Review for Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes (Peter Nimble #1)

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

Genre – Middle-grade, fantasy, mystery

Rating – PG for fantasy violence

Age range – Middle school on up (I think it would make a good read aloud)

Synopsis –

Peter Nimble is trying to make a living for himself by stealing for Mr. Seamus despite his blindness. Until one day he meets a mysterious stranger who helps Peter by giving him a special gift. Peter then sets out across the ocean to answer a call for help, and might discover someone about himself along the way.

My thoughts –

This was a quirky book which I really enjoyed reading. The author wrote it in the third person so at times the narrator will pop out and explain something. A sort of cheeky comical/absurd feel to it. It meshed several genres together by combining fantasy, with an orphan tale, and a dash of mystery. The beginning was reminiscent of Oliver Twist.

The plot was tight and moved quickly. Several of the twists were a little predictable. I saw the end coming a mile away. The characters while, absurd at times, were relatable. Throughout the novel, Peter really grows as a character from petty thief to revolutionary. I loved that Sir Tode became one of Peter’s best friends and stood up for him. Also, the ravens were a nice touch. Now, the bad guys felt very one dimensional. They were totally evil.

I loved how the author incorporated the Fantastic Eyes throughout the book. They helped Peter when used the right way. Thankfully, they weren’t overused. Some books rescue the hero every time he gets in trouble. Not in this book, when Peter gets in trouble, he learns from his mistakes.

Violence – It was more violent then I expected for a middle grade book. There were two main battles where many characters died. In a couple places there is mention of blood covering a street. A gang of boys throw daggers around a zebra. The ravens attack and kill a few banished thieves. Several ravens get cut or die.

Language – None

Innuendo – None

Other- I should mention that there is a fair amount of thieving that goes on. The book does mention that thievery is not a good thing. Peter does not enjoy doing it, but he does it cause he has too.

Conclusion –

This book had me intrigued from the start! I love the cover as it catches your eye. The narrator sometimes pops up and made me laugh with the third person dialogue. I cannot wait to read the squeal.

Quick Reviews – 5 Books I read

I am going to try something different from how I normally write reviews. I will write about my top 5 books I have read in the past month. I have been reading a lot recently and I wanted to mention some of these amazing books. Now as a side note I do want to give The Silmarillion its own post as there is a lot to unpack.

The Story People by Heather Kaufman

Synopsis – Ben owns a bookstore that had belonged to his uncle. He struggles with finding a sense of home. When a female author comes to town, the town ladies try to match make these two together.

Thoughts – Although a wee bit predictable, it was a sweet read. I loved how the author put snippets telling the back story of the two kids at the beginning of each chapter. There were several times that this book made me laugh. I loved the older ladies and their escapades trying to keep Ben in town. If you are looking for a nice, light read, this is for you!

Rating – PG for some mild innuendo

Corus the Champion Lengends of Karac Tor by D. Briggs

Synopsis- This continues the story of the Barlow brothers and their adventures into Karac Tor. The four brothers have their work cut out for them as an enemy from the north approaches seeking to destroy all. Meanwhile Sorge attempts to find his lost friend.

Thoughts – I enjoyed this one even more then the first because now that the setting is built, we can sit back and enjoy the ride. One particular character goes on quite the journey. This book had more themes from Arthurian legend which I thought was neat! We actually get to see both Arthur and Merlin. I felt that this plot had more depth than the previous book. The time-travel thing was great and enhanced the plot.

Rating – PG-13 for fantasy violence and a torture scene

The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien

Synopsis – This is the history of Middle-Earth from its creation to the fall of Saruon. It tells the tale of the Silmarils which are three jewels that were created by the Valar. Melkor seeks revenge on the Valar and tries to take the Silmarils. There are also tales of the courage and corruption of the people of Middle Earth like men and elves.

Thoughts – Going into this book, I had anticipated hating it or at least dragging myself through it. I must say that it is so different from the Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed it more then I had thought I would and will probably need to reread this in the future. There are parts that were dry, but it makes up for it later on. I loved the tale of Beren and Luthien and the fall of Gondolin. Tolkien is a master word builder. The words he created can be very beautiful.

