Book Review: A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte
A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18 
by Joseph Loconte

I thoroughly enjoyed this book about the effect that WWI had on two of my favorite authors, how their experiences translated into the stories they wrote, and how their faith in God was strengthened and established despite the horrors of war.

This is heartbreaking to read, because it gives such detailed personal accounts of the war, the suffering and fear they went through, and the terrible losses of friends and family. But it is also wonderfully interesting to learn about the history of that time, and the misguided Utopian philosophies that were shattered by the war.

I was impressed with the scholarly yet accessible writing style, and the way in which the historical and personal information was organized and presented in each chapter. This clearly explained how Tolkien’s and Lewis’ personal experiences were entwined in the larger story of the war, and the popular philosophies and political thinking of the time.

Graphic Novel Review: The Scarlet Rose

Scarlet Rose #1 by Patricia Lyfoung

2 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Maud’s father is murdered by an assassin looking for a book containing the secret to a great treasure. Maud swears to avenge her father’s death, and wants to join a bandit named the Fox, who steals from the rich to give to the poor. Maud has to move in with her aristocratic grandfather, who only wants to control her and force her to marry a nobleman. Maud becomes the masked Scarlet Rose, and works on her fencing skills so she can become a highway bandit, and get one step closer to her father’s killer.

The plot is predictable and full of Robin Hood tropes. The characters are boring and obvious. The writing is blah. The artwork is okay, but nothing special. It’s not horrible, but it’s not good either. I’ve read worse, but I’ve also read much better.
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Book Review: The Tea Dragon Society

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O'Neill
The Tea Dragon Society 
by Katie O’Neill


3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads
In this graphic novel, Greta’s mother is teaching her to be a blacksmith, but Greta is distracted when she befriends a tea-shop owner with a pet tea dragon. As Greta learns to care for the tea dragons, she befriends a whole new group of people in the society dedicated to protecting their tea dragons, and brewing the delicious tea leaves harvested from their horns. But will Greta ever return to her blacksmithing lessons, or have a tea dragon of her own?

I love the whimsical artwork! The colors and lines are soft and sweet. I thought the plot was adorable and lovely. The little tea dragon creatures are the cutest thing ever created! But there were some confusing things about this book that make it difficult to review.

My main problem is that there is a homosexual couple in this book. One of them is a human and the other is some kind of furry llama-looking guy with a long tail. I did not appreciate this kind of political/philosophical posturing in an otherwise lovely children’s book about dragons.
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Book Review: Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
Red Riding Hood 
by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright (Goodreads Author)David Leslie JohnsonCatherine Hardwicke (Introduction by)
1 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Valerie’s sister is killed by the horrible Wolf. Valerie has to choose to marry the rich young blacksmith, or run away with her childhood friend, Peter, who is an outcast.
I’m DNFing this stupidity. Boring. Instalove of the worst kind. Mediocre writing. Rotten characters. Bleh.
I got to page 88, and had to quit. When they agree to run away together after having only exchanged about twenty words and one moonlit horseback ride, I’m done with this nonsense.

It also annoyed me that the girls run off in the middle of the night to the boys’ camp to flirt with them. What was the point of that whole scene?

Book Review: The Wish Stealers

The Wish Stealers by Tracy Trivas
3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


A cute little book about a middle-school girl, Griffin, who tries to return stolen wishes to their rightful owners before an evil curse catches up with her.

The plot is okay, but predictable and not exactly mind-blowing. The characters are good, but not really memorable. The writing is adequate, but nothing special.

I did like the theme about fighting off the evil inside of us, and not letting our anger or our circumstances turn us into a bad person. There’s some great little lessons about good and evil, light and darkness, as Griffin thinks carefully about what it means to embrace the right and reject the evil in our lives.

One thing that I really liked about this book is that both of Griffin’s parents are in the picture, talking to her, giving advice, showing up, and being a family. In so many books, children have no parents or only one parent or an absent parent, because it forces the protagonist to be more independent. It was lovely to see a normal healthy family that all get along, and support and love one another. It added so much depth to the plot and characters!

Book Review: The Little Red Wolf

The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais
The Little Red Wolf 
by Amélie Fléchais (Illustrator)

2 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


What the hay kind of bedtime story is this?!?! The last line reads, “In his rage, misfortune struck. So sad and horrible, that he could never forgive himself.”
And that’s it! That’s the end. Everyone depressed and distraught forever. OMG, what is WRONG with this story?

