#899 The Ruby Moon by Trisha Priebe and Jerry Jenkins

The Ruby Moon by Trisha Priebe and Jerry JenkinsThe Ruby Moon by Trisha Priebe and Jerry Jenkins

In the kingdom, strange things are going on. Teenagers, thirteen-year olds to be precise, are disappearing. One day a kid is there, the next, they’re not. The Olympiads are coming up. The winner of the run will get a private audience with the ailing king. Avery finds out her friend is the son of the king. Currently, the king has no heir and Avery’s friend could be just the ticket.

There are strange circumstances surrounding the first queen and her child. She disappeared, or something.

Avery decides to run in the race even though girls aren’t allowed. Meanwhile more teenagers disappear and others decide to go and live underground. Will the sick king find out about his son? What will happen to Avery?

What I liked

The whimsy in this book is nice. I could tell this wasn’t meant to be a real time or place. There is definitely a lot of intrigue going on here.

What I didn’t like

I obviously missed a book. I would have liked to have known what the deal with thirteen-year olds was. I’m guessing it’s because the lost heir would be thirteen? I’m not sure.

I kind of feel this idea of the Olympiads is out-of-place in this book. I feel like this is a middle ages type of setting, but yet, the Olympics, which is a Greek thing, has a part in the book. More over, the event is something like the 800 yard dash, which is a modern Olympic event. Sure, maybe people in feudal middle ages kingdoms did compete in running, but it doesn’t seem like a real thing. This is, of course, a fiction work, so maybe it doesn’t matter at all.

Overall

The queen is out to get a teenager’s  head, better hope you don’t end up dead.

Weigh in

Have you read any books in this series?

Would you run a race you weren’t supposed to run because of your gender?

#895 The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Paul has told his  daughter some strange stories involving Dracula and a book. One day, Paul goes out, again, in search of something. As the story unfolds, we learn that Paul found a strange book. It was old and had no business being in the library. Paul goes to see his professor, a man named Rossi, to seek an explanation for the book. It’s about vampires alright, the Dracula, or Vlad Tepes, is the central figure in this story. Is he really dead? Are vampires real?

This is the last intellectual session Paul has with his professor because he just up and disappears one night, the professor not Paul. Paul plans to go off to Europe in search of his professor, but meets a woman named Helen. She says she is Rossi’s daughter. Yet more of the story comes out. Rossi had been in Europe and had met a beautiful young woman with a green dragon imprinted on her skin. It’s said the family is descended from Vlad. Rossi has to go on to other adventures in his historian life, leaving his lover alone in Europe.

As Helen and Paul find out more, stranger and stranger things keep happening. A scary librarian starts to tail the couple. They dig through documents. They visit other countries. They get chased down. Something develops between Helen and Paul. The mystery of Dracula is not solved with their trip though and the idea of him still lingers over the family, years later.

What I liked

This was my second attempt to read this book. I started, years ago, before I was ever married, when I was still in college, when I still worked at the nursing home. I tried. I tried valiantly to get into this book, but I never finished it. I carried around my copy, from move to move, until I donated several hundred books to a couple selling books to raise money for an adoption back in 2015. The book just didn’t grab my attention then, which is strange seeing as I’ve been all over some Dan Brown, which is quite similar to this book. I was able to finish the book this time, though; listening to it helped.

I do really like the history in this book. Elizabeth did her research, a lot of it. She got all that weird crap about Dracula correct. He was a warlord. He was considered a hero to an extent. He did impale people. His grave really was empty. He really did build churches. Apparently, he thought God would be cool with him impaling people as long as he made churches in return. While he was a savvy man in the political and war arenas, he was not a nice man.

This book did have that Dan Brown feel to it, which makes it intellectually stimulating.

What I didn’t like

I don’t believe in vampires. I don’t believe Dracula is alive somewhere or that he’s amassing a personal library and stealing scholars to tend to it. While the history surrounding Dracula is absorbing, I feel that a book suggesting Dracula is real, presented in a real-world manner, is a bit much. It’s not my cup of tea.  Really, Dracula is out there, as a vampire, sucking blood, and stuff?

Overall

If you find a strange book at the library, you kind of have to read it.

Weigh In

Could someone ever convince you that Dracula is alive and well?

What do you think about historical thrillers? Yeah or nay?

#893 What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire

What the Dickens by Gregory MaguireWhat the Dickens by Gregory Maguire

What the Dickens finds himself alive and names himself “What the Dickens.” He’s not sure what he is or why he’s here. He meets a white creature, he finds out is a cat named McCavity. He gets befriended by a mama bird who thinks he might as well learn to fly. He falls down a chimney and meets and old woman. At one point, he meets another creature like himself. Her name is Pepper. She explains to him that he is a Skibberee.

The Skibbereen fly around collecting teeth, which they plant in the ground, which become candles, which become wishes. Pepper calls herself an Agent of Change. What the Dickens finds out that life isn’t so easy. There are rules in place and societal expectations. Sometimes, someone else can get in trouble for something you did and it’s not fair. What the Dickens knows he has to help Pepper complete her task. He comes to find out that he has a special ability that the other Skibberee don’t possess. He’s still not sure where he came from, but he does find a place to be.

This story is all told by Gage, a cousin watching over his younger cousins during a terrible storm when people were supposed to have evacuated.

What I liked

This book was really fun. I’ve never really thought about the origins of the tooth fairy before. It is a bit of a strange custom. I’m not even sure it’s practiced outside of the United States. All cultures have their customs surrounding growing-up mile-markers, but I’m not sure how many of them make a big deal out of losing a tooth.

