Showing posts with label fairy tales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fairy tales. Show all posts

Early Book Review: RWBY: Vol. 1 The Beacon Arc by Bunta Kinami

RWBYVol. 1 The Beacon Arc by Bunta Kinami is currently scheduled for release on July 21 2020. In the world of Remnant, monsters known as Grimm wreak havoc. They’re kept in check by Huntsmen and Huntresses, highly skilled warriors experienced in monster extermination who utilize their special abilities on the field of battle. Ruby takes her first step on the road to becoming a Huntress by enrolling at Beacon Academy, eager to take on the battery of tests, challenges and difficulties that follow. Ruby knows her talents will take her to her goal, but is she ready to clash with Weiss Schnee, haughty scion of the Schnee Dust Company?

RWBYVol. 1 The Beacon Arc is a solid start to an engaging story. A few very important characters are introduced and fleshed out in the midst of settling into school and a very dangerous mission. I think story did a great job of introducing the world this all takes place in, and the characters in their strengths and weaknesses. I liked the variety of personalities and skill sets and think that it does a good job of interesting readers that might never have heard of the series previously. The art is nearly perfect, although I will admit that I occasionally had trouble keeping track of who was who in some of the action scenes, because there was just so much going on. I think this promises to keep newcomers to the RWBY Universe and long time fans happy and entertained. 

Book Review: Celtic Mythology for Kids: Tales of Selkies, Giants, and the Sea by Chris Pinard

Celtic Mythology for Kids: Tales of Selkies, Giants, and the Sea by Chris Pinard features twenty famous and lesser-known myths from places like Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany, this is your introduction to a faraway world of wonder. Colorful illustrations begin every myth. There is a glossary of Celtic mythology terms to better understand words like banshee, brownie, and selkie.
Celtic Mythology for Kids is not an introduction to Celtic mythology, which is what I was hoping for from the title. It is a selection of stories from the region, with questions at the end of each story, basically asking about the moral of the story. I know that fairy tales and oral tradition often are morality tales, or at least started that way, but I was rather hoping for more information about the creatures unique to the Celtic mythos than stories and questions that seem pointed at making readers behave. I wanted to learn more about a mythology and was disappointed with what I found.

Early Book Review: Cursed (Fairy Tale Reform School) by Jen Calonita

Cursed is the sixth book in the Fairy Tale Reform School series by Jen Calonita and is currently scheduled for release on May 1 2020. I do recommend reading the series in order to understand what is going on and the relationship details. In fact, having read the previous books and the two books in the spin off series, it took me a bit to remember important details and figure out where we had left off.

The evil Rumplestiltskin is planning to cast a curse that will erase Enchantasia as the world knows it, and a fairy prophecy declares that Gilly Cobbler will play a key role. Never one to shy away from adventure, Gilly and her friends embark on an epic, swashbuckling journey to stop Stiltskin from getting the ingredients he needs before it's too late. Gilly can't help but wonder if it's already too late for her beloved sister, Anna, who's still a member of the villainous Stiltskin Squad, and will seemingly stop at nothing to thwart Gilly and her crew. Only by harnessing the skills she may have inherited from her fairy grandmother can Gilly stop Stiltskin and reunite her family. But with time running out and her fairy skills lying dormant, does Gilly have what it takes to prevent the evil curse and ensure a happily-ever-after for the Cobblers? Or will she lose Enchantasia and her friends forever?
Cursed brings readers back into the story right in the middle of the action, and there is a great deal at stake. I have to admit that it took me a bit to remember who everyone was and if characters from the cross over series made appearances and where everything stood. But, I did figure it all out and was able to follow the action. Gilly is still trying to figure out her place and what she wants, and still is struggling to let people help her and themselves. The action is almost constant in this installment, which keeps the story moving along. However, it also made the character's actions and decisions feel much more reactionary and less thought out. There was little discussion, thinking things through, and character growth than in the previous books- at least in my opinion. I think fans of the series will want to read the book to see how the larger storyline with Stiliskin and Anna conclude, and I am glad that I read it for that reason. The conclusion was well done, and at wrapped things up nicely, but I was somehow expecting more from the book as a whole. It was good, but perhaps my expectations were sky high because of how much I enjoyed the start of the series, but it was not all I had hoped.

