Book Review: The Giver of Stars, by Jojo Moyes

The Giver of Stars is yet another book recommended to me by my fabulous fantasy fans on Facebook. You can totally join and hang out there with us, we’re pretty cool. It goes to show how important book recommendations are to authors. Psst … if you’ve read my books and liked them, please recommend them! I would be much obliged. Cheers!

While I don’t read a lot of literary or historical fiction, I’ve enjoyed the ones that have made it on my list. Some of my all time favorite reads are on this list such as The Book Thief and The Glass Castle. I’m happy to add The Giver of Stars to this growing list, it is a lovely read.

The Story

Alice Wright is a proper British girl who doesn’t quite fit in at home and ends up marrying an exotic American man and moving west to definitely not fit in there as well. Her new home is inhospitable to say the least, mostly due to the ever disapproving presence of her new father-in-law who has plenty of opinions on what’s proper for a woman.

Her hubby’s not much better, seeing as his first reaction in any situation is to see which way his daddy leans, then agreeing. When Alice sees an opportunity that will get her out of the house and allow her to be useful in the community, she grabs it and doesn’t look back. Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library initiative has created a need for able young women to take books to the people living too far to come to a local library. These packhorse librarians not only provide books, but for some, they are the only connection for these families to the rest of the world.

Alice works closely with Margery, a woman whose family has a muddy past in the community. She’s everything that Alice wants to be, self-sufficient, smart, and most importantly, happy. The two make friends, along with the other librarians, giving Alice the sense of belonging to a community that she’s always wanted.

With every good, there comes a bad. There are those in town, including Alice’s ridiculous father-in-law, who oppose the packhorse library and believe it’s spreading indecency and immoral content to the good people of Kentucky. The weather and the terrain itself is a constant challenge. And of course, there’s the matter of Alice’s heart. She and her American husband just can’t see eye-to-eye.

The Giver of Stars is a story of friendship, grit, and determination and based on true events in America’s past.

My Review

A story with great characterization, fascinating history, and some well-deserved personal angst? I’m sold. The structure of the story itself is a bit different than what’s expected, and the way it’s handled makes the reading experience that much better. Alice’s main problem is how she can find happiness in this new world and with her spouse. Her solution to part of the problem is the packhorse library, therefore every threat to its continued functioning, is a threat to Alice. Which is why having a murder mystery appear in the third act doesn’t feel as out of place as it should have.

I loved the use of different quotes at the beginning of each chapter set the tone, and especially loved how the poem “The Giver of Stars” is used as a turning point for Alice to help her have the courage to make hard decisions and stand up for herself.

I also loved the amazing inclusive friendship of the packhorse librarians and how they watch out for each other.

Recommendations

While this is an objectively clean read, one of the storylines has to do with marital intimacy within a society that isn’t allowed to talk about such matters. It’s handled with tact and admirable respect, but it’s something that wouldn’t be appreciated or understood by younger readers. For that, I’d recommend a reading age of high school and up.

The other sensitive storyline is that of treatment of the coal miners and black population during the depression era. The book gives an accurate an unbiased look at what life was like, and should be appreciated for shedding light on the truth. However, for readers who are uncomfortable with gross unfairness, consider yourself warned.

I give The Giver of Stars 5/5 stars for an endearing and authentic look at an interesting period of time. And I might have cried a teeny tiny bit.


Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of The Giver of Stars, by Jojo Moyestoday on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The other week I asked my amazing Facebook groupies what was the last book that made them cry – possibly because I just read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and it’s kind of tragic. One of my groupies shared that The House on the Cerulean Sea made them cry in a good way, so I did what any literary aficionado would do, I added it to my library wish list.

The Story

Linus Baker works a boring job in a grey rainy town and likes it. He likes the precision of the work, meeting expectations, and reading the massive tome of rules and regulations just for fun. His job? Case worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth where he monitors and reports on the well-being of government-sanctioned orphanages.

It is this supreme diligence and attention to detail that gets him assigned to a special case, that of spending a month to observe and report on the Marsyas Island Orphanage, home of six extremely dangerous magical children.

Linus is … not thrilled.

