Tag Archives: genre: fantasy

Feature Presentation: Moana

uk_moanaMoana starring the voices of Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel Hall, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, and Alan Tudyk

Walt Disney Animation Studios, 2016. Rated PG.

Synopsis: Moana Waialiki is a sea voyaging enthusiast and the only daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators. When her island’s fishermen can’t catch any fish and the crops fail, she learns that the demigod Maui caused the blight by stealing the heart of the goddess, Te Fiti. The only way to heal the island is to persuade Maui to return Te Fiti’s heart, so Moana sets off on an epic journey across the Pacific. The film is based on stories from Polynesian mythology. – from IMDB

I’m always a fan of ancient cultures and myths being woven into our more modern tapestry. In a lot of ways, I feel like this puts us more in touch with the world at large and gives insight into where we came from, and perhaps more importantly, where we will go. There’s also something to be said about the message that while it might be uncomfortable to leave home/safe spaces/the familiar, we can achieve even more both personally and culturally when we stray off a beaten path. I’m reminded of the Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote, “Well-behaved women seldom make history”. In many respects, Moana is a well-behaved young lady: she desires to do what is best for her people and to follow the path that has been determined for her. And yet, she is still plagued by the classic dilemma of doing what is right by her family and doing what she feels is right for her, to help her become the woman she wants to be. Clearly her desire to get in touch with her voyager roots and venture beyond the island reef wins out, or this would have been a short movie. And like the Disney heroines before her, there’s a couple of musical numbers that assert her confidence in her decision to venture out on the ocean and the uncertainty of the success her journey may or may not bring. She still has moments of despair, but it is her stubbornness and quick wit that help her push through the obstacles that hinder her voyage. Despite the range of reactions to Moana, I feel like the film did a credit to the Polynesian culture and made it come even more alive for the viewer. I liked that native dialects were used in some of the songs and that the animators made trips through the islands in the South Pacific to do their research. It’s a coming-of-age story that encourages us once again to discover who we are inside and how we can share our purpose and passions with the world around us.

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Bone, Volume 9: Crown of Horns Review

bone_9Bone, Volume 9: Crown of Horns by Jeff Smith

Graphix, 2009. 978-0439706315

Synopsis: It’s full-fledged war as Briar, the rat creatures, and the Pawan army storm the city of Atheia. The Bone cousins, Thorn, and Gran’ma Ben are all there to defend the Valley and stop the return of the Lord of the Locusts. When Thorn goes inside a ghost circle, she hears a voice urging her to seek the Crown of Horns. What follows is another dangerous journey for Thorn and loyal Fone Bone as they race to the sacred grounds of the dragons, searching for the one thing that may save them all. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: EPIC CONCLUSION TIME!

Why I finished it: I think the descriptor “epic” gets thrown around quite a bit when we’re talking about finales, but I think Smith actually pulls it off. The reader has officially peeled all the layers back from the story and gotten to the core. Action, drama, and humor take center stage as we follow our heroes through the final battles and an emotional homecoming. It’s hard to talk about this last volume without giving too much away, but needless to say that Smith has wrapped everything up nicely. There’s a bittersweet feel to the conclusion, but really, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Like any series, it’s hard to say goodbye to the characters we love. We feel like we’ve gone through everything with these characters and we don’t want them to leave, but we have to trust that they can look after themselves without the reader peeking in at their lives. This series more than deserves every award and accolade it’s received. I’ve said before that this book has more than earned its place on my shelf, and it’s a series I will happily recommend to readers of all ages.

Other related materials: Bone, Volume 1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 2: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 4: The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 5: Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 6: Old Man’s Cave by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 7: Ghost Circles by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 8: Treasure Hunters by Jeff Smith; Bone, Prequel: Rose by Jeff Smith; Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Bone: Quest for the Spark Books 1 & 2 by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke; The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso; Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack; Nnewts books by Doug TenNapel; Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

 

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Bone, Volume 8: Treasure Hunters

bone_8Bone, Volume 8: Treasure Hunters by Jeff Smith

Graphix, 2008. 978-0439706308

Synopsis: The Bone cousins, Gran’ma Ben, and Thorn finally reach the city of Atheia, where they reunite with old friends and plan to thwart The Lord of the Locusts. The Pawan army has joined forces with Briar and the rat creatures, and danger increases as Thorn’s visions get stronger. Meanwhile, Phoney Bone is convinced Atheia is a city rich in gold, and he is determined to find it! – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: It’s about to go down…in more ways than one.

