Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Curse of Greg (An Epic Series of Failures #2)

Rylander, Chris. The Curse of Greg (An Epic Series of Failures #2)
June 18th 2019 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young
E ARC Provided by Edelweiss Plus

Greg and his new friends are on another Monster Pacification Mission after The Legend of Greg, this time in Evanston. A gargoyle has gotten down off the roof of a building and is terrorizing passers by (shown on the cover). Things don't go smoothly; Greg's pants do indeed catch on fire. However, the group is able to subdue the monster, and Glam smashes it to bits just in case. The instances of monsters wreaking havoc are growing, but humans haven't yet noticed. Along with these threats, Greg notices that his father's behavior is becoming increasingly odd, and he suspects an elven poison, no thanks to his former friend, Edwin.  The group is sent on another MPM to the Wisconsin Dells, to investigate a Rock Troll. Eagan can't go, because he is elected to the council, but the rest go, promising Dunmor that they will resort to violence only as a last resort. This is a good thing because Stony, the rock troll, has been hugging the animals and sending "gifts" to tourists, and doesn't mean to be destructive. They plan to take Stony back to Chicago, and Greg promises that the dwarves won't imprison him the way the elves had. Of course, the adults think differently, and Greg has to do a lot of work to insure that Stony can be free. Then, the group is off to New Orleans to try to find the antidote to the poison ingested by Greg's father, and they are also interested in the Faranglegt Amulet of Sahar, which the fairies hid, and which is the key to dealing with the problem of magic on earth. Eventually, Greg is captured by Edwin and taken to the west coast, where he is held in a fairly comfortable prison, taken on walks by the charming elf, Lixi, and gets to play chess with Edwin. Edwin has decided that all magic should be abolished in order to promote harmony on earth, but he and a few of his trusted friends should be able to do magic in order to keep everyone else in line. Greg knows this isn't a good idea, and his sword keeps telling him that he should be the one in charge, but he and Edwin at least make a little bit of peace with each other. Once Greg is free to return to Chicago, he considers more seriously finding the Faranglegt Amulet, and I suspect that will be the mission in the next book. 
Strengths: This starts with lots of action and incorporates it nicely into the story. There's some background information that is necessary, but it's always bracketed by things being smashed. This is perfect for my students who abhor "nothing happening". It's goofy, too, but not in a way that is too young. The chapter headings are very reminiscent of The Lighting Thief, which is a good way to sell this to those readers. I love Greg-- he is a bit haphazard, but so well meaning. He misses Edwin but understands why their rift occurred, he is very concerned about his father, and he really wants to do the right thing when it comes to the use of magic in the world and the problems with monsters showing up-- but he doesn't quite know what that is. There's a lot of character development and philosophy, brilliantly surrounded by GLAMSMASHING!
Weaknesses: If young readers are easily confused or struggle with text, this is not a book for them. It is wildly frenetic, there are lots of characters, and there are enough dwarven and elvish words that they might get lost. This is okay-- the target demographic of fantasy readers will love all of these details.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, as the first one in the series has been wildly popular with the fans of this author and of mythologically based adventure books like Rick Riordan's. 

I think I know where the Faranglegt Amulet is. Just sayin'. Also have to say that I was absolutely not in the mood to read this. I love Rylander's work and thoroughly enjoyed the first book... in the summer, when I was not six books behind schedule and in the middle of testing at school. This is an important reminder that sometimes middle school students are not in the mood for their usual fare, and why I occasionally hand 8th graders Stick Dog... and it makes them happy. 

Whitesides, Tyler. The Wishbreaker (Wishmakers #2)
January 8th 2019 by HarperCollins
Public library copy

Again, the week before school is out for the summer is NOT the time for me to read goofy fantasy. I loved the first one, and this author's Janitors series remains popular, so I will definitely purchase. 

Publisher's description
Being a Wishmaker may be more trouble than it’s worth. Sure, you get a genie who can grant an unlimited number of wishes, but for each one you make you have to accept an awful consequence in return. Not to mention that you’re also given an impossible quest and only seven days to fulfill it!
Despite all that, Ace and his genie, Ridge, managed to complete their last mission—but they couldn’t save their friend Tina from being abducted by a rogue genie who’s bent on using his limitless power to rule the world. To rescue her, Ace must reunite with Ridge to become a Wishmaker once more, and they’ll need to team up with the unlikeliest of new allies. It’s not every day you get a second chance to save the world, so Ace is determined to learn from his past mistakes and wish for the best, literally.
Perfect for fans of Max Brailler, Adam Gidwitz, and Dan Gutman, this middle grade series is a wonderful mix of unpredictable magic, zany humor, and daring adventure. “An ingenious premise” raved Kirkus in a starred review!"

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