Friday, June 30, 2017

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes /// A Book Review

You know how I said in my last post that I would be doing more than just reviews? Well, as I was brainstorming my second post, it just so happened to be a review that my brain settled on. I do hope that's all right with you. I just had to talk to you all about the book I finished reading several days ago.

(Believe it or not, I actually looked up and debated using an apologetic cat picture. I figured it was too weird too soon.)

In case the title didn't make it obvious enough, I am reviewing Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier!

You may have seen this book and decided not to read it because it is a middle grade fantasy, and you are not of the middle grade age. Or perhaps you have never seen it, and now your curiosity is piqued. Well, I shall tell you all you need to know. But first . . .

SPOILER ALERT! There will be no spoilers in this review.

Now that the obligatory spoiler alert is out of the way, let's begin!


Ten-year-old Peter Nimble is a thief, and a devious one at that. He can pick virtually any kind of lock, sneak through a room without you noticing, and deftly escape any would-be captors. You might be tempted to call him the perfect thief.

He also happens to be a blind one.

Orphaned as a child and taken in by the cruel Mr. Seamus, he is forced to steal every night. That is, until a mysterious man gives him a box that contains three pairs of eyes--Fantastic Eyes, more specifically. He puts one pair on and is transported to an island. There, he finds out about the Vanished Kingdom, where things have gone terribly wrong. With the help of his new-found friend, Sir Tode, Peter shall venture to this kingdom in order to save it. But many dangers lurk along the way, and all of his skills as a thief will be put to the test if he wants to survive and become a hero.


While the essential plotline isn't necessarily new, it's told in a creative way. The Wall Street Journal describes the book as "part hero quest" and "part orphan saga." This will probably give you some indication as to the flow of the story. What Auxier does well is add creative elements into it, like a blind protagonist (which I've never thought of doing), clockwork machinery, eyes with magical properties, etc. It helps keep the story fresh, even if we've read books like this before.

The characters are all creative, I must say. Aside from the blind Peter, we have Sir Tode, a loyal companion who used to be a knight. When he and his horse argued with a kitten (yes, you read right: he argued with a kitten) outside a witch's home, she carelessly cast a spell that combined the three. So Tode is a knight in a cat's body that has a few horse features, such as hooves and those pointy horse ears. And he has a fabulous mustache. And he can talk. Pretty unique, I say.

A thief by the name of Poor Old Scabbs offers crazy pieces of dialogue, especially since he refers to himself in third person. There are other talking animals, such as fish, birds, and apes. I shouldn't really mention any more characters, since I promised not to spoil anything, and most of the interesting characters involve spoilers.


The setting also is unique, partially due to the fact that it's very ambiguous. When I started reading, I thought the book took place in London during the 1800s or something. However, once Peter teleports to a hidden island, sets out for the Vanished Kingdom, and lands in the Just Deserts, I figured this was probably set in a made-up world. I only really thought that was the case by the time I reached the end of the book. There are different examples I could use, but again, no spoilers.

I loved Auxier's whimsical writing style. It made it feel like I was reading a new classic, if that makes sense. And Auxier was brave enough to do something not many would: he intentionally broke the rules. What I mean by this is that he snapped out of the POV to offer a piece of information that would otherwise be unknown by Peter, or he'd insert witty aside. At one point in the book, Auxier writes, "If you have ever had the chance to spend quality time with a villainous mastermind, you will know these people are extraordinarily fond of discussing their evil schemes out loud." Comments like these can be hard to do--and shouldn't always be done either--but when they're done right, they are great additions to the story and are a testament to a delightful writing voice.


I was able to guess all the major twists in the book ahead of time; while you may not foresee them, don't go into the book expecting to be surprised by phenomenal plot twists. For this book, it wasn't a huge deal for me, but . . . just a fair warning.

There are a few uses of the British word "bloody," which I didn't find offensive, but some people might.

There was one point in the book where Peter suddenly feels various things, such as tiredness. While this can happen, to me, it would've been more logical if there had been something leading up to this. For example, if Peter had noted being tired a few times before, I would've been okay with him being suddenly overwhelmed by it.

I feel like some of the characters could've used a little more depth or been rounded out a bit more. Doing so would've added just a little more oomph to them. This could very well just by my personal preference, but I figured I'd mention it.

What took me by surprise the most was some of the violence in the story. After all, this is a MG fantasy, right? How bad can it get? For the most part, it was vague, but there were a few moments where it stood out. For example, a character is pecked to death by ravens, and said character is only the first victim. Armies clash on a few occasions, causing much blood to flow. Someone gets a knife to the heart. Another character is beheaded. Burning coal is dropped on heads. The final confrontation is possibly the most violent scene, but to explain it would be spoilery. Suffice it to say it was very unexpected and wince-worthy.


To sum up, I think this book was surprising and yet not surprising. Surprising because I didn't expect to fly through it as I got caught up in the plot and the characters. Not surprising because I foresaw the twists, which were still good additions to the plot.

What was most surprising was the violence. I think the reason for that is because it's MG, and so I had no reason to expect those moments. It shocked me more because of younger kids who might pick up the book and encounter these sudden violent scenes. The rest of the book suits the MG audience, but I thought the violence was more at home in a YA book.

In the end, though, I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone wanting a quick summer read/hero story. To more sensitive readers, I would caution them to put down the book if they get uncomfortable. And while there were some flaws, I can forgive them since this story is Auxier's debut novel. I expect excellence more than I do perfection, and for the most part, I found it to be of excellent quality.

I deem Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes to be worthy of four stars!