Rating – PG for fantasy violence

I found a podcast that does a great job of going thought Tolkien’s works. If you are interested, they will walk you through The Silmarillion. Highly recommend the Prancing Pony Podcast!

https://theprancingponypodcast.com/category/podcast-episodes/

Free Verse by Sarah Dooley

Synopsis – Sasha’s brother has recently passed away and she must brave the world. She gets put into a foster home with a women who cares very much for her, but Sasha has gone through so much, and doesn’t know how to let Phillis in. Though a series of events, Sasha discovers poetry as a coping mechanism.

Thoughts – This was sad and almost depressing read. It has a happy ending, but gosh, this kid gets put through the ringer. For a middle-grade book, this has some tough themes, depression, anxiety, and grief. It actually reminded me a little bit of October Sky. It was an interesting read, but I am still on the fence about it.

Rating – PG for heavy themes and mild language

Haatchi and Little B by Wendy Holden

Synopsis – This book tells the story of Owan, a boy who suffers from Schwartz-Jampel syndrome, and Haatchi, a dog who was run over by a train. It tells their journey to find one another.

Thoughts- The story of how they found each other is very touching. Haatchi goes through quite an ordeal before he finds a forever home. I always find it amazing how dogs can have such an impact people’s lives. I did find the book a little dry at times as the author gave the book more textbook like. I did like the descriptions of what Schwartz-Jampel syndrome was as I had never heard of it. What this pair has gone through is astounding.

Rating – G

Cannot wait to hear from you! What books have you been reading?

Anna

Review for The Book of Names

The book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs

Genre – Fantasy, Young Adult, Christian fiction

Series – Book one

Rating – PG – Peril and fantasy violence

Synopsis –

This is the tale of four brothers who recently moved after their mom passed away. Hadyn, the oldest, is struggling to return to normal. All he wants to do is to return to the good old days. One day Hadyn and his brother Ewan find scrolls that suddenly appear in their briar patch. This leads them on a journey of self-discovery.

My Thoughts –

This book was a nice surprise! In my quest to find new books, I sometimes forgot what is on my list as the list is made up of sticky notes. So, when I started reading, it was a nice surprise that the setting starts off in modern times. I really liked this section of the book as it made me think of Stephan Lawhead’s books. Don’t get me wrong, the fantasy world Briggs created was had its own merits, but I almost wanted just a story set in modern times.

Alright, let’s talk characters. There were two characters that stood out to me. First, Hadyn. I connected with him on several levels because we are both the oldest sibling, and have similar characteristics. Anyway several characters have a decent character arc which was great. I liked Sorge and his mysterious past. He was a good mentor for the brothers by providing them with history and wisdom. I wanted more of Flogg! We did not learn about him except that he is a gnome. I am hoping that in future books, we will get more of him. Maybe a visit to his homeland? A few twists surprised me, but the whole evil witch who works for the evil Devourer felt flat.

The book was written to the author’s sons after their mother died which gave it a feeling of authenticity, but towards the end, it got a wee bit repetitive. I am hoping that the next book will come delve deeper. The ending was a wee bit predictable, but there was some great themes throughout the book about family, self-discovery, and love. There was a Jesus like character called Aion and a Satan like character called the Devourer. We see there are followers of Aion in three branches each doing a different task. There are certain gifts that given from Aion and these can be a variety of things.

Violence –

Honestly, there was not much violence. There were a few times where the characters were in peril and then the final battle at the end. The evil witch would sit in her tower and throw mice into a pot of blood. She controls a bunch of teens by her power. She also uses magic spells and incantations, but it is shown to be evil.

In the final battle, there is some fighting, but mostly characters only get cuts bruises. Nemasia releases these evil flying spirits called Watchers and they can terrorize people. The evil witch falls into a crack in the earth and vanishes.

Language – A few uses of the word hel, but used as a fictional location

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

This was a great start to a fantasy series and had a good mix of humor, theology, and action. Personally, I would say that this book is aimed at a younger audience maybe teen and young adult. There were some good take aways like considering what role we play in fighting evil, not giving up hope, and overcoming grief. I think as the series progresses it will develop sea legs and become an epic fantasy saga.

