Tag Archives: dragons

Customer Review: The Eye of Zoltar

TFC9780547738499he Eye of Zoltar

Jasper Fford

HMH

$16.99

Available October 2014

I absolutely loved this book! It is the third book in the Chronicles of Kazam series and was just as good, if not better than the first two books. I loved Jasper Fforde’s sense of humor. The book is set in modern times except there’s magic, kings, dragons and many more mystical things. For instance the mobile phone network is getting reestablished with magic. There is also pizza delivery service on magic carpets. In this book Jennifer Strange (the main character) goes on a quest that is not a quest — it can’t be an official quest, because then she would have to fill out lots of paperwork with the questing agency. The mighty Shander forces her into going on the quest. He tells her that if she doesn’t get the Eye of Zolter for him, he will kill the dragons she saved in book one. She also gets the responsibility for the spoiled princess in a servant’s body. She also needs to negotiate the release of magician Once Magnificent Boo from her unfair imprisonment. Will she change the princess and turn her into a character fit to rule? Will she save the dragons? Can she get the Once Magnificent Boo back safe and sound? All these questions are answered in The Eye of Zoltar. I would give this book ten out of ten stars, it has something for everyone: mystery, magic, and humor.

~ Helena, age 11

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Children’s World

“Carla Gillock forgot her monkeys”. So stated the note that was sitting on the counter when I arrived at work yesterday. Carla, a customer, had apparently bought several sheets of monkey stickers, but they hadn’t quite made it into her bag. The abandoned monkeys were sitting forlornly next to the note. Working in a predominately children’s bookstore is sometimes like living in a parallel universe. You find yourself saying — and hearing people say — things that you would never hear in real life. But there you are, in real life, listening to people ask whether you have a book about “the knufflebunny”, “the fart powder book”, or “that chicka chicka book”. And you often hear people talk about our stuffed animals as if they were, somewhat lazy, employees. “Where has Olivia gotten herself off to?” “Has anyone seen Clifford?” “Pigeon needs to be replaced.” I have to laugh sometimes because these conversations are always so serious. This isn’t some wise-cracking, middle-school kid trying to get a rise. Grandma, list in hand, genuinely wants to know where to find “Walter, the Farting Dog”, and dad doesn’t betray even the slightest twinkle in his eye when he asks if we have the “poopy pants” series. So thanks, kids, for living in a world that is imaginative, creative, and humorous. And thanks for letting us visit every once in a while. It’s a hoot working in a place where it is perfectly acceptable to give directions like, “over there, under the dragons” or have lengthy discussions about Scaredy Squirrel, Reginald von Hoobie Doobie, and Mr. Magnolia, with only one boot. Oh, and Carla, please come get your monkeys.

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2012 Picks of the Year — Young Adult

9780062195180

The Peculiar
By Bachmann, Stefan
Greenwillow Books
9780062195180 $16.99

Teens are half child and half adult, which often makes them awkward and other people uncomfortable. In The Peculiar, Bartholomew has the additional handicap of being half human and half fae. His world is a grimy London existing in an uneasy balance of power between fae and humans. Someone is after Bartholomew and his sister, and it could be either side. Exceptional writing adds to the pleasure of the adventure.

9780399254598

Keeping Safe the Stars
By O’Connor, Sheila
Putnam Publishing Group
9780399254598 $16.99

The three orphaned Star siblings, Pride, Nightingale, and Baby, spent a short, awful period in the County Home before finding their way to the care of their grandfather, Old Finn, their only living relative. Old Finn is fiercely independent, but he becomes so ill that he’s hospitalized. 12-year-old Star takes charge to make sure nobody knows they’re on their own, and she’s not about to accept help.  10-year-old Nightingale isn’t so sure that’s the best way to help Old Finn or themselves, and 8-year-old Baby has a tendency to blow their cover, which would let others meddle.  Gathering bits of respect, bits of understanding, and bits of love, they manage to fashion a family.

9780307931887

Every Day
By Levithan, David
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
9780307931887 $17.99

A wakes up every day in a new body. Creating a personal code of ethics, A discovers what can (and cannot), should (and should not) be done when you’re living in someone else’s life. One day A wakes up as Justin, meets Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon, and on that day A’s own life finally begins.

Every Day is a unique inquiry into the relationship between body and soul. Is ‘who we are’ distinct from ‘what we look like’?  Is love really blind or do we fall for the ‘package’ as much as the ‘person’ inside? What makes us human anyway? Perfect for the philosophical teen, who likes contemplating life’s mysteries.

9780375866562

Seraphina
By Hartman, Rachel
Random House Books for Young Readers
9780375866562 $17.99

In Seraphina, Hartman has created an alternative, fantastic medieval world. The Kingdom of Goredd contains the anticipated castle, cathedral, market, and university. The royal family prevails, religion is integral in daily life, and a host of saints are familiar to all. Goredd, however, is bound by a tenuous peace-treaty with the neighboring kingdom of dragons. The knights have been banished — there is no use for them now — and dragons and human live side-by-side. Despite the official treaty, tensions between humans and dragons are high in Goredd, especially after a member of the royal family is killed in a distinctly draconian manner. Seraphina, sympathetic to both sides and also feared by both sides, stands at the center of this story; a story that incorporates high adventure and courtly romance and is well on its way to creating a modern legend.

