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Category Archives: Children’s

Grim Tuesday by Garth Nix

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Keys to the Kingdom

Book Review

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Keys to the Kingdom, Book Two
Publisher: Listening Library, Audible Audio Edition, Release Date: March 31, 2004, Listening Length: 6 hours and 52 minutes (336 pages), ASIN: B0001ZZ054

Grim Tuesday, the keeper of the Second Key is threatening Arthur’s family and the only way Arthur can protect them, and himself,  is to return to the House. The House is the center of the universe and the source of all creation. Arthur has only been home a few hours, but once again he must leave earth, and with Susie’s help, he must defeat Grim Tuesday in order to save his family and stop the universe from unraveling.  In Mister Monday, Arthur defeated the holder of the First Key, became the Lord of the Lower House, and has started to repair the damage that has occurred to the House and the denizens. He left some capable and trustworthy people in charge for several years so he could return to Earth and have some time to grow up.  However, Grim Tuesday has his own plans, which include retrieving the Key and Lordship of the the Lower House.

Garth Nix has written numerous young adult books and series including: The Old Kingdom series, The Seventh Tower series, and The Keys to the KingdomGrim Tuesday is the second of seven books in The Keys to the Kingdom series and it is a fantasy story that is told in the third person narrative primarily from the point of view of the main protagonist, a 12 year old boy named Arthur Penhaligon. This book is good for grades 5 to 8, can be considered a Young Adult fantasy, but it can also be enjoyed by adults.

I enjoyed this story, but I did not think it was as good as the first book because it followed the same format. There were some engaging characters, like Tom Shelvocke the Mariner, who is the second son of the Architect, and Suzy Turquoise Blue. Overall, the story was interesting and kept me wondering how it was all going to end. The beginning started with plenty of action and then the story progressed with steady momentum until the final conclusion. There were plenty of obstacles along the way and the ending was quite exciting. I was intrigued with the concept of nothing, where globuals of nothing floated around and destroyed whatever they touched. This nothing is also at the basis of  creation, with the concept that first there is nothing and then it turns into matter, creating whatever is required.

The story has a good and satisfying ending, but it is clearly just part of a bigger story. The end introduces Drowned Wednesday, the next book in the series as well as the holder of the Third Key.  I recommend Grim Tuesday as a good read, and I am looking forward to see where this story is going. I am planning to read the next book in the series.

To Purchase: “Grim Tuesday” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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Mister Monday by Garth Nix

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Keys to the Kingdom

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Keys to the Kingdom, Book One
Publisher: Listening Library, Listening Length: 8 hours and 9 minutes (368 pages), ASIN: B0001ZZ04U

 

Arthur is close to death from an asthma attack when he notices two strange men who seemed to appear out of nowhere. One of the men, Mister Monday, gives Arthur a key and a small notebook because he thinks Arthur is about to die.  However, the key has healing abilities which help to restore Arthur to good health.  When Mister Monday realizes this he tries to recapture the key. Arthur does everything in his power to protect himself and the key from these evil men.

Garth Nix has written numerous young adult books and series including: the Old Kingdom series, The Seventh Tower series, and The Keys to the Kingdom.  Mister Monday is part of The Keys to the Kingdom series and it is a fantasy story that is told in the third person narrative primarily from the point of view of the main protagonist, a 12 year old boy named Arthur Penhaligon.

Mister Monday sets the premise of series by introducing the characters and the world that the story revolves around. As Arthur learns about the key he received, both he and the reader learn about the Keys to the Kingdom, which are the keys to the House. The House is the center of the universe and anything outside the House, like the earth and the solar system are part of the Secondary Realms. There are seven keys for the seven territories within the confines of the house, with each key governed by a master named for a day in the week. This first book covers the Lower House and is ruled by Mister Monday. Arthur’s adventure takes place both on earth as well as in the House.

This series is great for children of all ages, starting from age 7 and it is very well written.I really enjoyed this book.  I loved all the characters and found Arthur to be a likeable protagonist, who shows compassion to those around him. Garth Nix has a great writing style, creating an interesting universe and a unique concept of creation.  The house is the center of creation and the idea of the seven days of the week each ruling one part of the house alludes back to the seven days of creation in Genesis. Throughout the book there is a big emphasis on the written word and its impact on creation.

This is a standalone book, but it is also just the beginning of a bigger story. It ends with an introduction to the next book in the series. I recommend Mister Monday as a very good read and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Grim Tuesday.

To Purchase: “Mister Monday” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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Gregor and the Prophecy of Bain by Suzanne Collins

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series The Underland Chronicles

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Second Book in the Underland Chronicles
Publisher: Listening Library (December 15, 2005), Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 6 hour(s) and 32 min. (304 pages), ASIN: B000DN5UQ8

Things are rough for Gregor and his family, but at least his dad is home now even if he is really ill.  Gregor takes his baby sister Boots to Central Park to go sledding, she is kidnapped by The Underlanders and Gregor has to go back to save her.  Once there, he gets drawn into another prophecy and is forced to go on another dangerous adventure.

