Book Review: Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler

book reviews banner2
Four of the most pivotal years in a person’s life are chronicled within the pages of Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler, a beautiful and raw look at the interconnecting lives of five teenagers, and how much can change during the course of high school.

infinite in betweenPrintz Honor author Carolyn Mackler returns with this striking new novel that chronicles the lives of five teenagers through the thrills, heartbreaks, and joys of their four years in high school.

Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor, and Whitney meet at freshman orientation. At the end of that first day, they make a promise to reunite after graduation. So much can happen in those in-between years….

Zoe feels like she will live forever in her famous mother’s shadow. Jake struggles to find the right connections in friendship and in love. Mia keeps trying on new identities, looking for one that actually fits. Gregor thought he wanted to be more than just a band geek. And Whitney seems to have it all, until it’s all falling apart around her.

Echoing aspects of John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club, Carolyn Mackler skillfully brings the stories of these five disparate teens together to create a distinct and cohesive whole—a novel about how we can all affect one another’s lives in the most unexpected and amazing ways.

The real beauty of this book is how Mackler follows the teens throughout significant moments over their four years of high school. It’s truly a coming of age story told unlike any other. Those four years a teen spends in high school are so critical and so formative in who a person becomes; Infinite in Between really captures that process and shows how it’s moments both big and small that contribute to the process.

I was initially wary of a book that promised to cover so much — not just four years of high school, but the lives of five different characters. And yet, Mackler managed to pluck out just the most significant moments from each characters’ lives and each year of school to really beautifully capture their transition from childhood to adulthood. Because even though we all do a lot of maturing and growing up after high school, it’s during those four years that much of our adult selves begin to take shape. We define who we want to be as individuals; what impact we want to have on the world; what we want to do with our lives.

And that’s what Infinite in Between captures so beautifully: the journey to these realizations.

Infinite in Between is in stores September 1st.

Book Review: The Vanishing Island by Barry Wolverton

book reviews banner2
Easily one of the best middle grade books I’ve read in ages, The Vanishing Island by Barry Wolverton promises to become an instant classic for readers young and old alike.

vanishing islandDoes the Vanishing Island really exist? And if so, what treasure—or terrible secret—was hidden by its disappearance?

It’s 1599, the Age of Discovery in Europe. But for Bren Owen, growing up in the small town of Map on the coast of Britannia has meant anything but adventure. Enticed by the tales sailors have brought through Map’s port, and inspired by the arcane maps his father creates as a cartographer for the cruel and charismatic map mogul named Rand McNally, Bren is convinced that fame and fortune await him elsewhere. That is, until his repeated attempts to run away land him a punishment worse than death—cleaning up the town vomitorium.

It is there that Bren meets a dying sailor, who gives him a strange gift that hides a hidden message. Cracking the code could lead Bren to a fabled lost treasure that could change his life forever, and that of his widowed father. But to get there he will have to tie his fate to a mysterious Dutch admiral obsessed with a Chinese legend about an island that long ago disappeared from any map.

Before long, Bren is in greater danger than he ever imagined, and will need the help of an unusual friend named Mouse to survive. Barry Wolverton’s thrilling adventure spans oceans and cultures, brings together the folklore of East and West, and proves that fortune is always a double-edged sword.

Wolverton’s writing is delightful, transporting readers easily to Bren’s world: first, his dismal life in Map — and then his adventures aboard a Dutch ship, as they search for the mysterious and titular Vanishing Island. I was instantly swept away by the story, and honestly can’t wait for the next installment in Wolverton’s fantastic new middle grade saga.

Packed with humor, adventure, and important (but not heavy-handed) messages about life and growing up, mixed in with exciting locations and wonderfully charming characters, The Vanishing Island contains all the ingredients for a perfect middle grade series — and lives up to that promise.

Wbat’s more, Wolverton doesn’t hold back for his young readers. The Vanishing Island is not a warm and fuzzy story. The novel includes plenty of gore and violence, and Wolverton doesn’t shy away from being raw and honest in his portrayal of the world’s darker aspects. (That said, it IS still age-appropriate!) In many ways, it’s this brutal honesty that makes for the best middle grade stories. (Let’s be honest; Harry Potter was pretty dark. And I’m certain fellow fans of the boy wizard will adore The Vanishing Island, just as I did.)

The adventure sets sail September 1st when The Vanishing Island hits store shelves.

