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26. The Accidental Highwayman - an audiobook review

Tripp, Ben. 2014. The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides. New York: Tor Teen.


Can I tell you how much I like this book?  I reviewed it several months ago for AudioFile Magazine and could hardly wait until they published my review so that I could freely blog about my affinity for it!  Although "swashbuckling" is the term I've seen most often in reviews of The Accidental Highwayman, I would characterize it as a mix of daring deeds and derring-do, of historical fiction and magical conviction.  You can read my official review here, I listened to the audio version, but would guess that the printed copy is equally enjoyable.

To summarize:

Amidst a grim 18th century English setting arises the accidental highwayman, Whistling Jack.  Teenager Kit Bristol makes the unlikely yet unavoidable transformation from circus performer to manservant to famous highwayman tasked with the rescue of a mysterious princess from an enchanted coach.  Narrator Steve West employs the English "standard accent" for his presentation of the gallant robber.  He delivers non-stop action and suspense while maintaining an air of wise contemplation suited to this retrospective narrative of daring deeds from a magical past.

This is the first in an expected series. Judging from the effort expended on the series' official website, http://kitbristol.com , they knew right out of the gate that this one would be popular!  Enjoy the goofy trailer (there are two more on the site).

 

Note:
As a fledgling ukulele player myself, I love that Ben Tripp plays the ukulele in this trailer.

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27. A LIterary Apprecitation of Dragons 2015 – Part 4 of 4

Far too soon, we've come to the end of the Third Annual Bugs and Bunnies Literary Appreciation of Dragons Series. Anyone needing some backstory, or a refresher, can click on the link in the first sentence and get caught up quite nicely. But don't forget to come back here to catch this last literary dragon post for the 2015 series.

Drawing courtesy of Chez Wheedleton's resident Dragon Expert: Lovely Girl

So far, we've read our way through three Fridays of dragon book fun:



and



And for today's post, we've got something really fun:

Drawing Dragons

That's right! We here at Bugs and Bunnies were delighted to find this little collection of books, so we could learn how to draw the dragons we love to read about! We hope you enjoy them, too:



1-2-3 Draw: Knights, Castles, and Dragons: A step by step guide
By Freddie Levin
Ages 5 - 10

This one is great for the beginner level artists out there. It starts with a list of very basic tools you will need - all things you probably already have around the house. The book is separated into several sections, starting with drawing basic shapes. As you move through the book, these basic shapes are used to guide you through drawing a variety of medieval-type things, starting with a basic person, and moving through to specific ones (king, queen, prince, princess). There are sections for drawing castles, heraldry, knights, and of course dragons. And there are other sections, too, each related to knights, castles, and dragons, plus an index.



How to Draw Dragons (Drawing Fantasy Art)
By Jim Hansen and John Burns
Ages 9 and up

This one is great for those who want to both learn a little about dragons as well as draw them. The Introduction section explains the equipment you may want to have on hand before you begin. (Some of the supplies listed are more advanced equipment, but you will still be able to use this book with just the basics - pencil, paper, eraser.) Then there's a short lesson on Perspective. And then there's the instruction, separated into types: Western Dragon, Eastern Dragon, and North American Dragon. The book also contains a glossary of art-related terms, as well as a section on suggestions for further reading. The instructions start basic and work up to the details fairly quickly, so this book will be most helpful to those who already have a good base of drawing skills.

 
Draw! Medieval Fantasies: A Step by Step Guide
By Damon J. Reinagle
Ages 8 - 14

This one starts with a list of basic drawing tools, and a few "Common Sense Drawing Rules" to get you started. It is for those who are a little more advanced in drawing skill, yet still starts with Basic Shapes, then moves on to sections showing you steps for how to draw Rods and Joints, Dragons, Castles, and Heroes and Villains. Then there is a section on adding Textures and Patterns to your drawings, and finally, one on Putting It All Together.



Ralph Masiello's Dragon Drawing Book: Become an artist step-by-step
By Ralph Masiello
Ages 8 - 12

As with the others, this one also starts with a section on the drawing tools you may want to use. It is also for those who know a little about drawing already. There are step-by-step instructions for drawing eleven different types of dragons, from all over the world. For each dragon, you'll be shown one detailed step at a time, using just the drawings to guide you - no text instructions. You can easily tell which is the new line to add for each step, because it is shown in red.

Once you've been guided in drawing the dragon, the next page for each one shows what the fully-complete drawing could look like, with all color and pattern added, as well as some information about the type of dragon you just drew, and hints for how to create the patterns you see in the finished drawing example. At the end, you'll find a section on Resources for you to learn even more about dragons, as well as a Pronunciation Guide, so you'll know how to pronounce the names of the dragons you've just learned how to draw.


* * *

And so, we've reached the end of our series for this year. We hope you enjoyed this Third Annual Bugs and Bunnies Literary Appreciation of Dragons Series as much as we did, and we hope you'll come back again next year to celebrate a whole new bunch of fabulous dragon books with us!

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28. 10 Editorial Steps From the Agent “Call” to Published Book

I am ever so excited to hand the reins over to the fabulous Martina Boone, author of Compulsion, book 1 in the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy. There’s a few reasons for this. First, if you don’t know Martina, well, she’s brilliant. Not only is she an uber talented author with a head full of writerly advice which she dispenses at her blog, she is also a very compassionate and supportive friend who is always thinking about how to help other succeed. I love that.

Second, having her here gives me a chance to gush about her YA debut, Compulsion. You might remember how Becca recently blogged about her favorite reads of 2014. Well, GUESS what book tops my own 2014 list?  You bet your bananas it’s Martina’s Compulsion. There is SO MUCH I want to say about this book, but I really should zip it for now so Martina can give us a rare window into what happens between signing with an agent and holding the beloved book in your hands.

martina booneThe Ten Editorial Steps From the Agent “Call” to Published Book

Like most writers, I’ve dreamed of “being a writer” most of my life, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I decided to throw everything I had at learning to write and getting an agent and getting published. At that point, I read all the books and blog posts that might help me get “there,” and I found so much material that a friend and I started AdventuresInYAPublishing.com to collate all that information and share it with other writers.

Once I signed with an agent, though, I felt like I’d suddenly plunged into an information void. Even with COMPULSION out in the world and PERSUASION well on its way, I still constantly feel like an idiot pestering busy people with questions, or keeping the questions to myself because I’m too embarrassed to ask them.

