The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of …etc.

I finally read a book from the Cybils shortlist! Can you believe it? We’re almost nine months into 2017 and I think it’s my first. Ugh. Oy. I miss YA, middle grade, and children’s fiction. Sigh.

Worse yet, I did not love The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice. In fact, I came close to saying I hated it. TW read it first and when I asked her how it was, she said it was “OK” but she made that face that means she didn’t/doesn’t like something. I see now why she felt that way.

I wanted to love it. It’s a CYBIL for goodness sake. I liked the kids, I liked the dragon and the goblin and even the ogre. The bad guys were well-written bad guys. But… the slavery storyline.

I understand why the author decided to write this (sort of) but I just kept picturing some middle school or late elementary school kid reading this and I do not think it was the right story. It certainly wasn’t the right ending. I mean do we really want to teach kids that the white powerful man only abolishes slavery because it won’t have any negative effect on his wallet or his kingdom because his kingdom doesn’t really have slaves anyway? (Yes, I know this is actually fairly true but the way it was told in the story actually celebrated the King’s decision without pointing out the problems with his decision. It’s a very shallow dive into this very complex issue.)

Also, the whole part of the story where the progressive white girl and the goblin (ugh) had to explain to the slave boy why slavery was bad and convince him (trick him?) into believing he shouldn’t be a slave boy. Really? We really need to perpetuate the idea that slaves liked being slaves and without the benevolent white folks dragging them out of slavery they’d still be there?

OK I didn’t mean to write all of this… clearly, since it’s a jumble. I could write more but I won’t because … whatever.

The adventure was fun. The kids, the dragon, the goblin, (and even the ogre) were fun. If you could strip out the underlying badly told aspects about slavery it would be a terrific book.

The Book Jumper

Well, The Book Jumper was a disappointment.

I’m a fan of book jumping stories, I LOVE THURSDAY NEXT, but this one was a mess from beginning to end. The plot was a muddle. The characters were pretty unlikable (except the real book characters.) The whole thing was just a let down, from start to finish. I had such high hopes — and maybe that was the problem?

Whatever.

Two Non-Fiction

I picked up P.S. You’re Invited because why not? I’ve read the blog a few times and I’m always looking for fun DIY books. This wasn’t fun. At least not for me. It was just boring.

What wasn’t boring was 100 Weekend Projects Anyone Can Do. I’m not sure anyone can do them but I sure would like someone to do a bunch of them around here.

The Whole Town’s Talking

I generally like Fannie Flagg. I also liked the other Elmwood Heights books so I thought I’d be perfectly happy reading The Whole Town’s Talking. Turns out, not so much.

I hated the style of the book. I hated that we didn’t get more of the early settlers and their early lives and instead got… what we got. (No, I won’t spoil it for you in case you don’t take my advice and decide to read it.) I absolutely hated the ending (and the only reason I kept reading it was to see what happened to the folks up on the hill. Ugh.)

I also found the conservative messaging to be more than I could stomach — at the end it got to be a lot MUCH.

Don’t waste your time on this one.

2 Cybils Non-Fiction

There was a time when I never quit a Cybils book but this year, I’ve quit two. The most recent, Symphony for the City of the Dead was… I just couldn’t read it. I tried, I really did. TW read the whole thing, and I give her props for that. I cannot imagine any kid reading this who didn’t have to. (Unless he/she had some great fondness for Russian history or Shostakovich, I guess.) Ugh.

Thankfully, Bayard Rustin: Invisible Activist was better. In fact, it was excellent. Everyone should read this one.

Three Graphic Novels

Let’s see… which graphic novels (all Cybils shortlisters) did I read? Oh yea…

Courtney Crumrin: Volume 7 … hated it. Didn’t finish it. At first, I thought it was because I’m way behind on this series, (I think the last one I read was 4), but based on the reviews — a whole lot of series fans just didn’t like this one. I’m glad it wasn’t just me.

Next, Dragons Beware!. I love Claudette and her friends. Absolutely love them.

Last, but not least, Baba Yaga’s Assistant was really good. I didn’t expect much from it, I’m not a very big Baba Yaga fan, so this really exceeded expectations.

The Photographer’s Wife

I should have quit The Photographer’s Wife. I didn’t care about a single one of the characters. It moved so darn slowly that I just couldn’t stick with it for more than a chapter at a time. Ho hum.

Eat the Year

Besides being a book written by a blogger, Eat the Year, is a book about weird food holidays. I’m a sucker for weird food holidays. So obviously, I had to pick up this book.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the first few pages. This was not the book I wanted it to be.

As someone who spent years talking to people about food holidays, on message boards, I was hoping for so much more than this. I told TW that this is the book that she and I should have written together… we could have nailed this topic, darn it.

Four Graphic Novels

I’m only about a month late but I’ve started the whole Cybils shortlist thing and am slowly making a dent in the list. Graphic novels were a good way to dive in.

El Deafo was excellent. Really. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it — so much hype around it! But, it was well deserved hype.

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Good Boy, sigh. I just don’t like Bad Machinery. I don’t get why everyone else does. This one was better than the last one I read (or tried to read) but I had to force myself to get through this one, too. If it makes the Cybils next year, I’m just not going to read it. Blah.

Gaijin: American Prisoner of War — I liked it. The art was excellent.

Bird & Squirrel on Ice was super cute. I particularly like Sakari and her role in the story.

Conjured

Gah. If Conjured had not been on the Cybils shortlist, I never would have finished it. I hated this darn book.

The idea of it was good. The ending of it was good. The first half (if not more) was so damn slow and repetitive that I was cursing it pretty much nonstop.

Eve is in a witness protection program. She has memory loss. A lot of memory loss. The agents guarding her want her to tell them… something… what, nobody knows because the author doesn’t tell us and Eve has memory loss. Eve can do magic and when she does, she blacks out. When she wakes up, days (weeks? months?) have passed and she’s apparently been awake and interacting with society but she can’t remember anything that’s happened at all.

Rinse and repeat. Over and over and over for a good 1/2 of the book. That’s pretty much all that happens. And it’s annoying. By the time the story started moving, I was so disgusted that I barely wanted to finish. But I did. It was hard but I did it.

I hate books like this. Move a little more quickly or give us some reason to keep reading the slow mess at the beginning. Do not make a book for kids a struggle to read. Stupid.