Cursed is a good wrap up to a series, and I think those that are fans of the author will need to read it.

Early Book Review: Help Wanted, Must Love Books by Janet Sumner Johnson, Courtney Dawson

Help Wanted, Must Love Books, written by Janet Sumner Johnson and illustrated by Courtney Dawson, is a picturebook currently scheduled for release on March 2 2020. Shailey loves bedtime, especially reading with her dad. But her dad starts a new job, and it gets in the way of their bedtime routine. So Shailey takes action! She fires her dad, posts a Help Wanted sign, and starts interviews immediately. She is thrilled when her favorite characters from fairytales line up to apply. But Sleeping Beauty can't stay awake, the Gingerbread Man steals her book, and Snow White brings along her whole team. Shailey is running out of options. Is bedtime ruined forever?

Help Wanted, Must Love Books is a story that many parents and children can relate to. Routine band job changes for an adult in the house can throw everything else out of whack- like  how her father's new job affected Shailey's bedtime reading. I love how she interviewed characters from some of her bedtime stories to become her new reader, and how some of the auditions went terribly wrong. I thought the story and its execution was very imaginative and well done. The illustrations were wonderful, and added some great detail to the story on each page. I love the imagination the character has, and the way her father works hard to find a solution for the problem. Not every solution in real life will be this easy, but showing that it can happen might give young readers the hope and determination to find solutions for their own bedtime or family disappointments. The addition of resumes from the characters at the end of the book was a fun touch.  
Help Wanted, Must Love Books is an adorable picture book with plenty of references to storytimer favorites and lovely artwork. This might become a new bedtime favorite for some young readers. 

Early Book Review: Outlaws (Royal Academy Rebels) by Jen Calonita

Outlaws is the second book in the Royal Academy Rebels series by Jen Calonita. It is currently scheduled for release on October 1 2019. I do highly recommend having read the first book in the series before this one. It would be good to have read the Fairy Tale Reform School series as well, but that is not quite as important as Misfits.
After being banished to the Hollow Woods following their discovery of Headmistress Olivina's secret villainy, a note from an ally urges Devin and her friends to go in search of Red Riding Hood, who they believe can help them figure out what to do next. Instead, they come across a troupe of fairytale vigilantes, including a former Royal Academy princess, Robin Hood, a pirate named Corden, and more. Alongside their new vigilante friends, Devin and her crew come up with a plan to expose the truth about Olivina to all of Enchantasia, or risk their homeland falling under villainous rule once and for all.

Outlaws is a good follow up to Misfits. Devin and her  band of friends face fresh dangers and discover more about themselves, each other, and the world they live in. The addition of Tara and her friends make things more complicated, but so much more fun and interesting. The skills of the new teens added to the story were very cool, and I liked getting more of the back story of how things reached the point where Devin and gang were banished. I enjoyed seeing the adventures they jump into, and the way they solve things with quick thinking, friendship, and being good people rather than brawn or deceit. I think the dangers and  problems they face were well done, and I liked how they did not always handle themselves perfectly but figured it out as they went, just like most of us do with much more mundane issues. I found the conclusion to be satisfying, while leaving plenty of curiosity for what what might happen next but not dangling on a cliff. I look forward to following this series on to its conclusion.

Outlaws is exactly what I was hoping for and expecting from Calonita. I love the world and character building she does, and I think fans of the Reform School series will love this follow up just as much.

Early Book Review: Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls by Anita Ganeri, Khoa Le

Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls, written by Anita Ganeri and illustrated by Khoa Le, is currently scheduled for release on July 15 2019. This inspiring collection of myths, legends and stories from around the world showcases narratives that celebrate strong, independent women. These heroines aren't reduced to being wives or witches! They run free and possess the qualities we would hope for in our daughters and friends: self-confidence, strength, wits, courage, fearlessness, and independence. They live freely, happily ever after, without restraint or narrowly defined roles. The stories include; Atalanta the Huntress (Greece), Nana Miriam (Niger), Fitcher's Bird (Germany), The Girl and the Puma (Argentina), Li Chi Slays the Serpent (China), Brave Woman Counts Coup (US/White River Sioux), Pretty Penny (US/Ozark Mountains), Mizilca (Romania), The Pirate Princess (Poland/Jewish), The Samurai Maiden (Japan), Bradamante (France), and Molly Whuppie (England).

Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls is a group of fairy tales about strong willed girls and women taking matters into their own hands, standing up for themselves, and getting what they want and need via strength and intelligence. I love fairy tales and legends, particularly if they are from different cultures or with twists I have not seen before. So far as that goes, this book was just right. The stories covered a good variety of regions and the main characters were smart, cunning, and brave. However, two minutes into reading the book my heart dropped a bit. The adage "show don't tell' came to mind. The stories, characters, and action were all good- but they lacked the dimension and depth that I was hoping for. I know it is hard to get character development into such short stories, but I felt some could have been done- because I have seen it. I loved the idea, and wanted to adore this book. It does offer what the title suggests, but did not capture my heart, mind, or imagination as I read.

Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls is a fairy tale collection with good intent and some interesting tales. However, I felt like it could have been so much better with a bit more depth.

Book Review: The Big Book of Twisted Fairy Tales: Stories about Kindness, Responsibility, Honesty, and Teamwork by Sue Nicholson, Flavia Sorrentino

The Big Book of Twisted Fairy Tales:  Stories about Kindness, Responsibility, Honesty, and Teamwork,  written by Sue Nicholson and illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino, is part of The Fairytale Friends series. It brings fairy tales into the modern day and features scenarios that young children can relate to and learn from. Each story in this new picture book series focuses on a different fairy tale character, a different strength or core virtue, and a challenge to overcome, often with the help of their friends. Readers will enjoy spotting characters from other books and recognizing key elements of the original fairy tale while enjoying the new twist. Notes and questions at the back of the book will summarize what the character has learnt and prompt further discussion while activities will provide more fairytale fun. 
 
Cinderella wants more than anything to have lessons at the new dance school opening in the village, but she doesn’t have any ballet shoes! Can Cinderella’s fairytale friends help make her dream come true? This story teaches children about the value of kindness. Beauty has a lovely pony called Flick, but having a pony is hard work and Beauty can be a bit lazy sometimes. Then, one night, Flick runs away. Will he ever come back? This story teaches children about the value of responsibility. Jack loves climbing, but he isn't allowed to climb the beanstalks in his garden. One night, Jack can resist no longer and starts to climb the tall, green beanstalks. Will Jack's Mum find out? And will he tell her the truth? This story teaches children about the value of honesty. Snow White is one of the village football team's best players. But she wants to score all the goals herself and never passes the ball to her friends. Will she ever learn to play as part of a team? This story teaches children about the value of teamwork.

The Big Book of Twisted Fairy Tales is a collection of fairy tales with a twist, which is one of my favorite things to read. Each of the stories is connected and takes a classic tale and makes it more relatable to young readers. Most everyone has faced the dilemma at the core of each story and I like they way they are woven into these tales. I was a little worried about the lessons being too heavy handed- because one of my biggest turn offs in any book is being preached to or talked down to (which happens across genres and target audience) but this book managed to keep that to a minimum. I enjoyed the art style, I loved the colors and the expressions that were clear on the character faces. There are some activities for the eager parents or caregivers to make sure young readers understand each story and its lesson. I think this would be good for bedtime reading or trying to get some of these lesson through in a fun way in a preschool or home environment. 

Book Review: Unwritten by Tara Gilboy

Unwritten by Tara Gilboy is a middle grade fantasy. Twelve-year-old Gracie Freeman is living a normal life, but she is haunted by the fact that she is actually a character from a story, an unpublished fairy tale she's never read. When she was a baby, her parents learned that she was supposed to die in the story, and with the help of a magic book, took her out of the story, and into the outside world, where she could be safe. But Gracie longs to know what the story says about her. Despite her mother's warnings, Gracie seeks out the story's author, setting in motion a chain of events that draw herself, her mother, and other former storybook characters back into the forgotten tale. Inside the story, Gracie struggles to navigate the blurred boundary between who she really is and the surprising things the author wrote about her. As the story moves toward its deadly climax, Gracie realizes she'll have to face a dark truth and figure out her own fairy-tale ending.