The artwork is so lovely, so beautiful. Subtle colors and lines, pretty little details of forest flora and fauna. The beginning is whimsical and sweet as a little wolf travels through the forest to take a dead rabbit to his grandmother’s house. He follows a butterfly, and explores a little mousey hole, and stops to look at a beetle.

Then it gets gross.

First of all, dead rabbit in every scene, just laying there in the basket, being dead and all. Also, the little wolf gets hungry and decides to eat just one of the rabbit feet as a snack. Oh, yum. Dead bloody rabbit feet. Never mind the bones. Continue reading

Book Review: Death at Blenheim Palace

Death at Blenheim Palace by Robin Paige
Death at Blenheim Palace (Kathryn Ardleigh, #11) 
by Robin Paige

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

 

In this book Charles and Kate Sheridan are visiting the Duke of Marlborough, and they start investigating the disappearance of a housemaid. But the other guests are up to all sorts of hijinks, and it’s difficult to sort out the clues from the red herrings.

The plot is a little thin and sometimes obvious, and every tiny detail is drawn out and repeated again and again. I do like the characters, and there is some good drama. I mostly enjoy reading about Charles and Kate doing their sleuthing, because they make such a sweet couple and a good team.

Book Review: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women 
by Elena FavilliFrancesca Cavallo

 

1 out of 5 stars on GoodReads
This is difficult to review because, while I loved the artwork and the lovely cover, some of the historic people that were featured in this book are very controversial. Many of them are not fit to be held up as role models for young girls!

Pirates, shady politicians, drug addicts, tyrants from Ancient History, and downright gross people; I counted 19 bios out of 100 that I had serious problems with, and which I would never allow a child to read about.

I liked the bios of the decent people, like Helen Keller, the Bronte sisters, Amelia Earhart, Ada Lovelace, Rosa Parks, and others. However, I felt that some of those bios left out points that ought to have been emphasized, or emphasized points that I thought were inconsequential, or portrayed a mixed message of the person’s life.

Most of the writing was skewed to a certain political viewpoint that doesn’t give a complete picture of the person’s achievements or what their life meant in influencing history. I could barely enjoy the good parts of this book because of so many misdirections and illusions about what these good people stood for and what made them famous. And I really didn’t enjoy the bios of the people I don’t admire, because the writing covered up the true nature of their corrupt lives.  Continue reading

Graphic Novel Review: Wires and Nerve

Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer
Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve, #1) 
by Marissa Meyer (Goodreads Author)Douglas Holgate (Illustrations)

5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads

I love this continuation of the Lunar Chronicles series, especially since it’s a graphic novel! After Cinder takes the throne and the Earthen-Lunar war is over, there are still some wolf-soldiers running around Earth unsupervised, causing death and destruction.
So Iko, the sassy android, takes up the task of retrieving all the deserters of the wolf army and bringing them back to Luna to face justice and/or be rehabilitated. It will take all her fancy programming and a lot of nerve to keep her friends safe, and even more determination to convince people that she has feelings just like a human.

I really loved the blue-tinted artwork, and I was impressed with the layout of the panels, and the pacing of the story. Some of the characters didn’t look quite how I had imagined them in my head, but that’s okay. Really beautiful cartoony style that pulled me into the world of Luna!
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Book Review: The Heart of Princess Osra

The Heart Of Princess Osra by Anthony Hope
4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads
This book is so depressing that it’s actually funny! In every chapter, another poor man is dying, being murdered, committing suicide, going insane, about to be hanged as a criminal, or dying of some horrific illness because his heart is breaking for love of the beautiful Princess Osra. All these poor stupid men, dying because the Princess is beautiful. It’s tragic and funny in its ridiculousness. (I mean, how beautiful could she be? She’s Helen of Troy, apparently.)

I love how chivalrous the noblemen are, and even the common men without riches or titles are full of chivalry and high feelings. The villains are calculating and malicious, and the heroes are completely unselfish and generous and kind. All of them are ready to dare anything, risk bodily harm, fight to the death in impossible duels, and risk their fortunes for the sake of the Princess and their own honor.

Each chapter follows some different escapade of the Princess and her would-be suitors, and I love the high adventure plots. It reminds me of Dumas’ Three Musketeers.