Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Percy Jackson Countdown: Day Ten: Beka Cooper

16-year-old Beka Cooper is a product of the rough-and-tumble Lower City. Having spent the first half of her life in the slums, she is driven by the need to do what is right and see justice done. To that end, she has become a "Puppy," or trainee, in the Provost’s Guard, commonly known as the Provost’s Dogs. These guards serve the King as protectors of the city of Corus. Beka requests an assignment in the notoriously dangerous Lower City, her former home, and becomes the puppy of guards Matthias Tunstall and Clara Goodwin. These teachers are two of the best and toughest "Dogs" in the guard, and they set Beka straight to work, cracking heads and enforcing the law. As a puppy, Beka’s job is to chase down criminals and help bring them to justice; her only weapons are her wooden baton, her wits, and her ability to listen. This latter skill is helped by her magical ability to hear the ghostly whispers of the dead, carried by pigeons and dust spinners. She is also befriended by a supernatural cat named Pounce, and has a few loyal human friends to make life more bearable. As Beka settles into the routine of work in the Provost’s guard she begins to hear rumors of a nefarious criminal called the Shadow Snake.

The Snake kidnaps young children of the Lower City and holds them ransom for unique trinkets and family heirlooms. If the ransom is not paid, the children are either returned dead or are simply never seen again. Beka is outraged that the Shadow Snake has been preying on the city’s poor and unnoticed. And there’s something else. Among the spirits Beka hears are those of adults killed by poison and buried in the basements where they fell. Even though the old neighborhood has always been troublesome, this increase in crime is intolerable to Beka, and she aims to protect it against all odds. As she and her Dogs keep getting stymied in their pursuit of the killers, it is Beka who refuses to give up, pursuing even the smallest clue with the tenacity of a terrier, from which she gets her nickname.

Beka Cooper by Tamora Pierce
Book 1: Terrier
Book 2: Bloodhound
Book 3: Mastiff (due to be published sometime this year)

Ms. Heather's Note: Though Beka Cooper is my favorite, I really enjoyed all of Tamora Pierce's books. Her heroines are strong and courageous and all of her characters are very real. Though the different series' relate to each other, they don't have to be read in order...but it is more fun that way! For a list of all of the books in all of the series, check out her website:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Percy Jackson Countdown: Day Nine: Alcatraz Smedry

Alcatraz Smedry doesn't seem destined for anything but disaster. He has a unique talent -for breaking things. It is not something that endears him to the foster parents to whom he has been assigned. On his thirteenth birthday, Alcatraz receives an unusual gift: a bag of sand. The accompanying note from his parents explains that it is his inheritance. Alcatraz does not know who his parents are, where they are, or why they have sent him a bag of sand. He then burns down his current foster mother’s kitchen. Before his caseworker can relocate Alcatraz to yet another foster home, the bag of sand is stolen, he is attacked by a gun-wielding stranger, and he is rescued by a man claiming to be his grandfather. It turns out that Alcatraz is not living in the real world but trapped in the Hushlands, controlled by the cult of evil librarians plotting to take over the world. In a place where swords are more potent than guns, dinosaurs are proper English gentlemen, and only special glasses enable Alcatraz to see the truth, a talent for breaking things might be the only thing that can save the world.

Like Percy Jackson, Alcatraz is just finding out who he really is and his place in the world. These titles have a lot more humor, though, and lots of sarcasm!

Alcatraz Smedry series by Brandon Sanderson
Book 1: Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians
Book 2: Alcatraz versus the Scrivener's Bones
Book 3: Alcatraz versus the Knights of Crystallia

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Percy Jackson Countdown: Day Eight: Artemis Fowl

Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl took over his family's evil criminal empire after his father's disappearance and his mother's nervous breakdown. The family’s fortunes are dwindling, though, following a bad business deal by Artemis’ now missing father. What does a millionaire boy genius do when the family is teetering on the brink of destruction? Hatch an evil plan, of course. And since Artemis is no ordinary boy, it’s no ordinary evil plan.

