Thursday, January 28, 2016

Academies, Aunts, and Inventors REVIEWING: Midnight for Charlie Bone

I have been meaning to read this series for a very long time and just never paused to do it. So finally, after putting it off since I was in elementary school, here is:

Children of the Red King #1: Midnight for Charlie Bone
Author: Jenny Nimmo
Genre: Children's/ Fantasy
Year of Publication: 2002

Charlie Bone seems like your average kid. He lives with his mom. As well as his two grandmothers and uncle. His best friend Benjamin lives across the street with his dog Runner Bean. Charlie's dad was said to have died a long time ago. However, it turns out Charlie is endowed. He is a descendant of the red king and has a strange power. He can hear the voices of people in photographs. His 3 aunts finally get what they want, for Charlie to not be normal. Because he is endowed, he is sent to the prestigious Bloor Academy for kids with certain talents and for the other 11 endowed children. There he runs into friends and he makes enemies.

I enjoyed this book a lot. I thought it was a good story and the plot was done very well. It involves a girl who was traded away and birth by her inventor father. The father left an invention that is supposed to wake her up (she's been hypnotized). As ridiculously complicated as these elements have the potential to get, it didn't happen. The execution of the writing was very straightforward and simple. It was very easy to follow and get into. It's very mysterious and slowly unravels deeper plots along the way.

The characters were all really interesting and distinct. None of the characters bleed and they all stand out as being their own person. I thought for sure that I would never get Charlie's aunts sorted out, but I know which ones are which thanks to their actions, designations and wardrobe choices. The author did a great job of making every character have their own way of existing, especially since there are so many. I'm sure this could be a big challenge to get right and was executed well here. I'd say this is a great book to learn about how diverse you can make such a large cast of characters, even if many of them still have many similarities behind them (the endowed, the family, the talents, the random students, etc.).
I give this book a 4 out of 5. It is a great book for young readers and older ones looking for a quick adventure. The characters are interesting and there is lots of room for future development. I can't wait to read the second book! My own regret is not starting on this series sooner, but maybe if I had I wouldn't have appreciated it as much as I do now.

Thanks for reading this review.

Love always,
           Sam K. 

Crows, Ruidoso, and Witches REVIEWING: The Witches of Ruidoso

Hey everyone! I understand that I've been away for a while. I just started my final semester of college, and it is looking like I might have a bit of time to be able to begin posting again. So today, I am changing things up and posting TWO reviews. I hope you enjoy them and thank you all so much for your patience with me as I pursue my education! 

The Witches of Ruidoso
Author: John Sandoval
Genre: YA Horror Southwest
Year of Publication: 2012

This book was one of the many I picked up at my local library for summer reading. I picked it up because it had Ruidoso in the title and I happen to like visiting that area of New Mexico when my family gets the opportunity. It's been a little while since we've been up there and I hoped this book could give me a good escape. 

With only 107 pages, this book isn't very bulky or weighty. To be fully honest, it doesn't have much for depth either. The characters are easy to identify, but they aren't very deep. I didn't feel a great connection to any of them. I actually kind of lost interest no more than 8 chapters in...out of a total of 25. Mind you, these are very short chapters. 

I wanted to enjoy this story, but really had a difficult time. At one point, it seemed like it didn't have much going on. There's a girl. There's a guy. The guy is the narrator and he's old now, looking back on his younger years that were spent in historical Ruidoso with the girl, Beth Delilah. Beth Delilah gets seizures weekly. She is very peculiar and often dazes off into space at random times. She says peculiar things. It seems like she is trying to share some deep truths, but I didn't ever feel like I was being changed as a reader. There was a witch, granted, since the title says there should be one. Well, it actually is plural, but I don't know that there IS another witch. Perhaps Beth Delilah could count, but I quite frankly don't see it. The witch is....witchy. She is basically a stereotypical witch, except for the fact that she is also, seemingly, a pedophile. That was a turn I didn't expect and quite frankly, didn't want. The author included a segment that was very obtuse and unclear...then nothing really happened with it again. There is also lack of a strong plot. At one point I stopped to ask myself "is this going anywhere? Is there a point to this book? What's the plot?" Then I realized its supposed to be a coming of age story...a remembrance of youth...and forced myself back into it. Not thrilling, not scary. The best part comes at the end when everything is kind of falling apart for a couple of the town's residents. 

All of that being said, this book isn't at all what I expected or wanted. I learned a lot from it about story telling and writing, but beyond that, I could've done without it. I wanted something more flowy, with depth, heart and some fantastic descriptions of the scenic appeal that IS Ruidoso. I got none of that. However, I almost feel like this is due to the early passing of the author. This is the man's only published novel and he died before he was able to get it published or anything. He wrote it and his family took over the rest. Because of this, I will continue to believe that this book has a lot of potential that was unable to be fulfilled. Possibly Sandoval still meant to work on it, reread it, expand on certain things and edit it, and just didn't get the opportunity. That is the only legitimate reason I can come up with for this book being as scrawny and unsatisfactory as it is. It isn't a terrible book, per se, it just failed to cover the basic points that make up a truly great story. I wish it could've been better, I really do. 

This book isn't popular. There are only two
reviews on Goodreads of it....and maybe three now that mine is up. I like some of the mystical elements, but I would say that, unless you want to take a lesson in what NOT to do and what to be sure to develop in your own writing, this book can be passed on. In the end I have to give it a 2. Only because, truthfully, I didn't absolutely hate it and felt it had promise that COULD HAVE been achieved with a little more work.