Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Sting the Scorpion Man (Beast Quest, #18) by Adam Blade



The good Beasts of Avantia have been imprisoned in the kingdom of Malvel the evil wizard. Tom has already fought five terrible Beasts and is nearing the end of his Quest. But in order to achieve victory, Tom must navigate through the tunnels under Malvel’s castle, where Sting the Scorpion Man awaits.


I’m finally there: the last Beast Quest book I ever intend to read, Sting the Scorpion Man. Amusingly, this one actually got a bit interesting, but thankfully not enough to convince me to go any further with this series; I know how that would work out, and I’m not interested.

So, what happened in this book? I’m feeling creative today, so let’s start what I’ll be calling The Fall of Seth, or Malvel Finally Grows a Pair. For the first time in the 18+ Beast Quest books I’ve read so far, Malvel finally did something unexpected and legitimately villainous. Tom and Elenna find Seth “sprawled on the ground and riddled with arrows”; when they try to save him, he tries to shove the arrows back in and screams that they should have left him to die. And, frankly, he’s right, because as soon as it’s clear that he won’t be bleeding out any time soon, he goes full Baleful Polymorph and transforms into Sting, the scorpion-centaur thing on the cover above. And honestly, it’s pretty genuinely tragic; definitely the first time I’ve felt anything close to an actual emotion while reading these books. Seth-as-Sting doesn’t even want to fight the heroes–he actually tells Elenna to just go away at one point–and does so only because he doesn’t have another choice. And uncharacteristically for the series, he truly suffers for it; Tom friggin’ maims him–cutting off his new body’s stinger to get the magic friggin’ amethyst that’s there for some reason, which has the power to draw doorways into walls, apparently–and keeps hunting the poor bastard even after they’ve already rescued Cypher.

Can we just take a second to reflect on that? I’ve been saying since about book seven that this whole “kill all the monsters!” mindset of Tom’s is frankly disturbing, given that there’s ample evidence that these creatures are sentient and may or may not even be working for Malvel of their own free will. But no, they’re not the Avantia Beasts, so they get no second chances; they must all die. Even, apparently, when they’re unwillingly transformed humans. Child humans.

Tom is just the best little hero, isn’t he?

On the other end of the spectrum, Malvel stepped up his game in the most abrupt way I’ve ever seen, going from zero to sixty in the span of a single chapter; his plan was to take advantage of Tom’s “good heart” to turn Seth into a monster (if Tom hadn’t pulled out the arrows to “help”, Seth would simply have died). But Malvel is finally acting like an intelligent and genuinely cruel villain instead of a guy who spends all his time twirling his mustache and cackling evilly while the pretty blonde is tied to the train tracks. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Tom couldn’t possibly care less; even as Seth begs for Malvel to undo the transformation, Tom’s behavior makes it clear that he doesn’t give a single fuck. He’s gonna kill Seth because now Seth is a Beast, and I guess that’s enough for him.

…pretty sure that makes Tom a villain, too. Isn’t he supposed to be saving people?

But no, he’s entirely focused on his endgame: saving Cypher. Except he’s that’s utter nonsense, because as soon as he gets an inkling that there are some clues to his Daddy Drama about, suddenly that’s important too. Because tracking down a dead guy is much more important than rescuing a living one. Nevermind that the clues lead nowhere and are clearly just a sequel hook.

At this point, there’s only one thing I really care about in this book: it’s the end of the Dark Realm series, and I’m free. Free to put Beast Quest behind me and forget about all the questions Blade left unanswered. (What happened to Tom’s dad? Are Malvel and Seth still alive after the Gorgonian castle collapses? What’s Kerlo’s deal? Are the rebels really “good” people, as Tom thought, or is he being tricked somehow, as Kerlo kept hinting?)

I’m not that curious anyway.


