I’m delighted with this series–kids using magical objects to shrink down to a tiny size and visit other times and places via the Thorne Rooms in the Chicago Art Institute. This one was much the same as the others, except in this one, for the first time, the kids see consequences of mucking around in the past (like in Back to the Future.) If I had to criticize it would be to say one of the storylines seemed a bit contrived. I think I would have liked it better if the kids just went into a room, stepped back in time, and had an adventure. Instead, the adventures had to be tied to action in the present day. Still, this is a fun adventure, with lots of interesting history thrown in.
How excited was I to find out there was a sequel to The Apothecary? Pretty darn excited, I tell you. I’m out of the loop and didn’t even know it was coming out and just happened across it on the new book shelf! This was the second book I read while on vacation and I polished it off pretty quickly and then passed it on to Paul, who also devoured it. Two years have passed since Janie and her parents left behind the extraordinary magical/scientific adventure of the first book and lost their memories of that time. Janie has since had her memories returned to her, though she hasn’t seen Benjamin since then. Like in the first book the good apothecary society is fighting against the bad people who favor nuclear war and using their knowledge for evil. One of the things I liked so much in the first book was the interesting historical context and this book also has one. Benjamin and his father are in the jungles of Vietnam helping villagers who are attacked by the Vietminh. The Vietnam War and its origins has always been confusing to me, and it was fascinating to read about it here. The action of the story moves back and forth between Janie, working on a science experiment at her boarding school, and Benjamin, with his father in the jungle. A kidnapping builds the suspense and action and brings them all together. There are plenty more amazing abilities revealed through the big book they rely on. While the first book didn’t leave me yearning for a sequel, this book clearly is set up to have a third and final installment.
I just gave this 4 stars on Goodreads, but I do wish you could give fractions because I’d probably go 4 1/2. I liked this a lot. It was a really great conclusion to a trilogy, had some surprises, action, intrigue, romance, and interesting sci-fi angles. I felt like it was better than the middle installment.
Picking up moments after #2 left off, Amy and Elder are ready to detach the shuttle from the ship Godspeed and land on Centauri-Earth, the habitable planet that has been waiting there for centuries for them. And off they go! And most exciting, you don’t have to wait many pages at all for step 2-defrosting all the frozen people. This means that in this book we get new characters, including Amy’s parents. Conflicts abound between “shipborn” and “earthborn”. Naturally the military frozen people immediately want to take over and as a reader (and presumably the shipborns felt this way, too) it was so frustrating that they didn’t even pause to find out what life was like on Godspeed for centuries. I thought Revis did a good job of portraying all of the wonder and terror that the shipborns felt at a new world, the confusion that the Earthborns felt about the shipborns, and so on. There’s definitely a big mystery going on as Elder and Amy try to figure out what they aren’t being told and what danger they are in from the aliens who already inhabit the planet. The early stages of the book reminded me of The Sparrow, a wonderful science fiction book in which people land on a habitable planet and try to make peace with the culture there. There’s also definitely an Avatar element of big bad corporations and Earth messing up other planets.
I loved all the clues and surprises, the intrigue and how you thought you were solving one aspect of the story but then another appeared. This was suspenseful and I couldn’t put it down!
(My only disappointment is in the cover. They’ve reissued the first and second to match and it definitely looks more sci-fi and battleship-y, but I loved the romantic cover of the first one.)
After reading Rapunzel’s Revenge I picked up Calamity Jack, which smoothly picked up where that had left off. This one adds to the Old West-fairy tale mashup with a bit a steampunky attitude (or, at least, a few contraptions that seem to fit that, if not the vibe). Sidekick Jack is the main focus of this story, as he returns to the town from which he was soundly booted. The bad guys seem to be taking over in the guise of “protecting” everyone from the giant ants that are wreaking havoc on the city. Jack and Rapunzel think it all seems a bit suspicious. Here we get more elements of the traditional Jack and the Beanstalk tale-a beanstalk, a giant, the goose and her golden eggs. The same elements of adventure and fun and witty repartee are here as they were in Rapunzel’s Revenge. These two were a nice change of pace from my usual novels and I really enjoyed them. Hoping the fact that they are numbered #1 and #2 means there will be a #3!
I just happened to see this at the library, hadn’t even heard of it, but I love Shannon Hale‘s novels and was excited to see this somewhat oversized graphic novel. Her ability to fracture a fairy tale, create a new backstory, and bring life and spunk to her heroines is equally present in this rollicking funny book as it is in her more “literary” novels. There was an Old West vibe to this, which was very interesting, and thus a bit tall tale-y, too. I loved the fun she had with Rapunzel’s quest for revenge and her companion, Jack (of soon to be beanstalk fame.) Besides Jack there are a few other familiar fairy tale references, such as the goose who lays the golden egg. This was a quick read and I was happy to have Calamity Jack on hand to keep reading.
I only got this for the Best of the Best reading challenge, and didn’t even know anything about it. Sometimes I like to go into a book not knowing too much about it and I’m really glad I didn’t. It made every plot turn, character, and detail so surprising and exciting and fresh. This story was so wonderful that I picked it up from the library Tuesday afternoon and by Wednesday night had finished it. I stayed up late reading and the next day let Tabby watch extra tv just so I could keep reading. This had adventure, romance, and fantasy all wrapped in one. It reminded me very much of Shannon Hale and Tamora Pierce novels-a fully imagined and created world that seems historical and bears a resemblance to civilizations in our world, yet has an element of magic, and its own unique history and mythology. Also like Hale and Pierce’s books, this one has a kick ass strong heroine. But she doesn’t start out that way! Although Elisa is a princess and doted on by her nurse and maid, she has always been aware that her thinner, prettier, stronger sister is, frankly, the better princess and will make a great queen. Elisa’s strengths lie in her intelligence-she has read extensively of war and military strategy, and she is also extremely pious and is well versed in scripture. In fact, Elisa has a direct connection to God, though she is not yet sure for what purpose.
The story kicks off with Elisa being married to a somewhat neighboring king as a tactical alliance. En route to his kingdom the adventure begins. I really don’t want to say anything more plot-wise. All you need to know is that it’s a wonderful story. Religion plays a huge part in the story and I’m not sure I’ve really read anything before that has religion play such a large part where the religion is one made for the story. It’s monotheistic but not Christian, but seems very believable. It was all very fully realized for the story, which I just thought made it amazingly well written.
Also, I had no idea if this was going to be a series or what, but nowadays everything is a series so I assumed it was and was prepared for an unsatisfactory ending. I was delighted to find out that the story was stand alone and had a completely satisfying ending. Then when I looked it up on Goodreads to do this post I see that it is listed as “#1″, so I guess it is going to be the start of the series (or, more likely, trilogy.) But that’s ok because like I said, this is completely stand alone and also I really liked Elisa and would love to read more about her.