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: The Night Parade

the-night-paradeDetails:

Title: The Night Parade

Author: Kathryn Tanquary

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Release Date: January 5th, 2016

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Cultural

Pages: 320

Synopsis:

The last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade in exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her grandmother’s village. Preparing for the Obon ceremony is boring. Then the local kids take an interest in Saki and she sees an opportunity for some fun, even if it means disrespecting her family’s ancestral shrine on a malicious dare.

But as Saki rings the sacred bell, the darkness shifts. A death curse has been invoked… and Saki has three nights to undo it. With the help of three spirit guides and some unexpected friends, Saki must prove her worth – or say good-bye to the world of the living forever.

My First Thoughts:

I found this book on Christmas Eve when I went up to Rehobeth Beach to spend Christmas with my boyfriend and our families. I’ve been trying to read more books for younger readers and this bookstore, Browseabout, has this wonderful section dedicated to those books. I’ve read a lot of books (manga) that come from Japan, but I’ve never read a book about a Japanese character in Japan written by an America author. I know, there’s this whole thing going on about readers attacking authors for misrepresentation, culture appropriation, and poorly done diversity. Honestly, I wasn’t afraid that this book wouldn’t do Japanese culture justice because it seems like the author actually live in Japan, teaching English to Japanese students and asked some of her colleagues to help with the manuscript. The Night Parade was advertised as being one of the employees’ top picks for the month and I decided to give it ago, to see for myself the quality of the book.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

For a first time author, this book is pretty fantastic! The Night Parade reads like if Hayao Miyazaki was asked to take the elements of The Christmas Carol and make his own story out of it. The descriptions were wonderful, just enough to describe the fantastical characters that Saki runs into without going overkill. As I read the story I could see the scenes play out before me, and for kids with better imaginations than my own I bet it would be fun for them to imagine.

In The Night Parade the main character Saki is really the only character that you read about through the whole story. None of the supporting characters really stay long, for instance a lot of the spirits she meets have brief appearance in the story. Her family and a village girl are the only characters that consistently keep showing back up, however, only the village girl has a major role. Saki’s family appears to be there for plot sake, but they play no real role in her adventures between the human world and the spirit world. This kind of story telling is not bad, especially when the major audience is younger readers. However, some older readers may find it a bit harder to read the book like this.

For adults, I imagine that Saki would be a little hard to follow because of her abysmal personality. However, I don’t that middle schoolers or younger would notice how annoying her character is at the beginning. For myself, I had a difficult time sympathizing with Saki because she seemed to make a lot of poor decisions for all the wrong reasons. Her personality does improve over the course of the story, much like Scrooge in The Christmas Carol, but it does take time before some readers begin to notice the change.

The pacing in this story is okay for a first time author. There are these long periods in between the intense action in the beginning, which can take some readers out of the story. For me, the pacing wasn’t too bad because I’ve read enough stories with similar speeds that it doesn’t bother me as much. However, for readers who thrive off of action, they may wither some in the long lulling periods, towards the end though the action picks up and stays pretty consistent till the end. Younger readers may find this pacing kinda boring, but I believe if read to or a loud, the pacing wouldn’t be much of an issue.

The one issue that I had with the plot was that not everything was fully explained. There were just things said or done that were briefly mentioned in the story with no follow through. It was as if the author wanted to write more on those issues, using them to drive the plot more, but then abandoned ship early and then forgot about them. There was even a character that all the spirits kept mentioning throughout the story but you or Saki never meet them, the character never shows up and plays only the role of a boogeyman. It was a little frustrating, because I wanted to see where the author took us with those things but they didn’t go anywhere, but I don’t think a child would notice these things as much.

Final Thoughts:

I’ve already recommended The Night Parade and even gave my copy to a friend of mine to read. She’s an exchange student from Japan who was eager to read the book because it is uncommon to see an American author write a story set in Japan with Japanese characters and culture. So I can’t wait to get her opinion on the book!

