DNF Confronting Destiny

 

 

Why I Couldn’t Finish This Book:

It’s a real shame that I have to shelve this story for now because it held a lot of promise for me. The story sounded interesting and the characters made for a good first impression. However, it has taken me a while to try and get into this book. I read for a few pages and then get distracted by something else, so I’ve only read a few chapters at this point. I think the biggest problem was the writing style, not that it was terribly written or sounded awful, it was just really hard to get into at the moment. The writing style wasn’t difficult to read, but it reminded me some of my dad’s old high fantasy books. At times there was information woven into the sentences that, while important for world building and character development, felt a bit extra for the given moment the author was trying to write. I’m not completely giving up this story, I still would love to read it one day. But at the moment I have several other books that I need to get to and review as well. So for now, I’m going to shelve this book and hopefully when there is a lull in requested reviews I can pick this one up again and read in earnest.

Details:

Title: Confronting Destiny

Author: A.L

Publisher: Self-published

Release Date: May 18th, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Action/Adventure

Pages: 247

Synopsis:

The once proud kingdom of Rekhia is being rebuilt with the character of her conquerors. They lost their freedom when they lost the war. Over the years, their foreign overlords had caused the erosion of their customs, their language, their way of life. They were losing their identity.

Kaleen, heir to the Rekhian throne, grew up in the peaceful sanctuary of the Misty Mountains, protected by its fiercely independent citizens. For almost two decades, she had been groomed by her uncle to take back what is rightfully hers, to return her country back to her people.

The time has come for her to be what her family expects her to be, what her people need her to be. She embarks on a quest that becomes a journey of self-discovery. She fights new dangers, battles evil in the form of man and monsters. But it is doubt, both in her desires and her abilities, that is her greatest foe.

Her cousins Milan and Milena travel by her side, holding her up when she needs support. Nobles, peasants, monks, knights… help her along the way. But it is ultimately up to Kaleen, to save her kingdom, to free Rekhia, to find her true self, and to confront destiny.

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Manga Review: Yona of the Dawn (vol.4)

 

Synopsis:

Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Su-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when tragedy strikes her family!

While on a quest to find the Four Legendary Dragon Warriors, Yona and her friends meet Gija, the White Dragon. Gija uses his power to detect the other Dragons, but locating the Blue Dragon proves to be more difficult than expected, and the group runs into a string of disasters!

 

 

Rating:

4/5

Right off the bat the pacing in this volume is a lot better and that’s actually a journey to find the Blue Dragon that takes a little while, both in the story and in the number of pages. I really enjoyed reading how these characters go about their search, there’s actually some intelligence involved in their reasoning that also allows the readers to better understand the area. All in all, it was a clever way of showing the resourcefulness of our heroes while also expanding on the world.

In this volume we do get to meet the Blue Dragon and we get to see his very realistic reaction to meeting Yona. While I like the White Dragon and his village, I honestly find the Blue Dragon and his village to be more realistic and even Yun makes mention of this as well. The mangaka seems to poke fun at some common fantasy tropes that also appear in her story, which I greatly appreciate. Along with meeting the Blue Dragon, you also get to read the backstory of his character and why the villagers treat him as they do in this volume. It’s all really sad—totally pulling on the heart strings with his introduction. Gija also gets a little development in this volume as well as we get introduced to some of his internal conflicts, I really can’t wait to see where his character goes.

Well, I’m off to read the next volume! With a cliffhanger like that, I’m dying to read what happens to our heroes and I can’t wait to see how they develop!

Details:

Title: Yona of the Dawn (Vol. 4)

Chapters: 18-23, plus a bonus story

Written by: Mizuho Kusanagi

Artist:  Mizuho Kusanagi

Translation/Adaptation: JN Produtions / Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane

Publisher:  VIZ Media LLC

Published:  February 7th, 2017

Pages: 192

Genre: Manga, Shojo, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Romance

Manga Review: Yona of the Dawn (vol.3)

 

Synopsis:

Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Su-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when tragedy strikes her family!