Unwritten started of as a hard read for me, be quickly changed to an engaging adventure. When readers meet Gracie she already knows that she came out of a fairy tale along with some others, and that the author is coming to visit a local bookstore. I found all the information to be a little overwhelming and it felt a bit like a recap so I felt like maybe I had missed a previous book . However, once the major action got moving I was fully engaged i the story and it worked much better for me. I liked the struggle of the main characters in dealing with the two sides of themselves and their two stories. I really liked the idea of how we can overcome what is written, or destined, for us by taking the time and care to make the right choices. I found the secrets and lies to be good plot devices, and realistic for people to cling to in situations like the ones they faced. The thoughts and ideas about people and characters shared by Winters (the author in the story) were profound, although a little heavy handed at times. I liked the general feel of the characters, and how the interacted. I also like the fairy tale world building and character building that was done. So much really worked, but when the story was finished I had mixed feelings. I liked it, but I did not love it, and could come up with no definable reason why. 

Unwritten is a solid fantasy, with good amounts of action and character development. There is room for a sequel, but still a satisfying conclusion- so who knows there could be moren in the future.

Book Review: Misfits (Royal Academy Rebels) by Jen Calonita

Misfits is the first book in the Royal Academy Rebels series, a follow up to the Fairy Tale Reform School series, by Jen Calonita. While you do not need to have read the first series to enjoy this one, I think it would help and be well worth it since the first series was wonderful.

In the magical fairytale kingdom of Enchantasia, becoming a legendary Prince or Princess doesn't happen overnight. Enter Royal Academy, the training ground for the fairytale leaders of tomorrow! But reluctant-future-princess and new-student Devin has some reservations about RA, especially when it comes to the Headmistress. Olivina seems obsessed with preparing students for possible villain attacks. But when Devin asks when they're going to learn how to actually rule a kingdom, Olivina becomes enraged. Something isn't right with this lady, and what Devin discovers could change the fairytale world forever.

Misfits is another delightful read about young characters that do not quite fit in finding their way. Devin knows what she wants, but the world is pushing her to be someone very different. I liked following her development and walking the line between following rules, meeting expectations, and being yourself.  She is trying to find her place in a new school, with new people, and unfamiliar rules. There is the obligatory mean girls, because every school has at least one, and the group of friends that might seem like an odd mix but works. However, new friends and experiences keep on her toes as they all discover not everything as it seems. I do feel like there was a lot of groundwork laid down in this book, setting the scene for the rest of the series. However, the read was still entertaining and went really fast. I was not ready for it to end, and am very interested in where Devin's story will take her group of friends and readers. 

Misfits is an engaging read, and my only real complaint is that I was not ready for it to end when it did. I am looking forward to continuing this series.

Book Review: Diary of an Ogre by Valeria Dávila; Monica López

Diary of an Ogre is a picturebook written by Valeria Dávila and Monica López, translated into English by David Warriner, and illustrated by Laura Aguerrebehere. The world of ogres is endangered and their secrets could disappear with them. This diary unveils the many mysteries of their monstrous life: the famous fight clubs, the belching and spitting classes, never changing underwear—ever.

Diary of an Ogre is a book that describes what a school for Ogres would teach. The text is in short, rhythmic sentences that will catch the attention of young readers. There is plenty of humor, including mention of clothes that smell like farts and other similar kinds of quick laughs. The illustrations are bright and colorful. They add an extra layer of fun and humor to the book, further showing what an ogre should be like. I think there could have more hints and humor pointing to fairy tales woven through. However, the book is a fun read through that will entertain readers of many ages willing to pick up a picturebook. 