When we’re starting out as writers, we rarely look beyond the process of getting an agent. That hurdle on its own seems so huge, but truly, it’s just the beginning of the editorial journey our books will take. No, wait. Don’t groan. That’s a GOOD thing, because once your book is out in the world, readers and reviewers are going to pick apart every choice you made. They’ll love them or they’ll hate them, but in your mind, you’ll need to be able to defend those choices knowing exactly why you made them.

After the agent call, here are ten more editorial steps your book will take:

Revising with Your Agent: Even after you’ve polished your manuscript enough to snag an agent, that agent will probably do a round or two of revision with you before sending your book out to editors on submission.

On Sub: While you’re revising, your agent is making lists of editors and putting together a submission packet that will contain the pitch as well as any supporting information that will help “sell” your book to an editor and acquisition panel. The pitch has its genesis in your query letter, and you may find that big chunks of your query eventually end up on your book jacket. You and your agent will probably work on the pitch together before submitting to the editors most likely to love your book.

The Offer: Before you get an offer, your editor may speak to you and share any editorial vision he or she has for your book or query you about follow-on ideas. Both the dollar amount and the supporting information the editor provides will tell you whether they see the book as a mid-list or lead title and how important it will be for their “list.”

EditorialLetter The Editorial Letter: Usually even before your agent and the publisher’s legal department have finalized the contract and the check for the first third of your advance is in the mail, your editor is busy reading your book and preparing the overview what’s needed to bring it to full potential. An editorial letter can range from a couple pages to many pages addressing the manuscript’s strengths and areas for improvement. You may go through one or several rounds of developmental edits.

edits The Line Edit: Once the structure is in place, your editor will go through the manuscript line by line, looking for ways to strengthen the writing, clarify meaning, make images more specific, eliminate cliches and writing ticks, eliminate wordiness, etc.

The Pass for Press: Your editor will review the line edits once you turn them in and she or he will “accept” the manuscript. That’s the trigger for releasing the second third of your advance payment. At this stage, if not before, the book goes to the production department, which schedules out the production process. The book designer starts developing how the interior pages will look, and the cover designer has probably already been working on the exterior jacket in the meantime.

The Copy Edit: The managing editor will turn the book over to a copyeditor. This may be someone in house, or an outside freelancer. It may occur in track changes in Word, or as physical marks on paper. The copyeditor will correct any grammar issues, check for continuity, clarity, and consistency, and pose any queries on facts, timeline, etc. for you in the margins. When you get the Copy Edited Manuscript (CEM) back to review, it’s usually due to your editor very quickly. As I’ve learned the hard way, you need to make sure that this isn’t the first time you see your manuscript printed out on paper, because it will read very differently than it does on your computer screen. CEMs are not the place to make a ton of changes, but they’re a better place to make changes than any point further in the process.

Galleys/ARCs: Once your manuscript is copyedited, it will be changed from an electronic Word file into a typeset file within the publisher’s design program, where it is printed out into page proofs for further editorial scrutiny and distribution to reviewers, booksellers, and power readers—people who can help spread the word about and build excitement for your book. Depending on the publisher and the timeline, you may get to review the proofs before Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) are printed and bound, or you may see the ARCs first and get a few copies for yourself at the same time that they are prepared to go out for review. Don’t fret either way, ARCs are expected to contain errors.

1st Pass Pages: When you get the proofs of the typeset pages, it’s your first chance to see what your book will really look like, how the fonts look, how the paragraphs flow on the page, and how the pages and chapters lay out. You’ll also review for remaining typos and any inadvertent errors introduced when the file and edits were keyed in. Making changes at this stage is expensive, especially if they change pagination. If you make too many changes, your publisher could charge you for the expense, so you’re looking only for things that *must* be changed or corrected.

2nd Pass Pages: Whatever changes were made in the first pass will be reflected in the second pass, but your publisher may not send 2nd PPs to you. At this stage, your job on the manuscript is essentially done, and it’s a surreal feeling to know that there’s nothing more that you can do.

At this point, all of you—your agent, editor, production team, art department, marketing, sales, and publicity team, everyone at your publisher—have done their best, and it’s time to to turn the book over to your readers.

Getting a book to print is truly a gargantuan effort, and it’s a leap of faith and love on everyone’s part. The process is not for the faint-hearted, and there are times when I wanted to crawl in a hole and weep with the pressure and the stress and the sense that I couldn’t possibly make the book good enough. The first letter I received from a reader reminded me of why we do this though—because it was a letter very much like one I would have liked to have written to my favorite author about a beloved book. And hearing that my characters, world, and words have meant that much to someone is an amazing and energizing feeling.

(We often think that hardest part is writing the book, but this post shows how much more still needs to be done after the yes. And then there’s marketing, promoting…as Martina says, not for the faint-hearted. But the product of ALL that hard work? Right here. Trust me, you NEED this book! ~ A)

CompulsionThree plantations. Two gifts. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who somehow seems to know what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Walmart | Target | Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

The truth? I devoured this book. You ever wish a fictional world was a real place, and its characters living, breathing people that you could sit with and talk to? That’s the effect this book had on me. I loved Barrie and Eight, the push and pull of their personalities, and most of all, the love and loyalty they have for family. Watson Island felt as real and authentic to me as my own backyard. Reading this book was an experience in the truest sense. I loved discovering how magic compulsions, curses and feuds played out between the three families, and the secrets and danger that ties them all together.

A GIVEAWAY? HECK YES!

I feel utterly COMPELLED to make sure others experience this book, so Becca and I will be giving an ebook copy away to one commenter!

Please, do check this book out, and add it to your Goodreads listI can’t recommend it enough. You can find Martina all over the place, so reach out and say hello:

Martina’s Website | Blog | Tumblr | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter

Questions about the Publishing Journey? Fan of Compulsion like me? Tell us all about it in the comments!