Yona and Hak set out on a journey to find a priest who can see the future. After they get severely injured from falling off a cliff, a boy named Yun and his guardian Ik-su nurse them back to health—and Ik-su happens to be a priest! When Yona tells him that she wishes to protect the lives of those who are precious to her, what path will Ik-su show her?

Rating:

3/5

This volume is all about world building and setting up Yona’s quest for the first portion of the story. We’re introduced to some new characters, one of which I don’t think we’ll see again for a very long time. The pacing in this volume was a little weird. After the dramatic ending of the last volume I was hoping some of that would bleed into this one, but it does in parts. The story picked up some good momentum when Yona learned of the path that she had to take, when she was given her quest by the gods, but the momentum sputters a bit after she accepted her task. The flow gets interrupted by some back story for one of the new characters. I understand why we needed that so that we could get a quick introduction to the character and develop a caring thought for them, but it felt like it was shoved into the story unnaturally—like it was supposed to be somewhere else. Then Yona completes the first step in her quest rather easily after just beginning. I understand that some time had passed between starting the quest and getting to the first task, but it still felt like all the pieces fell into place rather quickly with very little fuss.

But overall it was a really good volume. The backstory was really cute, though I think it should’ve been treated as an extra short story rather than its own chapter. But the backstory and the characters involved provided some nice world building, giving some important information to both Yona and the readers. This volume also includes some really cute moments between Hak and Yona, allowing their relationship to grow and change before our eyes. I love how blind Yona is and just how much Hak tiptoes the line. And there’s still some more development in Yona’s character, she’s becoming less of a naïve princess and more of a strong heroine, though she still has a ways to go yet. And I think the single best thing that happened in this volume was at the end, one of the characters mentions that they have this radar-like ability to find the other members of their team and the author puts in a joke about how convenient that power is to the story. If the mangaka didn’t put that in there as a jab at themselves and other similar stories, then I’ll eat my hat because that bit was just too perfect not to be a planned jab!

Details:

Title: Yona of the Dawn (Vol. 3)

Chapters: 12-17, plus a bonus story

Written by: Mizuho Kusanagi

Artist:  Mizuho Kusanagi

Translation/Adaptation: JN Produtions / Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane

Publisher:  VIZ Media LLC

Published:  December 6th, 2016

Pages: 192

Genre: Manga, Shojo, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Romance

Book Haul from Philcon 2017

Hello everyone, I hope you all are having a fantastic day!

A few weeks ago (November 10-12) I went up to Cherry Hill, New Jersey with my boyfriend and his family to attend Philcon. No, Philcon is not a convention where a bunch of Phils get together to have some drinks and catch up. Instead, it’s a science fiction convention that has a huge focus on literature and it is the oldest science fiction convention on the East Coast! It’s the second year that I’ve gone and I find the con to be pretty laid back and relaxing.

Like last time, I come back from that weekend with a ton of books, though they are not all for me. I actually got a good stack of books for my dad for Christmas because he’s an avid reader himself, I swear the man can get through a high fantasy doorstopper in a single afternoon if he had the chance! I just wanted to share with you guys all the neat books that I found, a lot of which were actually free.

One of the things that I really like about Philcon is that their dealers’ room is normally full of books. They invite local authors and small publishing groups to sell their books, and they’re generally really nice people to talk to. That weekend I met some guys from Realm Makers, which appears to be a Writers Conference. They were really nice guys and they told me that all the books they were selling were from authors who have won awards at their conference and that most of them were local-ish to the area. They had a really nice collection books, but sadly my wallet could only afford so many of them. Pictured here we have:

  • Breakwater (Broken Tides #1) by Catherine Jones Payne
  • Tainted (The Soul Chronicles #1) by Morgan L. Busse
  • The Gold Son by Carrie Anne Noble
  • The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrier Anne Noble
  • Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul
  • Wrath and Ruin by C.W. Briar
  • Curio by Evangeline Denmark
  • Willoughby and the Terribly Itchy Itch by Pam Halter

 

