Friday, April 21, 2017

THE SOUND OF DIAMONDS by Rachelle Rea Cobb | A Stunning Rogue Romance & Redemption Story

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★★★★☆
(4.5 stars)

Nay. Hatred would not bar my heart against pain. Hatred would only bar my heart against healing, redemption, love. ~Rachelle Rea Cobb, The Sound of Diamonds

I love a good rogue romance. Unfortunately, most of those romances I hold so dear rarely come true, so to put it (*coughs* I'm looking at you, Guy and Marian). But this... My dear friends, this was so good.

Gwyneth Barrington is on the path to becoming a nun. Living in a convent in Leiden, the Netherlands, she suffers from the memory of her parents' murders, and their promise for her happy future.

And then the assumed murder shows up, claiming that Leiden's convent is under attack, and he wishes to bring Gwyn to safety.

If only it were that simple.

I've been interested in The Sound of Diamonds for a while, now. That gorgeous title, that intriguing cover... As Prince Edward from Disney's Enchanted would say, what's not to like? So when a review opportunity came up, I pounced. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The first chapter begins with action and adventure. Gwyneth, a young, headstrong noblewoman. Dirk Godfrey, a redeemed rogue with a scandalous past. Two of Dirks closest friends, a strict nun, and a sweet postulant.

The characters -- One of my biggest pet peeves in religious romance novels (and probably the main reason I don't read more romance, period) is the helpless (and very beautiful) Mary Sue and the slightly flawed (yet still very handsome) Gary Stu. I love how Rachelle took these stereotypical characters and tossed them out the window. ๐Ÿ˜„

We have a feisty daughter of nobility (with glasses! *cheers*), a God-pursuing son of a lord and lady, and a cast full of fun characters.

My only complaints in regards to the cast were Cade and Ian, both of whom seemed very similar (though the latter got much less "screen time"); and the villain, who, though his reasons seemed comprehensible enough, felt like he needed a little more motivation.

The romance -- I'll start by saying that the side-romance (between a certain friend and postulant *winks*) was super sweet. There was what was possibly an implication of sorts later on in their relationship that seemed a bit out of place, but it was left open to interpretation.

But the main romance. Our hero and our heroine. (*smiles*) Even though I know the answers, I'm still tempted to scream at them, "What took you so long?!" ♥

The writing -- I've yet to experience a novel so wonderfully historically accurate, yet so well written at the same time. Never in my life have I heard of the Dutch Revolution, but Rachelle brought it to life in wonderful ways, with her little phrases in late-Renaissance Dutch and Spanish.

The setting -- I'm not big on description; in fact, if there's more than one sentence of description in a book, that's the part I usually skip. However, I did feel as if this area could've done with a tad more development.

The plot -- Fantasy lovers, take your favourite fantasy quest -- journeys across seas, through forests, to castles, you name it... Now apply it to a historical romance, with an emotional murder mystery along the way. (*nods*) Remarkable, isn't it?

So, yes, my dear friend -- go read The Sound of Diamonds! Even if you're not big on historical romance, go do it. You won't regret it. ☺

You may want to know: There is violence (murder included) and kissing, as well as a few slight implications.

NOTE: I received a free ebook copy of The Sound of Diamonds from the author, in exchange for my honest review.

Click here to read my Goodreads review.

❤, the Book Dragon

Saturday, March 18, 2017

ENJOY THE POODLE SKIRT by Kate Willis | A Delightful Little Short Story

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★★★★☆

Kate Willis's middle-grade short story, Enjoy the Poodle Skirt, is the tale of Canary and her siblings, who have gone to spend the week working at their newlywed aunt's vintage diner. But when an oddly titled map finds its way into Canary's hands, she is determined to find its owner... and solve the mystery that is at large.

My, what a fun, fast-paced, delightful little tale this was! It brought me back to summers in which my bestie and I would go to my grandfather's house and ride quads, practice archery, go jar "fishing," and, of course, eat ice cream! (Now I want to write a short story of my own... and wear a poodle skirt!) Four stars!

You may want to know: This book was completely clean, and seemed void of anything questionable. :)

Click here to read my Goodreads review.

❤, the Book Dragon

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

STORM SIREN by Mary Weber | A Bold New Fantasy

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★☆☆☆☆

Mary Weber's Storm Siren tells the story of Nym, a young slave girl with extraordinary powers... and a curse that can't be controlled.

I really wanted to like this. After reading so many glowing reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I ordered it from the library at once. And for the first few pages, it was wonderful... but then it got a little dry.

