The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan

The Lost HeroThe Lost Hero
by Rick Riordan
Pub Date October 12, 2010

When I saw the new book by Rick Riordan, The Trials of Apollo, I was excited to get my hands on it. The plot sounds fabulous: a god being demoted to be a mortal teenager who has to live at Camp Half Blood with his own children. Before I could get my hands on it though, my niece informed me I must read The Heroes of Olympus series first. With a five book series before me, I knew I needed to get started right away.

If you have not tried Rick Riordan, I strongly implore you to read his series. When I studied gods and goddesses in school, I couldn’t make them stick in my head. Basically, I remembered Zeus. Reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians made the gods and goddesses more real and relatable, especially how he adapts them to the modern day world.  His books make demigods seem possible, and I love that dyslexia and ADHD are signs of the demigods’ powers in his stories.

                The Lost Hero focuses on three demigods: Jason, Piper, and Leo. The three meet up at a camp for troubled youth where they are attacked by wind spirits, and escape to Camp Half Blood– the camp that protects demigods from monsters. Their first day at camp, these three demigods are sent on a quest to save Hera, the queen of the gods. If that wasn’t hard enough, Jason doesn’t remember anything about his past, Piper is worried about her father being kidnapped, and Leo has abilities he can’t reveal. No one believes Jason, Piper, and Leo will succeed in saving the day, but the more insurmountable the odds, the more fun the story becomes. Jason, Piper, and Leo meet multiple gods, monsters, giants, and villains as they complete the first part of their quest in this series. I am excited to see what happens in the rest of the series.

Wide-Awake Princess, by E.D. Baker

Wide Awake PrincessThe Wide Awake Princess
by E.D. Baker
Pub Date: May 11, 2010

Magic, fairy tales, and fun fill the pages of this retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Only this time, the real hero is not the prince but the faithful younger sister of the ‘most beautiful princess in all the land.’

Princess Annie is not like any of the other princes, princesses, kings, and queens that she knows. All the others, including Annie’s parents and older sister, were blessed by fairies to be beautiful, charming, and amazing dancers. After Annie’s older sister was cursed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and cause all the castle to fall asleep, Annie’s fairy felt it was better to bless Annie to not be able to have good or bad magic affect her. In daily life, this means that all the magic around Annie diminishes, so her parents and sister do not like Annie to be around them for too long or they lose their fairy gifts. Fortunately, Annie is rather resilient considering her family neglect.

When the entire castle falls asleep under her sister’s curse, Princess Annie realizes that she cannot let her family stay asleep for 100 years. She needs to wake them up before someone tries to take over the kingdom. So, Annie goes on a journey to find the witch that can reverse the curse and to gather as many princes as she can to see if any of them can give her sister a true love’s kiss and wake the castle full of snoring people.

Princess Annie is a great example of someone who finds herself and her strengths by helping others. She has an optimistic attitude and a great ability to see the truth behind the lies. E.D. Baker has a great way of showing people realistically without delving into the darker side of humanity. She shows human weaknesses of jealousy, envy, anger, and fear; yet, these traits make the characters more loveable and seem braver because of the way they still do what is right despite these feelings. I highly recommend this book to young girls or those who are young at heart, especially for those who want to find a good story with a strong female protagonist.

One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia


one crazy summerOne Crazy Summer

by Rita Williams-Garcia
Pub Date: January 26, 2010

“I couldn’t figure out why Eunice sat there with me. It was bad enough to feel stupid. I didn’t need anyone sitting with me reminding me of it.”

This was one of many lines I absolutely loved in this novel. Delphine’s voice is funny, relevant, and authentic. I could see an oldest sister acting and thinking like her—responsible beyond her years, yet still young and inexperienced. I loved reading about how Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern manage for a month with their uncaring, unmaternal mother in a new city surrounded by the Black Panther movement.

The three sisters, who live with their father and grandmother in Brooklyn, have to go spend a month in Oakland with the mother they haven’t seen for almost seven years. Unfortunately, their mother is not a welcoming presence. They are basically left to their own devices to get food and stay out of their mother’s way: no trips to the beach, no Golden Gate Bridge, and no Disneyland. Instead, they spend every day at a summer camp for children to learn about and support the Black Panther Movement, get dinner takeout to eat on the floor, and avoid disrupting their mother’s peace.

I liked how real the girls were in this book, especially Delphine. She reminded me of several older sisters I have known who took responsibility for their siblings at a young age. The sisters fight, manipulate, and harass each other, but you can see the love and support underneath. I had a hard time relating to the mother, but such a woman is not completely unbelievable. The Black Panther Movement adds a great historical twist, as well. It showed a different side of the Black Panther Movement- most history books focus on the guns and violence, not reaching out to the children in the community with free breakfasts.

If you like strong, cute, authentic young characters who handle a difficult situation with stubborn resilience and humor, I would highly recommend this book.