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Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Tusk The Mighty Mammoth (Beast Quest, #17) by Adam Blade



Tom is forced to follow Malvel’s latest evil Beast into the dreaded forests of the Dark Realm. Tusk the Mighty Mammoth is a massive Beast with a monstrously powerful trunk and two razor-sharp tusks.

But when Elenna is injured on the Quest, Tom is forced to make a choice. Can he save his companion and the good Beast, Ferno the Fire Dragon, from Tusk’s path of destruction.



Two more. There are two more Beast Quests to go before I’m finally done with this series, and I cannot wait. I seriously doubt I will ever have any interest in reading past The Dark Realm, and my reviews of these twenty Beast Quest books have become long lists of complaints now; and trust me, I don’t enjoy rehashing the same complaints over and over again… so I’ll do it one last time. (My review of the final The Dark Realm book, thankfully, will have a new slew of complaints to bemoan.)

I suppose my biggest complaint is not that the writing isn’t interesting. I can deal with repetitive and formulaic. Hell, some of my favorite childhood books–the A to Z Mysteries and The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series, for example–were both rather formulaic, with the same type of story happening in each book.

No, what kills me about Beast Quest is that while the plots are repetitive and oftentimes outright ignorant, the characters are bland and idiotic. The heroes are pathetic, and so are the villains.

On the side of the heroes, we have the main two, Tom and Elenna, and the supporting heroes, including Aduro the wizard and the six guardian Beasts of Avantia. Aduro, as the wannabe Dumbledore or Gandalf of the group, is absolutely useless. The only thing he’s really managed to do so far in these three series is get himself captured by Malvel. He’s utterly useless.

On the other end of the spectrum is Tom, who’s literally the only person in Avantia who is capable of doing anything. Except, of course, he’s a terrible Gary Stu and a pretty huge idiot on top of that. For one thing, he gains power-ups at the end of each book… but promptly forgets about them after acquiring them, and these are generally not useful except in extremely contrived circumstances. I mean, you’d think things like “inhuman strength” would come in useful, but Tom never actually demonstrates any after supposedly gaining that power. By this point, he has six Beast tokens/gifts, a suit of magical armor that he doesn’t actually have to wear to benefit from, and four magical gems–all of which have given special powers that he very rarely (maybe once or twice in a six-book series) uses. In this book, he gets a hunk of amber from Tusk that makes him a better fighter, whatever that means. Instead of using these power-ups, however, he uses the magical powers of insane luck and Invincible Hero Syndrome.

Elenna, his supposed human partner, is not so much a partner as a cheerleader. Elenna is what you get when you mix Tea Gardener with Mokuba Kaiba. She doesn’t actually help defeat the Big Bad, but she’s really good at getting kidnapped and/or incapacitated. She’s just there to be the obligatory female friend, but she’s always praised for her contributions to the quest. In Tusk the Mighty Mammoth, she gets to play doctor with the womenfolk while Tom goes off the save the day. She’s an A+ action girl, alright.

Then there’s the Beasts. They’re six huge, terrifying monsters tasked with protecting Avantia from the forces that seek to harm its citizens… but they don’t actually do much. In Beast Quest, they were all enslaved by Malvel and forced to attack their own people. In The Golden Armor, they managed to be a bit helpful by teaming up with Tom to destroy Malvel’s magically created Beasts. In The Dark Realm, they’re quickly kidnapped and imprisoned by Malvel, making Tom enter Gorgonia to rescue them. In other words, they’re super great at their jobs.

And then there are the minor characters of The Dark Realm, the Gorgonian rebels. After hints throughout the series that these people might not be the “good guys” that Tom thinks they are–Kerlo, the gatekeeper to Gorgonia, again tries to convince Tom of this in Tusk the Mighty Mammoth–they up and leave Gorgonia entirely in this installment. And, uh… great rebellion, guys. I seriously hope there is more than meets the eye to you people, because rebels who ditch their country at the first opportunity are kind of… well, not really rebels at that point.

