Graphic Novel Review: Lady Mechanika vol 1

Synopsis:

Discover a beautifully illustrated steampunk world of airships, monsters, and one courageous but haunted heroine…

The tabloids dubbed her “Lady Mechanika,” the sole survivor of a mad scientist’s horrific experiments which left her with mechanical limbs. Having no memory of her captivity or her former life, Lady Mechanika eventually built a new life for herself as an adventurer and private investigator, using her unique abilities to solve cases the proper authorities couldn’t or wouldn’t handle. But she never stopped searching for the answers to her own past.

Set in a fictionalized steampunk Victorian England, a time when magic and superstition clashed with new scientific discoveries and inventions, Lady Mechanika chronicles a young woman’s obsessive search for her identity as she investigates other mysteries involving science and the supernatural.

This volume collects the entire first Lady Mechanika mini-series The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse, including its prequel chapter The Demon of Satan’s Alley, plus a complete cover art gallery.

First Thought:

I’ve been aiming to read this series for a while, but it was always hard to find any of the individual issues. Then I found the Free Comic Book Day issue and after reading it I was determined to read the entire series. That issue intrigued me enough to hunt down the first volume, hopefully the story ends as it started.

Ratings:

Art: 5

I thoroughly enjoyed the artwork in this volume. I rather like the design of Lady Mechanika, she was elegant and attractive but she was normally portrayed in rather logical and conservative clothing. Based on some of the alternative covers and various artwork in the back of the volume, I was afraid that Lady Mechanika would end up in sexy and revealing costumes. However, her various outfits remained rather conservative and practical throughout the story. The other characters were rather interesting as well, their designs unique and easily distinguishable. My favorite character design-wise was Arliquinn, who was pretty much a pink Harliquinn ballerina. The various outfits for all the characters were well thought out and vary detailed, even down to the stitched patterns on corsets. The colors were well down as well. Most of the story was told in dark settings, but at times the light and dark colors contrasted very well. In fact, towards the end Arliquinn was used to add bright color to otherwise very darkly lit scenes.

Story: 3

This volume not only contained the first story but the prologue as well. The prologue was rather interesting as it introduces Lady Mechanika’s want to find her creator and her origin; it also serves to introduce one of the villains in the first story. I wish there was a little bit more to the prologue and that it served more of a purpose in the main story. The prologue only has a passing mention in the main story and Mechanika’s main mission, to find her creator, is mentioned within the main story near the beginning so the prologue really doesn’t serve a purpose but to introduce some of the villains.

The story of the first volume is pretty engaging. Lady Mechanika is trying to solve the mystery to a possible murder that may or may not have any connections to her past. It was interesting to read as she figured out the mystery, though I wish that there was more problem solving and more build up to the solving of the mystery. It felt like the plot advanced more because of conveniences than actual planning, I understand that graphic novels are a bit limited in time but that doesn’t excuse the fact the story was hindered by lack of proper development. There were also many scenes in which there was too much dialogue and it not only messed up with the flow but also cluttered up the panels.

Overall: 4

Volume 1 was very beautiful to look at and it has an interesting story, though I felt like it was held back by extremely long and wordy conversations between hero and villain. The art is very detailed and I spent a lot of time just looking at all of the various designs both scenic and character. If you enjoy steampunk and/or mysteries this story will be time well spent!

Details:

Title: Lady Mechanika vol. 1: The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse

Book: 1

Issue(s): 0-5

Publisher: Benitez Productions

Writer(s): Joe Bentez

Illustrator: Joe Bentez

Colors: Peter Steigerwald

Letters: Josh Reed

Released Date: November 18th 2015

Pages: 160

Genre(s): Steampunk, Mystery, Action

Advertisements

Book Review: Soft on the Devil

soft-on-the-devilNOTICE: We were given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:

Details:

Title: Soft on the Devil

Author: Robert Lampros

Publisher: CreateSpace

Release Date: December 8th, 2016

Genre: Christian, Murder Mystery, Suspense

Pages: 134

Synopsis: When Cindy Myran doesn’t return home one night, within days everyone in her neighborhood assumes she’s dead, but Ian Phillips isn’t so pessimistic. She shows up at his door a week later, in need of help and running for her life. What happens next draws him into a labyrinth of murder, corruption, and danger, where nothing is clear and sinister secrets lurk in the shadows. Only Ian’s courage, faith, and determination can uncover the mystery and deliver him and those he loves out of darkness and into the peaceful light of safety.