It was page forty or so when I finally decided to set Storm Siren down. One of the things I'd been counting on with this book was the setting, which is, for one, an extremely important aspect of a novel to me, and, secondly, what I believe defines high fantasy as high fantasy. But the world Storm Siren is set in felt too imaginary, and might've been more believable if there was a tad more description of the weather, the geography, the politics, etc.

The characters were another thing that bothered me. Nym was exciting and sassy for the first chapter or two, but as the story went on, it felt as if her personality had blown away like a dandelion in the wind. As Breck so delicately put it, Nym was, honestly, a little difficult in the area of comprehension. With so many fiery characters such as Nym, Breck, Adora, and Nym's former owners, I would like to have seen more personality diversity.

The writing in Storm Siren was really good, and I'm certain this book appeals to plenty. So, if your library has it, I recommend going ahead and giving Storm Siren a try. ☺

Click here to read my Goodreads review.

❤, the Book Dragon

FOR ELISE by Hayden Wand | A Delightfully Light-Hearted "Spook" Novella

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★★★★★
(4.5 stars)

When the narrator of For Elise buys a supposedly haunted mansion, he is disappointed to find it, well, lacking... at least in the sense of inspiration for his novel. But the tides turn when an invisible, Frank-Sinatra-loving grammar Nazi finds a red editor's pen and takes to revising and commenting on his work.

I adore Hayden Wand's books, and For Elise was certainly no exception! With a rich, classic prose, Hayden delivers a fun and light-hearted novella on relationships of all sorts. The characters were positively delightful, each with their own little quirks. Though I was unsure where the plot was headed, at first, the characters soon took me by the hand and pulled me into a mysterious, boundless world of friendship, love, romance, and redemption. Go and read For Elise -- you won't regret it!

You may want to know: There is some reference to drinking (and, possibly, getting drunk).

Click here to read my Goodreads review.

❤, the Book Dragon

Sunday, February 12, 2017

SUNLIGHT & SHADOW by Cameron Dokey | A Retelling of THE MAGIC FLUTE

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★☆☆☆☆

I hate not finishing a book, but I particularly hated to do it to this.

A retelling of The Magic Flute, Cameron Dokey's Sunlight & Shadow had so much potential. And as the story started out, I thought it might be a new favourite. But with each new chapter and each new point-of-view, my interest declined.

Sarastro was too dramatic. Lapin talked too much. There was quite the overdose of random, unnecessary backstory. Tern put too much faith in his heart. And then, there was Gayna.

Though Papagena is one of my favourite characters from Mozart's opera, the book-version of her was nasty. Seventy pages in and she hates Mina? For no apparent reason?

The thing that irked me the most about Sunlight & Shadow was just how seriously it took itself. The Magic Flute *is* a comedy, after all. Had there been less drama and whatnot, this could've been a remarkable story.

Click here to read my Goodreads review.

❤, the Book Dragon

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

ANTIGONE by Sophocles, Dudley Fitts, & Robert Fitzgerald | An Ancient Greek's Perspective on Loyalty

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★★★☆☆

Antigone's brother has died, and her uncle, King Creon, orders his body to be left to the wilderness, untouched by anyone. But when Antigone defies his orders and buries her brother, Creon is enraged... For should Antigone's highest loyalty be to her God? Or should it be to an earthly authority?

Antigone was a fascinating story, though I feel it might've been better performed rather than actually read. The writing style was supportive and direct, much like a traditional script. However, I didn't feel that much personality was added to the characters. Maybe another sign that Antigone was intended to be a play?

By the end, I was rather confused on what Sophocles's perspective was; did he believe one's highest loyalty should be to God, or to their king? Still, I did enjoy Antigone to a point, and it made for an enlightening read. ☺

You may want to know: There is violence, warfare, and murder, as well as several instances of suicide. There were also false idols (since this was written based on Greek mythology); there might've been a stray swear word or two.

Click here to read my Goodreads review.

❤, the Book Dragon

Friday, January 27, 2017

SKY'S BRIDAL TRAIN by Margo Hansen | An Adventurous Victorian Romance

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★★★☆☆

What intrigued me about this book was the series title, so when I won it in a giveaway, it was the perfect chance to read it!

Sky's Bridal Train tells the story of Sky -- a young woman whose mother has died, leaving her to the reluctant care of her stepfather, an English baron. But when tragedy strikes the family yet again, and a series of last words cause remnants of the past to come rippling back to the surface, Sky finds she must journey to the US. Armed with trunks full of dresses and a bit of spare change loaned to her by her uncle, she arrives in New York with little hope... other than that she has a twin sister, and she must find her.

Although it did contain a few stray clichรฉs, I enjoyed Sky's Bridal Train!

