The House of Hades

The House of Hades is the fourth book in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series. You need to read the entire Percy Jackson & the Olympians series and the first three books in the Heroes of Olympus series before continuing with book four.

When last we saw our beloved demigods, Percy and Annabeth had plunged into the depths of Tartarus, and the remaining members of the quest were on their way to Greece in an attempt to stop Gaea from rising. Now, Percy and Annabeth are facing unspeakable horrors in an effort to close the Doors of Death from the abyss, and Leo, Hazel, Frank, Jason, Piper, Nico, and Coach Hedge are traveling through the ancient lands and trying to close the Doors from the mortal world.

Both groups are facing terrors that they couldn’t have anticipated, but there is hope. Help comes to them in some unexpected forms, and every member of this quest will find inner strength that makes them more powerful than they could have ever realized. But are they strong enough to perform the daunting task in front of them? What new obstacles will they face along the way? And can they find a way to complete their missions while keeping Greek and Roman demigods from destroying each other?

Everything will come to a head at the House of Hades. Who will be victorious? What comes next? I’ll leave that for you to discover…

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The Mark of Athena

Spoilers!  If you haven’t read the entire Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (The Lightning ThiefThe Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s CurseThe Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian) and the first two books in the Heroes of Olympus series (The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune), turn back now. 

The Mark of Athena begins with Annabeth (daughter of Athena), Leo (son of Hephaestus), Jason (son of Jupiter), and Piper (daughter of Aphrodite) descending on Camp Jupiter, the Roman equivalent to Camp Half-Blood.  They’re not sure how welcome they will be, especially since they are literally descending on the camp in what can only be called a Greek warship.  While most of the Roman campers are not exactly thrilled with the presence of the ship (also known as the Argo II), one person at Camp Jupiter is delighted to see it…Percy Jackson.  He hasn’t seen his girlfriend, Annabeth, in what seems like ages, and he’s deliriously happy to be reunited with her.  That is, until his newly arrived friends accidentally start a war with the Romans who have taken him in, and he, Hazel (daughter of Pluto), and Frank (son of Mars) are forced to make a hasty exit with Annabeth and company.

Now, we have seven demigods aboard a Greek trireme heading off on a quest that is likely to kill all of them.  This deadly adventure takes them to such exotic locales as Kansas, Atlanta (specifically the Georgia Aquarium), and Charleston (South Carolina shout-out!).  But these are just pit-stops on the way to their ultimate destination…Rome.  Although the journey is treacherous, these seven demigods must work together to close the Doors of Death, stop Gaea and her giants from destroying the earth, and find some way for Greeks, Romans, and gods to work together.  On top of all that, Annabeth has an additional quest handed down directly from her mother.  She has to follow the Mark of Athena and restore something crucial to her mother.  All other children of Athena have failed (read:  died)  in this quest.  Should be a piece of cake, right?  (If you’ve read any of the previous books, you already know the answer to that question.)

From the very beginning of this quest, things go wrong, and it’s going to take something drastic to turn everything around.  Are these seven demigods up to the task?  What sacrifices will be made to ensure the success of this dangerous crusade?  And are these young people prepared for the fallout of the decisions they will be forced to make?  Discover the answers to these questions and many more when you read The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan.

Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel

Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel is the sequel to Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything.  It’s not absolutely essential that you read the first book before this one, but it would definitely help.  Also, the first book is made of awesome, so you need to read it anyway.

If there is a perfect summer read for kids who just finished the fifth grade, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, written by Steve Cotler and illustrated by Adam McCauley, might just be it.  As a matter of fact, this is an excellent summer read for kids of all ages, especially those of us who have ever been to summer camp!  Everything that made Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything a great read also holds true for this sequel.  Cheesie’s voice is delightful and laugh-out-loud hilarious, and I know my students will love this book as much as they are currently eating up the first one (which is nominated for the 2012-13 South Carolina Children’s Book Award).

In Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, readers follow Cheesie, his best friend Georgie, and a whole cast of characters to Camp Windward (for boys) and Camp Leeward (for girls) in Maine. (Events in this book pick up right where they left off in the first book.  It’s the summer after fifth grade graduation.)  Cheesie is sure that this will be the best summer ever because he and Georgie will be the oldest of the Little Guys at camp. Unfortunately, thanks to events that occurred in the first book, things don’t quite work out the way Cheesie had hoped. Now, Cheesie and Georgie are the youngest in the Big Guys group at camp. (Not a big deal if you’re already kind of big like Georgie, but it’s bad news if you’re already a little guy like Cheesie.)  This presents a whole new set of problems, and the biggest one is probably Kevin Welch, his sister Goon’s boyfriend.

Camp Windward is not off to a stellar start, but Cheesie comes up with a way that might help him to make the best of things.  He challenges Kevin to a Cool Duel.  Whoever is voted the coolest in their cabin at the end of a week is the coolest guy at camp!  Kevin gets out to an early lead, but Cheesie isn’t a quick-witted kid for nothing.  He comes up with a couple of things that are sure to earn him some votes.  But will he get enough votes to win the Cool Duel?  You should definitely read this book to find out!

Even though the Cool Duel is a big part of this book (hence the title), there’s also a lot of other stuff going on:  a dance with the girls from Camp Leeward, sneaking into the computer lab, snakes, a talent show, and the most epic scary story in the known universe.  Cheesie also introduces readers to exciting new words (only a few of which are made up) and questions to ponder.  Cheesie’s website, http://cheesiemack.com/, also plays a big part in this book.  This wonderful site makes this book, like its predecessor, truly interactive.

All in all, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel is the perfect follow-up to the first book, and I can’t wait to see what Cheesie gets up to next!

The Son of Neptune

Warning:  If you haven’t read the entire Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian) and The Lost Hero, read those before starting with The Son of Neptune.  All of these books are beautifully connected, and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on something important.

In The Son of Neptune, Percy Jackson has just risen from a very long sleep. He doesn’t remember much of anything. He only knows his name and that he’s fighting two gorgons (sisters of Medusa). His only hope of surviving is to get to the camp for demigods that’s nearby. Something about Camp Jupiter seems familiar, but it seems a little off to Percy…and the residents of the camp think there’s something a little off about Percy as well.  He’s not exactly welcome with open arms, especially when it becomes clear that he is a son of Neptune (a bad omen at Camp Jupiter).  In this Roman camp, people seem to recognize that there something a bit Greek about Percy, and Romans and Greeks don’t exactly have a history of getting along.  Percy knows his true place isn’t at Camp Jupiter, but he soon discovers that he has a part to play in helping the camp survive…

Immediately upon arriving at Camp Jupiter, Percy encounters two young demigods who become his instant friends:  Hazel and Frank.  Hazel is a daughter of Pluto who is hiding a bunch of secrets, including where (or when) she came from and her role in Gaea’s war against the Olympus.  Frank is seen as a bit of a loser and is still waiting to learn who his godly parent is.  When the answer he’s always waited for finally arrives, Frank is less than pleased with his father’s identity, for it means that his life is about to get a lot more complicated.  (He’s not wrong.)

Percy, Hazel, and Frank are sent on a quest to prevent Gaea’s giant Alcyoneus from taking the war against Olympus to the next level.  There’s a bit of a problem, though.  (Isn’t there always?)  The three demigods have just a few days to make it from San Francisco to Alaska, and they have to battle lots of monsters along the way.  They’ve also got to make a few important pit stops to communicate with potential allies (who may or may not have their own agendas).  On top of that, once they deal with Alcyoneus, who cannot be killed in his home, they’ve got to return to Camp Jupiter to help save the camp from the monsters on their way to destroy it.  Easy peasy, right?  Yeah…not so much.  On this journey, secrets will be revealed, old (and new) foes and friends will be encountered, and the young demigods will encounter Death himself.  Will they be able to complete the nearly impossible task before them, or will Gaea find a way to further her cause against Olympus?  Will Percy regain his memory?  If he does, what will it mean for his life at Camp Jupiter?  To find the answers to these questions and more, read The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan!

It should go without saying that I thoroughly enjoyed The Son of Neptune. It is a great book for readers ages 9 to 99.  The things that I loved about Riordan’s previous books also apply to this one:  fully developed characters, an intricate plot, tons of action, friends and enemies in unexpected places, and a liberal dose of humor.  I can’t wait to see where the third book, The Mark of Athena, takes us.  It should be an interesting ride.

