This, sadly, will be my last Bookworm Blather post. I’ve had a fabulous time the last two years. Met some great folks. Created some great content. Reviewed some great books. But it was time to combine my blog with my author website on my own domain. I’ve moved all the content and I’ll continue to add more, so Bookworm Bather really hasn’t died at all. Please consider subscribing to my new website:
Taylor Davis links have gone live! Find them on my new site! And just because I appreciate you guys, it’s priced at just .99 for a limited time.
My new site is up and runnning, but I’m still working out some bugs. If you signed up to receive posts from my new blog, you’ll have to do it again. I went to a new plugin with more features. I also don’t have it set to publicize new posts on Facebook and all. Still working on that. I miss some of the supported features from this site, but I’m learning.
Anyhoo…I figured I’d give the first several posts a little boost by announcing them here. So if you want to wish me happy birthday and check out the amazing, breathtaking, AWESOME new cover art for Taylor Davis, head on over to…
MMGM is a weekly meme hosted by middle grade author, Shannon Messenger.
My sons both enjoyed this book. The humor is droll, the plot straightforward, and the details random enough to engage young readers. Consider Jubb Jubb Trees that fall into piles of lumber with a precise kick, Hootentoot leaves that scream with fright when they fall, blue squirrels, a sun that rises and sets in the east because of an old grudge with the west, landscapes of polka dots and bright primary colors, lots of magic, and a hero who isn’t all that bright but who is valiant, likable, and bursting with personality. That’s what you get with Sir Nathan.
I, however, don’t rank this one as highly as my sons. I found the detail (which my kids loved) tedious and the plot slow and predictable. There was also a good deal of redundancy and wordiness, and the whole thing needed a few sessions with an editor. Twenty percent of the book could be wiped out with the first markup. But it’s clean, the author has a sense of humor, and it is fun for the audience for whom it is intended.
Consider the following quote:
Surprisingly, Sir Nathan was usually able to finish all of his quests just by shouting knightly stuff. Tupolev (the horse) was amazed at how many bad guys would just give up at the first sign of someone with a huge sword screaming about smiting and smashing and stabbing. There was even one time when Sir Nathan defeated an entire army of goblin pirates with just one single growl.
Of course, Tupolev knew the growl was really just a loud burp from a late breakfast. But, still, it had worked.
What kid won’t laugh at that and read on for more? The tagline (“A Somewhat Silly Story”) is pretty accurate. And I have to admit, Sir Nathan and his trusty steed do have consistent, engaging personalities. It just isn’t the same quality as something picked up from the bookstore. So I won’t give Sir Nathan a high recommendation, but I have no objections if it will get kids like my reluctant readers reading. I have little enough invested in them. Sir Nathan is just .99 on Amazon, and so is the sequel. For ages 7-11.
MMGM is a weekly meme hosted by middle grade author, Shannon Messenger. (Finally! A meme that fits perfectly with my content!)
This is the second in Kim Donovan’s St. Viper’s series, and it’s just as fun as the first one. The school hidden within the volcano is back, and the lessons to train young villains in World Domination continue. This time, the Syndicate of Supreme Evil is bent on control of all the world’s banks. The Big Bank Robbery is to be a school project for the baddest of the scholars, and Demon wants in. The problem is, ever since Copycat transferred to St. Viper’s, Demon can’t seem to stop messing up. Demon’s popularity has tanked, and even some of his friends abandon him for the new guy.
The Big Bank Burglary is chucked full of more kid-pleasing detail. A giant food fight involving snake flesh pizza and cowpat curry; super villains with names like Lady Lava, Flying Phantom, Monsieur Magnifique, and Doctor Dynamite; cool technie gadgets like the EVIL (Electronic Villain’s Intelligence Log), and enough high-flying action to satisfy every kid’s craving.
But St. Viper’s isn’t pure evil. Even though we’re rooting for the bad guys (all in good fun, of course), at the end of the adventure, we celebrate some noble traits. Like the loyalty Demon’s friends display. And when Demon’s arch nemesis is in his hands, he lets him go to fight another day. In fact, “he was looking forward to lots of battles…” He found purpose, silly as it might be. And finally, in a hilarious twist, we find that even Dr. Super Villain finds he needs love and acceptance.
Funny, action-packed, well-edited, and containing absolutely no objectionable content, this one rates highly for the younger middle graders. Recommended for ages 7-9.
The Riotous Rocket Ship Robbery (St. Viper’s School for Super Villains, book one), by Kim Donovan has been permanently priced at .99. It’s another funny adventure for young middle graders. Here’s the Amazon blurb:
Demon wants to be the best super villain at St Viper’s but he’s in for a fight. Between masterclasses in World Domination, Sinister Science and Fighting with Flames, he needs to prove to everyone he’s an evil genius. Now, if he can just survive till the end of term . . .
It just so happens I reviewed this one once upon a time. And it just so happens I’ll be reviewing book two on Monday…
It’s not quite done yet. My domain name doesn’t default to this new WP site yet. But it’s up and running. If you click here, you can see it. Looks remarkably familiar, doesn’t it?