 

The post 10 Editorial Steps From the Agent “Call” to Published Book appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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29. Review: What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund

I read this after listening the fabulous Bookrageous Podcast which read and discussed the book for their book club and then interviewed the author. It is a fascinating look at what is happening inside our minds when we read. The author, Peter Mendelsund, is a book designer for Knopf in the US but also has […]

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30. Carter Finally Gets It Audiobook Review

Title: Carter Finally Gets It Author: Brent Crawford Narrated by: Nick Podehl Publisher: Brilliance Audio Publication Date: April 7, 2009 I listened to this as part of Sync's audio summer promotion (yeah, it took me awhile to get to it). But it was pretty damn funny. Carter is a freshman with ADD and a stutter, especially around girls. He, like just about any other 14 year old, thinks about

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31. Book Review- Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Title:  Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
Author:  Rick Riordan
Series:   Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Published:  May 2005 by Miramax,  May 2006 by Miramax
Length:  377 pages
Source: bought and library
Other info: Many other series such as The Heroes of Olympus and the Kane Chronicles have stemmed off. There was a film adaptation of The Lightning Thief.
Summary :  Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends -- one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena -- Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

Review: Percy Jackson is a mostly normal child. Yes, he has trouble concentrating and keeps getting thrown out of schools but mostly, he's ok. Until, on this school trip, it looks like he'll get thrown out because his maths teacher wants to kill him. And he vaporises her with a sword. More things happen, and Percy ends up at Camp Half Blood, with satyrs, demigods, and a centaur of a Latin teacher. And a quest. Because Zeus is angry. And things get better from there.
I love this series from the bottom of my heart. I read it first when I was eight or nine, maybe? I don't know, but I wanted a book and I asked my dad for recommendations in Waterstones and he picked this off the shelves and I fell in love with it when I read the chapter titles. Add the fact that I already had a love of Greek mythology and you can see how this is going to work out.
I reread this because my reading aim for 2015 is to work my way through all of Rick Riordan's demigod series and this is the first one.
The world of this is wonderful. The Gods are alive and kicking and operating out of the USA, doing what they've always done in a more modern way. This "what they've always done" includes having children with mortals, thus necessitating Camp Half Blood, a safe place to train and live without fear of monsters.
The characters  are well fleshed out and great to read about. The new takes on mythology are genius, especially when you notice the clever ways little things are updated'. You just fall in love with all the characters- Percy for his determination to keep trying, Grover for his determination to keep trying, Annabeth for her cleverness and levelheadedness, Chiron for his general badassery of being both a centaur and a Latin teacher...the list goes on.
They adventure in such a way that we meet a variety of creatures from Greek myth. I must say, when I first read it, I felt so proud of myself for being to guess ahead as to who this threat was, and I also enjoyed learning about new aspects of mythology too.
The writing describes well, but has a huge dose of humour. Case in point: chapter titles. But I loved the sheer amount of fun that this book was, comparatively speaking to everything else I was reading.
The  plot keeps running in new direction throughout the whole novel. The twists at the end where we learn how the thing got in, I  did not see coming the first time I read it. It was foreshadowed so perfectly and the way it all came round made me happy.


Overall:  Strength 5 tea to  a strong opening to a brilliant series.


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32. A Literary Appreciation of Dragons 2015 – Part 3 of 4

Another Friday in January, another post in the Third Annual Bugs and Bunnies Literary Appreciation of Dragons series. (Not sure what this is? Click on the link in the previous sentence, and that will get you up to speed quite nicely. Then come back here to continue the book-ish dragon fun.)

Drawing courtesy of Chez Wheedleton's resident Dragon Expert: Lovely Girl

Back now? Great! Let's get to it:

If you've been here for the last two posts, you'll recall that we've added a new component to this year's festivities: Themes! And if you're new to Bugs and Bunnies? Well, now you know. The theme thing is new.

So far, we've had fun with two themes:

Dragon Fact, Dragon Fable – with dragon books that are informational in nature


and

Chinese Dragon Tales – with dragon books rooted in Chinese culture, with Chinese dragons


For this week, we present:

Other Dragon Tales

These dragon stories involve a variety of world cultures - Egyptian, Viking, English, and one that's unspecified but seems American. Enjoy!



The Dragon and the Thief
Written by Gillian Bradshaw
Ages 9 and up

Prahotep was born backward, with his eyes wide open. The people of his small Egyptian village took that to mean he was frowned upon by the gods. And it seemed to be so, for this son of a fisherman was no good at fishing. 

When one day a crocodile attacks Prahotep's father, his dying wish is for Prahotep to leave his small village near the Nile river, and try to find something he is good at. So Prahotep travels to Thebes. But his attempts at learning new trades there goes no better, and he finds himself labeled with a new name: Bad Luck. Finally, there is only one trade left for him to attempt – theft. When even that doesn't go well, he begins to think the gods really do frown on him. 

And then, Prahotep stumbles into the cave of Hathor, the last of what was believed to be an extinct line of dragons. Her discovery by others will mean her death. Could this be the destiny Prahotep has sought for so long? Could he be the one who can save the last Egyptian dragon?




Dragon Stew
Written by Steve Smallman
Illustrations by Lee Wildish
Ages 5 and up

Five bored Vikings are looking for an adventure. But they don't want to do the same old things. Battle? Nothing new. Shark fishing? Nope. Wresting a bear...in their underwear? Been there, done that!

And then, Loggi Longsocks comes up with one last idea: Catch a dragon, and make a dragon stew! To that, the other Vikings say, "Now, that's something new!" And the adventure begins...




The Reluctant Dragon
Written by Kenneth Grahame
Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard
Ages 7 - and up

Long ago, there lived a shepherd, his wife, and their small son. One day, the father came across a dragon living in a cave outside the village, and he was beside himself with fear. But the boy, who read lots and lots of books and knew about these things, was less upset. "It's all right, father. Don't you worry. It's only a dragon."

And then, the boy befriended the dragon, and soon convinced his parents the situation was not as dire as all that. The dragon was rather cultured and quite mild-mannered. But when word spread, as word is wont to do, the villagers were not so serene. And they sent for St. George, slayer of dragons. 

The boy sees only one way to save his friend. And it involves convincing the whole town – and a dragon slayer  – to not slay a dragon. But, how?



The Best Pet of All
Written by David LaRochelle
Illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama
Ages 3 - 5

This is the story of a boy who wants a dog for a pet. But each time he asks his mom for a dog, she refuses.

Then one day, the boy decides to ask for something new. He asks for a dragon for a pet. And this time, his mom says, "If you can find a dragon, you can keep it for a pet." 

