Monday, April 25, 2016

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede


Title: Dealing With Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1)
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings:  None
Premise: "Cimorene is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart - and bored. So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon - and finds the family and excitement she's been looking for" (
Opinions: This book was awesome. If you ever feel like the black sheep of the family and like everyone expects something of your life that you don't want, then you will find a soul sister in Cimorene. At first I thought she was just being strong-willed, like her parents assumed. I was wrong. She has an inner strength that I would love to have. I loved that she was willing to learn, willing to listen. She is full of spunk and personality, but is willing to seek advice when she doesn't understand something. I loved that she had a healthy respect for dragons and treated them with honor, as it was the smart thing to do, especially when ticking one off might cause death by flaming. The variety in personality/characteristics of the dragons was impressive and helped make the story come alive. Kazul was a very logical and realistic dragon and was a great match for Princess Cimorene. They're friendship strengthened each other. The humor or the story was fantastic. I admired the creativity of the world, the variety of mystical creatures, and environments. I highly recommend this book for all readers, young/old, male/female. I don't care who you are, this is a fun read and I'm excited to move into book two, Searching for Dragons.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

To read my review of the first book in this series, click here: Divergent


Title: Insurgent (Divergent #2)
Author: Veronica Roth
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: High Violence, Swearing, Intense Moments
Premise: "As war surges in the dystopian society around her, sixteen-year-old Divergent Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love" (King County Library System).
Opinions: I had mixed feelings about this story. Once I read the first book, I of course wanted to know what happened next. I was pleased to see that the plot was fascinating. At first I wasn't fond of where Tris' character arch was going, but I was glad to see her grow and how she chose to honor her parents.  I would recommend that parents read this book first to ensure that their particular children can handle the content. I was pleased to see a new level of connection between Tris & Four and that their relationship didn't automatically come easy. I liked Christine's return and the things she overcomes throughout Insurgent.

I did have serious difficulties with some of the more violent scenes, especially when Tris is given a Terror serum. It was more than I can handle, though I am sensitive and have an active imagination. Also, keep in mind I was listening to the story on CD in my car with young children in the back seat. I immediately turned it off, until I could finish it without them around. I was fascinated enough by the ending that I'm debating weather or not go ahead and find out the ending in Allegiant, or to call it at watching the movie. The jury is still out.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

 To read my reviews of the other books in the The Reckoners series, click here: Steelheart and Firefight.


Title: Calamity (The Reckoners #3)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Post Apocalyptic Fantasy?
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings:  Moderate Violence, Moderate Fake Swearing
Premise: "David prepares for a confrontation against the High Epic to help his friend, Prof, achieve redemption and embrace his destiny. When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David's fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy. Once the Reckoners’ leader, Prof has struggled to control his Epic powers, but has now embraced his Epic destiny. Everyone knows there’s no turning back... but everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back... or die trying" (King County Library System).
Opinions: This book, the whole series: FREAKIN' FANTSTIC. Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors, but he takes the cake with the completion of his The Reckoners series. To the end I loved David's ability to use and abuse bad metaphors. They, and his poor ability to drive anything, made him stand out as a very real person to me, and one of my all time favorite characters. I loved the growth of each character. The decisions they faced where incredibly difficult and yet The Reckoners put their faith in David and his in-depth research into the Epics, their abilities, their faults, and their downfalls. I was impressed by Megan to no end and her strength and courage as she worked to overcome her past. Plus, Sanderson's ability to weave a imaginative, colorful, and wholly believable post-Apocalyptic Earth was astounding; I could see it with every word on the page.  And better yet, the ending was highly satisfying in every way. If you want to read a series that covers faith, forgiveness, trust, growth, humor and evil Superheroes than you MUST read Calamity.

Friday, April 15, 2016

One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology


Title: One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology
Author: Various (edited by Lisa Mangum)
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings:  Mild Violence
Premise: "Unicorns, with their single ivory horn, are elusive and magical creatures of myth. Yet even more elusive are the purple unicorns. First sighted at the Superstars Writing Seminar, their legend has grown year after year until it could only be contained in this anthology. Nineteen storytellers, including Peter S. Beagle, Todd McCaffrey, and Jody Lynn Nye, as well as new and rising authors, invite us into worlds both near and far, across a desert oasis, a pet shop, a Comic-Con exhibition floor, and more, and show us the many variations of purple unicorns, from the imaginary to the actual—and one very memorable half-unicorn, half-potato. One Horn to Rule Them All is an unforgettable collection of imagination and creativity. So, saddle up, and take a ride beyond the rainbow" (GoodReads).
Opinions: Wow. If you want to see dragons in a whole new light from a variety of talented writers, then this book is perfect. This book has everything from a discussion at a bus station between two people wondering what the graffiti purple unicorn means, to a human detective solving mystical crimes with the feel of The Godfather, and even a rampaging purple unicorn turned into a potato. The imagination and creativity in this book is remarkable and showcases brilliant new authors on a shining stage. Then the book throws in stories by Todd McCaffrey (Dragons of Pern series), Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn) and Jody Lynn Nye (Mythology 101, Imperium, etc), editing by Lisa Mangum (the Hourglass Door series), and artwork by James A. Owen (Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica). It's perfect to read while waiting for your bus or at the doctors' office, or whenever you can sneak a peak.  Fair warning, The Last Dregs of Winter left me sobbing. . . and I was in the waiting room of a doctor's office. ;-)  So YES, I most definitely recommend this anthology. And, to top it off, the proceeds from its sales go to fund scholarships for other writers to learn the business side of writing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt


Title: 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models For Creating Original Characters
Author: Victoria Lynn Schmidt
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Non-Fiction, Writing Tips
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: References to some movies/books with more adult content or behavior
Premise: "Create unforgettable characters your readers will love!Want to make your characters and their stories more compelling, complex, and original than ever before? "45 Master Characters" is here to help you explore the most common male and female archetypes--the mythic, cross-cultural models from which all characters originate" (
Opinions: I purchased this book on the recommendation of another author. Best decision ever. This book has catapulted the complexity and quality of my writing by cavernous measures. I love the detailed explanation of why each of the Greek Gods' characters resonates with readers and what makes them so memorable. But what I found to be the greatest asset in this book is the comparison for each segment of the character's growth to well-known and loved books and movies that I would never have originally connected to someone from Greek mythology. I am a very visual learner, and to have the examples of how gender differences, or the hero/villainous aspects of a character's nature played out in stories I well know was beyond enlightening.  I also loved the ideas the author provided of how secondary characters can impact the main character changing their story line or growth. Now I have hundreds of ideas how to take my writing to the next level. If you are a storyteller in any way, shape or form, then I recommend you read this book and take copious notes.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale

To read our reviews of the other books in the Princess Academy trilogy click here: Princess Academy and Palace of Stone.


Title: The Forgotten Sisters (Princess Academy#3)
Author: Shannon Hale
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Miri's eager to return to her beloved Mount Eskel after a year at the capital, but the king and queen ask her to first journey to a distant swamp and start her own miniature princess academy for three royal cousins, but once there she must solve a mystery before she can return home" (King County Library System).
Opinions: Shannon Hale is on my top ten list of incredible authors. If it has her name on the cover then there is a 98% chance that I'm going to LOVE that book. Once again, she did not fail. Even though The Book of A Thousand Days is my all time favorite book of Shannon's, the Princess Academy series is my favorite series. She does a fabulous job of taking the struggles of young women that apply to today and put them in a fantastical realm that lets the reader's imagination sore. When I read this conclusion to the Princess Academy series I was down with a cold. This may be cheating, but I'm going to share what I posted on Facebook: "Today I have had the luxury of recovering from a cold while reading Shannon Hale's Princess Academy: Forgotten Sisters and I rolled over and looked out my bedroom window. The clouds were so low that I could no longer see the mountains just outside and suddenly I felt like Miri, missing MY mountains."

I love that Miri is one again handed a twisted goal that she must deal with in the hopes of bettering the lives of Mount Eskelites. She takes the challenge head on and then realizes that not all is as she was promised. I love the continuation of Miri & Pedre's relationship to see how it grows from a distance. I love Miri's growth and how she finds a greater strength inside herself. I love the strength of women portrayed in the book, even if they falter, once they realize the truth each and every woman stands strong in her own way. This entire series is one that I long to and will be proud to read to my daughter.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage

Sorry for the absence. I took the month of December off to recover from NaNoWriMo, help sick kids, and spend time with family. So be prepared for a load of updates over the next week as I finally type up the reviews on the page-turning books I read over the holidays.


Title: Fires of Invention (Mysteries of Cove #1)
Author: J. Scott Savage
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Steampunk
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime, and invention is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, who died in an explosion--an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the dangers of creativity. Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlike anything they've ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on--and quite possibly their very lives" (King County Library System).

Opinions: Steampunk Dragon. Need I say more. Well, yes, I probably do. J. Scott Savage has created a multi-level society living inside a mountain.  From page one I was drawn into the world by the laws the citizens of Cove lived by. I wanted to know why, and Trenton Colman was the perfect vessel to help reveal the details. Savage is a master at creating three dimensional characters that the reader can relate to. For example, Trenton is a skilled teen mechanic in a world where invention is considered evil. When he is beaten up by a girl then assigned to working on the farming level, Trenton is pretty sure is world is over. And yet, his world suddenly is filled with secret excursions to out of bound areas, budding relationships, and major character growth.

Trenton wasn't the only one who felt real to me, who I could connect with. I love his parents. There was true love that motivated each of the actions. Even if, at times, the presented a roadblock to Trenton's growth I could understand the whys and the love behind their actions. Then you get to Kallista. An girl orphan dressed as a boy, shunned by society, kick-butt steampunk gear and outfits, and has an incredibly sick secret workshop filled with brilliant tools and walls of books in a society where stories are forbidden. What isn't fascinating about that combo?

So basically: the characters were well developed and real, the plot was complex and intriguing, and the world...steampunk magical awesomeness. This is definitely a must read for kids, teens, young adults and adults. I, personally, cannot wait to read more.