The island is full of all sorts of secrets, ranging from the abilities of the children, one of which is literally Lucifer, and that of their caretaker Arthur Parnassus. As the month slips by, Arthur discovers that he’s been wrong about quite a few things in his life and allows himself to grow close to both the children and Arthur.

With all that he sees, he must report to Extremely Upper Management his findings and make the hardest decision of all – if this unique orphanage should be allowed to stay open.

My Review

I have a confession to make. Because I knew this made my friend cry, I spent the entire book worried that something completely terrible was going to happen. Spoiler alert – there is a happy ending, so all my worry was for nothing. That said, the depth of that worry is very telling. Klune made me care about each of the carefully crafted characters and the thought of something awful happening to any of them horrified me.

This book is an exploration of what happens when kindness wins over fear. Each character is different in their own unique way ranging from what brings them joy to the people they choose to love. Klune believes that “it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.” The House in the Cerulean Sea does this in a tasteful and whimsical way that emphasizes that it’s the heart that matters most.

Recommendations

The House in the Cerulean Sea is written using simple straightforward language which makes its message easy to grasp and understand. There’s no layers of complexity or multiple storylines to track. We follow Linus from beginning to end and watch as the kindness and uniqueness of those living at the Marsyas Island Orphanage changes him and his observations of the world. There’s no violence, foul language, or intimate situations. While there is a sweet very slow burning romance threaded through the story, it’s secondary to the story’s focus on caring and learning more about these magical children.

I’d recommend this for middle school students and up.

I give The House in the Cerulean Sea 5/5 stars for being charming, well voiced, and an important message that the world needs.


Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of the House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

After about a million (no, not really. I wish!) of you told me that I had to read this book, I finally snatched it up last week and consumed it whole. I might have mentioned before how much I like books that excel at beautiful language, where the images and ideas are presented in beautiful metaphor, this one scratches that itch, and then some.

The Story

Addie LaRue didn’t want to get married. She wanted to be free. On the evening of her marriage, she runs into the woods to plead to the gods to save her from her fate. But, Addie breaks the rules, and as the day sinks into night, she is still praying – and the god of darkness answers.

The price of her freedom? Everyone she encounters forgets she exists when they part company. She can’t leave any mark of her existence with her own hands. Each pencil stroke fades before a sentence can be written. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s also cursed to live forever until she agrees to surrender her soul to the night god.

It all changes when she meets Henry 300 years later – and he remembers.

My Review

First, this story is not only beautiful, but it’s also fascinating. The reader jumps to key places in the time line as we watch both the present and the past unfold. The present showing the reader who Addie has become over her long life, and the past to show us how she got there.

So when we hit that moment where someone remembers her after so much hardship and trial, it’s so incredibly meaningful. But, like in all stories, there is a catch. The god of the night hasn’t made a mistake when he allowed the two of them to meet.

I think the most interesting part of this book is Addie’s need to leave her mark and how she’s figured out how to do it through the art and music of other people. She’s learned that she can influence creative minds to capture her ideas and make them into reality. She lives through them and because she’s fated to live as long as she wishes, she can see what happens to this art.

As with all wonderful books, this one has a lesson at its heart. It encourages the reader to do the most they can with the life they’ve been given.

Recommendations

While the Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is both transportive and beautiful, it’s also definitely an adult read and the highschoolers they let play. There’s mild elements of danger, mild swearing, and plenty of adults in adult relationships. The story is also nonlinear which makes it a more complicated read and sometimes the different pieces don’t come together immediately. What this means for some is that it will read slow for a while as all the different pieces start to come together.

But, it’s a whole different kind of magical, and I loved it.

I give The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue 5/5 stars


Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of the Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez

Every year I try to read at least one book that’s considered a literary masterpiece. Anything that ended up as an Oprah’s Book Club pick as well as a author that won a Nobel Prize should have been a magical choice. It’s true, there are lots of fascinating things going on in this book, but the story itself is actually kind of messed up.

There are some books that aren’t meant to be taken literally, and this is one of them. Woven through the pages are extensive symbolism and metaphor layered over metaphor which when peeled back and examined are quite insightful. But, I personally struggled to resonate with any of the characters or situations.

The Story

As told by an omniscient narrator in a nonlinear fashion, Love in the Time of Cholera follows the lives of Florentino Ariza and the woman he falls into unbreakable love with, Fermina Daza, and also to some extent, the man Fermina ends up marrying, Dr. Juvenal Urbino.