Book Review: More Than a Princess by E.D. Baker

More Than a Princess is the first book in a new series by E.D. Baker. Aislin of Eliasind is more than just a princess, she's half-fairy and half-pedrasi, with magical gifts from each side of her heritage! One day, as Aislin is venturing through the woods, she is alarmed to hear a band of humans coming through. How did they get past the guarded magical passageway that leads to her hidden kingdom? Mistaken for a human herself, Aislin is captured, and soon realizes she's in even bigger trouble. She is being used as a pawn to help the king of this nearby kingdom, Morrain, find a secret passageway to the warring land of Scarmander so that he can capture his enemies by surprise. Aislin must find a way to break free, while also minding the beautiful human princess and ladies-in-waiting she now shares a castle with, who are all too ready to point out her differences. Thankfully, Aislin's inner strength goes beyond her magical qualities. And with a few loyal friends by her side, she's ready to stand up for herself and her kingdom once and for all.
More Than a Princess is a good start to a new series, with a few secondary characters that I think I might have seen mentioned in previous series by Baker- but not many familiar locations or characters so new comers will not feel left out or lost. Aislin is a smart and independent princess that feels less than or other than the majority of her family because her skills are different than theirs. I like that she is willing to take risks to protect others, but at the same time does not blindly make dangerous choices without forethought. This book introduces a new cast of secondary characters that will be important in Aislin's journey as it continues through the series, and I think the most important are very well fleshed out and made complex and interesting in their own right. I am a little over the hints for a future romantic relationship. I think it is more important for the middle grade set to see valuable friendships work regardless of gender, and not go right for the love match every time a boy and girl work together for a common goal. It is well done here, subtle with a will they/ wont they kind of feel- but I just want them to be a team without that feeling like a couple. It might not go that route- but I get the feeling that it will here. I enjoyed the journey and I think there were some great twists in the story and some significant danger and secrets conquered. There is nothing in the book that I could point to that made me unhappy, Baker did exactly what I have come to expect with their middle grade fantasy, however I still felt rather meh about the whole thing. Maybe it is just because I read it shortly after finishing the latest entry in the Frog Princess series, but I did not love it as much as I had hoped.

More Than a Princess is a book that fans of Baker will want to pick up, as it follows the themes and feel of what I have seen from them thus far. It did not feel as fresh and new to me as some of the earlier books, but I think this was more because of how soon I read it after another of their books rather than because of anything lacking or wrong with the book itself. 

Book Review: Enchanted by the Highlander (A Highland Fairytale) by Lecia Cornwall

Enchanted by the Highlander is the forth book in the Highland Fairytale series  by Lecia Cornwall. It is the first book from the series that I have read, but I think that each book likely stands well on its own, but there must be some character continuation- because there clearly was back story for our main characters and the involved parties.
Gillian MacLeod is shy and quiet, the least likely of all her sisters to seek out excitement and adventure. But on a moonlit night at a masquerade ball, Gillian steals a kiss from a mysterious stranger, knowing she’ll never see him again. John Erly, disowned by his noble English father, started a new life in Scotland. Most people are suspicious of the foreign mercenary and he does everything is his power to avoid romantic entanglements. But he can’t forget the bewitching beauty who kissed him in the dark, and stole his heart, even though he has no idea who she might be. A year later, John is given the duty of escorting Gillian to her wedding and immediately recognizes her as the temptress he’s dreamed of for months. There’s not much he can do when she's promised to another man, but fate intervenes and this time, passion—and adventure—can’t be denied. Honor demands he stay away from the MacLeod’s enchanting daughter, but love has a very different ending in mind.

Enchanted by the Highlander is a historical romance with solid characters and some well done conflict. I connected with Gillian, with the way others assume she has nothing to say just because she rarely speaks up. As someone who normally holds her tongue unless I have something important to say, I found myself feeling much like her on many occasions in my life. I like that she is strong and more than capable, but is also caring and follows her heart. It is a nice balance. John is a strong character as well, but I felt a little less of a connection with him. His back story is well done, as is his honor and desire to do the right thing even if it is hard or not what he really wants at the moment. The touches of fairy tale troupes was cool, and I wonder if all of the stories I saw in the novel were intended or just the way the story evolved. I found the action and adventure of the story to be well done, the danger felt real and played out with a couple unexpected twists. However, I found myself frustrated with the last few, not because they were badly done, but because I was ready for the happy ever after and it felt like it was never coming.

Enchanted by the Highlander is a good historical romance with plenty of action, adventure, and angst. I liked the fairy tale touches, but found that it just went on a little too long.  Each twist was good, and well done, but I think some could have been saved for another adventure.

