Showing posts with label Indie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indie. Show all posts

Review of Sule: The Proverb Detective. The Case of the Tied-up Lion



        Sule: The Proverb Detective. The Case of the Tied-up Lion by Rene Rawls is a story about a detective helping his friend Fara. Fara is overwhelmed with preparations for a party later that day, when she bumps into Sule. Sule tells her the old proverb “When spiders unite, they can tie up a lion.” and takes off with her list. Thus begins a search and find as Fara attempts to find Sule and her friends in the marketplace. It's a delightful and engrossing tale of friendship.

        The use of a detective to weave in hidden object puzzles is a clever premise, and it is very entertaining. The Case of the Tied-up Lion is filled with a variety of hidden object puzzles. The readers look for spiders, people, and objects on different pages.

        The illustrations by Brittnie Brotzman are two-dimensional cartoons, and the scenes are very detail intensive. The color choices are well-done, with soft natural colors muting the bold clothes and wares of the vendors. The hidden object puzzles are good, challenging, but not too difficult for a younger audience.

        Sule: The Proverb Detective is a series that includes two short animated episodes. One of these, Sule and the Case of the Tiny Sparks, is currently available on YouTube.

Five stars!


*I was given an advance review ebook by the author.

Review: Pepper and Carrot




Review of Pepper & Carrot


        Pepper and Carrot by David Revoy is an open source webcomic which is also published as a series of comic books. Pepper is a student witch studying the magic of Chaosah under the tutorage of her three godmothers. They all live together in an idyllic cottage surrounded by a strange garden turned wacky by a profusion of conflicting and cast-off potions. Carrot is her loyal cat. He enjoys naps and has a tendency to get into things.

        The magic is a mix of potion and spell-casting, and both require a great deal of study from the library. Pepper’s magic seems to be based in a karma-directed chaos. Her friends have different sources for their magic. The world-building is excellent and remains remarkably consistent throughout. Revoy has taken a very creative artistic approach, so multiple magics mix, cities float, and a robot sits at the door to a medieval-style castle.



The drawings are truly a work of art. It’s very obvious that a lot of work has gone into each panel, as the landscapes are breathtaking, and the characters are very detailed. Revoy used digital art, and has paid exceptional attention to light and shadows. Pepper and Carrot live in a gorgeous fantasy world.

        I love it. It’s original and innovative, with outstanding art and a creative plot. Five of five stars. I will be reading this one again. There are currently 33 episodes, with more on the way.

        No gore. No one dies, except possibly some of the undead (if undead can die? Re-die?). I would recommend this for teenagers through adults.

5 stars!

Review: Mia and Nattie



Review of Mia and Nattie: 

One Great Team


        Mia and Nattie: One Great Team is a children’s picture book about a little girl and her lamb by Marlene M. Bell. When a little newborn sheep is abandoned in the barn, Mia brings her into her Grandmother’s house, and bottle feeds her. Eventually she grows big enough to live outside. Mia loves Nattie, and wants to keep her as a pet. Nattie is a very small sheep, too small to flock with the rest of the herd. She needs to find her a way to be useful so she can stay on the working farm with Mia.

        Mia and Nattie is an honest depiction of raising livestock, which is a little sad at times, although it all works out for the little sheep in a very nice way.

        The art is digital cartooning done in a two-dimensional style. Grace Sandford uses thick outlines, and pencil-thin lines for details and textures. There are lots of details in the scenes, there are wood swirls on the fences, and the fleece is fluffy. Lots of soft colors complement the natural colors of sheep’s wool. I liked all the drawings of the little lambs. They look very soft and friendly.

4 Stars!

Review: Merren and the Heron


Review of Merren and the Heron

        Merron and the Heron by Tony Dow is a delightful rhyming story about a trip to the zoo. The children set out to “photograph an animal that sounds just like your name!” The children set out to do just that, and meet an adorable array of animals cutely camouflaged into their environments.

