Category Archives: Book Recommendations

Saxby Smart in the Treasure of Dead Man’s Lane and Other Case Files by Simon Cheshire and R.W. Alley

Standard

7674721

“I’ve got some homemade spy gear with me.”

“Why do you have to keep bringing spies into everything?”

“Spies are cool.”

“So are fridges, so what? We are not spies. This is detective work.”

This is the second book in the Saxby Smart, Private Detective series. Like the first one, it follows Saxby Smart as he solves three cases.

The first case in this one is called The Tomb of Death. It’s about a missing comic. This was my least favorite for reasons that isn’t the book’s fault. Simply put, the person who had the book before me wrote in the early pages who did the crime. So it was hard to be into the mystery when I already knew what happened. 

The second case is called The Treasure of Dead Man’s Lane. It’s about finding a treasure in an old house. I thought this was a fun mystery. It’s different from the others, but I had a hard time with it. In it, it has an old letter where they find clues. It’s in a different font and everything. I had a really hard time reading it, so a lot of time I had no idea what Saxby was talking about. I couldn’t guess any of the answers so that takes some of the fun out of it.

The Fangs of the Dragon is the third and final case of this book. It’s a weird case that involves robbery’s that are not really robbery’s. This was my favorite case of this book. It was a little too lucky guesswork on Saxby’s part, but I really liked how the mystery unraveled. 

All in all I think this still a five star book. It’s such a fast and addicting read that I can’t wait to jump into the third one.

The Curse of the Ancient Mask and Other Case Files by Simon Cheshire and R.W. Alley

Standard

6472545

My name is Saxby Smart, and I’m a private detective. I go to St. Egbert’s School, my office is in the toolshed, and these are my case files. Unlike some detectives, I don’t have a sidekick, so that part I’m leaving up to you-pay attention, I’ll ask questions.

Saxby Smart is the best detective in his elementary school. He has his own office set up in his shed where he has his thinking chair and his desk. He makes case files for each of the mysteries he solves. Three of which are in this book. 

The first one is call The Curse of the Ancient Mask. This was my favorite case out of this book. A classmate’s father thinks the mask he picked up in Japan is curse, and Saxby helps them out. I like the whole storyline of this one.

The second case is called The Mark of the Purple Homework. Student’s essays are getting destroyed, including Saxbys. I liked the mystery of this one, and how Saxby’s questions to the readers were set up. It’s different than the others, and it’s a lot of fun.

The third case is called The Clasp of Doom, and it’s my least favorite. While I still enjoyed myself, it was mainly because I like the writing style. The mystery was a little boring to me.

This is a children’s book aimed at grades 3-6 I would say. But I still had a blast reading it. It’s slightly unique I would say because the book invites the reader to participate. Saxby regularly pauses his story to ask the reader if they have figured out what he did. He also lists all the facts he has gained periodically through the stories. 

The stories themselves are fun, but not too complicated. That doesn’t mean they are that easy to figure out. While I did figure out two of the mysteries myself, and plenty of the clues, there was one case I couldn’t and other clues I had no idea what he was going on about. It was all completely logical though, and very easily to follow along.

I was surprised by the summary of this book on goodreads. It mentions this series was created to get boys interested in reading. I don’t understand the distinction. While reading, I was slightly impressed how Saxby’s best friend Izzy was super girly and super scientific and smart and helped so much with Saxboy’s case. And it was just a fact. There was no she wasn’t like other girls or anything like that. It was simply her room was pink and glittery and she had all the research Saxby needed, and that was that. I think this book could get a lot of kids reading, not simply boys since it’s a boy narrator. I know this is a minor thing, but it’s something I felt like pointing out.

This is a series of ten books. I currently have the first three checked out, and I look forward to reading the other two soon. It’s a fast, easy, fun read. I also really think that kids would enjoy this, and parents and guardians will love how this book encourages them to think.

Favorite Childhood Reads

Standard

Isis:

I never read much as a child. I do remember reading Clifford obsessively and these Maisy books because they had little pop ups. They were my favorites as a kid.

858719Displaying pastedImage.png

Nicole:

I read a lot more than Isis. Not like now, but I’ve read a lot of different books. I remember rereading a lot of the same book over and over again. Unlike now when I rarely ever reread books.

