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review 2018-04-22 21:55
Book Review of Giselda and the Dragon by J S Rumble
Giselda & The Dragon - J. F. S. Rumble

Giselda feels terribly guilty that she stole from the dragon on the mountain top. It's also worrying her that he might be holding a grudge against the schools because of what happened.

Unable to forget what she did she decides to travel up the mountain and face the dragon once more. It is safe to say the encounter has an unexpected outcome and Giselda is thrown into more exciting and terrifying adventures...but does she find what she is looking for?

 

Review 5*

 

This is the next book in the Giselda series of children's chapter books. I loved it!

 

Giselda is a wonderful character and I really liked her when I was introduced to her in the first book. She's an eight year-old girl who found out that she's a witch. Now a student at Wigmore School for Witches, she has already had one deadly adventure. However, she is beset with guilt for her part in stealing hair off of a dragon. Determined to right a wrong, she must find the courage to face the dragon once more.

 

This book is a sweet children's book with an exciting adventure included. It is ideal for children with short attention spans.

 

The school is not your typical witch/wizard school, nor is it like Hogwarts. Wigmore teaches their students to be bad (not evil) and play tricks on others. The story continues from the end of the first book, Giselda The Witch. I love meeting Tom again. He is a young wizard who befriends Giselda through the fence that separates the two sections (girls and boys are taught separately). This time, the two set off on an adventure that introduces new characters. I was terrified of the dragon when the children faced him in the first book, but in this one we get to know him a little better. His name is Colin and he's not scary at all. We are also introduced to his friend Gerald, another dragon, as well as a mysterious mythological species called Pangles, who look like large black cats with wings.

 

This book takes the reader on a magical adventure that sees the two children and Colin looking for a magical mirror that had been stolen from Colin over fifty years previously. There are several challenges that they face throughout the story, with lots of magic and spells, and the action and adventure kept me sitting on the edge of my seat. I think I've lot my heart to the baby Pangle though. Where can I get one?? The story ends satisfactorily, but eludes to further adventures to come and I can't wait!

 

J.S. Rumble has written an entertaining chapter book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I love her writing style, which is not particularly fast paced though easy enough for children to follow whether reading on their own, or being read to by their parents. The flow is wonderful too. I would definitely consider reading more of her books in the future.

 

I highly recommend this chapter book to young children aged 4-10, and to adults looking for a chapter book to keep their little ones entertained. - Lynn Worton

 
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review 2018-04-22 20:45
A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Time Quintet, #3) by Madeleine L'Engle
A Swiftly Tilting Planet - Madeleine L'Engle

The further I progress into this series, the further downhill it goes. I had so many issues with this book. Not a single thing I read made it redeemable in the least. I know this is a beloved series for many people and if you really like this book, that's great. I'm authentically happy you enjoy this book. However, I found so many problems with it that I just can't overlook them.

 

Let's start off with Meg. Her only purpose in this book was to be "Calvin's wife" and "pregnant." That's it. Whilst her parents were off being cool scientists, her father being the president's new best friend, her brothers off to medical school and law school, all she was doing was... well, she kythe with Charles Wallace whilst he was off trying to save the planet from nuclear devastation... and that's pretty much it. Meg did absolutely nothing throughout the whole book except complain that she missed her husband and ask her brothers for help because she can't be bothered to open a book.

 

In fact, that was one of the biggest problems I had with this book. The women were only there to be plot devices for the men. The women were only there to be beautiful, to be desired after, to "take care" of the men, to fall for abusive men, to marry abusive men, to get pregnant by the abusive men. Even when it was shown that these men were clearly abusive, one of these abusive men even killed a puppy, these women found them "alluring." Are you bloody kidding me? Who sees a puppy killer and then go "mmm, yeah, I want that in my bed"? No one in their right mind, that's who! Oh, and don't get me started on Mortmain! He was truly the lowest of the low! He beat on his partner, then sexually harassed his partner's daughter, then went to strike that young girl's grandmother only to hit her brother instead to where he fell down the stairs and ended up with brain damage... only for the mother of these kids to marry and get pregnant from this man because it made their lives easier to have a man in the house!!! What!? After all that, you're going to still stay with this man!? He should be in jail!