Not only did the dealers’ room have a bunch of authors selling books but just general book sellers too. From these guys I had found an assortment of books, from new to decades old. One guy even had a bunch of really nice hardcovers, but they were way too expensive for my wallet. But most of them had really good book deals and they had titles that were either out of print or not normally found in the major book stores. From them I got:

  • The Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • At the Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • The Moon Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • The Copper Crown by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison
  • The Throne of Scone by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison
  • Slow Fall to Dawn by Stephen Leigh
  • The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Get off the Unicorn by Anne McCaffrey
  • Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish by Morgan Llywelyn
  • Through the Darkness by Harry Turtledove
  • Into the Darkness by Harry Turtledove
  • Darkness Descending by Harry Turtledove
  • Like a Mighty Army by David Weber
  • Fortune’s Blight by Evie Manieri
  • The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
  • The Lord of Castle Black by Steven Brust
  • The Cat who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Mother of Storms by John Barnes

 

The rest of the books came from one of the greatest (and possibly most damning) inventions in the literary community: the free table. This year I checked the free table regularly because there was a constant stream of interesting things being placed on it. There were tons of various magazines, books, cheap jewelry, and even special cereal boxes and backs of action figure boxes. Saturday night we even found a dress that someone had left there. From the table I picked up:

  • Wonder Women by Sam Maggs
  • A Death in the Family by James Agee
  • Star Wars Del Rey 2016 Free Sampler
  • Hawke by Ted Bell
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
  • Lifelode by Jo Walton
  • The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders
  • In the Shadow of the Gods by Rachel Dunne
  • A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
  • Alice by Christina Henry
  • A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
  • Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

Bottom line, if you want to add a large number of books to your collection or if you’re looking for books by small press and/or self-published authors, this is the con to go to. Philcon is a nice laidback con that I highly recommend to anyone who loves science fiction and fantasy. Also, pro-tip: if you’re a book blogger, don’t be afraid to let authors know because they’ll usually open up more to you and will be more willing to give you a deal!

PS: sorry for the terrible photos, I tried really hard to get them right but I don’t quite have a place set up to take pictures yet and it was a cloudy day (I prefer natural lighting to light bulbs). Thanks for reading!

Manga Review: The Seven Deadly Sins (vol.8)

 

Synopsis:

GIANT STEPS

The seal is broken, and Gowther, the Sin of Lust, is revealed! The ruthless, elite Holy Knights known as the Roars of Dawn have tracked down the mysterious Armor Giant. They seem to have it cornered, but it hides a hair-raising secret! When they learn the truth, the Sins are befuddled, and the princess doubles her resolve! What decision has Meliodas made about the memories entrusted to him? When the countdown to the destruction of their world begins, the Sins rush back to the kingdom. The fuse is lit on the decisive battle!

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

4/5

This volume contains the conclusion of Gowthar’s first appearance and the start of the final stretch of the first arc. Secrets and dastardly plans are revealed in between intense action sequences. Buckle up boys and girls, cuz this roller coaster is speeding up and won’t stop until the end!

In the beginning, we get to see into some of Meliodas’s past and more into his character. Then during the last bit of Gowthar’s appearance there’s a nice moment between Meliodas and Elizabeth. Honestly, I wish that there were more of these moments and a little less action, but alas I don’t think that’ll really happen. At the end of the battle with the Armor Giant we see some into Gowthar’s personality. It seems like his character is going to be a rocky one and that there will be tons of room for growth. After a nice little drunk bonding session we immediately get thrown into the next round of fights that will eventually lead to the final battle of this arc. Everyone converges on the capital and bodies begin to fly, and at the very end we get introduced to King Arthur and his mysterious companion. At the very end is a nice little bonus short story centered around Gowthar, which adds a little fluff to his character and serves as a nice little break before punches really start swinging. If you haven’t picked this volume up yet then get this one and the next two, because this final sequences of battles will span the next few volumes and I’m sure will be super intense!

