Nine books for the month, seven new ones and all keepers, though I am waffling on The Railway Children. I'll probably wind up dumping the Nesbit books on paper and keep the digital versions. You can pick them up at the Gutenberg Project, as well as many other interesting books.
Cave of the Dark Wind - A Neverland Book - Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. This is the second of the series of Neverland chapter books which are aimed at the younger crowd. I have really liked the Peter and the Starcatchers series that they are spun off of and I enjoyed this book too. There's something that lives up in the cave of the dark wind. It takes goats the Mollusk's leave near the entrance. While Peter's away The Lost Boys join forces with Shining Pearl and Little Scallop to see if they can figure out what's living in the cave. There's some action and some comedy. There are nice illustrations and the book is short which means you can read it fairly quickly. There's a third book called Blood Tide but I haven't picked that up yet. I'm waiting for a used copy. A couple of weeks ago shiny new copies the fourth in the Peter and the Starcatchers series arrived in the stores. I haven't seen one used yet. As said I like 'em used, especially when I have a coupon over at Half Price Books.
The Mad Scientists' Club - Bertrand R Brinley. This was the first of the series to come out in book form. It collects the stories that appeared in Boy's Life magazine. They were edited for space in the magazine and Purple House Press uses the original manuscripts to restore them to what was originally written. The stories are fun, there are solutions involving science, and a bit of stuff to think about. That's a hat trick in my eyes. In one story the boys help Dinky cover his butt when he tells a big lie. He claims the reason he was late getting home was because he had seen a sea monster out on Strawberry Lake. The boys make a sea monster and run it about the lake. It causes quite a stir and puts the scare into some people. In another story the guys rescue a downed jet pilot using good common sense, scouting survival techniques, and some science. They haunt a house, they solve a 100 year old mystery and create a new one. The stories read well, are entertaining, and you could learn something. I like the cover on this book, too. I lucked out and picked this one up used and that prompted me to pick up the others. That was a few years ago, when I had all that nudie magazine credit. Now I'm finally getting to 'em. I know I'll keep this series to read again. Probably be a while, I still have a huge backlog and there seems to be a few new additions to the heap coming in each year.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - JK Rowling. For some reason felt I needed to read the last three books of the Harry Potter series one more time. That way I will have read them all 7 times each. It seemed like the orderly thing to do. Probably some anal retentive shit goin' on there. I fight an constant battle between order and chaos. It seems less scarey than fighting a battle with Lord Voldemort. It might just be that any flimsy excuse to reread the series again is all I need. I feel I have to restrain myself from opening the books again and again. I seem to love the familiar even though I have such a nice backlog of intriging new books to read. Right now I'm fighting off the urge to watch The Saint TV series again. I just watched them a year ago. Needless to say I succumbed to the lure of the wizarding world and in July I read the 5th book. I still liked it and I liked the 6th book even better. I really enjoy the Tom Riddle backstory that Dumbledore passes along to Harry, arming him up for his upcoming battle. That's the Mary GrandPré cover to the special edition. It's Harry and Dumbledore in the memory of Bob Ogden. They are visiting the home of Voldemort's mother. What a piece of work is that family. Everything that's wrong with people and magic only makes it worse.
Bertrand R Brinley's The New Adventures of the Mad Scientists' Club was sandwiched in between the two HP volumes. I took it to work instead of luggin the larger copies of HP around. I often have two or three books going at the same time. This is the 2nd collection of stories about these boys of science and adventure. The boys make it rain for the water starved farmers but when it doesn't stop the boys are in trouble. The kids buy an old WWII midget Japanese submarine and they fix it up so it works. That causes them some trouble. Then they build a working flying saucer that they buzz the town with. That gets them in trouble with the airforce. I enjoyed this almost as much as the first book. Some of the stories have the boys doing stuff that makes them less than heroes. Maybe they are a little older and more rebellious. Maybe it's Brinley. Maybe he wanted to remind people that even scientists fail and sometimes ego gets in the way. We never want our mad scientists to get too mad. No one needs that.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling. That's the Ukranian cover to book 7 from publisher A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA. It's one of my favorite covers. There's so much going on. And there's so much going on in the 7th book. I still haven't gotten bored reading them. I'll try to wait a bit until the next go.
