Xylophones Above Zarundi: A Chaotic Tale of Melody by Geoffrey McSkimming

Xylophones Above Zarundi: A Chaotic Tale of Melody by Geoffrey McSkimmingBlurb

While on a stopover in the mysterious African country of Zarundi, Jocelyn Osgood – that well-known Valkyrian Airways Flight Attendant and ‘good friend’ of Cairo Jim – becomes unwittingly embroiled in the theft of a priceless royal tiara.

She and her companions find themselves thrown into a world of subtle chaos, which carries them across an intriguing and colourful landscape as they try desperately to locate the stolen regalia and two renegade Tropical Xylophonists…

My Perspective

Xylophones Above Zarundi: A Chaotic Tale of Melody follows Jocelyn Osgood and Joan Twilight as they become mixed up in the theft of the royal tiara while on stopover in Zarundi. In order to get it back, they find themselves on the trail of the two xylophonists who went missing at the same time as the tiara…

As much as I love the Cairo Jim novels, I LOVE the Jocelyn Osgood novels even more. I’m not sure why, there isn’t a specific thing that I can pinpoint, they are just a really great read.

In saying that, this story was probably my least favourite of the Jocelyn Osgood novels as I found the mystery and adventure of the other books far more fascinating because they had a lot more history involved. This was still good, it just lacked that extra oomph.

Jocelyn is extremely easy to like and is a fantastic female lead. She’s strong, capable, smart, and kind as well as still having real emotions and moments of self doubt. Joan is hilarious and one finds it hard not to like her despite her obvious “blonde” personality. They make a great team and bounce off one another well. The other characters were in usual Cairo Jim form – extremely quirky and unusual and slightly silly. The villain in this story was EXTREMELY unlikable.

The story was interesting, well written and held mystery for the reader. It had me guessing right up until the very end.

I would definitely recommend this book however it’s probably better to start with the first Jocelyn Osgood novel, After The Puce Empress, so you can read how Jocelyn and Joan first met.

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Cairo Jim and the Tyrannical Bauble of Tiberius by Geoffrey McSkimming

Cairo Jim and the Tyrannical Bauble of Tiberius by Geoffrey McSkimmingBlurb

Strange happenings are afoot in Rome, where a priceless and mysterious artefact – the imperishable Bauble of the ancient Emperor Tiberius – has gone missing.

Cairo Jim – that well-known archaeologist and little-known poet – and his friends, Doris the macaw and Brenda the Wonder Camel, are sent to Rome to try to get to the bottom of this act of felony. They soon discover that the Bauble has terrifying powers if it is held in the wrong hands…powers that could herald the end of civilisation as we know it!

My Perspective

Cairo Jim and the Tyrannical Bauble of Tiberius follows the trio as they head to Rome to investigate the mysterious time lapses that are occurring in the city every afternoon and to find out who stole the Bauble – two seemingly unrelated incidents that they believe are in fact linked. Will they be able to unlock the mystery before the thief discovers the power of the Bauble?

I quite enjoyed this Cairo Jim novel. I liked the fact that there was a different slant to the story and the dynamic of the usual adventures they have because Bone was in jail and therefore not their usual suspect. It added some more mystery and intrigue. I figured it all out quite early in the piece however for an older child it would probably not be as obvious.

As usual the trio were heartwarming characters and felt like your good friends. I enjoyed Pasqual, who was both charming and silly, and a great addition to the story. The villain was not very likable, especially considering their motives. There is a great “love to hate them” vibe with Bone and Desdemona, the usual villains of the story, however this person did not have that feel at all.

Again like all Cairo Jim novels, the story was funny, silly, mysterious and charming all at the same time.

I would definitely recommend this book to children of all ages however if you haven’t read any Cairo Jim novels then i probably wouldn’t start with this one as it is a later novel and there are a lot of references that would be better understood if earlier novels had been read.

Cairo Jim and the Sunken Sarcophagus of Sekheret by Geoffrey McSkimming

Cairo Jim and the Sunken Sarcophagus of Sekheret by Geoffrey McSkimmingBlurb

When the manicured evil genius, Captain Neptune F. Bone, disappears in the Red Sea while diving for a lost sarcophagus, that well-known archaeologist and little-known poet, Cairo Jim, is called in to try and help find him in the dark and watery depths.