Details:

Title: The Seven Deadly Sins (Vol. 8)

Chapters: 55-62, plus a bonus story

Written by: Nakaba Suzuki

Artist: Nakaba Suzuki

Translation/Adaptation: Christine Dashiell

Lettering: James Dashiell

Publisher:  Kodansha Comics

Published: May 26th, 2015

Pages: 192

Genre: Manga, Historical-Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Young Adult, Romance

Book Review: The Language of Thorns

Details:

Title: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Illustrator: Sara Kipin

Publisher: Imprint

Release Date: September 26th, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Short Stories,

Pages: 281 (hardcover)

Synopsis:

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

My First Thoughts:

I found this book before going a movie with my boyfriend and his family. We needed to kill some time, because we showed up way too early, so we went into the Barnes & Noble near the theater even though they all knew how dangerous of an idea that is for my wallet. That’s where I found this beautiful book on one of their display stands, and when I flipped through it and saw all the illustrations I knew there was no turning back. I love fairytales and folk lore and when authors try to reimagine them for themselves, even though it’s normally a hit or miss with most stories. I had never read the Grisha novels, though I own the first one, so I was unfamiliar with the author, but I just prayed that her wordsmithing would live up to the beauty of the illustrations.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

There’s so much to say for these stories and each one was so different that I feel like I can’t make a lot of generalizing comments about them, so I’ll talk about each one separately.

Ayama and the Thorn Wood

There are not too many stories out there that focuses on the classically ugly or monstrous as main characters. In fact, in young adult fiction especially, the main characters are normally portrayed with unrealistic beauty or overly mentioned mundane features that get too much attention. The first unique thing about this story is not the monster prince that must be reasoned with or killed, but that the one sent to meet him is a young woman who had spent her life on her hands and knees, overlooked, ugly, and not allowed to speak her mind. Ayama is a girl that has all the features that society would deem undesirable, with a voice that made people cringe, and that no one even dare look at, but a sharp mind that could tell when something didn’t seem quite right. She had a self-sacrificing personality because of the love she had for her sister, but she found a line she could not cross and instead leaped to a different line.

Another unique thing about this story is that it’s not your normal romance. Most stories with even a hint of romance spend a lot of time commenting on appearance and whether the characters find others attractive. In this case, there may have been a few passing comments but they almost all went unnoticed. Instead, this romance was built not on appearance but on understanding. The characters grew to understand and appreciate each other for who they were, but it was so carefully done that it almost escaped my notice until the end and it was a very happy surprise.

I loved the transformation of Ayama as her story progressed and how the beastly prince played a subtle role in her transformation. At first it was quiet, the author distracted with beautiful imagery and the stories that Ayama told, but the louder Ayama got the more apparent that her character was changing until the very end. And all it took was for one person to listen to her and showed that they actually cared about what she said, which sends a very powerful message. Just by listening to the ideas of a person you give them the power to fully realize themselves, especially if it is an individual who has spent most of their time being ignored. So next time someone is spilling to you their ideas and inner most thoughts just give them your undivided attention and see where they go.

The Too-Cleaver Fox

Again, I liked that this story focused on a character that was ugly and treated poorly for it, but also cleaver and helpful towards others. This one was vastly different than its predecessor in both tone and direction. There’s not a whole lot I can say about this story without giving anything away, but it was still very interesting though not as moving as the last one. Instead, this was a simple tale about an ugly fox trying to save the forest, even though most poked at his appearance, from a silent and impossibly deadly hunter.

This one almost fooled me, but I saw the plot twist before it was revealed in the end. That’s not saying that the author did a poor job with the twist, it was just something that I picked up as I read the fox’s reasons, thoughts, and interpretations. If I hadn’t noticed the smaller details then I might have been surprised, but even though I wasn’t the reveal was still pretty intense and had been gripping the pages as I read.

I really enjoyed the fox’s character. He was a bit of a trickster, but he always followed through on his word and he had a good heart. It was different because too often people write tricksters that either resemble Puck or Loki, but the fox while very cunning also did things for the greater good even at the expense of himself.

The Witch of Duva

Out of all the short stories, this one surprised me the most and for the first time in a while I was truly shocked by the outcome of a story.

