Percy wants to spend his summer at Camp Half-Blood, training with his friends Grover (a satyr) and Annabeth (like Percy, she’s half Olympian). Then it is discovered that Kronos, the ruler of the Titans, is about to rise from Tartarus and lay siege to Mount Olympus. To stop Kronos, Percy must cancel his plans and face the dangers in Daedalus‘ labyrinth (where Theseus slew the Minotaur).
Why I picked it up: I could guess from the title that Percy would be entering the Labyrinth in this book, and Theseus and the Minotaur has always been one of my favorites.
Why I finished it: It’s a fun romp through a modern version of Greek mythology, with adventurers who are daring, brave, and somewhat incompetent.
I'd give it to: Michael, who would like that Riordan brought in some of the less well-known character of Greek mythology, such as the hundred-handed giants. Jen, who would smile at all of the characters’ quick wit and sarcasm.
@bookblrb: Kronos is about to escape Tartarus and lay siege to Mount Olympus. To stop him Percy must face Daedalus‘ labyrinth.
Calpurnia Tate is an 11-year-old living in Texas in the late 1800’s. Her family is wealthy, and she has six other siblings, all male. She is a bit of a tomboy, which is discouraged by her mother, who believes it is time for her to prepare to be a lady. Because of her love for the outdoors and science, she catches her Grandfather’s eye. Grandpa finds the school’s lack of science education deplorable, and tutors her so they can start performing real experiments. They even submit what they believe to be a new plant species to the Smithsonian. The pressure to stop these unladylike actions builds -- she is supposed to be learning to converse and sew in preparation for marriage. Calpurnia feels torn between obeying her mother and following her heart .
Why I picked it up: Required reading for my ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults committee.
Why I finished it: The clear love and respect between Calpurnia and her Grandfather, expressed throughout the book in tiny ways, goes unspoken because of the formality of the time.
I'd give it to: Those who liked Kristin Levine’s The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, another period piece that brought its setting to life. My daughter, Grace -- because of her three older brothers, she will understand Calpurnia’s life, even 120 years later. My childhood friend, Tommy, who had to kill a turkey like Calpurnia does.
@bookblrb: Calpurnia’s mother wants her to act like a lady, but she loves science and the outdoors.
Mendleman is an artist, a carpet maker who puts his pride and hard work into the rugs he designs and weaves. His wife is 8 months pregnant as he sets off for the market to sell his wares, and his responsibilities as a father and husband loom large in his mind. As he walks to and through the market, he sees carpet designs in unexpected places. But things have changed at the shop that normally buys his work, and he must try to find a new place to get a fair price for the rugs he made.
Why I finished it: Sturm’s art is cartoony and expressive, dark while remaining simple and straightforward. He never uses a word where a picture will do, and keeps his layouts simple and uncrowded so that the story flows naturally. This was an amazing graphic novel that I could not put down, on a topic I would not normally be interested in reading about.
I'd give it to: History teachers and middle and high school libraries who want an easy, effective way to help students understand the effects of the industrial revolution.
@bookblrb: Mendleman puts his pride and hard work into the rugs he designs and weaves, but he has a hard time selling them.
If you choose the right path, Jimmy meets an inventor who lets him try out his three inventions: a memory transfer helmet, a time machine, or a doomsday device. You pick what choices Jimmy makes by following color-coded pipes that lead from panel to panel and page to page using a complicated series of tabs and looping connectors. There are also secret codes that you can discover to help you use the inventions.
Why I picked it up:
Sarah: I liked Shiga's Bookhunter (read it free online - click "books") a lot, and a graphic novel you can choose different paths in sounded really neat.
Gene: Me, too. I read about the original, hand made edition of Meanwhile online a few years ago, but couldn’t find a copy. I was excited to see ARCs of this edition at Shiga’s table at APE last October and tried desperately to win a copy, but I couldn’t even come close to answering his quiz.
Why I finished it:
Sarah: Shiga brings time travel, probability, and alternate universes into the story, and you can see those strands of time and alternate choices going past you on the page as you read your own timeline. Sometimes the hero gets to argue with his own self from another time. Trippy!
Gene: It’s the most complicated graphic novel I’ve ever seen. It’s a challenge to read, but it’s utterly enjoyable, not only for Shiga’s light style, but because the production quality of the books is wonderful. I didn’t realize how much I liked it until, by chance, I sat next to its editor, Maggie Lehrman, on a plane, and heard myself talking about it.
I'd give it to:
Sarah: Konrad, who is doing graduate work in math and will appreciate the difficulties in making this complex branching story into a physical object. Alex, who is honest and will be less annoyed than I was that it's hard to cheat to avoid starting over again.
Gene: William, who likes to trace the path of overhead ductwork in trendy downtown warehouse spaces.
@bookblrb: If you make the right choices Jimmy gets to try out a memory transfer helmet, a time machine, and a doomsday device.
Bob Harris, a standup comedian and writer for CSI: Las Vegas, has also been a game show champion. In this memoir of his time on Jeopardy, he riffs on strategies for success, memorization techniques, fellow competitors, and memories of verbal sparring with host Alex Trebek. Harris filled notebooks with study material, made a fake buzzer, rearranged his apartment to closely resemble the Jeopardy set, and chased off at least one girlfriend with his obsession.
Why I picked it up: At Value Village, this title jumped off the shelf at me, maybe because my parents have a daily appointment with Trebek. (Secretly, I’ve always thought I could win on the show, too.)
Why I finished it: Lots of behind the scenes from the Jeopardy set. Contestants intimidate one another in the green room. Wranglers get the contestants to the right place at the right time. The truth about the buzzers and how to use them effectively. Harris also has a self-deprecating sense of humor -- he admits he dances like “an arthritic, inebriated bear.”
I'd give it to: Those fascinated with the memorization techniques as Harris spends quite a bit of time studying things to make him a better contestant. My friend Jon who knew Yak's milk was not pink, despite Trivial Pursuit's answer.
@bookblrb: Comedian and writer Bob Harris explains how he won on Jeopardy.
Annie is a realtor. She was packing up an open house ten minutes early when one last customer came by. He seemed nice so she let him in. Suddenly she had a gun in her back. He put her in a van, drove her to a cabin deep in the woods, and held her captive for a year.
Why I picked it up: I almost didn't, because this is disturbing stuff. But Annie's telling her story to her therapist, which made it a little less voyeuristic.
Why I finished it: I didn't think I would, but then a mystery emerges. Annie's captor knows a little too much about her. He had help from someone she knows. I needed to find out who it was.
I'd give it to: My mom. She'll eat it up, bless her deeply disturbed heart.
@bookblrb: Ann was held for a year in a cabin deep in the woods. How did her captor know so much about her?