And on the other hand, we have the villains, who are also pathetic. So far, there is one major villain and one minor villain–Malvel the wizard and his servant Seth, respectively. Seth is recurring character who doesn’t actually do much; mostly, he shows up and interferes with Tom’s inevitably successful attempts to defeat and/or save the book’s Beast(s). Even when he is briefly victorious (as in Vedra and Krimon), he is defeated by the end of the book. Kind of sad.

Then there’s Malvel. He’s been Tom’s archnemesis from the beginning, and I don’t know what the hell is up with him. He doesn’t seem to have an actual motive, and his actions so far seem to exist purely to give Tom something to do. He’s the kind of two-dimensional villain who does things because “he’s evil”. He’s the kind of two-dimensional villain who has nothing better to do than play with Tom. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

But I’m almost done. I’m almost done with this, and I can’t wait for it. I don’t care at this point; I’m not waiting around for improvement, because at this point I don’t expect to see any. So I’m checking out after one more book.

I cannot wait.


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Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Kaymon the Gorgon Hound (Beast Quest, #16) by Adam Blade



As the Quest to free all six good Beasts of Avantia from the Dark Realm continues, the evil Malvel uses all of his powers to stop Tom’s progress.

But our hero is relentless on his mission to save Tartok the Ice Beast. Even when faced with Kaymon the Gorgon Hound. Kaymon prowls the ruins of a forgotten castle and has a dangerous hidden ability. This will be Tom’s toughest battle yet!


So… Beast Quest. I’ve read sixteen so far, and I am definitely only reading two more. This series went from adequate but unimpressive to flat-out ridiculous fairly quickly, and by this point, I’m not seeing any redeeming qualities. The series has too many issues, including the following in Kaymon the Gorgon Hound:

First, Kaymon the Gorgon Hound contains another discrepancy, this time between the text and the interior illustrations. (Last time, it was between the back-cover blurb and the text of Spiros the Ghost Phoenix.) 
A “gorgon hound”, apparently, is a massive, dog-like creature that is able to self-replicate itself; it produces two duplicates in the book. However, the illustrations are of a Cerberus, or a three-headed dog. When I saw this, I had to double-check to make sure I wasn’t losing it; page 18 of ISBN-13 9780545200349 clearly states that Kaymon has three “bodies”, not one body and three heads. 
Somehow, this book managed to get to publication with an interior illustration that directly contracted the text. How in the fuck?
Second, Elenna is a horrible female character. The other characters and the tone of the novel act as if she’s an action girl, but the only thing she ever manages to do is get herself kidnapped, knocked out, injured, poisoned, etcetera–and it seems to happen earlier and earlier in each book. Every now and then she shoots an arrow or something, but it hardly ever does anything significant, and she certainly never gets to defeat the Beast herself.
Perhaps most infuriatingly, there is zero moral ambiguity. If you are on Tom’s side, you are “good”. If you are against Tom, you are “evil”. And let me tell you, this series loves throwing around the word “evil”. This is evil, that’s evil, even Kaymon’s howl just sounds evil, somehow. Things that kill, such as Kaymon the ambiguously enslaved Beast of Gorgonia, are definitely evil, according to Tom, which I suppose means he survives on air and bacteria-free water alone. Or, you know… maybe Tom’s just calling anyone and everything that opposes him “evil”. The Dark Realm and Kaymon specifically have brought a hint that perhaps there’s going to be some moral ambiguity in future books, but I’m certainly not sticking around for possibilities at this point.
The Dark Realm introduces Gorgonia and its rebels, while Kaymon introduces a mystery regarding the actual fate of Tom’s father. The rebels are hinted to be by a supporting character to be a grey faction, though there’s zero evidence to support this so far; Tom’s father, on the other hand… well, Tom doesn’t know what the heck his father was doing in Gorgonia, so it’s possible there could be something interesting there… but likely not.

