Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham

Title:  Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure

Author:  Royce Buckingham

Hardcover:  232 pages

Date Published:  2008

Publisher:  G. P. Putnam’s Sons (div of Penguin Young Readers Group)

ISBN:  9780399250026

PJ put on one of his father’s spare POLICE jackets. “C’mon, we’re already here.  Besides, you said it takes an hour round trip to get to the border crossing and back.  Any smugglers would probably still be forty minutes away.”

PJ was reaching to put the car into park when something moved in the darkness.  A patch of shadow shifted against a background of dark trees.  As soon as he noticed it, it was gone.  “What was that?” he said.

“What was what?” Sam said, staring into the forest.  “I can’t see a thing.  It’s pitch-black.”

PJ reached down and flipped the headlight switch.  The sudden light glared on a dark, husky human shape in front of the car.  It waved a club-shaped object and brought it down onto the metal hood of the cruiser.

Wham!

“Smuggler!” Sam yelled.

PJ’s foot was still on the gas pedal.  He jammed it down instinctively, and the car lurched forward.  There was no time for the figure to move.  Thud!  It went down like a bowling pin and disappeared beneath the bumper.

PJ hit the brakes and the police cruiser jerked to a stop.  He took a deep breath and quickly locked the door.

“You hit him!” Sam cried.

“I know,” PJ breathed, staring into the woods.

“He’s under the car!”

“I know!”

“What if he’s a farmer or something?”  Sam said.

“You’re the one who screamed that he was a smuggler.”

“How do I know who he is?”

“It’s your stupid little town!”  PJ snapped.

A low, pained growl rose from beneath the car.

“He’s alive,” PJ said, relieved.  “Let’s get out of here.”

“We can’t leave him,” Sam said.  “There’s no way he can be okay after you smushed him.”

PJ shook his head.  “Dude, I just ran over a guy in a borrowed police car.  My instincts tell me to drive far away and never speak of this again.”

Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, pages 16-17

Goblins! by Royce Buckingham has been some of the most fun 200-some pages of reading I’ve had in a while.  The characters are normal, average teens who are called upon to act in extraordinary ways to save each other and to protect their world from the goblins of the UnderEarth. 

One of the things I like about this book is that there are no 100% evil bad guys in the book, they’re a mix of good and bad.  While PJ would prefer to stay out of things, he chooses to step up and take responsibility for his actions and for Sam, who was left in his care by his father.  Sam wants adventure, and bites off a lot more than he can chew, but nevertheless manages to prove he has a heart of a warrior.  The goblins have silly, descriptive names like “General Eww-Yuk,” “Slurp,” “Slouch,” “Thick,” etc,  enjoy eating humans, fighting, humans as well as each other, are dumber than a bag of hammers, yet they are extremely inquisitive and quick to learn and adapt.

Another thing that I liked about Goblins! is that the writing is simple, the details are just enough to make things easy to picture but not so thick that it bogs you down.  At times it reminds me of The Spiderwick Chronicles, and at other times Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Besides having a highly imaginative setting and great actions scenes, including 7 foot bugs-versus-human battles, it also has a great sense of humor.  It is a book with teenagers as the heroes and main characters, so the surliness and sarcasm of the age often shines through.  For instance:  When Sam is brought before General Eww-yuk by the goblin Bargle

“Have you talked to it?” Eww-yuk asked.

“Yes,” Bargle said.  “It barks the words ‘screw’ and ‘off’ … over and over.”

Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, page 71

I think this book is ideal for the tweenage-early teen years, 9-14, and probably more for boys than girls, though I think Mags will enjoy and laugh at it.  I’d also like to warn that this book does contain the deaths of central characters that readers may get attached to, so if your reader is potentially sensitive to this, then you might want to wait. 

For being one of the most enjoyable, reality-suspending, relaxing books I’ve read in a long time, a book that wasn’t teaching the reader or delivering a message (if it was, I didn’t notice at all), a book that was just like losing 25 years and being on the playground again…  I give Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham 4 out of 5 stars.  It probably won’t win any awards, but it is pure pleasure.

 

Don’t forget to sign up to win a copy of Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure in the Great Goblins! Giveaway. Contest ends 11;59 pm, May 31st, with the winner to be announced on Monday, June 1st!