My First Thoughts:

After reading the synopsis of this book and doing a little bit of research about the author I was excited to read it, but rather apprehensive. I’ve found in the past that Christian fiction can go one of two ways: either Christianity is mentioned and used as an effective tool to further the development of characters or the book smacks the reader in the face with ineffectively used bible phrases and unnatural levels of piousness. However, the synopsis was good and drew me in. Plus, this book is only 134 pages, which I can normally finish in about a day.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

I am devastated to say that I found this book incredibly disappointing. This book is narrated by the main character, Ian Phillips, who is a 24-year-old, independent, and pious man but is written in a style that is quite juvenile. Sentences were all similar in length, making the writing boring and choppy in my head. Nothing seemed to flow, and references to adult topics like relationships, sex, drugs, and alcohol all felt like a teenager trying to sound like an adult. The choices that the characters made throughout the story also made very little sense, which pulled me further out of the story. I was just frustrated that I couldn’t understand any of the motivations for the characters.

In addition to the juvenile vocabulary and sentence structure, the author also commits one of (in my opinion) the worst crimes an author can commit: every piece of information I was given in the story was told to me. The entire time I was reading this story, I found myself actively begging the author to, for once, just let me see what was going on. I find it hard to call to mind any defining traits about the other characters in the story, or any of the events, or even how the story was semi (not really) resolved in the end because it felt as though every piece of information was put into a list for me, and that was the entire book. The last two sentences of the book are “End of story. Good-bye,” which is not only telling me the end instead of just concluding, it’s doing so in a way that is both lazy and borderline offensive as an avid reader. At one point, rather than letting me read an article that the narrator was reading in the book, he summarized it and added it to the list of things that he was telling me. However, the summary didn’t seem like it was any shorter or clearer than just writing the fake newspaper article would have been. If you’re going to summarize something, it needs to make the material clearer, not more confusing. Plus, reading the article would have been a nice break from the monotony of Ian Phillips thoughts and would have been an opportunity for the author to show me some of the world he had created.

I also found that the dialogue in this story was handled very poorly. Several times the conversations were unnatural and made no sense, and the author would just have a chunk of short dialogue with no attributes, leaving the reader to try to interpret which characters are saying what. There was even a point where an entire argument was written in a summary style, but it wasn’t summarized (once again, if you aren’t going to make something shorter and clearer by summarizing, just put the entire event in. Show the reader and allow them to make their own inferences and form their own thoughts about the material they have been presented with!).

Now, I knew before I started reading that this book was a Christian novel. As I said in my initial thoughts, I knew it could go one of two ways: either Christianity is mentioned and used as an effective tool to further the development of characters or the book smacks the reader in the face with ineffectively used bible phrases and unnatural levels of piousness. Unfortunately, I feel as though this book attempted to beat me into submission with Christianity, but fell apart before it could even give me a paper-cut. Anytime a character would mention God it seemed forced and unnatural. Additionally, there were several times where the main character would mention a specific verse of the bible and think about how truly it applied to his situation, but I always found that the verses themselves were quite irrelevant, or taken out of context to try to make a connection.

Final Thoughts:

I genuinely found this book to be upsetting, and it is so upsetting to me that my very first author-requested review is so negative, but I honestly don’t think I have anything positive to say. This book was only 134 pages long, something that should only have taken a couple of hours for me to read, took me two weeks to finish. I kept avoiding the book with anything and everything else that I had on hand to read because I found it so distressing to read. I was intrigued by the synopsis, and there were times where I thought the plot was about to get somewhat exciting, but that storyline ended up being completely ignored.