This is the second of five books in The Underland Chronicles. It is a fantasy book aimed at 9 to 12 year olds, but can also be classified as Young Adult. The story primarily takes place on earth in the Underland, far below New York City. The story is told in the third person narrative from the point of view of the main protagonist, Gregor. Suzanne Collins has also written The Hunger Games plus a couple of other books written for youths.

I was hooked from the first page and found the story captivating, exciting and sad. The prophecy was interesting and the story had a number of twists.  There was lots of action, some of it a bit gruesome and frightening. This is a standalone story and it came to a good conclusion, but it also hooked us to read the next book in the series.

I recommend this book, but it is for older children as it is quite scary. I am going to read the next book in the series: The Curse of the Warmbloods because I am curious to find out what happened.

To Purchase: “Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series The Underland Chronicles

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
The First Book in The Underland Chronicles
Publisher: Listening Library (January 1, 2005), Audio CD (paperback 320 pages,) ISBN-10: 9780307282699, ISBN-13: 978-0307282699

A young boy, Gregor and his baby sister get drawn into a creepy world under the earth, where there are huge rats, cockroaches, bats and humans who all talk and communicate with each other. Once there, Gregor finds
clues that his missing father of two years has also fallen down into the Underland. Put into the mix a prophecy and you have an exciting adventure.

This is the first of five books in The Underland Chronicles. It is a fantasy book aimed at 9 to 12 year olds, but can also be classified as Young Adult. The story primarily takes place on earth in the Underland, far below New York City. The story is told in the third person narrative from the point of view of the main protagonist, Gregor. Suzanne Collins has also written The Hunger Games plus a couple of other books written for youths.

This is a good, interesting story which grabs your attention from the first page and keeps you engaged right up to the end.  I liked the characters and I was really cheering for Gregor throughout.  The denizens of the Underland talk in a unique manner, which I found charming.  I thought the mystery of the prophecy really added to the overall excitement of the story. Although Gregor the Overlander is part of a series, it is still a standalone book with a good conclusion.

Although it is aimed towards children 9 – 12 years old, I thought that some of the action scenes were a bit scary and there is a fair deal of violence, but none of it was too graphic. If you enjoy a good, young adult fantasy involving a quest with plenty of action then you should read Gregor the Overlander.
To purchase “Gregor The Overlander” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series The Bartimaeus Trilogy

Book Review: 1 Treasure Box
The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3
Publisher: New York : Hyperion Books For Children, 2006, Paperback: 501 pages, Language: English, ISBN-10: 0786818611, ISBN-13: 978-0786818617

Bartimaeus is a cynical, 5,000 year old, wise-cracking djinni whose master is a young magician (Nathanial) who is a successful member of parliment.  But things are not going well for the government. This is the story of the governments downfall and how Bartimaeus and Nathanial, along with Kitty’s help (a very interesting and resourceful commoner) deal with the problems.

This is the third book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy series, there are currently a total of four books, three in the trilogy with a prequel. All the books are children’s fantasy books. The story is told in modern times and it takes place in London, but in this world there are magicians who get their power by controlling and enslaving powerful djinni from the chaos plane. The story is told in the first person narrative with Bartimaeus’ voice and thoughts as we follow him around. Bartimaeus also tells the story in the third person narrative when we switch over to Nathaniel or Kitty’s  saga. Bartimaeus can also refer to himself in the third person when he takes on various animal or human forms.

This book deals with slavery and the repercussions that can occur when the people who are being suppressed fight back.   It shows the injustice of this vile activity.  The book starts out with Bartimaeus being greatly reduced in power because Nathanial has been mistreating him, he has only allowed him to return to the other place to rejuvinate a couple of days over the last three years. The government is in trouble because the commoners are rebelling from the inequalities between the magicians and the commoners, also the war in America is going badly for the government. The Prime Minister is protecting his position instead of protecting the country. We find out what happened to Kitty and watch her as she grows in strength, intelligence and power. We learn a lot more about the other place, the home of the djinni.

The story was not as exciting as the first two books, although there was a fair bit a mayhem towards the end of the book. Kitty, Nathaniel and Bartimaeus all show growth within their characters. The story was interesting and it gave a very unique view of the other place, the land of the djinni. Jonathan Shroud addresses the issues of slavery, suppression and inequality with this story, he also shows these things being overcome. It is a tale of goodness overcoming evil selfishness.  The story is part of a trilogy, yet it is also stand alone. 

I enjoyed the story but I did not think it was as good as the first book. There was not as much humour and it had a rather sad ending. Although it is considered a children’s book, I would recommend it to everyone except really young children. They would find it too scary since it involves murder, slavery and there is a fair bit of violence in it. If you enjoy a good story with a bit of humour that is in the fantasy genre and has a social message, then you would enjoy this book.

