Queen of the Sea Blog Tour Plus Review

Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Walker Books US (June 25, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1536204986
ISBN-13: 978-1536204988


The art, reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s style, creates levity during perilous situations. The book is dense with dialogue, often feeling more like a work of prose than a graphic novel. As a result, this complex work will be more accessible to those familiar with graphic novels…Certain to charm sophisticated graphic novel devotees. —School Library Journal (starred review)

Meconis offers an atmospheric alternate history inspired by the childhood and succession of Queen Elizabeth I in this quietly ambitious graphic novel…Art in soft, earthy colors brings this singular story to life in styles ranging from simple line drawings to elaborately styled text illuminations. The island world is richly developed, both in its physical particulars and its close-knit community (fascinating digressions into topics such as convent time, hand gestures used at table, and chess and embroidery flesh out daily life), and Margaret proves herself an endearing heroine with a strong voice full of humor and wonder. Her perspective transforms a storm-wracked rock into a vibrant world of hidden treasures. —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Meconis’ humor and storytelling gifts here wed seamlessly with her evocative pen-and-ink and gouache illustrations, which are rendered in warm earth and sea tones and brim with movement, expressively capturing even Margaret’s interior monologues. With its compelling, complex characters and intrigue-laden plot, this will have readers hoping it’s only the first of many adventures for Meconis’ savvy heroine. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Weaving faith, love, statecraft, and self-discovery into a tale of palace intrigue relocated to the halls of a convent on a remote island at sea, Dylan Meconis uses the trappings of the history we know to create a high-stakes adventure in an alternate past that feels so detailed and so familiar, you’ll find yourself wondering why you never read about it in school. This beautiful book swept me away from the first page.” —Kate Milford, author of the Greenglass House series

“Dylan Meconis is at the absolute top of her game. A gorgeously rendered, lovingly realized alternate history, full of personal revelations in the midst of political intrigue. A tale of growing up, and of understanding that the world is larger and stranger than it once seemed. (Plus it has a Terrible Recipe for Terrible Gruel.)” —Ben Hatke, author-illustrator of the Zita the Spacegirl series

“This is the book I was always trying to get my hands on in high school that never seemed to materialize. An adventure to lose yourself in, with an attention to historical detail to please the nerdiest among us. I fell easily and completely into this world and its characters, knowing I was safe in Dylan Meconis’s hands, and I’m really excited for more people to find out what I’ve known for a long time—that she is one of a kind.” —Kate Beaton, author-illustrator of Hark! A Vagrant

Cult graphic novelist Dylan Meconis offers a rich reimagining of history in this hybrid novel loosely based on the exile of Queen Elizabeth I by her sister, Queen Mary.

When her sister seizes the throne, Queen Eleanor of Albion is banished to a tiny island off the coast of her kingdom, where the nuns of the convent spend their days peacefully praying, sewing, and gardening. But the island is also home to Margaret, a mysterious young orphan girl whose life is upturned when the cold, regal stranger arrives. As Margaret grows closer to Eleanor, she grapples with the revelation of the island’s sinister true purpose as well as the truth of her own past. When Eleanor’s life is threatened, Margaret is faced with a perilous choice between helping Eleanor and protecting herself.

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Margaret has lived on an island with nuns and servants her entire life. The nuns are of the Elysian order, and their job is to pray for the sailors that sail on the waters near their island. They also take in those that need shelter who come to the island, and help those who are washed ashore from a shipwreck. Margaret knows that she couldn’t have been born on the island, but none of the nuns are willing to tell her where she came from. She was also the only kid on the island, at least until William came. This book tells the story of her adventures on this island as she learns about her family, true family, and friendship.