Throughout the course of the book we get to see Florentino’s obsession with Fermina and how it plots the course of his life. It determines where he lives, what jobs he takes, and how he interacts with other people. Because he feels fated to not love anyone else, he never enters into relationships with other women for love, but only to satisfy the pleasures of the flesh as he waits for Dr. Urbino to die.

Fifty years and 622 affairs later, the fated day comes when Dr. Urbino does indeed die. Florentino, now an old man, seeks his prize of Fermina’s hand and heart, only for her to brutally reject him. Undeterred, he writes her letter after letter while she’s grieving the loss of her husband. Finally, the two come together and take a journey by boat that they intend to stay on forever.

If you are looking for metaphor, look at the title. Love in the Time of Cholera. While yes, the actual disease of cholera is running amok in the background of the story, often leaving piles of bodies that our main characters witness, the book actually makes the argument that love itself is a disease that people are infected with. At one point it says that the symptoms of unrequited love are the same as cholera. Florentino is one sick, sad man.

My Review

I really do try hard to find things that are either interesting or entertaining in any book I read. Love in the Time of Cholera had plenty of lovely prose and description, layers of depth and symbolism, and a sense of otherworldliness. But, the story itself, being a 60 year failed love story, didn’t scratch any of my literary itches.

The style of writing makes the story itself hard to follow. The chapters and scenes jump around the timeline with no clear reason to the order in which things are told. As I was listening to the book, I might have missed textual clues that might have helped here. As it was, I was never confident what time period the characters were in, and as such, it made it impossible to gain any sense of rising tension or maintain a solid conflict to solve.

And … I continually struggled to remember who was who when it came to the characters of Florentino and Dr. Urbino. They both had a love for Fermina, but they had wildly different attitudes and tastes, so half the time I kept thinking one was the other and being really confused.

My Recommendations

Some people love this book and rate it among their top 10 reads of all time. Many people like me became frustrated with the lack of a clear conflict and storyline. Should you want to try reading it, I recommend not to use the audiobook version if possible, and to also read a brief synopsis beforehand. Trust me, there are no surprises in the book to spoil, so you’ll be able to enjoy the writing more by having a better idea of the structure from the start.

As this is a literary book, and technically magical realism although I fail to really see it, it’s intended for adult readers. There are plenty of adult situations, complex story lines, and frank discussions of casual sex. For all you working toward your degrees in literature, there is plenty to unpack in there so from an academic standpoint, you could do worse.

But, if you are reading to simply enjoy a nice book, I’d go elsewhere.

I rate Love in the Time of Cholera 2/5 stars for failing to have a satisfying conclusion, lacking compelling conflict, and being hard to follow.


Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of Love in the Time of Cholera today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this article and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

TV Review: The Dragon Prince, Season 2

Today, we move boldly into season 2 of The Dragon Prince and continue the story. If you missed the review for season 1, it can be found here.

My expectations for season 2 were higher than I’d normally give to most shows. Season 1 nailed all of the critical elements to create a perfect opening into a long form story, we learn the essential relevant history of the world, we are introduced to our key players, and we discover what forces are at work. In season 2, it needed to dig deeper into the motivations of the characters, learn their weaknesses, and watch them try and then fail to meet their goal.

And it totally does.

The Story

We end season 1 with the dragon egg hatching, which gave us a little closure as well as changing up the challenges going forward. In season 2 we see three distinct groups at work; Viren, the advisor to the assassinated king who has taken control of the Kingdom and wants nothing more than to eradicate the elves once and for all; the elves who want payback for what the humans have destroyed; and our heroes who are caught in-between as they work to restore the now baby dragon to it’s mother.

Season 2 gives us a more in-depth view of why Viren is trying so hard to vanquish the last of the elves by sharing the story of what really happened when they ended up killing the Dragon king. Like many antagonists, he believes that his actions were justified for the good of the people. In this case, he needed a powerful magical ingredient from the heart of a Xadia magma titan to bring an end to the drought and provide food for two starving kingdoms. To succeed in his quest to vanquish the elves, he needs the support of all five kingdoms to agree to go to war – and they won’t give it to him. He turns to more dark magic to force their hands.

