This is Book 1 of a fantasy series that will have six books in all. In this book learn about the three children of King Gateskin and his wife, Queen Solinara. The children have had powers since they were quite young..
Serena was three years old when she learned of her power to move objects with her mind. Her brother, Simon, can fly and their sister, Catalina, can become invisible or blend into her surroundings. They live with their parents in Sovorotskina, the Land of Light.
With these powers comes responsibility. The children must try to use their powers for the common good and responsibly to help others. The three children befriend a Sprite named Spindle who accompanies them on their adventure. Along the way they meet up with their aunt and uncle, their mother’s brother and his wife, Wizard Hotenfaran and Fairy Procelina. The group must travel into the evil land of Parotovina, Land of Darkness, to save King Gateskin, who was kidnapped, and also rescue some of the descendants of their friends and fellow Sovorotskinans who were captured and taken by the Evil Ones. These descendants have been waiting a long time to be free to return to the villages of their ancestors.
The children have many trials and adventures along the way. Will they be able to rescue their father and fellow Sovorotskinans without endangering their own lives? Will the evil King Kaposkaran and his Queen Beregina stop Serena and her siblings from being successful or will they turn Serena and her siblings to their dark ways?
This is book 1 in a cute fantasy adventure about good versus evil kings, saving the persecuted and reuniting communities through magic. The emphasis is on family, love, friendships, and trust. It is a gentle fantasy tale suitable for middle grade readers.
The text relies heavily on dialogue. I would have preferred some more descriptive passages to get a better sense of place and where the action is happening.
I enjoyed the short poetic passages in the tale.
I particularly enjoyed the characters of Spindle, a Sprite, and King Gateskin’s children whose magic is far beyond what is expected for their ages.
Recommended for middle grade readers and all who enjoy a good fantasy tale.
Janice Spina is an award-winning author with 18 children’s books,12 MG/PT books and one book in a YA series with five more coming over the next few years, five novels and a short story collection for 18+ written under J.E. Spina. She is also a copy editor, blogger, book reviewer and supporter of fellow authors. Her husband, John, is her illustrator and cover creator.
“Be prepared to learn a lot about the culture while you follow Amanda on her adventure.”—Laura Best, author, Bitter, Sweet
“What a great way for a young person to learn about a culture and to be inspired to experience other countries themselves.”—Irene Butler, author, Trekking the Globe with Mostly Gentle Footsteps
Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend, Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her aunt. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda travels to Malta with her classmate Caleb and his parents.
Amanda is intrigued by this exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, full of colourful history, sun-drenched limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But…who is killing the protected birds? Who stole a priceless artifact from the museum? And why is Leah acting so strange? She couldn’t possibly be involved in these illegal activities, or could she?
Join Amanda and her friends as they visit ancient temples, an exciting falconry and the enchanting Popeye Village, as they try to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Sleeping Lady.
Be sure to read all the books in this exciting Amanda Travels series! 1. Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask 2. Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting 3. Amanda in England: The Missing Novel 4. Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone 5. Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music 6. Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind 7. Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action 8. Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady
I received a copy from NetGalley and am pleased to leave an unbiased review.
This is a lovely middle grade novel that whisks you away to the island of Malta. I’ve never been but have heard a lot of rave stories about Malta and Amanda in Malta made me want to visit!
I loved the adventure aspect in this particular story, author Darlene Foster did a great job in creating a captivating and exciting story. Amanda sets off to find her friend Leah who disappears, and later the Sleeping Lady artifact goes missing too!
There are many great scenes in the book which will appeal to children: The Popeye Theme Park in Malta, (I loved Popeye as a child!) Marsaxlokk, (a charming fishing village,) the bird sanctuary island – Filfla, boat trips, island hops, Falconry centres and details about the eye of Osiris and dangers of anaphlaxtic shock!
It is also quite educational in places too.
There are humorous passages to make you laugh. I am sure this would appeal to youngsters and some young at heart adults too!
Amanda Ross is an average twelve year old Canadian girl. So what is she doing thousands of kilometres from home in the United Arab Emirates? It’s her own fault really, she wished for adventure and travel when she blew out those candles on her last birthday cake. Little did she know that a whole different world awaited her on the other side of the globe, one full of intrigue, mystery and folklore. A world with a beautiful princess, a dangerous desert and wonderful friends. Join Amanda on her first adventure as she discovers the secrets behind The Perfume Flask.
Such a cute middle grade book about Amanda venturing to the United Arab Emirates. It is educational too, various aspects of living in the desert and the culture and customs of the people are explained in an interesting way throughout the book. It is descriptive, fun, and amusing too. I particularly loved the sections with camels and how the author explained different types of camels and how wonderful the camel is especially in a sand storm!
What a great way to educate youngsters about the diversity of cultures in this world.
It transported me away for a while, and made me smile, which I’m grateful for particularly at the moment when we can’t go anywhere.
The thrilling conclusion to The Book of Storms trilogy
Strange shadows are appearing over Danny’s town. Where they land, people are drained of all colour and hope. Cars crash; people stand, directionless.
