Blackwood, Gary. Around the World in 100 Days
Harry Fogg (yes, related to THAT Fogg) is tremendously intrigued by motorcars. He and his friend Johnny have one they have made called the Flash, and when Harry foolishly makes a large wager, the two set off on a trip around the world. They are forced to take Charles, the foppish son of one of Harry's challengers, and pick up Elizabeth, an intrepid reporter, on their way. Things don't go smoothly, mainly because very little planning has gone into the trip. Visas for China? Nyah. Fuel and provisions? Some. There are a lot of technical difficulties with the car as well, and saboteurs from the most unlikely places. Will the group be able to make it in 100 days? And will Harry's famous father learn to respect his sons desires?
Strengths: Rolicking adventure set in an era when it was not possible to Google Street View your next stop or pull over at a Goodyear in China to get a gear fixed. Great historical fiction on a topic (cars) that you would think would be better covered.
Weaknesses: Characters were a little one dimensional, and Harry didn't grow as much as I had hoped.
Stroud, Jonathan. The Ring of Solomon.
From the publisher: "Bartimaeus, a wise-cracking djinni, finds himself in the tenth century and at the court of King Solomon with an unpleasant master and a sinister servant, and gets into trouble with King Solomon's magic ring."
I like the Bartimaeus Trilogy. Really. I do. But personal preferences reared their ugly head last night. Fantasy is not my favorite thing, even though I read a lot of it. This book, while fun and a great addition to the series, started with a list of main characters and a map, had footnotes, and that was enough to grease the skillet of my brain. When I closed the book, all of the contents slid right out of my head like an omelet out of a brand new nonstick skillet, just like Nix's Mister Monday series and MacHale's Pendragon series. Only so much I can do.