Meanwhile, Callum hasn’t told Ezran that his father, the king, is dead and struggles to find the right way to do it without breaking Ezran’s heart. They continue their quest of taking the baby dragon back to its mother, knowing now that it’s more important than ever to heal the rift between elves and humans. When Ezran learns of his father’s death through other means, he feels compelled to return home.

We end season 2 with Ezran being crowned king and taking on a responsibility that he knows he’s not ready for.

My Review

Season 1 excelled in building the frame of the story and giving us just enough to want to know more. Season 2 charged ahead in filling out that story and gave even more emotional depth to the many conflicts that weave themselves together. Every character has a significant challenge they they are working to overcome and all of these challenges work together in a way that makes the story that much greater as we see the successes and failures start adding up.

Season 2 also dives deeper into the contrast between dark magic, which is stolen magic that is practiced by humans, and the natural magic of the elves who can pull power from their assigned nexus. We see this in Viren’s growing desperation to gain the power and support he needs from the five kingdoms by cooperating by a mysterious mirror artifact. We also see this in Callum’s efforts to access natural magic, even though as a human it should be impossible for him.

There is quite a lot of drama in this season, and all of it fits beautifully into the story to amp up the tension and make things that much more compelling, which I love. When this is done right, it’s amazing. When it’s done wrong, it feels artificial and forced.

Dragon Prince totally does it right.

Recommentations

There’s so many good things going on in Dragon Prince that there is something for every fantasy lover out there ranging from danger and adventure, to the political intrigues and quests for power. My only warning is for those sensitive to the idea of dark magic and subversion, Viren does dabble in quite a bit of it during season 2 and doesn’t let up going forward.

I give The Dragon Prince, Season 2 5/5 for maintaining it’s awesomeness.


Thank you for joining me as I reviewed Dragon Prince, season 2 today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

TV Review: Dragon Prince, Season 1

Looking back, I did something a little weird. I reviewed season 3 of Dragon Prince all by itself instead of posting the different seasons in order. Seeing as we might be getting close to the release of season 4, which is slated for the end of eternity, erm, in 2021, it’s a great time to remedy that.

If you’ve been following along, I do have a soft spot for 2D animation films created to showcase art and story. This is true with my fascination with Castlevania as well as the Studio Ghibli universe. It’s no surprise that Dragon Prince is among my favorites.

Callum and Ezran

The Story

As with all opening seasons, there is the expected setting up of all the different forces at work. We see this done masterfully here in the first season of Dragon Prince. The world is essentially divided into two groups, the humans and the elves. The humans, believing they were protecting their world, destroyed the dragon king and his egg which earned them the elves as an enemy.

In retaliation, elven assassins hunt down the human king responsible for the dragon king’s death. What they don’t know is that the dragon egg was not destroyed, but stolen by the human king’s advisor.

All of this big story leads us to focus on the two most important characters, the human king’s son, Ezran, and Rayla, the elven assassin who has a change of heart when she learns that the egg hasn’t been destroyed. Together, along with Ezran’s older half brother, Callum, they vow to return the egg back to the Dragon queen.

Along their journey they encounter all manner of obstacles and difficulties, both in the form of monsters in the world and also from hunters from the kingdom trying to rescue the crown prince Ezran from Rayla, who they believe has abducted him.

With the death of the king and the prince missing, the kingdom falls into the hands of the king’s advisor, Viren, a powerful sorcerer who uses dark magic. While his intentions have always been good, his methods are questionable at best. With each turn, he digs himself deeper into a hole that will bring the kingdom to ruin.

Rayla and Lujanne

My Review

This show has everything I love in a story. Noble characters, dark and light magic pitted against each other, plenty of humor, and some adorable friendships/relationships. It also has amazing art design, great music, and awesome dialogue.

Honestly, if I were to pick one thing about this show that I didn’t like, it would be that they chose to give Rayla a very distinct Scottish flavored accent. It took a few episodes to get used to it, but after that it felt like it totally worked.