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman: Blog Tour Guest Post & Contest

VENGEANCE-ROAD
Today, we are pleased to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman, in stores September 1st. Today, we have an exclusive guest post from Erin, plus your chance to win a copy of this gorgeous book. Keep reading for all the details & more about Vengeance Road.

guest post
The Legend That Inspired Vengeance Road
by Erin Bowman

vengeance roadI usually despise the “What inspired you to write this book?” question because I rarely have an exciting answer, but that’s not the case this time around. Vengeance Road was inspired by the legend of the Lost Dutchman, a gold mine supposedly located in the Arizona’s Superstition Mountains.

Like any good legend, there are a few different takes on the tale, but it is generally agreed that a German prospector named Jacob Waltz discovered the mine in the late nineteenth century and confessed its location to his nurse while on his deathbed in 1891, going so far as to draw her a map. Even armed with all this information, the nurse was unable to locate the gold, and by 1982, she was selling copies of Waltz’s map in Phoenix for $7.

Even though gold-seekers have been searching for Waltz’s mine since his passing, no one has successfully located it. Some have even died during their search, which has lead to rumors that the mountains are cursed, or perhaps that the gold is.

My husband has family in Arizona and grew up hearing stories about the Lost Dutchman. When he first told me about the mine my muse exploded. I saw a girl out for revenge, and an outlaw gang, and saddlebags full of gold. I started researching the Lost Dutchman more thoroughly and grew obsessed with the origins of the legend. How did Waltz find the mine if it’s so well hidden? Did the gold belong to someone else originally? Why are there so many variations of the map and why are there even more variations of the legend itself?

Set in 1877, Vengeance Road takes place before Waltz’s passing, when many of the details surrounding the Lost Dutchman are muddy. But one of the best perks of being a writer is taking creative liberties, and this made weaving details from a very real legend into my fictional tale that much more fun! Waltz even makes an appearance in Vengeance Road. How will his story intersect with Kate’s? Well, I can’t quite tell you without spoiling things, and where’s the fun in that? ;)

about the bookWhen Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

about the authorerin bowmanErin grew up in rural Connecticut, where she spent most of her childhood telling stories. It is rumored that her first words were not “Mama” or “Dada,” but “Once upon a time.” In middle school, when kids were going off to sleep-away camp for the summer, Erin was attending writing camp and penning short stories.

She studied web design (and minored in Creative Writing because she couldn’t stay away from stories) at the Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York. After several years working in advertising and designing websites for various brands, she moved from Boston to New Hampshire, where she now lives with her family and writes full-time.

When not writing, Erin can often be found hiking, geeking out over good typography, and obsessing over all things Harry Potter. She drinks a lot of coffee, buys far too many books, and is not terribly skilled at writing about herself in the third person.

She is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, and is the author of the Taken Trilogy (available from HarperTeen) and Vengeance Road (HMH Books for Young Readers).

Find Erin on the web: 

Website|Twitter|Instagram|Tumblr|Pinterest|Goodreads|YouTube

contest2

3 winners will receive a finished copy of VENGEANCE ROAD. US Only.

Fill out the Rafflecopter form HERE to get started.

BLOG Tour Schedule

Week One:

Week Two:

 

Book Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

book reviews banner2
A dazzling tale of courage, friendship, and love, A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano is a wondrous and beautifully-written story about facing our darkest tragedies.

a curious tale of the in-betweenPram Bellamy is special—she can talk to ghosts. She doesn’t have too many friends amongst the living, but that’s all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram’s power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

It’s hard at any age to talk about death, and yet in A Curious Tale of the In-Between, DeStefano has found a way to make the subject accessible for her readers (both children and adults, alike). As one of the characters comments, “Death isn’t a punishment. It’s just what comes next.” DeStefano’s writing is so beautiful and elegant as she takes us along on Pram and Clarence’s time together. The story both evokes a time gone by, and yet is just as easily timeless. It’s not the time or place or setting that matters really; and that’s the point, I think. That this story is about the characters and their experiences.

Throughout the story, DeStefano’s characters display incredible courage and love. Pram and Clarence are such a wonderful pair; but so, too, are Prams’ aunts and Clarence’s father; Pram’s ghost-friend Felix. Their emotions give the story a raw honesty that makes the book’s message so much more compelling.