So he finds a dragon. But a dragon does not make a good pet. And when the boy's mom tells the dragon to leave, it refuses.

The boy has an idea how to get the dragon out of the house, though. And it involves a dog...


* * *

And that's that for this week. We hope you enjoyed Part 3 of 4 of the Third Annual Bugs and Bunnies Literary Appreciation of Dragons. Please join us again next Friday, for Part 4 of 4, when we present dragon books that will satisfy those who like to do more than just read about dragons...





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33. Book Review: The Bubble Wrap Boy by Phil Earle

Title:  The Bubble Wrap Boy
The Bubble Wrap Boy by Phil Earle review at Death, Books, and Tea
Author:   Phil Earle
Series:    N/A
Published:   1 May 2014 by Penguin
Length:   272 pages
Source: library
Other info: Earle has also written Heroic, Being Billy, and Saving Daisy
Summary :  All my life I've been tiny Charlie from the Chinese Chippie, whose only friend is Sinus, the kid who stares at walls. But I believe that everyone's good at something. I've just got to work out what my something is...
Charlie's found his secret talent: skateboarding. It's his one-way ticket to popularity. All he's got to do is practice, and nothing's going to stop him - not his clumsiness, not his overprotective mum, nothing. Except Charlie isn't the only one in his family hiding a massive secret, and his next discovery will change everything. How do you stay on the board when your world is turned upside down?

Review: Charlie Han is the boy from the Chinese takaway shop, with an overprotective mother and only one friend, Sinus. He plans to find the one thing that will improve his reputation and make his life better, and then he finds it. Skateboarding. However, due to said overprotective mother, he needs to keep his new hobby a secret. One day, he answers the phone to find another member of the family also has a huge secret. These secrets may bring them all together or tear them apart.
I didn’t know what to expect from this really, other than a chinese main character (bringing my total of memorable chinese main characters I’ve read up to four :D) and great things (mainly due to Jim).
It starts off really lighthearted, with a lot of comedy stemming from Charlie’s huge clumsiness and the freidnship that Sinus and Charlie have.  The characters are well developed. Sinus by the end also has secrets and it’s pretty awesome when they come out.  Charlie’s mother is highly overprotective,  but luckily it’s not part of being an overbering non-academic tiger mother; instead, there’s a very good reason and once we learn that reason we see a new side to her and understand her more.
I really liked the fact that family plays a huge part in theis novel. I was not expecting it to be that emotional but the revelation of the secret and all the interactions following made me smile and ugh I can’t describe the happiness from some of the scenes and the sadness from some others and  you just need to read it.
I’d call it a coming of age story because of some of the themese carried through it: the learning ot become more open  with your family, the wanting to make a new identity, the dealing with a major upheaval for the first time in one’s life.
It’s an open ending, which I didn’t like for this because I felt it ended too soon. I’d have liked to know more about Charlie’s mother’s reaction, and the aftermath within the school. However,   Charlie’s costume at the end. Perfect.

Strength 4 tea aka 4 stars at Death, Books, and Tea

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a mostly funny, but also serious,  coming of age book.




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34. Becca’s Favorite Reads of 2014

For some unfathomable reason, my library keeps no list of the books I’ve checked out—which is really annoying when I want to reference a book in a blog post or refer a good read to someone else and I CANNOT REMEMBER THE TITLE. So I have to keep my own records. Goodreads is my preferred site for this, since my READ (past tense) list not only keeps track of the books I’ve finished, it also includes the date and my rating.

I love Goodreads. If I was Oprah, I’d give it away as one of My Favorite Things. *cue shrieking*

So now that another year has passed, I’d like to share my favorite books of 2014— ’cause when I find an excellent story, I want to give it some love. Maybe some of these will tickle your fancy. Here they are, in no particular order:

Title and Author: The Real Boy, Anne Ursu
Genre: Fantasy
Synopsis:
On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city that was saved by the magic woven into its walls from a devastating plague that swept through the world over a hundred years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow. Oscar spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master’s shop, grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.

But it’s been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.

Why I Loved It: Anne Ursu is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors due to her impressive world building and her ability to turn a unique phrase. I also had no idea that this story was a fairy tale retelling until I was halfway through the book. The story is complex and engaging enough to stand on its own.

 

Title and Author: Clariel, Garth Nix
Genre: Fantasy
Synopsis:
Award-winning author Garth Nix returns to the Old Kingdom with a thrilling prequel complete with dark magic, royalty, dangerous action, a strong heroine, and flawless world-building. This epic fantasy adventure is destined to be a classic, and is perfect for fans of Game of Thrones.

Clariel is the daughter of one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most important, to the King. She dreams of living a simple life but discovers this is hard to achieve when a dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer, and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she finds hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage, and save the King?

Why I Loved It: I’m a huge Garth Nix fan. HUGE. His Abhorsen trilogy is one that I look back on as forming my early ideas as an author. His world building is second to none. So when I heard that he’d written a prequel for this series, I was super excited and also more than a little nervous, believing it couldn’t live up to the rest of the series. Thank goodness I was wrong.

 

Title and Author: Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Laini Taylor
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Synopsis of the First Book in the Series (Daughter of Smoke and Bone):
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Why I Loved It: Angels and demons, a celestial war, an urban fantasy partially set in the fascinating Prague…what’s not to love?

 

Title and Author: If You Find Me, Emily Murdoch
Genre: Contemporary
Synopsis:
A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother has disappeared for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go . . . a dark past that hides many secrets, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

Why I Loved It: This one grabbed me with the premise: an isolated teenager raised in the woods who’s forced to assimilate into modern-day society. What kept me reading was the achingly real and empathetic main character.

 

Title and Author: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fantasy
Synopsis:
In this Newbery Medal-winning novel, Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he’s the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians’ time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him.

Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are being such as ghouls that aren’t really one thing or the other.

Why I Loved It: Um, it’s Neil Gaiman?

 

Title and Author: The Sea of Tranquility, Katja Millay
Genre: Contemporary
Synopsis:
I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk. 

Two and a half years after an unspeakable tragedy left her a shadow of the girl she once was, Nastya Kashnikov moves to a new town determined to keep her dark past hidden and hold everyone at a distance. But her plans only last so long before she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the one person as isolated as herself: Josh Bennett.

Josh’s story is no secret. Every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space. Everyone except Nastya who won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But as the undeniable pull between them intensifies, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the mira­cle of second chances.