By the end of this, I still just have to say that I can’t wait to be done with this series. I have some unanswered questions, but not the kind that I expect to be answered. How exactly does Tom know the sex of all these Beasts? Why is Malvel such a self-defeating villain? Where exactly are all these Beasts coming from; Malvel created the Golden Armor Beasts, but what about the rest?
But, honestly, I just don’t care. Kaymon ends with Tom getting a diamond from Kaymon’s collar that gives his shadow a life of its own, and an injured Silver is sent back to Avantia with Tartok; both of these things could be potentially interesting, but since this is Beast Quest, I know they won’t be.
I’m really looking forward to rereading Deltora Quest after finishing this nonsense. That’s what chapter book fantasy is supposed to be like!


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Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Narga the Sea Monster (Beast Quest, #15) by Adam Blade

After all the adventures so far, Tom and Elenna are more determined than ever to make their way through the Dark Realm and defeat the Evil Wizard Malvel.

But within the perilous Black Ocean lurks Narga the Sea Monster. Aside from preying on the rebels, Narga is holding Sepron the Sea Serpent hostage. Only Tom and his friends can bring an end to this evil Beast’s reign.



Narga the Sea Monster, the third book in the third Beast Quest series, The Dark Realm, actually introduces some new elements to the series. The Dark Realm takes place in Malvel’s realm instead of Avantia–hence the title–and Narga gives the reader a brief look at what life’s like for the people who live under Malvel’s rule. We get rebels in the form of new characters Odora and Dako, and there’s a bounty hunter named Jent whose mission is to capture Tom and Elenna so he can claim the reward of a thousand gold pieces that Malvel’s offering. So there’s something new, at least.

Other than that, it’s same old, same old. Most importantly, I continue to be incredibly annoyed with Elenna. She’s downright infuriating… or perhaps it’s simply the way the story treats her that’s infuriating. Elenna must be praised at all times. Elenna must only offer moral support and ideas. Elenna must never be genuinely helpful unless she’s acting as a Deus Ex Machina. When she makes baseless assumptions, of course she’s correct (though this applies to Tom, as well). When she is hurt, captured, or endangered–and it happens in damn near every book–Elenna cannot rescue herself; it is up to Tom to save her, defeat the Beast, and compliment her on her helpfulness afterward. It’s fucking insane.

Anyway, it ends with Tom receiving a sapphire that gives him perfect memory, and I’m willing to bet that’s going to create a fuckton of plot holes later. He’s already forgotten about most of his previous gifts, so I’m certainly not expecting anything else.


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Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Skor the Winged Stallion (Beast Quest, #14) by Adam Blade


As Tom and Elenna navigate the horrid terrain of Gorgonia, they quickly realize that nothing is what it seems to be. Each step brings them to another dangerous encounter.

But Tom won’t give up. Not when Epos the Winged Flame is being held captive somewhere in the Dark Realm and Malvel has created a wicked winged Beast of his own. With the help of his friends, Tom is determined to chase down the evil wizard and return all of the good Beasts back to Avantia.


There’s nothing new to say here, really. Skor the Winged Stallion is the second Beast Quest: The Dark Realm book, and it’s essentially the same as every Beast Quest book that’s come before it. It’s as formulaic and predictable as ever. It’s the same general plot with Skor the Winged Stallion taking the Beast role and the token Tom gets at the end being an emerald that heals broken bones. (Presumably they’ll use it once and then never again, like all the rest of their super duper power-ups.)
The only thing of importance that I can say is that this one references Vedra and Krimon: Twin Beasts of Avantia, and a particular scene of chapter six will make no sense if you haven’t read that book… which, since the series guide in the back of the book offers no indication of Vedra and Krimon‘s existence or where it should be in the chronology, is quite likely.
Beyond that, I’m just really not amused with this series, and I’m looking forward to being finished with it.


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Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Torgor The Minotaur (Beast Quest, #13) by Adam Blade


The good beasts of Avantia are in danger. They have been captured by six terrible new Beasts and taken to Gorgonia, kingdom of the evil wizard Malvel. To free the Beasts, Tom and Elenna must journey into the sinister Dark Realm.