By the way, The Mark of Athena is scheduled for a fall 2012 release.  In the meantime, I urge you to read Riordan’s Kane Chronicles series–The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire.  If you’d like more information about Rick Riordan and his amazing books, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx.

The Lost Hero

Notice:  It might not be a bad idea to read the entire Percy Jackson & the Olympians series before starting this book.  Trust me!

In The Lost Hero, we are introduced to three new demigods:  Jason, Piper, and Leo.  At the beginning, they have no idea who they really are or what they can do.  After a treacherous field trip to the Grand Canyon, however, things begin to change–especially when their gym coach turns out to be a somewhat unpredictable satyr.  The three teens are spirited away to Camp Half-Blood where, one by one, they are claimed by their godly parents.  Even this is not without its conflict.  (I won’t tell you who their parents are.  That would really ruin things for you.  You’ll just have to read to find out.)

Shortly after Jason, Piper, and Leo arrive at Camp Half-Blood, they are sent on a quest–and we all know how wonderful those usually turn out, don’t we?  They must stop something truly evil from coming to life and destroying Olympus and the world as they (and we) know it.  This could prove to be a bit difficult, especially since Jason has a touch of amnesia, Piper and Leo are hiding some pretty important details, and all of the gods of Olympus have gone silent.  To sum up, things are bad, and they’re about to get much, much worse.

Can our heroes succeed in their quest?  Why were these three demigods chosen for this all-important task?  Why does Jason constantly refer to the gods and goddesses by their Roman names?  How are these events connected to Percy Jackson and his actions in the Titan War?  What will they have to do–or give up–to defeat the evil that is rising?  Read The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan for the answers to these questions and more.  (I will warn you that some of these questions may be answered, but about a million more will pop up to replace them.  Awesome.)

Just like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Lost Hero (and the rest of the Heroes of Olympus series, I hope) is great for upper elementary, middle, and high school readers.  Adults will enjoy it, too!

For more information on Rick Riordan and his wonderful books, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx.

The Battle of the Labyrinth

Warning!  Read The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse before continuing.  Spoilers ahead!

As The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan begins, Percy Jackson is attending orientation at yet another high school.  As one would expect, things don’t go well.  He is attacked by demon cheerleaders and is forced to flee a fiery mess.  How will he explain this one to his mom?

The forces of Titan lord Kronos are growing more powerful, and Percy and his friends must venture into the mysterious labyrinth to find some way to save Camp Half-Blood, Mount Olympus, and the world as they know it.  This quest is not without its perils.  Percy and the gang encounter hideous monsters, legions of ghosts, old enemies, new friends, and a few gods and goddesses.  Who can they trust?  It is unclear who is working for Kronos and who is on the side of the Olympians.

As war between the Titans and the Olympians looms ever nearer, Percy and friends  must work to rally all who seek to save Olympus.  Can they do it?  Will they even survive that long?  Read The Battle of the Labyrinth, book four in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, to find out!

The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson is on the verge of being kicked out of yet another boarding school.  He can’t seem to behave, his dyslexia and ADHD don’t make school easy, and his pre-algebra teacher has just turned into a monster.  I know some people think their math teachers are monsters.  (Quick shout out to my mom, an eighth-grade math teacher.)  Well, Percy’s teacher actually is.  She’s a Fury right out of the Underworld, and she does her best to destroy Percy while on a field trip.

Well, she doesn’t succeed.  (That would make for a very short and disappointing book, wouldn’t it?)  This little incident, does, however, help to open Percy’s eyes.  He soon discovers that the myths he’s learned about ancient Greece aren’t myths at all.  In fact, he’s the son of a god himself, and he’s got some pretty big problems ahead of him.  Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and everyone thinks Percy stole it.  Percy knows that’s not true, but how can he prove it?

Percy and his friends set out on a quest to find the stolen lightning bolt and return it to Zeus before the summer solstice.  As you can imagine, things get in their way.  Percy must deal with a father he’s never really met, hoards of monsters on his heels, treachery from an unlikely source, a perilous journey to the Underworld, and an evil that even the gods will not speak of.  Exciting, yes?  Read Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief to experience Percy’s action-packed journey and see if he is successful in his quest to restore peace to Olympus.