’s age of 17. Ultimately, the characters’ thoughts on what constitutes life and death, and the option of living in a constructed world, avoiding the reality of a life too sad/tragic/hopeless to contemplate should give readers food for thought. However, I have no doubt that the intended audience of older teens and YA readers will love this book.

http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-This-Patrick-Ness/dp/0763676209/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

First Chapter Review: The Stolen Herd by K. Madill (Win $25 Amazon GC)

1st Chapter Review TC&TBC

K. Madill is touring with Pump Up Your Book this month with her young adult fantasy novel, The Stolen Herd. Read to the end to see how you can enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

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BLURB: Mandamus is only a foal when his herd is captured by the terrible Rakhana Army. Rescued and raised in secrecy, he knows nothing of his heritage until a dreadful incident in the woods brings him to the attention of the Forest council – and everyone else. Sent away for his own protection, he is determined to seek help on behalf of the many animals who have gone missing from the forest, including his own family.

With the help of a troubled man and a stout-hearted bat, can Mandamus save his fellow creatures before it’s too late?

COVER: I’m not usually a fan of dark covers, but this one is stunning. The black of the horse, the white glint of his eyes, and the purples and pinks of the sky make for a fabulous piece of art that attracts readers.

FIRST CHAPTER: As the Rakhana Army closes in on the herd, Gideon takes their foal and dashes him to Daleth and Mareva to raise in secrecy.

KEEP READING: Filled with flowing descriptions and a multitude of characters, this opening chapter sets the scene for what will become of Mandamus after his herd is captured by the Rakhana Army. A butterfly, a bat, a herd of horses, a ruthless human army, and a special foal with white eyes who may be the stuff of legends make for an interesting cast. The strength of the world building is easy to see early on.  The hint of magic and the elegant writing in this first chapter definitely encourage me to follow along with the rest of Mandamus’ story.

 

Title:  The Stolen Herd

Author: K. Madill

Genre: Young adult fantasy

Paperback: 181 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace (February 20, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1482640023

ISBN-13: 978-1482640021

Kindle:B00GBQ9V8O

Purchase at http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00GBQ9V8O

 

I received a copy of this book from the author. I have been paid a fee to promote this book with a book tour through Pump Up Your Book. That fee did not include a review. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

A chronic “head in the cloudser” K. Madill lives in a rickety house on a well treed street in British Columbia, Canada.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend in the woods she can be found trying to stay upright on her roller skates or mediating the affairs of her various furred and feathered friends that rule the aforementioned rickety house. 

K. Madill’s website: kmadill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraiMadill1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20643483-the-stolen-herd

 

Pump Up Your Book and K. Madill are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms and conditions:

    • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older.
    • Raffle runs from 12:00 AM EST on June 2 through 12:00 AM EST on June 28, 2014.
    • Winner will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter.
    • Winner will be notified by email and has 72 hours to claim the prize before a new winner is selected.
    • Prize will be sent via email from the author’s representative.
    • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

The Stolen Herd Banner

From the Family Bookshelf – June

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Crazy life means not as much reading. I can’t stand it. Actually, my girls are reading, I’m not–at least, not as much as I would like. Since my last update I’ve read:

Where Do Belly Buttons Come From? by Jeffery Warren Scott
I Am Abraham by Jerome Charyn
Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques
Self-Publishing a Book by Hank Quense
Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen
The Coziest Place by Jamie Michalak
The Secret Side of Empty by Marie E. Andreu
A Rainbow of Birds by Janet Halfmann
Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
Steam & Strategem by Chris Hoare
Do’s and Don’ts by Hayley Rose
Murder in the Worst Degree by F.M. Meredith
A Comedy of Erin by Celia Bonaduce
The Author’s Training Manual by Nina Amir
Eat Like A Woman by Staness Jonekos
Directory of Federal Prisons by Christopher Zoukis and Dr. Randall Radic
Man’s Rejection of God by RL Keller
The Education of George Washington by Austin Washington
Pressed Pennies by Steven Manchester

Dad finished off The Candy Bomber: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlight and America’s Finest Hour by Andrei Cherny, which led to us learning some interesting local history. We didn’t know our hometown of Chicopee, MA was so instrumental in this mission The residents of the city–even school children–got involved in receiving candy shipments and attaching the candy to parachutes for them to be flown out to where they needed to go. He’s now reading Under the Dome: A Novel by Stephen King his favorite author.