But when Jim, Doris the macaw and Brenda the Wonder Camel take the plunge, little do they know that what they are about to find will become one of the most flabbergasting discoveries in the history of archaeology!

My Perspective

Cairo Jim and the Sunken Sarcophagus of Sekheret follows the trio as they embark on a rescue mission to find Captain Neptune Bone and solve the mystery of the message left in his fez. However what they unearth is far beyond their wildest expectations.

I really liked this story because it was a different setting to the usual – it was set underwater! The inventiveness of the author was really quite good and i loved the different creative ideas he put forward to explain all manner of things.

As usual Cairo Jim, Doris and Brenda are your lovable trio. However there was quite a twist with ol’ Captain Neptune Bone and Desdemona. I think it worked quite well and there were moments where you couldn’t stand Bone (as usual) as well as other moments where you felt quite lovely when they all worked together for their common good.

Like the previous Cairo Jim novel that i reviewed, this one wasn’t as silly per se, however it was really interesting and had a bit of a depth so i quite liked it. It was still very much a funny Cairo Jim novel for children however it was slightly more mature.

Although the main premise of the story might be obvious to the more mature reader, all of the other smaller parts are not at all and keep you guessing.

Overall it was an enjoyable read and definitely one of the more interesting Cairo Jim novels.

Cairo Jim Amidst The Petticoats of Artemis by Geoffrey McSkimming

Cairo Jim Amidst The Petticoats of Artemis by Geoffrey McSkimmingBlurb

A Turkish Tale of Treachery

In the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus, an astonishing relic has been unearthed!

What connection to the bygone goddess Artemis does this relic hold? What astonishing powers could be unleashed if it were to fall into the wrong, evil and manicured hands?

Cairo Jim-that well-known archaeologist and little-known poet-and his friends Doris the Macaw and Brenda the Wonder Camel find themselves faced with the greatest threat to nature itself!

My Perspective

Cairo Jim Amidst The Petticoats of Artemis follows the trio as they hunt down Neptune Bone and Desdemona, who have discovered the Petticoat of Artemis and are searching for the buckle and the belt. Once all three have been found, there is no telling what Bone will do with the power that it will give him.

I didn’t find this story as silly as the other Cairo Jim books that i have read. It was still silly, just not ridiculously so. It would still greatly appeal to children, it was just toned down a bit.

Again Cairo Jim, Doris and Brenda are all lovable, as Neptune Bone and Desdemona are not. There was a new character added to the mix who i wasn’t sure i wanted to become a regular…they were a lovely person, it just created a possible angle that i would rather not have happen.

The story was interesting and funny however not as mysterious or cryptic. The outcome of the story was easily guessed.

Overall it was an enjoyable read however i felt it fell a bit flat compared to the other Cairo Jim novels.

Cairo Jim And The Secret Sepulchre Of The Sphinx by Geoffrey McSkimming

Cairo Jim And The Secret Sepulchre Of The Sphinx by Geoffrey McSkimmingBlurb

A Tale Of Incalculable Inversion

When that well-known archaeologist and little-known poet, Cairo Jim, and his friends Doris the macaw, and Brenda the Wonder Camel, and Jocelyn Osgood make the ‘find of the century’, a new enemy on the scene sets out to discredit Jim and destroy his hard-won reputation…

My Perspective

Cairo Jim And The Secret Sepulchre Of The Sphinx, follows Cairo Jim, Doris and Brenda once again on the dig for an historical wonder. However they know not what they are looking for. And just when they thought their lives were forever at peace due to the demise of the evil Neptune Bone, Mr Impluvium, an evil and conniving man, turns up on the scene.

The story was again a silly yet well written children’s story. I do find that after awhile some of the silliness gets to me however I have to remember that it’s not written with my age group in mind. I loved these books as a kid and didn’t find the silliness over the top at all back then.

I really liked the storyline and the mystery throughout. Although some of it was obvious, not all of it was and there were some parts that really kept me guessing.

Again, the main characters are extremely likeable – Cairo Jim, Doris and Brenda – and Mr Impluvium the slimy villain everyone loves to hate. What he did in the book was pretty mean and nasty and you really feel for Cairo Jim and his friends.

