I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Okay, I will say I honestly picked this up because it had Minsc on the I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Okay, I will say I honestly picked this up because it had Minsc on the cover. I played both Baldur's Gate games when they first came out and adored Minsc. So the idea of a comic starring him was exciting. Unfortunately, this mostly seemed like a rehash of some of Minsc's best lines from the games. There was no character development for any of the main characters. I had trouble understanding why they even came together beyond mutual need to avoid the city guard and the Flaming Fist. The story moves along far too quickly - I remember the city of Baldur's Gate taking such a long time to explore, and you never get a good sense of the size or scope of it in this book. And for as serious as it takes itself, this book seems to miss some basic D&D aspects. I'll pick on Minsc, since I love him so. He is a ranger. He's referred to throughout the story as the Beloved Ranger. But he's treated as a fighter in this, and drawn as some sort of hulking giant. Okay, I remember him being a lousy ranger in the game. He was terrible at sneaking. I regularly threw him into the fighter role. But it wasn't what he was built for. And he certain,y isn't playing the ranger role in this book. And I guess that leads me to my last point... I don't know who this book is intended for. Is it for those of us who've played the game and want to see more of characters we loved? Or to introduce newbies to the characters and hope they pick up the re released game? Or just fans of D&D and Forgotten Realms? There were far too many in-jokes for me to think it will appeal to those who aren't familiar with the series. And the majority of it seems like we've heard it before if we have played the games. I will say the artwork is decent, with several funny panels, particularly when they feature Boo....more
Phoebe and her unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils... do I need to say more than that? Yes? All right. This comic strip collection about the adventurePhoebe and her unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils... do I need to say more than that? Yes? All right. This comic strip collection about the adventures of Phoebe, a young girl, and her unicorn friend, Marigold. Unicorns are the stuff of fairy tales, but also pretty full of themselves and high maintenance. Marigold is, visually, very reminiscent of the unicorn in The Last Unicorn, but considerably more upbeat and worldly. She texts Phoebe with her horn and wears fantastic ninja and Lone Ranger costumes. Phoebe is the daughter of an artist and a gamer, and we get glimpses of pop culture references, like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Portal.
The humor here is fun and charming. There are moments, usually the Sunday strips, where the stories pause to be a bit more sentimental. The colors are soft and very natural - which you may not be expecting given the bright pink, sparkly book cover. Totally a worthwhile read. You can check out the strips online for free, but most of them are in black and white there. ...more
**spoiler alert** I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Clariel. I've been waiting... and waiting... and waiting(!) for this book, as much as an**spoiler alert** I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Clariel. I've been waiting... and waiting... and waiting(!) for this book, as much as any other fan of the Abhorsen series. It was worth the wait. This prequel, set several hundred years before the birth of Sabriel, explores the history of another member of the Abhorsen line, Clariel. For those of us that have read the Abhorsen series, we know her better as Chlorr of the Mask. And while this wasn't the story I was expecting, it was still incredibly enjoyable and fits well into the world of the Old Kingdom.
Clariel is not the most likable of characters, but I sympathized with her and was surprised at how much I cared about her as the story progressed. In a way, she reminded me of Katsa in Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. Clariel isn't like Sabriel or Lirael... she's not comfortable with Charter magic and really doesn't care to learn about it Nor is she a noble figure. She has an exceptional temper and a strong will that will play a part in her undoing. She's been recently uprooted from her home in Estwael and wants nothing more than to leave the city of Belisaere and return to the Great Forest, where she feels most at ease. As her story unfolds, she becomes more desperate to leave Belisaere, making choices that lead her further down a path that will end... well, it'll end with Chlorr.
I enjoyed seeing the Old Kingdom during a more orderly time, though we're also seeing what complacency does to the Kingdom. You get a good does of politics, free magic creatures, and leaders who are content to let their responsibilities slip. We see Belisaere in detail and explore the Abhorsen's house. Mogget plays a pivotal role in Clariel's story, and I enjoyed seeing one of my favorite characters at his worst.