23772201138

I’m pretty sure that I read all the Dr. Seuss books, and a lot of The Berenstain Bears seriesI would finish one book in one sitting and start on the next one right away.

99107

I was obsessed with Winnie-the-Pooh when I was little. I vaguely remember the book, but I watched the movies over and over again. My room for years only had Winnie-the-Pooh decorations.

13045402322209

I had a lot of these Little Golden Books. I read a lot of them but Aladdin and 101 Dalmatians were a couple of my favorites. I would read these and then watch the movie and then read these again.

958277853708

My kindergarten teacher used to read to us everyday. I don’t remember any of the books she read except with the Junie B. Jones series. I loved these. I loved Junie, and all of her mishaps. I found this through my teacher, but I loved it so much that I would go to the library to get the ones she didn’t read.

19435143056

I remember always picking this series up though I don’t remember what actually happened during it. I do want to find these in thrift shops or the library and reread them when I can. 

1644879

I’m so glad I decided to do this post, because I’ve been trying to figure out the name of this book for ages and I could never find it. I tried one more time so I could add it to this list, and I finally figured it out. In elementary school sometimes if you got there early they would take you to the library and the librarian would read to everyone until it was time to go to class. This was one of the books she read though I never got the full story since sometimes I would miss school or come later so then I missed out on parts of the story. But I always wondered what happened at the end. Now that I remember the title, I’m going to look it up and read it again.

5031045984981

We had to read these books in fifth grade, but I never minded the work involved because I loved these stories. With Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry especially. I went to the library and got all the other books in the series. When I finished them all, I was so upset that it ended that I wrote my own fanfiction of it. Not that I knew the term then.

131525387576

These aren’t so much children’s books, but I felt the need to add them here. I didn’t read as much as I got to middle school, but these books were my everything. I would get in trouble all the time for reading the Maximum Ride series in class. I never liked getting in trouble, but I just had to know what was going to happen. Though by the time I think the third or the fourth book came out I was over them. I think I read all the books that Lois Duncan had out. I would read them in one or two sittings because I was so captivated, and then I would immediately go to the library to get another one. This was also the time I picked up Harry Potter, and became obsessed with that. Then, for years Harry Potter books or fanfiction was the only thing I read.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Standard

19351043

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is a young adult, fantasy graphic novel. It follows Nimona, a shapeshifter, and Lord Ballister Blackheart, a hero turned villain,  as they team up to take down the corrupt Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics and their “front man” Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin who Blackheart has a lot of past with. The art style is bright and colorful, and characters are well developed and  funny. Here’s an example of the art and tone here:

I was very surprised when I read this. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Blackheart, while still a villain, never wanted to kill anyone. In a lot of ways this felt like more his story than Nimona’s even with her name being the title. But I loved their friendship. It was my favorite part of the comic. I also loved how scientific Blackheart was, and his motivations for being against the Institution. 

Blackheart doesn’t have an arm, and he was made that way by Goldenloin, his former lover at the hero academy. Though in the comic it is only heavily applied that they were lovers. I didn’t like that much though I have found out the author regrets not making it explicit. Their relationship was complex, and really added another layer to the story that it needed.

The ending surprised me a lot. I did not expect it at all, but after thinking about it for a couple hours, I think I like it. It’s not the typical happy ending, but it fits these characters and their story perfectly. 

I rate this comic five stars, and would recommend it to others. I enjoyed myself the whole time reading, and was disappointed and surprised when it ended.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Standard

28220785

There is a point when a man may swim back to shore, but he was past it. There was nothing left but to be swallowed by the enormity of the sea.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia brings a new, refreshing twist to the old vampire story. Set in Mexico City, one of the only cities in Mexico that’s supposed to be without vampires, the book follows five different perspectives as the story unfolds. There’s Domingo, a regular human street kid, Atl, a vampire on the run, Nick, a vampire chasing Atl, Rodrigo, a human helping Nick, and Ana, the cop after the two vampires. Domingo and Atl have are the main main characters, and have the most chapters to themselves.

I’m pretty sure the book states there are around ten different kind of vampires though in the book we see three. How the vampires differ is very interesting as is the lore behind them all. Word building is definitely this book’s major strength, and one area that is spent the most time developed. Everything felt very real. I could really picture the world, and it all made sense.

