Monday, December 17, 2012

Book 13: Goddess Boot Camp

Book 13: Goddess Boot Camp
Goddess Boot Camp, by Tera Lynn Childs

This sequel to Tera Lynn Childs’ book Oh. My. Gods. follows Phoebe in her first summer on the Greek island where the school for descendants of the Greek gods is. It turns out she does not have as much control over her powers as she should, so the gods are going to give her a test – and if she doesn’t pass, well, very bad things will happen. In preparation, she needs to attend Goddess Boot Camp with all of the ten-year-olds who need training. At the same time, though, she’s training for the trials for Pythian Games with her boyfriend Griffin, who she thinks is cheating on her with his ex-girlfriend, Adara. And Adara is a counselor at Goddess Boot Camp, along with her best friend Stella, who is also Phoebe’s evil stepsister.

While Phoebe struggles with all of these things, she begins to get strange messages from an anonymous source claiming that there was more to do with her dad’s death than she knows. Phoebe already knows that he used his powers – they are descended from the goddess Nike – in football, as he was a professor football player, and that caused the gods to smote him on the field. But she learns that there was a hearing about him, and the records of it are in the Academy’s library’s secret archives. When the library takes Phoebe down to the archives, along with her best friend Nicole, they learn that the file she’s looking for is missing. Phoebe spends her time training for the test, training for the Games, searching for answers about her dad, and trying to shake the feeling that Griffin is back together with Adara.

Her suspicions grow so large that she breaks up with him. However, a few days later Phoebe learns that Griffin is not cheating on her. As Adara explains, her mother has been chosen to be a handmaiden of Apollo, which means she can’t leave Mount Olympus for twenty-five years and Adara will not see her for that long. Griffin has been helping Adara prepare for this, as his parents were banished when he was younger. Since this is supposed to be an honor, Adara did not want other people knowing that she was upset, so she asked Griffin to keep it quiet. This led to Phoebe questioning what he did with her so much that was secret, and thinking he was cheating on her.

Then, Phoebe goes to meet up with the anonymous person who sent her so many messages about her dad and who has the file. Her friends and Griffin all worry that this person will hurt her, but it turns out to be Damian, her stepfather. He explains that he wanted to distract her from everything else that was going on so she could not over-think her powers and would be able to master them better. He gives her the file, but she chooses not to read it yet.

After all, Phoebe was steadily mastering her powers with help from Stella and still training for the Games. Damian and her mom return from their honeymoon in time to see Phoebe run in the trials for the Pythian Games. While in the race, she only needs to be in the top three to make it to the actual Games. She remains steadily there the entire race, but that the end another runner appears out of nowhere. Phoebe pushes herself harder than she has before, but is able to control herself so that she doesn’t use her powers. Right at the finish line, the other racer disappears, and Phoebe places third. It turns out that the race was also her test from the gods, and the other runner was the goddess Nike, her great-grandmother.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Book 12: Cupidity

Book 12: Cupidity
Cupidity, by Caroline Goode

Roman-mythology-obsessed Laura is about to begin her senior year of high school, but feels inadequate because she has never had a boyfriend. Feeling dramatic one night, she calls for Jupiter to send her a boyfriend, unknowingly sending a message to the god Mercury. The Roman gods are still around, but they have been semi-retired for years, and jump at the chance to fill their old position. They send Cupid to Laura’s high school for 25 days disguised as Cupidity, the hottest new girl possible, with the task to find Laura a boyfriend.

Cupidity quickly befriends Laura and wreaks havoc among the strict social cliques with her bow and arrows. Laura gets dragged on double dates that result in creating the strangest couples that Laura has ever seen. This makes Laura wonder about Cupidity, and figure out that she is really Cupid. Laura sneaks a look at the bow and arrows … and accidentally shoots Cupidity and one of the boys from school. Cupidity promptly loses all memories before the high school – like that she is actually Cupid and not a girl. Immediately, Laura panics, and she starts trying to find a way to reverse the love spells. After speaking to Mercury, she embarks on a journey to find Venus, as she is the only one who could do anything about it.

