The Patchwork Girl of Oz
by L. Frank Baum
After the The Emerald City of Oz, Baum was planning on ending the Oz series. Public demand and financial reasons prompted him to continue the books with The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Knowing that it wouldn’t be surprising if the story felt forced, but that’s not the case.
Ojo and his uncle, Unk Nunkie are Munchkins that live in the land of Oz. While visiting their magician friend, Dr. Pipt, they see him use the Powder of Life to bring a patchwork girl to life. She’s originally created to help the Doctor’s wife clean their home, but she’s accidently given too much cleverness. The feisty girl often speaks in rhyme and stands up for her friends without thinking of the consequences.
This story reunites readers with all their old favorites. Ozma, Dorothy and the Tin Woodman are all back and the Scarecrow is particularly smitten with the Patchwork Girl. The story follows Ojo as he embarks on a crusade to gather some strange items to help Dr. Pipt save his wife. Also, there’s a funny glass cat in this story that reminded me a bit of Dorothy’s bossy hen. The original illustrations are one of my favorite elements of the books and this installment is just wonderful.
BOTTOM LINE: A great addition to the series, this book combines fan favorites with new characters in an excellent way.
by Jo Nesbo
I’ve been hearing about Jo Nesbo for quite a while now and decided to read the first book in his Inspector Harry Hole series. It was fittingly set in Sydney, Australia and so it quickly became a priority for me.
The novel follows a relatively formulaic path. A dead body is found, it’s a Norwegian woman and so Hole is sent from Norway to assist the Sydney authorities in the investigation. The murder mystery is interesting, but it’s definitely not what kept me hooked on the book. I loved hearing about the culture and history in Sydney. They talk about specific locations, cultural traditions and racial struggles.
The novel reminded me of The Cuckoo’s Calling a bit. The troubled detective has a complicated history and is an alcoholic. The plot lost me a little bit at a few points, but I was reading it more for the location and the lead character so that didn’t bother me.
BOTTOM LINE: A great book to read if you’re interested in Australia and a good mystery novel. I’ll definitely check out the next one in the series to see what happens next for Harry.
The House of Hades
by Rick Riordan
At the end of the last book Percy and Annabeth fell into a pit that dropped them into Tartarus, the horrible prison for the Titans. They are own a dark journey to find and close the Doors of Death and restore balance to the world. Traveling through Tartarus is exhausting and I felt weary right alongside them.
Meanwhile their friends encounter a strange bandit named Sciron, who kills his victims by making them wash his nasty feet and then kicking them off a cliff. They also travel to Venice to continue the work of the quest. One of the major plot points in this book is a big reveal from Nico, which explains quite a bit about his distant personality. I’d already heard about that part, so there was no surprise, but I still appreciated the importance of the revelation. I also loved the role that Cupid plays in this book.
BOTTOM LINE: As I’ve noted with almost all of Riordan’s books, I enjoy reading them, particularly on audio, but there’s never too much that sticks with me. I absolutely love learning more about the Greek and Roman mythology and seeing it worked into modern day situations, but I never find as much depth with the characters as I would like. I will definitely be finishing the series when it’s released.