Monday, May 20, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A nail-biting survival story featuring dinosaurs!

The Book Dragon has read Corinna Turner's DRIVE! (first in the unSPARKed series) and gives it a roaring 5 claws!
My 5 star review: Wow! What an exciting story! Wish this had been around when I was younger, but I've never outgrown my interest in dinosaurs, so it was worth waiting for!

Widower with two teens remarries, and they travel together to bring home the new wife and stepmother. Simple plot, you say? Not when the family lives on a farm surrounded by electric fences to keep out the new top-of-the-food-chain predators in this amazingly detailed future United States. This is short and a quick read (and so suspenseful you won't be able to put it down). Thankfully, it's not the end, though this story can stand alone.

I can't wait for the next installment in the unSPARKed series! (The electric fences protecting cities and farms are so important, they are capitalized as SPARK.) Recommended for anyone who loves dinosaurs and adventure/survival stories!

(This book and others by the prolific author are featured on the Catholic Teen Books site.)

Monday, May 13, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Exciting Christian mystery!

The Book Dragon has read Fallen Leaf by Julie B. Cosgrove and gives it 5 claws!
My review: 4.5 stars for a Christian mystery with more than one heart-stopping event! Great characters, realistic setting and situation, and lots of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing and anxious for fictional characters who feel more like new friends!

I first met Jessica, Bailey, and Shannon in book one of this series, One Leaf Too Many, but this one can stand alone. book one focused on Bailey and her genealogy search, and book two begins when blond, blue-eyed (and adopted) Jessica gets a DNA test and discovers a complete surprise--she is half Cherokee! I don't want to inadvertently give away spoilers, but the way this story becomes a murder mystery is compelling and suspenseful! I can't wait for book three, which should belong to Shannon.

Recommended for all readers of Christian mystery, and if you aren't into genealogy before you read this book, you'll want to explore your own family's secrets.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A fun and heartwarming Texas romance

The Book Dragon has finished Tamie Dearen's Wrangled by the Watchful Cowboy, Book 3 in the Sage Valley Ranch clean romance series, and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "I don't read many straight romance novels, but I'd read several by Ms. Dearen and loved them, so when I saw she had a Texas romance (with bull riding, even), I had to give it a try. I'm SO glad I did! The characters are so real I wanted to hug them (well, all except Jessica's ex-boyfriend Parker). The details put the reader on the ranch, and one can even smell the coffee and taste Nanna's breakfast tacos! There is drama and comedy in equal measure in this delightful read, and it makes me want to read the rest in the Sage Valley Ranch series, all clean romance by five different authors. This standalone book 3 is guaranteed for all readers of clean romance. Whether or not you're a Texan, you'll cheer for Jess and Cord and all the loveable characters in this installment."

Monday, April 22, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A mind-bending magical romp

The Book Dragon has finished Spindle (Two Monarchies Sequence #1) by W. R. Gingell and gives it 4 claws!
My 4 star review: "Having read a previous book by this author (Masque) in which I found her prose sparkling and her characters delightfully quirky, I wanted to try this one, which seemed to be a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. There is a curse, and the main character Polyhymnia (Poly) is awakened after sleeping for 300 years by the kiss of a handsome....enchanter named Luck. There the resemblance to Sleeping Beauty ends. The story is as weird as Alice in Wonderland in places, and so I almost put the book down (I've never liked that story), but because Poly's plight was so sympathetic, and Luck was so strange, I pressed on, and I'm glad I did. I prefer my fantasy more straightforward, but the strength of the two main characters, along with a cast of memorable minor characters, carried this story. The author is very talented at writing descriptions and brings the reader into the story. I'm still confused by some of the magical situations, but that is probably just me. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a mind-bending magical romp with a strong dash of romance."

Monday, April 15, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Gritty, realistic fantasy set in historic England

The Book Dragon has read Elfling by Corinna Turner and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for this gritty and realistic fantasy set in historic England. The MC Serapia captured my heart in the heartbreaking opening scene. Her struggle to survive on the streets after her mother's death makes her strong but doesn't destroy her fiercely loyal and loving heart. Once she finds her father and the love she'd only dreamt of, everything is again threatened by a monstrous evil, and Serapia's toughness and tenacity learned on the streets becomes vital as she embarks on an impossible quest to find healing for her father's body and salvation for his soul. The many flashbacks of her time with the elfin were a little distracting and felt like a second narrative, but they were a clever way to show how Serapia's memories manifested themselves in unexpected bursts. The climax nearly stopped my heart, it was so intense. I would rate this book PG-13 for the violence, although it never went over-the-top, considering the subject matter. I loved the dragonets and only wished to see a glimpse of the larger dragons. Recommended for older teens and up!"

This book is featured at Catholic Teen Books, along with Ms. Turner's other YA books.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A perfect finish to an inspiring YA series!