Note – I read the second book in the series, and it starts to really develop our characters.

Cannot wait to hear from you all!

Anna

Review for Greenglass House

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Genre – Middle-grade mystery/fantasy

Rating -PG – mild peril and a few choice words

Summary –

It is Christmas time, and all Milo wants to do is relax with his parents, but unexpectedly guests start arriving at the inn. Then items start disappearing from the guest’s rooms. Who is the thief, and is it connected to the guests sudden appearance?

My thoughts –

This is a tough book to write up as I have mixed feeling about it. It combines fantasy with a mystery, yet in a very down to earth way. First, there are many things that I liked about this book. The main character Milo is an upstanding hero who loves his parents, but struggles with being adopted. He and another character work together well as they try to figure out the puzzle. I thought the mystery part was well written, and did not know who the thief was until the reveal.

The author did something unique for middle grade fiction by making most of the characters adults. At the start of the book, I struggled keeping track of who everybody was as they arrived all at once, but later on you get to know the characters. The two kids are respect the adults and Milo will ask his parents for help when he needs it.

Another part of the plot revolves around Milo pretending to be a character in a campaign game which assists him in the investigation. Their campaign is based entirely on the events that have occurred at the inn. I think the game is somewhat similar Dungeons and Dragons in that there are a variety of characters to pick from, and they each have special abilities (I have not played D &D just heard of it). This also helps him imagine what his real parents might have been like.

Also, I should mention that part of the story involves thieves and stealing items. Milo’s parents own a inn where smugglers frequently visit. Some characters tell stories about a famous smuggler who supposedly hide his treasure.

Language – Milo’s parents and other guests say Oh my G a couple times. Five or six uses of the H word mostly used in a common phrase. Still I was surprised to see it in a middle grade book

Violence – A character pulls out a gun and waves it around. He tries to shoot someone, but nobody gets hurt.

Innuendo – None

Other –

Now, we come to the final odd bit of the book. I am going to try to be as spoiler free as possible, but it gives the surprise away. So, if you want to be surprised skip this next paragraph. Ok, to start a couple characters talk about having seen a ghost and tell the story. Later, we come to realize that one character is a ghost. Honestly, I was not expecting this. It came towards the end. It knocked the book down a couple notches for me. I think it could have been a perfectly fine book without sticking ghosts in it.

Conclusion –

I am still on the fence with this book. There are many good things that I enjoyed about this book. I loved the characters which were all quirky. The plot never dragged. I read it within a couple days. Despite other thing mentioned, I enjoyed this one. It reminded me a bit of the Mysterious Benedict Society. Age wise not sure. I think it would depend on the child, but middle school on up. Adults can enjoy it as well.

Have you read this book and or the sequel? What did you like/dislike?

Anna

Review for The Forsaken Continent

The Forsaken Continent by Wayne Thomas Batson

Genre –  Fantasy, Christian fiction

Age – Young adult – adult

Rating – PG-13 – handful of choice words and action violence

Synopsis –

This is the third book in the Myridian Constellation series.  Currently there are only three books in the series, but there will be more.  Anyway, the story takes place a couple months after the Errant King. 

King Lochlan is fleeing for his life after Morlan has overtaken the throne and is willing to kill anyone who will get in his way.  Meanwhile Abbagael is looking for her presumed dead husband, Alastair, who she believes is alive. 

My Thoughts –

Whew! After ten years, I finally got to find out what happened. This book took me on quiet the ride and I enjoyed every minute of it. There were so many good themes throughout this book. Self-sacrifice, being faithful, patience, and perseverance. What I loved was that the word building. The author does a great job of creating a world and yet not being overly descriptive.

There was definitely more of an allegorical tone in this book. More so then the previous two, which I loved. Telwyn was sort of like a Jesus character. He was the son of the First One and he had a wisdom that comes from the First One. We see him perform miracles and a handful of people following him know who is. One of my favorite lines was when Telwyn told a character, “Flander Craggit, you need not fear Woefire ever again, for my Father has written your name on the Scrooll of Life. No one can expunge the blessed ink of His pen.” (Batson, p. 278).

