Tag Archives: Percy Jackson readalike

Watch out Percy Jackson… ‘Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress’

alt=Ash mistry savage fortress

Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda. Published by  Harper Collins, 2012. (Ash Mistry Chronicles; 1). Paperback edition rrp. NZ$16.95.

From the publisher:

Ash Mistry hates India. Which is a problem since his uncle has brought him and his annoying younger sister Lucky there to take up a dream job with the mysterious Lord Savage. But Ash immediately suspects something is very wrong with the eccentric millionaire. Soon, Ash finds himself in a desperate battle to stop Savage’s masterplan – the opening of the Iron Gates that have kept Ravana, the demon king, at bay for four millennia…

**Breathtaking action adventure for 8 to 12-year-olds. Ash Mistry, reluctant hero, faces ancient demons…and comes into an astonishing, magical inheritance.

Varanasi: holy city of the Ganges.
In this land of ancient temples, incense and snake charmers…
Where the monsters and heroes of the past come to life…
One slightly geeky boy from our time…


Book trailer with author commentary:

“The Indian Gods and Demons are like nothing else on earth…”

What do I think of this book?

I thought this was FANTASTIC!…probably one of the most adventurous and exciting books I have read since I began reading children’s books with the purpose of recommending them and blogging about them. Lots of book blurbs and reviews promise a story with “high octane” excitement – this one actually delivers it – and I believe this author deserves a huge following (and a movie contract too…)

Our main character is just another “ordinary boy”. Ash is described as being a little bit tubby and unfit, and the local Varanasi street urchins describe him as a coconut – “brown on the outside – but white in the middle”. Ash feels feels too Indian to fit in at home, but too British to be accepted in India.  He wishes he was back in the UK with his mates, computer games, Macdonalds and the girl he secretly likes. He is sick of his stay in Varanasi – the flies, the smells and the snakes. He doesn’t want to be a hero and doesn’t crave action and adventure, but literally stumbles into it and is then caught up in events.

Elements of the action feel familiar (think Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson or the Kane Chronicles but featuring Hindu Gods and Demons instead of Ancient Greek or Egyptian Gods). Hindu Mythology features some very scary monsters, demons and Gods and in this book they are very convincingly described and vividly drawn. The story is set in the ancient and holy city of Varanasi – given this is the city famous for its funeral pyres where death (and the tourism it brings) one of it’s main attractions; it is the perfect setting for a story where reality meets mysticism. The story involves a seriously evil villain trying to bring the demon King (Ravana) back to life and ensure his own immortality in the process. If the demon King is unleashed it means the end of the world , with evil, death and destruction on a global scale – literally hell on earth.

The author breaks up Ash’s narrative with dream like sequences that take us back to the time when Rama defeats Ravana and banishes him to his hidden tomb. By doing this, the reader gets a lesson in Indian mythology along the way that adds depth to the plot. I like the way interesting ideas about reincarnation and karma are interwoven into the story. Perhaps that makes the amount of death and destruction more palatable – even some of the dying tell Ash that their death is not the end, they will be reborn and meet again in another life.

This would be perfect for older children wanting another book as exciting and engaging as those by Rick Riordan. I thought this one was at least as good, but the Indian setting and mythology takes it out of the ordinary! There is a sequel due soon as this is the first of an intended trilogy.

** I am recommending this book for ages 10+ : the violent elements make this a more mature (intermediate) read.

Author website:

The website contains lots of great resources, including illustrations and information and on the Hindu Gods and Demons.


Excerpt from the book in PDF form (Chapter 2):



Jack you’re not an ordinary boy…’Sorrowline’ an exciting adventure

ALT=Sorrowline-niel bushnell

Sorrowline by Niel Bushnell. (The Timesmith chronicles), Published by Andersen Press, 2013.  331 pages. Available in NZ bookstores RRP $20.95.

“You have a rare gift Jack: you’re a yard boy, a voyager through graveyards. You can travel through the Sorrowlines. They’re tunnels, tunnels through time. Every grave, it’s connected to the date of the person’s death by a Sorrowline. Yard Boys like you, Jack – they can open up a Sorrowline and travel along it, right into the past.”


Twelve-year-old Jack Morrow is used to life being complicated. His mother died five years ago, and his father is now headed for prison. But then Jack discovers he’s a Yard Boy – someone with the ability to travel through Sorrowlines, the channels that connect every gravestone with the date of the person’s death – and he is quickly pulled into an adventure beyond anything he could have possibly imagined. Finding himself in 1940s war-torn London, with his then – teenage grandfather, Davey, Jack soon realises that his arrival in the past has not gone unnoticed. The evil forces of a secret world are determined to find him – and to find out all he knows. As Jack struggles to survive, he comes ever closer to unlocking the dark secret at the heart of his family, and to – just maybe – changing his own destiny…

Book trailer:

What did I think of this book?

There are quite a few original elements that make this different from other time travel books, but plenty of things that will make readers feel they are in comfortable and familiar territory. The time travel method of traveling back to a period of time tied to a person’s date of death is new – it makes for some excitement in the story because if the characters need to travel to a particular date then they need to find a gravestone first (or get chased around a graveyard while they look for one!)  The other thing that is noticeably different about this story is that the period in which a lot of the book is set is in the 1940s during the Blitz in London. This seems very vividly drawn and well described and adds another frisson of fear into the story – before the villain catches up with our hero Jack, he could be blown to bits by a bomb or trapped in debris or a burning building. It is here that Jack meets his own Grandfather as a young man and Jack learns more about his family.

The contrast between Jack’s seemingly ordinary life in 2013 London couldn’t be more different than what he experiences in the past. It is here that we find the fantastical elements of an alternate world story with many interesting characters with unusual roles both good and bad along the way.

