Monday, January 27, 2020

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A powerful contemporary story of love and forgiveness

The Book Dragon has finished Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk and gives it 5 claws!
My review: 4.5 stars for a compelling story that caused me to forget everything else for several hours in order to finish it. The two main characters, Dan and Emily, are so real and honestly drawn, I became attached to them right away and HAD to finish their story, even though I rarely read contemporary romance. Their pain is palpable, but the power of forgiveness is seen over and over, a great reminder to us all! The Pittsburgh setting is so detailed, it makes me want to visit! The supporting cast of characters is wonderful, especially Grandma, Elizabeth, and Colleen. I don't want to say too much and give away spoilers, but this is a story that can be read year-round, not just as Christmas! Recommended!

Note: There are a couple curse words, and a couple instances of excessive drinking, but otherwise a PG-13 read.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Retold Greek Mythology with Memorable Characters!

The Book Dragon has finished Labyrinth of Shadows by Kyla Stone and gives it 5 claws!
My review: 4.5 stars for a well-written and interesting twist on the Minotaur story from Greek mythology. The author has made Princess Ariadne even more sympathetic than the one I remember from the original story, mainly because she has so much spunk and determination and has not let her scarred and tragic childhood suck her down into despair. She's brave enough to dance with bulls and yet cares so much about others, she's willing to sacrifice herself to save the ones she loves. Her journey through the Labyrinth was frighteningly realistic and made the story difficult to put down. The other characters are memorable, too, including Ariadne's dysfunctional family, her heroic slave, and the doomed young tributes from Athens, which include the demi-god Theseus. The most tragic part of this story is the Minotaur himself, and I love the author's take on this well-known monster. I also appreciate how she handles the less-than-savory aspects of the original story to keep this a PG-13 read.

If you are interested in Greek mythology, especially the story of the Minotaur in the Labyrinth, or love to immerse yourself in a coming-of-age story with an unforgettable brave young woman, I recommend this book!

Here's a better picture of the gorgeous cover:

Monday, January 13, 2020

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: An epic historical family saga!

The Book Dragon has read Because That's What Families Do by Pamela Sharp and gives it a roaring five claws!
My 5 star review: This is a very long book, but in the tradition of epic historical fiction, it does not seem at all long because I was swept up in the story and totally immersed. The author has done such excellent research that it feels like I was transported back in time and experienced slices of life from the 1940's, 50's, and 60's with the members of a lovable, not-so-average family in South Carolina. The three main characters are the religious and initially mild-mannered Beth Bradbourne, her flamboyant cousin Sarah Lockridge, and the young man they both fall in love with, handsome devil Clayton Martin, who is a perfectly rotten antagonist. Not only these three become living, breathing humans, but the large cast of unforgettable secondary characters are portrayed in all their glory (or dishonor, as the case may be). I don't think I'll ever stop thinking about them because they've managed to permanently reside in my heart!

If you lived during those turbulent times, or have an interest in post-World War II history, or if you simply enjoy reading about the trials and triumphs of someone else's family (and be prepared to fall in love with this one), I highly recommend this book! There is no "on screen" sex or violence, but there is a bit of language (though the most offensive terms are not spelled out). There are so many quotable lines, but most of them are spoilers, so I won't post them. I'll just leave you with this wonderful quote: "You can't give people faith; you can only show them yours."

Monday, January 6, 2020

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A delightful poetry collection for children!

The Book Dragon has read The Taco Magician and Other Poems for Kids by Diane Gonzales Bertrand and illustrations by Carolyn Dee Flores (Houston: Arte Publico Press, 2019) and gives it 5 claws!
My 5 star review: The cover of this book is such a fun invitation to the poetry inside and complements the poems. The book itself is bilingual: read from one direction in English, and turn the book over to read the same poems in Spanish!

The poems are kid-friendly and use all five senses in a feast of fun images. Although they are organized in three sections (Clapping for Me, Curious Surprises, and Poetry Confetti), they speak to kid-friendly subjects and events. Many of the poems celebrate Hispanic culture, such as "Cascarones" and "Abuelita's Kitchen Table" (which will make you salivate while reading it), and all are universal to childhood, no matter what the cultural background of the reader.

The collection itself is colorful and fun-to-read poetry confetti, just like breaking open a piñata as described in "Piñata Poems." Other favorites of mine are "Books Take Me Places," "Ice Cream Rides Down My Street," "Little Soldiers," and my #1 favorite, "Sleep Had a Slumber Party."

Ms. Bertrand is a tremendous wordsmith and paints beautiful images of familia from her life experiences growing up in San Antonio, Texas, all the while making her poetry accessible and enjoyable for children. She even subtly encourages children to write their own poems. I highly recommend this book!

Note: I received a review copy directly from the publisher, Arte Publico Press in Houston, Texas. Opinions are my own.