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)

Book Review: Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant

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

Details:

Title: Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant

Author: Carrie Mortleman

Publisher: Createspace

Release Date: April 15th, 2016

Genre: Children’s Book, Illustrated

Pages: 118

Synopsis:

“I’m Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant and I’m ever so tall, I’m Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant and I never fall. I have fur that is fairy floss pink, and it’s wonderfully fluffy and light. For although I am an elephant, I’m an elephant in flight!” Hellie the elephant has a very special skill – she can fly! But when she meets Queek the mouse, she learns that the power of friendship is the strongest superpower of all. Children will love flying with Hellie on this magical journey that blasts through fear and zooms into fun and friendship.

My First Thoughts:

I love getting requests for illustrated children’s books! They’re always so interesting and I love seeing how the illustrations help tell the story. So I was very excited to get this book in the mail and I read it just in time too, because I needed a serious pick-me-up!

Rating:

4/5

Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant is definitely a cute little read. The story is a little hard to follow in the beginning, but after a page or two it really picks up and gets easier to follow. The rhyme scheme was simple, but really nice because it didn’t seem like the author had to stretch much to get the words to rhyme. Some of the words that Ms. Mortleman uses I think would be a bit tough for younger kids, but I guess it’s a way to expand their vocabulary. I loved the illustrations of this book and I think they’re my favorite part. Each page is different, each character or scene has a different texture and I found it fascinating to look at. Overall, I think it’s a cute little book that I really think kids and their parents will enjoy reading together.

Related Reviews/Books:

Book Review: An Unlikely Friendship

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

Details:

Title: An Unlikely Friendship (Book 1 of the Fidori Trilogy)

Author: Jasmine Fogwell

Publisher: Destinee S.A.

Release Date: April 8th, 2016

Genre: Young Reader, Fantasy, Illustrated

Pages: 118

 

Synopsis:

While living in the old inn of Nemeste, James discovers that he and his parents are not the only ones calling the inn home. On the third floor lives a mysteriously old lady named Rionzi DuCret. Though Rionzi is feared by the villagers and confined to her room, she and James strike up an unlikely friendship and soon discover that they have both befriended leafy, mushroom footed creatures in the woods called ‘Fidoris.’ But the friendship is threatened as Rionzi grows suspicious of James’s claim of a certain Fidori sighting. How could he have found out about her deepest secret? Have the villagers set a trap for her to finally prove that she is insane?

My First Thoughts:

I’m always looking for books for younger readers, because I understand that parents are always looking for books for their kids. So when the author came to me and asked for a review, I was pretty excited to read and share another kid’s book! After reading my last book, I was also looking for a light story full of fun and uplifting moments.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

Growing up, the only chapter books I read as a kid were Magic Tree House and the American Girl Dairies. I never read any of the others, so I don’t have much experience with chapter books for young kids. With that being said, I found that this story was very average and followed exactly as the synopsis read. There were no surprises or twists. The story just followed the given path, which is fine, but it didn’t add any excitement to the book.

Ms. Fogwell’s writing style is a little amateurish, which is understandable because it’s her first published book. Every new author’s first book is very stiff or reads a bit awkwardly, especially if the books don’t go through professional editing. With that said, even though the author’s writing voice sounds amateurish, it’s honestly not that bad. Mostly, there were just details and words that I don’t think a young kid would pick up or know. Also, the pacing of the story was very slow and might have a hard time keeping a child’s attention, but that’s dependent on the child. There was some action, but it was mostly a lot of conversation between the little boy and the old lady, which might not hold well with younger kids. Again, I don’t have much experience in that area. However, for future works the author can maybe step away from a more dialogue driven story and write with being the bigger driver.

Another thing that threw me was the end. When I got to the end of the book I wasn’t really left with the sense of ‘oooo! I need the next book!’ Instead, I felt a bit off put by the ending because it was so sudden and a little out of nowhere. I understand the pieces that lead up to the final reveal, but it didn’t really have much of an effect on me and it didn’t leave me wanting more. Now, I would like to continue with the story because I’m curious about where the author will take it, but that curiosity was not initially there when I finished the book. A younger reader may be completely different and beg for the next book right away, or they may feel a bit ‘so what’ and not bother continuing.