The Book Dragon has finished 3 Things to Forget, the fourth and final installment in the Bird Face Series by Cynthia T. Toney and gives it a resounding 5 claws!
My 5 star review: "Having read the first 3 in the Bird Face series, I was eager to read this last book (but grew sadder and sadder as I neared the end, realizing this was the last book). Wendy's growth throughout the series has been so satisfying to watch, and her empathy and capacity for deep friendship is showcased against a backdrop of beautiful Alaska. As with the others in the series, the author writes honestly about the struggles as well as the triumphs of young people. In Book 4 the reader spends time with deaf teens, an adopted teen desperate for love, as well as advancing Alzheimer's in Wendy's beloved surrogate grandmother. All the elements, along with Wendy's volunteer summer job working with wildlife, combine in picture-perfect finish to a wonderful, inspiring series. Highly recommended!"

This book, along with the others in the series, are featured on Catholic Teen Books.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A chilling science fiction story

The Book Dragon has read Ashlynn's Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert and gives it a resounding 5 claws!
My review: "This is a stunning debut novel cleverly told in journal entries, which adds to its authentic feel even though it's science fiction in a contemporary setting. If the story had been written as a more traditional narrative, the horror of the situation and the terror experienced by the genetically-modified children would have been difficult to present as a "clean read." In this format, the suspense and drama is actually heightened and made this an unforgettable read.

"The title character, Ashlynn, has been raised as Jillian and had no idea she was created in a test tube until she was kidnapped at age 12, along with her babysitter Danielle, by the scientists who designed her and her "siblings." The details are realistic, and the reader feels tremendous empathy for Jillian, Danielle, and the other children. Moral issues are brought to light and make the reader wonder what would YOU do in a similar situation. Though not a comfortable story, it resonates deeply and will make me think for a long time. Although it's the first of a series, it does have a resolution, but the knowledge that Dr. Devya is still out there and Jillian probably hasn't seen the last of him will make this reader want to continue and find out what happens next....Recommended to readers who like thoughtful science fiction will find this story compelling."

Monday, March 25, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Mystery, mermaids, and more!

The Book Dragon has read Shallows by Denver Evans and gives it 5 claws!

My review: "4.5 stars for an unexpectedly delightful story about a young inventor's encounter with the mermaids everyone in his island village fears. I say 'unexpected' because the story took twists and turns that surprised me and made for a rich reading experience. The story has a 17th century feel with realistic details and a nail-biting climax! The MC begins the story as naive and affectionately absent-minded, but the villagers go from seeing him as an oddity or an annoyance to a threat after he discovers the truth about the "mermaids." Recommended for anyone who likes fantasy with a fairy tale feel and, of course, mermaids.

Here's a better shot of the beautiful cover:

Monday, March 18, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A Powerful, Disturbing YA Dystopian

The Book Dragon has read Corinna Turner's I Am Margaret and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for this powerful, disturbing dystopian. The title character, Margaret (Margo) is an incredible young woman. Her faith and courage while facing unspeakable horrors is beyond inspiring. This reader will never forget her and hopes she could be half so brave if faced with similar persecution for her faith!

"A warning to parents: There are some graphic scenes of torture, not for the faint-hearted, and there is much more language than I am comfortable reading or would have wanted my children to read. Older teens will find Margaret's story unforgettable and inspiring, and they will want to continue with the next book in the series."

This book is also found on the Catholic Teen Books website.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A Heartwarming 3rd Installment in the Bird Face Series

The Book Dragon has read Cynthia T. Toney's 6 Dates to Disaster, the 3rd book in the Bird Face series and gives it 5 claws!
My 5 star review: "This was an excellent continuation of the Bird Face series and will greatly appeal to teens (and those of us who remember those years so clearly). The author continues Wendy's story with warmth and honesty as she deals with first love, a blended family, financial problems, desperately wanting to make enough money to visit an elderly friend and surrogate grandmother with Alzheimer's before it's too late, the unexpected problems that arise from her money-making scheme, and a friend's consequences to dating a boy with an alcohol problem. The story moves at a steady pace yet gives time to connect the reader to Wendy and her problems in a sympathetic way. Though part of a series, this book could be read without reading the first two (but it will be better if you read them first) and the ending, though perfect, will make the reader want to get the last book to find out what happens! A recommended clean book for teens."

This book is featured at Catholic Teen Books. Check out Ms. Toney's other books!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Unforgettable story about foster children

The Book Dragon has read The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch by T. M. Gaouette and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for a story that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming about foster children and a place where ten of them found a home in which love and faith abounded. As a former foster parent, this story really touched my heart and made me wish I could give these fictional foster children a big hug! The story is mainly told through Benedict's POV, but in several places other POVs are given, which was mostly effective. I recommend this book to everyone with a heart for children. You will never forget it!"
Here's a better picture of the lovely cover. This book is also found on the Catholic Teen Books site.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Fantasy of Mythological Proportions!