Why I Loved It: The main character was utterly unique and intensely flawed. And what started as a possible love triangle turned into something unpredictable, which was a refreshing change. Also, it has possibly the BEST ENDING LINE OF A NOVEL EVER.

So those are my top picks for 2014. What about you? Care to share which books you loved and why?

The post Becca’s Favorite Reads of 2014 appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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35. The Prince of Venice Beach Book Review

Title: The Prince of Venice Beach Author: Blake Nelson Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication Date: June 3, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-0316230483 240 pp. ARC provided by publisher Robert "Cali" Callahan is a street kid. He ran away from a foster home in Nebraska when he was 14 and headed for sunny California. Now he's 17 and he spends his days surfing, skateboarding, and playing

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36. A Literary Appreciation of Dragons 2015 – Part 2 of 4

Here we are, with the second of four posts for the Third Annual Bugs and Bunnies Literary Appreciation of Dragons!

Drawing courtesy of Chez Wheedleton's resident Dragon Expert: Lovely Girl


Regular readers – or at least those who follow this particular series here on Bugs and Bunnies – already know what's what. For those who are new: click on the link up there in the very first sentence of this post, and you'll find all kinds of information that will catch you up quite nicely. Then come on back here to continue the dragon-y fun.

Last week, our theme was Dragon Fact, Dragon Fable. This week's theme is:


Chinese Dragon Tales

It's a little round-up of four picture books focused on stories rooted in Chinese culture, with Chinese dragons:



The Paper Dragon, by Marguerite W. Davol
Illustrated by Robert Sabuda
Ages 5 - 8
* Summary courtesy of Chez Wheedleton's own Lovely Girl

Humble artist Mi Fei spends most of his time painting scenes of the glorious past on paper scrolls. The people of his village love to admire his epic portraits of gods, festivals, heroes, and great deeds. When news arrives one day that Sui Jen, the great dragon of Lung Mountain, has woken from his hundred years' sleep and is rampaging through the country, the villagers are sure that Mi Fei has enough knowledge of ancient heroes to save the day. But Mi Fei is just a simple artist! Can he live up to his village's expectations and convince the mighty dragon to sleep once more?



The Boy Who Painted Dragons
Written and Illustrated by Demi
Ages 7 - 10
* Summary courtesy of Chez Wheedleton's own Lovely Girl

 Ping paints dragons everywhere - on the walls, columns, doors, windows, tables, and chairs, and all over the ceiling and floors. All of the other children are in awe of his skill, but none of them know Ping's secret: he is terrified of dragons. No matter how many he paints, he still is unable to get over his fear. When the mighty Heavenly Dragon catches a glimpse of his art and decides to pay Ping a visit, the boy artist is in for a big shock... 


Chopsticks
Written and Illustrated by Jon Berkeley
Ages 4 - 8

Chopsticks is a small gray mouse, living on a floating restaurant in a busy harbor on the island of Hong Kong. The restaurant's entrance is flanked by two huge pillars, each of which has coiled around it a magnificent carved wooden dragon. One night – New Year's night, Chopsticks is going about his usual business of foraging for crumbs, when one of the dragons of the pillars speaks to him, and asks him for help with something very important. But how can one small mouse help a dragon made of wood and lacquer to realize his most cherished dream: to be free, so he can fly?


Dragon Dancing
Written by Carole Lexa Schaefer
Illustrated by Pierr Morgan
Ages 3 and up

A class of students listen to their teacher read a book about dragons. And then, during art class, when it's time to decorate for Mei Lin's birthday, the sparkly paper and ribbons give the kids a great idea. And very soon, a sparkle-headed Birthday Dragon is off exploring imaginary lands, far, far away...at least until they hear their teacher calling.


* * *

And so we've come to the end of Part 2 of 4 of the Third Annual Bugs and Bunnies Literary Appreciation of Dragons. Be sure to come back next Friday, for Part 3 of 4, when we'll explore some more dragon tales...


 

 

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37. Review Tour: Stefan by V.A. Dold

Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.


About the Book

El is a beautiful, successful, plus sized woman suffering a debilitating humiliation that has left her hating all handsome, wealthy men exactly like Stefan Le Beau. Unfortunately for Le Beau, she’s known him since she was sixteen and was totally snubbed by him. To her, he’s a hound dog and a man-whore.

Stefan is a playboy to the extreme with one hard and fast rule: date a woman only once, take her to bed, and be gone before morning. Until El.

Stefan’s dream of finding his mate comes true when he bids two hundred thousand dollars to win a date with El at Simon’s charity ball. Money well spent in his opinion.

Now, if she would only talk to him. Or look at him. Or touch him, or…like him.

Can Stefan convince El he's a reformed man?

Can El learn to trust a man who is the epitome of what she avoids and could shatter her heart?

It will require drastic, strategic measures from the entire family to make this mating happen.

Buy the Book

AMAZON

Other books in the Le Beau Brothers Series


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4 stars

Here's why:

Stefan is the most intense book in the Le Beau so far. Learning El's trauma and watching her emotional journey as she tries to figure out what Stefan means to her and for her. El is a spunky, honest character and I truly enjoyed reading about her and Stefan.

Stefan was an interesting character unto himself because his "perceived image" and the "real man" were very far apart. Yet when it is time to fight for his woman, he's top notch in my book.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, absolutely! I am firmly on the Le Beau love train.

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38. Tabula Rasa by Kristin Lippert-Martin

Egmont, 2014

Sarah is in a the Center, head clamped into a halo, waiting for the drilling to begin.  She knows is all part of the process for her and others in the hospital suffering from PTSD.  She takes her meds like she's supposed to, until one day an orderly hands her a note that reads:

"Take one pill at a time, at 24-hour intervals.
24 hours exactly.
Remain still after taking."

And the chain of events to fight and survive begin....

Sarah doesn't know her past very well because they are being erased one at a time to ease her PTSD...or is that what's happening?  The Center is creating a tabula rasa experience by slowing taking all things Sarah may have known through interactions and previous knowledge and giving her a completely blank slate.  A new start in life.  She was happy with this decision, but the truth about what the Center is truly about begins to crumble and her past life and memories they are trying so hard to erase is coming back, making connections...