Early Book Review: Switched (Fairy Tale Reform School) by Jen Calonita

Switched is the fourth book in the Fairy Tale Reform School series by Jen Calonita and is currently scheduled for release on March 6 2018. . It is helpful to read this series in order, although the action is reasonably self contained, the relationships and backstory add a great deal to the story as a whole.

Things at Fairy Tale Reform School are great. Rumpelstiltskin has been ousted, and everyone is buzzing about the fact that Beauty and Prince Sebastian (a.k.a. the Beast) have joined the teaching staff. Everyone, that is, except Gilly, who can’t seem to focus on anything but Anna. How is it that her beloved sister somehow went bad and joined up with Rump? And why doesn’t anyone seem to care? Sure, the Royal Court says they’re working on it, but they’ve got exactly nothing to show for it. But when new kid Jack joins FTRS with tales of his own family being snatched by Rump, Gilly knows she’s in good company. Jack wants answers, just like Gilly. And if the Royal Court can’t get the job done, then maybe it’s time to break some rules.

Switched is a lot of build up, for what I felt was very little action. New characters were introduced and lots of introspection, second guessing, and angst on Gilly's part were the main points of the book. I like that we got to meet AG (Allison Grace or daughter of Beauty and the Beast) and Jack of Beanstalk fame and I liked the way their characters fleshed out. I loved the magical library and Beast's character, but wanted more time with each. I felt like too much of this book was getting the new characters into place, and getting Gilly to where she needed to be (mentally, emotionally, and physically). Once the climax hit, I felt like it all happened way too quickly and easily. I just wanted more, but I am not sure what, so I cannot even point to the moment that let me down. I think I just had such high expectations that there was no way the reality of the book could match my anticipation.

Switched is a lot of what I expected, but a little less. It was still a fun read with a good deal of characters insight, but I felt like it was lacking the tension and compelling nature of the previous books. 

Early Book Review: The Legend of Jack Riddle by H. Easson

The Legend of Jack Riddle by H. Easson is a middle grade novel currently scheduled for release on March 1 2018. So what if 12-year-old Jack’s great-great-great-great-great aunt has oddly youthful looks? (Probably cosmetic surgery.) Or a hat she never removes? (Fashion victim.) Or goes out into the creepy forest at midnight to play bingo? (Must be what people do in the country.) Who cares about that when her cottage doesn’t even have Wi-Fi?! Forced to visit his distant relative with the unusual name of Gretel, Jack is about to find out that fairy tales aren’t sparkly, cheesy love stories. They’re dark. They have claws. They’re a warning. And when you’re the unwilling hero of your own fairy tale, you might be the one who’s taught a nasty lesson.

The Legend of Jack Riddle is a fantasy adventure that starts as the typical coming of age and fantasy quest or adventure story. I liked that Jack was a bit like the stereotypical tween, glued to his phone and craving the independence and fun more young people want. However, he is much more. He is facing family challenges, but not the same issues that most kids in these stories face, but more emotional and identity based troubles. I liked the threads of well known stories, but how they are interwoven with typically unrelated stories. As a fairy tale and legend fan, I was glad to see twists I had not seen before, along side some that were like old friends. I enjoyed Jack's evolution, and the growth he had as an individual and how he relates to others. I found the professor and other secondary characters, to be very well developed and interesting rather than the place holder characters that sometimes populate the backgrounds of books. I think young readers, and those of us older than the target audience, can get lost in the story and enjoy it thoroughly. 

The Legend of Jack Riddle is a fun and entertaining read for middle grade readers, and older children and adults as well. A nice fantasy adventure that could also encourage further reading in legends and fairy tales as well. 

Book Review: Grimms Manga Tales (English) by Kei Ishiyamab

Grimms Manga Tales (English) by Kei Ishiyama is a classic manga version of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales with the authors special, creative twist. The book features the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, The Two Brothers, The Twelve Hunters, Snow White, The Frog King, Puss in Boots, and The Singing, Springing Lark. This fantasy manga retells these timeless tales with a twist of originality.

