Sunday, October 17, 2021

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Newest installment in my favorite dinosaur dystopian series


The Book Dragon has finished Corinna Turner's latest installment in her unSPARKed! series, Wild Life, and gives it five enthusiastic claws!

My review: Even though I would prefer this story had been written as one long novel, the "serial" format reminds me of some of my favorite old TV shows in the 1960's (yes, I am that old), where each weekly episode ended on a cliffhanger, or at least with something unresolved so you'd anticipate the next installment (notably Lost in Space and The Time Tunnel). The unSPARKed! series is exactly that. It's difficult to wait for the next episode, but it is DEFINITELY worth the wait! This story has become one of my all-time favorites, with memorable characters I've come to care about very much, set in a future United States with dinosaurs, which I've loved since I was a young child. Unlike Jurassic Park, this story focuses more on the spiritual life and day-to-day survival of the human characters and hardly mentions the science involved in bringing dinosaur species back from extinction.

In this installment, which is #5, 16 yo Darryl and her brother Harry are settling in with their new employer Josh, who is a hunter living in the unSPARKed wilds where dinosaurs roam and life expectancy is short, even within a specially designed HabVi (a reinforced and modified RV that sounds like it's been crossed with a tank). Not only do the teens have much to learn from the experienced Josh (who is only 18 himself), they face danger from more than predatory dinosaurs.

I would have loved this series as a teen, and love it now even though I'm far past that age. I recommend it for anyone who likes adventure and survival stories with a clean and religious bent, especially readers who like dinosaurs. I would suggest you begin with #1 and read them in order, though there are other stories in this world which can be read out of order.

This novella and the rest of the volumes set in this world can be found at Catholic Teen Books. You don't want to miss this talented author's stories!

Monday, October 4, 2021

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: An epic fairytale quest by one of my favorite fantasy authors!


The Book Dragon has read Heartless Hette by M. L. Farb and gives it a resounding 5 claws!

My review: Having fallen in love with the previous three books I've read from this author, I confess I was a little nervous when I started this newest story. The POV character, Hette, didn't seem like someone with whom I'd want to spend several hours while going on an adventure. And the situation seemed like the setup for a gothic horror story. BUT I am glad I kept reading, because Hette's journey was more than a fantastic physical quest; it was a JOY watching her learn life lessons from unexpected people (and fantasy creatures). While Farb drew from fairy tale lore and set the story in a fictional Germania (which I also love, having German heritage) this is an original story, NOT a retold fairy tale. The supporting characters are fully present and add so much depth to the story; the setting is so realistic, you can feel the grit and mud and cold and unbearable heat; and the tension becomes unbearable in places, it's so well-plotted. I LOVE the riddles, too! That part reminded me of Bilbo Baggins and Gollum, but only superficially, because Farb makes everything fresh and new. The ending is very satisfying, in unexpected ways! Highly recommended for all ages.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Fun Book 2 in a Christian cozy mystery series


The Book Dragon has read Word Gets Around (Wordplay Mysteries Book 2) by Julie B. Cosgrove and gives it 5 claws!

My review:  I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Word Has It, and was excited to see the author had released another volume. From the first few pages, I felt as if I was revisiting old friends, for Ms. Cosgrove is excellent at creating believable, loveable, and very unique characters. Her group of senior citizen friends, led by Scrabble-loving Wanda, find themselves in the middle of another mystery in their small Texas town involving cryptic one word notes left on windshields, a missing reporter, a trashed newsroom, and gourmet coffee. This is such a fun story, and I feel even more attached to Wanda and her friends. Her nephew the policeman is adorable too, and now I'm wondering if "Aunt Wanda" is going to be playing matchmaker in a future book.... This author has made me a fan of cozy mystery. If you love squeaky clean cozies with thoughtful twisty plots and loveable characters, this series is for you! As a bonus there are recipes included in many chapters (Wanda and her friends love to cook).

