Review: Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead and Emma Vieceli

Review: Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead and Emma VieceliVampire Academy: The Graphic Novel by Emma Vieceli, Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel #1
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 144
Genres: Graphic Novels, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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After two years on the run, best friends Rose and Lissa are caught and returned to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a private high school for vampires and half-bloods. It’s filled with intrigue, danger—and even romance.

Enter their dark, fascinating world through a new series of 144-page full-color graphic novels. The entire first Vampire Academy novel has been adapted for book one by Leigh Dragoon and overseen by Richelle Mead, while the beautiful art of acclaimed British illustrator Emma Vieceli brings the story to life.

Thoughts: This book was my first graphic novel – ever.*  So I can’t tell you how Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel compares to other graphic novels out there, but I sure as hell can tell you that I enjoyed it.

I loved Vampire Academy (review) when I read it way back in 2010, and this graphic novel was the perfect way for me to revisit the book. It reminded me of how much I loved the characters and how completely enthralled I was in their world. The artwork has the right mixture of hard and soft – I never felt like I was reading some sort of anime, but neither did it feel like a child’s book. I hated the artwork in the Twilight graphic novel adaptation and this was (luckily) nothing like.

I was also surprised by how much of the book made it into the graphic novel. I’d thought that, rather like a movie adaptation, quite a lot of plot would have to be sacrificed in order to make this graphic novel. I was wrong! All of my favourite scenes are in it, as well as a few I’d forgotten about.

Since reading the first book in the Vampire Academy series, I struggled to finish the series. Not because the later books are bad, but because I was spoiled and it made the journey to the conclusion non-exquisite torture! But this graphic novel was a perfect way for me to wet my toes in the Vampire Academy world without worrying about what comes next.

Bottom line? A must-have for fans of the series. I am definitely going to be getting the adaptation of Frostbite and hope the publishers make the entire series into graphic novels!

* OK, I read Mercy Thompson: Homecoming a few years ago, but it was so short and I doubt it would count.

Review: Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Review: Moloka’i by Alan BrennertMoloka'i by Alan Brennert
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on 2004-10-04
Pages: 384
Genres: Literary Fiction
Source: Purchased myself
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This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai'i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place—-and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'i. Here her life is supposed to end—-but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.

With a vibrant cast of vividly realized characters, Moloka'i is the true-to-life chronicle of a people who embraced life in the face of death.

Thoughts: Way back in 2007, Wendy’s (Musings of a Bookish Kitty) review of this novel put Moloka’i on my radar. My mother had long-ago told me about her trip to Moloka’i when she was in her twenties – she spoke about the extraordinary beauty of the island and meeting the “lepers” (or, as I discovered in this book, sufferers of Hassen’s disease) who continued to live even after their imprisonment came to an end. Her story, Wendy’s review, and my long-love of the Hawaii islands, made me want to read this book.

Sometimes you read a book and think “this book came at the right time”. Almost as though your life led up to a point which required you to read a certain book. Moloka’i was one of those books. I went on holiday to Honolulu this Christmas, and left with a deep appreciation for the islands and its people. Not just for their friendliness and charm, but for the vast suffering they had to endure. From death, disease, and a loss of a kingdom – all of it, I would argue, at the hands of European Americans. Haoles.

So, on to the book. I can’t work out if this book is brilliant because Alan Brennert is a genius – or if he is just a decent writer working with amazing material. Is it a colour-by-numbers of the Sistine Chapel, or a Rembrandt masterpiece of a garbage dump?  I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care.  What I do know is that this is one hell of an epic, and I absolutely adored it all.

Don’t let the depressing premise put you off.  Sure, it starts off with a young girl being sent to a leper colony to die – but Moloka’i is much more than a tragedy, and it’s about so much more than a disease.  If anything, the book proves how life continues on in the most unlikely conditions.  Rachel – our protagonist – lives through an extraordinary chunk of Hawaiian history: from the loss of its kingdom, the bombings at Pearly Harbour, to becoming a US State.  In that time she grows up, and learns to live and love despite the odds.  A lot of it is heartbreaking – I cannot recall how many times I cried – but a lot of it is also beautiful or silly or sexy or thrilling.

This is a book about life, not death.  So think of it, instead, as the life and times of a talented young surfer named Rachel.  I am certain there was a girl like her on Moloka’i – she’d be about my age now, plus or minus a century – and she deserves to be remembered.

Bottom line?  I loved this absolutely book.  Although written by a haole (and been reviewed by a haole) I think most Hawaiians would agree that Alan Brennert perfectly captures the aloha spirit.

And, in case this review left you wondering, here’s a Hawaii Five-O gif to describe my feelings for this book:

Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn ChildsForgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
Series: Fins #1
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 293
Genres: Middle Grade, Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

Thoughts: Wow, is that summary ever… perky! Let me confirm – the writing in Forgive My Fins is about as cheesy and pun-ridden as its summary. Very cute, and very simple to read. If you know a Middle Grader who wishes she were a teen, well, she’d love this book.

Forgive my Fins was really quite cute. It was as Technicolor as its cover and was set in a fishy world that was extremely unique. Think The Little Mermaid, but in jeans and wearing lip gloss. Fun Fun Fun!  I really enjoyed the adorable verse and could have swum right into it, had the pages allowed!