At first she only knows bits and pieces, but slowly she realizes why there are people slowly hunting her down, who will stop at nothing to see her dead.  As the bullets fly and the people she knows dies, Sarah runs for her life straight into a stranger named Thomas, who has his own reason for being part of the Center's takedown.  Their relationship is tentative at first, not knowing who to trust or why each one should but when the walls surrounded their mysteries come down, doubt is replaced by trust and a bond that grows stronger between the two.

Together, Sarah and Thomas make a formidable team against the adults tracking their every move through stealth and state-of-the-art devices.  With Sarah's strength and daring paired with Thomas's finesse with computer hacking, both prepare for the battle ahead.  They meet both friends and strangers who become enemies or allies, which only adds to the fury that burns in Sarah when she finds out what that initial first cryptic message really means.  But can she survive an army of mercenaries with the help of one?

New YA author Kristin Lippert-Martin write a story filled with action, plot, motive and deceit. Readers will instantly get drawn into the chaos fighting alongside the characters while the plot will keep them on the edge of their seats, waiting for more of the truth to be revealed.  This book will attract readers who love high intensity situations.  Think of movies like Mission Impossible or Taken and that is the mood Lippert creates through words and what mental images come to the readers mind.  This is one considered an ultimate page-turner!  Recommended upper JH/HS




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39. Kishaz Reading Corner: Simon by V.A. Dold

Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.


About the Book

Four years of honorably serving his country has left Simon, Cade’s  younger brother, damaged and trapped in wolf form. Little did he know the only person with the ability to heal him completely would be found at home. Literally. Now that he’s found her, he is desperate to claim her.

Rose is a beautiful, voluptuous woman with limited experience with men. Although she's confident, she still has reservations. Never having a family of her own, her fear of abandonment has her fleeing romantic relationships, and doubting herself.

Travis is insane. A deadly loose cannon that a secret organization hired to destroy the Le Beau family by denying them their mates. Permanently.

Simon’s dream will be lost forever unless he is able to maintain human form.

Rose needs unconditional love and a mate to create the family she’s always wanted.

Travis’s all-consuming drive is to take Rose for himself.

Will Simon ever be whole again, able to claim his mate, giving Rose the love and family she so desperately craves? Or will Travis destroy them both? 

Buy the Book

AMAZON


Other books in the Le Beau Brothers Series


Book #1

Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4 stars

Here's why:

Dold's writing keeps getting better and better. I liked the first book Cade in this series and I absolutely loved this book. Dold's characters jump off the page and feel real. You struggle, laugh, cry and experience every other emotion along with them.

What I like a lot about this one is that even though Rose didn't have the greatest past, she was able to work through her issues to help her reach a happy place in her life.

You really feel for Simon who not online suffered because of his empathy but also for those who have served in the military.

Would I recommend this book? Yes I would. I'm getting hooked on this series and can't wait for the next one.

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40. Book Review of The Fault in our Stars by John Green

With each passing page I read in this book, the lump in my throat got bigger and bigger. The Fault in our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars is a book I feel privileged to have read and would whole-heartedly recommend for everyone to read.

There’s nothing inherently new about the tale being told here. Boy meets girl and falls in love with girl who falls in love with boy despite some very challenging circumstances. Where this book differs from most books out there trying to tell the same story is the way the author – John Green – beautifully captures the voice of the main protagonist, Hazel Grace and makes us FEEL every single high and low moment she suffers as a normal teenage girl but diagnosed with terminal cancer. Augustus Waters a.k.a. Gus, is the very charming and attractive gentleman who captures Hazel’s heart. Gus’s passion for life is very contagious and it fills every page. I have to say there was a very, very important moment in Amsterdam that really took me by surprise and I had to go back to reread the previous pages. It almost slid under my radar but it was a MOMENT and I feel like the author could have made that moment more impactful as it changed everything. Readers of the book will know what I’m talking about. Maybe it’s just me but that moment deserved more bells and whistles… in my humble opinion.

You will find many laugh out loud moments plus quite a few ‘Oh No!’ moments as you read this book. There are many positive and inspiring messages to be found here. I think it’s a celebration of life and a celebration of love. I’ll give myself a few months before watching the movie as I’m not yet ready to have Hollywood dilute the experience.

A MUST-READ! Please do grab a copy today. 

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41. Review: The Martini Shot by George Pelecanos

This is George Pelecanos’s first collection of short stories and once again demonstrates his consummate class, not just as a crime writer, but a writer. The title piece is the longest of the collection but Pelecanos saves it for last. The preceding stories are a blend of what makes Pelecanos great. Stories about the street, […]

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42. Review: Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty

Sometimes a recurring crime character is brought back and the story feels forced or the attempt feels lame. But then there are those rare times when, despite the series being over, the character comes back and exceeds what has been done before. And that is exactly what Adrian McKinty has done with Sean Duffy. In […]

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43. There Will Come a Time Book Review

Title: There Will Come a Time Author: Carrie Arcos Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication Date: April 15, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-1442495852 320 pp. ARC provided by publisher Carrie Arcos has written a quiet, sensitive novel about a quiet, sensitive protagonist. Mark is a gifted musician who lost his twin sister in a car accident. It's bad enough losing Grace, but since he was driving the car when

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44. Review – An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

One of the most uncompromising, unflinching, page-turning books I have read in a long time. It is a harrowing story that forces you to confront and challenge many important issues; gender, poverty, race and class to list but a few. Mireille is visiting her Haitian parents in Port-au-Prince with her American husband and baby son […]

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45. Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This is an incredible exploration of grief, family and identity and the pressures of expectations that come from each. The book opens with a death, one that nobody else knows about yet, the death of Lydia Lee; middle child of Marilyn and James and sister to older brother Nathan and younger sister Hannah. Lydia’s death […]

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46. Free ebooks Review: Solstice by Jane Redd


Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or Swoon Reads for this honest review.



About the Book

Four ways to get Banished from the last surviving city on earth are: 1. Cut out your emotion tracker, 2. Join a religious cult, 3. Create a rebellion against the Legislature, 4. Fall in love.

Jezebel James does all four.

Jez is on the fast-track to becoming a brilliant scientist, with one goal—to save her city from total extinction. Her caretakers have entrusted her with a secret plan to stop the rain from flooding the rest of the earth and start civilization anew. But the more Jez learns about the price of a fresh beginning, the more she realizes that carrying out the plan will lead to few survivors, and among the dead will be those she cares about the most.

