Captain Cake by Chris Skinner

Captain Cake: Meet The Candy Crew by Chris SkinnerNew to fatherhood, Chris Skinner takes a leap from FinTech to fiction in a new series of children’s books for emerging readers. A father of twin boys, Skinner was dismayed to find that there were not a lot of great G-rated superhero stories to share at bedtime, and so CAPTAIN CAKE: MEET THE CANDY CREW (Marshall Cavendish Children; August 2021, ISBN:9789814928632; Original Trade Paperback) was born.

In book one of the five-part CAPTAIN CAKE series, Skinner introduces Captain Cake, Lieutenant Chocolate, Sergeant Jelly and Private Potato for an adventure like no other. Together, The Crew team up using each of their unique attributes to complete their very first mission. But will they be able to work together cohesively, or will differences in personalities stand in their way?

CAPTAIN CAKE is the perfect example of how far a little teamwork and problem-solving can go when learning new skills and having fun along the way!

About the Author: Chris Skinner is a financial technology expert and author of Digital Bank, Digital Human and Doing Digital. As a doting father, he would read stories to his twin boys every night. But when the boys got older and it became a challenge to find age-appropriate adventure stories for them, Chris came up with the stories himself. Inspired by the twins’ imagination, bedtime storytelling became a dive into the exciting universe of Captain Cake and the Candy Crew as they explored space. Captain Cake is the bestselling author’s first series of children’s books.

You can visit him on the web at captaincake.com.

CAPTAIN CAKE: Meet the Candy Crew
By Chris Skinner
Marshall Cavendish Children
Publication Date: August 2021
ISBN (lib.): 9789814928632
Format: Paperback
Price: $15.90
Page Count: 96

###

Book Review: The Prince and the Dressmaker

If you’re in need of something cozy and indulgent of your childhood sense of wonder, I cannot recommend reading The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (First Second, $14.50) enough. This feel-good story is a perfect way to kick off Pride Month with some positive representation. 

The Plot:

The Prince and The Dressmaker is a heartwarming coming-of-age story. It follows the relationship between Frances, a young woman who works as a seamstress, and Prince Sebastian, the heir to the royal throne of Belgium. Frances is a creative dressmaker with an eye for avant-garde fashion. This earns her little respect from her traditional boss but catches the eye of the prince immediately. Sebastian hires Frances as the royal seamstress and together they secretly run the underground fashion scene in their city- Frances as the anonymous seamstress and Sebastian as his alter ego, Lady Crystallia.

Despite their success in the fashion world, everything must remain secret. Sebastian fears his dual identity puts his family’s reputation and his place on the throne in jeopardy. Pretending to be someone you’re not isn’t easy, though. It’s a simple story with fairytale like tones and drama that simultaneously never feels too dark but keeps the stakes high for our main characters. 

The Art: The Prince and the Dressmaker

I cannot stress how much I am continuously charmed by Wang’s art. It’s got fluidity to it in the way the panels tend to flow and float at will. The smooth, rounded strokes of the linework give the characters bounce. Wang’s style is cartoonish and pliable, which makes the characters easily relatable because their expressions are always so clear and exaggerated. Wang doesn’t shy away from color, and the gowns designed for Lady Crystallia take full advantage of this. Her dresses often fill up entire page spreads in place of plot development, and I have no qualms with this sacrifice. Lady Crystallia’s outfits are stunning and purposefully contrast Sebastian’s plain, regal uniforms. The life Wang breathes into the narrative with her art perfectly elevates the storybook quality of the plot.

Final Thoughts:

I could read this book over and over, a hundred times. It’s comforting. Quick and simple on the surface, it tells an important story about coming to terms with your identity. It’s a story that a lot of LGBTQ+ folks can relate to, either as something they’re actively going through or something they’ve already passed. When Sebastian sees himself in the mirror, it’s not always himself that he sees, and this book gently takes the reader’s hand and says, “that’s okay.” It doesn’t promise that the journey will be easy, but it does promise that things will work out in the end. That’s a message a lot of LGBTQ+ people need more of.

Design 101: Fonts

Design is a critical element in most aspects of marketing, PR, and social media. It’s the thing that catches people’s attention and draws them in. It could be a book cover design, a flyer, or a graphic you plan to post on your social media feed. If you’re diving into designing things yourself, you’re sure to run into a very important choice at some point – what sort of font will you use? If you’ve never done it before, it can be intimidating. Many programs come with a set of default fonts that you can use freely when you’ve bought the license. However, this can be very limiting. People who have been designing for a long time can often recognize popular fonts on sight. If you want to use font effectively and stand out in whatever you’re making, here’s where to start.

What to look for in a font

The styles of fonts out there are endless- from creepy to elegant to academic, there is something out there that can fit your project perfectly. The first step is understanding what kind of a message you want to get across in your graphic. If you’re designing a book cover for a children’s series, you might choose something rounded and fun. For an invitation to a virtual event, you might want to choose something with looping, cursive-like elements. If it is a more casual event, something with a hand-written print look might be appropriate. If you’re unsure of exactly what you want, try a few different ones and see what fits the look of your graphic. Looking at examples of graphics you like and finding fonts that are similar can be a useful starting point when you’re at a loss.

Where to get fonts

I’m a huge proponent of DaFont, which is a repository of custom fonts where people with a passion for design can upload their work. It’s where I start my searches. Not only is it a large database, but it has fonts clearly sorted and labeled. There are distinct categories for every font to help you find the perfect one. The designers also put their usage terms upfront on DaFont. This is important because to legally use some fonts, you may need to purchase them beforehand. Some are only free for personal use but might require payment for commercial use. Others are 100% free for both personal and professional use. Some may not be used commercially at all! Make sure to check this out before even downloading the font. Beware of fonts that might imitate popular IP (the Harry Potter font is a popular one), since this could also land you in legal hot water. 