        The art here is just, wow. Darya Shch uses a soft-edged digital art that blends bold colors into gentle pastels. It’s cartoon style, and the characters are shown naturally moving from multiple angles. The scenes have been set up very nicely, so the animals are right there, even though it’s clear they are in defined spaces. The heron is an exception to this, as you see Merron and the heron having a captivating adventure throughout the book, and their story moves in the background of the other children’s adventures. Every child in the book does have a turn seeing their zoo animals. It’s very entertaining, and definitely something I would reread. Five stars.

        Obligatory note: Merren and the Heron is a cute story, and the heron seems to be in on the fun. However, please be aware that wild birds may attack if they feel threatened or if you come too close to their nests.
5 stars!

*Disclosure: I was given a review copy of the e-book by the author.

Review: Feelu: Explore your feelings



Review of Feelu: Explore your feelings

        Feelu: Explore your feelings by Nilofar Shafiei is a children’s book on basic emotional expression and meditation. This is a nice introduction to teaching children how to define and communicate the emotions they are feeling. The meditations are suitable for young, school-aged children. Feelu is more of a supplement to therapy or an educational book, not an entertainment piece (although the illustrations are very engaging). Shafiei did a good job with the research, and Feelu does a good job covering age-appropriate grounding techniques and strategies. While it provides some basic advice for handling bullies, action should be taken if bullies are an issue for the child, as being bullied can cause problematic behaviors and poor health (Lin & Lin, 2017). For normal situations, Feelu is great.

        The art is cute. It’s done in a simplistic cartoon style, with nice bright colors that will appeal to children, and there are many different and interesting animals. Fazel has drawn a charming baby elephant who is the main character in the book, and is featured in a visual mood chart for identifying feelings. I really like the frog in particular, as he looks very happy.

        There is an app that goes along with the book, which I have not tried.

4 stars!

*Disclosure: I was given a review copy of the e-book by the author.

Review: Lleydrin


Review of Lleydrin

 
       Lleydrin by J.B. Moran is a fun sci-fi fantasy novel. On a dinosaur-infested planet, a city keeps the forest dangers at bay with a shield. Danger looms as the intergalactic company Devcorp begins a blockade to force Lleydrin’s ruling family to sell the planet. A ranger core banished to the jungle long ago now finds mercenaries hunting them. Luckily, the city has been quietly building its own space program, and now needs teen recruits to learn piloting from a space pirate marooned on Lleydrin. The rangers send a martial-arts-expert teen girl to infiltrate the program, and find out who controls the mercenaries.

        Pretty much all the most popular tropes in 21st century science fiction, but Lleydrin is well put together. Moran keeps a fast, entertaining pace throughout. It made me laugh. Lots of action, and multiple characters working at cross purposes.  Every chapter is strewn with action and adventure. Tactical research was used for space battles, so there are some nice dogfights.

        The characters are fairly standard action heroes and villains, cliched but consistent. Good stock character archetypes, and they interact well. They are not deep, but they are fun. Most of them are kind. Moran tends to dwell on the good in people, and a few characters are able to make positive changes in their lives. Lleydrin is a nice light engaging read. I didn’t want to put it down. 

        Clean language, minimal fantasy violence, focuses on friendships instead of romances. There is a set-up for a second book, but the Moran ends this one nicely and it feels complete. (I am looking forward to reading the next one, of course!)

Four stars!

*Disclosure: I was given a review copy of the e-book by the author.


Review: Melody Finch


Melody Finch cover

Review of Melody Finch


       In Melody Finch, by Ian Boyd and Gary Luck, an Australian girl named Melody Klomp turns into a finch. In bird form, she travels upriver, meeting a diverse range of Australian animals. Melody learns about a lot of different animals, and sees how they are struggling with drought. While the different creatures are the main focus of the book, there is also an interesting plot to keep it moving. Melody must reach her grandmother to tell her of the coming rains so she will not sell her tourist boat. There are villains: A fisherman with abysmally bad gun safety standards, and his carnivorous pet Osprey.

