Book Review – Drowned Wednesday by Garth Nix

Title: Drowned Wednesday

Author: Garth Nix

Format: Paperback

Published: 2005

 

Having finished the second book in the series and having a good steam rolling I decided to take the time to read the next book in the Keys to the Kingdom series Drowned Wednesday. I approached this book with trepidation because this is the book I had petered out on back when I was first reading the series, I’ve always wanted to read the subsequent books because the titles and covers looked quite enticing but I only go half way and find myself bored and giving up. As I started to read the book my co-worker and co-blogger Sara remarked how she had read some of the series and recalled petering out on this very same book.

 

As the third book in the series this book I felt was anti-climatic and was one of the obligatory water adventures. I feel like almost every book series of this nature has an underwater or sea faring adventure and it is rare that I have found the book to be all that compelling. I can think of one exception to that rule which is The Lost City of Faar by D. J. MacHale. With that said, I worked my way though a rather dry book – despite the abundance water found inside.

 

In this book Arthur is suddenly captured and taken into the Border Sea of the house to have a luncheon with Drowned Wednesday the holder of the next key and the anticipated main villain of this book as are all the other trustees in the other books thus far. As a villain Drowned Wednesday was rather anticlimactic as were other struggles that Arthur faced in this adventure. There were only two moments of true interest and intrigue for me and that was when Arthur met up with a friend of his Suzy who had been an aid in his previous adventures was acting completely out of character for a moment. This scene would have made me flat out hate the series before Garth redeemed himself and the scene very quickly making it something amusing rather than frustrating.

 

The other scene that held my interest was the last 2 page chapter which was actually the set up for the next book. It took grim determination to get through this book and based upon what I’ve already read of the next book I’m glad I did force myself through this book to get to the rest of the better story. Over all I would give this book a 3 out of 5 pages and warn that it is a difficult book to get through unless you are big on sea faring adventures.

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Book Review – Grim Tuesday by Garth Nix

Title: Grim Tuesday

Author: Garth Nix

Format: Hardback

Published: 2004

 

Grim Tuesday is the second book in a series of seven known as the Keys to the Kingdom series each book named after a day of the week. The first book Mister Monday was a book I reviewed a long while ago. I had a desire to go through and finish the series but needed to re-read the first two and a half books in order to do so. In my review of Mister Monday I expressed that I was bored and kept tying to remember the events of this book as the events of that book. Coming to this book I knew there was less to get confused and there was only one event that I wasn’t sure it if was this book or the next that I remember reading it but I was certain it was the next book – but overall it wasn’t a major event and didn’t disturb my reading.

 

Going through this book a second time wasn’t bad – the book held my attention and it was vaguely amusing. Having a familiarity with the book I began to wonder how the main character Arthur got out of one situation that I didn’t remember at all to the next situation which I remembered. Over all I did not remember much of the book but one main event which made things a whole lot easier to read.

 

The general plot of this book picks up where Mister Monday left off. Arthur awakes to a new day (Tuesday) glad that the events of Monday are well taken care of and happy to live his normal mortal life for the next several years to discovered that Grim Tuesday has set out to collect a past debt left behind by Mister Monday that Arthur now owes. Arthur finds that everyone is in financial ruin and there are Denizens (the people/creatures of the house where Mister Monday and Grim Tuesday reside) causing problems as well.

 

Despite the fact of not wanting to go back into the House and fight another trustee (as Mister Monday and Grim Tuesday are known) he goes in and is faced with various challenges to try to get what he needs to fight off Grim Tuesday and take ownership of yet another region of the house just like he had done in the first book only with new challenges. Which also included an issue with creatures based out of nothing called nithlings which are hell bent on destroying the House structure something that Arthur cannot allow as said destruction would destroy the entire universe considering that the house is also known as the center of the universe. It is a bit of a whirlwind of a tale and there are hits of something more nefarious going on than just the present issues at hand.