Rating(s):

1/5

I genuinely wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. Maybe as an example of why it is so important to show your readers what is happening in your stories rather than telling them, but I don’t personally know anyone who would enjoy it. I found it boring, confusing, and overall just disappointing. It’s possible that this book could entertain someone, somewhere, but that person is not me.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

 

Book Review: The Golden Spider

the-golden-spider

Details:

Title: The Golden Spider (The Elemental Web Chronicles)

Author: Ann Renwick

Publisher: self-published

Release Date: August 8th 2016

Genre: Steampunk, Romance, Mystery

Pages: 482

Synopsis:

London papers scream of dirigible attacks, kraken swarms, and lung-clogging, sulfurous fogs. But a rash of gypsy murders barely rates mention.

Lady Amanda is tired of having both her intelligence and her work dismissed.

After blackmailing her way into medical school, she catches the eye of her anatomy professor from the moment she walks into his lecture hall. Is he interested in her? Or only her invention–a clockwork spider that can spin artificial nerves?

Lord Thornton, a prominent neurobiologist, has been betrayed.

Secret government technology has been stolen from his laboratory, and a foreign spy is attempting to perfect it via a grisly procedure… using gypsies as test subjects. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a beautiful–and brilliant–new student, even if her spider could heal a deteriorating personal injury.

Until her device is stolen and used in the latest murder.

Lord Thornton has no option but to bring her into his laboratory as well as the investigation where they must fight their growing, yet forbidden, attraction. Bodies accumulate and fragile bonds are tested as they race across London, trying to catch the spy before it’s too late.

My First Thoughts:

I always love to find good steampunk books and there are never enough of them! So when I was presented with story I immediately said yes.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

This story was absolutely fantastic! While this book is a romance, that single element doesn’t drive the story like other books. The Golden Spider is very much a mystery novel with a side of romance and a touch and steampunk.

The mystery of this story was quite interesting to follow, and it had me guessing for most of the book. The murders weren’t too gruesome to read about, the author didn’t go into a lot of detail describing the look of the body and such. When she did go into detail, she used very scientific words, which made sense because both of the main characters are in the medical field, to describe what had happened to the body and thus allowing the reader to be slightly removed and less repulsed by the image in their mind. By the end of the novel none of the big twists shocked me. This isn’t a slight against the story telling, most books fail to shock me with their big twists because I’ve guessed them early on. The mystery did stump me for most of this book and there were some minor twists that I didn’t see coming.

The characters were likeable enough. I really enjoyed Thorton more than Amanda. Lady Amanda was fine, however she seemed rather basic. It’s not uncommon for the heroine of a romance novel to be extraordinary in some way, normally there super smart compared to their peers. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that her character was cliché, because the author took great strides in proving how intelligent her female lead was by showing her thought process and even including the right terminology when necessary. However, Lady Amanda fails to stand out in my mind, which isn’t a point against the author, unlike her male counterpart. Thorton was different. I’ve never read a story before, especially a romance, where the male lead is handicapped in some way and is a bit self-conscious about it, afraid of receiving help from others but needing it in the end. Normally, a male character with his kind of personality would turn me off, but his injury and all the related baggage helped round out his character, making him rather likeable.

For the most part, the minor characters were interesting as well. There were a few that were quite forgettable, but the others had unique characteristics or actions that helped them stick in the mind, the gypsies were my favorite.

With any steampunk, I’m curious about how the author weaves the normal elements of the genre into their story. For many stories, the steampunk elements are mostly in the detailing of the environment, the fashion, etc. Not many stories that I have read actually do much with steampunk ideas beyond ‘oh look I added gears and steam to everything’. The Golden Spider actually weaves the elements into the plot, especially with Amanda’s device and the work that it does. I was absolutely fascinated with the world that the author created with steampunk, and I enjoyed the detailing and the functionality of her creations.

For the most part, this book is fantastic. My only complaints are the ending and some of the random sections with our killer. A few times the author chose to write from the killer’s perspective, as a way of giving the readers some clues as to who they might be. However, they were random and very far from each other. I would have preferred if we saw more from the villain’s side, not much, but a few more times to make those sections appear less disjointed with the rest of the story. As for the end, it was a fine ending but with how the rest of the story read I was expecting more. Everything seemed to wrap up so nicely with most of the loose ends getting tied in the last couple of pages. I wanted to know more about the killer’s motives and some answers to some of the backstory that was presented earlier in the story. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the next installment, which I will definitely be looking for.