This one felt like it drew some from the Hansel and Gretel story but only just barely. There were two children and their wood-carving father, a witch in the woods, and tasty treats but that was about it. The rest of the story either drew from other versions of the folktale that I’m unfamiliar with or came straight from the author herself. All the details that author added to the story made it come to life in a way that distracted me from all the little details pointing to the climax of the tale.

Sometimes there are just clear cut antagonists in a story, but here the antagonist was not actually the villain which also made this story unique. Let me explain, an antagonist is a character that antagonizes the protagonist and pushes them in a specific direction. However, not all antagonists are villains. For instance, in Ponyo, Ponyo’s father is her antagonist because through his actions he pushes her to rebel and try to become human, he isn’t the villain, thought, because all of his actions were meant to protect her and not harm her. And in The Witch of Duva, there is a case of a clear antagonist character and an unclear villain, which led to my surprise and love for this story.

Little Knife

This was truly an interesting story that had an ending that, while not surprising, took me a while to realize. It was unique because it ended with two characters that you might not expect at first glance and it ended in a rather quiet affair compared to the rest of the story.

It always bothered me to read stories in which the hero/heroine has to win the hand of their partner. Most of the time the partner does not like the idea or the hero/heroine at first, but they grow to love the other as the challenges go on. That just always annoyed me because I would never want my partner to go through the trials of Heracles to prove their love for me, because there are simpler things that have such a greater impact and mean more to me. Which is why I liked Little Knife, because through the whole ordeal Yeva keeps questioning the logic behind her father’s trials to find her a husband. I also enjoyed this story because the winner is someone you least expect, but someone Yeva chooses.

What I liked most about this story is something that I can’t actually talk a lot about without giving anything away. But I will say that I enjoyed the quiet ending because it was different but not unexpected due to the nature of the story. Pay close attention and you’ll see why this is one of my most favorite endings in all of my reading experience.

The Soldier Prince:

This one took me a little longer to read than the others, not because it was boring or because the pacing was too slow. No, I think the pacing was quite fine and I enjoyed the build-up for The Soldier Prince, but there was a lot more backstory to process for this one that I decided to take my time on it (also didn’t help that a new game that I had been waiting for a year for came out right when I started this story). This story also had a lot of imagery that I wanted to take my time in imagining for myself. Normally, the level of imagery in this story would’ve been too much for me but the author handled it rather well because she was describing the imaginings of a child, which tend to be rather grand for one of the character’s upbringing. Some people may have issues with the pacing in this one, but it does pick up once the story moves to the present setting.

While reading The Soldier Prince, I couldn’t help but think back to The Nutcracker which I’m quite sure is where the author drew some of her inspirations for this story. I always ran hot and cold on The Nutcracker, it never quite felt right to me. But I enjoyed The Soldier Prince because I felt like it had a more natural ending than the story of its inspiration. There are romantic elements in this tale but that is not the focus, the focus in the need and want for freedom, something that is different from what you’ve always known. For some people, it’s to travel the world and go where the wind blows. For others it’s to get lost in their imaginings and create something they think is better than their own reality. For others still, it’s to find out who they really are without the words of others telling them.

The best part of this story is how different it ended and the message that it spoke. It was profound and thought-provoking. And at the end I had to simple sit back and let it all sink in.

When Water Sang Fire

This one I believe will be a hit or miss to a lot of people. It’s much longer than all the others and is written a bit differently as well. When Water Sang Fire is a story that had a lot of build-up, like the previous story but a bit more, before it got to the main point. The world building here is a bit different because it is heavily seeped in magic and a type of magic most readers may not be familiar with, so the author had to build this magical part of her world quickly but steadily as to not lose anyone along the way. This process of creating led to a slow start that may make some readers fell a bit dragged. Personally, I really enjoyed the world building in this story because it is much different than any of the mermaids I’ve run across in fiction. However, for those who want to get to the chase, it’ll read like a long incline up the hill, but once you get to the top the pacing really picks up and by the end you’ll be tripping over yourself to finish.