There, Tom meets one of the deadliest creatures he has ever faced. Huge, with terrifying horns and a shining golden ax, Torgor the Minotaur will stop at nothing to serve his master. But Tom is determined to defeat the Beast, bringing him one step closer to victory over Malvel.


Torgor the Minotaur is the thirteenth Beast Quest book and the first in its third sub-series, The Dark Realm, which takes heroes Tom and Elenna to Gorgonia, Malvel’s kingdom. It also hits the reset button to a certain (odd) extent, as Tom cannot keep the magical armor he earned in the previous series, The Golden Armor… and yet his wizard friend, Aduro, says he gets to keep the power-ups it gives him??? Sure, why not. And, contrary to what I said in my first review, this is now definitely a series about slaughtering “evil” mythical creatures; this time, the excuse is that Tom and Elenna must kill these Gorgonian Beasts to save the Avantian Beasts.
It’s typical Beast Quest fare, without much else to speak off. Again, the universe conspires to make sure Tom doesn’t even remotely have to work for his victory, to the point that Malvel, the supposed antagonist, gives him a magical map to lead him directly to his objective. Because… I don’t know. I don’t think the ghostwriter knows either, really, other than that it’s a convenient way to explain how Tom so easily and quickly tracks down the Beasts.
Like usual, Tom gets a power-up in each of these books. In the original Beast Quest books, he got a token from each guardian Beast of Avantia; in the sequel, Golden Armor, he snagged a piece of armor in each installment; now, in Dark Realm, he gets a magic gemstone after defeating each Beast. (Feel free to insert your own “this ripped off Deltora Quest” joke here.) In Torgor, the titular Beast leaves behind a ruby that lets Tom speak to Beasts. Why does Torgor have such a gem? Who the fuck knows; presumably, Malvel gave it to him, because that’s exactly the kind of stupid thing Malvel–who’s consistently proven himself to be so idiotically helpful to Tom that if these writers have any self-awareness, they’ll reveal him to be a tempter-mentor a la Teen Titans‘ Slade to Robin–would do.
Anyway, I’m reading the next five books and then giving up on the series for good. I definitely don’t recommend reading these.


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Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Spiros the Ghost Phoenix (Beast Quest Special Bumper Edition, #2) by Adam Blade


The evil wizard Malvel has committed his worst crime yet–kidnapping Tom’s uncle and aunt. But before Tom can rescue them, he must endure the toughest chapter of his Quest so far. He must face a Beast the likes of which he has never seen: Spiros the Ghost Phoenix.

Tom’s journey will lead him to an unimaginable place–without the help of his animal companions Storm or Silver. Does Tom have the courage to save his uncle and aunt before it’s too late?


Alrighty… I’m going to say upfront that by this point in the series, I officially hate Beast Quest. (For some insight into why, you can check out my other Beast Quest reviews here.) I intend to read to the end of The Dark Realm because that’s what my library has in stock; after that, I’m finished and will likely never return to the series. I simply don’t care where Tom’s quests take him anymore; these books are just too beneath my expectations for me to waste any more time on them than that. That aside, on to my Spiros review.

The summary includes a ludicrous inaccuracy. “He must face a Beast the likes of which he has never seen: Spiros the Ghost Phoenix,” it reads, but that’s 100% false. Spiros the Ghost Phoenix is Tom’s ally in the fight against Nawdren the Black Phoenix. He doesn’t “face” Spiros; they team up.