I think the reason why I do want to continue this series is because the author spent so much time with the area and the lore. I loved what she had to say about the Fidori and the world building she did in An Unlikely Friendship, but I’m not sure kids will have the same fascination that I do. I remember when I was younger I didn’t care much for all the background information, I just wanted action. However, I think that this book would be received better by younger audiences if it were read to them.

The illustrations were interesting to look at, but they didn’t always appear in the right place. Sometimes the illustrations for a certain scene would appear before the scene actually occurred, which through me off and out of the story a few times. I’m not sure why they were out of place, but if they were moved closer to their actual scenes then it they might better help illustrate the story.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I’m not sure what kids would actually think of this book. I think the best approach, is for it to be read to children by their parents or teachers. I think that An Unlikely Friendship would be a wonderful book for kids to hear. However, if kids have to read this book on their own it may or may not have a hard time keeping their interest for all 100 plus pages.

For older audiences, if you enjoy magic and lore then this book may entertain you. There are some obvious flaws that the writer can easily approve upon with practice, but the world building is quite wonderful and the story would be interesting to follow or the lore alone. For those who aren’t into lore very much, then this book would not suit you very well.

Rating:

3/5

For a first novel, An Unlikely Friendship is a good start for Ms. Fogwell. The lore is interesting to read about and I’m curious to find out more about the Fidori! Her voice will grow with time along with her writing style; I hope to read her later books to see how she improves.

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COMING SOON!!!

Book Review: Santa and the Christmas Dragon

santa-and-the-christmas-dragon

NOTICE: I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:

Details:

Title: Santa and the Christmas Dragon

Author: Amanda Roberts

Illustrator: Cherith Vaughan

Translator: Yaqian Gong

Lineart: Ruth Silbermayr-Song

Publisher: Two Americans in China Press

Release Date: September 1st 2016

Genre: Children’s Book

Pages: 32

Synopsis:

Ming the Christmas Dragon
Helped Santa pull his sleigh.
She brought Christmas to China.
Oh, Hip-hip-hoo-ray!

明和圣诞龙
帮圣诞老人拉雪橇
她将圣诞节带到了中国
欧,嘿嘿呼啦啦!

Once upon a time, Santa brought Christmas to China. But how did that happen? Thanks to a little dragon named Ming, Santa, the elves, and all the reindeer are able to learn about Chinese culture and gain the friendship of mighty dragons to help spread Christmas cheer throughout the world!

This beautiful bilingual children’s book – presented in English, Chinese characters, and Chinese pinyin – is sure to delight readers young and old as they learn about spreading holiday cheer and learning about other cultures!

很久很久以前, 圣诞老人将圣诞节带到了中国, 他是怎么做到的呢? 这要感谢一条叫做明的小龙, 圣诞老人, 小精灵, 和驯鹿. 他们学习中国文化, 获取了大龙的友谊, 将圣诞节日的喜悦传播到全世界.

这本美妙的双语儿童书—由英文, 中文汉字, 中文拼音组成. 可以让老少读者一起感受分享节日的喜悦, 并学习到他国的文化!

My First Thoughts:

I’m always looking for children’s books to review just because they brighten up my day and not enough sites review them. But I thought that this story would get me into the Christmas mood and I was curious as to see how this story unfolded.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

The first thing I’m gonna do is geek out a little bit and start out with some trivia. The average human has an easier time learning a second language before their teenage years. After they become a teenager the language centers of their brains start to become more rigid making it harder for them to learn a second language, that’s why it’s difficult to retain any Spanish (or whatever second language you took) after high school or college. However, if a child learned a second language before their teenage years it is easier for them to learn more languages, even after they become an adult. Sure, maybe you’ve retained a few choice words in another language (I myself swear in Italian from time to time after playing Assassin’s Creed) but most people cannot speak the language fluently or even semi-fluently if they learned it after becoming a teenager.

With all that said, I was tickled pink to see the Chinese words and characters written a long side the English words. It was so interesting to see how English translated into Chinese and how different they looked side-by-side. And I could definitely see how useful this book would be if a parent were thinking about teaching their children Chinese, or if they wanted to teach them English. Seeing the translations together and the teaching that could be done with it adds an extra element to this story that not many children’s books have.