I was swept away by Pram’s world and her gifts, and her extraordinary journey. I was riveted to find out what would happen next, and to witness her growth as a character. If this is a standalone, I am wholly satisfied with what DeStefano has provided. And yet, if this turns out to be a series, and there are more adventures in store for Pram and her companions, I will gladly hop aboard for the ride.

A Curious Tale of the In-Between is in stores September 1st.

New YA Releases: August 25, 2015

new releases2 banner
Here’s a look at today’s new YA releases:

lair of dreamsLair of Dreams by Libba Bray

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

reawakenedReawakened by Colleen Houck

When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification.

And she really can’t imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind.

But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world.

From New York Times bestselling author Colleen Houck comes an epic adventure about two star-crossed teens who must battle mythical forces and ancient curses on a journey with more twists and turns than the Nile itself.

keepers of the labyrinthKeepers of the Labyrinth by Erin E. Moulton

Lilith Bennette runs at midnight. She scales walls in the dark and climbs without a harness. She hopes that if she follows exactly in the steps of her strong air force pilot mother, she’ll somehow figure out the mystery of her mother’s death—and the reason why her necklace of Greek symbols has been missing ever since.

So when Lil is invited to Crete for a Future Leaders International conference, the same conference her mom attended years ago, she jumps at the chance to find some answers. But things in Melios Manor are not what they seem. Lil finds herself ensnared in an adventure of mythological proportions that leads her and her friends through the very labyrinth in which the real Minotaur was imprisoned. And they’re not in there alone. What secrets does the labyrinth hold, and will they help Lil find the truth about her mother?

This book is perfect for older fans of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus–and anyone who wants to find out the true story behind the magic of the Greek gods.

hide and seekHide and Seek by Jane Casey

Jess Tennant’s classmate is kidnapped right before the Christmas holiday in this third novel in Jane Casey’s brilliant young adult mystery series.

It’s Christmas in Port Sentinel, the tiny English town where Jess Tennant has been living for more than a year now. She wasn’t sure how she felt about moving away from London when her mom dragged her to Port Sentinel right before the beginning of high school, but even Jess has to admit the town has completely outdone itself for the holidays. There’s a Christmas market complete with mini ice-rink, and fairy lights decorate the bare trees all over town.

For one of Jess’s classmates, though, the Christmas season is anything but magical. She’s been kidnapped and is being held in a dilapidated cottage near a deserted beach. And Jess might be the only one who can figure out where she is in time to rescue her.

Hide and Seek is another delightfully clever young adult mystery from beloved author Jane Casey.

maid of wonderMaid of Wonder by Jennifer McGowan

“Death comes to Windsor.”

Sophia Dee, the most unusual spy of Queen Elizabeth’s Maids of Honor, has run out of time for her psychic skills to fully manifest. A terrible new prophecy now haunts Windsor Castle, and the Queen demands answers before the next doomed soul dies.

Thrust into a dangerous and horrifying competition to solve the deadly prediction, Sophia finds herself pitted against the most celebrated mystics of Europe: John Dee, her devious uncle and the Queen’s personal astrologer. . . and Nostradamus, the renowned prophet-seer of France.

In a court where whispers of witchcraft, poisonous plots, and grim assassins threaten her at every turn, Sophia needs answers fast. But does she dare trust Marcus Quinn, her uncle’s striking and over-ambitious assistant? Or, instead, should she turn to the tortured dark angel of the spirit realm, who whispers to her only of sorrow and death?

As new dangers surface and dire prophecy sweeps toward its final victim, the five Maids of Honor prepare to do battle. Only then will the girl who so often sees the future finally discover if she can save the Crown—and herself.

dead girls of hysteria hallThe Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

Asylum meets Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, in this riveting tale of ghosts, secrets, and family, from master of suspense Katie Alender.

Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. It used to be an insane asylum, a place to lock up “troubled” young women long ago. And a restless, wicked spirit is still at play–and it doesn’t want defiant girls like Delia to go anywhere.

So the house kills her.

Now Delia is a ghost, trapped in her creepy home forever. As she meets the other ghost girls who haunt the narrow hallways, as well as the handsome ghost boy on the grounds, she learns shocking truths about the house’s history. Delia also realizes that her alive and grieving sister might be the house’s next target. Can Delia unlock the mystery of the old asylum, save her sister, and free herself?

diary of a hauntingDiary of a Haunting by M. Verano

When Paige moves from LA to Idaho with her mom and little brother after her parents’ high-profile divorce, she expects to completely hate her new life, and the small town doesn’t disappoint. Worse yet, the drafty old mansion they’ve rented is infested with flies, spiders, and other pests Paige doesn’t want to think about.