Overall I think I would give the book a 4 out of 5 pages as it was rather good and kept my attention. I will also say that this book is very much a children’s middle grade book, but still something that an adult can enjoy as well.

Book Review – The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Title: The Sea of Monsters

Author: Rick Riordan

Format: Hardback

Published: 2006

 

Having read the first book of the Percy Jackson serried I decided I needed to continue the series and finally picked up the second book to re-read it as my first read may have been abridged. Finally having the time I was able to clip through the book and it was a decent read. I will admit that book was much more enjoyable the first read through and it engrossed me more the first time than it did now. I don’t like to repeat much so it was a bit of a struggle to get through the book.

 

That being said this is a story of Percy going on another quest to save Camp Half-Blood with the help of Annabeth and his new found half- brother and Cyclopes Tyson. In addition to his quest to save the camp he is also set with the difficult task of saving his best friend Grover the Sytar from the clutches of yet another Cyclopse. Not only is Grover’s life on the line in this quest but so is Percy’s as there is now a bond between him and Grover such that if Grover were to die so would Percy.

 

It is a bit of a whirlwind of a story as Percy faces off against a number of classic monsters in the sea of monsters. It was still a decent read and rather good the fist time through. I know what I particularly enjoyed was the end of the book as there is a nice little twist that makes you want to delve right in to the next book in the series as what happens at the end of the book is a major game changer for the rest of the series.

 

Over all, I think I would give this book a 4 out of 5 page review simply because it is a good young reader that can hold the attention of an adult fairly well without being too much for a young reader either. The story is well written and the way Riordan has updated the Olympians and the monsters or old is clever. I look forward to reading the next book as I have not read it before.

Book Review – Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Title: The Lightning Thief

Author: Rick Riordan

Format: Paperback

Published: 2005

 

I had heard things about the Percy Jackson series in the past and I admit I’d been curious for some time particularly when the whole bug-a-boo came down about Christopher Columbus directing the first film just like he did for Harry Potter films.  Why people were upset by this I don’t know but then again the internet is a weird place to be honest.  Anyway it wasn’t too long ago that I took the time to read the book, but failed to review it.  I admit the first time I read the book and I enjoyed it fairly well.

 

Having read the book I stumble upon the movie and decided why not?  Now I will be first to say that I do not ever expect the movie to be the living book I expect changes and tweaks along the road but when I saw the movie I cannot express how many times I was ready to throw my remote across the room, and how many times I stopped the DVD, because I was that frustrated I skipped parts just to see how much they mucked other things and if they could accomplish a few basic facts of the book and by basic facts I’m not meaning Annabeth’s hair is supposed to be blond but was rather brown (I can live with that.)  No I’m talking the actual quest they went on, how the flying shoes were used (which is a major plot point) and what actually happens in the underworld which is where the characters go on their quest.  I will start off with saying that the movie got it wrong to the point that they eliminated the major villain of the entire series in this movie; because of this I don’t know how they managed a second movie.

 

Anyway instead of ranting on the movie I’ll focus on the book which is about a middle school boy in 6th grade who is dyslexic, and has ADHD and is in a school for troubled students because of this and because every school he goes to he gets kicked out.  He is proud of the fact that he was almost to the end of the year and hadn’t been kicked out when he goes on a field trip that is always trouble to a museum with Greek artwork and statues.  From there he gets in trouble with a nasty piece of work teacher Mrs. Dodds who turns into a Fury and attacks him.

 

From there Percy gradually learns that he is in mortal danger and is a half-blood, a demi-god, a hero and he is being blamed for stealing Zues’ master bolt.  He discovered to which god sired him and he is then thrown into a rather dangerous quest to go the underworld where it is believed that the master bolt is being held.

 

I don’t want to give spoilers but the story has a lot of adventure and some rather good twists through out it and it just keeps with a nice even pace.  Over all I thoroughly enjoyed the book even with it being my second read through and I am sure I’ll enjoy re-reading the second in the series and then finishing out the series I find Rick Riordan’s writing to be easy to read and enjoyable and very age appropriate for a middle grade student to read.