The story itself is really cute. It teaches children that not all kids find value in the same things. For example, kids from the Western world might find a lot of enjoyment out of toy trains, robots, stuffed animals and dolls. However, this book shows that Chinese kids might find enjoyment out of completely different toys such as paper kites, oriental dolls, flutes, etc. Overall, it shows that a child’s taste for toys, like anything else, is influenced by their environment and not every child grows up in the same conditions. It also teaches kids a little bit about conflict resolution and comprise. Santa had to find new solutions, such as comprise and adapting to new sets of rules, to the problems that he faced in the story.

The illustrations were rather pleasing to look at. Most of the character drawings were simple, while some of the background drawings were a bit more complex. The coloring was also well done, with nice shading and attention to detail when needed. The illustrator did a fantastic job incorporating traditional Chinese art with their own, though a bit more simplistic than what you would see hanging in an art gallery. The illustrations also followed the mood of the story very well, the images were a darker when the mood was a bit more solemn and they were bright when the mood was cheery.

Final Thoughts:

This book is absolutely fantastic, and I totally recommend buying this, especially if you have children. It’s a fun story to read out loud, it amused my boyfriend and me when I read it aloud to him. The pictures are nice to look at and it’ll bring enjoyment to not only kids, but probably most adults as well.

If you want to teach your kids either English or Chinese, this story is definitely going to help them learn. It does a fantastic job keeping both translations of the story side-by-side, so that you can compare the two. And let’s be honest, it’s pretty nifty to own and read a book that’s also written in another language.

Ratings:

Story: 5/5

If you’re looking for a good Christmas gift for your kids, grandkids, or a friend’s progeny, then look no further! This book will make an excellent book for any child how loves to read, be read to, or wants to learn another language. I highly recommend reading this to your kids or grandkids on Christmas Eve or Day to get them into the holiday spirit, and to provide a laugh or two before the family comes over.

Illustrations: 5/5

I can’t say enough about the illustrations, but the illustrator did a fantastic job bringing this story to life with their art. The colors and styling not only do a wonderful job accenting the story, but they’ll definitely draw the eyes of any child, so be prepared to stare at the same page for more than a few minutes!

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COMING SOON!!!

Book Review: Blue Spots

Blue SpotsDetails:

Title: Blue Spots

Author: Nicoline Evans

Illustrator: Senyphine

Publisher: Morris Publishing

Released Date: April 11, 2015

Genre: Children’s book, poetry

Pages: 42

Synopsis:

(As written on goodreads)

Blue Spots is a story for people burdened by sadness. In a city where it takes place, emotional scars appear on the characters as blue spots. In our world, these marks are internal and invisible, but in this book they are external and displayed for all to see. They symbolize the various forms of sorrow a person might encounter during their lifetime. My intention when writing this story was to instill hope. I hope it gives those who live with sadness the courage to persevere through their darkest times.

What I First Thought:

I bought this book with several other books from Nicoline Evans from Philcon in New Jersey this past October. The cover looked beautiful and Nicoline told me about the project she was working on with this book as the first of many. After hearing what she wanted to do, making a children’s book for every emotion, I decided that I wanted to help her out and see this series come to life.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

This book was absolutely beautiful and wonderful to read. When I first read it, after buying it from the author herself, it brought tears to my eyes. Being in public, I didn’t want to visibly cry, but boy was it hard to keep my cheeks dry.  The story really spoke to me and the art was breath-taking.

When I read this book a second time, months and several terrible events later, I cried again. Sure, the first time I read this book I had quite a few blue spots myself, but by the time I read it again I had several more and the message really spoke to me.

Growing up I developed a ‘keep calm and carry on’ attitude, which basically meant that I cried when necessary, but if something needed to be done then the tears were saved for later. While this attitude helped me in some situations in which I had to keep my head, it made grieving and handling sadness really hard when I had nothing else to do. And lately, I’ve had a real issue with that. With not much to keep me distracted from my grieving and sadness, I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time thinking of everything that has lead to my sadness and everything that I could have done differently. This isn’t always a bad thing to do, especially in small doses. However, I haven’t been able to do it in small doses and my pain has only accumulated, making things worse because I can’t let go.

Unfortunately, I see many people do the same. We, as humans, don’t handle grief or sadness very well. Some people try to ignore it while others wear it on their sleeves to get attention from the people around them. Some people even let their blue spots rule their lives, using them as an excuse not to succeed or move on.

