Lock and Key: The Downward Spiral

I’d been waiting for this book for months. Ridley Pearson had – against my will – made me fall in love with the characters of his first book and now I was desperately hoping that the sequel would appear soon. And appear it did, but not in the way I expected. The sequel popped up on the shelf of a Barnes and Noble, where it was torture to look at (if you’ve never felt the agony of having to walk past a copy of the book you’ve been waiting for and it’s RIGHT THERE! then you obviously don’t read twenty books a week. Oh wait…was that just me?). But finally the day arrived. There sat the book on the library shelf in its brand-new jacket sleeve and plastic, looking too beautiful for words. Yes! The day had finally arrived and I would finally find out what happened to the clever Moria, infuriating Sherlock, and conflicted James.

Oh, and by the way, if you’ve actually read this far, congratulations. I would’ve quit by now.

In this thrilling sequel to the original, we continue discovering the dark path of the Moriarty siblings James and Moria as they attempt to uncover the truth about their father’s death. Though they have now discovered where their family Bible lies, now their concern is to open it. And though Moria wants to share everything with her brother, she’s no longer sure she can trust him – or anyone else for that matter. When they realize that the only way to read their family Bible is through a treasured necklace, the hunt is on to find it, hindered by the mysterious society that finally has a mission for James. Betrayal, shock, and a lust for power lace through this side plot as James realizes he may be the cause of more pain than he realized. Through it all, Moria is confused about who to trust and who’s really on her side. Does her brother really owe his loyalty to this “Brotherhood”? Why are the Moriarty women all missing? And most importantly: why was her father killed?

Ridley Pearson has done it again with his sequel to the original, Lock and Key: The Downward Spiral. I found this one to be slightly less interesting, despite the fact that I was eager to read it. Moria’s character seemed to have much more emotion and middle-school girliness to her – and while I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, part of Moria’s character is to be a clever, cool-headed, resourceful adolescent who is girly but not necessarily childish. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the read. Sherlock seemed a tad less frustrating in this book, which is odd because I expected the opposite. In fact, most of my expectations were not met after I finished reading, a fact that is neither good nor bad.

Once more, I do want to warn parents: this book does have some “mild” cussing. So before handing this book to your middle-grader, you might want to sit down and read it for yourself.

Chime Time: What version of Sherlock Holmes can you not stand? Personally I like the Basil Rathbone and Robert Downey Jr. renditions, but I don’t consider the latter to truly be Holmes.

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The Adventures of a Writer in Training

When Cici grows up, she’s going to be a writer, she just knows it. In fact, she’s started brainstorming images in her head right now! Cici’s got a nose for a good story, whether it’sabout the people in the small town she inhabits, the strange paint trails in the woods, or the strange “Mr. Mysterious” she sees walking by their treehouse every week. Even though her stories might get her into trouble, Cici’s willing to see them through to the end and follow her writer’s nose to find out the whole truth – like finding a zoo in the middle of the forest or discovering secret letters in the public library! There’s a whole world of stories to discover, but Cici’s got to remember that some of the most important stories are the ones that happen in the home. Lying to her mom and making her friends help her isn’t the best habit, even if it is in the pursuit of knowledge. Can Cici uncover the truth, patch things up with the people that matter most to her, and still accomplish her dreams? Knowing Cici, there’s going to be an interesting story behind that.

Written by Joris Chamberlain and illustrated by Aurelie Neyret, Cici’s Journal: The Adventures of a Writer in Training is a beautifully composed graphic novel that is definitely sure to be a fun read. I picked it up while at my local library (what else?) and was intrigued by the colorful illustrations, but most of all the main character, whose dreams match my own. The story in the graphic novel is clean, well-told, and very enjoyable. I was surprised by how quickly I got through this, though it’s not a particularly thick graphic novel (so for those of you who aren’t huge readers, this one’s still easy to pick through). Part of what I loved about this story is how much I see myself in the main character, but also just how lovable all of the characters are. Helped on by the colorful art, it’s hard not to grow attached to the curious Cici, sweet-tempered Lena, big-hearted Erica, wise Mrs. Flores, and Cici’s loving mom.