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Great Goblins! Giveaway

I’ve just started reading Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a fast and easy read, and I may get Mags to do a guest review on it, as well… seems like something she’d really enjoy. It reminds me a bit of The Spiderwick Chronicles, with goblins and kids battling goblins and goblin goo all over, but it’s its own book as well.

 

Here’s a trailer for the book:

and a blurb from Amazon.com:

Sneaking out into the woods near the Canadian border, Sam and PJ come across what looks like a mutant gorilla with a bad attitude. But it’s no ape— it’s a goblin, and thousands more of them live under the earth, kept in check only by a small corps of human Guardians.
Sam finds a tunnel below the surface, and in no time he’s in the goblins’ clutches. With goblin leaders Eww-Yuk and Slurp at odds, it will take all of PJ’s strength and ingenuity to get Sam back—but then again, how hard could it be to outsmart a goblin?

Featuring the high adventure and slapstick humor that made Demonkeeper a fantasy favorite, Goblins! is a subterranean romp that will keep readers laughing as they race through the pages to see what happens next.

So, I want to share the Goblin! fun with you! I have a second, spanking-new copy to give away to a lucky winner. I think we’ll keep this one quick and easy.

  1. Leave a comment here to enter the contest.
  2. Blog this contest for an extra 3 entries, and make sure to leave a comment with the link.
  3. email 5 people or more about the contest, make sure to include me ( ibetnoonehasthisdamnid@yahoo.com )  in the CC, for another 3 entries.
  4. Post the contest and link (shortened URL: http://bit.ly/vX3Se ) on Twitter, make sure to include @thekoolaidmom in your tweet so I’ll catch it, for another 3 bonus entries.
  5. Leave a comment on the review of the book when I post it Saturday for another bonus entry.

Contest is open until 11:59 pm, EDT, and I’ll post the winners names on Monday, June 1st 🙂  Good luck!

Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Title:  Marked:  A House of Night Novel

Authors:  P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Paperback:  306 pages

PublisherSt. Martin’s Press

Date Published:  2007

ISBN:  9780312360269

Miscellaneous:  This is the first book in the House of Night series.

I am known by many names… Changing Woman, Gaea, A’akuluujjusi, Kuan Yin, Grandmother Spider, and even Dawn…

As she spoke each name her face was transformed so that I was dizzied by her power.  She must have understood, because she paused and flashed her beautiful smile at me again, and her face settled back into the woman I had first seen.

But you, Zoeybird, my Daughter, may call me by the name by which your world knows me today, Nyx.

“Nyx,” my voice was barely above a whisper.  “The vampyre Goddess?”

… yes, in your world [my]children are called vampyre.  Accept the name, U-we-tsi a-ge-hu-tsa; in it you will find your destiny.

I could feel my Mark burning on my forehead, and all of a sudden I wanted to cry.  “I – I don’t understand.  Find my destiny?  I just want to find a way to deal with my new life – to make this all okay.  Goddess, I just want to fit in someplace.  I don’t think I’m up to finding my destiny.”

Believe in yourself, Zoey Redbird.  I have Marked you as my own.  You will be my first tru  U-we-tsi   a-ge-hu-tsa   v-hna-i   Sv-no-yi … Daughter of Night… in this age…. Within you is combined the magic blood of ancient Wise Women and Elders, as well as insight into and understanding of the modern world.

… “But I’m sixteen!  I can’t even parallel-park!  How am I supposed to know how to be your eyes and ears?”

Marked:  A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast, pages 39-40

Marked by P. C. Cast and Kristen Cast was a definite divergence from my typical reading, but I enjoyed it very much.  It’s a Young Adult (though, was edging very close to mostly adult, IMHO) book about a 16 year-old named Zoey who is marked by a Vampyre Tracker and has to leave her world and her old life behind and attend the private vampyre school, House of Night (for which the book series is named).  All young Zoey wants is a place to fit in and belong, but it’s clear from her abnormal Mark that “fitting in” isn’t going to happen.

The book is typical of YA hero books.  Zoey is the good-vamp and immediately knows that Aphrodite is her nemesis.  Zoeylacks the confidence, but overcomes that with the help of her friends who believe in her and encourage her.  She has those few trusted adults to turn to who also encourage her (and of course, none of them are her parents).  She’s surprised by the deep well of abilities and talents, and she sees and feels things others don’t.  And when the time comes to stand up and save the day, she does… over the whimpering and cowering body of Aphrodite, who, afterwards, draws the proverbial line in the sand and tells Zoey “it’s not over.”

