Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Fantasy”

The Scruffy Rube’s #CBR4 Review Supplement (#s 27-43)

In all of my reading and writing it would be easy to say that I’m thinking too much about books that are meant to be little dollops of entertainment. That may well be true, books may just be meant as minor diversions for over-stimulated minds. But through the past year I realized how the various reading role models I have had in my life taught me how to read, how to love reading and how to use reading to think.

So, after I finished my half-cannonball back in August I kept right on reading and thinking. Balancing all that work with the job I’m paid to do was a little difficult and I only just finished reviews for all of the books read in that span. Rather than reprinting some or all of those reviews here, I wanted to give any readers of this site access to my other site where they can read the complete reviews of various books that might interest you. (If you or someone you know–particularly an administrator–believe this is in someway a misuse of the Cannonball Read site, I sincerely apologize and will remove it ASAP.) Take a look, click around and see what you think of everything else I managed to read this year.

All reviews (plus other older reviews and fancy blog style shenanigans at The Scruffy Rube

Post 1 Book Club Books:

#27–The Unbearable Bookclub for Unsinkable Girls, by Julie Shumacher (2 stars)

#28–Frozen by Mary Casanova (3 stars)

#29–Matched by Allie Condie (2 stars)

#29.5–The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind  by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon) (2 stars)

#30–A Strange Place to Call Home by Marilyn Singer (illustrations by Ed Young) (4 stars)

Post 2: Mock Caldecott Award Candidates

#30.25–Oh No, by Candace Flemming (illustrations by Eric Rohman) (4 stars)

#30.5–Words Set me Free, by Lisa Cline-Ransome (illustrations by James E. Ransome) (4 stars)

#30.75–House Held up By Trees, by Ted Koosner (illustrations by Jon Klassen) (2 stars)

#31–Extra Yarn, by Mac Bennett (illustrations by Jon Klassen) (5 stars)

Post 3: Mock Newberry Award Candidates

#32–Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis (3 stars)

#33–Glory Be, by Augusta Scattergood (1 star)

#34–The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate (4 stars)

#35–Wonder, by RJ Palacio (5 stars)

Post 4: Mock Printz Award Candidates

#36–Never Fall Down, by Patricia McCormick (4 stars)

#37–Code Name: Verity, by Elizabeth Fein (1 star)

#38–Year of the Beasts, by Cecil Castelluci (art by Nate Powell) (5 stars)

#39–Every Day, by David Levithan (4 stars)

Post 5: Books with lessons of the year

#40–Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro (5 stars)

#41–Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor (5 stars)

#42–A Room with a View, by E.M. Forster (5 stars)

#43–Cinder, by Marissa Meyer (5 stars)

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #25 – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place.And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”

I often feel like Alice.  Most days, actually.  I’m afraid it’s more to do with what I do for a living, which is an awful lot like a caucus race. Just running and running in circles, getting nowhere, and yet somehow expecting things to be different.  Trying to dry off, but getting swamped with waves just at the wrong time.

Alice is bored with real life and her lessons, and wishes everything was nonsense.  Her trip down the rabbit hole teaches her that while a little nonsense now and then (is cherished by the wisest men) is all right, nonsense all the time can be scary and confounding.

Alice tries to make sense of her surroundings and the beings she encounters, while growing and shrinking randomly depending on what she eats and drinks. She gets some good advice, especially from the Cheshire Cat (if you don’t care where you’re going, then it doesn’t much matter which way you go – you’ll get somewhere so long as you go on long enough).

Of course this is a favorite, it has been since I was a little girl. I can’t wait until my little one is old enough to sit still for a reading. Until then, I’ll continue to amuse myself with it.

“Mad Hatter: “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”
“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter”

Because Poe wrote on both.  Yup, that’s it.

CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR Review #47: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

“You’ll find that the only thing you can do easily is be wrong, and that’s hardly worth the effort.”