 

Also, let's add that once this boy is out of the hospital, they call him stupid and put him in an insane asylum because "no one" wants him to hurt this brand new baby. This other guy, named Paddy, wanted to lock him up because he just didn't like dealing with someone with brain damage. I know... these people are horrible. The issue of mental health is handle so poorly. This boy, Chuck, had a sister, Beezie, and she kept telling him to stop acting and pretending about his condition... Hello!!! He fell down a flight of stairs! He fractured his skull! He is suffering from brain damage! He can't control that! How are you going to tell him to stop pretending!? Moron. Oh, and that guy, Paddy? Yeah, after he helps put her brother away in the insane asylum, she goes and marries the guy, have a bunch of kids with him... but it's okay because she doesn't fall in love with him or the kids she gives birth to... WHERE'S THE LOGIC IN THAT!? 

 

The women in this book only serve to further the plot for the men. And it's so infuriating.

 

And you think the bullshit ends there. Oh no. As if the sexism and ableism isn't enough, let's add racism, too! The depiction of Native Americans is troubling. They are called the People of the Wind and it is said within the text that they are peace-loving people. But the moment two white guys enter the picture, these "peace-loving people" want to fight "like savages." (And, yes, the white guys call the Native Americans "savages." I cringed, too.) It was the white guy with blond hair and blue eyes (because anyone with blue eyes is a pure, loving soul) who brought peace among the "peace-loving" nation. Not only are there moments that play into the "white savior" trope, there's "white worshiping" too. How their "legend" talks of someone with white skin and blue eyes will come to save the Native Americans in their time of need. I just... I can't. 

 

And the last thing I want to mention was how dull everything in this book is. We follow Charles Wallace and his role is to go Within the many white dudes in this story to try and influence them to change the threat of nuclear war in the present. Aside from the first guy we go into, everything else just kinda happens... without Charles Wallace doing anything. In fact, he does pretty much nothing throughout the story besides travelling with the unicorn, Gaudior (which is still more than what Meg is doing but I digress). Charles Wallace was mostly there to let things happen to him. Not to mention he never put a stop to the abusive talk that went on (Charles, how are you going to hear someone say "he kept him from dying, and that may not have been a kindness" only because he now has to live with brain damage, and not question it in the slightest?) but did question it when it came to his own intelligence. Because, remember, all the men are intelligent in this book. Only the women are stupid.

 

Ugh, I hate this book. There's nothing that happened in this book that I find the least enjoyable. Where the other two books had some interesting concepts when it comes to the sci-fi elements, this one reuses the one good thing that was made in book two. Kything. Everything else? Boring. We were travelling through time on a unicorn, and I was bored and infuriated throughout the entire journey. It's such a shame.

 

I only have two more books in the series left to read. I really hope they improve with its storytelling and themes. Otherwise, I'm going to find this quite a struggle to get through.

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review 2018-04-15 04:43
Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay
Books Can Be Deceiving - Jenn McKinlay

Lindsey used to be an archivist at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale until about six months ago, when she was laid off. She's now the director of the Briar Creek Library. She's just starting to feel more comfortable with small town life and her new position. It helps that one of her employees, Beth, is also her friend from back when they were both getting their library science degrees.

Beth is a children's librarian who's been working on a children's book of her own for several years. Lindsey thinks Beth should show her work to a New York editor who's vacationing in Briar Creek, but Beth is hesitant - her horrible boyfriend, Rick, keeps telling her it isn't good enough and needs a lot more work. Since he's a famous author whose first book won the Caldecott Medal, he'd know, right? When Beth tells Rick about her plans to meet with the editor, things rapidly sour between them. They break up, but the situation only gets worse after Beth hears what the editor has to say. She attempts to go to Rick's island and give him a piece of her mind, only to discover that he's been murdered. Unfortunately, Chief Daniels seems to consider Beth his top suspect.

