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.

Advertisements

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 Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making

Title: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Author: Catherynne M. Valente

Format: Hardback

Year Published: 2011

I was unsure of how I felt about this book to begin with. Part of that was because I was trying to read at work and kept getting interrupted (it took two days to read the first eleven pages) and the other part is because the narrator kept breaking the fourth wall, similarly to the narrator in The Anybodies. But where that didn’t work for me in The Anybodies, it did work for me here, I think because the narrator in this book was less of a character and more of a generic narrator.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is about a girl named September who gets whisked away to Fairyland by a Green Wind and a Leopard. Once there, she finds herself off on an adventure, to rescue a spoon for some witches from the Marquess who rules over the land. This leads her to meeting with new friends (like A-Through-L, a Wyvern, who is probably my favorite character) and then she ends up running afoul of the Marquess. Then she’s forced to go on another quest, but this one is to save her friends.

September, as a heroine, is plucky, and impulsive, and altogether likeable. I really enjoyed following along with her adventures, and I loved the side characters as well. the big plot twist – well, I called it relatively early on in the book, but that’s not terribly unusual for me.

Over all, a 3/5 – not a book for everybody, but those who like fairy tales and plucky heroines will like this book.

Book Review – The Anybodies

Title: The Anybodies

Author: N.E. Bode

Format: Hardback

Year Published: 2004

The Anybodies was brought to my attention by a friend when we were discussing another novel. (Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines, for the curious, which has very little to do with this other than the ability to pull things out of books.) The Anybodies is about a girl named Fern who discovers that the people she thought were her parents aren’t because she was swapped at birth. Her real father has come to collect her and swap the children back, and Fern learns all sorts of secrets about her past.

Her father tells her that her mother was an “Anybody” – somebody who could become anybody (or anything). Fern’s mother had been a natural, and had taught her father some of the secrets. She had owned a special book (The Art of Being an Anybody) and Fern’s father (the Bone) is worried about it falling into the Miser’s hands. He tells Fern that the Miser had been his best friend growing up, but that he had grown bitter when Fern’s mother had fallen in love with the Bone instead.

They end up at Fern’s grandmother’s house, a place full of books, where Fern learns the art of shaking items out of books while both her father and the Miser search for Fern’s mother’s book. While there, Fern learns about her mother and what the secret of The Art of Being an Anybody is.

My friend who told me about the book warned me that the narrator broke the fourth-wall quite often, and I found that quite distracting (but after I realized that I wasn’t learning anything really important in those tangents, I started skipping them and the book got much better). Some of the antics of the characters was a bit over-the-top, but not too out of place in a middle grade book.

I really enjoyed Fern – she was actually rather believable in her longing for a family and a place where she felt like she was at home, and she wasn’t overbearingly precocious.

3/5 pages, though I would personally take off another half page due to the narrator issue

Book Review – Flight of the Eagles

Title: Flight of the Eagles (The Seven Sleepers Series)

Author: Gilbert L. Morris

Format: Paperback

Year Published: 1990

The Seven Sleepers series is a Christian fiction series based around the idea that seven people will survive a nuclear war in our time – and wake up in 50 years to a world that is completely changed. These seven “sleepers” are thought to be the fulfillment of of a prophecy that would uplift Goél and bring about the defeat of the Sanhedrin.

Flight of the Eagles focuses on Josh Adams, a fourteen-year-old who is put into a capsule and wakes into a world he barely recognizes. He must come to terms with not only the loss of his family and his previous life, but he must also learn about the new world and life he has now found himself in. He is aided in this by creatures that he could never imagine – dwarfs and giants and mutants, all changed by the Terror that changed Earth into a place called Nuworld.

The first book of the series focuses on their journey to find all seven of the Sleepers, aided by a series of songs and a map left to Joshua by his parents. They travel across the land, waking each Sleeper one by one, and get into terrible danger along the way. As they travel, Josh and Sarah (the second of the Sleepers to awaken) begin to experience visits from Goél and gain strength by trusting him.

This book (and I assume series) is a very firm middle-grade book, which shows not only in the plot, but also in the writing style. The characters are, for the most part, rather flat (in many cases, this is because they are barely introduced). There’s a little bit of world-building, but not a ton. A lot of ground is covered several times, as the group travels to wake each Sleeper in turn.

I enjoyed the book, for the most part, and am looking forward to reading others in the series. I probably would have enjoyed it more as a young teenager.

Rated 2/5 pages due to limited appeal for adults.

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 – 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!

%d bloggers like this: