This blog is a celebration of novel, novel characters!

I love reading novels, and as an artist I know a great exercise to stretch one's illustration skills is to portray characters from a description in a book. This blog is a challenge to myself to do just that so I'll be posting illustrations from whatever book I'm currently reading. Feel free to add comments and send me your fan art for these great titles too!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Girls of Ever After High by Shannon Hale

Hi, hi readers!

Today I have a very different kind of story to share with you.  I started this blog with the intent of doing a drawing for every book I read.  While I haven’t been religiously true to that, (because I’ve discovered it to be an extremely ambitious goal) I do want to share with you most of what I’ve been reading even if it is a bit random.  Admittedly, a lot of what I read falls under Christian fiction, but not all of it.  I like reading from all different genres, styles, and for different ages.  Kid’s books are seriously fun, trust me!  Some of them will surprise you, this one surprised me!
 Back in July I attended the San Diego Comic Con where my friend pointed out to me a franchise/book series that’s growing in popularity called Ever After High.  Curious, I had to investigate!   I discovered that the franchise was engineered by Mattel, who hired Shannon Hale to do the book series; they make dolls of the characters, and have animated webisodes up on youtube.  Mattel designed it to be a companion to their Monster’s High line, whose characters I never found to be that appealing, but Ever After High struck me on account of my love for fairytales and all things cute.  The outfits designed for the characters are downright fun, mixing old & new style elements.  I love how creative they are, but I shouldn’t be surprised from a doll company when it comes to outfits, should I?

What really surprised me was how fun the books were too.  Here’s a summary of the plot:
In the world of Ever After, the decedents of our original fairytale characters keep their stories alive by assuming their predecessor’s roles.  Thus, the daughter of Snow White, Apple White is destined to become the next Snow White and re-live her mother’s story for her own happily ever after.  In the same manner, Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen is also destined to assume her mother’s role.  The only problem is she doesn’t want to be evil!  She wants to choose her own destiny, and not be forced into being someone she’s not.

When this comes to light, the kids of Ever After High start taking sides on whether or not to be a Royal like Apple (one who wants the same destiny as their predecessor) or a Rebel like Raven (one who wants to find their own destiny).  There’s a broad cast of interesting characters, some of whom don’t wish to take sides, like Cedar Wood (daughter of Pinocchio) and Madeline Hatter (daughter of the Mad Hatter) who both want to follow in their parent’s footsteps, but respect their friends who want a choice.

I have to admit, Madeline Hatter is my favorite of the bunch.  This piece of scrapbook paper begged to have her on it!

Mattel knew what they were doing when they hired Shannon to write for them.  The plot revolving around the choices we make and what happens next is simple, yet interesting.  The writing style of the books is casual, with the Narrator becoming a character at times.  Madeline Hatter can hear the Narrator because she’s from Wonderland and can do unexpected things without knowing how.  In a brilliant way, it’s completely believable.  In all the stories, there are little asides where Maddie chats with the Narrator, it gives the writing a cute and unique flavor.  Another style choice was the use of made-up slang such as “hexillent” instead of excellent, which could have been really annoying in the wrong hands.  As it is, I think the words help establish the high school setting without dating the story with real slang.

I was surprised that I enjoyed these stories so much, and I feel just a little empowered knowing more about something that kids are into these days. Doesn’t that make me sound old? I’m not that old. :P In my searches I found a bunch of fan art of the characters, so I guess that means I’m not the only artist to find them appealing! Check some of them out here: http://www.specktra.net/t/186132/ever-after-high-hexellent-fan-art

Thanks for stopping by the blog today!


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Leah from Dreaming on Daisies by Miralee Ferrell

Dreaming on Daisies, Miralee Ferrell’s latest book, just came out this week, and I’m happy to be sharing about it with you today!  It’s the 4th book in her Love Blossoms in Oregon series (if you’re also counting the novella Forget Me Not).   I’ve enjoyed every book of Miralee’s that I’ve read so far, and this one is no exception.  If you haven’t read any of the other books in the series, it’s ok to start with this one, but I enjoyed it much more having already known some of the characters.

Leah Carlson & Steven Harding are the main love interest in this story, but what I love about Miralee’s writing is the multi-generational points of view.  In addition to Leah & Steven, portions of the book are also written from several of the other character’s points of view such as Leah’s dad Charles, and her brother Tom.

I also really like that all of Miralee’s main characters have very distinct and different personalities.  Her heroines are never the same type of girl.  Leah’s personality is almost an opposite of Katherine’s (the heroine from book 1).  She’s out spoken, quick to anger, has a hard time communicating her softer feelings, yet is an extremely hard worker.  She’s a fascinating character, and one you can route for with your whole heart on account of both her strengths and flaws!

Set in Oregon, in 1881, the story is about relationships, healing from past heartaches, and reconciliation.  Leah’s mother died when she was a girl, her brother ran away not long after, and her father has had an increasing drinking problem ever since, that keeps him from fulfilling his duties on the ranch he owns.  Desperate to keep the home she loves, Leah runs the ranch as best she can.  To help out this woman to captivates him so, Steven comes to live as a hired hand on the ranch when circumstances find him needing a new place to live.  He’s not there long before Tom shows up out of the blue, and he often wonders what he’s gotten himself into between all of Leah’s family discord.  Somehow, he just can’t seem to stop wanting to be by her side though.

Dreaming on Daises is one of those books that’s really worth your time.  The in-depth character relationships and sincere peak through the different character’s perspectives will leave you wholly satisfied.  Not to mention, that a happy ending doesn’t hurt too!  ;)

I was provided a review copy of this book.