Eventually, she finds Venus and is able to convince her to do something. They arrive back at the school on the night of the homecoming dance where Cupidity has just been crowned Homecoming Queen. As the clock strikes midnight, the disguise spell wears off, and Cupidity becomes Cupid again. However, the love spell remains, and he believes he is still a mortal high school student. Venus reverses the spell for all affected, but some of the couples decide to remain together, showing Laura that true love does not have to be with who you are “supposed” to be with based on cliques or types. With the spell gone, Laura’s friend Peter realizes he is not in love with the head cheerleader after all, and he and Laura get together.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Book 11: Quiver

Book 11: Quiver
Quiver, by Stephanie Spinner

The story begins at the Calydonian boar hunt, where the female hunter Atalanta draws first blood. This leads the prince Meleager offers the skin to her, which causes a large fight and many die, including Meleager. Upset that men died as a result of her, Atalanta goes to the Oracle of Delphi on the way home, and she has three dreams. One warns her that if she marries, it will ruin her. However, she thinks nothing of it because she has already taken a vow of chastity in the name of Artemis. But shortly after she arrives at home her biological father arrives – the man she only knew as the one who abandoned her at birth when she wasn’t a boy. It turns out her father is a king, and he needs an heir, so he tracked her down and she must go and live with him. He wants her to marry, but she refuses, remembering her vow and her dreams. Eventually, she agreed to marry only if her suitor could beat her in a footrace. Many men try, and many die. Eventually, though, this changes. Eros shoots Atalanta so that she falls in love with Hippomenes, and Aphrodite apparently gives him three irresistible golden apples to slow her down. Distracted by the apples and distressed at the idea of his death, Atalanta lets him win, and so they marry. They are happy for a time, but then they have sex in one of Zeus’ temples, are turned into lions as punishment.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book 10: Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian

Book 10: The Last Olympian
Percy Jackson: the Last Olympian, by Rick Riordan

The action in this last Percy Jackson book gets started immediately. Percy is called from his family vacation by fellow camper Charles Beckendorf to destroy Kronos’ ship and slow his approach from the sea. Beckendorf sacrifices his life to destroy the ship, and Percy dives overboard and passes out. He awakens in the underwater palace of his father, Poseidon, who currently fights the Titan Oceanus. Poseidon makes him return to Camp Half-Blood, and explains that he cannot help with the battle of Manhattan because of his fight with Oceanus. Once at camp, Chiron decides Percy needs to hear the Great Prophecy now, and Percy tells the campers that there is a spy at camp. Percy does not remain at camp long, as he leaves again with Nico di Angelo to work on Nico’s plan for Percy to survive the battle in Manhattan. After some struggles and events, Percy descends into the River Styx, gaining the same power that Achilles had.

Pery then returns to Manhattan and meets up with Annabeth and the other campers to begin the battle. Finally, the battle begins. Percy’s forces are joined by the Hunters of Artemis, saturs, naiads, dryads, centaurs, automatons, and Mrs. O’Leary the hellhound. Kronos has more, though, as Percy’s forces are forced back despite Kronos suffering some losses, too. At one point, Annabeth is badly injured when she saves Percy from being hit in his Achilles “heel,” and later Percy tells her that she did this and what it meant. The fight continues, and the Ares cabin shows up to save the day.

Percy and Kronos battle in the throne room of Olympus, and at one point Luke overpowers Kronos within his body. Percy gives Luke Annabeth’s dagger, and Luke injures himself at his Achilles spot to kill himself and therefore eliminate Kronos. The Olympians arrive and defeat the last of Kronos’ troops. They then return to the throne room, and grant Percy, Grover, Annabeth, Thalia, and Tyson rewards. Rachel Elizabeth Dare becomes the new Oracle. Athena gives the job of redesigning Mount Olympus to Annabeth. Grover becomes a Lord of the Wild.Ryson becomes a general of the Cyclopes’ army. Percy refuses the offer to turn him into a god, and instead have the gods swear on the River Styx that they will recognize all of their children, and the camp builds cabins for the children of every god, including Hades and the minor gods.

Upon returning to camp, Percy and Annabeth kiss and start dating, and the camp prepares for a life after the battle

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book 9: Abandon

Book 9: Abandon
Abandon, by Meg Cabot

17-year-old Pierce just wants to start the new school year at her mom’s alma mater in Florida as easily as possible. She doesn’t want to ruin her mom’s life any more difficult that it already is, but that’s hard when nothing has been the same since Pierce died. Two years prior, Pierce died in a freak swimming pool accident in February. It led to the end of her parents’ marriage – and to being claimed as the consort for a minor death deity, John. Pierce escaped from John’s castle in his underworld and returned to the land of the living. But from that moment on, bad things kept happening around her because the Furies are after her, and John shows up in the nick of time to rescue her from them.

Back in Florida, Pierce deals with trying to get off on the right foot. Unfortunately, the Furies and John are still right there with her. She navigates her new high school with Alex, her cousin who has lived with their grandmother since his father went to prison. But the popular kids try to befriend her so that they can use her gated community for an illegal school tradition, and when she goes along with it she alienates Alex. In the midst of this normal-high-school behavior, the cemetery sexton finally explains to her who John is. She makes the connection between their situation and that of Hades and Persephone, and learns that the Furies want to kill her to pain John because they hate him. Shortly after learning the truth, Pierce realizes that she loves John.

