Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Project 50 Restart: June

"Looking for Alaska" by John Green
"Looking for Alaska" is about Miles, a boy who moves, in his junior year, to a boarding school in Alabama and into a culture of have and have nots, pranks, and plenty of vice. Now that I think about it, I'm sure that there was just the same amount of vice among students at my high school in rural Oregon, but I was a naive good girl, so I knew nothing about it. Miles meets and falls in love with a beautiful, wild and crazy, but untouchable girl named Alaska (she picked the name herself). They spend a lot of time alone together because Alaska doesn't want to go home for holidays. Along with Miles' roommate, "the Colonel," their friend Takumi, and Lara, the girl that Alaska chooses to be Miles' girlfriend, they have a good time pulling pranks and talking about famous last words.
The first part of the book has an ominous "# of days before" countdown, so you know something big is coming. I won't say what it is, but I cried, just a little, and not many books can make me cry.
From there, the book turned into something similar to Paper Towns, with a mystery to solve, and it was only then that I saw the similarities between Alaska and Margo in the first half of the book. Both are amazing yet wounded girls, making best friends with the nerdy boy. I found Alaska a little bit cheesy and forced sometimes, especially her claims of militant feminism, while the boys define her by her insatiable appetite for sex.
I think the book gets its strength from is base around Miles' World Religions class and its relation to his fascination with famous last words. It's this this that makes the novel not just a romp of high school hedonism and trajedy, but depth and inspiration and encouragment for a young adult reader to think about more than just what they want out of life. B

"Judgement of the Judoon" by Colin Brake
This Doctor Who novel features the Tenth Doctor on his own. It's got a brain teasing plot, but it got a little bit thin in places on its representation of Tennant's Doctor. It played a little too much on the "lone alien explorer" bit. I thought that the sudden humanish transformation of the Judoon guard's personality was a little bit weak too. C-

"Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth" by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is in trouble again. He and his friends have to battle monsters and tricksters through the infamous Labyrinth to find its inventor, Daedalus and find a way to defeat Luke, the half-blood camper who's allied himself with the Titans threatening to bring down Olympus. He gets in a bit of a mix with his friend Annabeth when he asks a gifted mortal girl to join their quest. The ending didn't end like I thought it would, but it did end exactly like it should. B+

"Martian Time-Slip" by Phillip K. Dick
This story reminded me a little bit of the Martian Chronicles, but not enough for me to hate it for that. Its fractured plot that jumps back and forth between several characters gives the novel about a time when 1/6th of the human population has schizophrenia its own fractured feeling. Arnie Kott, a big boss in the Mars black market, subscribes to a school that says that schizophrenics have pre-cognition, and he wants one of these fortune-tellers on his payroll. He chooses an autistic orphan boy who doesn't communicate, and tells his machine repairman to create a system that would allow him to tell the future to those who would use it. His theory is that autistic people operate on a faster timeline than other humans, and that normal speed communication goes by too fast for them to understand. I can't tell the rest without ruining the plot, but I found the book and the way it addressed mental ability absolutely fascinating. A-

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by JK Rowling
I adore this book, just for Gilderoy Lockheart. He's so flawlessly over the top, I cheer everytime he shows up. I think the reactions from his fellow teachers are the best because they're so UNCOMFORTABLE! It's the third time I've read it, and I still laugh my head off. A

"The Larion Senators: Eldarn Sequence Book 3" by Robert Scott and Jay Gordon
I thought that all was lost for Steven Taylor and Mark Jenkins after "Lessek's Key," but there was enough hope for one more book. Except that it was really awkward. Mark's bits were half in an inescapable dreamworld, and half about killing people. Steven Taylor gets nerdy with math, and Hannah has awkward pity sex with someone else. Why is sex always out of nowhere in these books? I was mildly disappointed with most of the book, with just enough intrigue and magic to keep me going. C

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Project 50 Restart: May

“Bagombo Snuff Box” by Kurt Vonnegut
This is a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s short stories which had previously been released in various magazines. The introduction, an ode to the bygone days of magazine fiction, is as worth reading as the stories themselves. It’s a good variety, with some stories ending quite pleasantly, but most ending in that state of fallen discontent that is the common experience of being human. There were three stories about the same man, a self-centered band teacher who cared about his own goals rather than the lives of his students, and got his comeuppance every time. A+