To a lesser extent, the text itself contains what might not “technically” be an inaccuracy, but I’m definitely reading it as one. This special occurs after The Golden Armor, the second sub-series of the Beast Quest series, in which Tom faces six Beasts created by the antagonist; previously, he faced six Beasts that were supposed to be Guardians of Avantia but were enslaved by Malvel. Apparently there’s supposed to be some kind of grand distinction between these two sets of Beasts, because in Spiros, Tom states “I didn’t know there were any other Beasts”, meaning that he didn’t know there were more than the original six: Ferno, Sepron, Cypher, Tagus, Tartok, and Epos. Except, you know, he fought an additional six in the previous book, so it’s established that the ghostwriter Malvel can just pull more Beasts out of his ass whenever the need arises. So what the heck is Tom babbling about? Yes, he knew there were more than those six, and yes, he knew there could and likely would be more in the future. So he’s either an idiot or the Spiros ghostwriter wasn’t familiar with the main series plotline.

Nonsense and inaccuracies out of the way, the female characters are pathetic. Elenna, the only recurring female character until this point, is continuously praised for helping uber-competent Tom (seriously, he can recklessly lob a sword through the air in the direction of his own friends and family, and his aim will be magically perfect, in spite of the fact that he’s a preteen and shouldn’t even be able to lift a full-sized sword yet), but she never actually does anything other than get in trouble. (Faux action girl is faux!)

In Spiros, a new female character is introduced. I don’t believe she reappears in The Dark Realm, so perhaps she isn’t recurring… but she certainly is pathetic. A young girl, at first unnamed, is introduced, and she turns out to be the sister of Seth, the villain introduced in the previous special. She’s also a villain, and, to prove that her character is absolutely nothing more than a mini-Seth knock-off, she’s named Sethrina. I can’t even.

Other than that, it’s just your typical Beast Quest battle nonsense. Tom uses the Beasts as his own personal Pokemon team, defeats the villainous Beast without Elenna or his wizard mentor friend doing anything helpful, and then he heaps praise on Elenna because she’s such a strong female character or something. I don’t really care. It’s just laughably childish nonsense, both mindbogglingly repetitive and too simple to actually enjoy, and I’m a tad insulted on behalf of the audience. Seriously, compare the writing quality of this supposedly RL3 book to other popular books among kids eight and older: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Holes, etcetera. Even the original seven Deltora Quest books, which are similar in length to these Beast Quest stories, are much more intelligently written with actually strong characters and insanely superior world-building.

Seriously, if you’re thinking about picking these up for your little boy or girl, I really highly suggest trying Deltora Quest instead. Beast Quest pales in comparison to Emily Rodda’s series to the point of being damn near translucent.


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Waiting on Wednesday

[Waiting on Wednesday] December Dog (Calendar Mysteries, #12) by Ron Roy

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that
Spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.
The graphic above uses public domain clip art from Open Clip Art.

My choice for this week is December Dog (Calendar Mysteries, #12) by Ron Roy, which will be released September 23rd 2014 by Random House Books for Young Readers. Oddly, Goodreads has a blurb for December Dog despite lacking one for November Night. Here it is:

In the twelfth book of the Calendar Mysteries, an early chapter-book mystery series featuring the younger siblings of the A to Z Mysteries detectives, Bradley, Brian, Nate, and Lucy find a lost puppy on Christmas Eve. The poor dog was meant to be a present for someone. It has a ribbon with a tag around its neck, but the tag is ripped. Can the kids find out who bought the puppy or who was supposed to receive it?

Since I assume this is going to be the last Calendar Mysteries book, I expect that in addition to involving Christmas, it’s also going to at least mention the fact that Lucy is going to be moving back home. Or perhaps Roy will surprise me and continue the series for another twelve installments. I suppose it’s possible!

Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Kristy’s Big Day (The Baby-sitters Club, #6) by Ann M. Martin

Kristy’s mom is getting married, and Kristy’s a bridesmaid. The only trouble is, fourteen little kids are coming to the wedding, and they all need baby-sitters. Here comes the Baby-sitter’s Club!

Stacey, Claudia, Mary Anne, Dawn, and Kristy think they can handle fourteen kids. But that’s before they spend five days changing diapers, stopping fights, solving mix-ups, righting wrongs… and getting sick and tired of baby-sitting!