We see Clariel really struggle with her desires and her anger throughout the book. It's so rare, I think, to find a book that has a strong female character who isn't sacrificing herself for others and has this incredible flaw. And by the end, the problem isn't solved or controlled. If you've read the other books in the series, you know that things will, in fact, get much, much worse. And I liked (and hated) seeing an Abhorsen who was wretched at his work. Things are so turned on their head in this book compared to the figures we see in the rest of the series; while this was a bit disorienting at first, I enjoyed the change and grew to appreciate that not every person is cut out to be an Abhorsen, a Charter Mage, or a hero. I think that Nix did an excellent job, particularly with Mogget and Aziminil, at making you realize that these are not sympathetic characters. Or that the act of revenge lives up to the idea.
I was a bit surprised by the ending. That direct connection to Chlorr is not there, but rather hinted at. We know what is to come, but this story really shows you where Clariel starts down that path, not how she gets there. And while I had a problem with that as I finished the book, the more I thought about it, the less I minded it. ...more
If you're looking for a mix of Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, and Roald Dahl, then you'll find The Kneebone Boy to be a good fix. It features the HardscIf you're looking for a mix of Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, and Roald Dahl, then you'll find The Kneebone Boy to be a good fix. It features the Hardscrabble children, Otto, Lucia, and Max, three oddball British kids who live with their father, an artist who paints portraits of deposed royalty. Their mother mysteriously disappeared when Otto, the oldest, was only eight, and the other two children barely remember her. Rumors fly around their small town about the missing mother - was she murdered? Strangled by her own son? Or did the father kill her? Or has she just perhaps abandoned her family?
Regardless, it's been many years without their mother and the children have accepted life as it stands: Otto doesn't speak and constantly wears a scarf, Lucia speaks for Otto and fights to keep order, and Max is a quiet daydreamer who spends time on the roof, thinking. When their father is suddenly called to a job, the children are sent to London to stay with an aunt. But she's not home... she's out of the country. Suddenly the children find an adventure thrust upon them. They discover a mysterious great-aunt, who lives in a folly castle, a mysterious creature called the Kneebone Boy, a 25-toed cat, and the secret behind their missing mother.
The writing for this book is clever... sometimes a little too clever for its own good. While I enjoyed reading it, the language often made me want to take a break after a chapter or two. It's snarky and very conversational, often taking the time to tell us how the story should be composed (and why it isn't written that way) or reassuring us that it may sound like a ghost is in the chapter but, because it's a book about real stuff, there wouldn't be any actual ghosts. Except there would be, but in a later chapter. The pacing was also a bit slow, with a lot of build-up on how boring their town is and their family history. There's a point in the book where a short chapter is used to apologize for the slowness of the plot line, with promises that, since the reader was already hooked and wouldn't be stupid enough to put it down, the next part would be even more exciting. Well it was, but it all came very quickly, particularly compared to the start of the book.
The characters are terrific and the narration sets a great tone for the book. The resolution regarding their mother is not really a happy one, and while it answers a great deal of questions, I feel like it raised more that weren't addressed. The scenery of the book, from the Hardscrabble's house to the folly castle to the foggy beach and forests in Snoring-by-the-Sea are vivid. Overall, I would recommend this book, but wouldn't say it's a must-read. For grades 5 - 9....more
What an awesome book! This is the story of Cimorene, a kick-ass princess who doesn't care for princess-y things. When she finds out that her parents hWhat an awesome book! This is the story of Cimorene, a kick-ass princess who doesn't care for princess-y things. When she finds out that her parents have engaged her to boring Prince Therandil, Cimorene takes off and becomes the princess of the dragon Kazul. She spends the days organizing the dragon's library and treasure room, making desserts like cherries jubilee for Kazul, and fending off all the would-be suitors who are trying to rescue her. She must also contend with several enemies, including a talking bird, a jinn, and some sneaky wizards.
