I’m Disappointed…That it Took Me So Long to Read This Book! | The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

There were two reasons why I didn’t read Percy Jackson the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan when it was released:

  1. In January 2005, I was a junior in high school, and I considered myself too old for middle grade novels.
  2. Yet, I wasn’t too old for Harry Potter, which is the other reason I didn’t read this book. Someone said it was “perfect for fans of Harry Potter“, which is an instant turn-off. Nothing can compare to Harry Potter!

So, I’m not sure why, at the age of 27, I felt compelled to buy this middle grade novel (other than, it was on sale, and I’m notoriously impulsive when it comes to buying and borrowing books). Once I brought the book home with me, it spent a few months sitting on the floor beside my bed before I even considered actually reading it. It was because of mentions on two blogs, Reviews and Cake and J.Bookish, that I took as a sign and decided to finally give the book a read. Right from chapter one, I was totally engrossed in The Lightning Thief. Normally I can’t read in bed because I get drowsy really quickly, but this book had me thinking just one more chapter before lights out, and before I knew it, the clock read midnight. I even read this book with the teevee on, and I wasn’t distracted at all.

Continue reading I’m Disappointed…That it Took Me So Long to Read This Book! | The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Book Report: Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes by P.H.C. Marchesi

Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes

Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes
March 2011
Publisher: Createspace
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Shelby Kitt never gets lost. Shauna, his sister, never gets sick. As far as most people are concerned, the inseparable Kitt twins are odd 13-year-olds. No one, however – not even Shelby and Shauna – can guess how extraordinary they are until the Vice Consul of Miriax, a planet from another dimension, asks them to take part in a dangerous mission. From that moment on, Shelby and Shauna Kitt discover that the universe is full of Klodians, cities in jungles, giant bats, and tea with mushrooms. Most of all, they discover that it will take more than special powers for them to face – and survive – the evil that threatens the galaxy.

My Thoughts

P.H.C. Marchesi’s Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes took me on an adventure I did not expect. Shelby and Shauna are hand-picked by the Vice Consul of Miriax, named Lendox, to help save Earth and Miriax from total destruction at the hands of  the Klodians. Along the way, the twins receive training in a military fort, learn they have “super powers”, and explore the world of Miriax.

The greatest aspect of this book is P.H.C. Marchesi’s excellent world building, and Miriax really can only be described as epic! It’s a planet where stick bug creatures patrol the jungles and bat-like creatures are able to communicate telepathically. The walls can grow to increase the holding capacity of buildings, and the walls have a tendency to eat left over food. Instead of choosing books to read, the books choose the reader. But, I’ll stop there because learning about the alien world is half the fun of the book!

The book was also filled with an array of interesting characters. The young heroes all have unique gifts and “super powers”, but they also have weaknesses, which young readers can relate to. For example, Shelby has to learn how to control his quick temper, and Shauna has to learn how to overcome her shyness. Adults, who seem to be largely absent in most books meant for the younger generation, actually play an integral role in the story too. Vice Consul, Lendox, and tech-savvy Earthling, Marina, offer guidance and support for Shelby and Shauna as they tackle the Klodians and their own insecurities. The most intriguing character though, is the ever mysterious Dale. He was the most complex character in the book, and he kept me guessing all the way through. Good? Bad? Sociopath?

I thought the only weakness of Shelby and Shauna Kitt was the pacing. It takes about half of the book for the children to make it to Miriax. And, the battle against the Klodians, which the twins spent half the book learning about and training for, occurs in only one chapter. It left me thinking That was it?

Overall, I did enjoy this book. Despite the awkward pacing, the world building, the characters, and the twist at the end make this book a worthwhile read.Read if you’re looking for a good sci-fi read without all the overwhelming jargon or if you’re looking for adventure and epic world building!

Won from LibraryThing’s First Reads

The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley

I started reading The Fairytale Detectives on a particularly rainy day while sipping on a mug of hot Earl Grey tea. By the first few pages and the first crack of thunder from outside, I was sucked into the book.  I only wish I could mean that literally.