“Les Miserables, Volume 1” by Victor Hugo
Although Hugo can get a bit wordy, this was a wonderful book. He really takes the time to craft characters and events, waiting for just the right moment for it to all come together. I knew enough about the story to watch him build up the life of the priest, then use him for one moment of grace. It’s a short moment of biblical proportions, and the theme of redemption and turning from evil keeps coming up. Hugo describes Paris with such affection that I’m considering going there again, even though it didn’t treat me right the first two times. Here’s hoping I can find the second rest of the book. I think there’s a British conspiracy against it on account of Waterloo… A-

“The Two Towers” by J.R.R. Tolkien
It took me a long time to get through the second book in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. It reminded me of Harry Potter and the Extended Camping Trip, I mean Deathly Hallows. How many times can you describe the troupe bedding down for the night and trading off on watch? The fellowship is thoroughly separated now: Merry and Pippin are captured by orcs, Aragon, Gimli, and Legolas meet up with the Riders of Rohan, and Sam Gamgee faithfully follows Mr. Frodo on the trek to Mordor. There were a couple of highlights in the long, dense, repetitive text. My favorite part was where we get to meet the Ents, a tree-like race that drink with their feet and care for Merry and Pippin after their escape from the orcs. And of course, anything with Gollum tends to liven the story up a bit. C+

“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss
This book was recommended by the president of the Harry Potter Alliance as the next big thing in fantasy. It starts in an inn where the barkeeper is a famous magician in hiding, so depressed by his losses in life that he refuses to claim his identity. A traveling scribe recognizes him, and convinces to tell his real life’s story, the truth as opposed to the fables that everyone tells about Kvothe the Bloodless. Kote (Kvothe) finally consents, and most of the rest of the book is told from his point of view, starting with his childhood as part of a kind of traveling gypsy family. He learns a bit of magic (and shows a lot of talent) from an old arcanist who joins their troop, whose last advice before leaving the troop is that Kvothe to go to the University to become a real arcanist. Kvothe longs to know the names of things, the secret names that put them under his control. Terrible events take Kvothe’s family from him, and he spends several years roughing it in the big city before pulling himself together and attending University, which reminded me a bit of Harry Potter and a bit of the Edge Chronicles. The story carries on to the point where Kvothe is apprenticed to the Master Namer of the University. There is a love story throughout, which was as frustrating to me as a reader as it was to Kvothe, who can’t manage to keep her. I just don’t see what could have been so special about this woman who clearly didn’t give a care about him. I would like to read the rest of the trilogy, but I’m afraid that I won’t be able to find the other books. This one was hard enough to find in a bookstore. A-

“Dambuster” by Robert Radcliffe
The title of this book stood out to me, because my grandpa, a Lancaster bomber pilot, mentioned it as the title of a movie when he was telling me all he remembered about Lancs. Dam busters are the popular title of the RAF crews who flew special missions to destroy key dams in Germany during WWII. This book is a novel, but features a lot of technical explanations about just how difficult this kind of mission was, from the size, shape, and casing of the bomb that they needed to use, to the extremely low, straight flying they had to master in order to get just the right angle. If the wings tipped just a tiny bit, the plane would skim the water and the whole crew could perish in a crash. Despite my hardline stance against war, I was interested in finding out about the planes that my grandpa flew. I had a couple of problems with the storytelling though. Periodically, Radcliffe will stop the story and give a running total of who had died and how they died and how many crews were left, which got repetitive. The story centered around a pilot who had had a tryst with a girl as a teenager, who had his child and disappeared from his life at the pressure of her family. They reunite just as the dam buster mission is getting ready. The thing is, their story is never finished. The pilot is captured, then escapes, and his love interest knows that he’s alive, but the novel ends with another list of the dead rather than their reunion. Could have been better. C+

“Relative Experience” by various authors
This book is a collection of essays by Quaker parents about parenting and Quakerism and where the two meet. It was published in 1994, so it is a bit odd to read about parents raising their children to support nuclear disarmament… it seemed a little bit 1960s, but I guess the Quaker peace witness is that important that the message carries on. It’s good to read how the Quaker view of peace and non-violenve forms the discipline of Quaker parents, an internal battle that I’m sure most parents experience, but these had a clear doctrine to keep them at peace. I got it from the Quaker Center library where I’ve been attending because I had been thinking a lot about being a parent and just wanted to read something by parents. B