Final Thoughts:

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves steampunk, romance, or mystery, or all of the above. No one genre dominates the story, which I appreciated because sometimes romance driven mysteries are rather dry and cliché. This mystery is well balanced, not very gory, and fun to follow. There are some pretty heavy scientific and medical terms in this book, they are scientists so it makes sense, however, there’s enough context to make it easier to get a general idea of what’s being said without relying on Google. Also, there is sex in this book, just to warn you in case it turns you off like some of the other reviewers I’ve read.

Rating(s):

4/5

Overall this book is fantastic. The world the author creates is detailed and well imagined while leaving the reader with enough questions to want to keep exploring in later books. The romance, while a little cliché, is realistic and enjoyable without stealing the spotlight. Some people might not enjoy the technical jargon or medical terminology, but they’re easy enough to understand. What keeps this story from getting 5/5 for me is the ending and the few sections told about our killer. There were 2-3 times in which the story followed the villain, which is fine, but they seemed so random and jarring that it took me out of the story a little. Just a few more sections with the killer, and it would have been fine. As for the ending, it was too short and clean for me. Most of the loose ends were taken care of, but they were all told to us and not shown. The rest of the book goes through great lengths to show and not tell, and I feel like the ending falls short of the standard the rest of the book set up. I understand if the author didn’t want to  go into too much detail, however, I think the readers deserved more than two or three pages. All in all, I’mm looking forward to the next book!

Related Reviews/Books:

A Curse of Ash and Iron

Book Review: Haunted Visions

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

haunted-visionsDetails:

Title: Pacific Cover: Haunted Visions

Author: J.E. Grace

Publisher: Self-Published

Published: August 13, 2016

Genre: Mystery, Paranormal

Pages: 90 (eBook)

Synopsis:

Naomi and Jason Sanders move to Pacific Cove Ranch shortly after their wedding. Prior to her graduation from college, Naomi’s younger sister is killed in a hit and run accident. Naomi is having a hard time accepting her loss, and the isolation of her new surroundings bring a new type of terror: haunted visions that keep her on edge, terrifying her.

Is Naomi being tormented by her own inner demons or some new type of ghostly visions that haunt the Pacific Cove Ranch? Can she survive or will they drive her mad?

Can she convince her family that she isn’t just grieving for her sister, but that these ghosts are trying to tell her about a secret she is supposed to discover? Will she figure it out and prove to her family she isn’t imagining things?

What I First Thought:

J.E Grace emailed me asking to review two of her short stories. I accepted her request because I don’t have many short stories and I want to review more of them. And this book Haunted Visions, seemed like it would fit perfectly with the mood and atmosphere October usually brings.

My Overall Opinion:

Overall, I didn’t really care for this story. I really wanted to enjoy it, because the synopsis described a really good idea for a story. However, the flow was so choppy that I felt like I was constantly shoved out of the book between scenes.

The author’s biggest problem was falling victim to the imbalance of show and tell. I understand that it can be a hard concept to grasp, and it really depends on the author and the reader. However, I felt like the author spent 90% of the book telling me what happened, telling me what her characters were like, and telling me how every one and thing felt about every event. I was told about the characteristics of all the characters, but wasn’t given the opportunity to see them for myself in the story. I was told how Naomi felt about everything, but wasn’t given the chance to visualize her reactions. I was told that she was angry and not shown how her faced changed with the emotion, how her voice sounded as she was screaming.

Bottom line, this story read like a play script. There was normally more description at the start of each scene, spending a few paragraphs describing the scenery and set up. Then the author would rely on dialogue to tell her story with a few brief lines of actions between each conversation. For some readers this may be enough for them, but I didn’t really care for it because I couldn’t grasp the concept of time for this story. I was told how long each action took, how long it took to get from point A to B, or how much time passed between two scenes, but it didn’t read like it in the story. I would stop several times in one page to sit and think about how the author was treating time, and it just felt so flimsy to me. I want to read about the path a character takes to get from one place to another, I want to be able to see if I can glean anything of their personalities from that simple action.

Sure the idea, events, and the dialogue are like the bones of the story, but I always felt like descriptions served to be the meat, the muscle. To me, this story was very anorexic. In fact, I believe this story would have been much better as a normal length novel and not a short story. If there was more description, which could help with the flow between the scenes, and not a bunch of random events than this story could have been easily 180 pages or more and much stronger than it was. I’m not saying that short stories aren’t strong, but this book didn’t read like a short story.