Why I finished it: So, bunch of super sneaky things happening here. Our quintet has to sneak Bartleby into the city. Thorn and Grandma Ben need to keep a low profile, cause, yeah. There’s an underground resistance that is still loyal to the Harvestars that must somehow be covertly contacted. The villagers fro Old Man’s Cave must move stealthily across the barren landscape of the valley to reach Atheia before the fighting begins. And Phoney is sneaking around with one or the other of his cousins to find the gold he is so convinced he’ll be able to swindle from the Atheian people. Plus, the guards are being sneaky trying to find Grandma Ben and the rest of the resistance. So yeah. We got some real covert things going on and Phoney’s things, which are not ever as covert as he makes them out to be. With the city on the brink of war and the valley dwellers desperate to provide some aid before it’s too late, the readers find themselves at the proverbial tipping point. Quite a bit is hanging in the balance, and Thorn is the one that will be able to tip that balance should she be able to find the ancient treasure, the Crown of Horns. The catch: she can’t actually touch it or the world could potentially end for real. That’s always something you want to hear as a hero/heroine…. This volume has some really sweet moments with Bartleby and Smiley, who have become great pals over the course of the last book. There’s a strong bond being forged between the two, much like the bond we see continuing to grow between Thorn and Fone Bone. Then Smiley is reminded he has to go home sometime and then what will happen to Bartleby?

Other related materials: Bone, Volume 1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 2: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 4: The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 5: Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 6: Old Man’s Cave by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 7: Ghost Circles by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 9: Crown of Horns by Jeff Smith; Bone, Prequel: Rose by Jeff Smith; Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Bone: Quest for the Spark Books 1 & 2 by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke; The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso; Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack; Nnewts books by Doug TenNapel; Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

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Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox Review

artemis_fowl_6Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox (Artemis Fowl, Book 6) by Eoin Colfer

Disney-Hyperion, 2009. 978-1423108375

Synopsis: When Artemis Fowl’s mother contracts a life-threatening illness, his world is turned upside down. The only hope for a cure lies in the brain fluid of the silky sifaka lemur. Unfortunately, the animal is extinct due to a heartless bargain Artemis himself made as a younger boy. Though the odds are stacked against him, Artemis is not willing to give up. With the help of his fairy friends, the young genius travels back in time to save the lemur and bring it back to the present. But to do so, Artemis will have to defeat a maniacal poacher, who has set his sights on new prey: Holly Short. The rules of time travel are far from simple, but to save his mother, Artemis will have to break them all and outsmart his most cunning adversary yet: Artemis Fowl, age ten. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I love reading about Artemis’s adventures.

Why I finished it: Time travel is tricky, something most of us are familiar with after many years of watching TV and reading other books that may have featured a time travel element. But in the world of Artemis Fowl, time travel seems almost more complicated than we were lead to believe. Sure, we knew that in the present it might only seem that we were gone a few seconds or even a few hours despite the fact that we could have been gone for days or years. We know we’re not supposed to interact with our past selves or really even manipulate anything lest we change the future to which we are returning. These are rules that Artemis is perfectly aware of, but since when has our anti-hero ever played by the rules? I appreciated that there were several nods back to the first book in the series throughout this installment and if you remember enough about the events of that first book, you can notice Colfer elegantly knotting some threads that we’d skipped over before. Things for the most part seem to come full circle for our protagonists – in this case, literally – but there were still a good number of twists and turns to keep me interested and guessing about what sort of set up was being created for the next book. Though, if the ending is any indication, things have been so completely skewed sideways that our heroes are going to need a lot more cunning in order to flip things around to the way they were. Artemis continues to become a softer person than when we are first introduced to him, a fact that does not go unnoticed by Artemis when he is confronted by his younger self. It’s almost become strange to ‘watch’ Artemis grow up – we understand the need of the character to grow both physically and emotionally, but we also still long for that largely unfeeling criminal mastermind that did what he had to do to get things done. Artemis still does what needs to be done, but there’s more emotion creeping in as we move forward, an element that could very well have a major impact. It’s a fast and engaging read that will leave you hanging and eager for more.

