StarChaser

starchaser

 

StarChaser
TodHunter Moon, Book 3

Angie Sage
Illustrations by Mark Zug
Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2016

From the dust jacket, “Almost one year ago, Alice TodHunter Moon left her PathFinder village to become Apprentice to ExtraOrdinary Wizard Septimus Heap. The Castle still fills Tod with wonder – its’ hard to believe all that Magyk comes from the great block of lapis lazuli beneath the Wizard Tower.

“But in faraway lands, the brilliant blue stone is crumbling to dust. Soon the destruction will spread to the Castle and the Wizard Tower with its Magyk and come tumbling down. It seems that the Orm Egg that Tod rescued from the evil sorcerer Oraton-Marr was the KeyStone holding the Enchantment of the lapis lazuli in place. But the Egg has hatched now and the KeyStone is no more.

“Somehow, from somewhere, another KeyStone must be found—but how?

“This final installment of the TodHunter Moon trilogy celebrates how hard work, selflessness, and the courage to be who you are can create a harmony that spans the seas and stars.”
As with the other 2 books in the trilogy, I enjoyed this TodHunter Moon book immensely. I know I’ve said this before – but it bears repeating – the author has created a world chock full of richly drawn characters, both good and evil, human, animal and monster! I had no trouble immersing myself in Tod’s world. I went with her as she traveled the Ancient Ways, across the world to new lands and met some pretty dangerous creatures and people. I experienced her panic when she first had to do an important spell on her own and then her joy when it worked. I felt her sorrow and guilt at being torn from her family and friends to warn Septimus of impending doom. And I was with her when she made up her mind to find another Orm Egg – no matter what.

Yes, as the publisher says, the story does celebrate hard work, selflessness and courage; but don’t read it for the lessons it holds. Read it for the pure fun and adventure of the story. This is definitely a trilogy we will be adding to our permanent library!!! And, as an extension of the Septimus Heap saga, this trilogy holds up well on its own – but read the other books for more background on all the wonderful secondary characters! There are some scary moments and sad events, but that’s life, right?

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws for the book, but 5 out of 5 paws for the trilogy! In a world filled with exciting adventure, harrowing danger, scary monsters and evil villains, it is always grand to read where faithfulness and loyalty to one’s friends wins out – as it should – and, in the end, good triumphs over evil.

Reviewer:

toby-loc

Toby

 

Pathfinder

pathfinder

Pathfinder
Todhunter Moon, Book One

Angie Sage
Illustrations by Mark Zug
Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2014

From the dust jacket: “When Alice Todhunter Moon was five years old, she saw a beautiful golden Dragon Boat fly over her Pathfinder village. She knew at once that the boat was Magykal. That was years ago, before her mother died, her father disappeared at sea, and the Garmin took her best friend Ferdie.

“Now it’s up to Tod and Ferdie’s brother Oskar to rescue Ferdie from the Garmins’ keeper, the malevolent Lady. Their journey takes them to the Castle, where they receive help from the ExtraOrdinary Wizard Septimus Heap and ex-ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand. But the Lady’s brother, Darke sorcerer Oraton-Marr, has a plan that will put everyone Tod holds dear in danger. To save her people, Tod must embrace her identity as a Pathfinder and navigate the Ancient Ways, mysterious Magykal paths leading to unfamiliar—and sometimes dangerous—lands.

“Taking place seven years after the story arc of the original bestselling Septimus Heap series, Pathfinder celebrates the joy of discovering one’s own personal Magyk and of choosing the path that lets that Magyk flourish and grow.”
It’s been several years since I read the Septimus Heap series so it was nice to be reunited with some familiar characters in Pathfinder. It’s like being reunited with old friends and the author kindly catches the reader up on what has happened in their lives since the last book ended. But this book is about new characters in the wide orbit of Septimus Heap. We go on an exciting journey with Tod, from her almost idyllic home life, to the mysteries of being a Pathfinder, to the terrible danger of Darke Magyk. The story is immensely readable, full of adventure and magical events. Even if you’ve never read the Septimus Heap books, you’ll find this book entertaining because while it ties in with those previous books, it is also able to stand alone – well, with the other two books in the series! I’m starting the next one tonight and I can wait to find out what happens with Tod, Oskar and Ferdie as they do battle with Oraton-Marr!

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because Angie Sage does not disappoint!

