Posts Tagged ‘Dragons’

The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight

Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty (illustrator)
The Knight Who Wouldn't FightLeo the mouse isn’t like the other knights. While they like fighting, he’d rather read a book. Leo’s parents are keen to turn him into a proper knight, so they pack him off on a mission to tame a dragon. But Leo knows that books are mightier than swords, and he tames not just the dragon, but a troll and a griffin, too.

As a library assistant, one of my favourite things is getting my hands on the picture books before the children. I love having a quick read through before putting it out on the shelves and I adore seeing which books go out lots and become thoroughly loved by lots of different children. Thus, having a look through lots of different picture books, I have a good feeling about the ones that will go down well – but I’m also still only human and I mostly just think the ones I love will go down best, naturally.

That being said, The Knight That Wouldn’t Fight, is one of those books that I think children will really enjoy. One that they are probably going to ask their parents to read again and again because it’s a wonderful story. Full of rhyming words and a courageous mouse, it’s a story that I hope will capture the soul of many children throughout it’s lifetime.

And, of course, the best part – in my opinion – is that the Knight doesn’t fight but instead encourages the beasts he encounters to read. And I think that is absolutely wonderful. Because in this age where technology is running fast, it’s good to remind children that a good book is also good entertainment. Plus, it’s funny because the children are reading about reading!

It would be awful to finish this review without even mentioning the illustrations because they are central to this lovely picture book. They’re full of pastel colours that give off a friendly light, they’re full of minute details and tell they’re own story too – which is one of my favourite things about picture books in the first place. This is the kind of book that you could read simply by looking at the glorious illustrations.

All in all this is a beautiful book with a magnificent and educational story trapped inside. Well worth a read and one I think adults and children will definitely enjoy together and apart.

Reviewed by Faye

Publication Date: August 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Dragon, picture book
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Blog Tour: Soldier by Julia Kagawa

We are delighted to host the latest stop on the blog tour for Julia Kagawa‘s Soldier. Today she shares how a visit to London informed the setting of Soldier.
SOLDIER_Full layout.inddThe thrilling next story in the The Talon Saga, the incredible new YA fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa.
When forced to choose between the sinister Talon organisation and being hunted by her own kind, dragon-human hybrid Ember fled. Even if it meant losing Garret, the dragon-slaying soldier she shares a deep bond with.
Now Garret has uncovered secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragon-slayers alike. Can the danger reunite them?

In the spring of 2015, I visited London for the first time. Partly for a vacation, but partly because I knew the next book of the Talon series, Soldier, would prominently feature the city as the birthplace of the ancient Order of St. George. I fell in love with the city and, because I was looking for them, I began seeing the flags and symbols of St. George everywhere.

It was on signs, churches, bridges, and countless flags throughout the city. The red cross on the white shield. The symbol of England’s patron saint, and also the mark of Order of St. George. There was even a St. George’s Day that celebrated the famed knight. I was ecstatic. London was the ideal birthplace for the Order of St. George; everything fit together perfectly.

I returned home and eagerly began writing Soldier, knowing that Garret would soon walk the same streets I did, see the same sights. He would pass Big Ben, the Thames River, and the London Eye. He would be in the same neighborhoods, and notice the many symbols of the Order, just like me. It was a faintly surreal feeling, the knowledge that this character would soon follow my footsteps into the heart of a very real city, where an ancient order of knights might very well have lived for hundreds of years.

Though perhaps his first impressions were not quite as excited as mine…

‘I had arrived. In London. The Order’s largest and most influential territory. Though I’d been to the city only once, I could be sure of one thing: I would find no dragons here, or in any of the surrounding towns. St. George’s presence in the city was huge and obvious. The Order’s symbol, the red cross on a white shield, was everywhere throughout London, on signs and churches and building walls. Though St. George was the patron saint of England itself, and we shared his flag with the rest of the city, the message to Talon was very clear: no dragons allowed.’
-Garret in Soldier

Dragon London Bridge 2JULIE KAGAWA was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects and frequent hurricanes. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Fey series, the Talon series and the Immortal Rules trilogy.

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The Sweetest Dark

Shana Abe

the sweetest dark cover art“With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.”
Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heart full of secrets: she hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.
England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.
Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbours a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future and both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.
Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.

The first thing that drew my attention to The Sweetest Dark was the stunning cover. A beautiful girl in a gorgeous dress is a common occurrence in the YA book cover world. But in this incidence, it was the mysterious sweep of smoke, appearing to form the dress itself, which added an intriguing and original element to the cover, tempting me to investigate the synopsis.