Monday, July 12, 2021

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Suspenseful, moving prequel in a dinosaur dystopia series


The Book Dragon has read Corinna Turner's Breach! and gives it 5 roaring claws!
My review: Having read all the other installments in this fantastic dinosaur dystopian series, I was eager to finally read the prequel to discover the origin of one of the important characters and was NOT at all disappointed! The POV character is sympathetic and realistically portrayed, and his plight added to the already tense and suspenseful situation regarding a fence breach by a T-rex in a crowded resort. It's genius how the author combines an action-packed story involving deadly dinosaurs with a strong pro-life message, but it works wonderfully well, drawing out every emotion on the spectrum within a relatively short span of pages. Anyone who loves dinos, like I have my entire life, needs to read all the installments in this series. Though this one can be read out of order, I encourage you to begin here and read everything in chronological order, if possible. Even if you jump around, like I have, everything will make sense (and make you want to re-read the whole lot again and again). Prepare to be immersed in an unforgettably believable dystopian North America!

Note: Find this and other books by the prolific Corinna Turner at Catholic Teen Books.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Rejoice with me! I finished my "covid" book!!!!


After my husband and I returned from the Czech Republic the end of March 2020 (after being "stuck" for two extra weeks with four days' of clothing--although spending more time in my favorite place with friends who now feel like extended family was more paradise than any hardship at all) I had a difficult time concentrating on ANYTHING, much less writing! And when my husband was laid off, things became even more stressful. I feared after 35 years of writing my words had dried up forever.

But God was merciful, and my husband finally found a job (though much less pay and not in his field). Gradually my characters started speaking to me again, and I was able to finish this story. Ironically, I thought it would be the easiest in the series to write because it's mostly a tale of survival on the journey to manhood. My critique partner was amazed I was able to put together a coherent book, and she said the ending was her favorite in both series. So I am well content. 😊

The first two in the series, Dolan's Bride and Joy's Sorrow, are FREE today, and Valerian's Flight is available for preorder at 99 cents. Release day is July 1st, the 6th anniversary of the book that started this whole epic story, Mercy's Prince. I may make that one free, just to celebrate!!!

Monday, April 5, 2021

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Christmas + dinosaurs + dystopian world = great story year 'round!

 The Book Dragon has finished Corinna Turner's expanded A Very Jurassic Christmas novella and gives it five rip-roaring claws!

My review: I had read the original short story version in the Catholic Teen Book anthology Gifts: Visible and Invisible and wondered what happened next to the wonderful characters Ms. Turner has created in her dystopian, dinosaur-filled series. I'm glad she decided to expand the story into a longer novella. The additional adventures of hunter Joshua and his Uncle Z and the parallel adventures of brave farm kids Darryl and her brother Harry (and their Dad) are connected by a very brave traveling priest and a horrific winter storm reminiscent of our Texas polar vortex in February 2021. Just reading those sections made me shiver! If you haven't read any of this fantastic adventure series, I highly recommend it (especially if you're a lifelong dinophile like I am). You can also learn more about the author and her other books and series at Catholic Teen Books.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Monday Book Review by the Book Dragon: Excellent Christian cozy mystery, first in a new series!


The Book Dragon has finished Word Has It by Julie B. Cosgrove and gives it 5 rip-roaring claws!
My review: I've read several cozies by this author, and I have to say, Ms. Cosgrove has made me a cozy mystery fan! This first book in a new series is her best one yet!

The MC Wanda, a very active widow living in a small Texas town, is loveable and very human, but she always means well. She has a reputation for being nosy and jumping to conclusions, but after a burglary in a nearby city is convinced her sleepy little town needs a neighborhood watch program, especially when several suspicious goings-on point to the possibility that the burglars are hiding out right under their noses!

Complicating the situation is Wanda's beloved nephew Todd, who is a rookie cop in town. Their close relationship is threatened by Todd's concern that Wanda's meddling will either get him fired or get her in serious trouble. There are many fun and relatable characters, including Wanda's best friend and many other townspeople. Even with all the names, it was easy to keep them straight because the author has done such a great job of making each one memorable!

The title comes from the shared love of Scrabble that Wanda and Todd share, and the initial game in which they play several apparently unrelated words that turn out to be clues to the mystery of the burglars. I love the use of a Scrabble tile for the scene breaks! And most of all, I loved the slice of small town life which made me homesick (in a good way) for the one I had to leave behind.

If you are a fan of cozy mysteries, Scrabble, or just enjoy a good read with characters who will become new friends, check out Word Has It! Though it's a standalone novel, the author has left room for further adventures of Wanda and her friends in the new neighborhood watch program. As a bonus, there are recipes included from the tea party that had to be cancelled. I hope there will be another opportunity for the widowed friends to have their party!