After reading this book a second time my outlook of my sadness, my blue spots, has changed. I no longer see them as failures, imperfections, or reminders of sadder events. I now see these as proof that I have survived my grief, reminders that I’ve grown stronger as an individual. And I believe the message of this book is one that every child and adult alike should learn, that sadness is just another small part of the larger story that is your life. So if one day you’re completely covered in blue, you can say to the world that you have lived and survived all that was thrown your way.

The illustrations for this book were amazing! They kind of reminded me some of Tim Burton’s style of drawing, where the characters were long limbed and the surroundings had a lot of curling lines and designs. I really liked that Senyphine made the heads larger than normal portions, seeming to focus more on their faces, which is usually the first thing we see of a person or where we focus. The coloring in this book was beautiful too. The shades and colors really matched the mood and added to the story as well.

Final Thoughts:

Read this to your kids! Read this to your friends. Read this to your parents. Read this to your lover. Read this to yourself. Find an excuse to buy the book and read it! The message is absolutely wonderful, one that I wish I had learned sooner, and is applicable to any age. While it looks and reads like a children’s book, any adult would enjoy it too. The poetry is masterful and the illustrations go so well with the story, from the designs to the coloring. This book is absolutely perfect and I would love to see more of this from Nicoline Evans.

Ratings:

Story: 5/5

Fantastic and easy to follow. The story is beautiful and shows the readers a lesson that may appear to be simple, but many people either never learn or forget over time. It brought tears to my eyes and I’m sure it will bring many more as I read it as a reminder to myself. I believe this would make for an outstanding gift to any child, or a thoughtful one to any person you know going through a hard time.

Illustrations: 5/5

I’ve already spoken a lot for the artwork in this book. Senyphine is a wonderful artist with a style that I would love to see again in other books! Her coloring and detailing were superb, making every page harder to look away from, but I wanted to see more and more. I still want to see more of their work!

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nightmare before christmas

Book Review: Moving Target (A Princess Leia Adventure)

Moving Target

Details:

Title: Star Wars: Moving Target (A Princess Leia Adventure)

Author: Cecil Castellucci, Jason Fry

Illustrator: Phil Noto

Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press

Release Date: September 4th 2015

Genre: Space Opera, Action, Adventure, Middle Reader

Pages: 231

Synopsis:

Reeling from their disastrous defeat on Hoth, the heroic freedom fighters of the REBEL ALLIANCE have scattered throughout space, pursued by the agents of the sinister GALACTIC EMPIRE.

One rebel task force protects PRINCESS LEIA, bearing her in secrecy from star to star. As the last survivor of Alderaan’s House of Organa, Leia is a symbol of freedom, hunted by the Empire she has opposed for so long.

The struggle against Imperial tyranny has claimed many rebel lives. As the Empire closes in, Leia resolves to make a sacrifice of her own, lest the cause of freedom be extinguished from the galaxy….

My First Thoughts:

I needed a simple book to read while collecting myself between exams. I was stuck between rereading an old favorite and reading from a favorite universe of mine. I had already read a Princess Leia adventure earlier in the year, it was a comic set right after A New Hope, and I absolutely loved it! I had this Princess Leia adventure for a few months and decided that it was the perfect length and focused on my favorite character of the series, so I decided that it would be the perfect book to help me relax between exams.

Story Breakdown:

This Princess Leia adventure is set between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The story is about a single mission that Leia and a small team of Rebels undertake to help set up the major events in Return of the Jedi. It also helps show character development for Princess Leia, especially how she handles duty, and comes to the decision to help save Han. There are also some tid-bits for the newest movie, Force Awakens, which will introduce you to Commander Leia and a few of the other characters.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

This story was absolutely perfect for relieving my stress during finals week! The plot was very straight forward and the language was simple enough to keep me from getting lost when my brain was too tired from studying. I will admit that so much happened in so few pages that I would have liked for the book to be longer, at times some events seemed a little rushed, but I felt like the story as a whole didn’t suffer as much from that. This book did a pretty fantastic job with the world building for the planets that Leia and company travelled too, especially for a short book like this. The authors placed in enough detail to really paint the different planets in your mind and to describe the various peoples that lived on them. The authors also did a really good job of showing the characters develop through the story and bond as their mission unfolds.

