When we first met the intrepid, orphaned quartet that made up a large part of the Mysterious Benedict Society we were left feeling that surely this couldn't be the last adventure that they'd be on together...and we were absolutely right. The whole gang is back in the second book in the series by Trenton Lee Stewart titled The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey. (Note: A new illustrator, Diana Sudyka, has penned the drawings for this book and forthcoming books in the series.) The beginning of the book starts off with the kids separated and trying to live as close to normal as possible. The reader is once again following the main character, Reynie, as he heads to meet up with everyone on the anniversary of their last adventure together. However, when they are all reunited at Mr. Benedict's house they are met with a very unpleasant surprise. (No spoilers here!!) What follows is a treacherous journey (hence the name of the book) that takes them on boats, trains, and up the side of a mountain in another country. While the central theme of friendship and working together is still present, this book is much darker in tone and a sense of foreboding lingers over every page. (In some ways, it reminds me of the progression of the Harry Potter series.) The illustrations again accompany a portion of the text and even though it's a different illustrator the sense of whimsy is ever-present. Overall, very enjoyable and fun to see how the author expands on each of the characters personalities and abilities. (Constance plays a much larger role in this book.) I have to confess that I've had the third book in the series gathering dust on my desk at work (and a copy of it here at home) but I haven't felt an overwhelming urge to pick it up just yet. I have a feeling this will be one of the first books I get to in the new year. XD If you read the first book in the series then I'm confident you'll enjoy the sequel. 8/10
|A sample of the new illustrator's style [Source: Kinder Books]|
What's Up Next: The Time Quartet series by Madeleine L'Engle
What I'm Currently Reading: Scythe by Neal Shusterman
A Gifted Curse is fast-paced and engaging read. The flow and plot are good, if a bit predictable, and the story does hold a reader's interest. Makenna and Evo are equally matched in the strong personality department, making for some amusing interactions and verbal sparring, as well as some scorching hot sexy fun. In addition to the blooming romance, we also get the added suspense of a rogue shifter that is linked to missing girls and now has his eye on Makenna. I particularly liked the interactions among Evo's pack, giving enough to get a feel for the secondary characters and their banter was great for keeping the story on the lighter side.
I have really been enjoying the exploration of my library's middle grade fiction section. For the most part, I just grabbed books from the shelves that had interesting covers. This led me to The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart with illustrations by Carson Ellis (I told you she'd be mentioned again). If you're looking for a contemporary adventure story mixed with science fiction then you've found the right book (and series). The reader follows 4 orphaned (or semi-orphaned as the case may be) kids as they are taken under the tutelage of Mr. Benedict, a narcoleptic genius intent on saving the world. These aren't your typical children either. They are all gifted in very distinct ways and their combined powers make a heckuva team and that's what Mr. Benedict is counting on to turn the tide in their favor. The kids are set a seemingly impossible mission and are beset with obstacles at every turn. And that is what makes this such a fun and exciting read. I'm being deliberately vague in regards to their gifts and the specific peril that they are fighting against as it would no doubt ruin the twists and turns of Stewart's narrative. Suffice it to say, this was a really enjoyable book and I fully intend to continue the series.
Source: priscilla perizeau
For the past seven years, since she was but sixteen, Alyssa has served Lord Dillon, the Earl of Westcott, as his wisewoman and healer without the man being aware that 'tis not the wisewoman that had served his father and his father before him that hides under the umbral robes...Then, acting out of love for the man, Alyssa makes the ultimate sacrifice, healing his mortal wounds, ending at Death's door herself. In order for him to save her, Dillon removes her robes and discovers her deception...
But instead of taking offense, he gains much, much more.
Ms Duvall was a new-to-me author, and I must say my first foray into her "world" didn't disappoint. That's not to say the story was perfect—far from it, but the flaws didn't completely overshadow the strengths. The premise, despite this particular plot device being rehashed over and over throughout the history of literature, was solid, and the initial few chapters (before the big reveal) offered some great character development, and good, steady pacing.
Unfortunately the pacing slowed down drastically after Alyssa's robes came off, and the story started suffering from "overstuffing". A redundant scene here and there, a dialogue or inner monologue (mostly about how to overcome the many obstacles on the road to happiness) too many and you quickly end up with a bogged down story that reads like you're trying to waddle through thick mud...
And there was definitely too much angst in the second half of the book. Legitimate angst (to a degree) about a problem that ended up being solved too easily. I felt a little cheated when everything ended up nicely tied in a bow. After all the angst and drama, it felt too sweet and rather sugary the way it ended.
But still, the story was solid, the writing and narrative style was good, the use of "Old English" wasn't much of an issue once I passed chapter one, and the characters were well-developed, incorporated nicely into the story and working very well together as an ensemble.
It could've done with a little more editing to weed out the unnecessary stuff, but overall, it was a very enjoyable read.