Fleeing from the shadows, Danny knows Sammael is behind this horror. Danny knows the world must be saved; he knows that to do that, Sammael must be destroyed. Once again, Danny must overcome his belief that he’s not brave, and face his greatest fears. Danny needs Cath. But first he must rescue her from underneath the shadows.
Their only hope might be the mysterious Book of Shadows – but they will have to make it first. And is Danny doing the right thing? Can Sammael really be destroyed?
The final book in The Book of Storms trilogy – the conclusion was great. Loved this, Ruth Hatfield.
The first half of the book built up the shadows in a slow, grey progression to the conclusion. The title: The Book of Shadows implied that shadows would play a part, and this in itself attracted me to the story as I write about shadows too, but I was left wondering, is that it? Halfway through I had actually said to my eldest daughter that I wasn’t too sure where Ruth was going with this. How wrong I was, (this often happens to me.) I get restless and then I turn a page and wow… My whole reading experience changes! I was missing Cath, the feisty girl in the series. As soon as Cath, and Barshin, the hare came back into the story the action cranked up a notch of intensity and the final half of the book had me enthralled. There were revelations, colours, dreams, – all was not as it seems. And the at times frustratingly, uncourageous main protagonist Danny didn’t disappoint. He has heart! Enough to fill an ocean…. But no spoilers, no more about that, as this is one book I could really spoil if I said too much!
Ruth Hatfield’s powers of imagination are excellent. She truly breathes life into her animal characters making them almost human at times. Ori the dog, Danny’s new friend was fantastic, as was Shimny, the horse. Apparently, local Cambridge author Ruth Hatfield loves horses and you can really experience her love of animals and nature in her writing. So bear that in mind if you like books about nature, animals, and the earth.
I’d highly recommend this middle-grade series for those of you who love adventure, animals, deliberations about courage, storms, a courageous female character, shadows, and a thoughtful contemplation about the earth’s elements: earth, air, fire and water.
The highest rating of all three books, 4.5 stars.
Have you read The Book of Storms Trilogy? I do hope you do, and then we can chat about it!
After rescuing his parents, Danny returns to his old life, burying the taro that allowed him to speak to animals, trees, and the very storms that led to his adventure. Danny thinks he’s left magic and mystery behind, but Sammael, a creature of terrible imagination, refuses to let him go.
A strange new girl, Cath, enters Danny’s world, bringing with her a message: Danny’s cousin Tom has sold his soul to Sammael. It’s up to Danny and Cath to find Tom and stop Sammael, who seeks to destroy humankind once and for all.
Really enjoyed this continuation of The Book of Storms trilogy with this second in the series – The Colour of Darkness. This is a confidently written novel, with engaging characters, and a fluency in the writing which keeps the reader engaged throughout.
I particularly enjoyed the main protagonist Danny who we were introduced to in the first book. In this second in the series, we meet Cath, the brave young girl from the tough neighbourhood who unlike Danny doesn’t seem to be scared of anything.
The Colour of Darkness is an entertaining adventure to the land of Chromos, with a talking hare Barshin, and Zadoc, as their guide.
There is quite an olde-worlde feel to this novel. I particularly liked how Ruth Hatfield breathes life into animals, making them talk. Even the grasses get their say!
This is an enjoyable story aimed at the middle-grade audience.
My rating: 4 stars.
I am currently reading the final book in the trilogy, The Book of Shadows, and am intrigued to see how this conclusion to The Book of Storms develops. I have heard from the author herself, Ruth Hatfield that the final part is the darkest in the three novels.
I will be reviewing The Book of Shadows on this blog too.
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends — one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena — Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #1) is the first novel in the Percy Jackson and The Olympian series. The series consists of five novels: The Lightning Thief (2005), The Sea of Monsters (2006), The Titan’s Curse (2007), The Battle of the Labyrinth (2008) and The Last Olympian (2009). It has since been followed by a sequel series of five books titled The Heroes of Olympus.
The Lightning Thief received mostly positive reviews and won awards including the School Library Journal Best Book of 2005.
The Lightning Thief has all the elements to make me purr like a kitten but somehow it left me slightly disappointed. I enjoyed The Lightning Thief but I didn’t love it and that surprised me.
So, a little recap of the story, as I see it. Percy is always getting into trouble. Typical twelve year old boy if you ask me! He thinks his problems are caused by his dyslexia and ADHD playing up. But this isn’t the case, Percy is no ordinary guy, he’s a demigod. He sets off on a quest with a disguised satyr, and the half-blood daughter of Athena, to settle a feud between Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. Poseidon has been accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt, and unless Percy can return the bolt, there will be a war between the gods. Along the way Percy discovers who his father is, no ordinary mortal of course, and Percy and his companions meet the Furies, Medusa, the motorcycle thug Ares, and various other immortals….