I loved Abbagael and the journey that she embarked on as of all the characters Alastair Coldhollow was my favorite. In the previous books, we saw his steadfastness to the First One and his endeavor to right the wrongs that he had committed. I am trying not to give spoilers so you will just have to go read it for yourself. 🙂

Now content wise only a few concerns. With Morlan’s return, he brought back countless evil creatures with him. For the most part, the author did not go into detail about these vile creatures , but they are evil and perform evil deeds. Also, it should be noted that Morlan served Sabryne who was basically Satan in the books. So there are a couple times where it was a little dark. That is why I would say this is more aimed at adults then teens. Do not worry there is a clear distinction between who is good versus who is evil.

Violence –

Violence was a given as Morlan is trying to conquer all of Myriad but was not gratuitous. Throughout the book there are skirmishes between the good characters and the bad. The good characters get cuts, scrapes, a couple characters get minor injures from daggers. There are several wolf like creature who attack a main character. In one of the skirmishes a character is presumed to be dead, but Telwyn reveals that he was just sleeping.

There are several mentions of blood. A couple character bled. A character goes into labor. (not much detail and rather quick). Later on in the book there is a mantis like creature who resides in a lake of blood. She attempts to kill a character.

Innuendo –

Two of the main characters kiss twice and contemplate marriage.

Language – Ba- —d is uttered seven times.

Conclusion –

After such a long wait, this book answered some much needed questions. Compared to the first two books, I feel like this one had more depth. It iover 500 pages long! We know these characters and we get to see their personal development for good and bad as some characters make some poor choices. This could be read as a stand alone, but I would highly recommend reading this series in order.

Cannot wait to hear what you have to say! Have you read this series? Did you enjoy how this book played out?

Anna

Review for Raven’s Ladder

Raven’s Ladder by Jeffery Overstreet – Part of The Auralia Thread series

Rating: PG-13 for action and violence

Synopsis:

This is the third book in the Auralia Thread series. Most of the book is told from Cal-raven’s perspective. Cal-raven goes on a quest to find a new home for House Abascar. The refugees eventually arrive in House Bel Amica where things are not as good as they seem.

My Thoughts-

I am still pondering my thoughts on this book, but I’m going to try to lay it out for you. This one seemed to fall a little short after Cyndere’s Midnight which I really enjoyed. I think we had so many threads to follow that it got bogged down and did not flow as easily as the first two books did. It was still good and I liked it, but not a favorite of mine. Also a couple content issues with it that I’ll discuss later.

In this particular installment we get to see a little bit more from the mysterious Keeper, but in an odd sort of way. King Cal-Raven actually gets to see it, but it behaves differently then how he anticipated. I’m trying not to give spoilers but basically it shakes everything that Cal-Raven thought was true and I can honestly say now that I finished that last book, The Ale Boy’s Feast, that the author does not explain this particular aspect. Their belief in the Keeper is a little odd.

I should also mention that one of the pagan religions is in moon spirits and Seers. Throughout the book it is shown to be flawed and the Seers are shown to be evil.

Violence –

In this third installment we meet a new enemy which is the ground. It is this vine like thing is thorny and hurt a variety of characters. It tents to take people away never to be seen again. So throughout the book several minor characters vanish or or injured from the Feelers.

There is a new character introduced and he is an archer. Throughout the book he shoots several bad characters with arrows. A little later on a character witnesses a hand being chopped off. A character becomes a captive for a while.

At the end there is a drawn out underground battle as the prisoners try to escape. Several individuals die in their attempt. One character falls down a chasm.

Language – None

Innuendo –

Early on two characters contemplate marriage. One or two kisses between different characters.

One of the main characters visits an old flame who is married. They talk and she does drug him. (The main character recognized that this was not a wise choice). I did not care for this and thankfully nothing else happens.

Conclusion –

Overall I enjoyed how the characters embarked on a journey to find a new home. The characters had flaws and were relatable. It reminded me a bit of the Lord of the Rings in that we had many characters and got to see their trials. While there was some violence, it was toned back from the previous book. There was a little bit of innuendo that I wished could have been done differently. So while not perfect, I liked it. The series as a whole I would say is aimed at adults.