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the book is like everything else out there, simply that it follows a form.  The writing, owing probably to the way the two authors divvy up the responsibilities, is unique (a trait that is heavily stressed and embraced at the school, btw) and seems almost conversational.  It is narrated by Zoey, who says little asides to herself while telling the story, and we see the world of the fledgling vampyre through her unique perspective.

Whereas Twilight was a fun, reminiscense of high-school romance and first loves, squeeky clean and was more about temptation and timing, Marked is a bit more sullied.  Within the first few free minutes Zoey has in the school, she accidentally walks up on a guy standing in front of a kneeling girl, face in his crotch area and her hair blocking Zoey’s view.  It is an event that sets the tone of the book, as well as the relationship she has with the two later on (after she discovers their identities).  Yeah… I’d have to say, even after they were married, Bella never gave Edward a blow job (and the Casts use that term, too).  I’m trying to think of how I can sneak Marked back to the library before my 16-year-old can read it.

On a technical level, the characters are well-developed and most of them are likable.  The ones you aren’t meant to like, Aphrodite’s sycophants, her step-loser (step-dad), even Kayla, her ex-best friend, aren’t developed beyond the point of, “name, relationship and purpose… next!”  I would also add, that the Casts have dug deep, imagination-wise, to create a half-a-step-away alternate-reality where vampyrism has always existed, and contain everything in our world (stars, books, mythology) but claiming it as it’s own, Faith Hill is a vampyre for instance.  Also, they borrow a bit from Wicca and the Native American, as well as other bits and pieces from other religions, to create the Vampyre religion, worship of the Goddess Nyx.  It’s rather interesting in that regard, as well.

Fun and a bit naughty, Marked by P. C. Cast and Kristen Cast is my beginning into the world of vampyres, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book, Betrayed.  I give Marked 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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I highly recommend visiting The House of Night website, it’s a lot of fun.  You can read the first chapter of Marked there, as well as check out videos of the other HoN books, and even make a pic of yourself with a vampyre Mark.

The video I picked for this book is a lot of fun.  It is a bit long, but you can get a feel for how playful P. C. and Kristen are, both as mother and daughter and as co-authors. It’s a spoof interview, and the Casts contributed to the script.  It’s not so much about Marked, all I found for it were teenage fan-vids, several containing Britney Snow as their hoped-for Stevie Rae… Britney Snow gets on my last nerve D-:< .  But the series has been optioned, so a movie may be coming to a theater near you… or a series on the WB.

Read-a-Thon ~ I’ve been Chosen by the House of Night

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First off, I want to say Thank You! and throw smooches and hugs at all the RaT cheerleaders 🙂 You are much appreciated 😉 And I’m glad everyone’s enjoying my button… you know me, I like to mock ’em and shock ’em 😀

Also, I “finished” Empire Falls and How to Be a Villian today, but they were unfinished reads already began before today. I read about 20 pages and 80 pages in them, respectively, and about 15 in The Magician’s Nephew So I’ve only read about 140 pages altogether, including what I’ve read in Marked. S.Krishna and a few others blow me away with their tweets ever 20 minutes, “Finished another book!” Gack!

But It’s not a contest… *deep, cleansing breath* 😀

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Okay, so on to Marked… I don’t know where I’d heard of the House of Night series, maybe from one of the publisher’s newsletters, but when I did, something about the books screamed for me to read them.

I’ve been thinking that I might want to include some of the more popular books in my reading and reviewing for two reasons: 1) It’s part of the Zeitgeist of our culture, so I need to read them so I can keep up with the conversations, and 2) Reading and posting reviews of the more popular books might increase my blog traffic. The House of Night series popped out as possibly being a more popular set of books. AND, they’re about vamps, and I like vamp books. 😀

So far, I’ve read the first 3 chapters of the first book in the series, Marked, and I get it. It’s more of a social commentary… an allegory of our culture… and “vampyre” is the concept being used, but I think “homosexuality” is really what the authors are saying.

Zooey is an average, just-wanna-fit-in, middle child, sixteen year old in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Her mom, who used to wear make-up and have fun, is now married to a church Elder who’s more concerned about what people will think of him than if Zooey should go where she can get what she needs.