Everybody is familiar with The Little Mermaid and there are plenty of retellings of that tale, but most of them never explain how the sea witch becomes this villainous figure we all know her as. When Water Sang Fire is a story that finally gives readers a wonderful journey of how the sea witch came to be, and it’s one that is so sad and lonely that it may make you pity the sea witch. I know that by the end, I felt terrible for Ulla and the life that was thrust upon her but she willingly chose.

Of all of the stories this is the longest but most beautifully written. The author did a wonderful job creating this magical setting and the characters that lived there while also moving the story along. Some of the magic may be confusing to some readers, but if you pay attention and take your time it should make itself clear. Also, some of the characterizations of the main characters seemed to be a little forced to make Ulla the more sympathetic character. I’m not saying that she doesn’t deserve sympathy, but some of the actions of the other characters don’t quite make sense to me based on their behavior leading up to that point. Otherwise it’s a beautifully told story that brings more personality to a two dimensional character a lot of us have known since we were kids.

Final Thoughts:

Overall I loved how beautifully these stories were woven together. None of them overlap with each other and each tale has a new set of characters to follow, but the author does a wonderful job bringing these characters to life and make you care for each of them within so few pages. Each place and character is a bit different from the other, but the one thing that remained the same was the theme of each story being that not everything is as it seems. Some of the stories show this theme very clearly, in some of the others you have to sift through to the very end to see it. Overall I think this is the best book that I’ve read in a while, not saying that the previous ones were bad, but the craft of this book was amazing. From the characters to the places, it read as if there was actual magic in each word and picture. I’m not sure how the author normally writes, but her stories here read like actual folktales told around a fire, they were lyrical with a smooth flow that took you straight to the end.

Also, the illustrations were phenomenal. Sara Kipin did a wonderful job bringing the stories to life through her illustrations. If you pay close enough attention, you can see how the illustrated outlines told the story as they went, adding little details from the story on every page. And the final pictures at the end of each story made me stare at them in wonder for minutes at a time before I went to the next one. If I could, I would totally by the illustrations loose so that I could get them framed and on my walls. The style, the colors, the details were just all so breathtaking and I want to show them to everyone.

Rating:

Overall, this was a wonderful collection of beautifully told stories with illustrations to match! Most of them are quick reads that you can finish in a single sitting without losing any of the magic or feeling too rushed. Each story is different and the book offers a diverse cast of characters that you can connect with. I would recommend this story to anyone who finds themselves in a reading slump or loves fairytale retellings!

Ayama and the Thorn Woods: 5

Ayama and the beastly prince stole my heart. A tale of two outcasts, hated and ignored for what they were born as, come together in the most spectacular way and help the other out unknowingly. This was romance I didn’t know I needed until I found it. It’s definitely a story about embracing who you are and the importance of listening to the inner thoughts and ideas of others. You never know how much such listening can transform a person.

The Too-Cleaver Fox: 4

While simple and not quite like the stories it’s sandwiched between, it’s still an interesting tale about a trickster trying to do what was best for the greater good. This story was unique for its portrayal of its fox character. Normally trickster characters, and especially foxes, are handled like Puck or Loki. However, here the fox while cunning and sly, never goes back on his word and does what he can to help others.

The Witch of Duva: 5

My favorite of all the short stories here. This is a haunting tale that will send shivers down your spine and make you sit at the edge of your seat. Beautifully written and wonderfully unexpected ending. This is definitely the Hansel and Gretel story I needed as a child.

Little Knife: 4

Of all of the stories in this book, I would have to say that this one is my least favorite. There is nothing wrong with this story. In fact, it is a quick and quaint read that I would recommend to everyone. But when compared to all the other stories here this one just doesn’t hold the same magic and beautiful story telling like the others did. It’s still a good story that I feel a lot of people will like, it just has superior company.

The Soldier Prince: 4.5

This one is definitely one to take your time one because it spans a vast amount of time and jumps around between a few of the characters. The build-up is slow, but the imagery and the life the author breaths into this story are fantastic. Like The Witch of Duva this is a creepy and eerie tale that’ll give you goosebumps!