 

Over all I would give the book a 4 out of 5 stars simply for the ease of getting lost in the writing style and story that is being presented.  I find the tale to be very well told and I advise to never touch the movie, particularly if you like Greek Mythology.  The story takes place during the summer and the characters go to the underworld, in the movie Persephone is present in the underworld.  If  you know any of your Greek Mythology then you know how wrong and problematic that is!  (Particularly when the book notates her lack of presence and why.)  Long story short, read the book don’t watch the movie.

Book Review – Matilda

TITLE: Matilda
AUTHOR: Roald Dahl
PUBLISHED: 1988 (Originally, my verson, i dunno, but they’re the same)
FORMAT: illegal eBook*

 

So, it may be cheating to pick a book that I’ve read no less than 100 times, but I’m okay with it.  The first time I read <em>Matilda</em>, I was probably 10, and Roald was probably already gone from this world, which makes me sad.  As voracious a reader as I am, I never even had a concept of telling him such, and it’s too late.  But that is a tangent, so let me attempt to stay on track.  On a mostly related side note, I once had a streak of reading this book so much that the librarian outright denied me the ability to check it out and started funneling me other books as soon as they were made a part of the library’s system.  (The Jenny Archer series comes to mind…) She ordered me to buy my own copy, which I did, and that did not deter me.  I liked – and still do – the feel of a hardback book that has been given the library treatment, cover coated, taped to the book, etc.  There was something special about the crinkle of the paper in my hands.  My local Waldenbooks didn’t have a hardback, so I settled for a paperback copy.  I was sorely disappointed.

Anyway…

Matilda Wormwood is a young girl who is totally ignored by her family and brilliant despite it all.  She’s also a bit mischevious and sweet and awesome and everything else.  I always related a little to her (I was the only one in kindergarten who could read going in, although I wasn’t quite at the Dickens level).  And I just genuinely liked the characters in the book.  In her story, she deals with the crap in her world the best she can and gets exactly what she needs in the end.

This time through, I decided to ask myself why I liked the story so much, and I realized just how brilliant Roald Dahl is, and just how awesome British society twenty-five years ago was.  For starters, the book is obnoxious and rude and mean and everything else – child after child gets outright abused by the headmistress.  She calls them foul, she tells them how they’re the boils on the buttocks of the world, she tells them they’re stupid and useless and everything else.  And then she grabs them by the hair or the ears or the whatever and flings them about.

I’m not saying I like an obnoxious and rude character – we’re not supposed to like Miss Trunchbull – but I liked that the characters aren’t dumbed down or sugar coated or whatever.  I don’t think this book would have flown past the censors today.

And I liked that the language isn’t stupid and rhymey and stilted.  I can name entire series’ of books that are so dumbed down for readers that the author refused to use contractions.  This book, though…. at some point in the story, Matilda and the librarian are talking about reading and not understanding everything.  The librarian gives the best gem of advice – let the words wash around you like music.  And that’s good advice for the readers too.  I don’t think that anything is going to be over the heads of your average eight year old, but if you don’t get it, just enjoy the ride.

That’s probably why this book has stood up so well.  There are plenty of children’s or mid grades books that I loved that if I read today, I’d be like “oh, that was a great trip down memory lane… ” but I wouldn’t care much for the book anymore.  But this book… I pick it up yearly at least – and mostly, it’s not for the nostalgia.  it’s because I genuinely love the story and want to read it again. And I think it’s pretty telling that the story works just as well for me as an adult as it did for me as a kid so many years ago.

I know this is a shocker, but 5/5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Earlier tonight, I searched online for a free eBook copy of Matilda, because I wanted to reference something.  I’m pretty sure (like totally) that it was an illegal eBook.  Before you get on me about it, the only reason I did it was because I was too lazy to move my laptop, stand up, walk from the living room, down the hallway, into the computer room/guest room/library and find one of at least three copies that I own.  The paperback and hardback of this book are all the same unless a special edition.  Trust me on this; I’m the closest thing to an expert since Roald himself.

