Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Published October 11, 2016. Simon & Schuster. 357 p.
With the Westward Expansion of the 1800’s came land grabbing and Native American battles, along with the discovery of dinosaur bones buried in rock. At that time the study of dinosaurs was relatively new, with fame and bragging rights associated with their unearthing. The intense rivalry by paleontologists Edward Drinker [Drinkwater] Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, to find the biggest and best of these bones and claim them as their own, became known as the “Bone Wars.”
Using these real life occurrences as background for his historical novel, Oppel introduces readers to Professors Bolt and Cartland. After being sent fossils from the largest dinosaur he’d ever seen, Professor Bolt and his son Samuel travel west to find the “Rex,”. Unbeknownst to him Professor Cartland and his daughter Rachel were on the same train, also seeking the Rex.
While engaging in regular conversation as a way to spy for their fathers, Samuel and Rachel fall in love. However, with the competition between their fathers heating up as each gets closer to discovering the Rex’s location, Rachel and Samuel’s love will be tested in ways neither had ever expected.
I really enjoyed learning about these paleontologists, as I had never known fossil hunting happened during the Westward Expansion. Besides the rivalry of two historical paleontologists, Oppel’s carefully researched novel also includes the impact of the expansion on the lives of the Sioux Indians and how some reacted. Though billed as a Romeo and Juliet type novel, “Every hidden thing” is much more. It is history come to life.
Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.
Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. ARC. Published May 13, 2014. Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster).
Seventeen-year-old Ren didn’t know the first thing about how to be a nanny when she applied for the nanny job on Nantucket Island. She wants to be a music journalist at University if her A level results allow, but now has to get as far away from her ex-boyfriend in London as soon as possible so she won’t have to see him with his new girlfriend.
Life as a nanny seemed easy as Ren was soon befriended by a group of rich teens and began getting invitations to their fancy parties. Despite wondering about secrets they seemed to have with each other, Ren felt Jeremy stood out as the nicest and the handsomest. As they found themselves drawn to each other, Ren wondered if he was The One.
When she met Jesse, the local bad boy, it didn’t take long to question her feelings for Jeremy. As a guitar player for a local band, Jesse’s hotness level rises. Despite knowing of his violent nature, and that he’d just gotten out of jail for assault, he and Ren seem to have a strange attraction for each other.
As if relationships weren’t confusing enough, someone on the Island is murdering foreign nannies. When a second nanny turns up dead, Ren is fearful she will be next. After all, she’s a nanny and is also foreign. Little does she know that life on Nantucket Island will soon take a turn for the worse.
Recommended for teens 14 and older.
Starcrossed, book #3. HarperTeen. 2013. 423 pp.
Tricked by Ares into becoming blood brothers Helen, Lucas and Orion unwittingly joined the Four Houses, thus releasing Zeus and the other gods from his promise to remain imprisoned on Olympus. Now that they have been freed, the gods are roaming throughout the Earth wrecking havoc and chaos on mortals.
Helen has confusion of her own because she has started developing strange new powers. She finds herself growing distant from Claire and the rest of the Delos family as she ponders these new differences and wonders what they mean. Since Orion can see her feelings, she feels as if only he can understand her secrets. Unfortunately their closeness drives Lucas crazy as he believes Claire loves Orion, and the darkness within him deepens daily.
Meanwhile Zeus and the other gods are determined to win their final battle over the Scions, and have amassed an army that threatens to wipe out all the Houses. With war looming, and divisions amongst themselves, the Scions desperately try to think of a plan that will save them and their way of life.
Greed, revenge, murder, hate and love are all bound up in the lives of the characters readers aged 14 and older have grown to love in the series. Angelini pulls out all the stops in this long awaited conclusion but leaves a few ends untied, perhaps hinting at a future novella to solve them.
Starcrossed, book #2. HarperTeen. 2012. 489 pp.
Helen was desperate to find a way to stop the Furies from interfering in the lives of the Scions. Since Hector killed his cousin Creon, he was now an Outcast and in constant danger of being killed by any demigod. Night after Night, she descended to the Underworld, hoping to find a way to end their reign of terror amongst the demigods and restore Hector to the Delos family. Despite her best intentions she has been unsuccessful, spending her time there in constant pain and torture.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, during the day she was haunted by her love for Lucas and their inability to ever be together romantically. Lucas has turned against her and withdrawn into himself, turning inwardly and outwardly angrier and darker. Sleepless nights and restless days, along with pining for Lucas, combined to make Helen weaker as her inability to rest and dream weighed heavily upon her, and her task remained unsolved.
One night, at her lowest and weakest, she met Orion an Outcast sent to aid in her Underworld quest. His kindness, handsomeness and availability drew them together leaving Lucas on the edges of their budding romance. Her love for Lucas was still strong, yet tempered by the growing feelings she began to have for Orion.
Despite her confusion and the intricacies of their feelings for each other, they all have to work hard if they’re going to stop the Furies and gain peace for the Scions. Despite their every endeavor, it was only a matter of time before they found out things might not come out as they’d hoped and the danger to mankind would be greater than it had ever been in the past.
Fourteen-year-old and older fans of “Starcrossed” will find another exciting page turner in “Dreamless,” leading the way to “Goddess,” its long awaited finale.
Starcrossed, book #1. HarperTeen. 2011. 487 pp.
Helen of Troy, Paris, the Trojan War, Homer, the Illiad, Zeus as well as other major and minor Greek gods make their appearances in “Starcrossed,” along with murder, revenge, kidnapping, betrayal and romance. All are woven into one of the most exciting books I’ve read in a long time. “Starcrossed” takes ancient Greek mythology and mixes it with the modern world to create a love story quite unlike any other.
Sixteen-year-old Helen Hamilton’s life was pretty normal, until Lucas and his family moved to her little island of Nantucket. All consuming blinding rage suddenly possesses her in his presence, as her confused mind has only one thought “kill.”
In her saner moments she finds out she, Lucas and his relatives are demigods (half human, half god) bound by the laws of the Furies to seek each other out for an ancient curse of blood revenge and fight to the death. Humorous scenes follow as both desperately find ways to avoid killing each other.
Despite the odds, it doesn’t take long for their hatred to turn to love yet they are cursed to repeat ancient Greek history, as decreed by Zeus, if they ever try to be together. Helen and Lucas will do anything to change their future in this ancient story of love and hate preordained long before they were born, but there are others who will do anything to make sure Helen is destroyed forever.
Readers 14 and older will anxiously await its sequel “Dreamless.”