“The Book of Rubbish Ideas”
I’m trying to read books which will get me into an Earth-saving mindset, so I won’t have to keep reading the same things over and over, that they will just be second nature. This book encourages readers to think about the waste that comes from the things that they buy, where it came from, where it goes, and how long it takes for it to go away. Plastic is bad, people. The author goes through the house room by room and gives tips on how to reduce household waste in each. She has some pretty creative ideas on what to do with the rubbish as well. B

“How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything” by Mike Berners-Lee
This is a list, from smallest to largest, of the carbon footprint of our choices for electronics, food, transportation, clothing, and recycling. Some things were obvious, like that locally grown organic food in season was low-impact. Air-freighted out of season produce can have the impact of several transatlantic flights. Heavy stuff. His statistics are not always exact. Tracing and measuring all the ways that a product can impact the environment can be difficult, and there are several places where the author says that he just couldn’t be bothered to track everything, which was a bit off-putting. But I think he achieves his goal to give readers a “carbon instinct,” figuring out just how much their extra effort to make eco-changes matters in the big scheme of things. B+

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Project 50 Restart: April

"I, Claudius" by Robert Graves
I got this book to take with me on my holiday to Mallorca, where Graves wrote the book. It's a retelling of Roman history from the point of view of crippled, stuttering Claudius. While I love a good unreliable narrator--historian Claudius presents "only the facts"--I wish I'd had another book to read. If I wasn't so bored on my vaction, I probably wouldn't have finished it, as it is very repetitive. C

"The Surgeon of Crowthorne: a tale of murder, mystery, and the Oxford English Dictionary" by Simon Winchester
I think all English majors have a nerdy affection for the OED. When we were set loose on OED Online, we often forgot our projects and spent nights pouring over the origins of our favorite words. Simon Winchester is a bit of a sensationalist historian (I couldn't get through his book on Krakatoa) but the tale of a criminally insane man and his contribution to the most prestigious work on the English language wrapped me up. I think we all have a little fascination with madness and insane asylums... As well as a history of the OED, this piece of Victorian history shows the ways that the world was changing regarding treatment of mental illness during the years that Dr. Minor was at Crowthorne. A-

"A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Vile Village" by Lemony Snickett
This episode has the Baudelaire siblings chasing a vague clue in search of their friends, the Quagmire triplets. With no willing relatives to be their guardians, a number of towns have signed on to the axiom, "It takes a village to raise a child" and the Baudelairs chose the custody of the village of V.F.D. The clues in this book are particularly clever and even as an adult, I really enjoyed playing detective along with the children. Of course, the ending isn't perfect, and the Baudelaires flee to... A-

"A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Hostile Hospital" by Lemony Snickett
Thsi book takes an unexpected turn from the mystery of the Quagmires to the mystery of the fire that killed the Baudelaire parents and just what the name "Snickett" has to do with it. He's becoming my favorite unreliable narrator. The hospital houses the worlds most counterintuitive filing system and is frequented by Volunteers Fighting Disease, who force heart shaped balloons on patients and ignore their actual diseases. Dark humor at its best. A-

"The Frugal Life" by Piper Terrett
Faced with the prospect of living as a poor college student like I never have before, I got this book in hopes of discovering some cheapskate tips that I didn't know before. I didn't, really. Some things didn't apply to my college life because it's a UK author. Some things didn't apply because I'm a vegetarian. It did bring up some ideas that I hadn't really thought of before, like foraging in the woods for food (proceed with caution: ONLY IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING) and it does have some good tips for eating well on the cheap. However, I'm used to living without extravagance, so not a lot of things in this book were new to me. B-

"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" by JK Rowling
I told myself that I would reread these while I was in England, and with 3 months to go, I'd better get started. Starting with the first book again puts me back in that state of 11 year old wonder like Harry experiences when Hagrid tells him that he is a wizard. I forget about those iconic details from the first book, like the flying keys and potions test guarding the Philosopher's Stone. It still makes me wonder how powerful the teachers must be if even 11 year old first years can pass the tests... A

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Project 50 Restart: March

It's been nearly two months since I finished some of these books. Good thing I wrote down the reviews by hand then instead of now.