      Melody Finch is politically pro-environment, pro-animal rights, and anti-gun. Mild language.

      I enjoyed Melody Finch because there is such a variety of Australian wildlife shown in detail. Boyd and Luck include a lot of information on each animal, including what they eat, and details like the Rainbow Bee-Eaters build their nests in the riverbanks instead of in trees. It’s informative, and the story moves at a nice pace. Melody turns into a Diamond Firetail Finch, which is a very beautiful bird, and meets a Rainbow Bee-Eater, who is just gorgeous.

Four stars!

*Disclosure: I was given a review copy of the e-book by the author.

Diamond Firetail
Diamond Firetail. Image Credit:
Francesco Veronesi from Italy / CC BY-SA 


Rainbow Bee Eaters
Rainbow Bee-Eaters.
Aviceda / CC BY-SA 

Review: Celdric Kane: The Unwished



Review of Celdric Kane: The Unwished


        I really enjoyed reading this Celdric Kane: The Unwished, by Nina Mofme. In a magical world, the leaves of the magical Sphiere tree can grant magical wishes to deserving children. Celdric Kane and his brother, Dyl, witness the theft of the tree’s only seed. In their haste to escape the burglars, they cause a magical accident, and Dyl is flung into the realm of non-humans clutching the seed. It’s up to Celdric, his sister Sera, and their grandmother to bring Dyl back safely and solve the theft.

        The Unwished is really well-written. The magical system is very clearly defined, and presents a variety of different magical wishes and objects consistently. Celdric Kane’s family are supportive of each other, and go to great lengths to keep each other safe. Some of the magic is a bit convenient to the situation, but it’s always set up earlier in the book, so the magical gifts are not just flying out of nowhere.

        What is most impressive about this book is how there is almost always someone watching or protecting the children. There is danger and suspense, and Celdric gets in a mess of trouble, but it is a nice worry-free story, and the plot focuses on how they will evade the villains and save the Sphiere Tree seed. Excellent for the middle grade audience it is intended for. Plenty of action, monsters and fairies.

        This is book one, but is fairly self-contained, as Mofme wraps up most of the important plot points by the end of the book. However, it is very clear that the story continues. Only book one is out right now, and I am very eager to read book two.

        Needs proofreading, mostly use of plurals that should be singular and vice versa. It’s well worth rereading, and I really enjoyed this one, which puts it at five stars, minus half a point because it needs proofreading throughout, so four and a half stars. First time author, and proofreading is fixable.

4.5 stars!

*Disclosure: I was given a review copy of the ebook by the author.


Review: The Jolly Bupbup


Review of The Jolly Bupbup


        In a fantasy land inhabited by tea-drinking Twinkles, a small Bupbup lives in a cozy cottage with two cats. A Bupbup appears to be a small, cat-size humanoid. It is raining, and the rain washed away the Jolly Bupbup’s boat. She has to wait for the rain to stop so she can go find it, because she doesn’t have an umbrella, and the cats do not want to get their feet wet. While she is looking for her boat she meets a duck who likes to splash in puddles. It is an engaging story, with lots of charming descriptions.

        What makes The Jolly Bupbup by Ann P. Borrmann stand out is a unique incorporation of fantasy characters and poetry. Borrmann starts with an excellent poem about the Twinkles. I would reread this just for that poem. It is a delightful rhyme advising how to meet the reclusive, tea-drinking creatures. The Twinkles are never shown, but are described as shy but friendly beings. They are larger than Bupbups, but still small enough to hide behind trees. I like the choice not to show the Twinkles. I’m curious to know what they look like, but having an unknown fantasy creature pushes the reader’s imagination.