She chalks it up to her rural surroundings, but it’s harder to ignore the strange things happening around the house, from one can of ravioli becoming a dozen, to unreadable words appearing in the walls. Soon Paige’s little brother begins roaming the house at all hours of the night, and there’s something not right about the downstairs neighbor, who knows a lot more than he’s letting on.

Things only get creepier when she learns about the sinister cult that conducted experimental rituals in the house almost a hundred years earlier.
The more Paige investigates, and the deeper she digs, the clearer it all becomes: whatever is in the house, whatever is causing all the strange occurrences, has no intention of backing down without a fight.

Found in the aftermath, Diary of a Haunting collects the journal entries, letters, and photographs Paige left behind.

a little in loveA Little in Love by Susan E. Fletcher

Inspired by Victor Hugo’s classic, Les Miserables, A Little in Love beautifully conveys the heartbreaking story of street girl Eponine.

Paris, 1832

A girl lies alone in the darkness, clutching a letter to her heart.

Eponine remembers being a child: her swing and the peach tree, and the baby brother she loved. But mostly she remembers being miserable. Taught to lie and cheat, and to hate the one girl, Cosette, who might have been her friend.

Now, at sixteen, the two girls meet again, and Eponine has one more chance. But what is the price of friendship–the love of a boy?

strandedStranded by Melinda Braun

In the tradition of 127 Hours and The Edge, a fascinating and suspenseful novel about a group of teens battling for their lives against the most violent villain in history—Mother Nature.

It’s human instinct to survive…but Mother Nature has other plans.

Plagued with guilt after surviving the car accident that took her sister’s life, Emma ventures into the rugged and mysterious wilderness of the Boundary Waters in search of some much needed peace. But when a freak windstorm kills her guide, Emma and a handful of other campers are forced to fend for themselves. Lost, hungry, and exhausted, the small group must rely on their survival instincts as they travel through the forest towards Lake Superior.

But the Boundary Waters is vast and unpredictable, and as the days drag on, it becomes clear that the group is no match for what Mother Nature has in store—and time is running out.

As they continue to battle the elements, Emma realizes that nature isn’t her only threat: there’s one camper who will do whatever it takes to make it out of the Boundary Waters alive. Even if he’s the only one…

With ripped-from-the-headlines drama, this stirring story of heroism and survival will have you at the edge of your seat until the very last page.

dead upon a timeDead Upon a Time by Elizabeth Paulson

It’s a fairy-tale nightmare . . .

One girl is kept in a room where every day the only food she’s given is a poisoned apple. Another is kept in a room covered in needles — and if she pricks her finger, she’ll die. Then there are the brother and sister kept in a cell that keeps getting hotter and hotter. . .

A sinister kidnapper is on the loose in Kate’s world. She’s not involved until one day she heads to her grandmother’s house in the woods — and finds her grandmother has also been taken. Already an outcast, Kate can’t get any help from the villagers who hate her. Only Jack, another outsider, will listen to what’s happened.

Then a princess is taken, and suddenly the king is paying attention — even though the girl’s stepmother would rather he didn’t. It’s up to Kate and Jack to track down the victims before an ever after arrives that’s far from happy.

until friday nightUntil Friday Night by Abbi Glines

To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…

code of honorCode of Honor by Alan Gratz

A timely, nonstop action-adventure about the War on Terror–and a family torn apart.

When seventeen-year-old Iranian American Kamran Smith learns that his brother has been labeled a terrorist, he knows something isn’t right. In a race against time, it is up to Kamran to prove his brother’s innocence, even as the country has turned against him and his family. With the help of a ragtag team of underground intelligence professionals, Kamran must piece together the clues and the codes that will save his brother’s life–and save his country from possibly the largest terrorist attack since 9/11.

Acclaimed author Alan Gratz takes readers on a nonstop action-adventure journey through the emotional, political, and cultural landscape of the War on Terror, while weaving a poignant tale of two brothers.

another dayAnother Day by David Levithan

The eagerly anticipated companion to David Levithan’s New York Times bestseller Every Day

In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan (co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all.

mechanicaMechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn’t want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

For the comments: Which of today’s new releases are you most excited about?