When Water Sang Fire: 4.5

This one is the longest of all of the short stories and it has the longest build-up too. There’s a lot of world building and time spent understanding the magic of this story that might lose some of the readers. I believed that the pacing was just right, but others may not agree and think it’s too slow before you get to the ‘good’ stuff. Overall, it’s an interesting story full of magic and heartbreak.

Graphic Novel Review: Princeless – Raven: The Pirate Princess (vol.1)

Synopsis:

SET SAIL FOR REVENGE!

Fresh off her adventures in the pages of Princeless, Raven is ready to set out on her quest for revenge against her brothers. They’ve stolen everything that should be hers and now she’s going to get it back. But first, she needs a crew. Share the laughs, action, and adventure as Raven assembles the fearless crew of awesome ladies who will help her get her revenge.

First Thought:

The other week was the biggest sale of the year at our local comic book store, so along with grabbing our comics I decided to pick up a trade too. I had seen the Princeless series before but never from the beginning, and I’m quite lazy about tracking down trades. But I saw this one in the story and noticed that it was a first volume, so I thought that this was as good as anywhere too start. I like pirates and I like girl empowering comics, so what’s there to lose?

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

I wasn’t expecting much from this volume, I try going into something new with little expectations, but I still felt disappointed by Raven the Pirate Princess. They advertised that this was going to be a funny action-packed adventure, but all the jokes fell flat or weren’t funny to begin with and the action jut ended up being little blips on the radar.

The characters felt artificial, like the author had a check list on their desk as they wrote the story. “Big” butch girl who dresses like a man, check. Punk chick with a face full of metal and a half shaved head, check. Father who is trying to raise his daughter right but in all the wrong ways and throws in weird sexist remarks that don’t fit his overall character, check. Young black girl how has to be stubborn and doesn’t care for before mentioned father, check. Tough Asian girl that has to do everything for herself, check. A bunch of women who generally hate men, check. A bunch of men that have no respect for women and don’t view them as equals, check. Check. Oh bloody check! Like it’s fine to have those characters, but I’ve that list or something similar in a lot of other stories at the moment and it gets so boring to read. The characters in Raven the Pirate Princess barely have personalities outside of their labels. I understand that this is just the first volume, but only one of those characters really grabbed me and the others just felt like old lukewarm water. The majority of the characters didn’t make me feel like I wanted to continue reading about their stories.

There actually wasn’t much in this volume that made me want to continue reading. The premise sounded pretty promising but nothing really happened in this volume. The most action is in the first chapter, the second chapter has an unnecessary bar fight, and the last chapter has a tense scene that gets solved with a stupid plan that just showed that all men are stupid. Really that was just the whole idea of this story, that men are all sexist and racist and total screw-ups and only women can do things right, which as a woman I found to be terribly boring and toxic to read. All my life the majority of the people who told me that I wasn’t pretty enough, that I was fat or needed to lose weight, or that I wasn’t smart enough to go into math and science were women. My father has always supported me and my education and has cheered me on from the beginning, making sure that I got my hands on anything that could help me learn more. My partner has gotten into arguments with women who have told me that I wasn’t good enough, he even defends me against myself from the internalized abuse that I learned from an early age. So I get defensive when books, comic, and other media portray all men to be careless, sexist, abusive jerks that can’t get anything right when it’s been older women and girls my own age who have been all those things to me. I think it’s great to get more stories out there about take charge women in generally male dominated roles, or stories in general that empower women. I draw the line when they start bashing men and create male characters from overblown stereotypes. It would’ve been fine if they had a few male characters like that, but almost every male character that was given dialogue was some sort of offensive caricature, and the few who weren’t still had some out of place dialogue that was sexist in some way. The characters they were portraying were just strawmen, and I have a hard time believing that out of an entire town there is only one good male character—come on! End Rant.