Other related materials: Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) by Eoin Colfer; The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl, Book 2) by Eoin Colfer; The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl, Book 3) by Eoin Colfer; The Opal Deception (Artemis Fowl, Book 4) by Eoin Colfer; The Lost Colony (Artemis Fowl, Book 5) by Eoin Colfer; The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl, Book 7) by Eoin Colfer; The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl, Book 8) by Eoin Colfer; Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel adapted by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, art by Giovanni Rigano, colors by Paolo Lamanna; Artemis Fowl: The Seventh Dwarf by Eoin Colfer; W.A.R.P.  books by Eoin Colfer; The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer; The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud; H.I.V.E. series by Mark Walden; Inkheart by Cornelia Funke; Inkspell by Cornelia Funke; Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

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Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony Review

artemis_fowl_5Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony (Artemis Fowl, Book 5) by Eoin Colfer

Disney-Hyperion, 2009. 978-1423124948

Synopsis: The Fairies have a problem: creatures from another realm have been appearing above ground and causing a disturbance that could lead to the discovery of their race. The trouble is, they have no way of predicting these occurrences. Artemis Fowl, on the other hand, has the entire formula worked out – but so does someone else. And this someone else has been watching Artemis for a long time, working to stay one step ahead of the boy genius. Has Artemis met his match or will the secrets of the underground come to the real world?

Why I picked it up: I seem to be on an Eoin Colfer kick lately….

Why I finished it: This series is intriguing to me because it’s smart. Colfer assumes his reader is intelligent and so he’s not afraid to throw in some lessons here and there about art, science, and literature. This book in particular features quite a bit of science as it relates to time travel and physics – which is really pretty cool once you kind of get your head wrapped around it. It is also interesting to see Artemis sparring with someone who is his intellectual equal. It’s one thing to see him trade barbs with Holly, but it opens up a whole new world for our young anti-hero. The bit with the demons, which basically influences the entirety of the plot, doesn’t seem to be such a big deal until the latter half of the book. The science of the time travel and the worm hole that is pulling the demons into our world  is explained in simplistic terms, but I also felt that there was a large portion of the explanation for the shift that didn’t add up. On the other hand, the ending didn’t feel like it was rushed and it still gave our characters a chance to get their footing (for the most part) after the climax. And there’s definitely going to be some adjustment happening….  Fans of the series will eat this up just as fast as the others and be eagerly salivating for the next adventure – at least, I know I was!

Other related materials: Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) by Eoin Colfer; The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl, Book 2) by Eoin Colfer; The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl, Book 3) by Eoin Colfer; The Opal Deception (Artemis Fowl, Book 4) by Eoin Colfer; The Time Paradox (Artemis Fowl, Book 6) by Eoin Colfer; The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl, Book 7) by Eoin Colfer; The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl, Book 8) by Eoin Colfer; Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel adapted by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, art by Giovanni Rigano, colors by Paolo Lamanna; Artemis Fowl: The Seventh Dwarf by Eoin Colfer; W.A.R.P.  books by Eoin Colfer; The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer; The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud; H.I.V.E. series by Mark Walden; Inkheart by Cornelia Funke; Inkspell by Cornelia Funke; Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

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Bone, Volume 7: Ghost Circles Review

bone_7Bone, Volume 7: Ghost Circles by Jeff Smith

Graphix, 2008. 978-0439706346

Synopsis: A long-dormant volcano explodes, blacking out the sun, mowing down trees, and filling the land with soot and ash. The Lord of the Locusts has been released. Against this apocalyptic backdrop, the Bone cousins along with Thorn and Gran’ma Ben struggle to reach safe haven in the city of Atheia. Meanwhile, Lucius Downs lies severely wounded and trapped with the villagers in the camp at Old Man’s Cave. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: The end seems to be near…or is it?