 

Greek Heroes Week: Perseus

PercyPackBANNER

Today, we continue our week-long celebration of this week’s release of Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan, a companion novel to the Percy Jackson series — which this year is marking 10 years in print! Each day this week, we’re bringing you a little more in-depth information about Greek mythology — and a unique chance to win a Percy Jackson prize pack. (Details on that later in this post, so keep reading!) For now, here’s today’s lesson.

PercyPackBADGEGreek Mythology: Perseus

perseusConsidered “the first hero,” Perseus is perhaps most well-known for beheading the gorgon Medusa — although he also defeat plenty of other assorted monsters. He’s also the half-human son of a mortal woman and Zeus, and the great-grandfather of Heracles. (Which would be weird, because Heracles is also the son of Zeus, so wouldn’t they also be half-brothers? Anyway. Moving on.)

So what persuaded ol’ Perseus to start his questing? Well, it did all begin with Medusa — whose head he sought as a gift for the guy who was wooing his mother.

(Side note: Medusa was the only mortal Gorgon — and the story goes she was originally a regular human woman who was way too obsessed with her beautiful hair. She got frisky with Poseidon in the Temple of Athena, who didn’t take too kindly to this defiling and punished Medusa by turning her hair into snakes. That also turned men to stone who looked at it.

So Perseus sets off to find Medusa — and Athena, apparently still holding a grudge, gives him all the tricks and tools of the trade to successfully lop off her head … which he does, and which causes the apparent “birth” of Pegasus (the famous winged horse) and a young man named Chrysaor, the apparent kid of Medusa and Poseidon.

perseus flying sandalsAnyway, ol’ Perseus held onto that Medusa head — keeping it in a special sack — and used it periodically to turn people into stone if they pissed him off too much. That includes they guy originally betrothed to Andromeda — who Perseus married after rescuing her from a sea monster. (In classic mythology, this rescue totally happened while Perseus was wearing those famous flying sandals — although some imagery shows him riding Pegasus instead.)

Eventually, Perseus gave up Medusa’s head to Athena, along with all the other goodies she helped him acquire for defeating the Gorgon, and went off on his further adventures.

GreekHeroesLearn more about Perseus and others by checking out Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan, in stores today:

Who cut off Medusa’s head? Who was raised by a she-bear? Who tamed Pegasus? It takes a demigod to know, and Percy Jackson can fill you in on the all the daring deeds of Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, and the rest of the major Greek heroes. Told in the funny, irreverent style readers have come to expect from Percy, ( I’ve had some bad experiences in my time, but the heroes I’m going to tell you about were the original old school hard luck cases. They boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before. . .) and enhanced with vibrant artwork by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco, this story collection will become the new must-have classic for Rick Riordan’s legions of devoted fans–and for anyone who needs a hero. So get your flaming spear. Put on your lion skin cape. Polish your shield and make sure you’ve got arrows in your quiver. We’re going back about four thousand years to decapitate monsters, save some kingdoms, shoot a few gods in the butt, raid the Underworld, and steal loot from evil people. Then, for dessert, we’ll die painful tragic deaths. Ready? Sweet. Let’s do this.

Win a Percy Prize Pack

PercyPrizing

Tell us your favorite Greek hero in the comments below, for your chance to win a copy of Greek Heroes, plus a Percy Jackson backpack. Tune in every day this week for more chances to win!

Earn more entries by entering the Day 5 Code Word: WINGS

Once you’ve commented below, head to the Rafflecopter form HERE to make it official.

Prizing & samples provided by Disney Hyperion.

Visit the Official Website

Follow Rick Riordan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

#ReadRiordan

Greek Heroes Week: Heracles (aka Hercules)

PercyPackBANNER

Today, we continue our week-long celebration of this week’s release of Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan, a companion novel to the Percy Jackson series — which this year is marking 10 years in print! Each day this week, we’re bringing you a little more in-depth information about Greek mythology — and a unique chance to win a Percy Jackson prize pack. (Details on that later in this post, so keep reading!) For now, here’s today’s lesson.

