What we’ve been reading and watching (mother-daughter reviews | #graphicnovel #fantasy #wuxia)

Penny’s younger sister – who shall hereafter be known as “E” – shares her thoughts on two middle grade graphic novels she read this summer. I share my thoughts on one fantasy novel and a wuxia film.


Roller GirlRoller Girl is about a girl named Astrid, who loves to roller skate. One day, Astrid and her mom went to a roller skating competition where Astrid found her role model – Rainbow Bite, a grown-up roller derby jammer. Astrid had so much fun watching the competition that her mom showed her a flyer for a roller derby camp. Immediately, Astrid got excited and wanted to go. She packed and got ready but then found out her best friend, Nicole, wouldn’t be coming because she was going to ballet camp with another friend.

Astrid was a little nervous about going to the derby camp because she wouldn’t know anybody and most of the girls there had been skating for longer than her. Luckily, Astrid sat next to a very nice girl named Zoey, who was also new. At camp, Zoey and Astrid worked hard on their skating skills. But then Astrid got in trouble and lost some of her friends because she lied and acted silly and selfish.

Will Astrid win back her friends? Will Astrid do well at the bout? Will Astrid ever meet Rainbow Bite?

Read the book to find out! 🙂



AwkwardAwkward is about a girl named Peppi, who just moved to a new town. Her first day of school did not go as planned. She humiliated herself and a boy named Jamie in front of the whole school. Peppi spends weeks trying to apologize to Jamie, but it is very… well, awkward.

Peppi is in the art club and she’s very good at art. Jamie is in the science club and he’s very good at science. So good that he becomes Peppi’s tutor, which makes things more awkward because Peppi never apologized to Jamie for what happened on the first day of school.

There are many conflicts between the two clubs throughout the school year. The principal finally ends up banning both of the clubs from having tables at the school club fair.

Will Peppi’s art club and Jamie’s science club work together so that their clubs can go to the fair?

Read the book to find out! 🙂


Both Roller Girl and Awkward were Black Eyed Susan Nominees for 2016/17, Graphic Novels, Grade 6-9.

Favorite App? Musical.ly Follows on Instagram? The Final Five
Favorite App?
Follows on Instagram?
The Final Five

More about “E”

  • I love dancing, tumbling, hiking, and going to the beach.
  • I also love to pet sit. I’ve watched cats, dogs, a lizard, and a fish. Next month, I’m going to start volunteering at our local pet shelter.
  • Graphic novels are my favorite type of book. I love Raina Telgemeier!
  • I signed up for Engineering by Design this year because, some day, I hope to be an architect.


WoodwalkerI ordered this from my local indie bookstore at the beginning of the summer. It checked off a lot of boxes for me: it’s a fantasy-adventure novel about a disgraced forest ranger leading three wandering royals on a dangerous mountain journey. The author is an illustrator and she did the artwork for the cover herself. (How often can a trad published author say that?)

I really enjoyed this! The world was solidly built and the main character, Mae, was strong and loyal. I liked how her relationship with Mona, the deposed queen, developed over the course of the story. I would have loved to see some magic and more romance, but only because I love those story elements – not because Woodwalker is lacking in any way.

The author’s website is fantastic, especially her EXPLORE tab, which has character sketches (text + illustrations) and a wonderful interactive map. Click on the map for place explanations and more drawings – beautiful!



The AssassinE and I watched this a few nights ago. I’d had a crazy-hectic day and was in the mood for exactly what this film is – a slow-moving montage of visually stunning scenes. If you are daunted by subtitles, don’t be. Feel free to ignore them. I’m not sure how much help they’ll be in understanding the plot anyway. I got confused early on – in the B&W prologue! – so I paused the movie to look up the plot – yes, I cheated; remember, crazy-hectic day? I realized then that I wasn’t the only one who was confused by the amorphous plot structure. But so what? The beauty of the movie is… its beauty. It also doesn’t hurt that Qi Shu as Nie Yinniang is an amazing actress. Her minimalist performance maximizes its emotional impact.

What’s wuxia? It’s a genre of Chinese fiction/film that focuses on martial arts heroes. I’m by no means an expert, nor can I even call myself an aficionado – because I haven’t consumed enough of it yet – but I enjoyed this movie and would absolutely recommend it to anyone who loves breathtaking cinematography and/or female assassin stories.

If I watch it again, will I even bother with the subtitles? I haven’t decided yet. Would be nice to be less confused the second time… but also might be fun to watch without the distraction of intrusive text. (Q: Are subtitles optional with director Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s “meditative narrative” approach to filmmaking? Have you seen The Assassin? What do you think?)


Let us know what you’ve been reading and/or watching this summer in the comments!

Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

One thought on “What we’ve been reading and watching (mother-daughter reviews | #graphicnovel #fantasy #wuxia)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.