“Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye” by Tania del Rio, illus. by Will Staehle

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye
The ARC cover.

Quick summary:

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye is an illustrated middle-grade novel about a 12-year-old orphan, Warren, who maintains his family’s hotel. The hotel fell into disrepair since Warren’s lazy uncle Rupert took over after Warren the 12th died. Despite its dilapidated state, Warren takes pride in the hotel and tries his hardest to improve its condition. But his attempts are thwarted by his evil Aunt Anaconda who rips the hotel apart as she searches for the All-Seeing Eye, rumored to be hidden somewhere in the hotel.

Soon the hotel is overrun with guests who are also interested in finding the All-Seeing Eye and it’s all Warren can do to keep the hotel together as the guests rip it apart in their search. Knowing that his aunt wants the All-Seeing Eye for nefarious means, Warren joins the search with his friends hoping to locate it before his aunt does.

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“The Spiderwick Chronicles” by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

This series was fun to read. I started it last year but stopped when I realized that it’s broken up over several books. It was annoying to finish one book and have to wait until I purchased the other to continue. Of course, I could have read the e-books but since I began with a physical book, I wanted to continue with that trend.

Quick summary (some spoilers):

The Field Guide
The Field Guide

Book 1: The Field Guide

When the Grace children move to their great aunt Lucinda’s abandoned Victorian house shortly after their parents’ divorce, they are introduced to a world of strange creatures. In this book they meet the house brownie Thimbletack, who seems to have gone slightly mad from living alone in the old house for so long. When they arrive at the Spiderwick estate, their Mom orders them to begin cleaning to make the house livable. While doing so the children discover Thimbletack’s home in the wall. However, they didn’t know it was someone’s, or rather something’s, home so Simon and Mallory destroy it throwing most of the contents in the garbage. Thimbletack takes offense to this and assaults Simon and Mallory. Since Jared always got into trouble at the old house, his Mom automatically assumes that he is abusing his siblings. After discovering Arthur Spiderwick’s field guide of extraordinary creatures, Jared becomes convinced that they had upset a brownie. With advice from the field guide, the Grace children are able to appease Thimbletack.

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“The Black Cauldron” by Lloyd Alexander

I don’t like the covers for this book. I think this one is best though it doesn’t fit the story. Eilonwy wasn’t the protagonist or figured prominently in this one.

Taran’s adventures continue in The Black Cauldron, the second installment of Lloyd Alexander’s the Chronicles of Prydain series. In The Book of Three, first of the series, we learn of Arawn’s fearsome, undead warriors—the cauldron-born—that are brewed from the belly of his huge, black cauldron. Now, in The Black Cauldron it is up to Taran and friends, along with some new companions, to destroy the cauldron and prevent Arawn from growing his army.

Quick summary:

It’s hard to tell how much time has transpired between the events in the first novel and the beginning of this one but I assume it is a few months. After returning to their respective abodes (Eilonwy and Gurgi remained at Caer Dallben with Taran), they are rounded up by Prince Gwydion to embark on a quest to steal and destroy the black cauldron. Along with Taran and his friends, Gwydion calls upon various warriors and kings from across the land to congregate at Caer Dallben for a council before embarking on the quest.

They travel to Annuvin, Arawn’s lair in the north, where they believe the cauldron is housed. Taran makes some new friends on the journey such as the poetic Adaon, who is both a warrior and a bard, while gaining the ire of others, specifically Ellidyr, a lowly prince from a small kingdom. While Doli and Fflewddur accompany Gwydion and his company in infiltrating Annuvin, Taran remains without the fortress with Adaon and Ellidyr, serving as rear guard. The plan goes smoothly except there is no cauldron steal. Plus, Eilonwy and Gurgi, who were both left behind at Caer Dallben, pop up unexpectedly and the groups—both front and rear guards—are attacked by Arawn’s ferocious Huntsmen. It’s an unfortunate situation but with Adaon and Doli’s help, Taran and his party are able to escape the Huntsmen and seek refuge at a Fair Folk waypost. They had to part from Gwydion’s party while escaping the Huntsmen.

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“The House of Hades” by Rick Riordan

Available on Amazon and at you local bookstore.
Available on Amazon and at you local bookstore.

And so we’re back with Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series. This time, we’re racing along with the heroes, trying to get to the House of Hades in Greece to close the doors of death! Many obstacles stand in our way and things can go horribly wrong at any minute. Percy and Annabeth are stuck in Tartarus for the while, trying to navigate the underworld and stay alive as they plod on towards the doors of death. If they are not careful, they can be vanquished at any time by one of the numerous monsters that pop up all over the place since Tartarus is their turf.

Then there are the other demigods aboard Argo II. They all have their issues and insecurities and love interests. They’ve battled mountain giants/gods, weird-looking cow monsters, pesky dwarfs, and frigid opponents. Still, they always find the time to say how much they admire/love/care for each other, seeming to never get pissed off at each other’s fuck-ups while they continue on this stressful journey.

And then there’s Nico, off in a corner, lonely, tortured by unrequited love. Poor kid. Back in the states, the demigod camps are gearing up for battle because that’s what they do. They have nothing better to think about as Gaea threatens to end the world. Apparently, it’s better to eliminate each other now so Gaea can easily cross that task off her list.

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“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” by J.K. Rowling

The 2005 cover by Mary GrandPré. I still like it.
The 2005 cover by Mary GrandPré. I still like it.