I never believed in the tooth fairy. I knew it was my mom. I was a fairly skeptical kid as far as things like the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Clause goes, which is awfully weird, considering how much I like stories about similar things. I’m a bit of a skeptic at heart I guess.

I like that Gregory created this entire world and mythology surrounding the tooth fairy. I don’t think I would have thought up the idea to create an entire race of little creatures with societal problems and external enemies that also happen to be tooth fairies. Good job, Gregory.

I love folklore and ghost stories. The Skibberee part of this book feels like folklore.

The main concept of this book is that someone is telling children a long story. I think we’ve fallen away from telling stories, orally, which is sad, because it’s a great thing. There’s nothing quite like sitting around, huddled close, listening to a story that unfolds as the minutes tick by. You can’t find the story anywhere else; you have to get it from the story-teller, so it’s in everyone’s best interest if you sit quietly and listen.

What I didn’t like

I was a bit concerned as to why these children were left in a house during a storm in which everybody evacuated, except them. There was also a bit of religious fanaticism going on, it feels like. If the government calls for an evacuation because of a storm, you should probably go. I also don’t like the idea of religious fanaticism.

Overall

Gather ’round, let’s listen to a story about the tooth fairy.

Weigh In

Did you ever believe in the tooth fairy?

What would you do if you had to hole up for a long storm?

#885 The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White

The Sword in the Stone by T.H. WhiteThe Sword in the Stone by T.H. White

Wart lives in a small castle, where he knows that his name isn’t really Wart; it’s Art, and he’s not a true son of the man who lives there. Despite not being a true son and all, Wart does fairly well for himself. He does have tasks to complete, but everyone treats him kindly, for the most part. He even gets a tutor at one point, which he finds on his own. The tutor happens to be a strange man, who happens to also be a wizard, who happens to be named Merlin. It seems like Merlin moves in right away to start tutoring Wart and Kay, who is destined to be a knight.

Merlin’s tutoring isn’t of the normal kind of tutoring. He turns Wart into other creatures, like a fish, where he learns some of the ways of fish. Wart spends many hours in Merlin’s hut where there is a mustard pot that moves by itself and an owl named Archimedes who can talk. Merlin does appear and disappear from time to time, appearing in strange fashions that won’t come around for many more years.

At some point, the king dies and a rumor reaches the castle. There is a sword, in a stone, in London. Whosoever can pull it out will be the next king of England. Wart gets to go along with the whole castle so Kay can compete in competitions and try to pull the sword out of the stone, but what happens is something nobody expected.

What I liked

I have never read this book before, but I love it. I’ve seen the Disney movie, which is great in, and of, itself. I was so pleasantly surprised to find that the movie stuck really closely to the book, maybe not exactly, but you wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if you read the book first and then went to see the movie. I just wasn’t expecting the book to be this good.

Of course, this is a story based in Arthurian Legend, which I am not an expert in. This book is meant to be a funny poke at King Arthur’s childhood. There are some modern elements mixed in with a very old time period, which is fun. I’m pretty sure people weren’t singing God Save the King way back in the year 1000, or whenever Arthur was supposed to have lived. People didn’t even speak English, as we know it, then, so the words would have been a lot different, had the song existed then.

There is a lot of humor in this book. It is light-hearted, but there are also serious issues. We’re talking about a kid who may, or may not, have become a king at a very young age. The responsibility was bestowed upon him by some other-worldly realm. He didn’t get to make the decision himself. He never expected it though. We’re talking about a child who thought he might be a squire, at best, in his life, becoming the king of England, in essence we’re talking about someone who rose to greatness and was humble about it.

The illustration on the particular book cover I have chosen for this post looks like an Arthur Rackham, which is also a thing to like.

What I didn’t like

I really enjoyed this book so I don’t really want to pick at it.

Overall

This was a delight.

Weigh In

Did you enjoy the movie, The Sword in the Stone, growing up?

If you turned out to be something really important in society, would you believe it?

#879 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Curious Case of Benjamin vButton by F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Mr. Button had expected a regular baby, but when he arrived at the hospital, he found an old man instead. Everyone assured him that the old man was in fact his child. They were more than ready for him to take his child and leave. No one had ever heard of such a thing and they were all personally offended by the birth of Benjamin Button.

No one asked about the logic of the situation or biological possibility of such a thing. Benjamin was taken home, where he whined about the state of the world, smoked cigars, and generally spent his time with his grandfather lamenting about the state of the world like the two grumpy old Muppets on The Muppets Show.

As Benjamin grew, it appeared he was getting younger. When he was near twenty, he got married to a woman of the same age, though they didn’t look the same age. They had a son, who aged normally. Benjamin went to college and joined the military. The older he got in years, the younger he continued to look.

He got younger as his life got older. He had the experience of life, with the body of a young man, then a boy. When he was old and when he was young, both periods seemed to make him disregarded by society.

What I liked

This is an interesting thought question isn’t it? What if you lived your life in reverse, age wise? How would people treat you?

As Benjamin found out, he garnered almost the same lack of respect as a child and as an old man; it doesn’t matter that he did it backwards. People still disregarded him. This story proves that only the prime of life seems to be taken seriously. This is an interesting observation about how we treat people.

We think children don’t have enough experience to have worthwhile opinions and we often think the experience the elderly has is too out-of-date to be relevant.

What I didn’t like

This was sad. I feel as if Benjamin watched the whole world flow by without being able to participate normally.

I feel that Benjamin’s distaste for his wife when she gets older is awful. Everyone​ ages. You’re not allowed to get tired of your spouse just because they got some grey hair and wrinkles.

Overall

I thought this was an interesting story with interesting thoughts about how we treat people at different ages.

Weigh in

Do you feel you weren’t taken seriously as a child?

Do you feel like the elderly people in your life aren’t taken seriously?