Tag Archives: genre: fantasy

The Knights of Boo’Gar Review

knights_of_boogarThe Knights of Boo’Gar story and art by Art Roche

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2017. 978-1-4494-7987-9

Synopsis: Storm clouds hang over the kingdom of Boo’Gar. The cantaloupe crop has failed. There is no money in the treasury. Even kind old King Mewkus has started to doubt himself. Can things get any worse? Of COURSE they can! When Princess Phlema’s beloved goat is kidnapped, King Mewkus and his trusted wizard must assemble those fearsome warriors for justice—The Knights of Boo’Gar! There are just a few small problems. Sir Justin ditched the knights to start a boy band. Sir Daphne traded in her sword for a real estate license. Sir John shed his armor to become a tax attorney. That just leaves young (and short) Sir Rowland and his trusty pet turtle, Angelina. Okay … so maybe there’s a LOT of problems. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I like pun-ny books.

Why I finished it: I always love an original fantasy novel and Roche delivers in a big way. not only has he created a madcap kingdom with equally colorful characters, he gives readers an inspirational and imaginative story about courage. Things do indeed look dismal for Boo’Gar between the failed crops and the goat-napping, but despite Rowland’s hesitation he keeps persevering. He might not believe in his ability to retrieve Princess Phlema’s goat babycakes, but his adventures far from his farm give him the boost he needs to be able to save the day.  I loved that Rowland’s trusty steed is actually an ostrich named Tulip and his companion is a mild-mannered and loving turtle named Angelina – definitely not features of your traditional fantasy story! I also thought that Roche’s use of respiratory system parts and ailments for place and character names was clever, and he uses this humor to his advantage.  The mayhem and the silliness keep the reader wanting more, cheering for Rowland and Sir Crustos in their quest across the kingdom and back again in order to save their home. I’d give this to readers who enjoy play-on words, puns, and stories about unlikely heroes.

Other related materials: Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior books by Cube Kid; The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John A. Flanagan; Fablehaven books by Brandon Mull, illustrated by Brandon Dorman; The Inheritance Cycle books by Christopher Paolini; Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke; The Underland Chronicles books by Suzanne Collins; Plants Vs. Zombies books by Paul Tobin, illustrated by Ron Chan; Geronimo Stilton and the Kingdom of Fantasy series by Geronimo Stilton; The Last Kids on Earth series by Max Brallier, illustrations by Douglas Holgate; Dragonbreath books by Ursula Vernon

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Feature Presentation: The BFG

The_BFG_posterThe BFG starring Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jermaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, Bill Hader, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Adam Godley, Michael Adamthwaite, Daniel Bacon, Chris Gibbs, Paul Moniz de Sa, and Jonathan Holmes

Amblin Entertainment/Walt Disney Pictures/Walden Media, 2016. Rated PG.

Synopsis: When Sophie witnesses the appearance of a Giant roaming the streets from the window of the orphanage, she is snatched from her bed and whisked away to Giant Country – lest she be telling anyone about what she has seen. But the Giant who kidnapped her turns out to be friendly, despite his size, and the two begin a friendship that will lead them to an adventure neither of them could have ever dreamed of.

I tend to be a purist when it comes to the book versus movie debate – I’m more apt to choose the book over the movie because I feel like the story becomes warped in its journey from page to screen. I perhaps wrongly anticipated that this would not be the case with The BFG; but then again, look at what happened with James and the Giant Peach (which had absolutely no resemblance to its source material after about 15 minutes). The BFG thankfully kept a grand majority of the main plot points: Sophie is an orphan who is kidnapped by the BFG, who lives in Giant Country in the company of some rather more unsavory child eating Giants and the two enlist the help of the Queen of England to help stop the child-snatching once and for all. The screenwriters inserted a bit in which the BFG had another child companion before Sophie that I suppose was meant to better flesh out the BFG as a character, but it made him more of a tragic hero than an unwitting hero. The BFG is meant to be a fun-loving but misunderstood character that overcomes bullies and becomes a functioning member of society; it doesn’t feel like the same story or character when he’s given a tragic past. I liked Ruby Barnhill as Sophie, but I spent a lot of the movie irked by the fact that she was trying to be Mara Wilson. True, she’s a girl who exhibits wisdom beyond her young age, but the movie makes her out to be more of a caretaker – she picks up the mail the matron forgets off the front mat, locks the door, and turns out the lights after everyone else is gone to bed. She seems to lack the child-like, earnest nature that was so endearing in the book. Even though I felt like the film fell short, there are still a lot of entertaining moments that will no doubt get younger viewers to giggle, most notably the scenes involving Frobscottle – a beverage that fizzes down and produces flatulence of epic proportions. So, if you were hoping for a great film version of our favorite childhood book, you’re going to be disappointed. If you are searching for a great family film with a positive message, then this is going to be right up your alley.

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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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