Having obtained the Book, a volume containing all of the fairies' secrets, he cracks the coded text and acquaints himself with fairy magic and technology. With the knowledge of the true existence of fairies and their magic, Artemis hatches a wicked scheme to steal their gold. Using the knowledge from the Book, he locates and kidnaps an elf, Capt. Holly Short, intending to hold her ransom. Capt. Short, however, is not the old-fashioned kind of fairy, but a member of the Lower Elements Police (or LEP). As a result, Artemis finds himself up against the thoroughly modern LEPrecon, an armed and dangerous branch of the LEP. This wisecracking team of satyrs, trolls, dwarfs and fellow fairies, led by Commander Root, will do anything to ensure Capt. Short's safe return. This story has lots of action, interesting gadgets and nefarious plots. More than a fantasy, it is the story that might result if James Bond were mixed with legends and the folklore of fairies, trolls, and goblins.

The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
Book 1: Artemis Fowl
Book 2: The Arctic Incident
Book 3: The Eternity Code
Book 4: The Opal Deception
Book 5: The Lost Colony
Book 6: The Time Paradox
Book 7: The Atlantis Complex (not out yet – due to be published July 2010)

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Percy Jackson Countdown: Day Seven: The Gods of Manhattan


Now, look again.

What do you see?

Layered over our modern day New York is a spirit city, called Mannahatta, home to Munsee Native Americans, warrior cockroaches riding rat steeds, a papier-mache child. Built by history and legend, it's ruled by the Gods of Manhattan, famous men and women of New York like Zelda Fitzgerald, Alexander Hamilton and Babe Ruth. These gods amuse themselves by playing dangerous power games, including wrongfully imprisoning the Munsees's spirits in Central Park. And now someone is assassinating these immortal gods, which should be impossible.

13-year-old Rory and his 9-year-old sister Bridget live in present-day New York City unaware that these ghosts, monsters and oddities coexist alongside them. Rory has a gift for seeing this other world, Mannahatta, but has repressed this ability until the day he wakes up and notices things which should not exist in the middle of a metropolis…or anywhere else, for that matter. Rory learns that he is the Light, the only one able to see past reality into this spirit world. Unfortunately for Rory, a Light also is the only one who can defeat the forces of evil at work in Mannahatta, which is why all the others have been killed. With the help of his little sister and a small but fearless Battle Roach named Fritz, Rory begins an exciting, occasionally terrifying journey through this intriguing world. His quest will be both difficult and dangerous, because while he’s searching for a way to free the Munsees, evil assassins are racing to find him-the boy who can change the destiny of New York.

The Gods of Manhattan by Scott Mebus

Book 1: The Gods of Manhattan

Book 2: Spirits in the Park

The Percy Jackson Countdown: Day Six: The Looking Glass Wars

You know the myth...
A little girl named Alice tumbled down a rabbit hole and proceeded to have a charming adventure in the delightful, made-up world of Wonderland...

Now discover the truth!
Alyss Heart is heir to the throne of Wonderland, just beginning her training under her albino tutor Bibwit Harte when her evil aunt Redd, long ago banished to the Chessboard Desert, leads a violent coup that kills King Nolan, Alyss's father. Alyss narrowly escapes through the Pool of Tears and ends up in London. After weeks begging and stealing with a band of street urchins, Alyss is sent to an orphanage and subsequently adopted by the Liddells. Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author to whom she tells the bizarre, violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusted Lewis Carroll to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere would find her and bring her home. But she is devastated when she discovers that Carroll’s book, Alice's Adventures Underground, is full of make-believe, and not her story or even her real name. She sadly resigns herself to a life in exile in her new world. Years later, as she is preparing to marry Prince Leopold, Alyss’s dedicated bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, finally finds her. Dragged back to the home she feared she had only imagined, it is now up to Alyss to rally her troops, drive out her evil aunt Redd and claim her throne. Can she survive assassination attempts by the vicious Cat with nine lives, a spy amongst her faithful followers, brutal battles involving card soldiers who transform into warriors, chessmen, blades that whirl and slash, vicious Jabberwocks, and even carnivorous roses?

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Book 1: The Looking Glass Wars
Book 2: Seeing Redd
Book 3: Archenemy

The Percy Jackson Countdown: Day Five: The Ranger's Apprentice

In a medieval land called Arulen lives a fifteen-year-old orphan named Will. He dreams of becoming a knight, and longs to be apprenticed into battle school. His small, wiry size makes him a poor choice for his dream, but his quick thinking, honesty, and castle-scaling abilities make him the perfect candidate to be Halt’s hardworking apprentice. Halt is a Ranger, and the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways, have always made people nervous. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. What no one realizes is that the Rangers are the secretive protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle, surveillance, woodcraft and archery, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. He has sent two kalkera, brutish bear/apes, to assassinate Aruluen’s most prominent war leaders and weaken the fighting forces. This time, he will not be denied . . .

Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan
Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan
Book 2: The Burning Bridge
Book 3: The Icebound Land
Book 4: The Battle for Skandia
Book 5: The Sorcerer in the North
Book 6: The Siege of Macindaw
Book 7: Erak’s Ransom

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Percy Jackson Countdown Day Four: The 39 Clues

The 39 Clues series was started by and is overseen by Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. However, each book has a different author (though some authors write more than one title in the series). Each book has clues to the mystery, and you can also play the game on an interactive website (

"What would happen if you discovered that your family was one of the most powerful in human history? What if you were told that the source of the family's power was hidden around the world, in the form of 39 Clues? What if you were given a choice — take a million dollars and walk away...or get the first Clue? If you're Amy and Dan Cahill, you take the Clue — and begin a very dangerous race." (from publisher's description)

The 39 Clues series
Book 1: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
Book 2: One False Note by Gordon Korman
Book 3: The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis
Book 4: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson
Book 5: The Black Circle by Patrick Carman
Book 6: In Too Deep by Jude Watson
Book 7: The Viper's Nest by Peter Lerangis
Book 8: TBA (by Gordon Korman & due out April 2010)
Book 9: TBA (by Linda Sue Park & due out May 2010)
Book 10: TBA (by Margaret Peterson Haddix & due out August 2010 - also the last book in the series)

The Percy Jackson Countdown Day Three (slightly less belated): The Stoneheart Trilogy

The Stoneheart Trilogy, by Charlie Fletcher, is a book of magic and adventure...and being in the wrong place at the right time.

A city has many lives and layers. London has more than most. Not all the layers are underground, and not all the lives belong to the living. George Chapman is about to find this out the hard way. On a school trip he's punished for something he didn't do. In a tiny act of rebellion, he lashes out at a small carving on the wall--unexpectedly breaking it off. And then something horrible does happen: a stone Pterodactyl unpeels from the wall and starts chasing him. George is already running before his mind starts trying to tell him this is impossible.Chased through the streets of London, George only survives because the statue of a soldier, Gunner, comes to life and assists him. It seems that the soulless statues of London are angry at George for his act of rebellion, and he will not be able to escape them until he finds something called the Stone Heart and repairs what he has broken. But Walker, a man cursed to walk the Earth forever, wants George and his new friends Gunner and Edie to find the Stone Heart for more sinister reason...

The Stone Heart Trilogy by Charlie Fletcher
Book 1: Stoneheart
Book 2: Ironhand
Book 3: Silvertongue

The Percy Jackson Countdown Day Two (belated): The Last Apprentice

The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney will appeal to those who like spine-tingly titles. Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son. His older brothers have all been apprenticed off and his oldest brother is married and taking over the farm from their parents. It is time for Tom to be apprenticed, and his master will be the village spook. The spook is the man people call when they hear bumps in the night or see things that shouldn't be. He banishes, captures and kills the creatures that haunt and hunt the living. And Tom is not his first apprentice...he's the 29th. What happened to the other 28? Some floundered, some fled, and some did not survive. As the spook's time on the earth begins to dwindle, Thomas becomes his last apprentice, his last hope. Will he succeed where the others did not?

The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney
Book 1: Revenge of the Witch
Book 2: Curse of the Bane
Book 3: Night of the Soul Stealer
Book 4: Attack of the Fiend
Book 5: Wrath of the Bloodeye
Book 6: Clash of the Demons

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Percy Jackson Countdown Day One: Septimus Heap

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is a fabulous book by Rick Riordan. It's also coming to movie theaters on February 12th and the trailer looks amazing (you can see it for yourself at

Many of you have already read (& reread) the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, or are reading it now, or will be clamoring for the titles once you've seen the movie (or the trailer). So instead of talking about that series, I'm going to take the next ten days to tell you about other series that you might enjoy, if you enjoy(ed) Percy Jackson.

Today we start with Septimus Heap:
"The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby's father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, & raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, & what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?" This series is about a young man with the wrong name, a lost princess who is not as lost as people assume, magic & adventure. There are villains to fight and wrongs to right, epic quests and grand adventures. For more info, check out

The Septimus Heap series, by Angie Sage
Book 1: Magyk
Book 2: Flyte
Book 3: Physik
Book 4: Queste
Book 5: Syren