 Milo is a young boy who is bored by everything in his life.  One day, he comes home and finds a mysterious package.  Inside is a miniature tollbooth and a map.  He gets into his play car, drives through the tollbooth, and suddenly finds himself in the kingdom of Wisdom.  He visits the city of Dictionopolis where words are of the utmost importance.  Then he travels to the city of Digitopolis where numbers reign supreme.  The two cities have been feuding over which is more important.  Nothing has been right in Wisdom since the Princesses Rhyme and Reason were banished.  Milo is sent on a hero’s quest to restore Rhyme and Reason.

I loved this book as a child, but I think I appreciate it more as an adult.  I definitely get more of the puns and the metaphors.  There is an island named Conclusions that you can only get to by jumping.  The people in Dictionopolis literally eat their words.

I can’t tell you how many times I read this book as a child.  The Phantom Tollbooth was originally published in 1961 and the story still stands up.  It is truly timeless.  It is difficult to review a book that is so widely revered.  As I have said before, I suck at articulating why I like something.  If I think something is terrible, I can tell you in excruciating detail why.  It has taken me 2 months to write this review.  If you have somehow managed to make it this far in your life, you still owe it to yourself to pick it up.  Don’t dismiss it as “just for kids”.  You would be doing the book and yourself a disservice.

5/5 Stars

Idgiepug’s CBR#4 Reviews #53-57: The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins

I picked up the first book of Suzanne Collins’ Underland Chronicles series to see if it would be good for my son.  My husband and I sometimes struggle to find him good, engaging books that are at his reading level but that don’t contain material or ideas that are too mature for him.  I read The Hunger Games trilogy a couple of years ago and loved it, but it’s too violent and dark for the little guy, so I thought I’d try this series.  I’ll admit upfront here that I fell for these novels completely and became almost obsessed with them, even sending my husband out to the library to pick up the next book in the series as I finished one of them.  I don’t like to judge books this way, but I think I liked this series even better than the The Hunger Games.

The main character of these books is Gregor, a regular kid who finds a secret underground city called Regalia where he is considered the “warrior” named in several prophecies by the founder of Regalia.  In each novel of the series, Gregor returns to Regalia to fulfill yet another prophecy.  Each adventure in the Underland leaves Gregor mentally scarred and grief-stricken for those friends and comrades he loses along the way.  He cares about the Regalians, especially Luna, the young queen, but he is also concerned about his mother who suffers terribly whenever he disappears into the Underland.  Of course, Gregor continues helping the Regalians, but the final book delves more deeply into the choices both he and other characters have to make and examines the consequences of their decisions in a much more serious way than the previous novels of the series.  In the end, Collins manages to bring the fantasy series to a believable and satisfying conclusion without falling into the trap of “happily ever after.”

I’d heard good reviews of this series, but I was still surprised by how quickly these novels drew me into Gregor’s world.  I felt as though I couldn’t put them down until I’d finished them all.  There are many similarities between these novels and Collins’ more famous trilogy, especially the themes of children being sacrificed by their elders and the horrors of war, but these books are geared for younger readers and therefore are not quite as dark.  My son, hearing that there were giant rats and cockroaches featured throughout the novels, was a bit hesitant to try them, but I think he will love them in a couple of years when he gets over his fear.  I would highly recommend them to young readers who are old enough not to have rat-filled nightmares and older people who want a quick and exciting adventure series to read

 

Idgiepug’s #CBR4 Review #51: Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

My son picked up Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven, but I “stole” it from him so that I could it out just in case it was too scary for him.  The kid loves roller coasters, riding downhill backwards on his big-wheel, and leaping off of a swing, but scary books and stories tend to give him nightmares, so we have to be a bit selective.  I’d never heard of this series, but the first novel was quite good, and the little Pug is reading it now without any nightmares so far.