There’s also two different sibling relationships that are beautifully contrasted against each other. One is between Ezran and his half brother Callum which is supportive and playful. The other is between Soren and Claudia which is fraught with issues caused by having a dark sorcerer as their father. Soren, who is as naïve as they come, wants to be an amazing knight of the realm and Claudia, who inherited her father’s intellect and magical talent, wants to please her father.

My Recommendations

My eight-year-old loved all of this show, even the parts that I thought would be too intense and scary. Yes, the plot is fairly intricate and yes there is plenty of tension and also yes, there is the use of dark magic which involves sacrifice of living things to make work, but beyond that, there are hundreds of examples of people making the right choices even though they are hard. I count that as a win.\

I rate Dragon Prince, Season 1 5/5 stars for being all around awesome.


Thank you for joining me as I reviewed Dragon Prince, season 1 today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: Folded Notes From High School by Matt Boren

I picked up this quick read off of a recommendation and for the life of me I can’t remember exactly where … I’m thinking it was a writing group and we might have been talking about character voices. No, this isn’t a fantasy book. It’s an epistolary novel, meaning that the entirety of the prose is composed of letters, or in this case, folded notes. There are zero magical elements, mythical characters, or even speculative circumstances.

Sometimes it’s good to branch out… And sometimes, not so much. There were lots of good things in here but there were also things that made me a little nuts.

The Story

Tara considers herself practically perfect. She’s the best actress, on the cheerleading squad, and, like, super smart. She’s got a really good BFF who’s a bit more down to earth named Stephanie. Her big goal for her senior year is to score the lead in the school play, Grease. In the mean time, she also tries to give advice to a new freshman, Matt because her jock boyfriend thought it was a good idea.

The remainder of the story consists of Tara not getting what she wants, then lying to herself and the world that someone or something is plotting against her. She refuses to take responsibility for anything that happens and has no problem blaming what happens to her on literally anyone who has hurt her in the past. We see her impact on her friends as they write each other notes.

As we reach the end of Tara’s senior year, we see her desperation to get what she wants pushes her to take some fairly drastic actions.

The book blurb says it all, “Tara Maureen Murphy is any high school’s worst nightmare, bringing single-minded ambition, narcissism, manipulation, and jealousy to new extremes.”

My Review

To be fair, the writing itself was well voiced and I had no problem believing that this was High School in 1991. In fact, it was so close to my high school experience with bullies and brats, that it was almost uncomfortable to read.

If you’re going to write a story where the main character is meant to be a manipulative narcissist, then you have to have that character earn a surprising but inevitable fate. I wanted Tara to come out of this story having learned the error of her ways and grow as a person, instead of digging deeper into her self delusion.

In this story, we do see Tara get a small comeuppance from Matt who she played emotional ping pong with going from loving to hating to loving again depending on which of them scored roles in the school’s plays. Tara is really a jerk to Matt, who is portrayed as a sweet but not stupid kid who refuses to play her games. When he finally caught her in a massive lie that hurt him and his friends, he “accidentally” let hundreds of incriminating pictures blow across the neighborhood.

But, that’s the only karma she gets – which felt kinda lame.

My Recommendations

Folded Notes from High School contains miles of teenage angst and hormones. As such, there are more than a few oblique references to intimate situations, but no depictions there of. Trigger warning: The point of the book is to show how one girl emotionally manipulates everyone in her path, so those who have experienced this type of manipulation might want to avoid reading. There is some course language, but no violence.

For readers 14 and up.

I rate this story 3/5 stars for failing to have a rewarding arc for any of the characters.


Thank you for joining me as I reviewed Folded Notes from High School today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill

When it comes to book recommendations, I always take them with a grain of salt. What might be magical and wonderful for one, might be lame and boring for another. So, when someone recommended The Girl Who Drank The Moon, I was hesitatingly hopeful.

And, it was wonderful. Sweet, yet profound. Childlike, yet complex. After the year I’ve had, my heart wasn’t quite prepared for it.

The Story

There is a witch in the woods and she demands a sacrifice of a baby every year or bad things will happen. Or, at least that’s what the people living in the Protectorate have been led to believe. They are only half right. There is a witch in the woods, but she is the embodiement of love and selflessness. Every year she collects these abandoned babies to prevent them from a more gruesome fate and every year she feeds them starlight until they shine before she finds them loving families on the other side of the forest.