For young readers, I think this is a great book for them to read. It allows their imaginations to run wild, while showing them a different culture and teaching them various lessons. Depending on the age, it may be better for the book to be read aloud by an adult to combat the boredom that the pacing may bring. It would be a great book for a teacher to read to their classes, especially if they’re good storytellers.

I would recommend this book to adult readers who don’t mind a bratty main character. Saki does change, but her personality and actions may be too much for some older readers to handle before she starts to grow as an individual. For those who don’t like kids, or just the annoying ones, this book may not be the best pick for you.

Rating:

4/5

Overall this is a fantastic book, especially for a first time author! The storytelling had beautiful imagery and the descriptive language wasn’t too complicated or long winded. The various characters that our main heroine ran into were unique and interesting. Some minor characters were more memorable than others, but overall they were well done even though they didn’t stay long within the story. The pacing is a bit off and there were some aspects of the story that seemed more important than they were, or were just abandoned all together. However, for a first book the author did a fantastic job telling a story that reads like the brain child of The Christmas Carol and Hayao Miyazaki. I believe that fans of both will find enjoyment from The Night Parade!

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

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:

COMING SOON!!!

Book Review: Kyle Evans and the Key to the Universe

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

Details:

Title: Kyle Evans and the Key to the Universe

Author: Rob H Hunt

Illustrator: James Chapman

Publisher: self-published

Release Date:  March 2nd 2016 

Genre: Action/Adventure,  Science fiction, Middle Reader

Pages: 166

Synopsis:

Some kids love adventure, and dream of being a hero. Ten-year-old Kyle Evans is not one of those kids, but when a giant hole appears in his bedroom and swallows his mom, a hero is what Kyle must become. Kyle sets out on the journey of a lifetime, and discovers along the way that Battle Droids are scarier than Search Droids, Kranken are more terrifying than either of these, and you should never stand still near a Burgly Bug. But more important than any of this, Kyle learns that sometimes a cat is not just a cat. Kyle Evans and The Key to The Universe is the first book in an exciting adventure trilogy that takes a boy, his cat and his friend Sofia across the universe, gradually revealing their amazing destiny

My First Thoughts:

I’m always looking for a good science fiction book, especially one that is geared toward children, so I was rather excited to read and review another children’s book.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. The story held promise, and I really did want to see how everything panned out. However, it took me more time than I want to admit to finish this book. After almost every chapter I put the book down to briefly do something else, and the chapters weren’t very long. The writing couldn’t hold my interest long, I wanted to read more of the story, but I felt like the writing was constantly pulling me out.

The dialogue was stiff. I felt no chemistry between the characters, and even less so when they were speaking to each other. None of the conversations flowed naturally and it was a bit painful to read sometimes. Now, I understand that most children in upper elementary school or lower middle school won’t care about the dialogue, but that shouldn’t stop an author from writing good, or even decent, conversations between characters.

I found the main character Kyle to be rather annoying by the end of the story. At first he was interesting because he was a young kid how didn’t like adventures, like a less proper and very young Bilbo Baggins. However, you don’t really see a clear transition out of that phase for his character. Instead, he is constantly being thrown into these actin roles with very little thought except for helping his cat. Cool, that’s great. I love cats and characters who protect their cats are awesome in my book, but the author missed some great opportunities for good character development for Kyle. Again, how many kids are looking very closely at character development? Not very many, but kids do pick up on the subtle messages in what they hear and read, so things like good character development that makes sense is always needed, no matter what the age group is. He annoyed me because no matter how many times he encountered something strange or out-of-this-world he always had a major freak out about it or had a hard time grasping the issue at hand.

Sophia was a little better. She is his supposed best friend that shows up early in the book but doesn’t actually have a real role until about three quarter of the way through. But she’s on the cover, right? Yes, she’s the girl on the cover but most of the story is over with by the time she’s really apart of the action. She  handled the weirdness a lot better than Kyle, unfortunately, she handled it a little too well for a 10 year old. My one big complaint was that you don’t find out a lot about Sophia, you just pick up that she speaks Spanish and are told that she’s Kyle’s best friend, but I don’t really see it.