I forgot what grade I was in when this book came out but I know I was in high school, probably a junior or senior. Harry Potter was such a craze back then that almost everyone would try to sneak a read in class, especially if the teacher had assigned a video for the class to watch. We would hold the book under the desk and attempt to read in the semi-darkness of the classroom. That’s exactly what the majority of my psychology class did. We were all reading as quickly as we could because it was rumored that someone important dies in this installment. But one day my psychology teacher got so frustrated with us reading and not paying attention to the lesson that he gave away the ending: “Look. Dumbledore dies now stop reading!”

“What?!” was my reply, “why Dumbledore?” Of all the people in the novel, why did Dumbledore have to die? This question pestered me when I first read the series. Back then I couldn’t grasp the meaning of Dumbledore’s death. I saw it as just another horrible occurrence in Harry’s life. Now that I’ve re-read the novel and seen the movies numerous times, I think I now know why Dumbledore had to die: he knew too much; to throw readers off; and he is a crutch.

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“Lioness Rampant” by Tamora Pierce

Available on Amazon and at you local bookstore.
Available on Amazon and at you local bookstore.

A quick summary:

The Song of the Lioness series continues with Alanna and Coram in Maren, a country to the east of Tortall. Her purpose there is to find a friend of Myles’, who can translate a map she was given by the nameless woman who died in the last book. She discovers that the map points the way to the Roof of the World, where the Dominion Jewel is kept. The Dominion Jewel is a powerful object that only a true leader can wield. Alanna decides to embark on an adventure to claim the Dominion Jewel for Tortall to prove her worth as a lady-knight and to further fortify Tortall.

But before she begins this adventure, she meets a dragon. No, not one with pointy teeth and fiery breath but one just as deadly. She meets Liam, a member of the Shang warriors. He is called the Shang Dragon, “the best of the best,” and is lethal both with weapons and weaponless. Immediately Alanna is drawn to him and it’s lust at first sight. The Lioness and the Dragon engage in a stormy affair that’s short-lived due to their stark differences, stubbornness, and Liam’s fear of magic. After hearing of their plans, Liam decides to accompany Alanna and Coram to the Roof. Along the way, they meet Buri, a K’miri warrior, who accompanies Thayet, the exiled princess of Sarain. They both travel with children, fugitives of Sarain’s civil war.

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“The Woman Who Rides Like a Man” by Tamora Pierce

Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.
Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

A quick summary:

On her first adventure as a knight, Alanna and Coram visit the Great Southern Desert, where she runs into one of the Bazhir tribes called the Bloody Hawk. After a tense meeting, where she was shunned by the Bloody Hawk’s shaman, she and Coram are inducted into the tribe. They call her “Woman Who Rides Like a Man” since she goes unveiled, wear breeches, carry a sword, and literally rides a horse like a man. While residing with the tribe, Alanna and Faithful, her cat, are adopted by three children—Ishak, Kara, and Kourrem—, who were made outcasts of the village by the shaman because they have the Gift (magic). After the shaman dies due to his own stupidity, Alanna begins to train the three children to become shaman of the village.

Prince Jonathan and Myles also visit Alanna while she resides with the tribe. George sent his spies. After winning their acceptance, both Jonathan and Myles were inducted into the tribe. Myles uses the opportunity to adopt Alanna—both magically and legally—as his heir. Jonathan and Alanna rekindle their romance and there is talk of marriage, which leads Alanna to again ponder what it is that she wants. She yearns for adventure but she also loves Jonathan. However, committing to Jonathan carries responsibilities such as marriage and producing an heir for the kingdom as soon as possible. Still, she does enjoy George’s company. She hardly has much time to ponder this since she helps to train her young shamans as well as others who visit the Bloody Hawk, which marks the budding of a new school of magic. Also, she tends to the Voice of the Tribes, a spiritual figurehead, who is frail and sick. The main reason for Jonathan’s visit is to become the new Voice of the Tribes. It’s a controversial move since the Bazhir tribes and the king of Tortall are at odds but the Voice of the Tribes believes that by making the prince the Voice, the rift between the king and the tribes will mend.

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“In the Hand of the Goddess” by Tamora Pierce

Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.
Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce was a great read. I completed the books a couple weeks ago but I am behind on my posts. I decided to re-read the series because I wanted to once again experience reading a favorite book for the first time. Of course, this was a silly plan doomed to fail since I am no longer the person I was when I first read these books and, obviously, this is neither the first, second, or third time that I’m reading them. I first read Alanna’s story when I was a freshman in high school and her story resonated with me. Alanna is a headstrong girl who defies the ethics of her land by posing as a boy so she could become a knight. She does not allow her circumstances to dictate who she should be. She decides that for herself.

The younger me and the present me both admire this trait. Back then, it stood out to me because I was at the point in life where a child’s family begins to prep and prod her in the direction they believe it best for her to go. My family had great intentions and their prepping and prodding were positively beneficial but I wanted to decide for myself. Now, as I try to assimilate to adulthood, I still find it alluring because I realize that it takes a lot of guts to go against the norm and do something unexpected. It takes guts to chase your goals and not allow circumstances or anything, rather, to hinder you from attaining it. Therefore, it took guts for Alanna to continue with her plans to become a lady-knight at a time when such an idea was not easily accepted. She must really have madness in her family, as she often mutters whenever she does something crazy.

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