The climax of Taylor Davis and the Flame of Findul takes place within the cone of Mount St. Helens, so I had to learn a bit about the mountain. It’s located in the southwestern corner of Washington state, in the Cascade Range, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Mount St. Helens is an active volcano that last erupted in 1980. I vaguely remember that hitting the news as a young kid.
To make my story work, I needed to become acquainted with the geological features surrounding the mountain and come up with the best way to approach it from sea. Fortunately, the Columbia River runs nearby with a tributary that practically runs over the mountain’s toes. The tributary, the Louis River, is dammed in three spots, forming three linked reservoirs. You can see them in the photo above. With a bit of imagination, this worked out very nicely for my plot.
Then I had to get my characters up the mountain. It just so happened that the reservoirs are on the south side of the mountain, not the north side that got blown to bits in the eruption, which made my characters ascent from the water much easier and more practical. In late April/early May, when this scene takes place, the most direct southern path to the peak is still closed, making it an ideal time to send my troops up (as no hikers would get in the way). I had to be aware of normal weather conditions, the trail’s physical condition, distance, and the length of time it might take to hike to the top. After that, my characters descend into the cone, which is strictly prohibited by law. Sorry, National Park Service, they went down anyway. Then my one-page journey to the center of the volcano felt much like an abbreviated version of one I traveled in a Jules Verne book last year.
It didn’t take long to track down all those details and turn them into written action. But like always, I got caught up in my research and in the story of the volcano’s last eruption. Did you know the mountain had been bulging for four weeks before it exploded? Sometimes at a rate of ten feet per day! Along with all the earthquakes hitting the area and the rumbles coming from the mountain’s belly, everyone knew she was going to blow. But the devastation was more than anyone could have imagined. I’m quoting from Wikipedia here:
Mount St. Helens is most notorious for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980, at 8:32 am PDT, the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed. A massive debris avalanche triggered by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, caused an eruption, reducing the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,365 ft (2,550 m) and replacing it with a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The debris avalanche was up to 0.7 cubic miles (2.9 km3) in volume.
The northern side of the cone was completely obliterated. The region has since been protected as the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument and provides a wealth of scientific data. (Interestingly enough, much of what’s been learned blows holes into geological evolutionary theory of millions of years and provides tremendous evidence for a catastrophic Flood.) The volcano remains active, and the way the region has rejuvenated is nothing less than amazing.
Here’s a 6-1/2 minute video on the eruption with some awesome slow motion footage of the blast.
Next week I should be announcing the release of Taylor Davis!
MMGM is a weekly meme hosted by middle grade author, Shannon Messenger.
Lewis does a great job creating different adventures within the Narnian series. Of all the installments, books one and two are probably the most alike. After that, characters begin to shift, settings change, and the plots vary widely. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, only the two youngest Pevensie children, Lucy and Edmund, make it back to the magical land. They reunite with Prince Caspian and bring with them their reluctant (and beastly) cousin, Eustace. And in this adventure, they embark on a voyage to the Very End of the World in the utter East.
Eustace, in my opinion, becomes the central character in this book, because he is the one who undergoes an astounding change. The others have already been proven worthy of their nobility in adventures past, but Eustace comes in a selfish, spoilt brat. When he wanders off from the others on one of the many islands they visit, he stumbles onto a dying dragon and shelters in its lair. Then follows the most symbolic event of the book: “Sleeping in a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.” It is only after Aslan cuts him free of his dragon skin that his personality begins to change for the better. It is something he could not accomplish without divine help.
As in the rest of the series, Christian allegory abounds. In fact, when Lucy and Edmund learn they are not to return to Narnia, they mourn that they will never see Aslan again. He assures them they will. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little while, you will know me better there.” One of my favorite things about the series is digging out these hidden meanings. And I love that these beloved characters pass on lessons of faith to my kids.
Yet the voyage is riveting enough to please any kid. Who wouldn’t want to set of on an old-fashioned sailing ship to explore uncharted waters? The children have all sorts of adventures. They’re sold as slaves, meet invisible adversaries, narrowly escape death in a pool that changes everything to gold. They meet former stars (as in heavenly bodies) in human form and solve a seven-year mystery. And at the very end, valiant Reepicheep, my favorite character, sails over the edge of the world just after they catch a glimpse of Aslan’s country beyond.
Interestingly enough, I liked the movie even better than the book. That doesn’t happen often. The writers stayed very true to the spirit of the book, and while the written version lags just a bit in the final chapters, the movie does not. But on the whole, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader holds its own in the Narnian series. I highly recommend it.
I haven’t indulged in a medieval castle image for a while. (I really need to get on Pinterest, don’t I?) This one is Dunluce Castle in County Antrim, Ireland, which dates to the Thirteenth Century. Isn’t it lonely looking? Can you imagine the pounding of the surf in a storm? What a great place to pack a picnic lunch, a blanket, and a good book–to be read after exploring the ruin, of course.