Friday, February 26, 2010



by Eoin Colfer

This book of historical fiction by the author of the Artemis Fowl series is far different from what I am used to from him, so those who didn't like the fantasy series (I'm looking at you here, Sue) would, I think, enjoy this stand-alone novel.

There is no magic or fantasy element, here, and the story is slower to get started, but once the action begins, Colfer's excellent writing takes you along on a ride. Even then, the action is slower, more plotting and working inch by inch to a goal, the suspense stretched taut by danger rather than flat-out action.

The character is different, too, a boy who has grown up with a mentor who teaches him discipline and patience as he teaches him fencing and other fighting techniques, as well as working together with him to try and create the first heavier-than-air flying machine. This makes him a quietly dangerous character, and far more mature. His emotions are deeper, and on the whole, it makes the book seem right for an older, more serious, or more mature reader.

On the whole, though it is less obviously "fun" than the Fowl books, this not only kept me on the edge of my seat until the resolution just a scant few pages from the end, but also stuck with me more. This may work as well as a YA book as it does for older middle grades.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010


The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan

An Enola Holmes Mystery
By Nancy Springer

Enola Holmes is another series I am really enjoying, this one still full of action and suspense, but more girl-oriented, if not all that girly.
(Follow links for my reviews of books #1 and #2.)

Enola is the runaway younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft, who would see her contained and cultured in a girls' school, much against her unconventional wishes. Instead, she is solving mysteries herself, and has rather a knack for it.

In this fourth installment, she runs into and thwarts both brothers in turn, even helping Sherlock and working with him a little, as he is on the same case as she. This causes her a little distress, as she finds herself softening toward him, and seems to think she perceives the same in him, which makes her wonder if it might be possible one day to reconcile, leaving her less alone.

This doesn't dull her acuity one bit, though, and she uses a combination of smarts and inside knowledge of the feminine world to help her save the day once again.

I am interested, though, to see how that relationship will develop a little further in the next book!

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The Last Olympian

Book #5 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians
By Rick Riordan

I finally got my hands on the last of the series to read it just before I saw the trailer for the first movie! These will make great movies, with lots of action and plenty of opportunities for cool effects, so I can't wait to see what they do with them.

At the end of the series, I can't help but look back over them and see the structure of the whole, which bears a remarkable resemblance to the structure of other series and notable quest myths, most obviously and best-known being the Harry Potter saga. (Let's see, at about 12 yrs old, the kid who's always had weird things happen discovers he's not an ordinary human, foes off for some training, ends up on some quests/in some battles, is facing a Big Dark Power who is rising again after years in hibernation, and is prophesied to be The One.)

The fact is, though, even a well-worn old formula can be a fantastic ride in the hands of a good storyteller, and Riordan is most certainly that. These books are entertaining, fast-paced, and could even manage to hook a kid on mythology if they were the curious kind, which I think is a great side benefit.

The series ends with a good resolution, and the battered and ragged forces of good live on, at least some of them, to fight another day, having vanquished the Titan Lords once more and saved Olympus. Phew!

My only issue was the very, very end, which seems to leave the door open for another set of Percy Jackson adventures. I enjoyed these thoroughly, but I think Percy has earned a rest, and would like to see him start a new series, instead. Perhaps based on a different set of myths, or something altogether?

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