A coworker of mine highly recommend this series to me. She basically inhaled what's been published in the series so far. She enjoyed the library aspects, the romance with Sully (she mentioned the love triangle that pops up in a later book, so I already know to expect that), and the fact that Lindsey is fairly similar in age to her (and me, too!).

My feelings about this book are more measured, but I enjoyed it too. The library aspects were great, even though there were a few things that made me raise an eyebrow. The odds of Lindsey getting an archivist job at Yale right out of library school seemed incredibly slim, based on what my job hunt 9 or 10 years ago was like. Then again, this was published in 2011, so maybe such a thing would have been more likely in the early 2000s. I also raised an eyebrow at the way Lindsey handled Beth's situation. I couldn't help but wonder if she'd have been as quick to promise Ms. Cole, aka "the lemon," she wouldn't suspend her if she had been the one accused of murder. Having your best friend as one of your employees can mess with your judgment.

That said, most of the details were great, like the random phone call from a vendor selling a database the library neither needed nor could afford, the couple arguing over which movie to check out right before closing time, and Lindsey's "crafternoons" idea. I can add this to my short list of books that star librarians who actually do occasional on-page library work.

The mystery itself was good, with a few twists I absolutely did not expect. I did wonder about the bit where Lindsey and Beth left town to do some investigating on their own. Would Beth have been allowed to leave like that?  Detective Trimble seemed more open to other possibilities, but Chief Daniels certainly considered her a suspect.

I'm looking forward to more developments in the romance between Lindsey and Sully, although I'm already dreading the love triangle. Sully seems like a great guy, and I could think of a lot of things that could complicate his and Lindsey's relationship without a love triangle being added to the mix. For example, Lindsey is still dealing with the hurt and betrayal of discovering that her fiance was cheating on her, which unfortunately happened at around the same time she was laid off.

All in all, this was an enjoyable and quick read. I definitely plan on reading the next book. In fact, I already have a copy in via interlibrary loan.

Extras:

At the end of the book there are several extras, including "The Briar Creek Library Guide to Crafternoons," a reader's guide for The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene, a knitting pattern for the rolled hat Lindsey made (which was originally supposed to be a sock), a recipe for Sully's hot chocolate, and a recipe for Mary's clam chowder. The crafternoons guide could come in handy for public librarians looking for adult programming ideas.

For my part, the only extra I've used is the recipe for Sully's hot chocolate, which I've now made several times (with powdered cinnamon instead of sticks, and no nutmeg). I disagree with Lindsey's assessment that it isn't too sweet - after my first time making it, I cut the sugar back by half. I suggest halving the recipe if you just want to make enough hot chocolate for yourself. It's a very rich drink, and halving it makes enough for one good-sized mug.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-03-30 19:07
Pax
Pax - Sara Pennypacker
Pax is a fox that has been raised by a young boy, Peter, since he was found abandoned as a young kit. When Peter's father enlists in the war, he is sent to live with his grandfather. His father insists that Pax be set free in the wild.
 
Shortly after arriving at his grandfathers house, Peter runs away to go find Pax. He doesn't get very far before he injures his leg and can barely walk. He is found by Vola, a gruff and stern woman who suffers from PTSD who now lives as a hermit. She sets his leg and agrees to let him stay with her until his leg is healed. During this time they learn so much from each other and form a very special bond.
 
Pax waited for Peter until his hunger and thirst forced him to leave his spot by the road. He encounters several other foxes and they teach him how to be wild again, but his thoughts never strayed far from Peter. The story alternates between Peter and Pax's point of view. I love the way the author gave Pax and the other foxes a voice without humanizing them. It was interesting to see the world from their perspective.
 
The illustrations throughout the book are beautiful and capture the mood perfectly. 
The ending was not what I had expected. It wasn't a bad ending, just not the happy reunion I was hoping for. I won't spoil it but just know that Pax does live and he and Peter do find each other. It is a story of heartbreak and healing, loyalty and love. 
 