Grimms Manga Tales is an interesting look at fairy tales that are well known, and some much less common. I like the manga twist, but recommend reading in paper rather than digital copy- mainly because the book is in the traditional Japanese format- meaning that it is read back to front and right to left.The stories are definitely given twists that surprised me, some of which worked for me and some that just did not. The artwork was well done, and the stories were interesting. However, I had trouble getting fully engaged in the stories- including the ones that I knew less well than the others. Maybe it was because each of the retellings was so short, or maybe I missed something along the way, but I just did not love it like I do most things fairy tale related.

Grimms Manga Tales is a quick read, and offers some new twists to fairy tales. Those looking for quick reads, and those that love fairy tales and the manga style of story telling might enjoy the read, but it is not something I think everyone will love. I think this would be best for young adult and older audiences, because of some of the content.

Book Review: Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales by Emily Jenkins, Rohan Daniel Eason



Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales is a middle grade book written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason. This is a collect of seven classic fairy tales told in the authors personal style.

There once was a frozen forest so cold, you could feel it through the soles of your boots. It was a strange place where some kisses broke enchantments and others began them. Many said witches lived there -- some with cold hearts, others with hot ovens and ugly appetites -- and also dwarves in tiny houses made of stones. In this icy wood, a stepmother might eat a girl's heart to restore her own beauty, while a woodcutter might become stupid with grief at the death of his donkey. Here a princess with too many dresses grows spiteful out of loneliness, while a mistreated girl who is kind to a crone finds pearls dropping from her mouth whenever she speaks.

Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales is a nice collection of classic tales, some more well known than others. I liked that Jenkins stuck to the fairy tale tradition of telling these stories with the same heart, but her own personal touch. The characters are not flat, which often happens with those that are considered known already, rather they are rich in personality and humor. I enjoyed the collection, and think that many others will enjoy the combination of humor and empathy that threads through the stories. The fun illustrations added an extra layer of enjoyment and whimsy- adding a special something to the reading experience as a whole. 


Book Review: Maggie and the Wish Fish (Magic Animal Rescue) by E.D. Baker, Lisa Manuzak

Maggie and the Wish Fish is the second book in the Magic Animal Rescue series written by E.D. Baker and illustrated by Lisa Manuzak. The first book was Maggie and the Flying Horse, which I missed. However, I was quickly able to catch on to who the characters were and what was happening even without having read the first book. 

With each day, Maggie is finding it harder and harder to get along with her step-mother and step-siblings while her father is away. It doesn't help that every time Maggie finishes cleaning laundry, flying pigs swoop in to muddy everything up and get her into trouble! One day while she's out collecting berries and her step-brother is fishing, Maggie happens to catch a magical fish herself! The fish promises to make one of her wishes come true, but only if she frees him. Maggie wants a new family more than anything, but how much faith can she put into a talking fish?

Maggie and the Wish Fish is a story that takes the legend of the magic fish and combines it with Maggie's Cinderella like homelife. I like that Maggie is well aware of the fairy tale creatures and echos around here- which might have been explained in the first book. I really enjoyed the matter of fact way she looked at the world, even when things were less than fair towards her. I also liked that the adults in the story, and the other kids, were neither all good or all bad. Just like in real life, there are those that will help others, and those that are only interested in themselves.

Maggie and the Wish Fish is a good transitional chapter book for fairy tale and animal lovers alike. I will admit that I have come to expect more from Baker, but I still think there are many young readers that will love this series.

Early Book Review: Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King is the second book in the Mighty Jack series by Ben Hatke. This middle grade graphic novel is currently scheduled for release on September 5 2017. I would highly recommend reading this series in order, as you will have no idea how Maddy was stolen, how the garden grew, or what crazy adventures brought together Jack and Lilly.

Jack's little sister Maddy is gone, carried into another realm by an ogre. When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything, except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive. Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters—as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below. But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king!

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King is a continuation of the first graphic novel, and carries over even an unexpected character. Maddy has been stolen by and ogre and Jack is willing to do anything to save her, anything. Together Jack and Lilly face huge obstacles, apart the face even bigger challenges. Crazy characters and situations keep the characters and readers guessing, and the story moving at a quick pace. I enjoyed the art style, as usual with Hatke, and the fun twists and turns the story took. The use of different creatures with characteristics that do not always fit expectations made the story engaging. I liked that Lilly continued to be more than expected, as did young Maddy. There is plenty of room for more adventures in this series, but was glad to see a satisfying conclusion to this two part adventure. I look forward to what ever Hatke offers readers next.