The one character that I enjoyed the most was Bootles. To me, he read like the cat version of David Tennant’s Doctor Who. He was highly intelligent, spoke a lot and went of on odd tangents that somehow made it back to the main idea. However, he still bothered me because he spoke of things that no average 10 year old would have a real concept of and constantly confused Kyle, which got real old real fast. One example is that he spoke of endothermic and exothermic reactions and how metals react to acetic acid. Not very many children would know about acetic acid, let alone it’s reactions to metal. He is an interesting character, but I feel like this isn’t the book for this character. In fact, I believe that Bootles would be better suited for a Young Adult novel instead of a Middle Reader.

My main problems were the about the dialogue and the chemistry between the characters. I enjoyed the concept of the story and the action was entertaining and flowed rather smoothly for the most part.  Honestly, I believe that this story is fine for young readers but it isn’t the best. The greatest kids books are able to capture and hold the attention of adults, and this book had a hard time holding my attention.

Ratings:

2/5

Overall I believe that this book would be an interesting read for young readers. There’s a lot of action and fun illustrations to go along with the story that would entertain them for a while. This may prove to be a good gift to any child, though probably those ten or younger. It would be especially good for any young reader that may be interested in Sci-fi literature, because I believe that it serves as a great gateway book to other science fiction novels. There’s no overall message with this story, not even a minor lesson. This is just basically a way to keep kids quiet for a few hours or more.

For anyone older than ten, this may prove to be a difficult read. The dialogue is unnatural and the characters don’t really fit together as well as they should. There are other story elements that are a bit subpar that older readers would pick up on rather quickly. For people with experience with page layout and design, don’t pick this book up because it will drive you insane just looking at it.

Book Review: The Midnight Glass

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

the-midnight-glass

Details:

Title: The Midnight Glass

Author: D.T. Vaughn

Publisher: Branford Books

Release Date: September 20th 2016

Genre: Middle Reader, Paranormal, Fantasy

Pages: 251 (paperback)

Synopsis:

Every town has a secret… but Davenport has the darkest of them all…
Life is rough for eleven-year-old Wyatt Dumont. He’s too small to fend off his mean older sister, and the school bully picks on him every day. But life changes when his mother is offered a job in the secretive town of Davenport. Wyatt is excited for the move until he notices that some of the townsfolk are more than human. There’s a man with green skin and gills, and a middle school teacher with red eyes and fangs! Even Wyatt s new classmates are a spark elf and a wulfyn–a werewolf, but don t call him that… or else!
Wyatt is panicked. But nothing alarms him more than the darkest secret of all: Davenport hasn’t seen the sun in over four hundred years. Wyatt quickly becomes obsessed with the town’s mysteries, and he begins to uncover the truth–one deadly secret at a time.

My First Thoughts:

I’m always looking for good middle reader books to add to my library, and this story really interested me. The idea behind the story also intrigued me, it sounded rather unique, and something I haven’t read of this genre yet.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

For the most part, this is a pretty solid book. The setting is pretty interesting, though I did spend some time trying to figure out how everything would work with just moonlight. After a while I had to completely turn off the scientific-thinking part of my brain to be able to read through this book at a good pace. For a book like this for a target audience of children, that’s really not a mark against the story but more like an observation. Children won’t sit there and question why the moon is always in the sky instead of a period of total darkness when the sun is supposed to be out. They won’t question how all the plants are growing off of just moonlight, or why only the bugs have strange mutations and not the vegetation or the people too. These were just a few of the things my brain tried to work out while reading. Kids probably won’t notice or care about these things, however the adults reading this to kids or reading it to themselves may find this a bit annoying. For the category, it’s okay for things like this not be explained because it may bore the target audience or go right over their heads.