I think if I had discovered this series in high school, I would've been all over it... I mean, it's about dragons and sassy/smart princesses! I don't know how I've missed it for so long! I'm happy to have read it now and hope to pick up the rest of the series. If you're looking for a quick book that's entertaining fantasy and can appeal to many ages, this is it!...more
Our intrepid heroes march further into the depths of the research facility, and finally enter the mysterious Level 4. They have to deal with a new typOur intrepid heroes march further into the depths of the research facility, and finally enter the mysterious Level 4. They have to deal with a new type of monster (one hint... frogs!) and we learn a little history for a few of the survivors. This volume starts to move away a bit from the horror/survival stuff (though there's still plenty here!) and get into some more mental/supernatural elements. Things just keep getting curiouser and curiouser!...more
A fascinating survival story - Kasumi is one of 160 people who have been selected to be cryogenically frozen as the world waits to find a cure for theA fascinating survival story - Kasumi is one of 160 people who have been selected to be cryogenically frozen as the world waits to find a cure for the Medusa Virus, a disease that turns victims to stone. However, Kasumi's twin sister was not selected, and she dreams of her as she is frozen. When Kasumi awakens, the center is filled with thick vines of thorns, and strange, dinosaur-like creatures are roaming the facility. When one creature attacks and kills several of the others who have just woken up, Kasumi and six other survivors flee, using their wits and their fear to escape the facility. But can they trust each other? And how long have they been asleep? What happened to the rest of the world and is there a cure for Medusa to be found?
This was a thrilling introduction to Kasumi's story. It's easy to zip right through this volume, wondering what's happened, how the group will survive, and what creatures are lurking around the corner. Very little is revealed about the group of survivors, which adds another element to the mystery. Kasumi is fairly helpless throughout a lot of this volume, so I'm hoping that will change as time goes on. I like the artwork, which really helps the convey the action, but it also very detailed. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series!...more
Yay! I'm so glad the second Jellaby finally came out. Portia, Jason, and Jellaby come closer to finding out where Jellaby is from, while Portia gets aYay! I'm so glad the second Jellaby finally came out. Portia, Jason, and Jellaby come closer to finding out where Jellaby is from, while Portia gets a chance *maybe* to confront her father, who has been missing for years but seems mysteriously connected to Jellaby's appearance. There's monsters, there's talking pigeons, and lots of carrots!
This was a fast-paced volume and it was over before I knew it. I really like how Soo shows Portia's strengths and weaknesses... she's so strong, but she's also a young girl who's missing her father and has trouble really keeping friends and letting them get close. Xolotl's story (read the book to find out more!) is also sad, and it leaves me with a lot of questions. I have to think there will be another volume, to reveal more about the masked figure, Jellaby's history, and Portia's father, but the way this was ended made me almost think that this was it. I really really really hope that's not the case! I would've also liked more Jason... because Jason is sweet and funny, and there's obviously something going on there with his connection to Xolotl.
So... more please!
On a tiny note, Kean Soo's note about the Food pavilion was hilarious. ...more
Portia doesn't fit in at school - she reads above everyone else's level, she can't make friends, and she has trouble keeping her mind on class. PortiaPortia doesn't fit in at school - she reads above everyone else's level, she can't make friends, and she has trouble keeping her mind on class. Portia, more than anything, is lonely. And then she finds Jellaby, a purple dragon creature with a sense of humor and a brave streak. She has problems keeping Jellaby a secret - Jason, Portia's classmate and carrot-lover, quickly discovers him. Both Jason and Portia work to find out where Jellaby came from and how to get him home, all the while hinting that there may be a connection between Jellaby and Portia's missing father.
I thought this was a terrific book, but I wanted more more more! I've heard that Kean Soo has said one of the inspirations was Calvin and Hobbes, and I did think a lot of the strip while I was reading it, but I spent a lot of time thinking of Susie rather than Calvin. I can't wait until the next book comes out, because this felt a little short....more