9780525478812

The Fault in Our Stars
By Green, John
Dutton Books
9780525478812 $17.99

John Green gets it. He writes characters that precisely capture the transitional voice of teenagers poised between childhood and adulthood. In Hazel, he has created a character who has endured more than most adults, but retains the snarky running commentary that is pure adolescence. Hazel has lived most of her life on the edge of death. Although a Cancer Survivor — she mocks the melodramatic weight that people often use when discussing Serious Medical Conditions — Hazel is perpetually aware of her truncated life-span. Reluctant to get too close to anyone, because she repeatedly witnesses the pain of those who have lost a family member or friend, Hazel is unprepared for one Augustus Waters to bounce into her life. Her attempts to protect him prove futile and she ends up discovering why it’s never worth denying someone the pain of loving you.

9780545424929

The Raven Boys
By Stiefvater, Maggie
Scholastic Press
9780545424929 $18.99

Blue lives in a house full of psychics. She doesn’t have the gift herself, but she possesses the ability to augment others’ gifts. Therefore on St. Mark’s Eve, when she sees the spirit of a boy who has not yet died, there can be only two possible explanations: either he’s her true love or she’s the one who kills him. 

Gansey is on a quest. A junior at the all-boys Aglionby prep school, he surrounds himself with the friends and resources he needs to uncover an ancient legend. He’s wealthy and charismatic: a little too pompous for Blue, but she is slowly pulled into Gansey’s obsession. She has no interest in falling in love, certainly not with a Raven Boy from Aglionby Prep, but then why did Blue see Gansey walking the copse road, and what exactly connects her spirit to his? The first in a quartet, The Raven Boys blurs the lines between mysticism and realism. It’s an auspicious start to what is sure to be an excellent series.

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2012 Picks of the Year — Middle Grade Chapter Books

9781452104676

Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals
By Hearst, Michael
2012-09 – Chronicle Books (CA)
9781452104676 $16.99

Michael Hearst is a composer of unusual music, including “Songs for Unusual Creatures.” He gathered so much fascinating material that he also wrote a book about fifty very strange animals, their habits and oddities. As a man of imagination, he has included not only the weirder details, but also playful humor and wit.

9781423135005

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars
By Marsh, Katherine
Hyperion Books
9781423135005 $16.99

Jepp is a dwarf teenager, and in 16th century Europe a dwarf is a curiosity of economic value. A greasy nobleman promises Jepp’s unsophisticated mother good things for him, and carries Jepp off to court, where a world of capricious luxury awaits. The beds are soft, but full of humiliation, and after initial wide-eyed excitement, Jepp and a friend try to escape. They’re partially successful, but find themselves in an even stranger situation.

9780385737432

Liar and Spy
By Stead, Rebecca
Wendy Lamb Books
9780385737432 $15.99

Georges (the s is silent) isn’t thrilled about his family’s move to a smaller apartment, but he understands his dad is unemployed, his mother is working extra shifts at the hospital, and he should do his bit to help. So Georges explores and meets Safer and Candy, two kids on another floor. Safer is a self-appointed spy looking for an assistant, since Candy is goofy and unreliable. Georges is wary but polite, and the results are funny, touching, and surprising.

9780375869020

Wonder
By Palacio, R. J.
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
9780375869020 $15.99

Human kindness isn’t simple, as Auggie Pullman learns when he leaves the safety of homeschooling for a regular fifth grade class. His severe facial deformity gives everyone pause.  Among his family, classmates, and teachers, some are able to recognize the smart, funny, brave boy beneath the odd features, and some can barely tolerate him.  When the chips are down, when kids from another school start picking on Auggie, will anyone stand up for him?  The answer will sing out like a Handel oratorio.  In the few months since it was published, we already see schools taking up the book as a must read.

9780374350956

Fourmile
By Key, Watt
Farrar Straus Giroux
9780374350956 $16.99

Foster and his mother aren’t able to keep up the farm since his dad died, and his mother is trying to sell it, although she knows 12-year-old Foster wants to stay. Dax, the man who calls on her, is no friend to Foster, and Dax positively hates Foster’s dog Joe. Things are tense and getting worse when a stranger walks up the road. The stranger is Gary, an Iraq war vet who asks to trade barn shelter for chores. In Foster’s eyes Gary is a model of strength and masculine virtue. But Gary seems to have something to hide, and Dax would love to see Gary gone. The fiery climax reveals several things, including a more mature Foster.

9780547738475

The Last Dragonslayer
By Fforde, Jasper
Harcourt Children’s Books
9780547738475 $16.99

Reading Jasper Fforde is like listening to Spike Jones: serious sounding stuff except that there’s always one more outlandish boink and tootle where you least expect it. It works so well in Fforde’s Thursday Next mysteries that he’s now created the character of Jennifer Strange, a teenage foundling, who heads up Mystical Arts Management and keeps a knife-toothed Quarkbeast. Mystical arts and their practitioners were once revered, but lately they’re lucky to get paid for rewiring houses and unblocking drains. The less people believe in magic, the lower its powers ebb. The impending death of Maltcassion, the last dragon, is about to reduce it even further, as humans scramble to claim the valuable real estate that belonged to Maltcassion. And what does that have to do with the prediction of Big Magic? Jennifer Strange will be at the center of the coming changes, changes that are surprising to the end.

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