Book Review: In the Land of Broken Time

Note: I got a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:

Synopsis:

This book is about the adventures of the boy named Christopher, the girl named Sophia and retriever Duke. By chance they found themselves in a balloon, that took them into a fairyland, where mysterious events happen.
Children wanted to find the way home. The heroes had to solve a lot of mysteries.They learned interesting ways of time measuring and found a time machine.

My First Thoughts:

There’s always a special joy I feel when an author from another country asks me to review their work. There’s also the excitement of reading outside of what you would consider normal. After reading books that have saddened and/or infuriated me, I look forward to reading children’s books because they’re normally much simpler and fun. So I was more than happy to read this book as we drive through South Dakota on a long cross country trip!

Rating:

3/5

I was pleasantly surprised by In the Land of Broken Time. It’s definitely not the next Magic Treehouse, but it was interesting enough with subtle learning concepts that would make it a fun read for children and parents alike. The story concept was really interesting, the characters were fun, and the world building was quite imaginative.

Time was a big theme in this story. The authors build the world around time, going so far as using time related names for some of the characters and places. Throughout the story the readers get to learn about various different ways of telling time, such as using a sundial, hourglass, water clocks, and aromatic clocks. I honestly can’t name a book that talks about similar things, so I found it interesting to see how children may be introduced to suck clocks. There were times where it felt a little forced, especially the few times when the kids were explaining the more complicated mechanics of some of these things. It was a little unbelievable that these kids would know how an aromatic clock would work, even if they were only describing what they were witnessing.

Another big theme was friendship, and the authors draw two main messages from this theme. One, don’t judge a person by their outward appearance; you never know if a rough individual on the outside will be a great ally later. The second is that you should never let the rumors about a stranger shape your opinion of them before you lay eyes on them. These messages deal with one of the minor characters that ends up having a big role in driving the plot forward.

The characters were interesting enough. The children became fast friends due to circumstance, but their friendship also read genuinely enough too. Not much can be said about them because there wasn’t enough story to really delve into their personalities. In fact, I think the minor characters were given more depth and personality than Duke and the kids. This doesn’t really bother me, mostly because it’s hard to flesh out children characters and the authors needed to show why we would trust certain minor characters and not others.

Overall the story was pretty interesting and well written. There were times in which the language was a little advance for Christopher and Sophia to realistically say for their age. There’s some debate as to if some of the words used in the story would be too advanced for the target audience, but honestly I think a few challenging words would be good for young readers to encounter. The story itself is pretty simple; there are no complex reasons as to why events take place or why certain actions are made. If this story were for an older audience, I may take issue with the construction of the story, but I don’t know of many young readers that would sit there and poke holes in a fantasy story. Parents reading this story to their kids may see the plot holes or the utter leaps the story takes to get from one scene to another, but listening children will just go along for the ride.

The illustrations in the book are pretty nice. I especially love the color and detail that went into the cover; it’s one of my favorite covers! The illustrations in the story were cute and provided a nice break in the story on occasion; however, I just wish there were more of them in the story. The pictures were few and so sparsely laid out that at times I forgot there were any illustrations!

All in all, In the Land of Broken Time is an interesting and simple story about time and friendship. The ending is a bit abrupt, but the story has a nice overall flow that will keep children interested until the end. I highly recommend it to any young reader looking for a fantasy to read or for any parent-kid duo looking for another bedtime story! I can’t wait to read more from Mark and Maria Evan.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

Details:

Title: In the Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey

Author: Max Evan and Maria Evan

Illustrator: Maria Evan

Publisher: self published

Release Date: August 3rd, 2016

Genre: Middle Reader, Fantasy, Action/Adventure

Pages: 52 (eBook)

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Manga Review: Fruits Basket: Collector’s Edition (Vol. 2)

Details:28118570

Title: Fruits Basket: Collector’s Edition (Vol. 2)

Chapters: 13-24

Written by: Natsuki Takaya

Artist: Natsuki Takaya

Translation/Adaptation: Sheldon Drzka

Lettering: Lys Blakeslee

Publisher: Yen Press

Published: June 2016

Pages: 384

Genre: Manga, Romance, Young Adult, Shojo Manga

Synopsis:

When she was living in a tent pitched on the Sohma family’s land, Tohru Honda’s primary concerns were dirt and slugs. But now that she’s living with the Sohmas, magical powers and ancient curses are the order of the day! With Yuki and Kyo at each other’s throats like cats and… rats, life at the Sohmas’ is lively enough, but it all heats up as Hatsuharu joins the fray, spoiling for a fight! And even before the new school year can get underway, the mystery surrounding the family escalates when Akito, head of the Sohma clan, confronts Tohru without warning…

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

4/5

Once again, this volume of Furuba is very introductory. We’re introduced to several more characters, including two of my favorites, Hatsuharu and Ayame, and the hijinks only seem to escalate. This volume also includes our first encounter with the head of the Sohma family, Akito, who all the members of the Sohma family seem to fear. We start to dive into the troubled pasts of the Sohma family members, as well as the complicated relationships that bind them all together. We also see Tohru’s relationship with Kyo and Yuki get stronger, and we see more examples of just how devoted Tohru’s best friends, Arisa Uotani and Saki Hanajima, are to her.