But knowing doesn’t help Pierce. The Furies kill a school official because she was in the cemetery when and where Pierce usually was, and Alex’s father is blamed. Then, Pierce’s grandmother shows up at the school to take Pierce home. She knows something is wrong, though, and discovers that her grandmother had been an embodiment of the Furies for a few years. Just in time to save her, John appears, and whisks them down into the Underworld. This time, though, Pierce can’t escape, but she desperately wants to.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Book 8: Nobody's Princess

Book 8: Nobody’s Princess
Nobody’s Princess, Esther Friesner

Helen of Troy’s famous beauty started the Trojan War. But before she and Paris left Menelaus together, she was Helen of Sparta. Freisner’s novel follows Helen during her childhood, and provides an option to what happens between her famous conception – daughter of Zeus, born to royalty – and when Theseus kidnapped her in her early teens. As a child, Helen is already beautiful, but lacks any desire to do the princess and lady-like activities she is supposed to do. When she is forced to spin and weave because all women do it, she hears the message that it is all women can do and they – including she – are trapped. She spends the novel trying to find ways to be free before the day she ultimately is forced to marry and live the life expected of her.

First, she wants to learn to fight like her brothers do. At first she tries to hide who she is, but quickly she learns that she can’t disguise herself from everyone and the weapons master who tutors her brothers agrees to tutor her as long as she hides her lessons from her parents. The lessons are difficult, but Helen learns and keeps going back for more. Then, rumors of a great boar in the land of Helen’s aunt reach their court. Helen’s brothers, along with many of the soldiers and men from Sparta, set off to join the boar hunt, and Helen joins as a diplomatic presence. All of the great princes, warriors, and heroes have arrived to fight the boar, including Atalanta, the daughter of a king who fights better than most warriors. She teaches Helen more, including about riding a horse. When the boar is finally killed, Atalanta is the one who makes it possible. But that night, at the celebration banquet, the honor goes to someone else, and when he tries to give it to her, a riot breaks out. Many die, and as soon as it is appropriate Helen and her brothers leave again – but not before Helen frees a slave, Milo, who joins them.

They then journey to Delphi to speak to the Oracle of Apollo. Helen is skeptical, and does not wish to speak to the Oracle. Instead, she chooses to spend the day in the market, where Milo helps her ditch the soldiers meant to guard to her. While she enjoys her new freedom, she comes across Theseus, who she met during the boar hunting. He tries to grab her, but is stopped by none other than the Oracle herself. The Oracle and Helen begin talking, and Helen finds a friend in Eunike, the Oracle. When Helen’s brothers wish to go off on another adventure, Eunike helps Helen enact a plan that allows her to escape her role as Lady Helen as follow them disguised as a boy. Everything goes according to plan, and Helen and Milo set off after her brothers a few days later.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book 7: Troy High

Book 7: Troy High
Troy High, Shana Norris

Norris’ Troy High provides a retelling of the Trojan War but set in a modern high school. We view the story through the eyes of Cassie Prince, a student at Troy High, sister of Perry and Hunter, star players on the football team. Troy High’s greatest rival is Lacede High, home of the Spartans, where Cassie’s best friend Greg is a student. Greg is the younger brother of Lucas, the quarterback for Lacede and boyfriend of Elena Argos. Elena is a famous local beauty, and the recent school redistricting means that at the beginning of the novel she is about to become a student at Troy.

One key component in the story is that Elena is thinking about breaking up with Lucas before she even meets Perry. This highlights that Perry did not steal Elena, as discussed in The Illiad. Although Elena’s choice is influenced by Perry’s presence – and she does not officially break up with Lucas early enough – she wants to before she even meets him. However, almost as soon as she meets Perry she starts to date him, and then the high school version of the battle of Troy takes places. A series of pranks make the situation escalate, making Cassie and Greg’s friendship increasingly difficult while they are called to support their siblings and their schools.

It all leads up to the big football game between the schools. A few weeks before, Cassie has a dream where her eldest brother Hunter is seriously injured during the game. With Hunter out of commission, the Spartans win. Then, after the game, a float rigged to explode by the Spartans destroys the Trojan gym. The Spartans have officially won, and the war is over. As the book ends, Hunter’s fate remains unclear – a serious shoulder injury needing surgery could mean the death of his career if the surgery does not go as planned. Other than that, though, everything is peaceful again. Perry and Elena are happy in their high school romance, and Cassie and Greg embark on their own.