Wednesday 17 July 2024

#bookreview: Daisy Dunlap and the Cartoon Carnival | CO Bonham

Daisy Dunlap and the Cartoon CarnivalDaisy Dunlap and the Cartoon Carnival by C.O. Bonham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What if cartoons could come alive?

Daisy Dunlap has only one goal in mind: to find out the truth about her Grandpa's cartoons so that he'll recover quickly from his stress-induced stroke and live happily ever after with her. So begins a long night in the Cartoon Carnival, accompanied by her grandfather's most famous character, Tom Greenthumb, while being chased by his terrifying nemesis, Derby Spider.

There's a lot that Daisy doesn't know about her Grandpa and late mother - and about who she really is. It's a journey of discovery, one that includes cartoons coming to life, image-jumping, and a Reality Projector. It's also a test of her smarts in outwitting Derby Spider as they race to find the mysterious sketch book that will hopefully clear her Grandpa's name.

Unlike many children's books where parents and adults are non-existent or extremely unhelpful, I love the fact that Daisy has adults to turn to when she really needs them (even though she tries to do it all on her own at first). Jerry even has a little bit of a redemption arc, allowing him to make up for an earlier mistake.

The biggest theme in the book is about family - not just natural family, but adopted family and friends close enough to be considered family. Daisy is adopted, and struggles with the rejection of always been noted as "the adopted granddaughter". Tom is searching for a true family (despite being a cartoon!) and when Grandpa is hospitalised, he doesn't need to go searching for someone to help take care of Daisy. Jerry and Sharon, having been long-time employees and close friends of the Dunlap family, immediately step in to help. It's a beautiful view of what close community and love between friends should look like.

Daisy Dunlap is a great story for children aged 8-12, though it may be a little scary if they don't like giant sinister spiders!

Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from the author. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Find the truth. Save the family legacy. Don't get eaten by the giant cartoon spider.

Reeling from the loss of her mother, twelve-year-old Daisy comforts herself with the cartoons and carnival run by her family's animation studio.

When an anonymous source accuses Grandpa of stealing his most famous character, the impish Tom Greenthumb, their family's reputation, and business, are on the line. The only thing that can clear their name? A mysterious sketch book hidden somewhere within the Cartoon Carnival.

Sneaking into the theme park at night, Daisy uncovers her family's greatest secret. Their cartoon creations are alive---and some of them are deadly.


C.O. Bonham is the pen name for a commonly misspelled first name. She loves stories of all kinds, but really likes the ones that are weird, and outside the norm. A certified book geek, when she isn’t writing stories of her own she is busy reading stories by others. A homeschool graduate with a degree in creative writing, her goal is to create stories that make people think, feel, and have fun.

Her debut novel Runaway Lyrics, a steampunk fantasy retelling of Snow White and Rose Red, released in 2021.

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 Happy release day, Cathrine!!

Get your copy of Daisy Dunlap and the Cartoon Carnival now! (affiliate link)

Wednesday 10 July 2024

#bookreview: These Deathless Shores | P.H. Low

These Deathless ShoresThese Deathless Shores by P.H. Low
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These Deathless Shores is a Captain Hook origin story, where Peter Pan isn't the bright, happy, beloved kid you remember from the Disney movie. No, something incredibly sinister lurks behind that childish smile. It's darker than I expected it to be; it deals with, amongst others, addiction, eating disorders, childhood trauma, codependency, suicide ideation, gender dysphoria (? well, at least some discussion on gender) and extremely bloodthirsty revenge.

Because that last bit is Jordan's whole motivation, isn't it? To return to the island and to take her revenge on Peter Pan. Everything else is incidental, something to be utilised to serve her end goal of stealing Tinkerbell from Peter. If Low were to have focused only on Jordan, that would have made for a very boring story.

Fortunately, it's the cast of supporting characters that add colour to the story. Baron - whose love for Jordan makes him do difficult things. Tier - who's still trying to become his own man. Chay - who has somehow managed to stay on the Island past adulthood.

For a novel that the author touts as Malaysian-inspired (which was really what interested me, though it's not actually on the blurb), there's nothing that really screams "Malaysia" to me. For obvious reasons, the bulk of the book is spent on the Island, which is that magical-mystical Neverland brought to somewhere on the physical plane instead of up in the sky (and conceptually feels more Bermuda Triangle). The parts and flashbacks to Jordan & Baron's original home of Burima/Hanwa (I'm still not sure if Hanwa is a place or a language or both?) has a more generic Southeast Asia vibe in a Raya and the Last Dragon kind of way. Case in point: the opening fight scene feels more Muay Thai (Thailand); I do not know that I'd be able to find something similar in Malaysia.

Anyway, setting aside, if you're into dark fairy tale retellings, this might be of interest to you!

Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from Orbit via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. 

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