Wyatt was a rather interesting hero to follow as he fumbled his way through the mystery of the Midnight Glass. For those of you who care, and I know some of you reading this will, he isn’t your typical white male lead. Not much is said about what he look like except that he has a mop of curly hair and dark tanned skin like his father. This didn’t really change anything for me while reading this story, but I do know that there are readers out there that really want popular literature to be more diverse. The story never mentions anything about nationality or race just that Wyatt and his sister look a lot like their father. As a character, Wyatt seemed rather mature for his age even before he moved or solved the mystery. His only true development came when he overcame his negative reactions to the people of the town, accepting and treating them like people. The other characters were pretty flat, staying pretty much the same from start to finish, which was fine really since the story was focused on Wyatt. My only real grievance with the characters came from Wyatt’s sister, Roxanne. Her character changed as well, but it seemed so superficial that it made me a bit sick to read. At first she was completely repulsed by the people in the town but then kind of got over it a bit after finding a hot guy that happened to be a werewolf. The switch was so sudden that I was caught by surprise, but it made me sick because it seemed like the only way a girl could grow to like a place is if she found a hot guy that lives there too. I know that most kids reading this might not pick up on that, but it still bothers me.

Other than that, there really isn’t that much else to say. The story was pretty solid, and it was a mystery that kept me stumped for a while. I wasn’t surprised by the reveal of the villain, but it did take me a good chunk of the book to figure it out. The pacing of the book seemed a little bit off to me and I can’t really place it. While I was enjoying the story, by the time I neared the end I really wanted to get it over with. That isn’t a feeling I normally get with books that I’m enjoying, however, I can’t figure out why.

Final Thoughts:

This is a pretty good book to read, especially if you’re still in the mood for monsters, paranormal, or mystery. I recommend this book for parents to read to their children, or for children that want something new to read. I must advise caution though. There is death in this book and mentions of suicide. One character actually has a bit of a gruesome death, even though the author made light of it, parents might still want to investigate it for themselves before their children read it.

I would also recommend this book to any adult looking for a fun, light read. If you can turn off your brain and not overthink the plot and some of the things that happen in this book, then you’re golden. If you can’t, or like me who had a hard time turning off their brain, this book may frustrate you a bit. So I wouldn’t recommend this book to all adult, but those who really like to read within this genre.

Rating(s):

3/5

Overall, The Midnight Glass has a pretty solid story, one best suited for children in middle school. Wyatt is a hero that I think a good number of kids can identify with nowadays, and he learns a pretty important lesson that I think everyone needs to learn: accept those who are different from you. The setting is rather creative and fun to imagine in your head, especially with the unique townsfolk. Wyatt’s journey is an interesting one, and the narration behind it adds to the mystic nature of the book. D.T. Vaughn has a rather interesting narrative voice, one that I wouldn’t mind reading again in other books.

My biggest complaint was Wyatt’s sister, Roxanne. She was your stereotypical big sister who antagonized her younger brother for no apparent reason most of the time. She was also the second character to have any major development and it was all because she found a hot guy, which is something that made me a bit angry. I saw the need for her character in this story, but I believe that she was the weakest part of this story.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

Graphic Novel Review: The Courageous Princess vol. 1

Courageous Princess vol.1

Details:

Title: Beyond the Hundred Kingdoms (The Courageous Princess #1)

Author:  Rod Espinosa

Publisher: Dark Horse Books

Release Date: Dark Horse Books

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Young Reader

Pages: 245 pages

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, a greedy dragon kidnapped a beloved princess . . . But if you think she just waited around for some charming prince to rescue her, then you’re in for a surprise!

 

Princess Mabelrose has enough brains and bravery to fend for herself! From a mighty dragon with an army of troll to a tyrant tiger king, Mabelrose meets each challenge with pluck and intelligence, winning the help and friendship of the many kindred spirits she encounters in her quest to find her wat home.

 

My First Thoughts:

So I found this book while I was at the beach over Christmas and I’ve been meaning to read it for a while. After finals and packing up my dorm room, I really wasn’t in the mood for a book so I decided to go with a graphic novel! Out of my huge stack this one jumped out at me first.