While reading this I also wasn’t sure who their audience was. Sure there’s media out there that can be enjoyed by all age groups, but that’s because it contains content that entertains all ages. This story is marketed to 9 year olds and up. Sure, what 9 year old wouldn’t like to read about an all-girl pirate crew? However, almost all of the “bold” statements made in this volume would go right over a kid’s head or they would misinterpret the messages. Yes, there are things like positive body image and it’s okay to be into classically ‘geeky/nerdy’ things, but all the heavy handed comments are things older people will understand and this volume is soaked in them. There’s no even balance, and there’s not even enough action to hold a lot of kids’ interests—I mean I had a hard time staying motivated till the end and it’s only three chapters.

Last thing, this story is marketed as a fantasy but I feel like it just barely made it into this category because it’s lower than the average low fantasy story. For instance, all the characters speak as if they belonged to our present day and about current ‘issues’. Now, in other fantasies these issues would be changed in a way to fit the setting so that they can be seen as similar to us but still not a direct parallel. In Raven the Pirate Princess, they don’t even bother making anything different in the slightest bit. Even some of the clothes and mannerisms are things we’d see in our everyday lives, like a few of the characters have distinctly plastic looking glasses that you can get from Walmart and one character looks exactly like a mother that would ask for a manager. I know that’s very nitpicky, but it’s also very distracting and makes the story and art look sloppy. And the only fantasy things mentioned in the story are a goofy dragon that we never meet and a character that claims to be half-elf, “I got all the good parts—height, speed, the looks—just without the pointy ears” *cough*Mary-Sue*cough-cough*. And overall the world building is just lazy. The story takes a lot of common day things for us, like board games, third-wave feminism, LARP, and D&D, and place it in a non-descript setting with a few kings somewhere that all lock their daughters in towers to be saved. Maybe it’s because I never found and read the first series, but the world in this story is lazily crafted and full of cardboard cut-outs.

Ratings:

Art: 3

The art was okay. It wasn’t the best but it was far from the worst. The characters and detailing are very simplistic in design, though at times there were some issues with continuity. I didn’t like some of the character designs because they looked too modern or really out of place for no reason. The detailing is very simple, showing only the idea of patterns and the like. Sometimes I felt like the settings were too bland and unimpressive, but that might just be for my taste. The coloring was okay, nothing gorgeous. A lot of the panels have a very red pallet, which didn’t always make sense because it didn’t match with the lighting and I felt like it washed out some of the characters at times. There are a few places were the coloring gets really sloppy with noticeable areas with color outside of the lines or distinct white areas that don’t belong. I will say that each character design is very unique, too bad they just couldn’t translate that into their personalities.

Story: 2

I did not care for this storyline and I have no real interest to read further. The premise of the story sounded promising, but after all the heavy-handed comments and the blatant man bashing I just can’t. I felt disgusted by a lot of the comments that were made, by both the male and female characters, but mostly I hated how the female characters acted. The dialogue was terrible; there were times that the characters didn’t need to speak and other times when it just sounded too campy and fake. There was one character that I liked above all the others, but I doubt she’ll get much panel time in this story. The humor fell flat for me, I don’t even think that I laughed once, and the action was just boring and full of unnecessary dialogue.

Overall: 2

I’d recommend this story to anyone who likes the more recent waves of feminism or who want a story that has a sprinkling of fantasy. I would also recommend this to anyone who wants a diverse cast, the diversity here is pretty good though completely one-sided. Some kids may enjoy Raven the Pirate Princess, but I think the bigger fan base will be of the high school-college ages. If you’re a fan of fantasy don’t pick this up, you’ll be disappointed. As for me, if I find the next volume at a tremendous discounted price I might pick it up, otherwise this wasn’t worth my money.

Details:

Title: Princeless-Raven: The Pirate Princess

Volume: 1- Captain Raven and the All-Girl Pirate Crew

Issue(s): 1-3

Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment

Writer(s): Jeremy Whitley

Illustrator: Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt

Colors Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt

Letters: Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt

Released Date: January 26th, 2016

Pages: 128

Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy (loosely), Comedy, Action/Adventure