Categories
Young Adult

The Obsidian Mask by Caroline Ludovici

I LOVE when my friends write books! I love it even more when they write sequels to books! My lovely friend Caroline, wrote The Obsidian Mask, which I read and enjoyed.

The Obsidian Mask by Caroline Ludovici

Here’s a synopsis to refresh your memory:

A highly respected Mesopotamian warrior queen, known throughout the lands for her diplomacy and fairness, has been killed in a cowardly attack by a neighboring king intent on securing their city’s precious water supply during a long, devastating drought. Her daughter, the young princess, has a death mask crafted from an ancient, sacred block of obsidian, has it inlaid with precious family stones, then seals it in the tomb with the queen until the end of time…

The Obsidian Mask is present day, fast moving adventure involving four young teenagers. Natasha, the main character, is fifteen, pensive and intuitive. Her thirteen year-old brother, Alex is easy-going, fun and likable. They fly from London to the Middle East to join their archaeologist mother for the Easter holidays, where she is excavating with an international team of archaeologists. However, almost as soon as the children arrive, things don’t go as smoothly as expected.

The team has recently discovered the palace and the tomb of an ancient Mesopotamian queen, which they are in the delicate process of uncovering. Until its discovery the queen was merely a legend, so Marcello, the Italian director of the dig, is ecstatic at finding it; it is the pinnacle of his long career. The tomb contains many skeletons and interesting artifacts, but nothing more fabulous than the queen’s incredible, priceless death mask that covers her skull. However, unbeknown to Marcello, it is not only his team who shows a keen interest in the precious mask.

Despite the general excitement with the find, Natasha’s mind is elsewhere. She has taken an instinctive dislike to Marcello, who she realizes has interests in her mother. Her resentment and jealousy towards him is made worse when she is thrown together with his two teenage children, who are also staying at the camp. Lorenzo, fifteen, is immaculately dressed, polite, and well spoken, and Gabriella, his sister, is thirteen, bored, very spoilt and irritatingly winy. But despite Natasha’s reluctance in liking the family, Marcello confides in her while showing her the incredible tomb of the ancient queen. He exposes his vulnerable side, and Natasha finds that he shares many of her own feelings and sentiments, especially in the subject of digging up the past, and she reluctantly begins to warm towards the middle-aged Italian.

Yanni, an enthusiastic, good-looking, nineteen year-old Polish volunteer, having detected Natasha’s obvious resentment towards Marcello and his children, gently takes her under his wing. As well as showing her the workings of the dig, and around the beautiful palace floor that he is thrilled to be working on, he helps her to get over her selfish feelings of resentment towards Marcello by telling her a story of his own. However, this personal attention leads Natasha to develop feelings of a different kind towards this young man, and the holiday begins to take an interesting turn in her eyes.

Quite unexpectedly, just as the four teens begin to get to know each other, they are kidnapped, hidden in a cave and held for ransom in exchange for The Obsidian Mask. Natasha’s long blond braid is cut off and sent to Marcello in a box with a ransom note. Marcello is holding a major press conference on his discovery of the Mask and the legendary Queen, with the world’s media and local dignitaries present, and it is during this important lecture that the plait is discovered and the children’s disappearance is realized.

As well as being an exciting adventure for young teens, the reader also learns a little ancient history, and experience the excitement and importance of uncovering an ancient site. The story is insightful, tender, and very thought provoking. The reader experiences the changing sentiments and thoughts of a teenage girl, who comes to realize how selfish and pre-judgmental she has been. In this first book, the children’s characters are developed and opportunities are left open for their subsequent adventures in different locations around the world. Book two continues in Italy. While their parents, now engaged, excavate ancient Etruscan ships buried under the Pisa railway station, the four teens discover that Lorenzo and Gabriella’s grandmother, the Contessa, has more to hide than the average Italian nonna, and unraveling someone’s hidden identity leads not only to to stolen artwork hidden by the Nazis during WW11, but a can of worms they wish they hadn’t opened…

 

Say what?? Sounds like the Kane Chronicles mixed with Capture the Flag mixed with a pirate adventure?? Ok well maybe not pirates but one can only hope, right? I love books that take kids to Egypt.  I hear there will be a sequel so keep your eyes on this channel!