Book Review – Fancy Nancy’s Favorite Fancy Words

Fancy Nancy’s Favorite Fancy Words: From Accessories to Zany
Written By: Jane O’Connor
Illustrated By: Robin Preiss Glasser
Hardback, 2008

 

Fancy Nancy is awesome.  She’s adorable, redheaded, loves purples and anything french, and is totally the kid we wish we all had been.  I love her to death.

So when I managed to snag a copy of this book, I totally did, because if nothing else, I love looking at the Fancy Nancy drawings.  Seriously.

This particular book is an A-Z of all the Glamorous Vocabulary one can Yearn for.  Each word is introduced, defined, and – the best part, IMO – then used in a sentence.  I’ve seen a lot of A-Z books in my time, none have ever had this trifecta.

The words are cute, and certainly fancy advanced words, and there are a couple French words thrown in for good measure.  The illustrations are just as awesome.  I think this will end up on my keep shelf, even though I initially thought that I’d look at it and then pass it on.  Some things are just too cute to do anything with except keep.

So, when you want to look Dapper with your Lavender Parasol, make sure you have this book so you know what you’re talking about.  And if you have a little girl in your life, make sure you have it for her.

 

5/5

Book Review – Codecrafter by Erica Sandbothe

Title: Codecrafter

Author: Erica Sandbothe

Format: Paperback

Written/Published: 2013

As many of you readers know we here at Book in the Bag do get requests from authors to read and review their books.  If you are familiar with how we operate we do not promise to give good reviews only honest ones, thus I will dictate that I have received nothing more than a few e-mails and a copy of her first book Codecrafter from Erica.

To start off, the book is about a young girl named Tagglinde (Tagg for short) who is going to a school to learn how to be a sorceress.  He spell work however is not your typical mystical fare but rather based in code and programming.  She receives a magical stick that has a memory drive that she has to remember to defrag and her spells have to be written in proper code for them to come out and be usable.  If you are familiar with any sort of coding you can see a lot of the connections between what she does in the book to actual coding, if not in a lot of ways everything is still very odd and mystical. I am not overly familiar with coding but I do know enough to be familiar with what was being talked about on some levels (most of what I have done has been BBC coding and very basic code to set up a web page back in the day).

Still, if you know about coding or you don’t the story is still and enjoyable read and is very well fitted for middle grade ages as Erica claims the book to be.  The story was interesting and I wasn’t sitting there wondering when will this book end or regretting to volunteer to read the book.  I only have one major complaint about the book which sometimes can be a good complaint and that is that the book wasn’t long enough.  There were times where I would have loved a bit more pacing and a deeper exploration of certain things but all the same I enjoyed the read.

Aside from the book being a quick read of only 135 pages (perfect for the age range she is aiming for), my only remaining recommendation for future copies of the book if possible is to have a map or two in the front of the book showing the lands of the world of Codecrafter and maybe even a map of the school grounds where the gardens and school building are in Tilde.  Of course, these things aren’t necessary but I know I probably would have flipped to the map if there was one at some point just to get a feel for where Tagg was when she was traveling about.

Overall, the book was a good read and not only that it taught some great mathematical concepts as well because computer science is related to that ever dreaded subject for many- math.  Odds and probability are something that tends to go over people’s heads.  I had fun with it, because I’m your all around geek not only enjoying a good read but also loving a good mathematical problem as well.  There was actually a point where I stopped reading the book to figure out the answer to the question before I read the answer (please note I was just waking up from sleep at that point).

In the end I would give this book a 4 page rating saying that it is a good read and age appropriate for middle grades.  I know I’m looking forward to the next book in the series which I’m told Erica is currently working on!  Additionally I am looking forward to the growth and expansion of her website to include the yet to come teaching materials because I can see the educational value of the book as well having formally been in the field of education myself!

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