Another problem that I had with this story was the dialogue itself. Most of the time it felt rather unnatural or robotic. I wasn’t alive during the setting in the book, 60s-70s I believe, but the dialogue felt out of place and not of the time period. And the characters didn’t seem to have natural conversations, they were too quick but often felt like they were supposed to be longer and more drawn out. Sometimes the characters’ reactions felt out of place as well. For instance, when Naomi’s husband tells her happy birthday her response was “I guess it is”, no thank you or affection, just state up acknowledgement of the statement. Another it he got her an early gift for her birthday, and she had a similar response and showed no love or gratitude for the gift. Little things like this really bug me, especially since I know of several authors who pride themselves in understanding human behavior and making realistic characters.

Final Thoughts:

I would recommend this novella to anyone who wants a short read between longer stories. This story is pretty straight forward, nothing to really confuse the readers, making it a quick read for those who may enjoy it.

I would not recommend this short story to any teen or young adult trying to read more ‘adult’ fiction, because this is vastly different and may be a turn off. The lack of descriptions and choppy flow may not sit well with those used to reading current, popular YA novels. However, if there are readers who want a story that is straight to the point with little details, this story may be up your alley.

This story is written a lot like a play. In fact, I believe that this story would work wonderfully as a play, if the author wanted. Seeing this story on the stage with props and actors would probably be a more enjoyable experience for me than reading it. And it would serve as an interesting play to see around Halloween, getting viewers in the mood for the occasion.

Rating:

2/5

I feel like this story has a lot of promise, but fell a bit short of the desired mark. From experience, I know that writing short stories can be hard; you have to go through all the stages a longer story has but in a fewer pages. However, you have to have an idea that works best for a short story rather than a novel. Grace’s idea for Haunted Visions is best suited as a novel and not a novella, and I believe that’s where this story suffered the most. If she expanded the story with more details, and not just description, but things to connect all the various and seemingly random events together she would have easy had a longer and stronger narrative. Instead, this short story is a string of random events that kind of fit together in the long run but are too choppy to tell in the moment of reading them. The story is driven by unnatural and robotic sounding dialogue, which may put some readers to sleep or make them angry. The characters don’t seem to progress any as individuals, they’re static by appearance but at the end the author tells us of their growth that isn’t actually supported by the reading. The relationship between the characters aren’t really shown, but we’re told how they feel about each other. And the elements to the story (paranormal, romance, mystery, etc.) are barely tapped into, making the tone of the story rather flat and boring.

With all that said, the story concept is still interesting but suffered by the number of pages it was written in. If the author were to go back and expand the novella and turn it into a novel, then the story would be stronger and the narrative would be more compelling and interesting.

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: 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!

Book Review: Escape From Witchwood Hollow

Details:escape from witchwood hollow

TitleEscape from Witchwood Hollow

Author: Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Release Date: October 24th, 2014

Format: eBook

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Myster

Pages: 270

Synopsis:

Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

My First Thoughts:

Shortly before Thanksgiving this year I received a request to give this story an honest review for a free eBook copy. This was actually my first request (also my first eBook), which got me super excited to read the book. The synopsis is interesting enough and the cover appears interesting enough to catch the eye.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

Honestly, with this book I’m not quite sure where to begin. I finished this book days ago, yet I waited until the last minute to write the review because I didn’t really know how to write it.

The synopsis is a bit misleading for a few reasons. From the summary, it appears that the story only follows Honoria (which is a very old name that originated from ancient Latin). Instead, the story follows three main characters from three different time periods (1600s, 1800s, and 2000s), two heroines and a misguided female antagonist. I didn’t really mind this; it was just a bit jarring when the story switched from Honoria’s point of view to Lady Clifford and then Albertine without much warning. I’m usually a stickler when it comes to book summaries because they’re there to sell the book, so if the summary doesn’t fit the book, then it makes me feel like I didn’t get the product that I paid for. Honoria didn’t find any lost children, and anything she did discover she did it with the help of her male companion Leon. The citizens aren’t actually in trouble, at least Honoria doesn’t know if they’re in danger, and she doesn’t go on a saving mission, more out of curiosity and solving a mystery. Even solving the mysteries, at least revealing them to the readers, was done mostly by Albertine, who plays a major role in the story yet isn’t mentioned in the summary.