What do you think, dear readers? Have you read Peter Nimble before, and if so, does it deserve four stars? Are you now interested in reading it? How am I at reviews? (I think I nailed it on my first try, but that's only my humble opinion.)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Greetings and Salutations!

Congratulations, weary Internet traveller. You have just encountered a little piece of the web that I call home. Do come in, won't you? Put up your feet and rest.

It's good to meet you! My name is Josiah . . . but that was probably a little obvious. Welcome to my humble blog, The Steadfast Pen. I'm glad you stopped by. Fact is, I hope you stop by a lot more in the future.

To start off, let's get to know each other a little better. Here's a list of ten things you should know about me, because I like lists. And no, that one doesn't count.

  1. I love stories. Because of my love for stories, I'm a writer and, by nature, a reader. See, what I've found is that not all readers are writers, but writers tend to be readers. They need to replenish their creative juices now and again, and I'm no different. I love becoming so engrossed in a good book that I lose track of time. But it doesn't stop there. I want to return the favor by giving others stories that they'll absolutely love, which is a major reason why I write.
  2. I was homeschooled. No, I'm not one of those awkward, socially inept homeschool students. I can hold a conversation with the best of them. Well, maybe not quite, but close enough. I was in public school for kindergarten and driver's ed. I actually graduated from a one-year college class this spring, so there's that too for my "normal" school exposure.
  3. I have three sisters. People seem to be really surprised when they find out I don't have any brothers. They seem to think it's tough to survive in a home with so many females. Actually, they should be jealous of me. It gives me the advantage, because I can learn how to interact with the opposite gender. Plus, they're an incredible blessing to me, so it all works out in the end.
  4. I am the last of my siblings to start a blog. Yep, all three of my sisters have their own blogs. I finally decided to join the club this year. My oldest sister blogs about a variety of things, with writing and life in general being the most common topics. You can find her here. My middle sister likes to post about the art she draws and the books she reads. Check her out here. Last, but not least, my youngest sister posts about an online game she plays (Animal Jam) and is also writing a story about her and her friends in a high school. You'll catch her right here. (No, my sisters didn't bribe me so that I could advertise their blogs. This was all my doing.)
  5. I'm a gamer. Quick, erase the image of a forty-year-old, foul-mouthed, bachelor living in his parents's basement, surviving on Cheetos and shrinking away from the outdoors. It's a stereotype that I do not conform to, save for that fact that I'm a bachelor. I thoroughly enjoy playing video games, both by myself and with my youngest two sisters. I generally prefer family-friendly games, of which Nintendo has plenty. Shameless advertising for you there, Nintendo!
  6. I'm a LEGO fanatic. No one will ever be able to convince me that LEGO is a toy for kids only. It's ageless, and anyone can enjoy it. My LEGO collection consists of several boxes filled with an assortment of vehicles, animals, and what-have-you. I've got four boxes for minifigures, and I share a closet with my sisters to store bigger models. Plus, I've got a shelf or two on an old bookself, since the closet isn't big enough. Think I have enough yet? . . . Nah!
  7. My favorite music to listen to is soundtrack music. This collection rivals my LEGO; I own over fifty albums, if I'm not mistaken. Some people think this is really odd, but I love instrumental music more than I like lyrical songs. That's not to say that I don't enjoy stuff with lyrics, or that I never listen to it. It's just that if I'm going to listen to music, it'll probably be soundtrack music. One of my many quirks, I suppose.
  8. I enjoy making playlists for my stories. What I'll do is find tracks that match scenes from my stories--or the music will inspire story scenes--and put them together to make a playlist. It's actually a lot of fun to do, and the playlists always seem to get me even more pumped about my stories.
  9. Pizza is one of my favorite foods ever. Yes, this is a totally random fact to add to the list. But pizza deserves to be in its own food group. It's just that amazing. No other reason is need. Plus, my mom makes some extremely delectable homemade pizza, so that makes it even better.
  10. I am a passionate pursuer of Christ. He is the One who gave me my gifts and abilities, and He pursued me first. Because of all He has done for me, I follow Him through thick and thin. I want to ensure that in each and every one of my books, He is glorified. I want to be His steadfast pen to the world.

Well, there you have it! We are now better acquainted and can cut to the chase: what is this blog about? That question is probably at the forefront of your mind. (Unless you're thinking of pizza, which is definitely more important.) Well, let me tell what you can expect from my blog posts.

  • You can expect my adventures in my writing journey, which will include anything from tips and tricks to what I'm currently working on. In fact, writing will probably one of the major focuses of my blog.
  • You can expect me to talk about life in general. I'll probably share you with any interesting events that happen to me, or any ponderings I have about various "life" subjects.
  • You can expect book rants or reviews, whichever I feel like doing. Because, you know, books are a pretty big part of my life, since I'm a writer/reader.
  • You can expect amusing posts (at least I hope they are) about gaming and reviews for games.
  • You can expect me to jabber about amazing movies or TV shows I've seen, as well as reviews for them.
  • You can expect to get great suggestions from me as to what music you should listen to . . . or I'll just ramble about what I'm listening to. Also, more reviews about music.
  • You can expect more than just reviews, even though it sounds like all I'm posting about. Because I probably won't do it that often. I guess we'll see what happens.
  • You can expect new posts from me every Friday!

That wraps up my first post. I look forward to hanging out with you guys more in the future. Please, stay a little while and chat with me. I'm not going anywhere. And there's free pizza, so help yourselves. While you wait for a new post from me, why don't you check this guest post in which I talk about writing villains?

Farewell, my friends, until we meet again! Same time, same place!