TombQuest by Michael Northrop

Recently, I have been enjoying TombQuest by Michael Northrop. I started it a couple of weeks ago and am on the last book now. The story is sort of like Percy Jackson meets The Infinity Rings.

The story centers around Alex, a boy with a mysterious illness who is suddenly cured when his mother uses an ancient Egyptian artifact to save him. Unfortunately, while Alex is saved, his mother’s actions open a rift (for lack of a better word) that allows an old Order to return and gain strength. Before he knows it, Alex is and his friend Ren are in a fight to save the world, battling beings from ancient Egypt as well as human foes.

There are several aspects of this story that I like. First and foremost, I love the relationship that Alex has with his mother. He really respects her and loves her; he appreciates the sacrifices she makes for him. Second, I like Alex and Ren’s relationship. While they are good friends, they do have disagreements (in one book they have a pretty big argument.) Most of the time in stories, you find that best friends get along perfectly. This story shows you that you can be best friends, have an argument, realize you were wrong, forgive each other, and move on. Third, I like the emphasis on forgiveness. I can’t really say much about this without spoiling something. But not only do Alex and Ren forgive each other when they disagree, there is betrayal in this story and forgiveness. Fourth, I like how Michael Northrop infuses humor into the serious situations. I think it is cleverly done. By just adding a word or phrase, Mr. Northrop breaks up the tension just enough to take the edge out of the situation.

I am adding this to my list of “favorites” for pre-teens and adults with a childlike heart. I will caution that the author does not hesitate to kill characters in his book. (Mini Spoiler: so far, he hasn’t killed any main characters, but there are minor characters that die.) So, if you have a child who is particularly sensitive to death in stories, you might want to steer clear of it until they are older.


The Thief

What better way to spend a stormy Sunday than reading a good book?

I just finished reading The Thief, the first book in The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. This Newbery Honor book was entertaining, and I didn’t want to put it down. (It wasn’t that rare breed of book you can’t put down; it was simply a good book you did not want to put down.) The book deserves more than three stars, but not quite four. Maybe a 3.7 or 3.8.

The story begins with Eugenides, or Gen for short, locked in the king’s prison. Gen, a petty thief with a large ego, is provided an opportunity to accompany the king’s magus on a quest. An offer, given his limited resources and his desire for fame, he accepts. The quest begins sending Gen, the magus, and their companions on an adventure through neighboring kingdoms.

The book is heavy on description and the introspective thoughts of the main character, which I often skipped over. However, I found the characters intriguing enough to keep reading. I simply liked the characters and looked forward to seeing how their relationships developed.

I am placing this book on my list of books for all ages. (There are a few “goddam-its” and “damn’s” in there, but that’s it. ) While the story does not make it into my top-ten, it is good enough that I would recommend it to pre-teens and teens.

Unplanned (my review)

Unplanned tells the story of how Abby Johnson, a former director of Planned Parenthood, grows to realize that abortion results in the killing of unborn babies. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the story and the R rating it received. I went to see the movie last week with some friends, and, honestly, I was torn as to what I would have rated the movie if I was on the panel. I would say the movie is somewhere between PG-13 and rated-R. Overall, the movie is clean; however, there are two relatively bloody scenes which may (and are intended) to make viewers squeamish as they depict two different types of abortions.

In terms of the movie, I’d give it 3-stars for overall quality. While the shooting of the film was good and the acting was solid, the script needed work. There was a lot of voice overs where “Abby” is telling you what is going on or what she is thinking, as opposed to the audience being shown through her actions and interactions with other characters. I also thought the ending was a bit rushed. The movie ends shortly after her court battle with Planned Parenthood, a battle that was anticlimactic as you don’t even know what was said in the court room and how Abby refuted it.

Personally, I would have liked to see more of her life after she left planned parenthood – what it was like for her when it came to finding jobs and how she dealt with the guilt she felt at having aided in the procurement of abortions. The story did a decent job setting up how she rose through the ranks of Planned Parenthood, but fell short of showing how she adjusted and healed after leaving.

I will say, I appreciate the message of this movie. It is eye opening in terms of how abortions are performed and the toll it takes on the women who receive them. I also appreciate that they do not condemn the women who have had abortions nor the people who provide abortions. The message was one of healing, and at the end, they offer assistance to those who have had abortions or those seeking to leave the abortion industry. I have put the information below for those who may need it.

If you are an abortion worker and are interested in leaving the abortion industry, visit: And Then There Were None

If you are a woman seeking healing after an abortion or a family member of someone who received an abortion, visit Unplanned’s resources on abortion healing. (Resources with lists of organizations to contact are available if you scroll down).

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

Blackthorn Key.jpgIt’s been a while since I’ve read a book without magic, and by that I mean a book that contains no magic in the plot. The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands, however, does possess the magical quality to transport you into a world of adventure and suspense that will prevent you from accomplishing your daily obligations because you remain glued to the pages (or in my case, the audio).

The story, set in England in the 1660’s, follows 13-year-old Christopher Rowe and his best friend, Tom Bailey, as they endeavor to discover who is behind the recent murders of local apothecaries, a job made more challenging by the fact that Christopher is now on the “hit list.” And, as I said previously, there is no magic in the book, so Christopher and Tom must solve the mystery using only their ingenuity and local supplies. The boys are resourceful, courageous, and loyal, yet they remain boys, complete with the mischievous tendencies and not-thoroughly-thought-through ideas that accompany youth.

Interspersed with humor and suspense, if you or your child are looking for an escape from reality, The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands will provide you just that. This is definitely going on my “favorites” list, and it’s made it in my Top-10 list of books for all ages!

P.S. So far, the second book in the series – Mark of the Plague – is my favorite, mainly because you get to see the true strength of Christopher’s character – generous, loyal, and courageous. While those traits are present in the first book, The Blackthorn Key, they become even more apparent in the Mark of the Plague, where instead of fleeing the city as so many did, Christopher chooses to stay and minister to those in need regardless of the potential danger to his health and to the repercussions it might have for his future career as an apothecary. Christopher also stands up for the dignity of the local town “lunatic.” There are many other examples of Christopher’s loyalty, generosity, and courage, but to see those, you will simply have to read the books yourself.