Monday, October 19, 2020

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: An imaginative sort-of Cinderella retelling


The Book Dragon has finished Ashen by H. L. Burke and gives it 5 claws!

My review: 4.5 stars for an imaginative world populated by memorable characters, especially the mysterious heroine Lizbete with skin the color of ash and a constant need for warmth. Burke is so good at writing stories about scrappy young female protagonists, and this one is hard to put down! It's difficult to write a review without spoilers, but if you like magic, mystery, and romance, you must read this book! It's fun to see the Cinderella tropes reimagined, but mostly it's a journey of discovery for Lizbete, her few friends, and the many who fear or distrust her. The climax is amazing! And I'm still puzzling over how Burke wrote temperature so well--I felt a chill in some places and began to sweat in others. Bravo!

Monday, October 5, 2020

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A dark and deep fantasy with a strong heroine


The Book Dragon has read Thorn by Intisar Khanani and gives it 4 claws!

My review: This is a fantasy that immersed me in another time and culture with rich details. The characters were living and breathing, and there was an element of mystery as well as magic. The title character was relatable and sympathetic, and some of the minor characters stole my heart. The story is deep and dark and at times very uncomfortable; it makes the reader think about justice and mercy, vengeance and forgiveness. There is minor language and are some disturbing situations that might give a young or tender-hearted reader nightmares. I'd recommend for ages 17 and up.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A suspenseful, action-packed shifter story

The Book Dragon has finished Sarah Ashwood's Ashes on the Earth (Book 1 in the new Stones of Fire series) and gives it 5 claws!

My review: 4.5 stars for a vivid, suspenseful story with two flawed yet sympathetic main characters. I don't normally read urban fantasy because so much of it is hopelessly dark, and this one has its moments of darkness (and even bits of hopelessness). Overall, the female lead (Ellie) is idealistic, caring, self-sacrificing, and realistically religious, so even with the death and destruction she unwittingly falls into after saving a child's life, she still has a loving family waiting for her and faith to carry her through the fire. (Since the child's father is a different kind of "mob" boss.) Carter, the male lead, is more worldly and cynical, but he's a few years older than Ellie and has lived for twenty years in a world she (and most humans) never knew existed--shifters. The forms they take run the gamut of world mythology, and since Carter is half-Greek, his form is something from Greek mythology. Though Carter tries to keep a tough facade, his integrity, loyalty, and protectiveness comes through strongly.. 

There are two scenes of brutal violence, and though not graphic, might be upsetting to a young or tender-hearted reader. With the violence, some sexual tension between Ellie and Carter (but nothing inappropriate happens), and some mild language, I'd rate this book PG-13. There is a cliffhanger ending, and at the end the author has promised three more books in the series, so readers will eventually find out what happened! I'd call this book Bogart and Bacall with monsters.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Nail-biting, suspenseful stand-alone fantasy with cool magic!


The Book Dragon has read Blood Traitor (Legendary Magic #2) by Stella Dorthwany and gives it 5 enthusiastic claws!!!

My review: Oh, my heart! Last year I'd read and enjoyed the author's first book in this series (Sand and Storm) and didn't think I'd enjoy this one as much, but it was even better! The predicaments of cousins Cora and Faryn actually made me anxious at several points in the story (like, HOW are they going to survive THIS?) and the problems in their respective love lives did not detract from the nonstop danger and intrigue. If anything, it made this reader even more sympathetic to their plights! Kudos to the author for her deft hand at mystery. I kept guessing wrongly who the main baddie was....until he showed up and it made perfect sense. There are few books that are so engrossing as to make one lose track of time, put off needed chores, and lose sleep, but this is definitely one of them! If you like magical fantasy with engaging characters (even the minor ones) and a setting so realistic you can feel glitter between your fingers and smell the fresh blood (there are blood mages, after all, but there's nothing graphic--more kudos to the author), then I highly recommend this one! Even though it's the second in a series, it can stand alone.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Plot-driven epic fantasy

The Book Dragon has read Dragon's Truth by Leanne M. Pankuch and gives it 4 claws!

My review: This plot-driven epic fantasy is well-written with extensive world-building. I kept wanting the pace to slow just a bit to better know the characters, because some of them sounded like they could be very interesting. With such a large cast, it's harder to see them as individuals and feel empathy with them. Other than that disappointment, I recommend this book for fantasy lovers of all ages.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A contemporary YA with memorable characters

The Book Dragon has read Freeing Tanner Rose (Book 1 in the Faith and Kung Fu series) by T. M. Gaouette and gives it 4 claws!
My review: I should preface this review by saying I don't read a lot of contemporary YA, so the few things I didn't enjoy about this story might be the things an avid reader of this genre loves. What I did love about this story was the character of Gabriel, a quiet young man who deals with the struggles of life in two powerful ways: martial arts and his strong faith in God. His quiet country life with his mother and a small circle of Christian friends is upended when the younger daughter of his mother's former college roommate comes to stay with them. She is Tanner Rose, a fourteen yo "celebrity" of film and TV who already has problems with substance abuse due to her partying ways.

If Tanner's situation wasn't so horrifying to this mother of sons, I might have better enjoyed the sometimes comical ways she interacts with Gabriel, his mom, and their friends (like wearing white jeans and high heels to a campout). She's like a fish out of water, a very unlikable fish. But Gabriel and his mother are patient with Tanner and not only demonstrate their faith, but show the troubled girl caring and compassion like she's never before experienced.

There's not only a good story here but a great message. I would strongly encourage younger teens to read this with a parent (or at least have discussions about what happens in the story). Alcoholism, drug abuse, immodesty, and the partying life of a celebrity are shown, but never as a positive thing.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Suspenseful installment in a dinosaur dystopian series!

The Book Dragon has read Corinna Turner's Farmgirls Die in Cages (#4 in the unSPARKed series) and gives it 5 claws!
My review: Turner has done it again and written another suspenseful episode in the exciting future world of humans and dinosaurs living together. Darryl and her younger brother Harry go "from the frying pan into the fire" as their lives become more complicated. Thankfully the young hunter Joshua is willing to help them escape from a new predicament. As always, this episode ends on a cliffhanger, but I've come to accept that in this series because its SO good! Recommended for dino enthusiasts of any age, but you'll definitely want to start at the beginning with Drive!