PercyPackBADGEGreek Mythology: Heracles (aka Hercules)

You probably know him best as Hercules — but that’s his Roman name. In Greek mythology, his name is Heracles. But whatever you call him, you probably know a little about this guy, as the half-son of Zeus. The result of the god’s affair with a human woman, Zeus’ wifey Hera was not Heracles’ biggest fan. (She kind of hated him, actually.) There’s some pretty iffy biology going on in the story, because apparently Heracles’ mom got pregnant the same night by her human husband, and so he has a 100% human twin. (Yeah, that’s not how that works … but then, we’re also talking about mythological gods. So, let’s just accept this at face value and move on.)

baby heraclesAnyway, Hera hated Heracles so much — because it proved her husband’s infidelity — she basically had it out for him all the time. But little did she know, her half-sister Athena (who just loves protecting heroes), tricked Hera into nursing Heracles, her “divine milk” giving Heracles his famous superheroic powers. (Also, apparently, this nursing supposedly lead to the creation of the Milky Way. So there’s that.)

Later, Hera sent two giant snakes to kill eight-month-old Heracles and his brother — but baby Heracles just grabbed the snakes in each hand and strangled them. Because super strong baby.

Much later in life, Heracles got married (to a princess named Megara – sound familiar, Disney fans?) and had a bunch of kids. But Hera wasn’t done tormenting him, and she drove him to a fit of madness, during which he killed all his children. (We didn’t hear about that part, Disney.)

Once he came back to his senses, Heracles sought penance for murdering his children (gee, thanks). Once again, Hera was pulling the strings — bringing Heracles to his arch-nemesis King Eurystheus, who commanded that Heracles perform “ten labours” — later increased to twelve, because technicalities. You’ve probably heard about some of these adventures:

  1. Slay the Nemean Lion.
  2. Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra.
  3. Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis.
  4. Capture the Erymanthian Boar.
  5. Clean the Augean stables in a single day.
  6. Slay the Stymphalian Birds.
  7. Capture the Cretan Bull.
  8. Steal the Mares of Diomedes.
  9. Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.
  10. Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon.
  11. Steal the apples of the Hesperides
  12. Capture and bring back Cerberus.

Later, after he was feeling relieved of the guilt of killing his kids (I mean, SERIOUSLY! Why do we not talk about this more when we learn Greek mythology???), Heracles also joined up with Jason and the Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece.

He also helped rescue Prometheus from his punishment for stealing fire from the gods, by slaying the eagle that tortured Prometheus daily.

Aside from his assorted other heroic act, Heracles was also quite the lover. He married four times, had a number of affairs, and was even known for having a number of male lovers (which, at the time at least, was considered a major sign of masculinity and warriorship). All this loving around means Heracles also had a lot of kids — including plenty he didn’t murder.

Heracles died through a complicated plot of trickery — but basically, he was poisoned by Hydra blood. As the poison killed him, he actually built his own funeral pyre. As his body burned, only his immortal side was left — and Heracles rose to Olympus.

GreekHeroesLearn more by checking out Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan, in stores today:

Who cut off Medusa’s head? Who was raised by a she-bear? Who tamed Pegasus? It takes a demigod to know, and Percy Jackson can fill you in on the all the daring deeds of Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, and the rest of the major Greek heroes. Told in the funny, irreverent style readers have come to expect from Percy, ( I’ve had some bad experiences in my time, but the heroes I’m going to tell you about were the original old school hard luck cases. They boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before. . .) and enhanced with vibrant artwork by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco, this story collection will become the new must-have classic for Rick Riordan’s legions of devoted fans–and for anyone who needs a hero. So get your flaming spear. Put on your lion skin cape. Polish your shield and make sure you’ve got arrows in your quiver. We’re going back about four thousand years to decapitate monsters, save some kingdoms, shoot a few gods in the butt, raid the Underworld, and steal loot from evil people. Then, for dessert, we’ll die painful tragic deaths. Ready? Sweet. Let’s do this.

Win a Percy Prize Pack

PercyPrizing

Tell us your favorite Greek hero in the comments below, for your chance to win a copy of Greek Heroes, plus a Percy Jackson backpack. Tune in every day this week for more chances to win!

Earn more entries by entering the Day 4 Code Word: SNAKES

Once you’ve commented below, head to the Rafflecopter form HERE to make it official.

Prizing & samples provided by Disney Hyperion.