Overall it was an enjoyable and light read that I would recommend for children and adults who like a silly adventure/mystery with a bit of history thrown in.

Ranger’s Apprentice 12: The Royal Ranger by John Flanagan

Ranger's Apprentice 12: The Royal Ranger by John FlanaganBlurb

Will took an oath when he joined the Ranger Corps. Does it mean nothing to him now?

After a senseless tragedy destroys his life, Will is obsessed with punishing those responsible – even if it means leaving the Ranger Corps. His worried friends must find a way to stop him taking such a dark path.

It is Halt who suggests the solution: Will must take an apprentice. The candidate Halt has in mind surprises everyone – and it’s a request Will cannot refuse.

Training a rebellious, unwilling apprentice is hard enough. But when a routine mission uncovers a shocking web of crime, Will must decide where his priorities lie – finishing his quest for revenge, or saving innocent lives?

The final book of the Ranger’s Apprentice series raises the stakes higher than ever. Is Will on his last mission for the Ranger Corps?

My Perspective

The Royal Ranger is the very last book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series.

Grief stricken from a terrible tragedy, Will is bent on revenge, even if it means breaking his oath to the Ranger Corps. His concerned friends decide that something must be done and Halt comes up with the idea that he is to take on an apprentice…but not just any apprentice.

I think the last book in a series is a hard one to review because it’s essentially ending the fantasy and that can be a disappointment in itself. Especially after twelve books.

Over fifteen years have passed and a lot has happened in that time. Will has practically turned into Halt, which I found amusing however a little disappointing because there wasn’t much “Will” in him. I know he wasn’t himself due to his grief but even then he just read like Halt. The other characters were practically the same however Princess Cassandra or Evanlyn seemed a bit more bossy and bratty than usual. At first I really liked Maddy and I thought she was severely misunderstood however how wrong was I!!! What a brat!!! It was good to see how she grew and matured though.

The story is steady paced with a fair bit happening throughout. There is a lot of attention to detail, except for the ending. I found the story ended quite abruptly and it didn’t match the rest of the book. I think that was my only disappointment with it.

Overall it was a really enjoyable read and I’m sad to see the series end. I would definitely recommend this book, and this series, for children, young adults and even adults if you like fantasy and adventure. However you need to start at the beginning with the first book, The Ruins of Gorlan.

Ranger’s Apprentice 11: The Lost Stories by John Flanagan

Ranger's Apprentice 11: The Lost Stories by John FlanaganBlurb

Everyone knows the legends of the Rangers of Araluen. But no one has heard the whole story – until now. Has Halt told Will the truth about how Will became an orphan? Did Gilan track down Morgarath’s lieutenant after the battle of Three Step Pass? Is there to be a royal wedding – or will tragedy strike first? Inspired by questions and letters sent by his loyal readers, John Flanagan answers all your burning questions about the world of the Rangers.

If you want to know what’s gone before and what comes next for Will, Halt, Horace, Alyss, Evanlyn and Gilan – not to mention a certain stubborn little pony – The Lost Stories is an unmissable read.

My Perspective

The customer who originally lent me the Ranger’s Apprentice series bought the last two books and is also lending them to me. I am very excited to complete the series although a little sad that it is coming to an end.

This book is simply a compilation of various stories that are set throughout the entire timeline of the whole series that help answer some questions about certain events.

All the stories apart from one, are in chronological order, which was helpful and the right way to do it rather than higgledy piggledy. The one story that isn’t in order, doesn’t really need to be.

Each story is well written and interesting and keeps in theme with the rest of the series. They are mainly written from Will’s point of view however a few are not and it was nice to revisit some of the other characters.

This book was a nice touch for the second last book of the series and definitely answered some of my questions. I must admit that i do have a few more questions now however really John Flanagan could go on writing forever about the world he has created and i was excited to learn that he has written a spin off series – Brotherband, which i am definitely looking forward to reading.

Overall this book was a pleasant and exciting read that had you captivated as well as at the same time being able to put it down because it was a book of short stories. I would definitely recommend this book for children, young adults and even adults if you like fantasy and adventure. However you need to start at the beginning with the first book, The Ruins of Gorlan.