Google Fonts is also a place to find fonts that are licensed for both commercial and personal use. It has less choices in terms of categories and gets a bit more technical in its filter system. It is still a comprehensive resource, and you won’t need to worry about whether a particular font is licensed or not.

There are a lot of choices out there – so happy hunting! If you do plan on making your own graphics for social media use, make sure to check out our social media tag for helpful tips!

Book Review: On a Sunbeam

I picked up On A Sunbeam on a whim. The back of the book promised an LGBTQ+ sci-fi love story in the form of a beautiful graphic novel. I was instantly sold. I’m nothing if not a sucker for space adventures with a side of unapologetically queer characters, and this book delivered.

The Plot:

On A Sunbeam focuses on a young woman named Mia. She joins a crew that roams the far reaches of space to restore ruins on other planets. With a diverse cast to support her, the story is part space exploration and part slice-of-life as Mia works towards her true objective: She wants to find out what happened to her old flame from boarding school, Grace.

At first, the book hops between the past and the present. The story of how Mia and Grace met is woven around the narrative of Mia’s current-day life. Mia forges new relationships with those around her but can’t seem to let go of Grace, driving herself and the crew into the furthest recesses of the universe to find her. The story is more about the people within it than the plotline itself. I personally find this compelling, but it can lead to some odd pacing throughout.

The Art:

While the plot itself is straightforward, I’d be remiss to not spend time speaking on Walden’s artwork. I particularly love the way she handles the past vs. present scenes in the beginning of the book. Her linework is messy and dynamic, which can make it hard to tell characters apart at times, but she handles the time skips very well through color. Walden paints the present in shades of maroon while the past is blue. This allows the reader to clearly understand when the storyline shifts. When the two timelines converge to one, the color palette expands to allow for some visually stunning pages.

Walden’s simplicity in her character design is made up for entirely by the energy she spends on backgrounds and scenery. The linework may be scrawling at times, the text handwritten, but the book feels warm as a result. Even scenes meant to convey the vast, emptiness of space are rich and overwhelming. Walden’s visual storytelling is perhaps her strongest selling point.

Final Thoughts:

For me, the book was less of the advertised love story and more of a story about love. It’s about the connections we make with the people around us and how those can have lasting effects long after they’ve come and gone. It’s about rebuilding those connections and bringing past into present and settling regrets. It’s a soothing book and an electrifying read. If you don’t mind plot taking a backseat to characters and you love unique takes on sci-fi aesthetics, I highly recommend this book.

My Score: 9/10

For more reviews from the CMPR team, click here.

In Hindsight by Sharon Bonanno and Lisa Scott

In Hindsight By Sharon Bonanno and Lisa ScottThis is our story. 

On the outside, Sharon and Lisa appear to be two normal sisters living life in a quiet suburban neighborhood of New Jersey. Their parents divorce when they are young; every other weekend is spent at their dad’s house with his new wife, Janet, and their two children, who seem to dominate their father’s time and devotion. Their mother, on the other hand, works multiple jobs at a time to stay afloat and provide everything she possibly can for her beloved daughters.

“Mom had a way of finding out what we wanted and needed and made sure that it appeared.”

Like many sisters, Sharon and Lisa are competitive; they fight for their parents’ attention and call each other out when necessary. However, as they enter adulthood, life takes two very different turns for the women. Sharon moves into a career and starts a family, while Lisa finds herself tumbling down a dark path of addiction, deceit, and depression – a path only tough love and accountability can help pull her out of. But when Lisa’s drug addiction and constant deception lead to her inevitable breaking point, it’s no one other than Sharon who provides the wake-up call Lisa needs to finally seek professional help. 

“But when I looked at Mom, and then at Sharon, I could see how injured they were, and I knew that I’d done it to them. That realization shattered the shell inside my skin that I thought had been protecting me but really had been holding me captive.”

IN HINDSIGHT: The Story of Two Sisters Who Hurt, Hindered, and Healed Each Other (Advantage Publishing, ISBN: 978-1-64225-131-9, Original Trade Paperback) explores both the good and bad sides of Sharon and Lisa’s childhoods while also examining the differences between their personalities and perspectives. It authentically highlights the duo’s unbreakable bond that allows them to conquer hardships and challenge each other to be the best versions of themselves. This woven memoir acts as an incredible success story for those who have battled with their own inner demons, proving you too can turn your life around and even find success assisting those who struggle with the same issues you were once able to defeat. 

“I understand that we model behavior unconsciously. But I also know that it is possible to transcend your past, consider how your behavior affects others, and end abusive cycles.”

IN HINDSIGHT is a beautiful representation of the special bond sisters share and a true testament to all that can happen when you not only overcome your situation, but flourish into the successful person you were always meant to be.  

About the Authors: 

Sharon Bonanno is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. She takes her relationships seriously and always makes them a priority. Sharon has been a teacher for 22+ years and is passionate about her job. Leading and guiding young people has been her specialty since 1994. Her goal every day is to continue to make people feel that there isn’t anything they can’t do and to help others be the best versions of themselves.

Lisa Scott is a wife, mother, and experienced entrepreneur. Driven by her passion for helping others, she is motivated by her belief that all people deserve second chances. Her number one goal is to show as many people as possible that they can achieve anything they want in life.  Lisa is forever optimistic and believes that life is always speaking to us; we just have to learn to listen.

IN HINDSIGHT: The Story of How Two Sisters Who Hurt, Hindered, and Healed Each Other
By Sharon Bonanno and Lisa Scott
Advantage Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-64225-131-9
Price: $19.99
Original Trade Paperback
165 pages

For information on this and other campaigns please contact us.