REASONS Why I should have loved it:
I just love myths, and legends. But somehow at times this just seems too far-fetched. Can I say that? When I’m talking about fantasy? Well, I just did! Greek Gods in the 21st Century – Some of it works and some of it fell short of perfect. Can you envisage a modern day Mount Olympus on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building? The door to Hades right there at DOA Recording Studio, somewhere in LA, really? I see what Rick Riordan’s trying to do, giving Greek mythology a modern day voice to entice the younger reader into an awakening interest in Greek mythology. I applaud him for that but maybe for me it was a bit too much…… modernising.
Characters and Narrative Voice.
I struggled to get emotionally involved in Percy’s quest. He’s had a hard life but I’m just not feeling it. Sometimes (not always) he sounds older than a twelve year old. To be fair maybe demigods abandoned by their fathers grow up too quickly, that would explain it.
Parallels to Harry Potter
There are many parallels between The Lightning Thief and Harry Potter, and I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter, so this kind of irked me a bit.
Here are some of the similiarities:
Percy’s closest friends are a girl, the half-blood daughter of Athena, Annabeth, and a boy, Grover, a disguised satyr, rather like Hermione and Ron, but in costume.
Percy goes to Camp Half Blood were he trains, this reminded me of Hogwarts, but just different setting.
The camps are divided into different houses which compete against each other in a Capture the Flag tournament. Percy realises his powers in water, and how water can heal him. The Capture the Flag tournament is a dead ringer for Quidditch. Of the two I preferred the fast pace and excitement of Quidditch.
One of the houses has kids who Percy doesn’t get along with, so Slytherin.
Percy and friends use an invisibility cap – invisibility cloak in Harry Potter.
********Spoiler************ Look Away.
***At the end Evil Kronos might be returning – kinda like Voldermort.***
The aspects of the story I liked:
Incorporating dyslexia into the storyline. This is great. This makes dyslexics cool! Dyslexics can read and understand ancient Greek. It’s about time that dyslexics get the attention and recognition they deserve.
The ADHD. Again. Clever. Stop slagging off those kids that can’t concentrate in class. They have advanced reflexes, and are battle ready!
What else did I really enjoy?
The humour. Made me chuckle. Humour rating, 5 crazy stars :
Medusa. I loved this part. Stop staring! Serves you right haven’t you heard it’s rude to stare. Medusa grabbed me by the scruff, while I clamped my eyes tight, shut. You would wouldn’t you? Medusa rating 5 stars !
The Three Furies, especially Mrs Dodds.
The nasty step dad got his comeuppance. Enjoyed this. He deserved it.
The twist in the tale at the end. Of course I saw this coming but nice twist.
My overall conclusion:
This first book in the series is middle grade fiction. I sense that as the story develops the characters will grow older, and find their emotional voice and depth. I would be interested in reading more of this series to see how it progresses. If I don’t I’ll be in trouble as my daughter is a huge Percy Jackson fan!
Highly recommended for readers of Middle Grade, YA, Fantasy, Mythology, Adventure and anyone who enjoys a good laugh. Oh, that’s me!
Difficult to rate. I’m going to settle for 3.75 stars…………
Found this interesting piece of information about the development of the novel on Wikipedia to share with you:
– “Development for both The Lightning Thief and the Percy Jackson series began when Riordan began making stories for his son Haley who had been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. His son had been studying Greek mythology in second grade and asked that his father come up with bedtime stories based on Greek myths. Riordan had been a Greek mythology teacher in middle school for many years and was able to remember enough stories to please his son. Soon Riordan ran out of myths and his son requested that Riordan make new ones using the characters from Greek myths while adding some new ones. Riordan created the fictional character Percy Jackson and his travels across the United States to recover Zeus’s lightning bolt. After Riordan finished telling the story his son asked that his dad write a book based on Percy’s adventures.” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lightning_Thief
Some of my favourite quotes:
“My name is Percy Jackson.
I’m twelve years old. Until a few months ago, I was a boarding student at Yancy Academy, a private school for troubled kids in upstate New York.
Am I a troubled kid?
Yeah. You could say that.”
“How did you die?”
“We er….drowned in a bathtub.”
“All three of you?”
“It was a big bathtub.”
“Hades raised an eyebrow. When he sat forward in his throne, shadowy faces appeared in the folds of his black robes, faces of torment,as if the garment was stitched of trapped souls from the Fields of Punishment, trying to get out. The ADHD part of me wondered, off-task, whether the rest of his clothes were made the same way. What horrible things would you have to do in your life to get woven into Hades’ underwear?”
Grover didn’t say anything for awhile. Then, when I thought he was going to give me some deep philosophical comment to make me feel better, he said, “Can I have your apple?”
“The real world is where the monsters are.”
“The sea does not like to be restrained. ”
“Your uncle,” Poseidon sighed, “has always had a flair for dramatic exits. I think he would’ve done well as the god of theater.”
“Words had started swimming off the page, circling my head, the letters doing one-eighties as if they were riding skateboards.”
Have you read The Lightning Thief? Do comment, I’d love to hear from you.