Before I close, I wanted to point out an issue that my father and I have both noticed with comics. It seems nowadays, like everything else, the content is not clean unless specified so, and this can be rather a disappointment. What content is created for “all ages”, as my father pointed out, is easily made to be purposely kiddy and young-age audiences. However, there are several companies whom I have noticed that produce comics that – while retaining children as the main characters – still are highly entertaining for readers of all ages. Publishers like First Second and Joe Books have produced such comics I love like The Nameless City, Mighty Jack, and Cleopatra in Space, which can and should be enjoyed by any age group.

Chime Time: What graphic novels or comics have you read that you find particularly enjoyable?

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Happy New Year!

It has been one great year, everybody. 2017 was definitely a year of changes. I took my first college classes, got a job, finished two more books, and am preparing for another college class starting rather soon in 2018. It’s been a crazy, hectic life and I’m so glad you could all be here with me as I grew, read some great books, and shared them with you.

There have been some great moments from 2017, whether it’s been takes on classic lit characters (such as The Great Shelby Holmes) or sequels to beloved originals (like Missy Piggle-Wiggle), you can never tell what reads have been waiting to discover. And with so many great books already on my waiting list, 2018 is sure to be chock-full of great reads too!

Before we close out to enjoy our New Year’s with family – or just to sleep off all the sparkling cider inhaled – I wanted to take a moment to pray over the year ahead and to thank God for the year behind:

“Dear heavenly father,

Thank you for all you’ve given me over 2017. This is has been such an incredible, amazing year. You’ve blessed me beyond belief and I’m so grateful. Thank You for all the crazy and terrifying changes that have made my life what it has been; thank You for all the opportunities I thought I would fail. Please lay Your hand upon this nation, this people, and this world as we go into a new year. Bless us and help us to keep our eyes fixed on You. In Jesus’ name, 

Amen.”

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Tis the Season – Day 29

Merry Christmas season everyone! To celebrate all the holiday festivities, every day in December I’m posting a review on a Christmas book. I hope you all join me this December to enjoy some fun and seasonal cheer.

On the most holiest of nights, long, long ago, everyone lay asleep. Everyone, but one man, who is left awake pondering how he can raise the King of Kings. In Geraldine McCaughrean and Fabian Negrin’s Father and Son: A Nativity Story, she attempts to look into the mind of Joseph and speculate as to what his thoughts were. How could he be a hero to the Hero of the world? How could he teach Him who knew all? How could he instruct Him who had taught man what good and evil was? This book truly delves into the dilemma of a parent attempting to raise the most significant person in the universe.

I found this book to be very interesting. Personally it was a point of view that I’d never read before and enjoyed exploring. The struggle in Joseph’s mind as he tries to determine what he can do for the baby Jesus is one I enjoyed reading as it gave me pause. The book ends with Joseph determining the best thing he can give, a decision that led to a discussion between me and my father about what we as humans can gift He who gave us everything. I suggest you pick up this book to read with your kids if you want a great conversation-starter.

 

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Tis the Season – Day 29

Merry Christmas season everyone! To celebrate all the holiday festivities, every day in December I’m posting a review on a Christmas book. I hope you all join me this December to enjoy some fun and seasonal cheer.

On the most holiest of nights, long, long ago, everyone lay asleep. Everyone, but one man, who is left awake pondering how he can raise the King of Kings. In Geraldine McCaughrean and Fabian Negrin’s Father and Son: A Nativity Story, she attempts to look into the mind of Joseph and speculate as to what his thoughts were. How could he be a hero to the Hero of the world? How could he teach Him who knew all? How could he instruct Him who had taught man what good and evil was? This book truly delves into the dilemma of a parent attempting to raise the most significant person in the universe.

I found this book to be very interesting. Personally it was a point of view that I’d never read before and enjoyed exploring. The struggle in Joseph’s mind as he tries to determine what he can do for the baby Jesus is one I enjoyed reading as it gave me pause. The book ends with Joseph determining the best thing he can give, a decision that led to a discussion between me and my father about what we as humans can gift He who gave us everything. I suggest you pick up this book to read with your kids if you want a great conversation-starter.

 

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Tis the Season – Day 28

Merry Christmas season everyone! To celebrate all the holiday festivities, every day in December I’m posting a review on a Christmas book. I hope you all join me this December to enjoy some fun and seasonal cheer.