Conclusion –

Review for Clyndere’s Midight

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Cyndere’s Midnight by Jeffery Overstreet – Part of the Auralia Thread series

Age range – Young adult or adult audience

Rating: PG13 for violence

Summary-

This is the second book in the Auralia Thread series. It picks up close to where the Auralia’s Colors left off maybe a couple months later. We get to hear from characters we know and love like the ale boy and king Cal-raven, but we also are introduced to new characters like Cyndere and Jordam. Jordam’s story takes center stage here.

After Cyndere’s husband is dead, she tries to continue their dream by befriending a Beastman. This Beastman had seen Auralia’s colors and is now conflicted.

My Thoughts –

First off I have to say that I have really enjoyed how the author weaves his story together. It almost seems lyrical and poetic. The characters were realistic and each have their own personal battles they went through. One of the main themes throughout this book was grief and how to continue on after the world came crashing down. All the characters are affected by House Abascar’s downfall.

I cruised through it quicker then the first book . For some books the author will switch between character’s perspectives and it makes the book divided. The way the author switched between the characters worked well and I did not mind it at all. I grew to like these characters as well if not better then Auralia and her story. I cannot wait to see how it will continue.

Violence –

There is a little more violence compared to Auralia’s Colors. The author introduces us to the fallen House of Cent Regus which are called Beastman. They kill all they come in contact with, expect for one named Jordam. Within the first couple of chapter one of the characters die. We find out later that Mordafey severed his hand. Jordam kills a wild animal and it mentions blood.

Mordafey performs various evil deeds throughout the book. He does team up with a Seer, more on that later. He orders his brothers to attack a wagon and kill the three people in it. Jordam does kill one of the men, but he questions what he is doing. He gathers an army to go fight the House Abascar.

Also, the Beastman required Essence. There are scenes where the brothers went down to the pit where it is located. One of the brothers injured several people while he was down in the pit. It is a little disturbing, but not too gratuitous. It helps show how much Jordam changes compared to his brothers.

Lastly, there is a scuffle between Abascar and the Beastman. None of the humans die, but several Beastman are injured/killed.

Language- None

Innuendo – One of the minor character flirted with a married woman, but she did not appreciate it. It was only mentioned a handful of times, used to show how flawed and evil a character was. The author depicted it as something that was wrong.

Other –

The House of Bel Amica followed Seers. Throughout the book we saw how they influenced people. One in particular is quite nefarious, but it is clearly shown that they are corrupt and not to be trusted. The Seers try to get the people to follow moon spirits, but the main character realizes that this is a false belief system.

Conclusion –

I really have enjoyed the first two books in this series. The characters felt alive. Although this book was a little darker then the first, I loved how we get to see redemption and forgiveness. Jordam was my favorite character and I loved how we get to see how his character developed. I would say this was probably more of an adult fantasy. The author was not overly descriptive with the violence, but it is there.

Review for Quest

Quest by Aaron Becker

Wordless picture book

Age range- 2-5

Book Rating – G

Summary –

It is a tale of two kids who go on an adventure to help a king save his kingdom from destruction. Their goal is to find the missing crayons before the guards catch them.

My Thoughts –

So, I stumbled upon this book in the wordless section at my library. I looked through it first and decided to show the kids at work. It was hands down a winner!!! They loved it, and I love narrating what the characters are doing. 🙂

First, the illustrations are amazing. They really draw the reader into the story. I get more out of the story the more I read it. Lots of little details hiding in the pictures. What is even cooler, is that the kids in the story draw some of the illustrations. Think of the movie Bedtime Stories and that is kinda of what happens here.

Secondly, the plot is quite creative. The story spans all three books and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The author does a great job inspiring kids to use their imagination. Certain characters develop more then other characters. It is a neat twist on fantasy for young children.

Just a side note, but this is the second book in a wordless trilogy. I did not know that when I first read it to the kids. They kept asking for more “king books” and I found out there are two more. We have read them as well and the kids adore all of them.

Language – None

Violence –

There are some guards with spears chasing the kids throughout the book , but nothing happens.