While I found the earlier part of Lora’s life interesting, providing essential background to her strength of character and realism to the world building- how would society react to a sensitive child with an ambiguous past with unusual abilities and no social filter? -It wasn’t until Lora arrived at Iverson collage, with its impressive façade, secret passages, snobbish inhabitants and of course two very different, but equally compelling boys, that I truly got sucked in to the story.

Don’t be mistaken to believing that this is another frustrating love triangle to survive (I have complicated love-hate feelings toward s love triangles), there is no battle between “Team Jesse” and “Team Armand” to capture the fair maidens heart. It is very clear from the start where Lora’s affections lie. However, both Jesse, the golden haired, selfless, self assured and wise, groundskeeper, and snarky Lord Armand, who’s contrasting darkness isn’t only due to his hair color, have equally important roles to play in Lora’s acceptance of her true nature and her other than normal life.

I really enjoyed the early 20th century setting. Not only did the time period became even more significant as the story unfolded, but I also found it really interesting to explore the additional challenges a non-contemporary setting provided. Lora has to hide her unusual abilities and fledgling relationship from everyone while coming to terms with the life altering discovery of her true nature and she has to do so in an environment divided by social class and gender inequality, on the cusp of medical advances in psychiatry, while the ominous cloud of WWI provides an underlying tension.

Abe’s writing is beautiful. Lyrical prose and lush descriptions combined with the characters’ unique sensory perspective combine together to create an absorbing world. The romance was sweet and intense. While I will happily read steamy, descriptive adult scenes, I also love when an author has the ability wrap me so entirely within a romance, that they are able to induce exquisite, butterfly in stomach, heart racing tension from a simple brush of fingertips .

Verdict: Once caught in it’s clutches, I found myself racing through the pages of The Sweetest Dark and as soon as I had finished I found myself online investigating the sequel. Scheduled for publication in August, The Deepest Night is high up on my wish list.

Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: April 2013
Format: eARC
Pages: 352
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, WWI
Age: Young Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: Debut (YA)
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Rachel Hartman

seraphina hbFour decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift – one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Seraphina first captured my attention over a year ago while I was exploring Goodreads and compiling a list for our 2012 debut reading challenge. The unique woodcarving aesthetic of the cover (not pictured) hinted at the medieval world hidden within and the idea of dragons taking human form and living among us was immediately intriguing.

While I didn’t manage to include Seraphina in my 2012 reads, I was still curious enough to add Seraphina to my personal wish list. Recent award wins; increased media attention and the paperback publication pushed the book in to the forefront of my mind. So that when fellow UK blogger Raimy ( from Readaraptor) was reorganizing her bookcase, I jumped at the opportunity to rehome her hardback copy and endeavored to make it my next read.

Having been attracted to this book by the promise of the world building, I was delighted to discover a comprehensively constructed world. Without resorting to “information dumping”, pages of descriptions and explanations, Hartman was able to bestow The Kingdom of Gorred with it’s own monarchy, history, art, vernacular, belief systems and political and religious tensions.

The world building was so encompassing and felt so authentic, that in no time I was fully immersed in the story and had no difficulty suspending my disbelief and accepting that not only did huge fire breathing, head eating dragons exist, but that they are able to fold themselves in to human form, albeit uncomfortably, and walk around Hartman’s pseudo medieval world.

All of the characters, even seemingly minor ones were well thought out and three dimensional and I loved how Hartman challenged my expectations. A character I quickly and harshly labeled in my mind as vacuous and shallow, turned out to be a loyal friend with backbone of steel and innate poise.

I adored Seraphina. Although at times she is crippled by self-doubt and self-disgust, I admired her strength of character, intelligence and determination. Whatever muddle she finds herself in, by design or accident, whether she is filling in last minute at a concert or interrogating knights, she throws herself in to the task and gives 100%. It was a joy to follow her developing from socially awkward, self-loathing keeper of secrets to a confident and hopeful young woman.

The romantic element of Seraphina was beautifully done. While there is no doubting the connection between the characters there was no sign of the dreaded “insta love”, but rather a foundation of mutual respect and team work from which their relationship was allowed develop organically. Not that they don’t suffer from their own brand of angst. For one thing, Lucian is promised to someone else. For another, how do you reconcile a relationship between a girl whose very existence is protected by a veil of lies, and a boy who has pledged his life to the pursuit of truth.

I was completely enamored by the experience of reading Seraphina. I found myself in that wonderfully joyful situation of total absorption and enjoyment of a book while realising that I had over fifty percent to go. All too soon though, I’d raced through the pages and found myself staring at the final chapter. Sentimental fool that I am, I delayed reading the last few pages because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Gorred and it’s inhabitants.

Verdict: Reading Seraphina was an absolute pleasure. The countdown for the July release of Dracomachia begins.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Doubleday Children’s
Publication Date: July 2012
Format: Hardback
Pages: 384
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Gifted
Challenge: None
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