-Bobbie
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review 2018-03-28 18:05
A Wind in the Door (Time Quintet, #2) by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wind in the Door - Madeleine L'Engle

After reading A Wrinkle in Time and discovering the interesting concepts of that world, I've decided to continue reading Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet series. I picked up A Wind in the Door shortly after finishing the first book and basically got more of the same. Great story concepts; poorly written characters and bad morals. But the morals in this book were a bit too horrible to ignore this time. 

 

A Wind in the Door continues to follow Meg and Charles Wallace in this world with time and space bending and obscuring our current world. I love L'Engle's ideas of how there are many things in this universe that doesn't make sense and it doesn't have to when you have to focus on the bigger picture. In this case, helping cure Charles Wallace of an unknown disease. I really love that this book explored the mitochondria we have within us. I have a fascination with learning about it since I've read and played Parasite Eve a few years back now. So reading this book brought me a lot of nostalgia. Reading these books are fun for me because, as I've said before, I love L'Engle's ideas when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy. What I don't love about her writing is how basic it is and her characters just rub me the wrong way.

 

Meg is still so bloody insufferable. She's a high schooler but she acts like a toddler in many situations. For example, at the beginning of the book, when they are all discovering Charles Wallace was ill, she kept asking her mother what was his condition. The mother would answer she didn't know... only to have Meg ask the same question immediately having been told her mother didn't know only to ask the same question AGAIN only to be told AGAIN her mother didn't know. And that would continue constantly throughout the whole book. It's like, Meg, please, grow up. Just because you ask the same question a billion times doesn't mean the answer is going to change at any point. I really don't like Meg as a character. She has not shown growth at all throughout these two books. In fact, a lot of L'Engle's characters are just one note. They each have a gimmick and they stick to that without growing or changing a bit. Meg is the annoying worry wort. Charles Wallace is the calm, all-knowing "Jesus" character. Mr. Jenkins is the mean, old teacher. And Calvin is the stud/jock. Reading about these characters can get boring after a while.

 

Another thing I do not like about this book was the overall "message." L'Engle seems to be teaching children that it's okay to be themselves... as long as you can fit into society. Throughout the entire book, she kept making her characters say to Charles Wallace that he needs to "conform" so that way he won't have a hard time in school. Let me back track a little, Charles Wallace is being bullied at school for being "different." He's beaten everyday and comes home from school with blackeyes and a bloody nose everyday. And everyone (except Meg) just tells him it's basically his fault for being so different. He needs to learn to "conform" and "be normal" like everyone else. That way, he won't be picked on. Well, I'm sorry, but I think that's a bunch of bullshit. How is it okay to know that a small, six-year-old boy is being beaten at school, and your response is "Well, if you weren't so different, you wouldn't get punched in the face"? Even his parents didn't do anything to help their child! Are you kidding me? Then by the end of the book, L'Engle drives it home even harder that children need to learn to "adapt" so they can succeed in the world. Yeah, no, how about being better adults, teaching kids to get along with others who are "different" so that way crap like bullying doesn't happen every bloody time? It makes me angry when adults see this kind of behavior happening and they do nothing about it. NOTHING! Ugh. I'm frustrated.

 

And don't even get me started on the contradictions when it comes to Mr. Jenkins. How everyone needed to protect his ego when he felt he wasn't unique anymore. You can do that for a grown man but not Charles Wallace? You tell him that there's no one else like him in the world, but you tell a six-year-old he needs to be like everyone else if he wants to be happy and not picked on? Really? No. I just. I can't. I just can't support the hypocrisy. There is nothing in this world that makes it okay for you to tell another person they can't be themselves. Or rather, they could, as long as they fit in with everyone else. That's messed up on so many levels.

 

Anyway, I'm going to end it here. Once again, I'm left with the feeling that Madeleine L'Engle has some great concepts when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy. I just wish she would focus on them more than trying to teach "life lessons" to children. I feel like these books would be a lot more enjoyable if that were the case.

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