Here's a blurb from Goodreads:
When Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is forced to enter a sealed cavern containing the lost treasures of Julius Caesar, he finds much more than gold and gemstones: He discovers an ancient bulla, an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the Gods -- magic some Romans would kill for.
Now, with the deadly power of the bulla pulsing through his veins, Nic is determined to become free. But instead, he finds himself at the center of a ruthless conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and spark the Praetor War, a battle to destroy Rome from within. Traitors and spies lurk at every turn, each more desperate than the next to use Nic's newfound powers for their own dark purposes.
In a quest to stop the rebellion, save Rome, and secure his own freedom, Nic must harness the magic within himself and defeat the empire's most powerful and savage leaders.
I loved how the story combines Roman history with magical elements. This will really appeal to fans of the Percy Jackson series, but it is a totally different story, which is one of the reasons it's so good.
The beginning lines are fantastic. Here they are:
In Rome, nothing mattered more than the gods, and nothing mattered less than its slaves. Only a fool of a slave would ever challenge the gods' power.
I was beginning to look like a fool.
Jennifer then moved immediately into the first scene filled with conflict and action. She artfully weaves
this theme into the chapter and the whole book. One of my critique partners was struggling with her first chapter at the time I started this and I typed out the first few pages of this chapter for her.
Jennifer also does a really good job creating Nic's voice. It's uniquely his, witty, sarcastic, and defiant at times. She's a master at getting her main character's voice right. And Nic is so sympathetic in his mission to find and save his sister.
The plot moves along without a dull moment. Often there is a little middle sag in a book. Not here. This is a real page turn with plot twists I couldn't see coming.
This is a really good book to read to enjoy and, for a writer, to study for the craft of writing. I mostly just buy books to give away here now. But I'm planning to buy this for myself to learn from it.
I could go on and on, but I won't.
Scholastic generously provided me with an ARC of MARK OF THE THIEF, which I'm offering for a giveaway (Sob, sob!). If for some reason it's not your type of book, I hope you'll enter to win for a kid in your life that would enjoy it.
To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through February 21st. I’ll announce the winner on February 23rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry.This is for for US and Canada.
Here's what's coming up:
On Monday I'll have an interview with debut author Laurie McKay and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE LAST DRAGON CHARMER.
The next Monday I have an interview with debut author Rhiannon Thomas and a giveaway of her YA fairy tale retelling A WICKED THING.
The Monday after that I have a guest post by debut author Karen Bao and a giveaway of her science fiction YA DOVE ARISING.
Wednesday that week I have a guest post by debut author Alison DeCamp on marketing middle grade novels and a giveaway of MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES, her MG historical fiction similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
The Monday after that I have an interview with debut author Victoria Aveyard and a giveaway of RED QUEEN, her YA fantasy/dystopian.
Hope to see you on Monday!