I honestly love every volume of Furuba that I have read, but this volume is one where we start getting into why I find this series so good. While we’re still being introduced to characters and crazy, hilarious things are still happening to them, we are also starting to see the more dramatic, more serious turn that this series is going to take. I find this series is so reflective of life and real relationships. It starts out very superficial and steadily gets deeper, just like any friendship (normally) works.

This is also the only volume that I feel qualified to truly judge the new translation, since volume 4 of the original release is included in this volume of the collector’s edition, and it is the only one of the original release I ever actually owned. I really like the new translation! I feel everything that was changed was changed to make more sense, but all of the changes are really minor. According to a review I read online, “the inaccuracies from the Japanese still haven’t been fixed,” but since I don’t read Japanese and never knew that the translations were inaccurate to begin with, I really couldn’t care less. Translations are never truly accurate, anyway. They just follow the gist of the story, and this one is still telling the story that I loved long ago.

Blogger Note: Please don’t forget that we are also involved with Inkitt’s Novel Writing Contest! It was announced recently by Jessica in this post. If you’re interested in entering the contest or want to read more about it, you can do so here!

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

3Details:

Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Author: J. K. Rowling

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date:  October 1998 (American Edition)

Genre: Fantasy, Childrens-Middle Grade, Novel

Pages: 309

Synopsis:

Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a room far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to harch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.

All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley—a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry—and anyone who reads about him—will find unforgettable.

For it’s there that he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic in everything from classes to meals, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him… if Harry can survive the encounter.

My First Thoughts:

When I was about to read this book for the very first time, I was seven years old and bullied constantly at my Catholic school for being too smart—especially when it came to reading. My second-grade teacher had also already deducted points from a book report I had written because the book I read was “too advanced.” My mom gave it to me time and time again, but I refused to read it. I remember saying that it was going to be too hard to read, but I knew that I just didn’t want to be seen at school carrying such a large book when I was already being bullied and getting marked down for reading things that were above my grade level. Eventually, on a trip to Ocean City with my family, my mom wore me down and I read the first page.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

I will forever be thankful my mom was so adamant I read this book. As a bullied little girl with a single friend and a lot of insecurities, I connected with Harry and his friends almost immediately. I remember the writing being a little hard for me to read at the time, but it was accessible enough for me to enjoy and understand. I started reading the book and I couldn’t put it down. I spent the next three or four weeks (I was seven and reading a book several years above my reading level, so it took me a while to read) taking this book with me everywhere. I went from being so concerned to starting this book because someone I knew may see my reading it and make fun of me to not caring in the slightest because I had to know what was going to happen when Draco challenge Harry and Ron to a duel, or when Hagrid got his hands on a dragon’s egg, or what was going to happen when the trio went down the trap-door in the forbidden corridor. Being “too smart” for my teachers and peers… not fitting in—it didn’t matter anymore—not when I had Hogwarts just a page turn away. Now, as an adult, I still find Hogwarts is my favorite place to go when I’m bored, or stressed, or just needing to refocus.

I do not praise Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone so highly only because of sentimentality. One of the most important things an author can do with their words is show their readers everything that is happening in the story rather than simply telling them. It is a difficult, subtle skill that too few authors possess. J. K. Rowling, however, has done an amazing job showing me everything in the story, from the spiders lining the roof of Harry’s cupboard under the stairs, to the majesty of Hogwarts castle through the seasons, to the bushy curls of Hermione’s hair, to the freckles on each of the Weasleys’ noses. Every character has life, every setting has scale, and every season has breath through Rowling’s descriptions. This book has so much detail in it that every time I read it I discover something new, but I’ve never felt overwhelmed by it. Over the years, it has felt like every time I gain new information from the book it isn’t because I missed it before, it is because I’ve reached a different point in my life and it matters more to me now.

The most important thing to me, however, is an author’s characters and their development. I’ve already stated in this article how I quickly connected with Harry, but his development over the book is remarkable. Taken from an abusive home and thrust into fame, he handles it with confusion, humility, and some incredulity. He is sarcastic but caring, hard working and kind. Harry isn’t perfect, though. He seeks revenge and slacks off in some of his classes. He breaks rules and makes many poor choices. He isn’t even my favorite character of the book! My favorite character is Hermione, the know-it-all bookworm. The girl who had issues relating to her peers, but had an answer for everything, and always had her nose in a book… with the situation that I was in personally, how could I not relate? Especially since that wasn’t all she was, and as much as being smart and studious was a good character trait, being a know-it-all caused her relationships with peers and certain teachers to suffer. The highest praise that I feel I can give characters and character relationships in books is that they feel as real as the people and relationships I experience in the real world.

