Book Review: A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett


This sequel to The Wee Free Men continues the adventures of Tiffany Aching, the young witch of Discworld’s chalk downs, and her determined escort of tiny, red-headed, blue men who love fighting, stealing, and the drink: the Nac Mac Feegle, also known as Pictsies. A couple of years have passed. Tiffany continues to make good cheese, visit the home of her deceased Granny (who was the witch of the downs before her), and squirm under the awkward ... Read More »

Book Review: Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors (Children of the Red King, Book Four) by Jenny Nimmo


As he begins his second year at Bloor’s Academy, Charlie finds himself floundering with confusion – like a first-year all over again! One of the reasons is that Manfred Bloor, late head boy, is back as a teaching assistant, and his equally nasty stooge, Asa Pike, has also returned (to repeat a year). Another reason has to do with the delicate balance among the handful of magically endowed students at Bloor’s, which has begun to ... Read More »

Book Review: Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy (Children of the Red King, Book Three) by Jenny Nimmo


Still in his first year at Bloor’s Academy, Charlie has already found another innocent person who needs help. Once again, this means staking his life and those of his friends against an evil plan by the Bloor family and Charlie’s own Yewbeam aunts. This time, the victim is a boy who disappeared the year before Charlie came to Bloor’s. Nosy Ollie Sparks didn’’t really leave the school, as everyone had thought; he was still living ... Read More »

Book Review: Charlie Bone and the Time Twister (Children of the Red King, Book Two) by Jenny Nimmo


In his second term at Bloor’s Academy, Charlie continues to develop his gift for finding trouble (and leading other kids – even older ones – into it as well). He also, by the way, develops his gift for talking with people in pictures. Unlike Harry Potter’s world, being able to chat with people in paintings isn’t a common magical gift! And unlike Hogwarts, Bloor’s isn’t a warm, safe place where a child can foil a ... Read More »

Book Review: Midnight for Charlie Bone (Children of the Red King, Book One) by Jenny Nimmo


This popular series, which, as of this writing, runs four books strong, should appeal very strongly to Harry Potter fans. Its hero is a messy-haired little boy who never knew his father and who discovers at age 10 or 11 that he has a magical gift. As a result, Charlie is enrolled at a school where other “endowed” children study, eating at house tables below the staff at their head table, and sleeping in draughty dormitories. The ... Read More »

Book Review: Red Unicorn by Tanith Lee


The third book in the series that begins with Black Unicorn and Gold Unicorn begins with a refreshing summary of the first two books. Then, it plunges quickly into a new tale featuring the young sorceress Tanaquil and her talking pet peeve. Tanaquil has returned to the castle of her enchantress mother, Jaive, heartsick and dissatisfied with everything. To start with, the wizard Worabex has moved in with Jaive and brought so many changes to the familiar, magic-ridden fortress. ... Read More »

Book Review: Black Water (Pendragon, Book Five) by D. J. MacHale


As the Pendragon series continues, the battle of Bobby Pendragon and his fellow Travelers against the time-and-space-hopping demon, Saint Dane, grows more and more intense. I hope I’m not going to ruin The Reality Bug for you right now but…well, there’s something about knowing that Bobby Pendragon can lose, and Saint Dane can win, that “ups the ante” on the suspense. Not only does Bobby’s imperfect record of wins vs. losses mean that anything can happen, but now, in ... Read More »

Book Review: The Surgeon’s Mate by Patrick O’Brian


Here is the seventh of twenty novels in a series of adventures in historical / naval fiction that inspired the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. As in the other books, this one views the Napoleonic wars from the eyes of experienced Royal Navy Captain “Lucky” Jack Aubrey, and his best friend, ship’s surgeon and intelligence officer, Dr. Stephen Maturin. The action picks up where The Fortune of War left off, with the pair ... Read More »

Book Review: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien


This book was the basis for the MGM/UA animated movie The Secret of NIMH. It (the book, not the movie) won the Newbery Medal in 1972. The main character is Mrs. Frisby, a widowed field mouse who, with her two sons and two daughters, lives under a tree in a meadow in the summer, and inside a cinder block in a farmer’s field in the winter. As the story opens, the time for moving out of ... Read More »

Book Review: The Reality Bug (Pendragon, Book Four) by D. J. MacHale


Suppose you’re Bobby Pendragon. Suppose you’re a fifteen-year-old, suburban basketball star whose life has been turned upside down. Your family has disappeared, your home has vanished, all trace of your existence has been erased, and you have been launched into a dangerous, deadly-serious adventure through time and space, in which the fate of ten worlds depends on stopping the evil plans of the shape-changing, demonically clever Saint Dane. Suppose you have watched some close friends ... Read More »