Graphic Novel Review: The Altered History of Willow Sparks

The Altered History of Willow Sparks by Tara O'Connor
The Altered History of Willow Sparks 
by Tara O’Connor (Goodreads Author)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

I really enjoyed this graphic novel about a girl who discovers a magic book that will change her life! Willow is a nerd being bullied by the popular girls at school, but she has friends and a great job working in a library. The book gives her the power to rewrite her life, but of course, magic comes with a price. Willow uses the book to become one of the popular girls, and her life at school seems to be better, but at a cost. If only, Willow can realize the truth before it’s too late, she might be able to salvage her friendships with the people who truly care about her.
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Book Review: Frightful’s Mountain

Frightful's Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Frightful’s Mountain (Mountain, #3) 
by Jean Craighead George

3 out of 5 stars

This is my least favorite book in the trilogy, because it mainly focuses on the peregrine falcon, Frightful, and Sam is barely in the story at all. If you are interested in falconry at all, you would LOVE this book! Very informative and dramatic, as Frightful learns to survive in the wild, struggles to find a mate and raise her own chicks, and finds her way back to Sam as a wild bird.
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Book Review: Candide

Candide by Voltaire
by VoltaireJohn Everett Butt (Translator and Introduction)

2 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Candide and his friends are thrown into horrible situations, tortured, robbed, conscripted into armies, sold as slaves, shipwrecked, beaten, thrown into prison, etc… for the entire book, all the while discussing the philosophy of optimism, the idea that all is well and good in the world, despite the evidence to the contrary.

The writing is extremely concise and lacking in any detail, so that all the characters are one-dimensional, and the plot is very sparse. Everything moves quickly from one plot point to the next, so that within a few sentences the entire situation has changed. Not much is explained either, leaving a lot of plot holes and gaps in the story.  Continue reading

Book Review: Midwinter Nightingale

Midwinter Nightingale by Joan Aiken
Midwinter Nightingale (The Wolves Chronicles, #10) 
by Joan Aiken

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Within hours of returning to England, Dido is kidnapped and interrogated regarding the whereabouts of the missing King Richard and his successor, Simon, Duke of Battersea. Dido has no idea where they are hiding, but she could never betray the good King and her kind friend Simon, so she turns her attention to escaping the fearful Fogrum Hall and the ghastly werewolf, Baron Magnus. Continue reading

Graphic Novel Review: The Castoffs Vol.2

The Castoffs, V.2 by M.K. Reed
The Castoffs, V.2: Into The Wastelands (Castoffs, #2) 
by M.K. ReedBrian Smith

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


In this second volume, the trio of apprentice mages are off on another adventure, but this time they are unsure which other mages they can trust in a world of secrets and lies. Ursa’s past becomes an issue between the friends as her true family history is revealed. Trinh receives some extra training in combat, and Charris picks a fight with a much more experienced mage.
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Book Review: Cold Shoulder Road

Cold Shoulder Road by Joan Aiken
3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Is Twite and her cousin Arun go on a wild search for Arun’s mother, Ruth Twite, while the Merry Gentry smugglers terrorize every village on the coast. Arun and Is turn to Admiral Fishkin for help and advice on how to find their missing relative, but the duplicitous Admiral is not as kind as he seems. Is and Arun search through the mysterious Silent Sect, explore a dark cave, find shelter in unlikely places, and ultimately find a way to restore peace to the coast and strip the Merry Gentry of their power.
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Book Review: Dangerous Games

Dangerous Games by Joan Aiken
Dangerous Games (The Wolves Chronicles, #5) 
by Joan Aiken

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Another fabulous book in the Wolves series! Dido is charged with finding Lord Herodsfoot on the distant island of Aratu, among the spice plantations, the witch doctors, and forest people. Lord Herodsfoot is searching for new and ancient games, which he hopes will entertain King James back in England. But the island is a troubled place with political unrest and violence around every turn. The island king’s malicious brother is planning a coup, and only Dido and her strange new friends can save the island and restore balance to the people’s lives.

Full of adventure and a little magic, this story keeps moving with a quick plot, weird and interesting characters, and of course, the excellent writing that I find in all Joan Aiken’s books.
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Book Review: Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Great Bear Rainforest

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt by Patti Wheeler
Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Great Bear Rainforest 
by Patti WheelerKeith Hemstreet (Goodreads Author)

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Twin brothers, Gannon and Wyatt, are invited to the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada, to search for the “spirit bear”, a rare albino bear said to be the Spirit of the Rainforest. But when their parents go missing, the brothers must trek into the wilderness alone to search for their parents and uncover a plot to destroy the delicate rainforest ecosystem. They face danger from the predators of the forest, wolves, black bears, and grizzlies, and it will take all their wilderness survival skills to make it out alive.

I loved this second book in the series! There is even more action in this one, and the plot really keeps you in suspense! The writing is in a journal style, as the two brothers write about their experiences and adventures.  Continue reading

Book Review: Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt by Patti Wheeler
Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana 
by Patti WheelerKeith Hemstreet (Goodreads Author)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

I thoroughly enjoyed this story told through the travel journals of twin brothers, Gannon and Wyatt, as they explore the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta in Botswana. When the brothers hear about a lioness with cubs who has been wounded by a poacher, they trek into the wilderness with a native guide to find the lioness and give her some medical attention before the poacher tracks her down to finish her off! Searching for the lioness, they encounter a plethora of wild animals, and learn how to survive in the wild. Continue reading

Manga Review: Count of Monte Cristo

Manga Classics by Crystal S. Chan
Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo 
by Crystal S. Chan (Story Adaptation)Alexandre DumasNokman Poon (Art by)

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Edmond Dantes is betrayed by a coworker who wants his job, a romantic rival who will steal his bride, and a crooked government prosecutor with a dark secret to hide. Thrown into prison for decades, Dantes eventually escapes, becomes fabulously wealthy, and vows revenge on those who ruined his life.

Count of Monte Cristo is one of my top five favorite novels of all time, so I was interested to see how one of my favorite stories would translate into manga form. Although they had to simplify the story considerably, and there are really too many characters for a stand-alone manga, I enjoyed this wonderful adaptation of a classic tale!
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