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.

Cairo Jim On The Trail To Cha Cha Muchos by Geoffrey McSkimming

Cairo Jim On The Trail To Cha Cha Muchos by Geoffrey McSkimmingBlurb

Legend has it that somewhere in Peru, atop a towering, jungle-covered mountain, stand the ruins of ChaCha Muchos, the Lost City of Dancers. What happened there nearly five hundred years ago remains a mystery. Who were these people? And why, in the end, did the entire tribe dance itself into extinction?

When that well-known archaeologist and little-known poet, Cairo Jim, sets out to solve the mystery, he doesn’t know that he is not the only one on the trail to ChaCha Muchos…

My Perspective

Obviously after reading Eragon, I wanted to start reading Eldest straight away. However of course our Internet dropped out for half the day and I couldn’t borrow the eBook from my library.

I decided to read the first of the Cairo Jim books instead, as they aren’t super long so if the Internet came back up and I was able to download Eldest, I wouldn’t be embroiled in another book.

The story introduces us to Cairo Jim, well-known archaeologist and little-known poet, on his quest to discover Cha Cha Muchos: The Lost City of Dancers. Little does he know that the devious and slimy Neptune Bone, is also on a quest to discover this mystical place however not for the same upstanding reasons as Cairo Jim. Who will be the one to find it first and will Cairo Jim be able to stop the notorious Neptune Bone before it’s too late?

The story is aimed at older children however can be enjoyed by all ages. It was well written and easy to understand. The humour was very much aimed at older children and some of the text was a little bit over the top, however again, it was perfect for its target audience.

The characters were developed nicely for the length of the story and there wasn’t a lot of unnecessary background information that most children couldn’t give a rip about.

The story grabbed you from the start and there was enough mystery throughout to keep you on your toes. Some of the storyline was quite predictable however honestly the main plot kept me guessing right up until the very end. The fact that a children’s book was able to keep an adult guessing goes to show the ability of the author. There are a lot of adult novels out there that don’t live up to that standard.

Overall I really enjoyed reading the book (I’ve actually read it before when I was in primary school however much to my horror that was around fifteen years ago so as you can see, the story wasn’t quite fresh in my brain). I would definitely feel comfortable letting my children read this book and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to read a bit of a silly albeit well done mystery/adventure.

Enid Blyton Would Be Turning In Her Grave

As a child i loved the Faraway Tree series (i still do!). They would transport me into my wildest dreams, especially the Land of Goodies! A few weeks ago i was browsing through the book section at Vinnies and i came across The Folk of the Faraway Tree for $2. I was thrilled. I bought it and started reading the back of it, reminiscing on all the memories i had of one of my favourite books. However i was a little confused at first because the names weren’t right. Had i bought a rip off of the original Faraway Tree series? I got home and started researching it and no, i’d bought the same book, it was just a modernised version. Why would they need to modernise it? Obviously because in this day and age ‘Dick’ and ‘Fanny’ are no longer appropriate. Now they are ‘Rick’ and ‘Frannie’. Seriously?

The books were originally published in 1943, when many people had those names. Now that they’ve been turned into slang names for sex organs, so it’s not longer appropriate. You might think i am overreacting however think about it this way. They may only feel the need to change their names at the moment because ‘today’ those names aren’t appropriate. However if they feel okay to do that, where will it stop? In 50 – 100 years will Jo, Bessie and ‘Frannie’ be going to the land of Organics and Health Food because childhood obesity will be so bad that having the Land of Goodies will be encouraging the epidemic?

When i read those books as a child, Dick and Fanny weren’t in my vocabulary however i do remember my Mum explaining to me that they were “olden day” names. I accepted that instantly because there were a lot of different things in “the olden days” that i knew about. Obviously 1943 isn’t really the “olden days” but as a young child i could easily grasp that concept. And i understand that not everything in history is nice; for example the way non-whites, women, slaves and servants were treated, and that treatment of the sort is not appropriate nowadays. However does that mean that some of the greatest books in history we rewrite because of that? Or are only children’s books going to be ‘modernised’ because us adults understand. To be honest i think some children, given the chance, would understand and act a lot more maturely than a lot of adults i know. After all, who is your child’s greatest teacher?