I love graphic novels, but I have never read a historical fiction graphic novel. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but this book completely blew me away. Margaret was such a lively character, she reminded me of the girls that I grew up reading in the classic novels at the library like Pippi Longstocking and A Little Princess. She was full of life and lit up the rooms she was in, even on an island full of nuns and servants. She was imaginative, but she wanted to grow up to be a nun so she could help people. She never even thought of life off the island until more people from the mainland started coming to the island, but then she couldn’t stop thinking about it. Even when she thought about mainland life, she didn’t start to rebel against the people who had raised her. Which I took as a breath of fresh air. Not all preteen/teenaged girls are crazy and rebellious, some really enjoy their lives like Margaret did. You can be imaginative without trying to run away every 2 seconds.

This had to be one of the most fun yet even still historically accurate graphic novels I’ve read yet. I learned small things about living on an island full of nuns in the 16th century as I read about Margaret’s life there as an outsider. There were traditions that these nuns upheld, stories that these nuns told, that I had never even heard about as a non-Catholic Christian. Even so, the book wasn’t so forcibly religious that a non-Christian person would feel uncomfortable reading it. The historic religious events were woven in with brilliant storytelling and beautiful pictures.

I read this entire book in about 2-3 hours, while on buses and trains commuting to and from NYC. This book was so addictive that it took me out of that uncomfortable and annoying commute and made me think about a completely new world while I was reading it. I can say that I definitely have not had that experience while reading a graphic novel before.

I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a new historical fiction book or a new graphic novel to enjoy. I cannot wait to read more by this author!

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books.


Photo Content from Dylan Meconis

I’ve been writing and illustrating my own stories since the first grade, and I’ve been making comic books since middle school (no, really! Seventh grade was a tough year for me socially, so I had a lot of time to draw). I started my first book-length comic (graphic novel) in high school.

Unlike a lot of people who become professional artists and authors, I didn’t go to art school or a creative writing program in college. Instead, I mostly studied history, literature, philosophy, and French in the College of Letters at Wesleyan University. This means I have a brain full of weird facts, old books, strange art, and the extremely useful ability to read The Tales of Canterbury in the original Middle English. Except for the Middle English bit, it’s all come in very handy for writing and drawing historical fiction and fantasy.

I first started to get paid for making comics when I was still in college, when my first graphic novel was published online. After college, I worked as a graphic designer and visual communications consultant (which means “person who helps teach adults complicated stuff in cool new ways using pictures”). I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies, global charities, technology companies, libraries, and a lot of other interesting organizations. I’ve made illustrations, animations, information graphics and cool presentations, explaining everything from how microchips work to the ways that clean drinking water can help communities in the third world.

For the last ten years, though, I mostly work as a writer, comic book creator and illustrator! Sometimes I make books totally by myself, and sometimes I get to team up with other writers or artists. It can be lots of fun, but it can also be very hard work. Luckily, I never get tired of making new stories.

JUNE 25th TUESDAY A Dream Within A Dream TENS LIST


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JUNE 29th FRIDAY Movies, Shows, & Books EXCERPT 

JULY 1st MONDAY Nay’s Pink Bookshelf REVIEW

JULY 2nd TUESDAY Book Queen Reviews REVIEW 

JULY 3rd WEDNESDAY Sabrina’s Paranormal Palace REVIEW

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Webtoon Wednesday: AMuslimMamaComics!

I love supporting amazing artists on Instagram. When I first started reading Asbah Alaena’s comics, I fell in love with the art style. Soon, I started following the story of herself and her family. Her name on Instagram is @amuslimmamacomics, and she writes about her everyday life raising children, being a wife, and being a Muslim woman.

I am not Muslim, so I didn’t know what to expect coming into it. Soon, I kept reading her older comics just to learn more about the religion and to understand my Muslims friends better. She writes about the peaceful, amazing, funny, and difficult parts of being a Muslim in today’s world. One of my favorite inspirational comics of hers was this one. I never really understood what Ramadan was truly about until I saw this comic, and it made me so happy to know that this was how my friends were going to be feeling for that month.

A lot of her comics are simply relatable if you have kids or have been around kids for any period of time. She discusses the good, bad, and the hilarious of being a mother. One of my favorite motherhood-related comics of hers is this one!

