Half Upon a Time

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Half Upon a Time

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Half Upon a Time

Half Upon a Time

Jack lives in a fantasy world. Really. He’s the son of the infamous Jack who stole the magic beans from the giant, and he’s working hard to restore his family’s reputation. He finds the perfect opportunity when a “princess” lands in front of him, apparently from the land of Punk, as her Punk Princess t-shirt implies. May is from our world, and she’s utterly confused to find herself in the midst of the fairy tale characters she has read about. But Jack and May have more in common than they realiz

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Mark Baker – Carstairs Considers

June 29, 2016 at 1:02 am
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Another Reworking of Fairy Tales Well Worth Reading, May 11, 2011
Mark Baker – Carstairs Considers (Santa Clarita, CA United States) –

This review is from: Half Upon a Time (Hardcover)
While all the other teens his age are looking for a quest to get them out of town, Jack is quite content to stay a farmer in the village of Giant’s Hand. This is especially true since his father’s adventure with a giant turned into a disaster that left Jack’s dad missing.

But his world changes in an instant when there is a flash of light and a princess falls at his feet. May is from another dimension, a world with strange things like the internet and cell phones. Just before she appeared, her grandmother was kidnapped by the Huntsmen and some trolls. It doesn’t take Jack long to figure out that May’s grandmother is the famous Snow White who has been missing since she defeated the Wicked Queen who was trying to take over the entire land.

And so Jack finds himself pulled into a quest to rescue Snow White whether he wants to or not. Will he and May prevail?

I can’t resist a fracture take on fairytales, or in this case a reworking of them, so as soon as I heard about this book, it was on my to be read list. It got bumped up when the author sent me a complimentary copy, no strings attached. And I’m very glad I did because I enjoyed the book very much.

The action starts almost from page one and it very rarely lets up. I had a hard time putting the book down because I always wanted to find out what happens next. And the chapters are fairly short, so it was easy to justify reading just a little bit more. One thing that happened didn’t quite make sense to me, but it was a minor issue (and maybe it will be explained in the next book.)

Jack and May are great characters, too. I liked them from the moment I met them, and as their adventure continued, I felt they were real. A few of the others are real as well, although most don’t spend enough time on the page to fully develop.

This was a great read that left me anxious to see what the next book in the series brings. If you want a different take on the characters we already know, pick up this book.

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June 29, 2016 at 1:10 am
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A great balance of fantasy, humor, and action with a wide audience appeal., September 27, 2010

This review is from: Half Upon a Time (Hardcover)
This was recommended to me by a close acquaintance, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I wasn’t really exactly sure what to expect, but after finishing the book in 3 days, I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Half Upon a Time.

The story begins with the seemingly anti-hero Jack living in a fairy tale-based wold of knights, sorcerers, and magical creatures. The author provides a foundation of familiar themes such as traditional fairy tales and Disney-based characters while adding an entirely fresh twist and storyline to the mix. While this could have some potential for silly cliches and lack of originality, Riley blends all of the elements together flawlessly and creates a compelling tale within a world that is truly his own.

This book manages to cover fantasy, humor, action, and suspense without losing momentum throughout. The witty dialogue between characters is great and transitions from light-hearted banter to tense confrontations while keeping you interested and genuinely caring about the main players and how they grow and interact. The descriptive language really pushes your imagination and the scale of the worlds and creatures is wonderful. Some of the showdowns and battles were truly epic, yet not too violent for the younger readers and still entertaining for the older crowd.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a humorous, yet well-rounded fantasy tale. For his first novel, Riley really set a high standard as a skilled wordsmith and has created a world that I can’t wait to revisit. 5 stars.

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Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids Book Reviews

June 29, 2016 at 1:24 am
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
An Engaging, Twisted, Fast Paced, Must Read MG Book, September 24, 2011
This review is from: Half Upon a Time (Paperback)
James Riley does a brilliant job at throwing in numerous beloved fairy tales and twisting them into an engaging, fast paced plot that both middle grade and adult readers will enjoy. There’s action, there’s adventure, betrayal and of course plenty of sarcasm and wit that make this a one of kind story.

What’s not to enjoy about Jack, the story’s main character who’s failed his training in how to save princess. He’s goofy, funny, clumsy and really just a fun character to get to know. He’s someone who’s relatable and I really enjoyed the way he grew into the story’s hero. Then there’s May, the princess who literally fell from the sky and landed in front of Jack and can’t remember much other than her Grandmother was kidnapped and she was being chased. This princess isn’t your normal damsel in distress, nor is she wearing the normal princess get up. This princess is introduced in style complete with a “Punk Princess” t-shirt and all.

There’s a huge cast of fairy tale characters that are introduces through out the story, and they’re definitely not the characters I remember reading about when I was younger. I really enjoyed their twists and creative touch James gave to this fun mesh up of stories. One of the best twists is with May’s Grandmother. She’s not the dear old sweet lady May remembers her to be, and let me just say this granny knows a thing or too about being evil. Or maybe I should say she takes evil to a whole new interesting level.

Half Upon A Time is a fabulously, humorous story full of twisted fairy tales, a grand adventure mixed with two relatable characters that makes for an unforgettable read that will make you laugh out loud and leave you wanting more. I’m really looking forward to reading the sequel, Twice Upon A Time, and I definitely recommend picking this book up!

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