Monday, July 30, 2018

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Fantastic steampunk universe!

The Book Dragon has read The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder and gives it a resounding five claws!
My 5 star review: "Not sure I can do this book justice with a review, because all I want to say is, Wow! Great character development, a fantastic steampunk universe full of delicious details, and a plot that pulls the reader along with suspense, surprises, and shivers. The Electrical Menagerie is a must-read for those who like steampunk, and especially for those who have never read one. This book will make you a fan!

"Bravo to the author and her jolly good show!"

Because my review doesn't supply any details, here's the blurb to whet your appetite:

For fans of Caraval and The Greatest Showman: a quest for fame and fortune in a stardust-powered empire brings debt, scandal, and danger in spades. 

The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt. 

Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples. 

To save their show, Carthage & Huxley stake everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, the Menagerie's bid at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians — but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there's more at stake in this contest than the prize. 

Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Beautifully written fantasy with magic, music, and Cherokee folklore

The Book Dragon has read Aerisian Refrain by Sarah Ashwood and gives it a rip-roaring five claws!
My five star review: "This book was an amazing read! I didn't think I would connect with the MC, Annie, who was a world-famous singer, but she had a depth of character and humility that made me wish she was real so we could be friends. She was strong, yet caring, and I hurt with her at all the losses and pain she suffered in the course of the story.

"The fantasy elements were terrific! I had previously read the first Aerisian trilogy and was already loved the fantasy world the author had created, but this book made everything deeper, more resonant, and more meaningful. The descriptions are beautiful and poetic and totally immersed me in the land of Aerisia. I love how some of the magic is tied to music. It feels real! And the dragons and their riders are memorable, even though they don't play a huge part in this story.

"One of the best things about this book is the friendship Annie develops with her fellow traveler from Earth, the Artan, Hannah, and the BEST part is the relationship Annie develops with Cole, the Simathe Lord who was my favorite in the first trilogy. The ending was surprising, with all kinds of unexpected elements, good and bad.

"I highly recommend this engrossing tale of adventure, love, betrayal, magic, fairies, dragons, and the beautiful Cherokee folklore references. I'm having a hard time writing this review because I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I want everyone to read it, it's that good! Can I just say, "Wow"?"

Better shot of the beautiful cover:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Fantastic new fantasy release!

I'm so excited about this one, I'm spotlighting Aerisian Refrain before Book Dragon can write his review! When I heard it had music, magic, dragons, fairies, birds, AND Cherokee folklore, as well as many of the characters I'd come to love in the original Aerisia trilogy, I HAD to read it.

Tagline: On Earth, Annie's voice brought her fame and fortune. In Aerisia, her voice brings her magic, but the cost of that power might mean the destruction of Aerisia itself.

Blurb: Following the prophesied Artan's victory over the Dark Powers, the land of Aerisia is finally at rest, until ancient beings, long imprisoned, begin to stir....

Eight years after Annie Richards' stellar voice and musical talents skyrocketed her from rural Oklahoma to international fame, haunting visions have begun threatening her sanity. While she's returning to her childhood home to convalesce, creatures straight from her nightmares bring down her plane. Annie wakens in a parallel world, Aerisia. Here, she discovers her musical gifts translate into magical powers--the legacy of a banished race who have been invading her dreams.

Mistrusted by Aerisia's most powerful factions because of her heritage, Annie finds allies are hard to come by. Supporting her are one Simathe warrior, Cole, who refuses to label her as evil, and one woman willing to stand against anything and anyone to help a friend: the Artan herself. Seizing control of her destiny will mean defying both her ancestors and the Aerisian leaders. Mastering her magic may mean making the greatest sacrifice of all . . . or risk becoming the reason Aerisia itself is torn apart.
Author Bio: Don't believe all the hype. Sarah Ashwood isn't really a gladiator, a Highlander, a fencer, a skilled horsewoman, an archer, a magic wielder, or a martial arts expert. That's only in her mind. In real life, she's a genuine Okie from Muskogee who grew up in the wooded hills outside the oldest town in Oklahoma and holds a B.A. in English from American Military University. She now lives (mostly) quietly at home with her husband and three sons, where she tries to sneak in a daily run or workout to save her sanity and keep her mind fresh for her next story.

Sarah's works include the Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy (where I first visited Aerisia) and her fantasy novella Amana.

To keep up to date with Sarah's work and new releases, sign up for her newsletter. You can also visit her website, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A fantastic collection of short stories

The Book Dragon has read Secrets: Visible and Invisible, a collection of seven stories by different YA authors, and gives it a resounding five claws!
My 5 star review: This is one of the best short story collections I've ever read! Each one fits the theme perfectly, and yet no two stories were remotely alike. I felt like I'd opened a box of chocolates, and ALL of them were delicious! I especially like how the genre is identified at the beginning of each story. Many of them make you wonder if the author has written more about the characters, and in fact, many have!

Dystopian is not my favorite genre, but Corinna Turner's "The Underappreciated Virtues of Rusty Old Bicycles" is an intriguing title. This suspenseful story gripped me and made me anxious for young Margo and Bane, who just wanted to have a picnic and now are in danger from government soldiers hunting subversives.

In "Recreation" by Cynthia T. Toney, Elijah is a realistic teen and stole my heart as the story unfolds and he befriends an elderly neighbor in need of assistance. The ending is one of the most perfect ever! My favorite in the collection.

Theresa Linden's "The Portrait of the Firestarters" is about a youth group, and a painting that has changed each time they meet is mysterious and compelling. An effective device to show how important it is not to judge on appearances.

A gritty historical piece by Susan Peek with a kapow title "On the Brink of Hell" puts the reader in the middle of the scene with the battle-injured Dario. A powerful experience of the power of redemption. Bravo!

I love the tone of T. M. Gaouette's "Sister Francesca." It feels like a legend, even though the setting is modern.

The main character in Carolyn Astfalk's "Behind the Wheel" is so human and so endearing. As a Mom I alternately wanted to shake the MC and hug him. A poignant coming-of-age story!

Leslea Wahl's "More Precious Than Gold" is a fun mystery, and readers of The Perfect Blindside and An Unexpected Role will enjoy seeing those characters together in this story.

Here's a better image of the cover:
All these authors are members of Catholic Teen Books. Visit the site to discover their other works!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A beautifully written Christian fantasy

The Book Dragon has read The Last Motley by D. J. Edwardson and gives it five claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for one of the most interesting and beautifully written fantasy quests I've ever read. I had no idea what to expect from the intriguing cover (I read it before reading the back blurb), but the story sucked me in from the first page. I love the MC, Roderick the humble tailor. He has become my favorite book Dad, ever! Such a compassionate and God-fearing husband and father, he makes the perfect reluctant hero and guardian for the frightened young orphan, Jacob (the "motley.") Their journey to discover a way to free Jacob from the curse of his motley magic is fraught with peril of every kind, but they do meet a couple of surprising allies along the way.

"I love how Roderick's faith is such a part of him and how his prayers for Jacob comfort the child again and again. This world is so real I can feel the cold and smell the dungeon and taste the hardtack. Recommended for anyone who loves Christian fantasy and quest stories in particular."

Better image of the vibrant cover:

Monday, July 2, 2018

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A fun wish fantasy with an unusual genie!

The Book Dragon has read Jessica L. Elliott's fun short story (or maybe a novella?) Oh, Snap! and gives it five wishful claws!
My 5 star review: "This was a delightful short story and very original! I'll never look at genies the same way again, and I'll be paying closer attention to old teapots in thrift stores from now on. You just never know....

"Recommended for anyone who wishes they had a little real magic in their lives."