Graphic Novel Review: The World According to Francois

The World According to François by Vincent Zabus
The World According to François: The Writer’s Secret
by Vincent Zabus,  Renaud Collin (Illustrator)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Francois is a little boy with a big imagination. He is always writing down stories and telling them to his classmates and teachers, but the bullies in school make fun of his stories and his teachers are exasperated with him. He meets a mysterious woman who tells him that he has a magical power over letters of the alphabet and can command any book to do his bidding. An evil man has seized control of the letters, and only Francois can restore balance to the secret world of authors.

I loved Francois’ character! He has a good heart and enjoys using his intelligence to fantasize about other worlds and magical creations.

Continue reading

Book Review: A Handful of Magic

A Handful of Magic by Stephen Elboz
A Handful of Magic
by Stephen Elboz

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Kit is full of mischief and unruly vandalism, until his misconduct results in his best friend, Prince Henry being bitten by a werewolf. As Kit works to save Henry from the werewolf’s poison, he uncovers a deadly plot to cripple all of England while children are used as slaves to work in underground mines. To save his friends, Kit must learn to use his magical abilities for good, instead of for foolish pranks.

Full of steampunk magic and mythical creatures, this book creates a world where magic is at war with new scientific discoveries like the electric light and telegraph. Kit’s father, a prominent wizard-adviser to Queen Victoria, worries that magic is becoming obsolete in the face of new scientific inventions, and Kit is determined to prove that magic is just as relevant and necessary as it ever was.

I didn’t quite like Kit and his friends at first, because of their foolishness and vandalism, but they began to grow and learn, and their good hearts and generous spirits began to show through, so in the end, I liked them all and was cheering for them through their adventures. Continue reading

Book Review: Far Traveler

Far Traveler by Rebecca Tingle
Far Traveler 
by Rebecca Tingle

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Ælfwyn is a shy, bookish maiden in Anglo-Saxon England, caught in the middle of her uncle the king’s political plots. When the king forces her to choose between marrying an old man or becoming a nun, Ælfwyn runs away to become a singing bard on the open road. But circumstances drag her back into her uncle’s clutches, and desperate men try to use her position in the king’s family for their own political gain.

I really identified with Ælfwyn’s character, because she loves to read. She is shy, and is frightened to ride the large and powerful horse her mother gives her. For most of the book, she depends on other people to tell her what to do and where to go, but when it really matters, she makes her own decisions, discovering courage and resilience from deep inside.

I liked the writing style in this book. It really pulls you in to the story, painting a picture of Old England with a few settings, people, and events drawn from real history. I especially liked the scenes when Ælfwyn is on the road, singing her songs and telling stories from her books to entertain the common people.  Continue reading

Book Review: Queste

Queste by Angie Sage
Queste (Septimus Heap, #4) 
by Angie Sage

4 out of 5 stars

A disgruntled old ghost has rigged the Questing Stone draw, sending Septimus on a suicide mission against the rules of Magyck Apprenticeship. No matter what Septimus does, he cannot escape the deadly Queste, and he ends up dragging Jemma and Beetle along with him through dangerous forests, and across deadly cliffs, to face the dreaded Foryx monsters and find the secrets of Time.

The world-building gets more and more phenomenal with each book in this series, as we discover further depths of magic and fantasy.
I love how twisty the plot is, where every small detail can have a huge impact on the story. I love the interesting and complex characters and how they all interact.
I am growing to love Beetle’s character more and more through this series, and I loved that he played a more central role in this book.
Jemma and Septimus are fantastic characters, as always. Nicko and Snorri also make an appearance from the depths of Time, and magic surrounds everything they do.

Loving this series!

Book Review: Poppy

Poppy by Avi
Poppy,   by Avi

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Poppy and her large mouse family are held in servitude to the formidable owl, Mr. Ocax. When Poppy and her boyfriend, Ragweed, decide to flaunt Mr. Ocax’s rules, it means trouble for the whole mouse family. Only Poppy can discover the truth behind Mr. Ocax’s secret fear, and save her family from starvation!

This story was so cute! I loved the whimsical plot, and the funny characters. The writing is charming, and the illustrations are beautiful.
Poppy is such an idiotic little fool, but she has a good heart and she is brave in the middle of terrifying circumstances (well, terrifying to a mouse).
I loved grumpy old Ereth, and his hilarious insults! He brings so much comedy into the story.

I enjoyed this so much that I’m going to continue on with the sequel, Poppy and Rye.

Book Review: The Evil Wizard Smallbone

The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman
The Evil Wizard Smallbone 
by Delia Sherman 

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Nick runs away from his abusive uncle, only to fall into the hands of an evil wizard! Nick is forced to become Smallbone’s apprentice, but the old man refuses to teach him any magic. Unraveling the secrets of the Evil Wizard Bookshop and the mysterious town of Smallbone Cove, Nick will have to outwit his master before an even more evil wizard, Fidelou, terrorizes and destroys the entire town.

I am delighted with this whimsical tale of wizardry! I love the enchanted town of Smallbone Cove and the rich history of the people there. I love how grumpy and enigmatic Smallbone is, because we slowly discover that he has a heart of gold underneath. I love the twisty plot with all kinds of weird surprises. I like the writing style too! There’s a lot of dry humor and snappy dialogue.  Continue reading

Book Review: Birdwing

Birdwing by Rafe Martin
Birdwing 
by Rafe Martin

4 out of 5 stars on GoodREads


Ardwin is the youngest in his family, cursed with one arm that is a swan’s wing. He is feared and reviled by the world, and sets out to seek an adventure that will lead him to his true home. But he will never find peace until he learns to accept himself, wing and all.

This is a continuation of the fairy tale of the brothers who are transformed into swans and saved by their sister who weaves shirts of nettles to break the curse. One little brother’s shirt is unfinished, missing a sleeve, and that arm remains a swan’s wing.

I loved Ardwin’s character! He’s a very deep thinker, and he puzzles through many ideas about identity, instinct, belonging, love, and hate, and forgiveness. There are so many wonderful themes that he wrestles with, but he ultimately finds where he truly belongs.

The plot is wonderfully fantastical, full of wizards, enchantresses, talking animals, deep earth magic, and impossible plot twists that kept me guessing and wondering and perfectly in awe. Continue reading

Book Review: Fire Bringer

Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies
Fire Bringer 
by David Clement-Davies (Goodreads Author)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

As a little fawn, Rannoch is born with an oak leaf mark on his forehead that signals the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. When his father is murdered on the very night of his birth, Rannoch must be hidden and kept safe from the eyes of the tyrant deer lord, Drail. As Drail gets closer to discovering Rannoch’s true identity, Rannoch and his friends must flee to the North, propelling them on an epic journey towards freedom and healing for all the deer in Scotland.

It took me awhile to get into the flow of the story. There are far too many characters, some of them with similar names, making it difficult to remember them all, and the writing spends way too much time explaining boring details ad nauseum. But once the story began to move, I enjoyed the adventure, the characters, and the world-building of the deer herds and their culture. But then I was disappointed in the ending. It needed more flair, and it didn’t deliver quite the epic conclusion I was looking for.

A good read, but not amazing. The writing could have been more polished, and the plot needed better pacing to keep the story moving forward.