Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Gnome Summer reading recommendations part 4

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, by Karen Foxlee. Young girl Ophelia finds a strange boy trapped in a room in the Museum her father just accepted a job at. With Ophelia’s help the young boy hopes to right a wrong made long ago. Reminiscent of a young Pan’s Labyrinth mixed with Narnia, I loved this book. There were terrifying moments with monsters both seen and imagined but still, humans are the most terrifying. More on her worlds at

Magyk, by Angie Sage. This series is like Harry Potter but focusing on a family much like the Weasleys. A family with many sons loses their seventh son on the night of his birth when the midwife claims he is dead and disappears before a young girl is given to the family in his stead by a stranger. The children grow up and the young girl is unable to do the magic that everyone else in her family is capable doing.  She and a young guard, with only a number for a name, are thrown together on the run from assassins and monsters. It is a massive seven book series that now has a few side stories as well. Great fantasy adventure tropes and an oddly quick read for such a large first book. If your readers have already read the Potter books this is a good next series for them. More information on the author on her website

Keep tuned in for some adult recommendations coming soon!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Gnome Summer reading recommendations part 3

Smile, by Raina Telgemeier. After a sidewalk disaster, young girl Raina must deal with oppressive headgear and braces to fix her missing front teeth. With family tensions at home and attempting to navigate school, things get out of hand. Her other book, Sisters, takes place during the events of the first book and focuses on a family trip, touching on even more family drama and the relationship between siblings when parents are not getting along. Her other two books, Drama and Ghosts, are also amazing. Drama features a young middle schooler getting involved with theater  and tackling drama on and off the stage along with some adult issues. It is an important book and deserves attention. Ghosts features two sisters moving with their family into a new town with a history of paranormal activity and deals with the fear of losing a loved one too soon. Raina also has illustrated four Babysitters Club graphic novels bringing a whole new generation of readers into that series. More about her works at

Gregor the Overlander, by Suzanne Collins. Gregor and his sister, nicknamed Boots, end up trapped underground and must help a society of strange bat riding Underland humans fulfill a series of prophecies to save their world. They must work alongside strange human sized cockroaches, spiders, and other creatures to save the land from evil rats bent on dominating the entire Underland. This was the debut series for Suzanne Collins. There are five books in this series and I can’t wait to read more, having only tackled book one so far. Here is her website

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book Gnome Summer reading recommendations part 2

Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull. Two children go to their grandparents’ house and find out the estate they live on is a wildlife preserve for magical monsters. These books are amazing and once you meet the monsters it is nonstop adventure and danger. There are five books in the first series and a new book starting the long-awaited sequel series. Both Kendra and Seth narrate as our gateway into the world of magic and monsters. The author also has two other series about children and monsters featured next.

A World Without Heroes, by Brandon Mull. In the Beyonders series, Jason, a normal, sporty child ends up in a strange magical world after an incident with a hippo. He and his new friend Rachel are tasked with finding a word of unmaking and killing the evil sorcerer king that has overthrown the world and enveloped it in darkness. Things are never easy and many friends are lost along the way. There are three books in the series. I love that in this trilogy he made up his own monsters, some of which are terrifying. Many of the magical creatures were made or bred by the bad guy so we are unsure of who to trust.

Sky Raiders, by Brandon Mull. On Halloween, Cole and his friends go to a haunted house and are kidnapped by slavers from another world. Cole ends up with the Sky Raiders and his friends are all taken elsewhere.  He makes it his goal to find and free everyone, feeling responsible because of the haunted house. I loved that the Sky Raiders delve into floating towers and steal magical items from the inhabitants before the towers fall into an abyss. This series combines everything Brandon Mull has proven he excels at, more monsters from both his own worlds and ours as well as great characters. The world of the Five Kingdoms has different magic for each kingdom, one might have strong magical enchantments with items and in another illusion magic reigns supreme. For more information on the works of Brandon Mull check out his website

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Book Gnome Summer reading recommendations:

Most libraries and book stores have some sort of summer reading program starting up now that school is or soon will be out. Here are a few of my favorite kid’s books to help fill out those reading journals.
Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan. Young boy Percy finds he is related to the Greek gods and must get back Zeus’s master bolt or war will break out among the gods. Part Harry Potter mixed with Greek mythology. There are five books in his main series focusing on Percy and friends, three books about the Egyptian mythology, a book of cross over short stories between the two, a second series of five books with new and old characters on another epic quest, two books so far about a fallen god trying to get his groove back, and two books about the Norse myths. Rick Riordan is also starting a publishing imprint with three other authors writing their own mythic children’s stories from other world cultures. More info on Rick Riordan can be found here

Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder, by Jo Nesbo. I am ashamed with myself for not writing about this sooner. Young boy Nilly and his friend Lisa meet a strange Doctor that makes odd experiments, one of which is a powder that lets children fart as much as they want but there is never a smell. His super strong batch causes the farter to fly for short distances at times and they somehow use this to solve mysteries in Norway. We have four books so far, the self-titled Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder, Bubble in the Bathtub, Who cut the Cheese, and The Magical Fruit. I am also excited we are getting a new book in October of 2017, Silent (But Deadly) Night. This series is great for fans of the Wimpy Kid books but need more reading than pictures. There is action and mystery, as well as time travel, a super powered frog man and aliens. Jo Nesbo also writes cripplingly adult murder mystery books featuring a dark and grizzled Inspector Harry Hole. More information on the worlds of Jo Nesbo can be found here