I would definitely recommend you check her out and read even more of her comics, she even writes about some political/social and humanitarian issues in comics such as this one!

I hope that you check her out and enjoy her comics as much as I did! Let me know who your favorite Instagram artists are in the comments!

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 paintbrushes


Queen of the Darkest Hour Review

Queen of the Darkest HourFamily Strife Imperils the Realm
Francia, 783: Haunted by the Saxons’ attack on her home fortress, Fastrada obeys her father and marries Charles, king of the Franks and a widower with seven children and an eighth on the way by a concubine. As more wars loom, Fastrada’s greatest peril lurks within the castle walls: Pepin, Charles’s son by his embittered former wife. Blaming his father for the curse that twisted his spine, Pepin rejects a prize archbishopric and plots with his uncle and mother to seize the throne. Can Fastrada stop the conspiracy before it destroys the kingdom?
Based on historic events during Charlemagne’s reign, “Queen of the Darkest Hour” is the story of a family conflict endangering an entire country—and the price to save it.

Wow. I love historical fiction, and this one completely blew my mind. It truly tells the full story of how dark the life of royals could be, and how even religion played into this state of “darkness.”

Let’s start with Fastrada. She marries a king who already has children by his former queen, and who has a concubine LIVING in the castle pregnant with his child. At first, I thought that this was going to be the main conflict, but it didn’t even come close. Fastrada wants to assert her dominance over her new children and to take her place as the queen of the castle, but her place has already been taken by this woman. She can’t seem to keep up with the lessons, and Pepin, the king’s eldest son, seems to want to embarrass her at every turn. She is determined to please her new husband and will do everything in her power to deliver a son for her father. She is a character with two very different personalities. Sometimes she can be harsh and cruel, especially towards people who want to attack her or her kingdom, but she is also a sensitive person who reacts emotionally to many things. She nearly breaks down when her husband’s concubine and son refuse to respect her, yet she is willing to have someone blinded for daring to attack her kingdom. She also can be religious in an almost superstitious way, believing that her stepson is a devil and giving alms multiple times a day in hope of a son. At times I felt bad for her, and then sometimes I hated her.

Then, there is Pepin. He has a twisted spine that he believes is caused by his father’s sin. He wants to be treated as if he is as good as his younger brother whose spine is straight, but his father continues to protect him. As his condition worsens, he becomes even more bitter. No woman would look at him with love in her eyes due to his condition, and his father just wanted him to become a monk and disappear. He decided that he had to fight to keep his inheritance from going to his younger brother. Pepin was constantly a dark character, but the author still allowed him to have some grey areas. If his father had simply given him a wife and allowed him to go fight in the war, Pepin most likely would have been happy. He might have died, but he would have died doing what he wanted to do. He would not have died a slave to his disformity and despising the world and his father for it. But because the Christians were so superstitious and thought that his hunchback was a sign of the devil, he could never do this.

These were the two characters that stood out to me the most, and the story was told mostly in the eyes of these two people. Nevertheless, there was a whole cast of characters in this story, and each character had their own personality and story. I could go on and one about the parts that I liked and disliked about each character, but I would just suggest that you read it for yourself and find out!

I think that the part I liked the best about this story was the discussion of the church’s role in all of this madness. Fastrada thought that giving alms day after day would be able to change the gender of her child, and Pepin thought that prayer would heal his back and get rid of whoever he wanted. Pepin thought that his father’s sin against his mother caused his spine to be deformed. Even though these people claimed to be Christians in the 700s, it is hard to see how they were much better than the “heathens” worshipping multiple gods or worshipping different single gods in other parts of the world at the same time. They would have concubines and prostitutes at all other times of the week and then think that a few alms or prayers would cure their sin. This was even worse for the peasants at the time who would give some of the only money they made in the week to the church. It was just a cycle of horror fueled by the Church’s beliefs.

This book’s plot flowed smoothly even though there were time skips as the characters aged. The plot was addictive, and this book had some of the best character development that I have ever read. Honestly, there probably aren’t even that many manuscripts from the 700s preserved, but I felt like I was watching a movie of the royals’ lives. This book will definitely be going into my permanent collection.