        Cute illustrations by Bonnie LeMarie. Good color choices. LeMarie used digital art, with soft color and texture choices that resemble watercolor. There are only nine illustrations, but they are full-page, and the story is printed opposite each picture. The duck in particular is very well-done, and looks delighted.

5 stars!

*Disclosure: I was given a review copy of the ebook by the author.

Review: Kaia and the Sea


Review of Kaia and the Sea

        Kaia and the Sea is a wordless picture book by Jestenia Southerland. Kaia wakes up with a pod of seals. She dons a witch hat and a cape, and spends the day exploring under the sea. Her cape is an extremely well-designed imitation of a fish. When Kaia swims slowly, it billows behind her, but when she needs speed, it wraps close, giving the impression of a mermaid.

        It’s cute. The entire book sticks to the colors of a beach. Each fish is unique, even when a school is swimming across the page. The fish and other sea life are drawn accurately, in a realistic, gentle cartooning style that favors pastel colors and soft lines. Ms. Sutherland has used beautiful digital painting to create this delightful array of sea life. It’s adorable and engaging. The lack of words facilitates the story-telling, as there is a clear presentation of the narrative, and lots of detail to captivate the reader. There is even a bit of drama when a school of marlins race past, disrupting Kaia’s excursion.

Five stars! This means it is excellent and worth rereading.

        This book has 32 pages. The print version is a perfect-bound paperback. Probably most appealing for ages three through eight, or anyone who enjoys art and large aquariums.

Review: Star Clans: A Troll Hunt


        Star Clans: A Troll Hunt, by H.A. Austin and Peter Austin, follows the epic adventure of a young Viking Captain in space. He sets out on a complicated foray against the Trolls, who have captured his blood-brother. On the way, he is forced to deal with a new race of telepaths, the Amazons. It’s a good book to hand to a twelve-year-old. Clean language and  no improprieties. Violence (Viking and Troll battles), but minimal gore.

Sailing Ship, not Star Ship

       The lore is alarmingly thorough. There is a clear understanding of Greek and Roman mythology, which constructs the basis of Viking and Amazon cultures. The Viking command structure follows traditional Norse military positions. Their loot division contracts are what one would expect of a sailing privateer. A particularly hilarious race of fairies hails straight from Shakespearean comedy.

If you enjoy Rick Riordan or John Flanagan, you will like this book.

       The weapons and ships are so detailed and well-described that it would be very possible to sketch in a CAD program and/or make 3D models. The female warriors are realistic, and tend to rely on strategy and skill rather than brute force. The Amazons are really interesting in this regard, as they have pushed their remote battlefield technologies to favor stealth and drone-based lethality. The Vikings’ primary occupation seems to be battle-craft, with an emphasis on Troll hunting. The Trolls themselves are extremely well-defended giants who travel in massive bands of hundreds and tens of thousands, and build massively fortified battlements.

appear in book
Valkyrie by Peter Nicolai Arbo

       The space battles (to my limited understanding of military tactics) appear to be plausibly accurate. The crafts take advantage of all three dimensions, not just the traditional two used in land-based fighting. The ships’ technologies and use of their surroundings are grounded in scientific thought. It’s clear the authors did a lot of research.

viking shields
The Drakkar shields by Noveau Larousse IlustrĂ©

       For a first book, this is excellent. It needs a proofreader to fix the typos, but first-time authors can be reluctant to relinquish control of their art. However, that is a minor concern in relation to the sheer quantity of science, mythology, and history packed into this volume. There is no shortage of plot, and clearly enough material here for a long series. My rating scale gives four stars if this book would cause me to read more by this author, and five if the book is worth rereading. Star Clans: A Troll Hunt is an action-packed adventure full of humor and camaraderie, and worth rereading, which would make it a five. The absence of proofreading is annoying enough to deduct half a point. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

4.5 stars

*The pictures are public domain art from the mid 1800s.
**This is a free review, and reflects my own personal opinion. I am related to the authors.