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Looking for a new take on Sherlock Holmes? Ever read any Cyberpunk? Check of the R. X. Problem by Katie Magnusson. In an age of cybernetic enhancements and high tech weaponry, one detective solves crimes the old fashion way. Named after the famous book character he now fashions his own life after, Sherlock must face cyborg assassins, corrupt pharmaceutical companies, and a new flat mate.  Katie has short bonus chapters on her website focusing on the Irregulars as well as other character’s point of view in certain important scenes. Currently she is working on book three.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Magicians Trilogy

Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman: Magicians, Magician King, Magician’s Land

Quentin Coldwater enters into a magical school of higher learning, like Harry Potter he at times is his own worst enemy. My favorite things about this title are the ramifications for his bad decisions along the way, anything involving the Beast, and all the parts that take place in Fillory. This title is for fans of Narnia and Name of the Wind, but at times things happening in the story that might get you down. Once Quentin has broken out of his shell a bit, things pick up and so far Book three: Magician’s Land is better paced than both the first two books. Book one was solo Quentin the entire time, book two is split between Quinton and Julia. Book three has split narration between Elliot, Quentin, Janet, and Plum making things a bit more interesting this time around. We still have characters we know almost nothing about popping up in Book three that we finally get some background about.  The Janet chapters are fantastic and Plum has some interesting plot connections to everything else that has happened. The series as a whole is fantastic even with a troublesome main character.   There are times where Quentin is selfish and kind of a jerk and enables those around him to do him harm. There are magical adventures around every corner, cool monsters, interesting theories on life as we know it, and so much alcohol. In the last fourth of book one there is a Dungeons and Dragons style dungeon crawl that read the way I want to write my adventures.

I started writing my review immediately after reading Book two and was angry at Quinton for many different reasons.   I raged about it for a bit during Book three before I realized what my issue was. When Book one started Quentin was making horrible mistakes because he was just entering the magic school. He was 18 and I am old, and like all old people I think I know how life works: it kicks you around a bit and you have to sort out priorities. Looking back on my four years of college I made different mistakes than Quentin, none of my mistakes shook the realms of magic or angered gods but I did hurt some people’s feelings. When I got out of school I thought I knew everything there was to know about life, and life calmly told me to cool it, I knew nothing, and also the life lesson we gain from Labyrinth: Life is not fair. Quentin and friends suffer through a lot of terrible things over these three books and we get to journey with them.  Violence, sex, drinking, drugs, smoking, and magic appear often. This series is not for the faint of heart or the easily offended and would run an R rating as a movie.

The show is starting up on Syfy Monday January 25th.   I am a little terrified because there are already huge major changes from the books to the show.  We saw the sneak peek about a month ago. Names and characters have been changed around a bit, people important to later aspects of the story might not survive contact past Episode one. As terrified as I am there is still excitement in my heart to see what they come up in the show. We shall see what happens.

More information on the series and author can be found here

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Kane Chronicles

Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan

Red Pyramid: starts with a blast. Carter and Sadie visit the Egyptian exhibit at the British Museum where their father touches the Rosetta stone, unleashing the Egyptian gods into the world again. We find out the divine need mortal vessels to interact with the world, a major difference from the Percy Jackson books. They must stop Set from gaining control of the world with his Red Pyramid, which is his seat of power. 

Throne of Fire: Carter and Sadie team up with new recruits with magical powers to find Ra and restore him to his rightful place. Things don’t go to plan, sacrifices are made, hearts broken, and secrets revealed.

Serpents Shadow: the Kane kids and friends must do battle with Apophis to restore order to the world while his agents try to destroy their homes. 

Al in all the Kane books are fun but were not as well liked by most of the readers I walked with, the Egyptian myths are great but get watered down a bit more than the Greek myth of the Percy books. There is not as much cultural cross over to engage the readers, growing up the only experiences I had with the myths were being terrified at the museum by the mummies and seeing them chase Shaggy and Scooby, whereas the Greek monsters are everywhere in American culture. The children’s books are starting to catch up lore wise, the 39 clues series takes us to Egypt in their book Beyond the Grave by Watson and the Tombquest series by Northrop where the main character dies and his mother brings him back to life using the Lost spells from the book of the dead. 

Rick Riordan did write three crossover short stories. Son of Sobek, Percy and Carter meet up and fight a giant crocodile as well as have a scuffle themselves. Staff of Serapis where Annabeth and Sadie fight against a old foe using both Greek and Egyptian magic. And Crown of Ptolemy where all four children team up and try to bash evil in the face, the short stories are amazing because it combines both myth structures into a shared world and has future ramifications. 

The next book Rick Riordan is releasing is Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard book one: the Sword of Summer. I am a bit excited about this new series, Greek myth has always been my favorite but Nordic myth is my runner up. We should be seeing loads of giants and trolls as well as more crossovers with the other myths, Magnus and Annabeth are cousins and from the preview chapter it seems she is trying to find him.  

Bringing mythology to the classroom is a great idea. It gives us a glimpse of history as well as helping kids find wonder, giving them both heroes and monsters they will remember for a lifetime. Egyptian and Greek influences can be found everywhere in our modern world from architecture to video games, to terrible music videos. I realized late in the game my intense love of monsters and myth as far as classes went in college but now most of my art and creative energy is directed towards myth and making my own stories.