Category Archives: Adventure

The Scarlet Pimpernel

By Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Copyright © 1905

The French aristocracy is headed to the guillotine at the end French Revolution and the only one willing to save them is the Scarlett Pimpernel.

After the French Revolution royalty and nobility are being sent to the guillotine daily, but no European country wants to step in and stop the madness. But there is one man who will risk his neck for these aristocrats and he is known only as the Scarlet Pimpernel.

At the beginning of the story the Scarlet Pimpernel has confounded the murdering French Revolutionaries at every turn sneaking condemned men, women, and children out of France and over to England right under their captors noses. So the French Republic Government sends it’s Chief Agent of the Committee of Public Safety on a mission to England to root out the identity of the Scarlett Pimpernel and to ensnare him on French soil to have him killed. This agent,  Citizen Chauvelin, enlists the aid of a former acquaintance, French expat, and high society darling of fashion Marguerite by black mailing her. Marguerite has no idea who the Scarlet Pimpernel is but she is mildly infatuated with him. When she does find out who he is she will fall madly in love with him, but will it be too late to save him?

The Scarlet Pimpernel is obviously a historical novel set in the 1790’s. While the story contains historical figures, it is obvious that the author was on the side of the Aristocracy and that history is not as much of a concern as is telling a good story. In that Orczy does a wonderful job. Though it really doesn’t come as much of a surprise who the Scarlett Pimpernel turns out to be it is still a great tale with mild intrigue, daring-do, and romance. Having read some of Alexander Dumas works, which center in and around this time period and which are generally long, highly-detailed stories, I found this book to be an extremely easy read in comparison and in general quite fun to read. This book was originally written for an adult audience, but today it translates very well as a classic for youth to read as well.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Adventure, Adventure, Classics, Classics, Europe, Historical, Historical, Romance, Romance, Young Adult Fiction

The Son of Neptune

The Heroes of Olympus Book 2

By Rick Riordan

Published by Disney Hyperion

Copyright © 2011

Fans of the original Percy Jackson and the Olympians series will be happy to see that Percy Jackson is back. In book one of “The Heroes of Olympus” we were introduced to a Roman demigod named Jason Grace. He showed up at camp half-blood with amnesia and was selected by Juno to go on a quest, because once again the world of the God’s is in danger. Juno is up to her old tricks again, and she has given Percy amnesia and sent him on a cultural exchange to the Roman Camp, Camp Jupiter. He, along with two Roman demigods, will go on a quest to prove that the God’s really do need the demigods help in defeating their common foe.

The defeat of the Titans has angered their mother, Gaea. Gaea is the earth goddess, also known as mother earth, and she isn’t as friendly as her title makes her sound. She and her son, the giant Alcyoneus, have captured the gatekeeper of the dead, Thanatos, and now anyone that Gaea sees as useful is being freed from death and are wreaking havoc on the gods and demigods. Monsters just won’t stay dead no matter how many times they are killed, and they are being gathered together under the command of Gaea, Alcyoneus, and her other son the giant Polybotes.

This brings us to Percy’s quest. Thanatos must be freed so he can do his job and mighty Alcyoneus must be destroyed. There are problems though, Alcyoneus is keeping Thanatos in a land beyond the reach of the Gods; he is being kept in… Alaska! To make matters worse, Alcyoneus cannot be destroyed while he is in his own land.  Fortunately, Percy will have two demigods with him that will be more than up to the task. Even though Hazel and Frank are members of a cohort 5, a Roman military group at Camp Jupiter which seems to be reserved for losers, they have powers that will be more beneficial than anyone can know. They are the only ones who can possibly help bring Alcyoneus down.

I’m not going to give away who Frank and Hazel’s parents are or what powers they possess; that is half the fun of Riordan’s books. I will however reveal that Hazel has a very close connection to Alcyoneus, and that Frank has one of the coolest powers yet revealed in any of the Olympian/Olympus books due in part to his Chinese heritage.

There is nothing new in Riordan’s plots: A riddle describing a job that needs to be done along with the perils it will bring will be read, and three demigods will go on a quest to defeat some evil God/Titan/Giant/Monster/Etc. There will be battles and one or all of the three quest members will at some point have to make a difficult decision which will in the end help them defeat their foe.