Reviewer:

toby-loc

Toby

 

The Legend of the Golden Snail

the legend of the golden snail

The Legend of the Golden Snail

Graeme Base
Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS, 2010

From the dust jacket, “In Wilbur’s favorite book, legend tells of a magnificent Golden Snail that has been banished to the Ends of the Earth by a Grand Enchanter. Inspired by this amazing story, Wilbur sets out on a daring voyage to claim the Golden Snail as his own. Along the way he encounters strange creatures and a series of challenges – rough seas, pirates, the Maze of Madness and the Dreadful Doldrums. Finally, Wilbur reaches the Ends of the Earth, but what he finds there is not quite as he imagined …”

If you are familiar with Graeme Base’s picture books, then you will know his illustrations are jam-packed with detail, fanciful creatures, and a hidden image on every page the reader is challenged to find. This book is no exception. The copy I read was oversized, beautifully illustrated (as all Base’s works are) and fun. Wilbur goes on a grand adventure and learns a lesson in kindness along the way. He learns that the good things you do out of kindness – things that no one else will see – have a good way of coming back to you. The book will be easy to read for middle – late readers, although early readers will love it being read to them! The print is a large medium size that is black on white background which also makes it easy to read.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because in addition to everything mentioned above, Wilbur’s traveling companion is an orange tabby like Toby!!!

Reviewer:

simon-loc

Simon

Castaway Cats

castaway-catsCastaway Cats

story by Lisa Wheeler and art by Ponder Goembel

A Richard Jackson Book, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006

 

I have an adorable picture book for you! This is how it starts out – “On an island/in the ocean,/ near the land of Singapore,/midst a storm of great proportion,/ fifteen cats were washed ashore.” There were 7 kittens and 8 adults – a calico tom named Mittens (who has muscles and an anchor tattoo), a Persian Blue, an angora, a bobtail, a beat-up tabby, a pair of Siamese cats, and an orange marmalade. They all must band together if they are to survive on a tiny island in the ocean. At first they look for help to rescue them and then decide they’re on their own. Will they be able to survive?  Will they even be able to get along with each other? 

The illustrations are absolutely adorable and the story is told via rhyming poetry.  The print is large enough for early readers to enjoy; there are so larger words that may be difficult at first but every reader needs their vocabulary expanded! 

I loved this book – it’s got everything you could want – cats, cats and more cats – plus kittens!; an adventure at sea; a lesson on how to get along with the ones around you and that family doesn’t always mean the folks you were born to!

Rating: 4 paws

simon eye enhanceReviewer: Simon

I pulled these images off the internet – they aren’t very good quality – but let that encourage you to check the book out at your library!!

The Weed That Strings the Hangmans Bag

flavia

The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
A Flavia de Luce Mystery
 
Alan Bradley
Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, 2010
 
From the inside front dust jacket: “Flavia de Luce, a dangerously brilliant eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders….finds herself untangling two deaths—separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads. … Astride Gladys, her trusty bicycle, Flavia sets out from the de Luces’ crumbling family mansion in search of Bishop’s Lacey’s deadliest secrets. Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What of the vicar’s odd ministrations of the catatonic woman in the dovecote? Then there’s a German pilot obsessed with the Bronte’ sisters, a reproachful spinster aunt and even a box of poisoned chocolates. Most troubling of all is … the charming but erratic Nialla. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help.”
 
After reading the first book in this series (The Sweetness as the Bottom of the Pie) I wasn’t too sure I’d read the rest – there was a lot of chemistry in the book and I’m not big on chemistry. But I decided to give it a go and I’m glad I did. Set in 1950s rural England, this book is full of charm and wit – and a good mystery that had me guessing until the end. This is the 2nd book but could easily stand alone. There are a brief mentions of the incidents in the previous book but thankfully, this book doesn’t stand on those shoulders.  I love how Flavia talks to herself, offering encouragement along the way (“Bravo, old girl! You can do it!”). At home she has to contend with her older – and meaner – sisters, Feely (Ophelia) and Daffy (Daphne), a mostly absent father, and the emotional-ghost of her long dead mother. 
 
There are two murders, one in the past, one happens within the current timeline, but the details are neither gory or gruesome. There is some talk of illicit affairs,  an unwed pregnancy, and the cultivation and partaking of “Indian hemp” (cannabis)  –  which I found very surprising but not offensive – at least to my sensibilities. This book is targeted toward middle grade readers but anyone can read it and enjoy trying to figure out the mystery.
 
If your middle-grader is looking for a good mystery with a brilliant female protagonist, this is the perfect book! Chemistry lessons included for free!!
 
Rating  4 paws
 
007Reviewer: BobbieSue