Visit the Official Website

Follow Rick Riordan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

#ReadRiordan

Greek Heroes Week: Trojan War

PercyPackBANNER

Today, we continue our week-long celebration of the release of Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan, a companion novel to the Percy Jackson series — which this year is marking 10 years in print! Each day this week, we’re bringing you a little more in-depth information about Greek mythology — and a unique chance to win a Percy Jackson prize pack. (Details on that later in this post, so keep reading!) For now, here’s today’s lesson.

PercyPackBADGEGreek Mythology: Trojan War

paris and helenPerhaps one of the most famous events in Greek mythology, the Trojan War spanned approximately ten years. As the story goes, the Spartans waged war on the city of Troy after Paris stole Helen away from her Spartan king husband Menelaus.

Of course, that didn’t happen until AFTER the gods meddled — all because Athena, Hera and Aphrodite were arguing over who was the prettiest. (Really.) Fed up with their stupid argument (and who can blame him), Zeus gave hottie human dude Paris a golden apple, and told him to give the apple to whichever of the goddesses he thought was the hottest.

Paris chose Aphrodite. She was so pleased with his choice, that she made Helen — the most beautiful human woman — fall in love with Paris, even though she was already married to a king, LOL.

trojan horseObviously, Menelaus and his people were kind of PO’ed about this, and though waging a war would be the best way to resolve this marital discord.

Thus the ten-year war was launched, in which lots of Greek heroes died — including Paris himself, along with other names you might recongize, like Achilles, Ajax, and Hector — and was ultimately won by the Greeks when the Trojans fell for the old Trojan Horse ruse. (Which was brand new at the time, hence the name “Trojan Horse.”)

Essentially, it was a huge bloody mess, and you can read more about it in lots of texts about Greek mythology, including Homer’s Illiad. But basically, three goddess ladies couldn’t decide who was prettiest — and that started a ten year, deadly war. Nice one, eh?

GreekHeroesLearn more by checking out Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan, in stores now:

Who cut off Medusa’s head? Who was raised by a she-bear? Who tamed Pegasus? It takes a demigod to know, and Percy Jackson can fill you in on the all the daring deeds of Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, and the rest of the major Greek heroes. Told in the funny, irreverent style readers have come to expect from Percy, ( I’ve had some bad experiences in my time, but the heroes I’m going to tell you about were the original old school hard luck cases. They boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before. . .) and enhanced with vibrant artwork by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco, this story collection will become the new must-have classic for Rick Riordan’s legions of devoted fans–and for anyone who needs a hero. So get your flaming spear. Put on your lion skin cape. Polish your shield and make sure you’ve got arrows in your quiver. We’re going back about four thousand years to decapitate monsters, save some kingdoms, shoot a few gods in the butt, raid the Underworld, and steal loot from evil people. Then, for dessert, we’ll die painful tragic deaths. Ready? Sweet. Let’s do this.

Win a Percy Prize Pack

PercyPrizing

Tell us your favorite Greek hero in the comments below, for your chance to win a copy of Greek Heroes, plus a Percy Jackson backpack. Tune in every day this week for more chances to win!

Earn more entries by entering the Day 3 Code Word: GOLDEN APPLE

Once you’ve commented below, head to the Rafflecopter form HERE to make it official.

Prizing & samples provided by Disney Hyperion.

Visit the Official Website

Follow Rick Riordan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

#ReadRiordan

New YA Releases: August 18, 2015

new releases2 banner
Here’s a look at today’s new YA releases:

shackledShackled by Tom Leveen

From author Tom Leveen comes a taut, suspenseful novel about a girl’s abduction that leaves her best friend emotionally paralyzed, until a chance encounter points her toward the truth…and a terrifying new danger.

Sixteen-year-old Pelly has a master plan. After years of therapy, medication, and even a stint in a mental hospital, she’s finally ready to re-enter the world of the living. Pelly has been suffering from severe panic attacks ever since her best friend, Tara, disappeared from a mall six years ago.

And her plan seems to be working, until an unkempt girl accompanied by an older man walks into the coffee shop where she works. Pelly thinks she’s seen a ghost, until the girl mouths “help me” on the way out, and Pelly knows she’s just seen Tara.

Too shocked to do anything, Pelly helplessly watches Tara slip away again as she steels herself against a renewed spiral of crippling anxiety. But rather than being overcome by anxiety, Pelly feels more energized than she has in years. Determined to track down enough evidence to force the police to reopen Tara’s file, Pelly’s master plan takes a turn for the dangerous.