Why I finished it: If you’ll permit me a brief parallel, this is the portion of the saga that is vaguely reminiscent of Gandalf and Pippin’s ride to Minas Tirith in The Lord of the Rings. The cousins are reunited with Thorn and Grandma Ben, but there still remain two factions of valley dwellers: those in Atheia and those confined to Old Man’s Cave. The mysteries continue to abound as our quintet makes the dangerous journey across the valley, and a key piece to the puzzle is revealed…in a roundabout way. Well, actually, a couple of them, but it’s still hard to see what some of these clues mean to the bigger picture. This volume also sees the return of Bartleby the rat creature, who helps our heroes escape yet another onslaught by his people. I’m also starting to see Smiley’s role in the story as comic relief. It’s well-balanced comic relief, though: he uses humor to diffuse tense situations – particularly between his cousins – but he will also offer some logic on occasion that will make his comrades think more about what they are doing. Smith is using Smiley to help bring some much needed laughs to a desperate situation in this book, especially since most of the world has turned into a dark and barren landscape. The art is somewhat grittier to match the tone, but still retains the curved lines and soft edges that are linked to the hope we have that everything will work itself out. True, there is bound to be more trouble before things get better, but , like Smiley, I have faith that nothing can stop them.

Other related materials: Bone, Volume 1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 2: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 4: The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 5: Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 6: Old Man’s Cave by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 8: Treasure Hunters by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 9: Crown of Horns by Jeff Smith; Bone, Prequel: Rose by Jeff Smith; Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Bone: Quest for the Spark Books 1 & 2 by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke; The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso; Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack; Nnewts books by Doug TenNapel; Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

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Bone, Volume 6: Old Man’s Cave Review

bone_6Bone, Volume 6: Old Man’s Cave by Jeff Smith

Graphix, 2007. 978-0439706353

Synopsis: The story so far: the Bone cousins have been separated once again. Fone Bone and Smiley are lost in the woods after a narrow escape from a giant mountain lion and a small battalion of rat creatures. Meanwhile, Phoney, Thorn, and the villagers are attempting to round up the survivors in the rat creature’s assault on the valley and get them to the safety of Old Man’s Cave, where Grandma Ben waits. When the cousins are once again reunited, it is going to take all three of them working together if they hope to save Thorn and the rest of the valley inhabitants.

Why I picked it up: The plot is officially thickening….

Why I finished it: Okay, so, this is the volume where we get more into the nitty, gritty, bloody parts of the story. And yet, there is a moment at the end that I would venture to say is one of the most humorous moments of the entire series. I will say up front that the two don’t necessarily balance out, but in a series that is moving more and more towards war, there isn’t going to be a ton of happy, shiny moments. This installment also has one of the biggest reveals so far, and there’s EVEN MORE about what makes Thorn (and Phoney) so special to the overarching plan. Plus, an unexpected alliance is formed between the Hooded One and Roque Ja that could spell disaster in the short term. But with a series like this, it’s still unclear what the long term has in store for our heroes. Although we now have a better picture of the plan – beyond freeing the Lord of the Locusts – it still remains something of a mystery what role Thorn and the Bones have in being able to take down the Queen of the Dragons and prevent her from awakening. I might even go so far as to calling this the action movie volume of the series, since we are seeing much more fighting than in the last couple of volumes. And yet, Smith is still spinning masterful webs for the reader to untangle, layer upon layer as we draw closer and closer to a conclusion. Will our heroes prevail in the end? Hard to say, but they certainly won’t go down without a fight.

Other related materials: Bone, Volume 1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 2: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 4: The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 5: Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 7: Ghost Circles by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 8: Treasure Hunters by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 9: Crown of Horns by Jeff Smith; Bone, Prequel: Rose by Jeff Smith; Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Bone: Quest for the Spark Books 1 & 2 by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke; The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso; Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack; Nnewts books by Doug TenNapel; Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

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