A Tail of Camelot by Julie Leung (Review)


A Tail of Camelot by Julie Leung


  • Pub. Date: Oct. 4, 2016
  • Series: Mice of the Round Table, #1
  • Format: ebook
  • Source: eARC received from Publisher
  • Publisher: Paper Lantern Lit/HarperCollins
  • Link: Goodreads

SYNOPSIS


An epic new middle grade series in the tradition of Redwall and Poppy, based on Arthurian legend and told from the perspective of Camelot’s most humble creatures: mice

Young mouse Calib Christopher dreams of becoming a Knight of the Round Table. For generations, his family has led the mice who live just out of sight of the humans, defending Camelot from enemies both big and small. But when Calib and his friend Cecily discover that a new threat is gathering—one that could catch even the Two-Leggers unaware—it is up to them to unmask the real enemy, unite their forces, and save the castle they all call home.

With the sweeping adventure of New York Times bestselling series like Wings of Fire and Warriors, Mice of the Round Table brings to life a legendary world of animals and magic that kids will want to return to again and again.


MY REVIEW


Rating: 4/5

Oh my! It’s the rare instance that I find myself both intrigued and fascinated by a historically-set story, more so one that has a tinge of adorableness and a welcomed simplicity to it. A Tail of Camelot, at face value from the cover alone, looked to be like a cute version of this popular legend. That can be both a good or bad thing, which here seems to work just fine. I’m not a stranger to novels that deal with animals in a human run world, I have reviewed some middle grade novels like this in the past such as The Familiars, and was a fan of The Tale of Despereaux as a kid.

A Tail of Camelot and the beginning of the “Mice of the Round Table” series seems to perfectly fit within the caliber of the aforementioned bestsellers and holds its own as a well-executed re-imagining of lore that is intended for and written with young readers in mind, however still remains accessible to any and all who have some extra time to spend with an interesting cast of characters.

Beyond the cover of Julie Leung’s A Tail of Camelot exists a story that can resonate with readers of all ages, and features themes that many can respond or relate to. Calib is a character that is charmingly bashful at first and slowly comes to his own consciousness when called upon to rise to the occasion and do what he feels is the right thing to do. While not a refreshing or particularly inventive use of character design, Leung still crafts a story full of warmth and meaning. Overall, A Tail of Camelot is a cute cinematic-like read that I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend for younger readers looking for a light but still mentally-stimulating historical novel.


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DISCLAIMER: In accordance with FTC guidelines, I disclose that I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review from the author, and/or authentic and authorized publishing or promotional affiliates. Receiving this complimentary copy for my time and review did not influence or persuade my review in any way whatsoever. This review contains my honest and accurate reflections and analysis of the novel featured and discussed in this post. — RJ Does Books!

Beastly Lights by Theresa Jane (Review)


BEASTLY LIGHTS by THERESA JANE


  • Pub. Date: April 2, 2017
  • Format: ebook
  • Source: eARC received from Publisher
  • Publisher: Inkitt
  • Link: Goodreads

SYNOPSIS


Gambled away by her brother, Freya is now bound to the music world’s resident bad boy Liam Henderson as his live-in maid.

Freya Coleman is a struggling artist who can hardly get by. With a past she would rather not revisit and a future that didn’t extend past her next cup of coffee, something had to change. Freya just didn’t know how much.

Liam Henderson lives in the spotlight. His wild nights and latest conquests make every woman want him, and every man want to be him. The rockstar has a carefully constructed persona to keep everyone out. That is, until a drunken night gets out of hand and he finds himself with the winning hand in a poker game, and the prize is a feisty redhead. A prize who just might break down the walls he has been so desperately hiding behind.

Thrown together, these two are a disaster waiting to happen. A disaster the world is eager to watch and comment on until their fingers drop off. What starts off as a fake relationship to improve Liam’s image, blossoms into so much more, and Freya is swept up into the world of bright lights and illusions. Everyone has an opinion when the lights are shining on their beloved rock god Liam Henderson, and they are eagerly waiting to tear down anyone who is bathed in the famous glow.

Can happily ever after exist when the whole world is watching?


MY REVIEW


Rating: 4/5 (rounded from a 3.5)

About a quarter into reading this novel the meaning of the title “Beastly Lights” clicked and it began to make sense or at least my own interpretation of it made sense. I feel like in some ways this was a contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast with just a tinge of Snow White thrown in, with Freya becoming Belle and Liam assuming the role of “the Beast.” In many ways the stories are parallel to one another, for instance: Freya is kept “prisoner” in Liam’s place like Belle was, She is forbidden from entering a specific area of the apartment, Liam is brooding and mysterious and somewhat hot-headed. The “Snow White” element comes in with the fact that she is hired as his maid and is obligated to clean his home, even if she isn’t the most organized herself.  While this novel isn’t being touted as a retelling, it’s quite clear there is some sort of influence at play here, one that I appreciated given that Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fables.

There were only two faults I found with Beastly Lights when reading this novel. The biggest issue was the length. I felt that this novel was a tad bit too long for such a clear-cut story, and would have been best suited as two separate novels or edited down some,  rather than one massive novel. This is my own opinion, of course. I completely admire and respect any authors (such as Theresa Jane) who are able to crank out such fascinating tales with such intricate detail and offer their readers an extended stay in the world alongside their characters, however after a while there were some moments that became a little laborious to keep up with in my own reading experience.

The other issue is that I sometimes struggled to find appeal to the main characters. Particularly in the beginning with the two of them yelling at each other all the time, and Freya even yelling at the moving guys even though the one that deserved the attitude was Liam. I get it, she was angry that her brother “lost her” to Liam in a game, which is a little odd. I felt it would have been even more interesting if Freya lost the bet against Liam herself and thus, would create even more delicious tension than her brother gambling her away like she was an object instead of a person. Freya sometimes also said or did things that were a little sketchy and discrediting of her overall position as a likeable main character.  It’s a little hard to win me over when the main character comes off as rude and/or whiny or a few seconds short of a tantrum. I’m glad I powered through, however, as I eventually grew to like the back and forth between Liam and Freya and did find myself come to root for them in the long run.

Theresa Jane has a knack for creating an interesting story and her wonderful ability to give realistic and relateable life to these characters is worth noting. Freya and Liam aren’t overly stereotypical and while both of them have their minor faults, still make for great characters in an overall enjoyable novel perfect for some cozy reading before bed.


BUY IT NOW!


DISCLAIMER: In accordance with FTC guidelines, I disclose that I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review from the author, and/or authentic and authorized publishing or promotional affiliates. Receiving this complimentary copy for my time and review did not influence or persuade my review in any way whatsoever. This review contains my honest and accurate reflections and analysis of the novel featured and discussed in this post. — RJ Does Books!