Innuendo – None

Conclusion

If you know a young child, run over to your nearest library and find this book! I enjoyed so much and the kids at work beg me to read it. The illustrations are bold and colorful. Plus, it depicts different types of geography.

Until next time,

Anna

Review for The Battle for Vast Dominion

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Photo from internet. I do not own the photo.

Synopsis:

This is the third book in the Trophy Chase Trilogy. Packer has become king and has to deal with the war that is at hand. With his new authority, Packer has the opportunity to reach out to the Drammune and try to convert them. Meanwhile, Panna must face the political ramifications of her husband’s past.

My Thoughts:

This book could almost have been split into two books. The first half covers political ramifications of having a new king and the war that follows. Then the second half is about Packer’s plan to convert the Drammune and what ensues. Although I did enjoy the book, this one seemed slower then the previous two, and I took longer to get through it. The first half was almost better then the second. There are many characters who we hear from. I actually enjoyed hearing from the Firefish’s perspective. While some of the others, like Hand, I just did not care about.

The ending left me hanging. The way the author ended Talon’s story was sad, and I wish it could have gone a different angle. Also, I did not like that we jump from a young Packer to an old Packer. I wanted to see more of Packer growing older slowly. It tied up all the loose ends, but the way they tied some of them up felt out of place.

Language-

A “Dear God” in a non-reverent way. Mentions of sailors swearing. No words used.

Violence-

Now, Nearing Vast has just entered into a war so there are bound to be battles along the way. The first battle is a purposeful retreat and little bloodshed occurs. There is a scene where you think main characters are possibly going to die, but God keeps them safe. One character shoots an advisor and he dies. She also knifes two character as she escapes later on. Packer’s friends find clothing with blood on it, and they think Packer is injured. There is a fist fight between two characters.

There is a naval battle where most of the shooting is done by friendly ships. It mentioned causalities and men floating in the water. The Firefish attacks a character and leaves him with one arm. It then goes and sinks a Drammune ship with all aboard.

Lastly, there is a last battle between Nearing Vast, Drammune, and the Achawuk. Ships fire at people in the water. Mentions blood in water which brings Firefish. Ships are destroyed by Achawuk. A character tries to kill main character and throw him in water. A character shoots someone attacking the ship. A character is pierced with a sword and kills her and her unborn baby. There is mention of poison in the water which kills many of the Firefish. A character is wounded and at death’s door. Packer forgives him before the character dies.

Innuendo-

Packer and Panna lay clothed in bed and have a discussion of the previous day’s events. A mention of hand holding. There is a couple sentences of how Panna is beautiful.

Note: This is after they are married.

Conclusion-

This is a decent conclusion to this pirate trilogy. There are certainly things about this book that made it less enjoyable, but I am glad I took the time to read it. The author poses several theological points like being a pacifist among others. There is definitely some violence throughout this book, but it is a pirate story so, it is to be expected. One scene near the end may be too much for younger audiences. Death does occur, and we see some main characters perish. Plus, the first half is definitely more political then the other books were. I would consider this a book for young adults on up. I would say 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Review for The Umbrella

The Umbrella by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert

Synopsis –

This is a story about a little dog who ends up going on an adventure that takes him around the world. He visits Africa, the jungle, and even the ocean.

My Thoughts-

I recently found this book at my local library and read it to the kids at work. They have asked to hear this story over and over. It is still a current favorite after a couple of weeks. The pictures are beautiful, and the more times I read it, the more things I can point out to the kids. The fun thing about wordless books is that I can discuss things with the kids that I think are important like what animals live in Africa or what facial expressions the dog is making.

Violence –

One picture does show native Americans holding spears, but they are not in detail. You see the spears fly through the air and one hits the dog’s umbrella.

Another picture shows the little dog surrounded by alligators and one snake (as my kids like to point out). Nothing is directly shown.

You do see the elephant trunk who rescues the dog and blows him to safety.

Language – None, it is wordless after all.

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

This is a delightful little book that introduces kids to using their imagination and different regions around the world. Throughout the book, you will enjoy seeing the adventurers the dog goes through. The one native American scene may need some discussion, but overall this is a book I highly recommend. Age range probably 2-5 on this one.