 The characters were all developed. They all had their own histories, motivations, personalities. No one is pure and sweet. They were all twisted in some way. Domingo and Atl were my favorites which was nice since they were the main focus. The only drawback was I still wasn’t very connected to them. I was concerned and I wanted to know how everything would unfold, but I wasn’t that emotionally invested in them. I remember wondering if they would die, but I had no anxiety over it. I was very calm about it, and I wish I had been more tied to them.

Overall, Certain Dark Things is a solid four star book that I would recommend to others. The world is great. Characters were detailed. While I wish I had been more emotionally invested, I still had a good time, and it was an enjoyable read. 

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Standard

27904311

But one thing I’d learned from being a son of Frey- I couldn’t always fight my friends’ battles. The best I could do was be there to heal their injuries.

The Hammer of Thor is the second book of the trilogy The Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan. I’ve briefly reviewed the first book here. It’s a series based on Norse mythology, and this book in particular follows Magnus and his friends trying to find Thor’s hammer while trying to stop another of Loki’s plans. 

I really liked how this book expanded on Sam being Muslim while interacting with Norse gods. It also detailed more about sign language when Hearthstone, who is deaf, signs which I also liked. This book also introduced Alex who is transgender and gender fluid, and she quickly became one of my favorite characters. I’ve looked through other people’s reviews, and as far as I’ve seen the only people with problems with the representation in this book disagree with Alex and think it’s inappropriate for children. So I think that’s a good sign.

It’s usually common for the second book in the series to have a dip in quality, but I found that I liked this one more than the first one. In the first book, I struggled with the mythology, and it slowed down reading. This time, I knew who was who already so that made reading a lot easier and more enjoyable. 

The characters continue to be the strong point of the series for me. I love all of them individually, and all their relationships with each other. They grow and change, and it’s simply a pleasure to read. Magnus is still a very strong protagonist to me. He’s soft, and the others allow him to be soft without ridicule. It’s very refreshing.

The plot is much the same as his other books. Fetch this, something goes wrong, fetch that, something goes wrong, get information here, something goes wrong, and so on and so forth. But it doesn’t bother me like it does other readers who have read his other two series with Percy Jackson. Maybe if I had read that it would, but to me it’s nice to know what will basically happen. I’m invested in the story, but even with all the action and plot twists I’m not on the edge of my seat with my heart racing. That can be a negative to some people, but it was a nice change of pace for me.

Reading The Hammer of Thor almost felt like coming home. I sank into this book, and I didn’t want it to end. It was comforting, funny, lighthearted, and everything that I needed at the moment. I look forward to the third book coming out in October.

The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

Standard

29346880

First, let me say that I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It in no way changes my opinions on this book. 

 

The Gauntlet is an own voices middle grade fantasy that’s adeptly compared to Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair. It follows twelve year old Farah as she has to find her seven year old brother Ahmad, who has ADHD and has fallen into the game The Gauntlet. Farah and her two friends have to win all the challenges to win the game. If they win, they can get out. If they lose, they are stuck there forever. 

I loved every character in this book. From Farah to The Architect (the master of the game) to the giant talking lizards I liked each of their personalities and how that fit into the book. The three friends Farah, Ellie, and Alex had that whole this is their one trait and everything they do kind of reflects on that. Usually that annoys me, but not this time. I think it helped that with the challenges they had to do it wasn’t just one person having a specialty in that challenge. They all had to work together. 

Speaking of the challenges they had to do, I liked them. I thought they were interesting. Though on the second on I’m still not sure what they were doing. It was a little hard to picture.

The reveal of who The Architect was surprised me. I was suspecting a completely different person, but it all made sense looking back. Which is the best really when you are surprised but it still makes perfect sense.  

The description was wonderful. Though there was one part were Farah thinks that she is just too tired  and frightened to take anymore in, but then proceeds with a full page of description. But, the food that was described sounded great. I have no idea what any of it was, but it makes me want to look it all up and try it.

This is Riazi’s debut novel, and I think she knocked it out of the park. It doesn’t say anything about there being a sequel anywhere, but I think there is room for one. The end left some strings out there that could be tied. Though there is one big question I have that feels less like oh maybe if there’s a sequel it would be addressed, and more like eh I think you forgot something. So I wish I had an answer for that.

Overall, this book was a fun, fast read. I read it in one sitting, and I give it five stars. I think both kids and adults can read this and enjoy it equally. It’s definitely a book I would recommend.