Charity can’t wait for Christmas when her papa’s special surprise will be unveiled. Clement doesn’t want to disappoint his children, but he’s not sure what he’s going to write about for his children. What should his surprise be? As he travels around a town preparing for the best holiday of all, he is inspired to write a poem that his children will love. In 1822, Clement C. Moore completed and gifted his children his beloved poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. This book explores the origins of the classic tale with colorful illustrations and easy-to-follow storytelling. Brenda Seabrooke and Delana Bettoli have produced a truly enjoyable Christmas read that is sure to interest anyone who has ever wondered about the tale behind the line, “Twas the night before Christmas.”

I really enjoyed this read, as Clement C. Moore’s poem is, to me at least, a quintessential part of the season. I enjoyed this one while hacking up a lung on the couch – yup, I’m still sick. Here’s hoping I get over it by the time New Year’s rolls around…

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Tis the Season – Day 27

Merry Christmas season everyone! To celebrate all the holiday festivities, every day in December I’m posting a review on a Christmas book. I hope you all join me this December to enjoy some fun and seasonal cheer.

Santa and Joe have a great relationship. Joe is very specific with what he wants and Santa always complies. Like with the fire-engine-red car he wanted a few years ago and Santa came through…mostly. But this year, Joe was very, very specific. What he wants this year most of all is a penguin! And on Christmas Day when Joe gets his penguin, Osbert, he couldn’t be happier! That is, he’s happy until he realizes how hard it is to be a best friend and companion to someone who loves the freezing cold, pickled fish for breakfast, and ice-cold baths. So Joe writes one more letter to Santa to thank him for listening to what he wants – and to fix everything up for Osbert just right in his new home.

My Penguin Osbert is a really fun book to read. Written by Elizabeth Cody Kimmell and illustrated by H.B. Lewis, this story will be fun for kids to read, especially if they harbor some imaginative Christmas wishes themselves. The narrative is cute and easy to follow and the pictures are colorful and childlike. Pick up My Penguin Osbert for some winter laughs before the end of the holidays!

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Tis the Season – Day 26

Merry Christmas season everyone! To celebrate all the holiday festivities, every day in December I’m posting a review on a Christmas book. I hope you all join me this December to enjoy some fun and seasonal cheer.

We all know the pain of losing a loved one and how hard finding things to celebrate can be after they are gone. The Christmas Thingamajig tells the story of a small family as they try to find the joy of Christmas after Chloe’s grandma is no longer around to spend it with them. Though Grandpa is still around, it’s not the same without Grandma’s goofy traditions and all her old “thingamajigs” that she can make out of anything. Chloe can’t bear being in the same house and trying to make Christmas when Christmas won’t ever be the same again – that is, until Grandpa shares a lesson on what it means to let go of the people we love while still remembering all the best times shared.

 

Written sweetly by Lynn Manuel and illustrated quaintly by Carol Benioff, The Christmas Thingamajig is a great story to share with children when going through a loss or just discovering what it means to make new traditions. I liked the way the tale was told and found the ending to be satisfying and bittersweet. I recommend having a laugh-out-loud book to read after you finish this, as you might find yourself feeling a little sad and sentimental after finishing.

Chime Time: What’s your best pick-me-up after reading something sad?

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Merry Christmas!

May the good Lord bless and keep you this holiday season. No matter where you are, I hope He is in your thoughts and that you remember the true reason for the season.

I pray that your Christmas would be merry and bright and that even if you are away from your family you are still blessed and surrounded by people who care for you.

“Glory to God in the highest, 

And on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

 

Merry Christmas!

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I Been Sick…

It finally happened. After weeks of surviving the coughing epidemic that my family seemed to be passing around, I thought I was doing pretty well. I thought I might even make it through without getting sick at all. And then it hit. This Friday I came down with it really bad and have spent the last couple day or so in bed. Unfortunately, that means that my December posts got interrupted. But never fear, I will be posting for the rest of the month! For now though, I’m going to swallow another couple pills, force down another bowl of chicken soup (which gets old fast when that’s your only meal option), and pass out on the couch to a Christmas classic. Hopefully when I wake up Christmas Day, I’ll feel much better…

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