 

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

This is by far the cutest story that I have read in a long time! For a children’s book, this story really took me by surprise and held my interest until the very end. There were some parts of the story that seemed to be a bit rushed or sudden, like there could have been more development. However, since this is a children’s story, I understand that a child wouldn’t necessarily notice or care for more development, they would want to jump straight into the action. With that in mind, Espinosa does a wonderful job setting up his world and characters enough without boring the reader. He also does an excellent job pacing his story as well, making it the action fast enough to keep up with a child’s attention span, but dragging it out enough to fit older readers as well.

I really enjoyed the world and characters that Espinosa created. His idea of a world in which every fairytale occurred, but you follow the stories of the children and grandchildren of those characters, was fantastic! It wasn’t spelled out, it was a happy little discovery after quite a few name drops were made and little elbow jabs to the original stories. I was actually really thrilled when I discovered that these characters were related to the ones that I grew up reading about in their fairytales, and I always wondered what it would be like if they all lived in the same world…

Anyways, I absolutely loved the characters! Mabelrose and her parents stole my heart in the first few pages of the story. Their relationship was so loving and adorable that sometimes I couldn’t help my slight happy squealing! Princess Mabelrose really surprised me, and I guess it’s because she isn’t your typical princess. She’s a bit of an outcast when it comes to royalty, not super proper or wearing the latest up to date fashion, but her interests and curiosity were quite genuine and so were her attempts at making friends. Still, I was surprised by how much courage she had in the beginning of her ordeal, I surely thought that it would take a rather defining moment for her to develop the courage she had. Instead, she relied heavily on her faith (something else I haven’t seen in a while) and took matters into her own hands. It was her stubbornness and independence that really won me over, making me wish that I had her along with Princess Leia when I was growing up!

I also enjoyed some of the themes that I found in the graphic novel. There was bravery in the face of danger, but also other lessons buried in this Coming of Age story. One lesson that really surprised me was keeping faith in your darkest hour. It’s been a while since I’ve seen something like that in a story, especially nowadays. I found it charming though, because a specific faith was never mentioned and it was clear that there was more than one that the characters, and supporting characters, believed in. It was a nice change to read a story that used faith to help their characters, and not see conflict between the various faiths. It was wonderful to actually read true coexistence amongst faiths.

Final Thoughts:

I recommend this graphic novel to any parent looking for something to read to their younger children, or for children that want to get into comics. Sure, there’re no super heroes and it’s set in a fairytale world, but Mabelrose is a wonderful role model for young girls and boys. The princess is the embodiment of courage and faith, showing that even in the toughest times you can do something great if you’re brave enough to try. I also recommend it to anyone who loves fairytales and wants a light graphic novel read! Not every reader has to be a child.

I do have to say that if reading about a story that focuses heavily on faith makes you uncomfortable, then this might not be for you. While no specific faith is named, there are at least a few different ones running around and the main characters do pray a lot throughout the story. It’s something that you can’t really skip either, because it’s one of the larger themes of the story.

Rating(s):

 

Story: 4/5

For a book targeted for children the story is pretty solid. There were some parts that seemed a little rushed that could’ve used some extension, but children wouldn’t really notice that anyways. The characters each had their little quirks that really made them lovable and enjoyable to read, even the minor characters really stuck out to me.

I’ve seen some complaints about the amount of praying in the story. Honestly, for me, I actually enjoyed how much the main character prayed and relied on her faith to help her find strength. It was also nice to see more than one religion in the story and not one bashing the other, just a subtle example of coexistence.

Illustrations: 5/5

I really enjoyed the art; it brought me back to my childhood when I would read illustrated children’s stories with similar art. I loved how simple the style was. Everything was simplistic, and the artist used color to really make the characters stand out. I also loved how the story used colors and shades to set the mood as well, something that can be hard to do sometimes with a simplistic art style.

Overall: 4.5/5

All in all, this will definitely be one of the stories that I’ll read to my kids one day!

 

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

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!

Related Reviews/Books:

The Weapon of a Jedi Princess Leia