I would recommend this novel to lovers of historical fiction.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 stars

I’m Still Here Review

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for WhitenessAustin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, Austin writes, “I had to learn what it means to love blackness,” a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, speaker and expert who helps organizations practice genuine inclusion.

In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value “diversity” in their mission statements, I’m Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America’s social fabric–from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations.

This was definitely an important novel in this day and age. Mrs. Austin really talks about important issues that stem from being black in everyday life and being black in the business world. Little things that most people would just ignore really hurt Austin, such as when a girl at her school says that a black person took her place at her dream college due to affirmative action and no one decided to correct her. She had to learn how to fight through the silent prejudice at work, like when her coworkers thought she was being impersonal by leaving right after the meetings and not staying to chat, even though other people did the same thing. She even had to fight the racism within the church, the last place that she thought she would see it.

This powerful story truly shows how deep people’s prejudice could be, and revealed the subtle ways that they choose to show it. By calling people out on it and letting others know that this type of racism is still occurring, things might actually start to change for the better.

I appreciated the fact that this book was written completely in chronological order. This allowed me to see how Austin went from not understanding the racist ideals around her, to feeling as if she couldn’t escape them. Even as a reader I felt depressed reading about Austin’s work and church environment.

I also know the church racism all too well. Many people don’t know that I am a Lutheran, and have been all of my life. I have also gone to a mixed-race church and a predominantly island/African American church. Honestly, I have seen more discrimination in the predominantly island/African American church! People who are Christians might claim to love each other, and they might accept other black people coming to the church, but they don’t want anyone “different.” If someone is “too poor”, white, hasn’t come to church often enough, or gay, they wouldn’t even try to hide the fact that they aren’t welcome. If we want to work together towards ending these thigns, we can’t say “no discrimination and racism as long as you fit these conditions,” we have to say No Discrimination and Racism PERIOD.

This book has a lot to say, and I hope that more people pick it up to hear its message. I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for an inspirational novel discussing racism and prejudice in modern America and the modern church.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 stars

The Cardinal’s Whores Review

This historical fiction novel delves into the gritty side of the reign of Henry the Eighth. It discusses the lives of the women that he took to bed, and what they did secretly. Joan has heard about it, but then she is dragged into the arms of Thomas Wolsey, a man who knows about the bedchamber secrets. He enlists women to be his spies, but he keeps Joan to himself. Then Joan finds out that he is just using her, and turns to Anne Boleyn, the woman who is slowly winning the heart of the king.

I don’t know why society tried to romanticize the lives of the royals and nobles. This novel accurately represents how their lives were. Men would stab each other in the back constantly. Women would wait all their lives to be married off to the man that was the best for the “kingdom,” just to be cheated on. How awful it must have been for those women to see children running around the castle who were from their husband’s concubines, and to be unable to do anything about it. This novel also discusses that even though the priests/cardinals of the Catholic Church were not supposed to have a wife or have sexual relationships at all, they sometimes did. It doesn’t even get into the fact that some of these Cardinals would trick young girls into coming into their chambers and then rape them, but this also occurred in the history of the Catholic Church. Novels can really open the eyes of the reader, and this one will definitely do so for other readers.

This isn’t even considering the lives of the poor. Either they were destined to be poor and unhappy forever, or they would give themselves to a rich man for the chance at a better life. This novel is not the Disney version of royalty but is instead the cold truth.

My only complaint about this book was the plot of the story. I felt that not enough time was truly spent discussing the spy plot, and a lot of the book focused on the sexual aspects. This novel was going to have sex scenes, but I felt that the main story could have been fleshed out still.

Other than that, this entire novel was definitely an amazing ride, and I love historical fiction novels that don’t try to sugar-coat the past.

I would recommend this to lovers of adult historical fiction novels that involve the truth about the royalty.

I received an advanced copy of this book from BookSprout and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5