Read the Book


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 2.5 stars

Here's why:

I was asked to review this novel without compensation from author, Swoon Reads or anyone else.

When it comes to dystopian novels, it's been hit and miss for me. This one was the same. I didn't hate it or love it. It was okay.

My main problem came with the romance which I was disconnected from. It didn't feel real to me for either character and in some places it felt too forced. Reuben was interesting and I liked the places where he appeared. Also her roommate who did her best to try to break free of their controlled environment lightened up the spots where she came in.

The main character and her "love interest" didn't really pull me in. I wanted more, not sure what that "more" is but I would have liked to have it.


Would I recommend this book? To those who like to read dystopian, they will love this book.

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47. Book Reviews: Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell and Sleepless by Lou Morgan

So, Stripes Publishing have a little imprint called Red Eye where horror stories are being published. I don't read much horror, but I tend to enjoy what I do. Here's a review of the first two books out from Red Eye.

Title: Frozen Charlotte
Author: Alex Bell
Series:  Red Eye 
Published:  5 January 2015 by Red Eye/ Stripes
Length: 368
Source: Publisher
Review:Sophie is playing with her best friend when they recieve an ominous message through a Ouija board. A few days later, Sophie is sent to a schoolhouse to live wirh her cousins: Cameron, whose hand was badly burned, Piper, who seems perfect, Lilias, who's terrified of bones, and Rebecca, who has the dolls in the house. And is dead.
When I first heard of the Red Eye series that Andersen Press were bringing out, I was very excited. Because I enjoy horror and there should be more YA. Oh, and Lou Morgan (see me profess undying love for her adult series here). So, yes. A series with snazzy covers and different concepts. Yay!
Its quite predictable in some places-though in others, the twists were great. The level of interest fluctuation mirrors the level of creepiness fluctuating- while the dolls are definitely creepy in places. Lilias attitude and the things she does are brilliant, at times it seems a little too forced. What made it a lot scarier to me  is the  way the ideas got into the characters heads and took them over. The idea that you cant get away due to this being set on an isladn also helped.
I really liked Lilias. I'm not sure why  but she's the most memorable for me. Piper-oh my gosh yes. Sophie was a bit like the stereotypical teen horror film heroine and it worked well.
The supernatural elements are nicely contrasted with the real life elements  of grief and loss that added a bit more depth to the characters. Also, I liked the tie-ins to the history of the school.
The plot goes slow to start and speeds up towards the end. It's very easy to read and enjoy.


Overall: Strength 3 tea to a creepy story. Looking forwards to seeing what else RedEye puts out.
Links:Amazon| Author Website | Goodreads


 

Title:
 Sleepless
Author: Lou Morgan
Series:  Red Eye
Published:  5 January 2015 by Red Eye/Stripes
Length: 334 pages
Source: Publisher
Review: At Clerkenwell, you just dont fail. But with exams coming up, Izzy and her friends need to study. But Tigs has pills she bought off the internet, that claim to make you better at studying. They take it. And then start hallucinating. And then it all gets worse.
This is the book that  made me highly excited for the Red Eye series because of Blood and Feathers and the fact that horror was coming to the YA market hopefully more.  
The characters feel like stock tropes, especially Tigs. I didnt feel I could connect or get to like any of them, except Kara, because for going to a highly prestigious school, they must have understood the risks of taking a random pill and more than one of them should have had enough common sense to not take it (looking at you, Noah. I understand exam pressure, but really?)
The tension is built up really well in places. I liked the use of more relatable settings, bringing it most definitely to a contemporary setting, the Barbican in London (I cant think off the top of my head of any horror books/films that are set in the middle of a city; abandoned/far out settings come to mind more when thinking about horror settings ).
The endingerm, the last few paragraphs. Its ambiguous, and I think I get what happened, but the explanation  behind those last few paragraphs is unclear and I didnt really like it.
Like Frozen Charlotte, its scary levels went up and down. Some things again felt forced, especially some peoples *****s in the second half. But also, theres a section where they start getting very paranoid and I couldnt stop reading that bit.
Overall: Strength 3.5, slightly more a  4 tea to a book that was quick and easy, and sometimes scary, but not always.


Initial thoughts on the series: I was excited for both these novels. The quality of both in terms of scares and of  varies throughout, but were both quick, easy, and enjoyable reads. Coverwise, theyre brilliant. Im looking forwards to Flesh and Blood and Bad Bones, the Red Eyes coming in March and May. Finally,  in the hands of good directors, both these books would make excellent films. 

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48. The Dragon (Books) Are Returning...

The Third Annual Literary Appreciation of Dragon Series is most definitely on its way. Bit of a late start, as the first Friday in January has already whooshed past – dragonless. But there are still four Fridays left, and we here at Bugs and Bunnies have four Fridays' worth of deliciously dragon-y books we're excited to share with you!


If you're a regular reader here, you already know what's what. If you're new, clicking on the link up there in the first sentence of this post will take you to the main series page, where you can explore everything we've presented about dragon books so far, to your heart's content. And of course, regular readers are welcome to click, too, and reminisce.

Then, be sure to come back this Friday, January 9, 2105, for the first of four new posts full of fabulous dragon books. 

Until then, we'll leave you with this:

"We men dream dreams, we work magic, we do good, we do evil. The dragons do not dream. They are dreams. They do not work magic; it is their substance, their being. They do not do; they are."
                                         – Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore

 

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49. A Literary Appreciation of Dragons 2015 – Part 1 of 4

We're getting a bit of a late start for the Third Annual Bugs and Bunnies Literary Appreciation of Dragons, but let's not let that dampen our fun, shall we? Counting today, there are still four Fridays left for us to fill with fabulous books full of fantastic dragon stories of one sort or another.

Drawing courtesy of Chez Wheedleton's resident Dragon Expert: Lovely Girl


A Bit of Explanation, for those new to Bugs and Bunnies, or new to this series:

A Literary Appreciation of Dragons is a series where we feature books with some sort of dragon connection, with posts appearing each Friday in January. It began here at Bugs and Bunnies as part of our 2012 observance of Appreciate a Dragon Day - a holiday celebrated annually on January 16th. The day officially came into being ten years ago, courtesy of author Donita K. Paul, to celebrate the release of her novel, DragonSpell (Waterbrook Press, 2004). Want more details? Click on any of the links above for all kinds of dragony fun. When you've had your fill, come on back here, and we'll get started with this year's bookish dragon festivities.