While a majority of the female characters were portrayed damsels in distress, Margo Hansen's characters were still rather sweet. It took me more than one encounter with the main love interest before I began to appreciate him, but I disliked the villain as soon as we met.

As to the writing style, I'm not entirely sure how to describe it. It was neither particularly good or particularly bad, and while it was more than "just okay," it was just... there.

As to the plot, I was shocked when I read that certain plot twist, at the end! It was a very clever move!

I feel like the setting could've been expanded upon more, with perhaps a little more description of the areas the wagon train passed through, as well as some of the towns and encampments the characters encountered.

Still, Sky's Bridal Train made for a fun, adventurous little read!

You may want to know: There are mentions and instances of murder and violence, as well as kissing. It was also implied as to a few male characters' indecent intentions towards some of the women.

Click here to read my Goodreads review.

❤, the Book Dragon

Thursday, January 26, 2017

LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding | A Brutal Allegory of the Evils of Mankind

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★★☆☆☆

What might happen if a group of children were trapped on an island? What if they grew restless? What if they lost all sense of order and morality? William Golding answers those questions in his novel Lord of the Flies.

To be completely blunt, I expected to dislike this book much more than I did. And it wasn't so much the way Golding told the story I disliked, as the story he chose to tell.

Golding's writing was actually rather enjoyable, and I might've rated Lord of the Flies three or four stars... if it hadn't been for the content. Without giving away any spoilers, I would like to mention that this book is very disturbing. It's gory. It's strange. And it's something I probably wouldn't have read, had my English teacher not assigned it to the class.

But, I can see some ways in which this might be considered a classic. Golding's writing is descriptive and detailed, and though at times I skipped whole paragraphs due to such, Lord of the Flies is an extremely well-thought book. However, due to the negatives mentioned above, I would not recommend this.

You may want to know: There are several instances of swearing and taking God's name in vain. There is also quite a bit of violence and gore.

Click here to read my Goodreads review.

❤, the Book Dragon

Sunday, January 22, 2017

PRIDE & PREJUDICE by Jane Austen | A Regency Tale of True Love & Social Standards

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★★★☆☆
(3-4 stars)

The BBC miniseries remain, to this day, some of my favourite Jane Austen adaptions. Thus I was rather saddened when I first cracked open Emma to find it not at all to my liking, and soon after began Pride & Prejudice to find it much better, but still with its dull bits.

For those of you who are unacquainted with Pride & Prejudice, it follows a year in the life of Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman of marriageable age who hails from a very poor (and rather silly) family. Determined to marry a man who is both sensible and wealthy, she finds herself turning down proposal after proposal from unwelcome suitors... but very soon learns a lesson in love and understanding.

I had hoped to fall head-over-heels-in-love with this book... But alas, it was not meant to be.

Austen's prose was witty and poetic, but not quite to my liking. I found myself lost at times between the pools of words and stray commas.

The love story and the characters, however, surely made for a legend. Pride & Prejudice certainly has the structure of a classic, with all its silly, wonderful, and romantic parts. Mr. Darcy (though the portrayal of his character at the beginning did him no justice) was such a gentleman, and Elizabeth was absolutely perfect for him.

For those who enjoy classics, I would recommend this. For those who do not... Well, I'd still recommend it, even if just for the sake of reading it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

You may want to know: There is very mild kissing, as well as a few stray swear words and uses of God's name in vain. There are also some implications that hint at indecency between an unmarried couple.

Click here to read my Goodreads review.

❤, the Book Dragon

Friday, January 6, 2017

WAKING UP by Ted Dekker | Finding Yourself Through Christ

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★★★★☆

Most essays aren't page-turners. Most essays don't hold my attention for very long. This essay was different. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, reading it all in one sitting.

Ted Dekker's Waking Up is a personal story of his childhood at a boarding school in Indonesia, his journey to being published, and his search for acceptance in this life. Using direct yet imaginative allegories, Ted paints an image of how our relationship with God should be.

The first half of this book was probably my favourite. Ted's intense, addictive writing drew me in from the first page, and though it was still incredibly written the whole way through, I did lose a little bit of interest. Maybe it was because I was being told less of how to do something, and more of what to do? I'm not entirely sure.

Still, Waking Up was an amazing read. Though it did not dive into God-Christian relationships as I would've liked, there were some very well-thought points. One of the those that stuck with me the most was the reminder that God loves us in the way that He asks us to love others: Unconditionally, mercifully, trustingly.

Waking Up is a short and enlightening little read that I highly recommend. ☺

You may want to know: There is the brief mention of cannibals.

Click here to read my Goodreads review.

❤, the Book Dragon

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Est. 2016

Merikthorne Library was established November fifteenth, 2016.