Pelly decides she cannot be shackled by her past—and the anxiety, fear, and grief that comes with it—any longer if she wants to save Tara. But in seeking answers through whatever means necessary, she’ll come face-to-face with true evil. And not all the shackles are in her head…

court of fivesCourt of Fives by Kate Elliott

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

into the dangerous worldInto the Dangerous World by Julie Chibbaro

Ror lives to draw—to her, it’s like breathing; it’s how she understands life. When her father dies, she finds herself at a crossroads. Should she paint in the classic tradition, the way he taught her? Go to college, like her art teacher wants? Or should she listen to Trey, the seductive street artist who leads the crew Noise Ink? She is a brilliant artist—but will she use her talent, or waste it?

Into the Dangerous World breaks new ground in fiction—and its indelible visual images will live inside your head.

creeping, theThe Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

Twelve years ago Stella and Jeanie vanished while picking strawberries. Stella returned minutes later, with no memory of what happened. Jeanie was never seen or heard from again.

Now Stella is seventeen, and she’s over it. She’s the lucky one who survived, and sure, the case is still cloaked in mystery—and it’s her small town’s ugly legacy—but Stella is focused on the coming summer. She’s got a great best friend, a hookup with an irresistibly crooked smile, and two months of beach days stretching out before her.

Then along comes a corpse, a little girl who washes up in an ancient cemetery after a mudslide, and who has red hair just like Jeanie did. Suddenly memories of that haunting day begin to return, and when Stella discovers that other red-headed girls have gone missing as well, she begins to suspect that something sinister is at work.

And before the summer ends, Stella will learn the hard way that if you hunt for monsters, you will find them.

For the comments: Which of today’s new releases are you most excited about?

Greek Heroes Week: Jason & the Argonauts

PercyPackBANNER

Today, we continue our week-long celebration of today’s release of Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan, a companion novel to the Percy Jackson series — which this year is marking 10 years in print! Each day this week, we’re bringing you a little more in-depth information about Greek mythology — and a unique chance to win a Percy Jackson prize pack. (Details on that later in this post, so keep reading!) For now, here’s today’s lesson.

PercyPackBADGEGreek Mythology: Jason & the ARgonauts

Constantine_Volanakis_ArgoThis story from Greek mythology — famously retold in various cinematic incarnations — follows Jason and his band of heroes (called “Argonauts,” which was basically a fancy way to name them after the boat they were sailing on, the Argo) on a quest to find the golden fleece.

Why a golden fleece? The short version is it would help Jason reclaim his family’s throne, which had been usurped years earlier by a guy named Pelias. Pelias thinks he’s sending Jason on a suicide mission — and therefore, protecting his throne — but the goddess Hera has other plans, and intervenes just enough to make sure Jason survives the journey.

The 1963 movie version is pretty amusing, if for nothing else than the fabulous stop-motion animation used for the villains, particularly the army of skeletons and the hydra:

GreekHeroesLearn more by checking out Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan, in stores today:

Who cut off Medusa’s head? Who was raised by a she-bear? Who tamed Pegasus? It takes a demigod to know, and Percy Jackson can fill you in on the all the daring deeds of Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, and the rest of the major Greek heroes. Told in the funny, irreverent style readers have come to expect from Percy, ( I’ve had some bad experiences in my time, but the heroes I’m going to tell you about were the original old school hard luck cases. They boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before. . .) and enhanced with vibrant artwork by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco, this story collection will become the new must-have classic for Rick Riordan’s legions of devoted fans–and for anyone who needs a hero. So get your flaming spear. Put on your lion skin cape. Polish your shield and make sure you’ve got arrows in your quiver. We’re going back about four thousand years to decapitate monsters, save some kingdoms, shoot a few gods in the butt, raid the Underworld, and steal loot from evil people. Then, for dessert, we’ll die painful tragic deaths. Ready? Sweet. Let’s do this.

Win a Percy Prize Pack

PercyPrizing

Tell us your favorite Greek hero in the comments below, for your chance to win a copy of Greek Heroes, plus a Percy Jackson backpack. Tune in every day this week for more chances to win!

Earn more entries by entering the Day 2 Code Word: ARGONAUTS

Once you’ve commented below, head to the Rafflecopter form HERE to make it official & earn extra entries.

Prizing & samples provided by Disney Hyperion.

Visit the Official Website

Follow Rick Riordan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

#ReadRiordan