All this praise does not mean that this book is without its flaws. It does take a while for the story to feel like it has gotten started. Hagrid doesn’t even show up until chapter 4, and we don’t get to Hogwarts until chapter 7. The very end of the book is quite exposition heavy in a “let’s sum up everything that happened because you were comatose” way. But these flaws are minor in the grand scheme of the book.

Final Thoughts:

A sign of truly good children’s literature is that it can be read and enjoyed thoroughly by adults, and I feel that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a prime example of that. I will whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it. I know that it has been a source of controversy since its release, but I have found that everyone I have ever talked to that held the negative opinions about Harry Potter and its devotion to witchcraft had never actually read the book. Harry does not go to Hogwarts so Rowling can teach children how to follow the occult, he exists in a world of magic that makes impossible situations suddenly probable.

Rating(s):

5/5

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone will always hold a special place in my heart as the book that helped me to accept myself and embrace my love of reading. It’s helped me to stay true to who I am and to discover who I am. I will forever love this book.

Related Reviews/Books:

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Graphic Novel Review: Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

Lumberjanes Vol 1Details:

Title: Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy

Volume: 1

Issue(s): 1-4

Publisher: Boom! Studios

Creator(s): Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis

Writer(s): Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis

Illustrator: Brooke Allen

Colors: Maarta Laiho

Letters: Aubrey Aiese

Released Date: April 7, 2015

Genre: Middle Reader, Action, Adventure, Paranormal, Friendship, Mystery

Synopsis:

FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

First Thought:

It was the cover that drew me in. It looked like a mash-up between Gravity Falls from Disney and Adventure Time from Cartoon Network, granted I like the former way more than the latter but I wanted to give this a try. I was also intrigued by a cast of girls of different ages and personalities appearing as best friends in a camp for girls.

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

First, I have to say that I love the setup, treating each chapter as a chapter in the Lumberjane’s Field Manual. At the beginning of each chapter (issue) there’s a little excerpt from this field manual describing a badge that is either gained by the girls or used by the girls within that chapter. The idea is clever and it allows the reader to guess what is to come in the chapter.

Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley were an interesting group of individuals. Each girl had her own personality and was easy to distinguish from each other. Jo is the boyish mathematician and Ripley is the youngest, and silliest of the bunch. April is the girliest of the group, constantly updating her diary. Mal is the punk, while Molly is the tomboy.  The minor characters were also pretty cool, especially their camp counselor, Jenny, and the camp director, Rosie, who were wonderful in their brief appearances. The design of each character definitely aided to their personalities, and I enjoyed the unique detailing of each one.

Now, let’s talk art. Some people have complained that the art style was too messy for them. Honestly, I rather enjoyed the art style, yes, it was messy but I feel like it added to the story. During the most thrilling or dangerous moments the art was the messiest, adding to the adrenaline rush of the characters, like when an author constructs their sentences more loosely in a similar situation in their story. I will say that the art style didn’t necessarily match up to what was on cover, but that’s because the artist of the cover was different than the main artist of the actual story. Yes, that’s a little aggravating, but I have seen it done elsewhere too, no need to whine about it.

As for the story, at first glance it appears that each chapter is an unrelated adventure. However, if you look closely, you can see the beginnings of a plot start to come together, especially in the last two chapters. A few people have complained about there not being enough plot, which I can understand, but this volume leaves a lot of room for the writers to branch out. I’m sure that there will be backstory to read in later issues to come and more story heavy issues later. For a first volume, I believe that this was a fine attempt at trying to draw people in.

Final Thoughts:

As a whole, I really liked Beware the Kitten Holy. If you don’t mind the messy, simple art style or the loose storytelling that isn’t heavy on plot, then this story is for you. If you enjoy a group of diverse girls in personality and skills, then this story is for you, especially if you like independent, go-getting young girls. If not to any of these, then this story may not be one of your favorites or well-liked.

Ratings:

Art: 4

While not the best art I have seen in a while, I definitely like it. The style has a sort of professional child-like appearance that I believe makes the story seem more kid-friendly than serious.

Story: 3.5

The story is a little hard to see at first, especially if you are not used to reading comics. Each chapter acts not quite like standalone adventures, but from the outside they appear that way. Towards the end you can see some of the things from the earlier chapters come together, and if you look close enough you can find the loose beginnings of a plot come together that will probably be addressed more in the later issues.

Overall: 4

Technically, the average was 3.75 but I felt like rounding up because I really enjoyed this graphic novel and I would definitely recommended it to people. If you’re looking for a graphic novel to start your young daughter with then I think I’ve got the one for you!

Related Material:

COMING SOON!