In the novel, Kendra and Seth have to go stay with their grandparents while their parents go on a cruise.  They’ve never stayed with this particular set of grandparents before, and they’re surprised at the grandeur of their country home called Fablehaven.  Their grandpa is quite nice, and they have a great attic bedroom, but life at Fablehaven has many rules.  Seth can’t quite resist the pull of the forbidden woods, and he, of course, breaks the rules and goes exploring.  Eventually, when it’s clear that Seth is going to get into trouble if he’s not stopped, their grandfather tells Seth and Kendra the truth about Fablehaven: it’s one of a series of estates established world-wide for the maintenance and protection of fantastic creatures.  Even after finding out the truth, Seth still manages to get the whole family in trouble, and quiet, rule-abiding Kendra finds that the fate of her grandparents, her brother, and the estate all rest on her ability to find a solution to the troubles caused by Seth.

The book was fun to read, and the magical creatures were interesting, but I was a bit frustrated with Seth’s continued foolishness.  I know that boys can be obstinate and can find trouble no matter what, but the seriousness of their situation should have been enough to stop him from continuing to break rules.  Kendra also seemed a little too perfect, and I wasn’t terribly fond of the good-girl/bad-boy stereotype here, but the book was a good fantasy story.  Hopefully, Seth will buck up in the other novels in the series.

Funkyfacecat’s #CBR4 Review #22: Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley

So. Behind. But am finally on holiday with a guilt-free conscience due to handing in a piece of work the other day, so…laissez les bon temps rouler. (I am also currently very temporarily in France, which I find quite exciting).

I’ve loved Robin McKinley’s work since I read The Blue Sword at the tender age of 11 (there’s a heroine who’s confused and lost and not entirely good-tempered and learns to sword-fight on horseback very quickly and it’s generally awesome!). She is one of my top five favourite authors, but I haven’t read all of her books. And this is because rather than ordering them all at once from Amazon or some other tax-dodging outfit, I prefer to stumble across them, in secondhand bookshops from Helsinki to Florida and friends’ bookshelves and left behind in youth hostels.

Spindle’s End is a riff on Sleeping Beauty. It begins with a long-awaited birth and a christening and a vengeful fairy left uninvited, but then takes on a new twist as Rosie is smuggled away in the aftermath of the fairy’s curse by Katriona, a girl who can talk to animals and who lives in a tiny village with her aunt who is a good fairy. Rosie grows up into an intelligent tomboy, seemingly safe around animals and common villagers, but the evil Pernicia spares no effort in trying to track her down…There are spells and enchantments and glamours, but also farm animals and cooking and babies. Fairies function in a similar way in this particular kingdom as witches do in other fantasy stories – sort of combined midwifes/healers and potential tricksters.

Pernicia’s motivations are left quite cloudy – she is generally a force of evil and seeks revenge for some slight centuries ago, and the choices involved in the ending of the novel is a bit confusing, for me, anyway. McKinley’s work mixes the romantic and the realistic, the eldritch and the heimlich with ease. Spindle’s End is not up there with McKinley’s most innovative or best (which I would say are Sunshine, The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown, and Deerskin) but it’s generally very good – a comfort read with occasional flashes of excitement.

pyrajane’s review #50: The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King

If you haven’t read the series, there are about to be spoilers.  You have been warned.

Wolvescalla

The tl;dr review: Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy continue on the Beam to the Tower.  They need to protect the Rose in NYC but can’t figure out how to get there and back.  The Beam brings them to a township that needs help.  Father Callahan from Salem’s Lot has Black Thirteen which will take them to NYC.  While they are in the town they need to help save the children.  Susannah is pregnant with a demon child and doesn’t know because her mind has created a new personality to protect the Chap.

The full summary with a few thoughts thrown in can be found over on my blog.

lyndamk #cbr4 review #26: The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1) by Jasper Fforde

Looking for an alternate reality detective story that involves great books, but goes by quickly? Thursday Next just might be the gal for you. Read more at my blog …

Siege’s #CBR4 #43: The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King

In which Siege remembers just why she began to love Stephen King in the first place.

Siege’s #CBR4 #41: Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

In which Siege’s love for Jason Statham movies and her love for literature are somehow combined.

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