I think what I loved most about this story was the depth that it added to Princess Leia’s character. I have always loved her, ever since I was a little girl, but I always felt like some parts were missing. Don’t get me wrong, she is by far my favorite character in the entire series and she wasn’t lacking a lot, but there were some small things that I felt were missing. Just like the last Princess Leia adventure that I read, this one really added in some of the minor details that I never knew that I was looking for. This story really shows Leia’s dedication to the Rebellion and to her duty to the cause, but it also shows how she grows to understand the duty that she neglected to herself. As Leia travels across the galaxy with her small team of misfit rebels, she learns some things about herself and the love that she has for Han, ultimately showing you her decision to go save him.

As a little surprise, this novel will show you sides to characters in the Rebellion that only appeared for a few minutes but had a large impact on the fans. Readers will also get to see just how the Rebels discuss and plan their next course of action, the things they take into consideration and the politics that never quite made it into the movies. As you read, the story shows you how other groups of people cope with the Empire and how they do things without the Rebel Alliance. You’ll see sides from people that support the Rebel’s actions and those who believe them to be futile, only making things worse instead of better. All in all, this story is an interesting read that will add depth to characters that fans loved from the original trilogy and color to a universe that many people have tried to immerse themselves in.

As with the other books in this series, Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this book was illustrated by the talented Phil Noto. As with the Luke adventure that I’ve reviewed, I’m a bit disappointed and angry that the cover doesn’t list him as an illustrator. You’ll find him accredited on the back flap of the hardcover and the title page in the front, but honestly, how many people actually look back there?

Anyways, like the Luke adventure, I absolutely loved his work in this story as well! He does a fantastic job of creating simple pictures of scenes with enough detail not to give away much, but to make you stop and really take in the work. The simple grey scale coloring is fantastic and it makes the periodic red jump out at you and draw you in at the same time.

Final Thoughts:

I would recommend this book to anyone, young or old. It’s perfect for a parent to read to their child, or for any adult that wants a light read in between heavier books. I would recommend this to any child, boy or girl, because while it does focus on a female character for little girls to look up to, it also has enough action to keep a little boy entertained and interested in Leia’s adventure. Little boys might even grow to like Princess Leia with this adventure because it doesn’t show her as girly, but a capable kick-butt woman with only the title of ‘princess’. And for any fans of the original trilogy and Princess Leia, this story will help add even more depth to the princess you grew to love.

Rating(s):

Story: 4/5

If this story were 100 pages longer it would get a 5/5 hands down. But even though it was shorter than I would’ve liked given the amount of action, it was a great read and a perfect break from exams. I loved the amount of world building that the authors did, even though it wasn’t a whole lot in hind sight, it was enough to really paint the worlds and the people that inhabited them. The authors also did a fantastic job inserting this little adventure between two great movies, giving Leia even more depth and reason behind some of her actions later. I also loved the little moments between her and Mon Mothma! This is definitely going into my favorites!

Illustrations: 5/5

I just love Noto’s work. The illustrations are simple but have enough detail to really jump out at you. The scenes he draws show enough to give a slight preview of what’s to come, but not enough to really spoil anything for the reader, unless you’re really intuitive. Honestly, I should go hunting for his other works because I have been absolutely impressed with his portals of the characters I’ve loved since childhood! His depiction of Carrie Fisher is by far my favorite, even as Commander Leia!

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The Weapon of a Jedi Princess Leia

Book Review: The Weapon of a Jedi

The Weapon of a Jedi

Details:

Title: Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Author: Jason Fry

Illustrator: Phil Noto

Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press

Release Date:  September 4th 2015

Genre: Space Opera, Fiction, Action/Adventure, Middle Reader

Pages: 184

Synopsis:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….

The REBEL ALLIANCE has destroyed the Empire’s dreaded DEATH STAR, but the galaxy remains convulsed by civil war, and the Imperial starfleet is hunting the rebels throughout the galaxy.

LUKE SKYWALKER, the pilot who destroyed the Death Star, is now hailed as a hero. But Luke seeks only to support the freedom fighters, serving the Rebellion behind the controls of his X-wing fighter.

Even as he flies alongside the pilots of Red Squadron, Luke feels stirrings in the mystical energy field known as the Force. And this farm boy turned fighter pilot begins to suspect his destiny lies along a different path….