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King is another winner from Ben Hatke. He has been a favorite of mine for children's graphic novels for awhile now, and I was glad to see this one reinforce that feeling- especially since  remember being a little disappointed with the ending of the first instalment of Mighty Jack. Fans of adventure and graphic novels will want to explore this series, just read the volumes one right after another and you will find yourself quite satisfied.

Book Review: Fantastic Creatures from the Fellowship of Fantasy

Fantastic Creatures is a collection of short stories from the Fellowship of Fantasy, which includes the authors H.L. Burke, Cave Yates, Arthur Daigle, Craig A. Price Jr., Intisar Khanani, Lea Doue, Nicole Zoltack, Vincent Trigili, Julie C. Gilbert, Katy Huth Jones, L. Palmer, Kandi J. Wyatt, Morgan Smith, Lelia Rose Foreman, Jessica L. Elliott, Bokerah Brumley, Caren Rich, A.R. Silverberry, D.G. Driver, and Frank B. Luke.
Here be dragons, and selkies, and griffins, and maybe even a mermaid or two. Twenty fantasy authors band together to bring you a collection of thrilling tales and magical monsters. Do you like to slay dragons? Or befriend them? Do you prefer to meet cephalopods as gigantic kraken or adorable tree octopuses? Each story focuses around a fantastic creature from folklore or mythology, and they range from light and playful tales for the whole family to darker stories that may make you wish to leave the lights on. These stories carry the Fellowship of Fantasy seal of approval. While our monsters may be horrifying, you won't stumble into graphic sex and constant swearing, also not that any story with adult level violence is marked, so there is not stumbling upon that type of surprise. 

Fantastic Creatures is an anthology with a good variety of stories. As with all anthologies, some really grabbed me, others left me a little less impressed, and many were in the middle. There was humor, romance, stories that left me sad, stories that left me upset, and some that left me shaking my head. I really enjoyed sme of the twists that were given to some of the familiar creatures, while some were so odd and unexpected that I was left admiring the creativity of the author. I found the collection as a whole to be well written, and consistently edited. While not every story grabbed me, I thought the book was well done and an entertaining read. I think the lack of explicit content, and the warnings about violence before it happens, makes it a good choice for sharing as a family.

Fantastic Creatures is a varied and entertain collection of tales. I like that the creatures were all different and expectations were often defied. Each of the stories has a satisfying conclusion. I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy short stories, and those that are interested in exploring fantasy authors, but want to start small. What a great way to check out the work of 20 writers without committing large amounts of money or time in something that might not be your cup of tea.

Book Review: Everafter Vol 1: The Pandora Protocol (Everafter: From the Pages of Fables #1) by Lilah Sturges, Dave Justus, Travis Moore, Tula Lotay

Everafter Vol 1: The Pandora Protocol by Lilah Sturges, Dave Justus, Travis Moore, and Tula Lotay is a graphic novel that collects issues 1-6 of  Everafter: From the Pages of Fables. In a post-Fables world where magic abounds, it can be wielded for the greater good or used to plant the seeds of anarchy and terrorism. The Shadow Players are a global network of agents--both Fable and mundane--tasked with policing a newly enchanted world and protecting humanity from itself. Everafter features the return of series favorites Bo Peep, Peter Piper, Hansel, and Connor Wolf, as well as exciting new characters and a terrifying new villain! 

The Pandora Protocol has the stunning artwork and engaging story that I fully expect from this team of writers and artists. I liked the Shadow Players angle, and the several twists and turn abouts that thread through the entire volume. I simply adored the art style and color- it added so much detail and life to the story. I think that Connor Wolf will be one of my new favorite players in the new story, and that I will now start reading again- filling in my non-existent reading time by returning to the world of Fables. 

The Pandora Protocol is a great new addition to the Fables legacy. Even though I missed far too many stories from the Fables world for my liking I really enjoyed returning to it and did not feel left behind because of my lack of reading history. A win for newcomers and seasoned fans alike.