"The Eyre Affair" by jasper Fforde
I was given this book for Christmas, with a note that said "to be enjoyed in peace and quiet." I didn't manage to accomplish that , but I did read a lot of it during a day of 7 hours on trains. The novel is a literary detective story, set in an alternate 1985 where literature is such a big deal to the mainstream that there is a special branch of government intelligence to investigate literary crimes. One of these literary criminals plans to change the literary world by stepping into Jane Eyre and taking the heroine hostage.
I found that the actual plot took a backseat to the scathing literary humor. For example, my favorite part was when the main character goes out with her ex to see Richard III...performed in the style of Rocky Horror Show, with the audience shouting out lines and putting on sunglasses and dressing in costume. Ridiculous names like Braxton Hicks and Jack Schitt just add to the hilarity. It's great for the literary buff or ex English major. A

"Stardust" by Neil Gaiman
This was a read treat to read. Gaiman maintains a high fantasy effect not only by the story (half-Faerie boy goes in search of a fallen star to win the girl of his dreams) but by sticking to flawless high fantasy language. Reading it was like rolling around in magic and possibility. The only thing that I found difficult about it was having to follow three interwoven (but oh so masterfully woven) story lines, but the book was short enough that they came together quite nicely. A

"Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
I started reading this because it was a request by my partner in a reading craft swap. It's a complex but humorous story about the Apocalypse. Even though it was written by two authors, it's not really obvious where one stops and the other starts. I did feel that the book climaxed too early and left a lot of fussing around at the end. Mm, well, at least their later works were OK. B-

"The Sign of Four" by Arthur Conan Doyle
This was the second Holmes novel written by Conan Doyle. It begins (and ends) with Holmes in a depressed and drugged state, the dramatic opposite of his manic behavior when on a case. In walks Mary Morstan, who needs help solving the mystery of her long lost father. Someone has been sending her single pearls for some time, but it's unclear whether it is out of goodwill or as a threat. Somewhat awkwardly, Watson instantly falls for the woman, and spends the rest of the novel mooning over her. Holmes manages to pull together enough random clues to form the real story, involving India, prison, treasure, and murder. I loved the beginning and the end, and the rest of the story kind of paled in comparison, and still had the "after the fact" tell-all trope that is in other Holmes stories. B

"Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes" by Albert Jack
We learn and cheerfully recite nursery rhymes as children and teach them to the next generation, never worrying about what they mean. But many of these poems and songs have history, some political, some medical, and some far too gruesome for children. This book is exhaustive. It covers a huge number of rhymes and cross references them to others that are connected by theme. i recommend this book to anyone interested in history or children's literature. A

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My job is painful

Augh! I've been threading a loom with linen thread that is really rough. It's meant to be for linen placemats. But it's so rough and tough that in tying up the end of the warp to the stick, pretty much the last step before the resident starts weaving, (as seen in this picture)I wore small but really painful blisters on the outsides of my pinkies and the inside of my pointer fingers. I'm very happy working in the weavery three days a week, but it does hurt sometimes!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Project 50 Restart: February

Mockingjay by Susanne Collins
I didn’t like the other books in this series, but I REALLY didn’t like this one. It’s hard to get behind a heroine who always makes the wrong moral choice. Katniss and Gale fight to lead the resistance and Peeta is supposed to have been brainwashed by the Capitol to hate Katniss with a murderous passion. I just didn’t buy any of it. The ending was the worst, with key people dying indiscriminately, and then after all the horrors, “love conquers all” and they live fairly happily ever after. Honestly, it was weak as a story before this book, but Mockingjay was proper pitiful. D-

Dubliners by James Joyce
God, it’s good to read something literary for a change. I’d been reading such simple YA fiction for so long that it took me a while to get my brain used to the language and keep on the look out for metaphors. Dubliners is a collectipon of short stories (set in Dublin, of course) so it’s easy to pick up, read one, and get a whole narrative in 20 minutes. What I love about Dubliners is it’s romantic but depressing reality. None of the characters really end up getting what they hope for and the stories end with this delicious post-modern sadness that makes you feel like you’ve read something that matters instead of “good fun.” A-

Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
This is the first Holmes story which was a big hit for ACD after he sold the rights to the only publisher who would take it. It stirs something expectant inside to read about Holmes and Watson’s first meeting, knowing the volumes of stories that come after. I’m beginning to see the pattern in these novels, where Holmes solves the story with apparently little proof, then we get the backstory, in this case, set in the American West, that gives all the evidence. I liked this one better than Valley of Death. B+

Vox by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
This is not a book in the series that you can pick up without having read the previous book, “The Last of the Sky Pirates.” Ook Barkwater manages to return to Sanctaphrax, having been captured as a slave. He finds a number of bizarre shady characters in service to Vor Verlix, the once powerful most High Academe, driven mad with revenge for the goblins, shrykes, and Guardians of Night who drove him to his pitiable state. The Librarian Knights hatch a plan to escape their hiding pace in the sewer, which gives a chapter or two of intense action, but overall, I felt like the book was lacking structure as a whole story and leaning too much on the reader’s previous experience with the Edge Chronicles Series. C+

The Stealers of Dreams by Steve Lyons
This doctor Who novel features the Ninth Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack Harkness. The author really captures Nine’s personality to a T. I can see Christopher Eccleston’s performance throughout the whole book. The trio land on a planet with a number for a name and a police force that institutionalizes purveyors of fiction. Writing groups operate in secret because stories are considered highly dangerous. Those who indulge eventually go “fantasy crazy” and lose touch with reality. The book is expertly crafted with a plot twist at the end that I totally didn’t see coming. Fantastic! A-

Friday, February 25, 2011

Off beat mama

I think a lot about being a mother. A lot more than I talk about out loud or than other people probably think I do from my appearance and personality. I've wanted to be a mom since at least five years old (I also wanted to be an astronaut and a doctor, but that's a different blog post) and at 26, my biological clock is ticking louder than Big Ben. And I don't just want to be a mom; I want a huge family, maybe five kids.
Two things threaten my natural motherhood: the fact that I haven't had so much as a date in 5 years and a hormonal condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome of which infertility is a common symptom. Even before my diagnosis, I've been pretty comfortable with the idea of adoption, you know, since I want five kids and don't really want to overpopulate the world. I don't really care that much about being a wife anymore, although it would be really nice to have a love life to go along with my family. I am more and more interested in single-parent adoption.
I don't talk about adoption all that much because people get weird about it. My own mother only brings up the problems that our adoptive family friends have had. My condition doesn't give a promising future for IV fertilization, and I don't feel right about it anyway, not with all the parent-less children out there for whom even one parent would be better than aging out of foster care.
I worry about reception from my family. I worry that my parents would not think of my children as their real grandchildren. I worry that all they would try to do is talk me out of it instead of supporting me and preparing themselves just like they would as if I were pregnant. I am afraid no one will take me seriously, as if it were a phase I'm going through instead of a constant internal battle that's been raging for years. I am afraid that they will think I'm not mature enough, that they will only express doubt instead of confidence in my parenting ability. I have enough doubts, thank you! But so does every expecting family. I've been blessed with lots of nuclear families in my life, but why should I bear the barren curse of my namesake (Hannah) just because I don't have a husband? I have so much love to give, and I feel like it's a waste if I don't get to fulfill the only thing I want out of life at the cost of everything else.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Project 50 Restart: January

I really left off this project of writing reviews for every book I read. I've been reading a lot of young adult series, so a lot of them have been kind of the same. I'm not sure if I got to 50 books last year, but I have read a lot of books in the first month of this year, so I'm off to a good start.

"The Valley of Fear" by Arthur Conan Doyle
The first part of this Sherlock Holmes novel was perfect to read on a train ride to London through the snowy English countryside (and I finished the book in Edinburgh, Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthplace). As per usual for Holmes and Watson, the murder of a well liked man in the country is not quite what it seems. But when the mystery is solved, the book continues with a lengthy back story that appears a little redundant. I haven’t read many Holmes mysteries, but I assume the back story is a set up for the next book, which is the last of Holmes adventures. Nevertheless, it was half a book without Holmes and Watson, and after spending the first half of the book with them, I missed the characters and never took to the strangers. B-