Speaking of the main characters, Honoria, Albertine, and Lady Clifford weren’t terrible. There were times in which Honoria got on my nerves, mostly by her inner thoughts, especially when it came to talking about the ‘country’ people of Arnn. Otherwise, Honoria wasn’t a character that I connected with. As a character, she was fine, but she didn’t appeal enough to me for me to make a connection with her. Instead, I connected more with Albertine and some with Lady Clifford. Albertine, coming from the 1800s, should have been the major main character of the story and mentioned in the synopsis because she does the most in the story. Without her, the story would not have progressed as it did. In fact, the story would have been a lot stronger if it focused around Albertine more; Escape from Witchwood Hollow fits more with Albertine’s side of the story than Honoria’s. As for Lady Clifford, there isn’t much to say other than she was an interesting character and her story, while short, was definitely engaging.

The other characters were alright, they didn’t really have a lot of depth, and some were really stereotypical. Except for Leon, not much else can be said for the minor cast. Leon, while not the most well defined male romantic interest, was actually one of my more favorite of all the characters after Albertine.  He’s the first male character that I have read in a while that loves history, which instantly attracted me to him because I also love history. And for a minor character he also does a lot to progress the story, in fact, I would argue that he did more than Honoria to progress the story.

The last thing that I’ll mention here is the ending, which is what really made me procrastinate writing this review. The ending is not what I was expecting. After the major climax of the story, the last few chapters really hurt the book in my opinion. I was curious as to how the story would end after the climax, but I was not prepared for the ending I read. When I finished the book, I was so shocked that I literally sat in silence and stared at the wall for five minutes, trying to wrap my head around what happened. It’s not a complicated ending, however, if made me think about what was the point of reading the book. In my opinion, the ending not only tarnished the climax but totally destroyed one of the main characters by obliterating their overall potential to grow.

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed the story well enough, but I’m not sure that I read the same story as everyone else. Most of the reviews for this book gave it fantastic ratings, but I believe it to be average, nothing more. Looking back, the cover does not really represent the story very well. The pink hair is what really ruins the cover. While I understand that the color is to draw the person’s eye, especially since the rest of the cover is extremely dark, they could have had the same effect using blonde or even red hair.

The story before the ending is well enough. Sure it was a little bumpy in the beginning, but by the climax the story smoothed out enough to be really enjoyable. It would have been smoother if the author wrote the complete story of one of the three main female characters. I would have enjoyed it more if the story was centered around Albertine, and it would have made the title make more sense. Instead, it was weakened by the hopping around and some of the smaller chapters that briefly followed some flat minor characters. The romance in the story also felt a bit forced by the author, as if it wasn’t present in the original proposal but added in last minute to keep the reader interested. In fact, the romance was flat and totally unnecessary just like the ending of the story. Not every story needs a romance and there are too many that have a romance that only serves to draw in more readers, even if the romance weakens the story as a whole and the characters involved.

Lord, that ending. I will say this again, it is the weakest point of the story. It was a quick, shortcut way to end the novel, one that I believe the author took because she didn’t know of a better ending. That may be harsh, but that ending was a copout and took away any chance of a character to learn, further diminishing the quality of a main character. If I didn’t care much for Honoria in the main part of the story, I cared less about her after it ended.

Rating(s):

Without the ending: 3/5

With the ending: 2.5/5

Why did I give this book two ratings? Well, I didn’t want the ending to lower the overall rating of the book; however, the ending frustrated me so much that I couldn’t just ignore it. So I was persuaded by my boyfriend to give this book two ratings and I’ll explain them both.

The first rating is for the story up until the ending. The story was about average, nothing spectacular but entertaining enough to keep me interested until the end of the climax. The second rating includes the ending, which I’m sure I have ranted enough about by now for you to get the picture. It was like ending a baseball game with a hit that appeared to be a homerun; unit an outfielder makes an insane leap to catch the ball before it hits the ground.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!