When her step-loser (as she calls him) sees the sapphire-blue crescent moon given to her by the Vampyre Tracker that marks her as a Vampyre, he tells her he’s not surprised her bad behavior has brought this crisis on her. He tells her, “Get behind me, Satan,” and tells his wife and her mother to call the clueless family psychiatrist and the church Elders to come over and “cure” Zooey.

To all of this Zooey replies that scientists have proven than it’s a genetic change that happens to some teens, and is not brought on by a vamp’s bite or by a person’s “bad behavior.”

Of course, his reply is, “God’s knowledge surpasses science, and it’s blasphemous for you to say otherwise…”

Yeah, okay…. I get it. On the one side, yes, people can get very cruel about things, Christians or otherwise. Parents, too, can be absolutely clueless about what’s going on with their kids.

I am torn on the issue, too. On the one hand, I do believe that God can do anything. He can heal people of incurable diseases, one of my good friends was healed (against all the doctors prognoses) of ovarian cancer. He can change the nature of a person, the habitual thief can be touched and steal no more. He can change a person’s desires, too, and an alcoholic or smoker can lay down their vice and never look back or suffer a twinge of withdrawal. I know people who have experienced these things.

On the other hand, it is the job of those around these people to judge them as a freak, criminal, or worthless, only to love, befriend and support as a fellow human being. Providing a person is not harming another, it is not our business what they do in their own private moments.

*drags the soapbox away and stores it back in the closet*

Any way… lol… back to reading. I am enjoying the book Marked.

What are your thoughts or book selection being partially influenced by popularity and the hope of increasing blog traffic? Selling out?

Reading Update:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished.
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, Chapter Four “The Bell and the Hammer” ~ finished
How to Be a Villian: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans and More!!! by Neil Zawacki ~ finished 😀
Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast ~ page 27, the start of Chapter Four

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Title:  The Book Thief

Author:  Markus Zusak

Paperback:  354 pages

Publisher:  Transworld Publishers (div of Random House)

Publish Date:  2005

ISBN:  9780552773898

Miscellaneous: Don’t forget to check out this review’s companion post. It includes info on The Book Thief‘s future as a movie, and several quotes from the book I wasn’t able to work into this review.

On June 23, 1942, there was a group of French Jews in a German prison, on Polish soil.  The first person I took was close to the door, his mind racing, then reduced to pacing, then slowing down, slowing down…

Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born.  I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks.  I listened to their last, gasping cries.  Their French words.  I watched their love-visions and freed them from their fear.

I took them all away, and if ever there was a time I needed distraction, this was it.  In complete desolation, I looked at the world above.  I watched the sky as it turned from silver to grey to the colour of rain.  Even the clouds tried to look the other way.

Sometimes, I imagined how everything appeared above those clouds, knowing without question that the sun was blond, and the endless atmosphere was a giant blue eye.

They were French, they were Jews, and they were you.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, page 358

I finished The Book Thief  by Markus Zasuk on Tuesday, but have not been able to stop thinking about it since.  Normally, I sit down and write the review as soon as I finish a book, then pick up the next book and move on.  However, when I read the last words of The Book Thief :

A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRATOR:  I am haunted by humans.

I found myself not wanting to let the book go.  I told myself I wanted to wait to review it so it could sink in and ruminate.  I had already posted it on BookMooch figuring, like most books, I wouldn’t want to reread it, and it was mooched up right away, but now I don’t want to give it up.  I have put off starting Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince because I don’t want to put anything else in there ever again.  All of this is utterly baffling to me because I have never had an attachment or a reaction to any book like this.

The book itself, plot-wise and such, is easy to sum up.  It is the story of Liesel Meminger, the book thief, who comes to live the Hubermann’s at age nine as their foster daughter.  On the way to Molching, where the Hubermann’s live, Liesel’s younger brother dies and is buried in a cemetery at the next stop.  It is in this place she “steals” her first book, The Gravedigger’s Handbook, after it falls out of the pocket of the apprentice gravedigger.  As the novel progresses, Liesel makes friends with other children on Himmel (a word that means “heaven”) Street, the Hubermann’s take in and hide a Jew, and Liesel discovers the awe-inspiring private library of the mayor’s wife, from which she liberates a book now and then.  All this is told by the book’s narrator, Death.

