Posts Tagged ‘Percy Jackson’

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As we head into another school year, I’m thinking back over my favorite reads of the summer. I love to read all year round (which you knew), but there’s something about summer reading – diving into a fast-paced series or sprawling out on the beach or sofa with a juicy novel.

Here are the highlights from my book list this summer:

Most Exquisite Coming-of-Age Stories: Mambo in Chinatown and Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. Both books feature Chinese-American protagonists trying to make their own way in New York City. Heartbreaking, gorgeously written and hopeful.

Darkest/Most Fascinating YA Series: The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Epic battles, unusual magical powers and a truly fantastic love story, set in a fictional realm (Ravka) inspired by imperial Russia.

Juiciest Smart Beach Read: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams. Love, scandal and natural disaster among the New England aristocracy, which I read (fittingly) on the beach in PEI.

Best Combination of Zen and Whimsy: Bunny Buddhism by Krista Lester. Because we could all use a bit of advice about how to hop mindfully.

Wackiest Blend of Greek Mythology, Teenage Love & a Great Story: the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan (a reread).

Best Ultramodern Jane Austen Adaptation: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick. (I loved the web series too.)

Loveliest Travel Memoir: The House on an Irish Hillside by Felicity Hayes-McCoy, which is not only about Ireland but about how to live.

Most Beautiful Language: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather.

Best Refresher on Writing and Life: The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron, an old favorite. I’ve been going through it sloooowly, letting its words sink into my soul.

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

What are the best books you read this summer?


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brookline booksmith interior

(Interior shot of Brookline Booksmith, my happy place.)

The Titan’s Curse, Rick Riordan
This third book in the Percy Jackson series is so fast-paced it’s hard to keep up. Percy and his friends head to the West Coast on another quest: meeting deities, fighting monsters, and learning more about their own destinies. (Also: Blackjack the pegasus returns. I love him.)

Cosby: His Life and Times, Mark Whitaker
I grew up on The Cosby Show (the sweaters!), Cosby’s Jell-O commercials, and my dad quoting lines from Cosby’s comedy records. So I devoured this (long) biography of the man himself, from his tough childhood in Philly to his years on the stand-up circuit and his forays into TV. Meticulously researched and balanced; Whitaker loves his subject but doesn’t idealize him. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 16).

The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and his friends go underground into the Labyrinth, in search of its creator (Daedalus) and a way to defeat the Titan army. The series’ mythology grows deeper and wider, with plenty of new deities and monsters.

Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
I’d never read this slim classic before. Woolf’s language is powerful and vivid, though her narrative style is often confusing. Lovely glimpses of London and of all the nuances rippling under the surface of everyday life.

The Last Olympian, Rick Riordan
War is coming to Olympus (and Manhattan), and Percy Jackson must rally the troops from Camp Half-Blood. Heartbreaking and heart-pounding; a great conclusion to the series, balancing wacky mythology with deep truths about love and honor, war and sacrifice.

The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books, Azar Nafisi
Nafisi explores American identity and literature through the lens of Huckleberry Finn, Sinclair Lewis’ Babbitt and Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. She weaves in anecdotes from her life in the U.S. and Iran. I thought the first section was the strongest. Thought-provoking. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Oct. 21).

Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather
This novel traces the journey of Father Jean Marie Latour, a French priest who becomes Archbishop of the diocese of Santa Fe. Gorgeous, lyrical descriptions of the rugged Southwest and a sensitive portrait of cultural and religious tensions. Meditative and melancholy, like all Cather’s novels.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jenny Han
Lara Jean keeps a stash of letters to boys she has loved – top secret, until someone mails them and her love life spins out of control. Compelling in a teen-drama way, but I didn’t like any of the characters. Pass.

Tea & Cake London, Zena Alkayat
A pictorial tour of London tea shops – from the simple to the froufrou. I will be in London briefly this fall (!) and have bookmarked a few places to check out. Whimsical and fun with mouthwatering photos (though it needs a map).

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

What are you reading?

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percy jackson books 1-5

You carry the hopes of humanity into the realm of the eternal. Monsters never die. They are reborn from the chaos and barbarism that is always bubbling underneath civilization[…]. They must be defeated again and again, kept at bay. Heroes embody that struggle. You fight the battles humanity must win, every generation, in order to stay human.

The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan

I’m rereading the Percy Jackson series, which follows the adventures of a group of half-bloods or heroes (the children of mortals and Greek gods). Although the above statement comes from a conversation between a centaur and a half-blood, it struck me as applicable to our own human world, here and now.

Percy Jackson and his friends fight monsters they can see, with weapons like celestial bronze and divine electricity, but we face the same forces of darkness in our everyday lives. We fight the same battles in every generation, against fear and hatred and greed, in order to stay human. Our battles are less easily defined, but they are still real and vital. Percy and his friends may be half immortal, but they face the same choices and struggles as all human beings do – which helps explain why I love this series so much. (It’s also fast-paced, funny, full of heart, and packed with snarky-but-informative references to Greek mythology – perfect summer reading.)

(Image from onehundreddollarsamonth.com)

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book art brookline booksmith

(Book art found at Brookline Booksmith.)

One Plus One, Jojo Moyes
Jess is nearly at the end of her rope – caring for two kids on her own and trying to make ends meet. When a road trip to a maths competition for her daughter goes disastrously wrong, she gets help from the last person she expected. Funny, sweet and un-put-down-able, like Moyes’ other novels.

The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan
I’ve been hankering for a reread of the Percy Jackson series. This first book was just as action-packed and entertaining as I remembered – I love all the references and clever twists related to the Greek gods.

Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist, Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax travels to Jordan with a fellow CIA agent, and quickly discovers she’s being followed. Political intrigue and a flight into the desert ensue. The penultimate book in this series, which I love.