Then, one day, she feeds one of these babies moonlight which gives them incredible magic. Xan, the witch, can’t stand the thought of giving this particular baby away and instead chooses to raise the baby as its grandmother. Back in the protectorate, the mother of this child is so grief stricken that she goes quite mad and is taken into the Tower to be tended to by the benevolent sisters. She has magic as well, although in her mental state can’t quite understand what it is or what she can do with it.

Meanwhile, there is a boy, Antain, who is destined to be a part of the Council of Elders in the Protectorate, except he really would rather not. He was there the day that the child was taken. He watched the mother as she climbed into the rafters to keep her baby safe only to have it stolen from her anyway. The sight haunted him so much that when he grew older, he feels compelled to visit with the mother, if only to make sure she’s being well cared for. What Antain doesn’t know, is that there are darker forces at work that feed on the sorrow of the protectorate and it is those forces that demand the sacrifice.

As the child, Luna, grows, it’s clear that she has too much magic and too little understanding to use it safely. Xan is forced to lock the magic away until Luna turns thirteen and is old enough to learn how to use her magic for good. This comes with a terrible consequence, Xan starts to fade away and her own magic begins to dry up.

The story sweeps into a climax when Luna approaches her thirteenth year at the same time that Antain and his wife realize that their own child will be the one sacrificed to the witch. Antain vows to kill the witch, none other than the kind Xan, to save his child. The mad woman, also drawn to her child’s magic, escapes the tower to go find her. None of them are prepared to face the real villain, the one who has kept the Protectorate in sorrow, who is coming right on their heels.

My Review

I know I’ve said this before, but I adore a story with lovely language. The Girl who Drank the Moon uses language in a way that’s both poetic yet simple enough to be accessible to all readers. The story itself is the same, while there are multiple story lines to follow, there’s never any question about what’s going on and why. Each point of view character has their own unique voice, and it’s very clear what the stakes are.

What I loved the most was that since the reader understands what’s happening so well, when all the pieces start falling together, there is a huge emotional rollercoaster of worrying about what might happen and how hard it will be for all the characters involved. When you can get behind a story enough that you start worrying for the characters, that’s when you know that you are well and truly immersed.

My Recommendations

For those of you who light a lighter fantasy with lots (I mean lots!) of heart and just a slight hint of dystopia, The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a great choice. There is no offensive language or any inkling of intimate situations, and while there is some peril, there aren’t depictions of violence. I’d recommend it for all readers ages 12 and up, and also younger readers who are okay with keeping track of multiple storylines.

I rate this book 5/5 stars for being lovely, well balanced, and made me feel all the feels.


Thank you for joining me as I reviewed The Girl Who Drank The Moon today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: A Sending of Dragons by Jane Yolen

We’ve reached the third in what I believed was the final book in the Pit Dragon Chronicles trilogy. As it turns out, there’s a bonus fourth book in the series that came out twenty-two years after A Sending of Dragons was released. I might have to go pick it up. As the final book in a set, I have certain expectations about the main character reaching their destiny.

The Story

We left Jakkin and Akki fleeing into the mountains and finding a unique way to survive the deadly cold of Dark After which included sleeping inside the empty egg chamber of Jakkin’s beloved first dragon, Heart’s Blood, who was fatally injured in the escape from the explosion of Rokk Major. By doing so, both Jakkin and Akki gained the ability to communicate the same way dragons do as well as no longer being susceptible to the the cold of Dark After.

They are still being hunted and while hiding from the search helicopters they run across a cave system that leads deep inside a mountain. There, they meet new dragons and a strange group of humans who have survived outside the reach of civilization long enough that they’ve developed a number of strange traditions that both shock and confuse Jakkin and Akki.

Several of these traditions revolve around the dragons, such as a mother dragon being sacrificed at the birth of each human baby. Naturally, both Jakkin and Akki are shocked and appalled at this and struggle to make these strange people see the error in their ways. Their meddling is not well received and Jakkin and Akki must escape before they are caught and killed.

My Review

The expectation for the end of a trilogy is for the main character to achieve some sort of triumph that feels both surprising but inevitable. This book doesn’t do that. In fact, it leaves plenty of room for more to happen in the future which explains why another book was written. The other thing this book does is expose the readers to a new world and new people, something that I’ve seen many longer book series do to keep things interesting.