"The Hickory Staff" by Robert Scott and Jay Gordon

I didn't have any real reason for picking this book at the library, other than that it had regular humans in a fantasy world, which was what I was writing my NaNo novel about. I started it, then had to put it down for November. Then as soon as I picked it up again, I found that the method the authors used to get their Earlings into Eldarn was almost exactly the same as the method that I had used. I was really excited to read it after that. It was an all right story, which kept fragmenting and following different characters in different places for almost the entire book. Mark and Steven are two friends from Colorado who find a portal to another world that is torn apart by magical and political strife. A Gandalf figure leads them around trying to find a way home for Steven and Mark as well as a way to defeat the evil magician threatening Eldarn. The fragments that follow different people are a bit disorienting, and you never get to stay with any one group for long enough to really figure out what's going on. There are random forced flirtations and sexual scenes that seem like they're just thrown in because a fantasy needs love and sex right? And it's lengthy, a 700 page monster with two more books in the series. I might read the others if they happen to come in at the library, but I'm not in a rush. C

"Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan
I used to be really into ancient Greek gods as a teenager, so I thought I would be really into this book about the half-blood son of a god. Actually, I felt like I was reading something that I had read before. Percy thinks it’s just impossible that gods could exist even after he’s been shown that they do. It’s one NO WAY! moment after another for a while, yet he has an encyclopedic knowledge of Greek gods. When Percy tells the reader that he has ADHD and dyslexia, then finds out that they are actually symptoms of his hero blood, battle ready and hardwired for ancient Greek (???), yet he keeps referring to “my ADHD acting up,” which was a little odd. I liked the idea of a learning disability making him more able as a hero, but the author didn’t really follow through. C

"The Hunger games: Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins
Like the first in the series, Catching Fire is written in present tense, which reads like fan fiction to me. It’s extremely difficult for me to put down a book like that then come back to it. The story was really intense though, and since I didn’t like having to restart and adjust my brain to present tense, I finished it in three days. After winning the violent Hunger Games, where young people are forced to fight to the death in submission to a totalitarian government, Katniss Everdeen should be living a comfortable victors life. But because she and her District 12 ally, Peeta, both won the games by threatening a “both or none” suicide, the Capital senses rebellion and keeps them under tight control. Katniss knre that their display of solidarity against the unfair Games would mean she would have to toe the line, but she never expected that she and Peeta…(no spoilers!)
There are times when the author throws in misfit lines, especially Katniss’ suspicions of…everyone seem like something I might have written as a teenager, and it’s not really something I like reading. But I want to find out what happens to Katniss, so I’ll give it points for capturing my attention. B-

"The Sorceress: Secrets of the Immortal Nicolas Flamel" by Michael Scott

I think I've finally figured out what bothers me about these books (I've read two other books in this series). Every chapter, EVERY SINGLE CHAPTER ends with a cheesy cliffhanging one-liner. It's like reading David Caruso from CSI: Miami. It was the same old thing, famous figures popping up as immortal humans and Sophie and Josh wrestling with the pressure of being the supposed "twins of legend." Are we to trust Nicolas Flamel or not? Meh, I'm kind of getting bored with this series. C

"Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters" by Rick Riordan

In the second of the Percy Jackson series, Percy learns that he has a brother. Through magical dreams, he also learns how he can save the sickening Camp Half-Blood, poisoned by a traitor. He starts off on a rebellious streak that I think will carry through the series, a hero that can't take orders when he gets it in his system to go save people. He still kind of leans on dyslexia and ADHD, and I'd really like to see Percy own himself as a half-blood. It's a good quest too, and ends with a great cliffhanger. B

"Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse" by Rick Riordan
This book went pretty quickly, with a couple of new pretty flat characters coming in who instantly find their places in the story, carry out their tasks, and are finished. Percy is now 14, and starts getting interested in girls, just as his best prospect gets carted off. A quest to get her back? Oh yes. I think that this book relies a little heavily on the Oracle's prophecy, but then the characters seem to forget it when it's most important. More like an Oedipus Rex "aw, I knew that was coming" moment. It's the first time that I've seen the author appear to plan anything, setting the stage at the beginning of the book and waiting until the very end to resolve it. The underlying plot to defeat Luke and Kronos carries on though, so I'll be reading "Battle of the Labyrinth" soon. B-