And now, on to the literary dragon fun:

New for this year: Themes! (Not planned, but the books did seem to just fall into categories of their own accord. Weird, how that happens sometimes, isn't it?)

This week's theme:

Dragon Fact, Dragon Fable

All of today's books are informational in nature. All but one contain brief descriptions of various myths, legends or stories specific to various world cultures and histories. And that one that doesn't? Well, we'll save it for last. It's kind of in a category all its own:



Dragons (Monsters and Mythical Creatures)
By Carla Mooney
Ages 13 and up

Dragons is a well-researched, informative book presenting a wide variety of information, images and illustrations on everything to do with dragons. Five chapters cover the general similarities and differences dragons have across different cultures and mythologies, content specific to Western dragons and Eastern dragons, animals that may have inspired dragon myths, and dragon depiction within pop culture. There are also useful sections at the end, detailing the author's sources, a list of various media to consult for further exploration, a content index, and picture credits.



Dragons (Mythologies)
By John Malam
Ages 8 - 10

This beautifully illustrated Dragons book focuses on dragon myths and stories within various cultures. It covers information, myths and legends about dragons of Europe, the Middle East, China and Japan, and India. For each of these areas of the world, general information is presented about how dragons were depicted and described, as well as brief retellings of one or two myths or stories from those cultures. A helpful glossary and index are included at the end.



A Time of Golden Dragons
Written by Song Nan Zhang and Hao Yu Zhang
Illustrated by Song Nan Zhang
Ages 9 - 12

A Time of Golden Dragons traces the history and significance of dragons in Chinese culture, from their earliest beginnings up through today. The authors weave together history, culture, myth, art and storytelling to give the reader a clear, easy-to-understand narrative of the ways dragons are used, referred to, and depicted by the Chinese people.

There are sections on Where Dragons Come From, the difference between Eastern and Western dragons, dragons as a symbol of imperial power, Where Dragons Live, dragon references and their meanings within the Chinese language, the significance of dragons in Chinese festivals, dragon references and use in modern Chinese culture, and the dragon's part in the Chinese time measurement system. Each page is accompanied by colorful and detailed illustration to enhance understanding of the text.



The Complete Book of Dragons: A Guide to Dragon Species (How to Train Your Dragon)
Written and Illustrated by Cressida Cowell
Ages 8 - 12

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, reluctant hero of the How to Train Your Dragon series, against the wishes of his Viking Barbarian father, Stoick the Vast, Chief of the Hairy Hooligan Tribe, presents to the reader: The Complete Book of Dragons: A Guide to Dragon Species, which contains everything Hiccup has learned about dragons.

He includes sections on Dragon Anatomy, Nesting Sites, Dragon Eggs, Training Your Hunting or Lap Dragon, Dragon Riding, The Wilder Species, The Mighty Monsters, The Future of Dragons, and Know Your Dragons. Each section contains drawings, illustrations, typed information, and handwritten notes – some whole-page and some margin, and even a handy reference chart of dragon types and their respective characteristics. There is also a fold-out Map of the Barbaric Archipelago – the lands where Hiccup and the Hairy Hooligan Tribe and the dragons live and travel.

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And so, that's that for this week. We hope you haven't yet had your dragon fill, though. Come on back next week for Part 2 of 5, when we delve into books with dragon lore from one particular corner of the world...


 

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50. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Little Brown, 2015

Hazel, Ben and Jack have grown up together in the town of Fairfold, knowing it’s the most interesting on earth to live.  Tourists flock to this small town to see the main attraction in the middle of the forest, and sometimes they don’t come back.  The children have been brought up to know they should never act like tourists or they too, may disappear.  They keep iron and oatmeal in their pockets and don’t venture into the woods on a full moon.  They hang special herbs on their lintels and wear them in small bags around their necks.  They do this because Fairfold is a truly different, one where humans and faeries live side by side.  There is a reason the residents protect themselves from the faerie folk as well as the other magical and dangerous creatures of the forest that are from another realm.  And the main attraction?  A beautiful boy with horns, asleep in a glass casket that is unbreakable.

Hazel and Ben are brother and sister and when they were little, they played at being a knight who kills evil creatures and the boy who can sing them into submission.  As they grow older, their child play is forgotten and other people and attentions take over.  Now as teens, they go to parties where Hazel kisses the boys and Ben hangs out with his best friend Jack, who himself has an interesting past.

But things in Fairfold begin to unravel, especially when the boy with horns wakes up.  The morning after, Hazel wakes up knowing she had something to do with his awakening but keeps her secret hidden.  When Ben and Hazel decide to search for the beautiful boy with horns, Jack warns them not to, asking them to take heed of his warnings.  They decide to pursue the object of their fascination regardless, not knowing that this awakening has also roused a most terrible monster of the forest who will wreak havoc and destroy anyone who stands in its way.  There is only one solution, but can Hazel and Ben meet the challenge or will they be destroyed as well? 

 A popular sing-song rhyme all of the kids in town know goes like this:
There’s a monster in our wood. 
She’ll get you if you’re not good. 
Drag you under leaves and sticks. 
Punish you for all your tricks. 
A nest of hair and gnawed bone.
You are never, ever coming…
And the one thing they’ve learned is to never ever say the last word.  It’s too late now….


Readers can tell with this novel that Holly Black knows how to write fantasy.  From the setting to the characters to the thickening plot, Black puts her special spin on the story, weaving a beautiful type of lyric onto the pages.  She makes her characters real but has a gift of also making things other than human come to life.  The forest and town aren’t just places, but living and breathing entities, just like the characters.  The main characters in this novel are dynamic and so different from each other but yet maintain a triad that can’t be broken without breaking the storyline.  It wouldn’t work without the trio…those three characters belong together.  It’s been awhile since I’ve read urban fantasy, and am glad this is the book to take me back there again.  Fantasy readers will very much DEVOUR this book and be satisfied with an ending to the tale without hanging on the strings of a sequel (although the adventures could continue in a completely different realm).  HIGHLY recommended for upper junior high and high school.  Even better, it'll be published January 2015!

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