 

 

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Categories
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Books Children

LuLu and the Very Big Meanies A Multicultural Children’s Book Day Book! #ReadYourWorld

I’m preparing for Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day is January 27th. Lots of great titles about diverse characters. If you’re in need of titles, pop on over there and check it out. Today I’m thrilled to share with you a great title:

LuLu and the Very Big Meanies

Lulu and the Very Big Meanies by Mac McGooshie and Alexis Hogwood

Here’s the official blurb about it:

Lulu and the Very Big Meanies is the first book in the new series, Lulubug’s Week in the Life: Meet Laila, AKA Lulu, young Muslimah, drama queen extraordinaire, and big-time fashionista! Lulu can’t cut a break this week! First she finds out that she’s moving to a new school and a new town for the next school year, and it’s not even her fault. Then Veronica B. and Veronica C., the most miserable bullies in the world, hand-pick Lulu for their evil plans. Add to that a very sick kitty and the something buzzing in the woods out back, well, Lulu is just not having a great time of it. Even with the help of her friends and family, can she possibly survive the Week of the Very Big Meanies?

Ok so good book, right? But that’s not the HALF of it!! Our heroine, Lulubug is a Muslim American and the ins and outs of her religion are woven into the little one’s life.

That’s the great delight of this book. Every child can relate to LuLu’s everyday trauma of being in school and having bullies, and getting what you want from your parents, etc. But how many of us know what a Muslim child goes through every day?

Honestly? Now we do. LuLu’s life is no different from ours, right? Ok we might not be Muslim but we can certainly can relate to having to wash up for church or do the right thing because that’s what’s expected.  We’re different but we’re the same. To emphasize the similarities between us, I thought it might be fun to complete a word search.

Everyone loves word searches, right?

So why not complete a word search from LuLu’s book that includes Muslim words?

LuLu’s Word Search

Click the link to see the word search.  I’ve included a word bank for you. You’re welcome. See if you recognize any of the words!

MCCBD’s  2015 Sponsors include Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold SponsorsSatya House,  MulticulturalKids.com,   Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library GuildCapstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books,  The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing,  Rainbow Books,   Author FeliciaCapers,  Chronicle Books   Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.

Categories
Books Young Adult

The Year of the Great Seventh by Teresa Orts

I just finished a fun romp called The Year of the Great Seventh by author Teresa Orts.  Here’s a synopsis:

Sophie has always felt out of step—an outsider, even amongst friends in her high school with all the hype about celebrity culture. Her life in L.A. seems to have been already written for her, but when her junior year starts, it all takes a drastic turn. When she cYear of the Great Seventrosses paths with the school’s heartthrob, Nate Werner, they fall for each other in a way neither can understand. What they don’t know is that by giving in to their desires, they are unlocking an ancient Egyptian prophecy that threatens to return Earth to the dark ages.

To undo the curse, Nate and Sophie embark on an adventure that takes them across the country. But their quest is not only to save the world as they know it. It is also a fight for their very survival. Behind the scenes, there are those that are counting on them to fail.

There’s a lot going on with Year of the Great Seventh.  I liken it to Twilight meets Beverly Hills 90210 meets Nancy Drew.  The main character, Sophie, lives in the glamorous world of LA, actors as friends, expensive parties, etc.  But yet, all she wants to do is study history like her father.  She is inexplicably attracted to Nate Werner, the uber-sexy uber-riche bad boy of the school.  Throw in a mix of Egyptian prophecy and you’ve got some confusing things going on.

It’s not that I didn’t like the story. To be sure, there were some fun parts and some psychological twists.  But what I’m not so keen on are the parts about this boy who is so bad for her but yet they are drawn to each other. I don’t want to add any spoilers so I’ll say no more about the bad boy.

I can see how a teen might enjoy the story:  Who doesn’t dream of having a handsome boyfriend to protect them from the bad guys?  It’s also fun to peek into the over the top lifestyle of the rich and famous and see what shenanigans they get into.

Another fun aspect of the story is what I’ll call the Nancy Drew stuff.  Sophie is smart. She loves history and she decides to research this prophecy and because her father has taught her much about history, she’s able to understand it.  Who doesn’t love a smart young lady? And? because I was just in NYC recently for BEA, I loved running the streets of New York with Sophie and Nate.

There is a sequel, so keep up with Teresa Orts so you can see what happens to our dynamic duo!