But, God, were the characters – and plot – ever simple: X loves Y who is in love with Z (who is kinda annoying). But wait! Y sees the error of her ways after spending time with X. And they all swim off happily ever after.  The End!

Admittedly, this could be done brilliantly, but in Forgive My Fins it was just done… simply. Nothing truly bad ever happens to any of the characters, and reaching the final happy ending simply took patience. No baddies running in to ruin the day, just a girl who needed time to to come to her senses. This – along with the writing – is what made it a Middle Grade book for me.

On the other hand, Lily is actually a pretty fair (albeit fishy) representation of a typical teenager. She thinks she knows what she wants – she even claims to be in love – but she hasn’t a clue. Even though this ended with an OTP, it does remind you that not all teen love is meant to last – half the time it only exists in your head!

Bottom line? Very fun, light-hearted read.  If you are looking for something to perk you up, look no further!  Just don’t expect a serious discussion about the complete and utter decimation of the world’s fisheries… or a serious discussion about anything, really.

To those of you who have already read it: What was with that last chapter??? Bizarre.

Review: Seven Sorcerers by Caro King

Review: Seven Sorcerers by Caro KingSeven Sorcerers by Caro King
Series: Seven Sorcerers #1
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2012-05-01
Pages: 352
Genres: Middle Grade
Source: Purchased myself
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The Bogeyman is all too real in this fantasy Publishers Weekly calls “energetic and absorbing.”Nin Redstone wakes up to discover that her brother has vanished—and she’s the only one who remembers him. But when Bogeyman Skerridge comes for her, too, Nin realizes the true danger her brother, Toby, is in. To save him, she and her new friend Jonas must travel to a mysterious and magical land called the Drift. Located just next to our world, the Drift is being slowly destroyed by a terrible plague. The Seven Sorcerers who ruled there might have been able to prevent the devastation, but even they have succumbed. In a race to rescue Toby and get home before the plague makes it impossible, can Nin and Jonas avoid the tombfolk, mud men, and various creatures who want to stop them? And what is the secret of the Seven Sorcerers?

Thoughts: I loved this book. Truly, madly, deeply – I really loved this book.

Seven Sorcerers is that first real Middle-Grade novel I have read since, well, I was in middle grade. And I am so glad I got such an amazing reintroduction to the MG section of the bookstore! Seven Sorcerers is filled with rollicking adventure, humorous villains, entertaining sidekicks and some epic I’m-doing-this-out-of-love sacrifice. It kept me entertained for hours – and I was genuinely sad when it ended.

Seven Sorcerers takes a new spin on the magical and mystical. There are bogeymen and vampires, and all sorts of other nasties.  Our little heroine, Nim, is spunky and full of character – even as her entire life is stolen from her, she still plucks up the courage to try to do something about it. OK, maybe she’s not your average 12-year-old, but with King?  I totally bought it.

When I think about Seven Sorcerers, the only comparison I can come up with is Harry Potter. Now, I am a big HP fan – so a book has to be pretty brilliant for me to compare it to JK Rowling’s works! But both King and Rowling write first-and-foremost about a universe, and then the characters inside it. And like Rowling, I get the feeling that King knows every last inch of her verse.

I can’t wait to get started on the sequel Shadow Spell! Also, I wanted to give a shout-out to the artist for the novel. There are some gorgeous illustrations at the start of the book that really set the tone of the novel.  Beautiful work!

Bottom line?  This Middle Grade book is one for all ages.  If you are looking for an adventurous novel you can’t put down, look no further!

Review: Ondine: The Summer of Shambles by Ebony McKenna

I received this book for free from Purchased myself in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Ondine: The Summer of Shambles by Ebony McKennaOndine: The Summer of Shambles by Ebony McKenna
Series: Ondine #1
Published by Egmont
Pages: 292
Genres: Middle Grade
Source: Purchased myself
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Ondine de Groot is a normal fifteen-year-old who lives with her family in the European country of Brugel. She has a pet ferret called Shambles. But Shambles is no ordinary ferret...

He's Hamish McPhee, a boy cursed by a witch. A witch who happens to be related to Ondine. When Shambles turns back into Hamish temporarily, Ondine knows that she has to help him break the spell. He is the most gorgeous boy she has ever met and her one true love! He just can't remain a ferret forever. Can he?

Thoughts: Ondine was absolutely adorable! It was over-the-top, magical fun that put a smile on my face whenever I picked it up. McKenna writes with confidence and skill – two things not usually associated with debut novelists. Instead of opting for your typical show-then-explain narrative, McKenna include footnotes with quirky explanations about the language and the country. They were just brilliant! Short enough not to detract from the story, and usually pretty hysterical!

Although I can’t say the characters were overly complex, they were still very enjoyable. Quirky and well-meaning, they all made me smile. Especially the Scottish-rogue-turned-ferret Shambles.

Ok, that sentence?  Perfect example of why Ondine was awesome.

(Erm, except for the bit where vegetarians were called malnourished. First off, not cool. Secondly, plain wrong. I was actually kinda insulted and genuinely worried people might believe it. But see how I am giving the book a good review anyways? Apparently, I’m just that magnanimous.)

Bottom line?  Ebony McKenna has written a sweet, funny middle-grade novel which I couldn’t help but be swept up by. A wonderful debut!

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