The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession, Dana Goldstein
Goldstein reviews the tumultuous history of American education, from “missionary” teachers on the frontier to the rise of “normal schools” to today’s various paths into education. Well-researched, highly readable and particularly interesting to me because of my day job. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 2).

Lady of Quality, Georgette Heyer
When Miss Annis Wychwood takes a runaway heiress under her wing, her very correct brother (and most of Bath society) are slightly scandalized. My first Heyer book; a fun, witty Regency romp. (Like Jane Austen, with 200% more exclamation points!) Found in Rockport (for $7!).

The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It, Peter Enns
The Bible is an ancient book – which means it doesn’t behave like a rulebook, an owner’s manual or a modern historical text. Enns gives a fresh perspective (with plenty of snark) and argues convincingly for accepting the Bible on its own terms. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 9).

The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan
When Percy Jackson returns to Camp Half-Blood, he’s shocked to find it in chaos. With two friends (one human, one Cyclops), Percy sails for the Sea of Monsters to rescue another friend and (he hopes) save the camp in the process. So much fun, like all the books in this series.

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

What are you reading?

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It’s been a literary month around here. Lots of reading – old favorites and new stories. So this is a long post, but here’s my monthly dose of bookish delight for you:

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson #5), Rick Riordan
I loved this fast-paced, breathless, battle-filled conclusion to the Percy Jackson series. I could hardly turn the pages fast enough, wondering what was going to happen. Sad moments as some characters are killed in battle; I suppose it’s like this with any epic series (echoes of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, again). But (sorry if this shocks you) good does triumph over evil and Percy and his friends save the day. I won’t tell you how, though. The journey is pure pleasure.

Daddy-Long-Legs, Jean Webster
I found my copy of this sweet story at Brattle Book Shop, in the outdoor stalls, and read it in just a couple of days. The narrator, Jerusha (who wisely nicknames herself Judy), is sweet and funny and observant, if a little naive. It’s such a fun portrait of a girl’s college life around the turn of the last century, and though I already knew about the sweet surprise at the end (from having read Dear Pen Pal), it was still worth reading.

Meet the Austins, Madeleine L’Engle
I bought this one at the charming Children’s Book Shop in Brookline, caught without something to read on the train home. I quite enjoyed it – I knew about the Austin series from reading Madeleine’s memoirs, but hadn’t read them before. I like Vicky and her quirky family, though I think I like the Wrinkle in Time series better.

Romancing Miss Bronte, Juliet Gael
This title and cover captivated me – I found it at the library and it just looked so romantic. And it was – though not in the way I quite expected. I didn’t know much about the Bronte sisters’ lives, other than their quiet seclusion in Yorkshire with a blind father and a delinquent brother. Gael brings the sisters and their struggles to life deftly, and I learned a lot about their lives I didn’t know before. (This is fiction, but even the servants’ names are historically accurate.)

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
I know I’m late to the party – the literary world has been abuzz lately over Mockingjay, the third in this trilogy. But I just hadn’t got round to The Hunger Games, and now that I have, I can only say: Wow. It’s like Shannon Hale’s tales of bravery and 1984 and a Roman gladiator fight all in one. Katniss is a little dense when it comes to boys, but she’s brave and strong and clever, and compassionate – which both saves her and endangers her in the end.

The Goose Girl, Shannon Hale
I’m needing a little extra bravery these days as I learn to navigate a new city, send out job application after job application, and work to make friends. I love the tale of Anidori Kiladra Talianna-Isilee, who must hide her identity as a goose girl before she can claim her rightful place as queen. The language is rich and the characters are real, and it all feels true and solid, and it makes me feel brave.

Enna Burning, Shannon Hale
I love this sequel to The Goose Girl as much as the original. Enna has a great but dangerous gift – and I love walking with her as she learns to control it. The characters really start to come into their own in this book, and there’s a lot here about love and bravery and battle. Excellent.

River Secrets, Shannon Hale
Razo is one of my favorite Shannon Hale characters, even more so because he doesn’t know the scope of his own gifts. The world of Bayern expands southward, and Hale draws us, along with her characters, into a new realm where lots of the rules are different. It’s a compelling, entertaining, powerful story.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
I don’t know what I can say about this series that hasn’t already been said. It’s heartbreaking, powerful, challenging, compelling, enchanting – and funny. Every time I read it I catch more of Rowling’s jokes, more of her cleverness, more complex layers of plot and character. I always have to go back after finishing the seventh book and read the last 200 pages (at least) again. The last few books, when people really start dying, make me cry, and all of them make me laugh, and warm my heart, and make me stay up way too late reading.

The Bread of Angels, Stephanie Saldana
This is a moving account of one woman’s journey out of faith and back again – but it’s more than that. It chronicles her year living in the Christian quarter of Damascus, her complicated relationship with her family, her longing to find her calling in life, and her falling in love with a monk. Stunning prose – though I admit I got bogged down at her spiritual low point – but such hope and grace and beauty later on.

Pies & Prejudice, Heather Vogel Frederick
I love young-adult and middle-grade fiction, even more so if it relates to books. So this fourth installment of The Mother-Daughter Book Club series, where the girls read Pride and Prejudice, charmed me. The girls are growing up – they’re starting high school – and it’s fun to watch them mature, navigate the world of boys, read Jane Austen for the first time, and visit England together.

Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story, Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor
I’d heard this was wise, beautiful and compelling – and it was all three and more. The intertwined journeys of mother and daughter, both dealing with their identities as women and writers, resonated deeply with me. (I also learned a lot of the backstory behind The Secret Life of Bees.) I love travel writing that’s also spiritual and literary – this is perfect.

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