Summarizing the book is simple.  Explaining and conveying how it effected me, the reader, is anything but.  First of all, Zusak writes with a poetic beauty that captures the way children take in the world around them.  He often crosses the communication of the five senses:

At times, in that basement, she woke up tasting the sound of the accordion in her hears.  She could feel the sweet burn of champagne on her tongue. -p. 365

One line I remember but was unable to find said something like “The smell of the sound of my footsteps,”   and there are so many more lines like these in the book.

Another concept Zusak descriptively conveys is the power of words.</p>

Once, words had rendered Liesel useless, but now, when she sat on the floor, with the mayor’s wife at her husband’s desk, she felt an innate sense of power.  It happened every time she deciphered a new word or pieced together a sentence. -p. 154

She couldn’t tell exactly where the words came from.  What mattered was that they reached her.  They arrived and kneeled next to the bed. -p. 246

After a miscarriaged pause, the mayor’s wife edged forward and picked up the book.  She was battered and beaten up, and not from smiling this time.  Liesel could see it on her face.  Blood leaked from her nose and licked at her lips.  Her eyes had blackened.  Cuts had opened up and a series of wounds were rising to the surface of her skin.  All from words.  From Liesel’s words. -p. 273

Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words. “I will never fire a gun,” he said.  “I will not have to…”  His first plan of attack was to plant the words in as many areas of his homeland as possible…  He watched them grow, until eventually, great forests of words had risen throughout Germany.  It was a nation of Farmed thoughts. -p. 451

Frighteningly, it was exactly through the power of words and a healthy dose of charisma that Hitler was able to accomplish all the evil that was done in his name.  He himself didn’t do the physical work, that would have required him to be in several places at once making that impossible, but through the words of his speeches and policies others took up his cause.  Even more frightening is that his words are still used and followed to this day by some.

Also, through the use of Death, the ultimate impartial onlooker, as narrator Zusak is able to make epiphanic observations about human beings:

In years to come, he would be a giver of bread, not a stealer – proof again of the contradictory human being.  So much good, so much evil.  Just add water. -p. 171

I’ve seen so many young men over the years who think they’re running at other young men.  They are not.  They’re running at me. -p. 182

Death also points out that, beginning with houses of cards and sandcastles, humans “watch everything that was so carefully planned collapse and… smile at the beauty of destruction.”  And he states a couple of times that the human child is much cannier than the adult.

By far, however, the most important observation Death makes, the concept that sets the tenor of the entire book is this:

AN OBSERVATION
A pair of train guards.
A pair of gravediggers.
When it came down to it, one
of them called the shots. The
other did what he was told.The
question is, what if the

other is a lot more than one?
-p. 30

What happens when there are a lot more people who simply do as there told, without question?  What happens to a society when a madman can rule through eloquent speeches, expressing ideals of hatred, and inspiring others to carry out morally reprehensible acts of violence and wickedness?

The Book Thief by Markus Zasuk is haunting and breath-taking, poetically beautiful and filled with truth.  Death often expresses sardonic, almost bitter, statements of irony, all the while telling the reader he is impartial.  He points out both the evil and the good of humans, expresses both disappointment and admiration of the species among whom he walks and collects.  It is a Homeric work that is full of joy and sorrow, anger and forgiveness, love and loss.  It is the story of a handful of people in Nazi Germany during 1939-1945; adults, children, Catholic, Nazi, and Jew, the “free” (was anyone truly free then?) and the hidden, the epitome of the “master race” and the persecuted and annihilated.

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If you’ll take a look to the right, you’ll notice I’ve added a new widget in the sidebar labelled “Mt. TBR Hall of Fame.”  This is my Top 10 favorite books of all-time.  This, honestly, is an imprecise feat, as I know I’ll think of a book that I liked better but forgot, or I’ll read a book that will replace a book on here, and that is okay because I can always edit it.  When I added the widget, I was in the middle of reading The Book Thief, but it had already impressed me enough to be listed in 6th place… and I hadn’t even finished it yet.  And after finishing it and digesting it and writing this review, it has moved up to first place.

Obviously, as The Book Thief by Markus Zasuk is now my all-time favorite book, I give it 5 out of 5 stars.  It should be included in school curriculum alongside The Diary of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel’s NightThe Book Thief has both historicity and literary eloquence, and will undoubtedly become a classic.

 hated it!didn't like itIt was okayLiked it.Loved it!

Again, don’t forget to check out this review’s companion post.