I think this will be a hit with many of my students – the blend of fantasy world, time travel and modern day adventure will appeal to the kids who enjoy Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicle’s type adventures.

A theory of Time Travel – if you are interested in the science behind the “time travel paradox” you might find this YouTube video of an interview with Dr Ronald Mallett (a theoretical physicist) interesting. I found this brief article from brainpickings.org here: “Einstein, Goedel, and the science of time travel (or Meeting your future grandchildren in a rotating universe) by Maria Popova, brainpickings.org 19 July 2012″.


It’s time for a new hero…The History Keepers



The storm begins (The History Keepers book 1) by Damian Dibben, Doubleday, 2011.

This book cover looks like a great movie poster to me, so it was no surprise to learn that the movie rights have already been sold and that the author is also a screenwriter as well as book author. (After reading the book I KNOW this would make a great film…and I hope it doesn’t take too long to be made)

From Goodreads.com:

When Jake is kidnapped by strangers on a stormy London night he discovers his loving parents have been leading a double life and are now missing, lost somewhere in history. He is plunged into a world of secret societies, dangerous double agents, and a terrifying countdown to oblivion. Transported by a Spanish galleon back to 19th century France, he finds himself in the headquarters of The History Keepers – a remarkable league of time-travelling special agents. The History Keepers preserve the true course of history against those who would change it for their own gain, such as the diabolical Prince Zeldt. Driven by a sense of adventure and a desire to reunite his family, Jake makes the most thrilling – and dangerous – decision of his life.

From the book cover UK edition:

Imagine if you lost your parents – not just in place, but in time. Jake Djones’ mum and dad have gone missing and they could be anywhere in the world – at any time in history. Because the Djones family have an astonishing secret, which for years they’ve managed to keep – even from each other. They belong to the HISTORY KEEPERS: a secret society which travels through the centuries to prevent evil enemies from meddling with History itself. In the quest to find his parents, Jake is whisked from 21st Century London to 19th century France, the headquarters of the mysterious History Keepers, where he discovers the truth about his family’s disappearance – and the diabolical Prince Zeldt’s plan to destroy the world as we know it ..

What do I think about this book?:

This is a great, fast moving adventure of the swash buckling variety with lots of action, heroic acts and a bit of humor. I really could see this as a movie unfolding before my eyes as I read.  Perfect for Year 5 – Year 8 readers (both boys and girls) who want a good adventure story with plenty of action.

This is another title where the publishers are counting on the reading public’s thirst for more books along the line of a certain young wizard who shall not be named as he has hung up his wand and invisibility cloak…however I am happy to explore any potential “read-alike” books, as the Harry Potter series is a great “hook” for young readers.

The difference here is that this is a time travel book (but without too many sic-fi overtones) rather than a magical fantasy. Like the main character the reader is jostled along without everything being revealed at once and it is both an intriguing and a thrilling ride. Rather than time travel where the story zips backwards and forwards between historical periods, this is relatively easy to follow and because most of the action takes place in one period of history you get to experience it in some depth without the description being too heavy for young readers. After reading the book I saw more in common with the pace of a Pirates of the Caribbean/Percy Jackson movie than Harry Potter.

I read this in two days and look forward to reading the already published sequel: History keepers – Circus maximus.

Exciting new series for Percy Jackson fans


Just thought I would share the announcement about a very exciting new series, that should appeal to Rick Riordan & Michelle Paver fans, hungry for more ancient adventure. The first book in this new series “The Colossus rises” will be published by HarperCollins Children’s in February. The stories are based on the seven ancient wonders of the world. Peter Lerangis is an author who has written titles in the popular ‘The 39 Clues’ series (The Sword Thief and The Viper’s Nest) and one book in The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers series (The Dead of Night).

From Goodreads on “the Colossus – book 1”:

The day after twelve-year-old Jack McKinley is told he only has months to live, he awakens on a mysterious island, where a secret organization promises to save his life-with one condition. With his three friends, Jack must lead a mission to retrieve seven lost magical orbs, which can save their lives only when combined together. The challenge: The orbs have been missing for thousands of years, somewhere in the ruins of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. With no one else to turn to and no escape in sight, the four kids have no choice but to undertake the quest. First stop: The Colossus of Rhodes.

View the exciting book trailer:

Website and free ebook download:

The website for the series is full of extra content, videos and an interactive map of the seven wonders. Explore it hereread about the first book and explore the link to download a free PDF or EPUB prequel novella “The select” here.

“From the lost journals of the Seven Wonders saga comes the story of Burt Wenders—one of the first of the chosen kids to be marked as “The Select.” In this thrilling prequel to Book 1, delve into the mystery and the magic of Seven Wonders, the brand-new adventure series from Peter Lerangis, the bestselling author of several books in the 39 Clues series.

It’s the year 1894, and thirteen-year-old Burt and his father are on an archaeological expedition gone wrong. After a tumultuous voyage, Burt, his father, and the remaining crew find themselves stranded on what seems to be a deserted island. That is, seems to be deserted until Burt starts hearing music that no one else can hear . . . and blacking out with no explanation. Maybe there is something to Burt’s father’s expedition after all? All but tortured by his surroundings, Burt ventures to find out. He can only hope to survive.”

High praise from Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series “A high-octane mix of modern adventure and ancient secrets, The Colossus Rises is Lerangis’s most gripping work yet. Young readers will love this story. I can’t wait to see what’s next in the Seven Wonders series!” 

What do I think about this book?: 

If you love the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series, then this will appeal to you. I will review the book fully once it is published and will definitely be ordering this for our library!