My First Thoughts:

So I got this book, and the others in this series (I use that term loosely), after I saw the Force Awaken. I loved the movie, my family practically raised me with Jedi, Sith, Hobbits, and Star Fleet officers, and I wanted just more Star Wars! I’m excited to see if it will reveal any secrets!

Story Breakdown:

This story is set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, or Episodes 4 and 5. It hasn’t been long since the Death Star was blown up by Luke Skywalker or since his importance, and fame, in the rebellion skyrocketed. Within this novel, we see just how Luke is getting accustomed to everything since the fateful explosion, including how to train with the Force without a wizened teacher.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

I honestly didn’t realize that this book came with illustrations, especially since there was no illustrator credit on the front cover. So I was more than surprised, though rather delighted, to see that this book came with a few illustrations to capture some of the more important scenes within each section. Sure, they might have been a little bit of a spoiler, but honestly I felt like the illustrations were a wonderful addition to the book!

Growing up I always imagined what happened to our wonderful heroes in between each movie, specifically in the original trilogy. Every time I watch the older movies, I felt like there was something missing, that there were important events that shaped the characters into who they were for the second and final films. I always wondered how Luke learned to use the Force without Old Ben there to guide him. Sure, Luke would hear Ben’s voice every now and again, but that doesn’t function as much as a teacher. Well, this book served as an explanation, a little peak into what Luke to better command the Force and how he accomplished it.

When I say a little peak, I really mean that Jason Fry barely described the tip of the iceberg. However, I believe that it was enough to satisfy some of the questions I’ve been harboring since I was a child. It was really interesting to see, years later, your questions answered without an entire movie dedicated to it. The part that Fry did focus on in the book, regarding to Luke’s self-training, was actually pretty detailed in how Luke came to his conclusions and mastered his daunting tasks.

The one thing that irked me some about the book was how it advertised meeting characters from the newest Star Wars movie and being able to get clues into The Force Awakens. This book, and the others like it, was released a few months before the movie came out when nobody (for the most part) didn’t know what was going to happen. So the advertisement that it was going to lead the reader into the world of the Force Awakens was a big leap that everyone took. I read the book after the movie, and honestly the only character you meet that was a new addition to the movie only had about 30 seconds worth of screen time. The character never spoke and you saw him briefly, his name wasn’t even spoken in the film! The only reason why I knew who he was before reading was because my boyfriend got the action figure of the character and did some research, but even that didn’t bring up much. Sure, it was cool to learn more about Sarco Plank and see how he might be tied in later in the new films, but he was definitely not important in Episode 7 like the advertising made it to be.

Final Thoughts:

I would recommend this to any parent who wants to get their child more into the Star Wars universe, or settle the child’s craving for more Star Wars. I believe that it would be a fun story for any young boy or girl, as there are characters for any child to love and connect with. The story isn’t very long and is pretty straight forward, so something that can easily hold a child’s attention.

Honestly, this book isn’t just for younger readers, sure it’s aimed at them, but let’s be real, a lot of Star Wars fans are kids at heart. With that said, I would recommend this book to any age, whether they are a diehard Star Wars fan or wants to become one. It’s a short read, something to use as a break between two larger books or just a fun adventure to help pick up your day!

Rating(s):

Story: 4/5

The story is a pretty straight forward adventure that fills in some of the holes between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. You don’t need to see either of those movies first, or know what happens in them to enjoy the book. Fry actually does a wonderful job highlighting the big events from A New Hope and showing how they might actually affect Luke immediately after. It was also pretty interesting to see how Luke trained himself and how he was able to overcome small, yet daunting tasks. The book ends with hints at possibly having more books following Luke’s adventures, however, the main story gets wrapped up rather soundly. It’s definitely a fun, quick read to fix whatever Star Wars cravings you may be having!

Illustrations: 5/5

I loved the illustrations! I’m actually a bit disappointed that Noto didn’t get credit on the front cover. His illustrations, while few and far between, were a wonderful addition to the book. He always seemed to capture just enough action within the pictures without spoiling anything, allowing the reader to wonder what was happening within the scene. And I loved how he kept each one simple and uniform in coloration, only using true color in one object per image. Fantastic work!

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