 

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The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Shroud

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series The Bartimaeus Trilogy

Book Review: 1 Treasure Boxes
The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2
Publisher: New York : Miramax Books : Hyperion Paperbacks For Children, 2005, c2004, 562 pages, Language: English, ISBN-10-0786818603

Bartimaeus is a cynical, 5,000 year old, wise-cracking djinni whose master is a 14 year old magician’s apprentice and a junior member of parliament.  Once again Nathanial (the apprentice,) and Bartimaeus must solve several problems which are affecting London. The first one is the resistance, this is a group of commoners who are rebelling against the magicians.  The second issue is the devastating destruction that is being released by an unknown entity.

This is the second book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy series, there are currently a total of four books, three in the trilogy with a prequel. All the books are children’s fantasy books. The story is told in modern times and takes place in London, but in this world there are magicians who get their power by controlling and enslaving powerful djinni from the chaos plane. The story is told in the first person narrative with Bartimaeus’ voice and thoughts as we follow him around. Bartimaeus also tells the story in the third person narrative when we switch over to Nathaniel’s or Kitty’s saga. Bartimaeus can also refers to himself in the third person when he takes on various animal or human forms.

This book takes a good look at discrimination.  It shows us what the world would be like if there was a powerful ruling class that thinks it is above the law and consequently mistreats the common people.  It shows the common people fighting back and it really makes us feel angry at the injustice. Kitty is a major player in the resistance and this book gives us a really good understanding of Kitty and what drives her. The results of Kitty’s battle are quite sad by the end of this book. Nathaniel, being a magician’s apprentice is part of the ruling class and in this book, he becomes corrupted by the power he is given. Although we do get glimpses of his good side towards the end of the book. There are two major problems that he is trying to solve with Bartimaeus’s help.  The first is the resistance, the second is a golem causing great damage.

Bartemaeus has an interesting view on life and his reflections are humorous and enjoyable to read. It is interesting how the story unfolds.  We learn more about the resistance.  We learn more about the history of the world that the story takes place. There is not a lot of growth in Nathaniel’s character, although he is a much more powerful magician.  We become concerned by the decisions he makes. The story is exciting and there are several battle scenes as well as a chase scene.  The story is part of a trilogy, yet it is also stand alone. 

I enjoyed the story but I did not think it was as good as the first book. There was not as much humour and Bartimaeus played a smaller role. Although it is considered a children’s book, I would recommend it to everyone except really young children. They would find it too scary since it involves murder and there is a fair bit of violence in it. If you enjoy a good story with a bit of humour that is in the fantasy genre and has a social message, then you would enjoy this book.

 

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The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series The Bartimaeus Trilogy

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
First book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy
Publisher: New York : Miramax Books : Hyperion Paperbacks For Children, 2004,  462 pages, Language: English, ISBN-0786852550

Bartimaeus is a cynical, 5,000 year old, wise-cracking djinni who has been summoned by a 12 year old magician’s apprentice. The two of them get drawn into a sinister and mysterious plot, that forces them to work together so they can save not only their own lives but those of many others.  However, since Bartimaeus was summoned he is also plotting to get revenge on Nathaniel (the apprentice.)

This is the first book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy series, there are currently a total of four books, three in the trilogy with a prequel. All the books are children’s fantasy books. The story is told in modern times and it takes place in London, but in this world there are magicians who get their power by controlling and enslaving powerful djinni from the chaos plane. The story is told in the first person narrative with Bartimaeus’ voice and thoughts as we follow him around. Bartimaeus also tells the story in the third person narrative when we switch over to Nathaniel’s saga. Bartimaeus can also refers to himself in the third person when he takes on various animal or human forms.

Nathaniel is a very smart, impatient and industrious apprentice with a lame and ineffective master.  His master is the magician that has been put in charge of his upbringing and training. When a strong influential magician named Lovelace is introduced to Nathaniel and then abuses and belittles him without any protection from his master, Nathaniel decides to take revenge with the aid of a djinni.  This then leads to a series of steps that keep going wrong at every turn and unfolds a devious plan. 

There is plenty of excitement and humour as the story evolves. We get to know and understand Nathaniel as the story relays the events in his life that have lead up to the fateful decision which is the catalyst of these breathtaking few days. We also get a glimpse into who and what Bartimaeus is and we get to enjoy reading his interesting view on what is transpiring. Some people compare it to Harry Potter, but I did not see any resemblance other than that the protagonist are young wizards in training. The story is part of a trilogy, yet it is also stand alone.  There is a good build up in the story with a great final climax that comes to a good satisfying end.

I really enjoyed the story and although it is considered a children’s book, I would highly recommend it to everyone except really young children. They would find it too scary since it involves murder and slavery. But if you enjoy a good story with humour that is in the fantasy genre, then you would enjoy this book.

 

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