One thing’s for sure: This is a crazy way to have a wedding. But it’s a great way to have a lot of fun!


In Kristy’s Big Day, the BSC has been in business for nine months now; it’s the end of the school year / almost the start of summer, and the biggest thing on Kristy’s mind is her mother’s approaching wedding. If all goes according to plan, the Thomas-Brewer wedding will take place on the third Saturday of September, a month after Kristy’s thirteenth birthday. But since the book is about the wedding and takes place in June, it should come as no surprise to anyone that things are not going to go according to plan.

Before too many pages have passed, the wedding gets bumped up from months away to only two and a half weeks away, and the Thomas-Brewer clan have to scramble to make arrangements. Turns out, as the blurb says above, that the BSC is going to have their hands full for the week leading up to the wedding itself; they’re going to be taking care of fourteen children, including babies. They’ll be compensated–$600 to split between them–but… they’re also only twelve themselves, so it’s a daunting task. A task, one might argue, that five twelve-year-olds aren’t capable of handling. Except, of course, that these are the most organized, ambitious, and capable twelve-year-olds in the world, apparently. Hooray for fictionland.

What follows is a solid 150 pages of slightly older children caring for slightly younger children, and I have to admit that it doesn’t make for the most fascinating reading. There’s something a bit charming about it, but that might just be nostalgia on my part; I have no idea if someone who didn’t grow up reading The BSC would find these scenes even remotely interesting.

In the background to this marathon babysitting, there are a few elements more typical of a “recently blended family” plotline. The story gives some focus to the interactions between the soon-to-be stepbrothers and stepsisters (in order from eldest to youngest, these are Charlie Thomas, Sam Thomas, Kristy Thomas, David Michael Thomas, Karen Brewer, and Andrew Brewer); of note are a conversation between Kristy, Sam, and Charlie that boils down to “In what way is our stepfather our father?” and Andrew’s obvious need for some extra emotional support during such a life-changing event.

Personally, I liked the book. Like I said, it’s not the most interesting subject Martin ever covered, but the entire BSC series, including Kristy’s Big Day, has a certain charm to it that I really appreciate and definitely enjoy. It’s not a genre or even a subject I can say I’m fond of, but it’s fun nonetheless.

If you’re looking for MG, realistic fiction or chick lit, or some 80s/90s nostalgia, I definitely recommend giving The Baby-Sitter’s Club a chance, if you haven’t already.


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Miscellaneous

[Book Review] October Ogre (Calendar Mysteries #10) by Ron Roy


October is for Ogre…

There’s a haunted house in Green Lawn! For Halloween, the Shangri-La Hotel has been transformed into a haunted house guarded by an ogre. Bradley, Brian, Nate, and Lucy are ready for scary fun, but then they notice something strange. None of the kids who have gone into the hotel have come back out. What’s happening to all the kids? Ghosts and witches and ogres aren’t real… right?


If Calendar Mysteries is A to Z Mysteries for a younger audience, October Ogre is The Haunted Hotel for a younger audience. Once again, there’s a spooky mystery at the Shangri-La Hotel in Green Lawn, and this time, Bradley, Brian, Nate, and Lucy are on the case instead of Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose. The stakes of the mystery are suitably lower, given the difference between the ages (an age difference, I will point out, that is far less than the apparent difference in competence/maturity levels–make of that what you will); while Dink and his friends went ghost hunting and spying, Lucy and her friends are attending a Halloween party that gets a bit creepier than they anticipated.
Like the rest of the Calendar Mysteries books, it’s a casual mystery with some pretty low stakes–which isn’t to say that it isn’t an entertaining read. I imagine that for the target audience, October Ogre, will come across as a fun, spooky story perfect for Halloween (though if your small child is already a well-read horror fan, they’ll likely find the story tame). And if your child or student wants more, I definitely recommend checking out The Haunted Hotel, too.


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