The Big Chunk of Ice - Bertrand R. Brinley was the last novel in the series. It never got published until recently. I didn't find it as satisfying as the rest of the series. The boys go over seas to Austria in a blimp with a professor from the local college. He's a cartoon character who's just there to give the boys access to the blimp they ride. He's not very scientific. They stay in a mountain town in the Alps and solve a mystery. It's not greatly mysterious. There isn't enough of the science for me. I would not go back and reread this any time soon. I'd read the first three more readily. Not to say it's a bad read, just not up to the rest of the series.
The Calder Game - Blue Balliet. This is the third book in the series. I thought it was ok but not as interesting as the first two. There's too many elements that seem contrived. Calder, a young boy named after the artist Alexander Calder, and his dad head for a small town in England. His dad has stuff to do during the day and he lets Calder wonder around on his own. Petra and Tommy are stuck in Chicago. They don't get along as well without their pal Calder, neither of them having been friends before. The trio and their class had just seen an exhibit of mobiles by Alexander Calder a few days before Calder leaves for England. The kids seem to like the artist's work more than I do. When Calder arrives his finds there's a Calder statue in the town. A statue that the town's people don't like. A couple of nights after Calder gets there, both he and the Calder statue disappear. What a mystery? The English police are not up to it and they call in Petra and Tommy to solve the mystery. They do. That part of the plot didn't seem natural to me. Pulled me out of the story a bit. The series is about art and artists as well as these kids. I wasn't liking the art connection so much in this book. Maybe I'm just not enough of a Calder fan. I do like some of his statues more than his mobiles, but I only have a passing interest in his work. I know all the pieces they talk about in the novel. I've even seen them in their natural setting, the city of Chicago. I was at the dedication of the giant red Calder staute to the right. It's called Flamingo and when I was visiting Chicago in 1974 I just happened to be wondering by, so I stayed. There were balloons. I believe in coincidence and sometimes the real world seems contrived. That's why I so readily accept it happening in books and movies. I'll keep the book and probably reread it. It won't keep me from checking out future books in the series. I like the illustrator, Brett Helquest, though the cover is not a favorite of mine. There are more interesting illustrations inside.
The Railway Children - E. Nesbit. I wasn't sure how much I would like this 1906 novel. There were no fantasy elements in it. Turned out it's ok. Some posh kids get turned out of their house when their dad goes off somewhere mysterious. The kids and mom settle in a small house in the country. She goes back to writing children's stories for magazines to keep some bread on the table. The kids learn to be nicer than they already were and they have some low level adventures. The kids make friends of the locals. They watch the trains that go by the cottage and become friends with an old gentlemen who takes the train everyday. He later helps them out in a jam. They help out his nephew and he helps free their dad who was jailed for a crime he did not commit. The family is whole again.
Frognapped - Angie Sage. This is the third of the series. I found number 3 & 4 at Half Price Books and picked them up a few months ago. As I started to read these British copies I couldn't understand why Araminta Spookie's name seemed wrong. I went up and looked at the copies I had of the first two books. The UK version calls her Araminta Spook. I like the Spookie name better than Spook. It sounds better to me. I can only speculate why the USA publishers changed the name from Spook to Spookie. I bet you can too. This was as much fun as the other books in the series. Araminta lives in an old house with her uncle and aunt, and the Wizzard family. Mr. Wizzard is missing his trained frogs. He thinks Araminta had something to do with it. She hadn't but in order to clear her name she sets out to find those frogs. Turns out they were stolen by a local creep who wants to turn his mushroom farm into a tourist attraction. Araminta and Wanda Wizzard inlist the aid of a ghost to retrieve the frogs and they score a pile of gold for their troubles. All turns out well. Angie Sage is also the author of the Septimus Heap series. I read the first two of those and am reading the third right now. Well, not right now. Right now I got to go to work. I'm late. Story of my life.