The Lil’ Diva has discovered that reading is a great way to pass the time, so she’s devouring books lately. After polishing off the Matched series, she moved on to The Mortal Instruments series. She also read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and saw the movie this weekend. Other books she has read lately: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. She’s currently reading, Looking for Alaska by John Green.

I’ve lost track of all that the Lil’ Princess is reading. She has no less than six books in her backpack right now. At home, we’ve read The Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes by Marlane Kennedy and last night finished Pie by Sarah Weeks.

That’s it for this issue of From the Family Bookshelf. Hope you’ll share some of your most recent reads.

Interview with Darlene Laney, Author of The God Squad: Mission Him-Possible, the Distorted Mirror

darleneDarlene Laney is a wife, mother and grandmother residing in Fresno, California with her husband Carlos Laney.  She holds a Master’s degree in Education-Counseling and is a Board Certified Christian Counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors as well as a licensed Evangelist.  She is the developer and facilitator of Color Me Beautiful, an etiquette and social skills development program for tween and teen girls.  When Darlene isn’t facilitating her program, she enjoys reading, drawing, writing and spending time with her three grandchildren.   

You can learn more about the author and her books at: http://www.darlenelaney.com and http://www.godspecialforces.com      

Thank you for joining us today, Darlene. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I’m a passionate person.  I don’t believe in doing anything half-heartedly.  When I’m in, I’m in all the way.  That’s how I have been with my writing.  I don’t approach it casually; it is something I do every day regardless of how I’m feeling.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I guess I had to be eight or nine.  My favorite thing to do was writing about the “Rat Family.”  I could spend hours making up stories about them and I even put illustrations with the writings.  I stopped writing stories when I got in my teens but I kept a diary and later journals.  I gave up writing for a time when I was told by a writing instructor that I could not write. However, I kept writing my journals and made several attempts at starting a romance novel.  It wasn’t my best work but I kept on writing because I enjoy putting stories down on paper.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

After I finished the God’s Special Forces (GSF) Manual.  I had been working with girls teaching etiquette and social skills and wanted to come up with a way to make learning about self-esteem, body image, peer pressure and the like easier to understand.  I had been working on the God Squad for some time and decided to create a story about them that centered on challenges faced by tweens and teens today.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

It’s harder but a lot more fun!  Tweens and teens are full of surprises.  You can’t just put them in a box and come up with a standard response.  No, there can be a hundred different ways for them to respond to a particular situation. So when I’m developing the story, I will write an interaction or reaction over and over until it just sounds right.

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?god squad

Developing the characters and making them believable. I want my characters to be memorable and someone the girls reading my books can identify with and hopefully want to emulate.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Six ordinary girls ranging in ages from 12 – 15 years attending Carver Preparatory going about their ordinary lives.  Then they get the call…Calling all girls! Calling all girls!! And things become anything but ordinary.  Transformed, empowered, and dressed for battle, they become the God Squad on a Mission Him-Possible.  Their mission is to befriend and help a fellow student overly concerned with being accepted by the popular group and willing to do just about anything to belong.

What inspired you to write it?

My granddaughters and all the girls that have been a part of the God’s Special Forces program.  I’ve watched these girls be transformed by the Word, empowered by the Holy Spirit and learn to walk in the knowledge of who they are in Christ, God’s workmanship—his masterpiece—go on to be the confident and capable young women God intended them to be.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

The book is available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and my website: http://www.darlenelaney.com

What is up next for you?

The next episode of the God Squad in Mission Him-Possible.

Do you have anything else to add?

I hope everyone reading this interview will buy a copy of my book; but I especially hope that if you know of a girl that has a negative self image or is being challenged by the pressure put on her by her peers, I hope you will get them a copy of this book.  It’s an easy and enjoyable read!

Thank you for spending time with us today, Darlene. We wish you much success.

Thank you!