The Book Dragon has read Coiled by H. L. Burke and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for a fantasy that slithers into your heart (and I already liked snakes). Coiled has such a strong feel of Greek mythology, it could easily be titled "The Labors of Laidra" so she could take her place in the pantheon of mythological heroes. The MC, Princess Laidra, is an extremely sympathetic, yet strong and selfless character (the three "S's," rather snake-like). The members of the supporting cast, including humans and gods and monsters, are all individually drawn yet have enough similarity to their Greek counterparts that the story feels familiar in a fresh new way.

"Recommended for older teens and up, especially those who like Greek mythology and/or snakes!"

Monday, February 18, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A Purr-fect Fantasy Collection for Feline Lovers

The Book Dragon has read the fantasy anthology Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales, 16 short stories collected by the Fellowship of Fantasy and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for a fun anthology centered around cats. The stories are as different as cats, so there will be one to suit most any reader's taste. Some I liked more than others, but nearly all of them made me wish I had a cat, even though I've never had one! My favorite stories were "Destined for Greatness," "The Honorable Retrieval of Miss Sunbeam Honeydew," "Whisker Width," and "The Cat-Dragon and the Unicorn." But "The Magic of Catnip" was clever, and "Death Always Collects" was especially poignant, even without reading the author's note. Recommended for fantasy lovers, whether or not you are already a cat lover! (This book can make you one, in that case.)"

Monday, February 11, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Knights and dragons and princesses...and zombies?

The Book Dragon has read Knight's Rebirth by Sarah Ashwood and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for one of the most unusual and compelling stories I've ever read! Not your usual fantasy, but the two main characters became living, breathing people to me (well, one was breathing for some of the story, but I guess it wouldn't be a spoiler because he begins his story by telling you he's dead). If you like knights and dragons and princesses and a quirky love story, and adventure all over the place, including monsters and curses and mythology and zombies and life-and-death situations, you'll love this memorable tale!"
Here's a better image of the cover. Only 99 cents on Amazon!!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A Highly Original Snow White Retelling

As part of a special blog tour for Fantasy Month, all of Book Dragon's reviews this month will be fantasy books! Check out this site for more info on this special event.
The Book Dragon has read Lea Doue's fascinating Mirrors and Pearls: A Retelling of Snow White (Fairytale Dragon Riders Book 1) and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for a delightful and highly original retelling of Snow White. I loved the dragons and the pixie and the squirrel. The characters were so much fun, I wanted it to be longer. The ending felt a bit rushed, but don't let that stop you from reading this quirky, magical tale. It's SO much better than the Disney version. Recommended!"
Here's a better picture of the lovely cover!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Fast-paced murder mystery with witty dialogue

The Book Dragon has devoured the ARC of Exercise is Murder, a fantastic new mystery novella by ACFW author Bruce Hammack and gives it a resounding 5 claws!
My 5 star review: "I don't read many mysteries, but I may have to rethink that after reading this unexpected gem. The author's law enforcement experience shines through in this fast-paced, witty story with realistic, flawed, yet relatable main characters, an unlikely team of detectives. Their banter reminds me of Bogey and Bacall, and Max the cat is a stroke of genius. From the opening scene, the snappy dialogue alone grabbed this reader and compelled me to keep reading, and the many suspects kept me guessing until the final showdown. This is an excellent read for mystery aficiados as well as newbies to the genre, and I'm looking forward to continuing this new series to return to the blind, anything-but-washed-up former Houston homicide detective Steve Smiley and his young brilliant partner Heather McBlythe (and her cat)."
Here's a better image of the cover!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Exciting cozy Christian mystery with genealogy!

The Book Dragon has reviewed One Leaf Too Many by Julie B. Cosgrove and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for an exciting cozy mystery about one of my favorite subjects--genealogy! The characters are living and breathing; the good ones are loveable and the not-so-good ones are appropriately slimy. The plot is a twisty roller coaster ride that makes you laugh out loud, gasp with concern for the heroine and her friends, nod your head in agreement at Shannon's wise words and Chase's level-headedness, and sigh at the MC's stubborn quest for truth and justice that lands her in all kinds of trouble! Recommended for all readers of cozy mystery. If you're not into genealogy when you start reading One Leaf Too Many, by the end you may change your mind!"

Monday, January 7, 2019

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Norse Mythology meets Beauty and the Beast

The Book Dragon has finished When Ravens Fall by Savannah Jezowski and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for well-written, original, and unusual combination of Norse mythology, Beauty and the Beast, and a feisty talking squirrel I first met in Jezowski's short story, "Well of Fate." The suspense was sustained at a tense level through the climactic scene, and the characters and their situation were clearly and believably written. The themes, which the author elaborates upon in her end note, shine through and strongly gird the story. Recommended!"