Ferryport Landing may seem like just a quaint New York town to the unobserving eye, but it is home to the Everafters (fairytale characters). Michael Buckley recreated a big cast of memorable fairytale characters; each one had its unique quirks and personality. Sabrina and her younger sister, Daphne, learn their Granny Relda and her faithful companion, Mr. Canis, are responsible for keeping magical shenanigans from getting too far out of hand. And, since the young girls have been reunited with family, that responsibility is now theirs too.

The youngest of the girls, Daphne, is downright adorable. She has such a bright and positive outlook on life despite all the negative experiences she’s had. I wish I could say the same for Sabrina, who seems a little too cynical for such a young girl. At times, her cynicism tried my patience, but as the story progressed, she slowly came to terms with her new life. I look forward to reading about Sabrina in the rest of the series because I don’t think she’ll be as negative. She did a lot of growing in book one.

Aside from being filled to the brim with magical characters, The Fairytale Detectives is also action-packed! As soon as Granny Relda and company discover evidence of a dangerous giant poking around in town, the book does not slow down. There are wild police chases, jailbreaks, mortal peril, and covert operations (just to name a few)!

My only concern with The Sisters Grimm series is the idea of a Grimm Fairytale is rather broad. Based on the title, readers will expect nothing but characters collected by the Grimm brothers to be in the book, but that is not the case. Buckley also includes magical characters from Rudyard Kipling, William Shakespeare, Lewis Carrol, and Hans Christian Anderson. Initially, this did bother me because Puck and Alice are not from Grimm fairy tales. It’s misleading! And, I wondered how many youngsters were going to be familiar with Puck from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I did find, by the end of the book I didn’t mind. Grimm fairy tales or not, they were integrated well into the story, and many of them were likable.

Overall, I adored this book! Setting the book down with only 80 pages to go just so I wasn’t late for work was difficult to do. I cannot wait to get back to the library to check out the rest of this series. Especially since The Fairytale Detectives ended on a cliffhanger! While the girls are busy solving mysteries in Ferrypoint Landing with Granny Relda, their mysterious past is slowly revealed. Now, I’m dying to know about the significance of the red handprint!

The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley

The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley (the Sisters Grimm #1)

Released: August 2007
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
Age Group: Middle Grade

[goodreads | indiebound]

For Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, life has not been a fairy tale. After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, the sisters are sent to live with their grandmother–a woman they believed was dead! Granny Relda reveals that the girls have two famous ancestors, the Brothers Grimm, whose classic book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files of magical mischief. Now the girls must take on the family responsibility of being fairy tale detectives.

Any Witch Way by Annastaysia Savage

If I cannot live in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world pre- or post- Vol-Vol…he-who-must-not-be-named, can I live in the world Annastaysia Savage created in Any Witch Way?  I thought Annastaysia’s world-building was superb.  The story starts in our reality, but as Sadie learns of her true identity, our reality blends and eventually fades into the realm of magik and fantasy.  Annastaysia incorporates all of the magical creatures and myths we grew up reading about in fairy tale books from imps and nymphs and centaurs to creatures that may be a little obscure.  She also creates her own vivid and terrifying, evil creatures for Sadie to battle.  She introduces these creatures without bombarding the reader with too much backstory.

The world Annastaysia created was so vividly described too.  Beautiful images of the magikal realm were painted in my mind as I read.  But, I was confused when the different realms and planes were brought up.  While I have a vague concept of what the planes are, I’m not entirely sure how they work.  This doesn’t conflict with the reader’s ability to understand the storyline or appreciate the world, but it might make a reader curious.

Any Witch Way was an action-packed novel from start to finish.  Around every corner, enemies, strange creatures, and paralyzing potions confront Sadie as she tries to put the Syndicate at bay.  Even though there is a lot of history to introduce to Sadie and the reader, it doesn’t slow down the plot any.  Oh, and I should mention this story is filled with plot twists.  I did not predict what the ending had in store!

I loved the characters in this story.  Sadie grew from a girl who is unsure of herself into a brave and confident witchling.  She achieves it all without a romantic interest helping her along the way which is even more awesome!  All of the races of creatures in the story, and there are a lot, have defining personality traits so they don’t just blend into each other, and it was fun getting to know each one.

