Elem./MG – Tales of Great Goddesses (Series NF)

Greenberg, Imogen, and Isabel Greenberg. Tales of Great Goddesses. Amulet Books, 2021, $14.99 ea. $26. set of 26.78 91 p. Grades 3-6.

Athena: Goddess of War and Wisdom.  978-1-419-74859-2.
Gaia. 978-1-419-74861-5. (July 2022)

From the time Athena emerges from a split in her father’s skull, the goddess is always creating drama on Mount Olympus, whether she tries to or not. Although she is strong and wise, some of the other gods and goddesses on Olympus do not like her, especially her uncle Poseidon. Athena does not much care for him either, especially when he roots against her in a weaving contest against the mortal Arachne and prevents Odysseus, Athena’s favorite hero, from returning home to his wife and child after a long journey at sea. Although he loves his youngest daughter, Zeus becomes frustrated with Athena from time to time. He becomes especially angry when she tries to meddle in mortal business even when they do not ask for her help. Athena must learn to balance helping mortals with the wishes of her father.

THOUGHTS: Although there are countless books on Greek gods and goddesses, this graphic novel about Athena proves even stories that have been told over and over can be fresh again. The Greenberg sisters write and illustrate Athena’s greatest adventures in a way that ties all of her stories together and proves that even goddesses have a lot to learn. Back matter in the book includes a glossary and further reading. While Greek Mythology can sometimes be a bit problematic for younger grades (violence, nudity, etc.), the authors handle the content and illustrations with care. This is a perfect addition to upper elementary and middle grade libraries.

292.2 Mythology           Danielle Corrao, Manheim Central SD
Graphic Novel

YA – Lore

Bracken, Alexandra. Lore. Disney Hyperion, 2021. 978-1-484-77820-3. $18.99. 480 p. Grades 9-12.

Lore Perseus is trying to live a normal life, but as a descendant of the Greek hero Perseus, it’s not that simple. Every seven years, a new Agon begins. During this time, nine Greek gods walk the Earth as mortals as a punishment from Zeus. These gods are hunted by the descendants of the ancient Greek bloodlines. If a god is killed by a mortal during an Agon, the mortal hunters will inherit their power and immortality. Although Lore walked away from that world after her family was murdered, her past is catching up with her. When she is approached by a childhood friend and the god Athena, Lore strikes up an alliance hoping to avenge the death of her family and finally escape the Agon forever. Set against the backdrop of modern day New York City, Lore must confront her past, figure out who she can trust, and ultimately save the world from both old gods and new.

THOUGHTS: This book has been described as a mix between The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and I would absolutely recommend it to readers that are fans of Rick Riordan and Greek mythology. In addition, Lore is a standalone fantasy novel which may appeal to readers who are not looking to commit to a series. The main character, Lore, is a strong and powerful female determined to take control of her own life. The fast-paced story is full of action, and the surprising plot twists will keep readers on their toes!

Fantasy          Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

Lore Perseous wants to be a normal teenage girl living in New York City. She wants to forget that she is from an Ancient Greek bloodline, descended from Perseus himself. However, the brutal reminder of who she is becomes apparent as the Agon begins its next cycle after seven years. The Agon, which started as a punishment from Zeus for past rebellions, is a time in which nine Greek gods and goddesses are forced to walk on Earth as mortals. During the seven days of the Agon, if a god or goddess is killed by a descendant of an ancient bloodline, the descendant seizes that god’s powers and immortality. For her own sanity and protection, Lore is determined to ignore the Agon as she has horrible memories of what happened to her family during the last one. The Fates have other plans for her when two people seek her out: Castor, a childhood friend, and Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war. Athena offers Lore an alliance in an attempt to stop one god from becoming all-powerful. Joining this alliance means she could possibly end the horrors of the Agon forever, so Lore is tempted. She knows, however, binding to Athena could come at a deadly cost and wipe out the rest of the Perseous bloodline forever. By rejoining the hunt, Lore is leaving her fate in the hands of a powerful goddess who is not always known for keeping her promises.

THOUGHTS: Alexandra Bracken’s book is a heart-pounding adventure that leaves the reader at a cliffhanger with the end of every chapter. Readers should have a basic knowledge of Greek Mythology to get the most out of this book, but fans of Zeus and all the rest are sure to love this tale. This book is a fantastic purchase for high school libraries, especially with students who read Percy Jackson in middle school and are now looking for something more advanced.

Fantasy/Adventure        Danielle Corrao, Manheim Central SD

YA Fantasy & Sci-Fi – Bull; Caraval; Carve the Mark; Edge of Everything

Elliott, David. Bull. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. 978-0-544-61060-6. 189 p. $17.99. Gr. 9-12.

A modern twist on the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, this sassy novel in verse will have readers hooked from the beginning.  Each chapter is written in a unique poetic form and in one of seven different voices, Poseidon, King Minos, Queen Pasiphae, Daedalus (builder of the Labyrinth), Asterion (the Minotaur), Ariadne (Asterion’s half sister), and Theseus.  For the most part, the story stays true to the myth; Poseidon exacts revenge on King Minos by making his wife fall in love with a bull, after which she gives birth to Asterion, who is ultimately locked up in the Labyrinth until he is killed by Theseus.  The author, however, takes some liberties in developing the attitudes and relationships among the characters.  The book ends with an author’s note about his take on the myth and an explanation of the various poetic forms used throughout.  An excellent choice for both English classrooms and leisure reading, this title’s use of rhymes, modern slang and profanity will help today’s students make connections and find relevance in an old classic.  THOUGHTS: I could see this book being used in so many ways.  English teachers might find it useful as a way to introduce an old classic or introduce poetic forms. It could be read aloud like a play as a way to engage students.  The underlying message about the frailty of humans could spark some great discussion.  Students could compare and contrast between the classic version of the myth and this version. No matter what the use, note that the book does contain some profanity, so audiences should be selected accordingly.

Fantasy (Mythology)    Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

 

Garber, Stephanie. Caraval. New York: Flatiron Books, 2017. 978-1-2500-9525-1. 416 p. $18.99. Gr. 7-12.

Scarlett and her sister Tella have lived their entire life on the island of Trisda, secluded from the rest of the world. Eager to escape her tyrannical father, Scarlett is excited when he arranges a marriage for her and thinks only of taking Tella with her. One night, a mysterious sailor convinces Tella to leave, and Scarlett feels compelled to follow. She finds herself wrapped up in Caraval, a magical event that blurs the lines between performance and game, often with deadly results. Scarlett is now a player in Caraval, and she must find Tella, who has been kidnapped by Caraval’s strange creator, Legend. Scarlett must solve cryptic puzzles and navigate the deadly terrain, unsure who is a player or an actor, while fighting off feelings for the mysterious sailor. Caraval is thrilling, mysterious and unique; it’s unlike anything else on YA shelves. THOUGHTS:  Stephanie Garber’s debut will enchant any fantasy, sci-fi or romance fan, and leave you hanging on the edge of your seat at the book’s conclusion. Highly recommended.

Fantasy      Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School

 

Roth, Veronica. Carve the Mark. HarperCollins, 2017. 978-0-06-234863-0. $22.99. 480p. Gr. 9 and up.

Carve the Mark is a story of friendship and love in a galaxy where oracles see the future and the current supplies everyone with a currentgift. The story is told from two characters’ points-of-view. The female protagonist, Cyra, got an unenviable currentgift of being in constant pain, which she can inflict on others when she wants. Her brother, Ryzek, is the ruler and tyrant of the aggressive Shotet, and he keeps order among his people by forcing Cyra to use her currentgift on anyone who mentions the prophecy of his downfall. The second point-of-view is told by the other protagonist, Akos, who is from the peaceful Thuvhe people.  He is the son of an oracle and the only person in the galaxy that can touch Cyra without feeling pain since his currentgift is the ability to stop the flow of other’s gifts. Cyra and Akos find themselves both fighting against Ryzek and over time start to fall in love. THOUGHTS: I enjoyed reading this book, which is the first in a planned duology. It received a starred review from Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) and is a must-have for all middle & high school libraries due to the popularity of Roth’s Divergent trilogy. My hint for the readers of this book is to persevere with the difficult names. Countries, planets, and people all have unusual names, which some of my students sometimes voice displeasure with. There is some descriptive violence and ritual scarification which might turn some readers off.

Fantasy; Science Fiction    Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD

 

Giles, Jeff. The Edge of Everything. New York: Bloomsbury, 2017. 978-1-6196-3753-5. 368 p. $18.99. Gr 7-12.

Zoe lives in a remote area of Montana with her mother and younger brother, Jonah. Her year has been pretty terrible; her Dad died in a caving accident, and her elderly neighbors mysteriously disappeared not long after. Zoe is doing everything she can to hold onto the family she has and come to terms with her loss. One night during a blizzard, Zoe finds herself under attack and unable to call for help due to the storm. She is saved by X, a strange (but handsome) bounty hunter from the Lowlands, who was sent to take the soul of her attacker. While Zoe knows she should be terrified, she instead finds herself drawn to X, who is unlike anyone she’s ever met. As the two connect, she finds that X is risking everything to stay by her side. Zoe is determined to free X from the Lowlands, but as a result must learn the terrifying truth about her missing father and neighbors. THOUGHTS: A fast-paced, original story that’s a great addition to any fantasy collection. Fans of supernatural romance will swoon as Zoe and Z fall in love, and action fans will be on the edge of their seat as the novel takes off.

Fantasy     Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School