I was happy that A Sending of Dragons swayed away from all the political maneuvering that the previous book dove into so heavily, as I much prefer there to be more adventure and far less scheming between large faceless groups. There is still the presence of the Federation looking for Jakkin and Akki, but here it only serves to push our main characters toward their unforeseen goal.

Jakkin should have had some great triumph here as well, and while he did gain dragon like traits, there could have been so much more to show that he’d grown into himself and become the man he was supposed to be. Even without that, it’s still a fascinating read as we are shown the manner how dragons communicate and watch Jakkin and Akki learn how to do it as well.

Recommendations

When it comes down to it, this is still a really entertaining read, and stays true to the world and characters created so far. There is plenty of adventure and peril to keep the reading compelling. The scene where they sacrifice dragons does get a little gory and graphic, albeit in the same level of intensity of similar scenes depicting violence and dragon fighting. In all, the book stays balanced in it’s intensity levels to the previous two.

I give A Sending of Dragons 4/5 for not giving Jakkin a triumph at the end, but otherwise an excellent read.


Thank you for joining me as I reviewed A Sending of Dragons today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: Heart’s Blood by Jane Yolen

We continue on our quest in returning to the books that made my childhood special. Last week we covered Jane Yolen’s Dragon’s Blood, the first of the Pit Dragon Chronicles and this week we dive straight into it’s sequel, Heart’s Blood.

As this is the middle book in a three book series, there has to be a major change that transforms the main character from how he started and gives a hint of where he might be going. Heart’s Blood does precisely this.

The Story

Jakkin ended Dragon’s Blood by becoming a master, meaning that he has his own dragon that he uses in dragon fights. He’s still paying off his debt to Sarkkhan and is allowed to use the training facility at his nursery to train his dragon Heart’s Blood. Meanwhile, there are politics afoot. There is a movement to make Austar a Federation planet instead of a Protectorate, which would mean that dragon fighting, the center pillar in their economy, would be outlawed.

Akki, Jakkin’s love interest who left at the end of book one, gets herself involved in this political movement in all the worst ways. Different forces at play use Akki to force Jakkin’s newfound status as a winning dragon trainer to help them with their plans.

All the while, Heart’s Blood lays a clutch of eggs and five hatch. Jakkin bonds with these dragons and starts to train them to fight as well. His confidence leads to disaster as one of these dragons is hamstrung and sent to the Stews to become food. Jakkin vows to never let something like that happen again.

Meanwhile, both Federation goons and the rebels are putting plans in action to push their respective agendas forward. Jakkin is finally reunited with Akki and given a task to deliver a package, or else.

The package blows up the biggest pit on the planet Rokk Major. Jakkin and Akki have been framed and both flee to the mountains with their dragons. If they can survive the deadly Dark After, a period of night where the temperatures drops to a deadly cold, then they might just make their escape.

My Review

I love dragons, interesting characters, adventure, and great worlds. I don’t love politics or government forces at work that crush the little people under their thumbs because they can. So, I have mixed feelings about this book. The parts that I liked, I really liked. There was plenty of action, adventure, and danger to keep things super interesting.

But, the secondary plot revolves around Senator Golden working toward his goal of making Austar a Federation planet in order to grant them the rights and protection that a Federation planet deserves against the rebels who want the planet to stay exactly as it is, thank you very much. They’ve gained wealth and prestige from dragon fighting. If the fighting is banned, they’d be reduced to nothing.

Jakkin should be on the rebels side because he’s very much part of the dragon fighting community, but it gets all twisty because of Akki who thinks that the fighting is barbaric and there has to be a better way.

That said, it’s still an entertaining read.

Recommendations

The violence and peril ramp up here as the different factions come into play against each other. There’s bombs, a murder, and lots more dragon fighting, as well as dragons dying. If you struggled with the intensity level of the first, you might want to stop there. That said, in all other regards the story is still very clean and super entertaining.

It’s a perfect read for boys and fantasy lovers ages 12 and up.

I rate Heart’s Blood 4/5 for being a great read but had some politics that I personally don’t enjoy.


Thank you for joining me as I reviewed Heart’s Blood Blood today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.