Overall, I loved this story!  It was funny and scary and heartwarming and full of adventure– all under one book cover.  Typically I have a difficult time getting into fantasy novels since the world-building often outshines the characters, but Any Witch Way had a nice balance of both.  Oh, and I still can’t get over how much I loved the magikal world.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Any Witch Way by Annastaysia Savage

Any Witch Way by Annastaysia Savage

Released: April 2011
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Middle Grade

[goodreads | indiebound]

Enduring the teasing and ridicule of her schoolmates, Sadie struggles through life as a pre-teen on the eve of her 13th birthday. Three years ago, a car crash took her mother, but Sadie never saw her body. She refuses to believe her mother is gone. Holding fast to that feeling earns her the nickname “Crazy Sadie.”
Despite her one wish to be normal, Sadie only finds solace with a small group of unusual characters. These unlikely friends give her a semi-normal life outside of school in a bookstore where strange and mystical things seem to happen. If Sadie entertains her deepest suspicions, her friends are a little mystical.

When her birthday arrives, however, Sadie finds herself whisked into a magical world that swirls just under the surface of normal life. Not only does she learn she’ll soon become a witch, but she also discovers she must battle The Syndicate to save her new world.

So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane

I just finished re-reading the Harry Potter series, and my thirst for fantasy, wizardry, and magic had not been quenched; so, I picked up So You Want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane. I knew nothing about it, and I have to admit, I did have trouble getting into the book. The pacing at the beginning seemed slow, so I nearly abandoned the book. However, once Fred the white hole, was introduced, my attention span grew.

I’m still baffled at Nita and Kit’s ability to have what seems to be a sudden understanding of complex wizardry though. They discovered a spellbook in the library and in a matter of days, they knew exactly what spells to use and when and how to manipulate basic spells into something more complex. I understand this is a fantasy novel, but I would still expect the characters to have training before jumping into the big stuff– the really big stuff.

I also had a problem with the way certain characters were introduced.  Sometimes their introductions seemed so sudden, specifically with the Perytons. When Nita and Kit are casting a spell, these villainous creatures begin to approach them. The two know them immediately as Perytons as if Perytons were creatures they passed in everyday life. When I initially read the passage describing the Perytons, I thought they were humans with wolf-like features, but I was very wrong. I later looked them up, and I guess they look just like wolves except for more evil…?*shrug*

Confusion aside, I am glad I picked up the book. I enjoyed the characters in the story. Nita and Kit, the protagonists, are underdogs, but they don’t feel sorry for themselves. Instead, they try to find ways to overcome the bullying they endure daily. It just so happens that the lessons they learn through wizardry hold the answers. Fred, the white hole that is summoned, is my absolute favorite though. He is just a fun character! His awe of the new world and the sun (which he describes as “cute”) is so heartwarming, and his comments often evoked a few chuckles out of me.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was Nita’s closeness to nature. Her closeness allows her to communicate with and manipulate nature easier than say things that are man-made, like cars and planes, which appears to be Kit’s specialty. Nita’s closeness to nature allows for some really interesting dialogue between Nita and the trees that I absolutely adored.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a magic or wizard fix.

So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane

Released: January 1983
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Middle Grade

[add to goodreads | indiebound]

Nita Callahan, thirteen years old, ducks into the local library to escape the torment of the neighborhood bully, Joanne. While hiding in the book stacks, she finds a book titled So You Want to be a Wizard among other career exploration books for children. She brings the book home with her and discovers it is about the art of wizardry. She believes it to be a hoax, but she decides to take the Wizard Oath anyway– just in case. The next day, when she is out trying to do her first spell, she meets Kit Rodriguez, a young Hispanic boy who gets picked on for being too smart.  She finds out he is also a fellow wizard. The two complete a spell together which summons an intelligent white hole, Fred, from space; he informs the young wizards that a book, The Naming of the Lights, has gone missing and the universe may be in danger. Nita’s doubts about the book are gone: she is a wizard.