As plain and simple as this may sound, Riordan continues to make it special because he always adds something new. For instance in this book he has delved a little deeper into Roman Myth. He has introduced a new camp and a new enemy. As with Camp Half Blood, the members of Camp Jupiter have gods for parents and they have different powers too. In addition Riordan has set this new quest in the Pacific Northwest; a place very much different from New York or San Francisco. If that wasn’t enough, he throws in the aforementioned Chinese ties and some Amazon action.  Riordan blends these things so effortlessly that you can’t help but be interested.

The Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series are not the most compelling books that I’ve ever read. But there is something to be said for the level of comfort he creates with the characters, while still giving us tons of action, and enough new material to suck us in. Now I’m ready to see how the prophecy unfolds in his next book:

“Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,

To storm or fire the world must fall.

An oath to keep with a final breath,

And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.”

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Filed under Adventure, Adventure, Fantasy, Fantasy, Friendship, Junior Fiction, Love/Romance, Myths & Legends, Myths and Legends, Romance, Young Adult Fiction

MOCKINGJAY

By Suzanne Collins

Published by Scholastic Press

Copyright © 2010

Katniss Everdeen has survived, barely, her second stint in the Hunger Games thanks to a rescue operation carried out by the rebels and their Capitol spies. But all is not well. Not all of the games combatants were rescued. Among those left behind was Peeta who President Snow will now use to thwart the rebel cause and break Katniss.

Things aren’t well in District 13 either. However happy she is about being rescued, it was done with ulterior motives. Katniss finds that she has been saved so that she can be the face and voice of the rebellion, the Mockingjay. However, Katniss finds district 13 to be very strict and antiseptic and something about its leaders gives her an uneasy feeling. Will the leader of district 13, President Coin, still have a use for her when she has accomplished their goal? And will she be saving or destroying more lives? One thing is for sure; the rebellion is going to cause her grief on a level she has never known.

Mockingjay is at once different and similar the first two books in this series. In the first two books she is a captive of the Capitol and the Hunger Games. In Mockingjay she is safely inside District 13, but she is still a captive of the Games. Her life is now about taking down the Capitol the cruel creators of the Hunger Games, but she is still a captive in many ways trying to save Peeta, trying to keep District 13’s leaders happy, and trying to come to terms with all of the sorrow that has occurred since her first trip to the Hunger Games.

Suzanne Collins Hunger Games Finale is exquisite. Her ability to tale a tale that is filled with action, suspense, love, internal angst, and a philosophical and historical understanding of humans is spellbinding. I literally could not put this book, or any of the books, in this series down. The ending is so dramatic that I felt the pain and understood the necessity of Katniss’ actions. This series is just completely awesome. It has moved to the top of my YA Fiction list.

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Filed under Adventure, Community, Family, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense, Young Adult Fiction

As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth

As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth

By Lynne Ray Perkins

Published by Greenwillow Books

Copyright © 2010

Summer vacation has begun and Ry is on his way to an archaeological camp, his parents are on their way to the Caribbean, and his Grandfather is staying back at their new house in their new town to watch their two dogs. Oh, but “the best laid plans of mice and men…” These plans go dreadfully awry when Ry’s train leaves without him and series of misadventures befall him and the rest of his family seemingly simultaneously. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, Ry meets up with a man named Del in Montana. Del is a bit of Renaissance man, and he has to be one of the nicest, quirkiest, and stubborn men Ry will ever meet. Del is going to help Ry get home and find his parents.

The amount of problems this family runs into in such a short stretch is pretty unbelievable, but I guess the unbelievable makes the best stories. Initially the way that Ry starts out his adventure, in the middle of nowhere Montana, is the hardest to conceive. You read it and say there is no way anyone is that stupid, and then you remember that it is a teen with a cell phone and you begin to wonder why you haven’t heard of it in real life already. (No I’m not going to tell you anymore about what happened.)

Perkins has written an entertaining book showcasing among other topics our dependence on technology, the kindness of strangers, and the need for a little humility to make love work. Any reader that can let go of their inhibitions of the seemingly impossible in reality fiction will really enjoy this story of unexpected adventure, friendship, and personal growth. Great for readers age 12 and up.

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Filed under Adventure, Family, Summer Vacation, Young Adult Fiction