The Dragon and the Scholar – What Are the Moral Values Represented? Should We Question The Values In Novels? This post will review Dragon’s Curse, Dragon’s Debt, Dragon’s Rival and Dragon’s Bride

Book Review : Dragon’s Curse
The Dragon and the Scholar #1

By H. L. Burke

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous.

Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Dragon’s Curse is a charming tale written for a younger audience. Shannon is more focused on scholarship than relationships. She is disheveled, intelligent and doesn’t realize she is beautiful. Her friend and fellow scholar, Martin, sends her to Regone to help real the King from injuries he sustained battling dragons.

She befriends Gnaw, a dragon who has decided to live in a cave near the castle of Regone. It turns out Gnaw has a sense of humor and enjoys having Shannon read to him. Sir Roderick, a knight, of a lazy nature has decided he must marry Shannon. He has convinced himself that she will want to be his wife if he has vanquished the local dragon.

Overall the book is very innocent and fun. There is a reference to a knight being allowed to have his way with Shannon, which I thought was inappropriate for the audience. Other than this sexual reference children as young as 10 could easily read this book.

 

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

Book Review : Dragon’s Debt
The Dragon and the Scholar #2

By H. L. Burke

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Scholar Shannon Macaulay and the Dragon-Prince Ewan have been traveling together for a year when their blissful companionship is interrupted by a cryptic message from their friend Martin.
“Come to Westshire. Edmond needs you.”
Drawn to his brother’s aid, Ewan finds himself hunting an elusive monster: a winged beast kidnapping young women and stealing their memories. Its latest victim is the Princess Brighid of Westshire, the very girl Edmond has recently fallen for, to the disapproval of her temperamental father, King Riley, and stoic brother, Prince Ryan.
Ewan is determined to rescue his brother’s beloved, no matter what the cost. But when Ryan’s eyes fall upon Shannon, the dragon realizes the cost might be greater than he is willing to pay. (Courtesy of 
goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Shannon and Ewan are off on adventures, and flying has definite advantages for traveling takes place in a neighboring kingdom, and ally country Westshire. King Riley is evil and in raising his son he has tried to impart the family legacy, but Ryan has turned onto a different path than his father. They are at odds over King Edmond being in love with Princess Brighid. Ewan has taken on the responsibility to find the kidnapped princess, and will work with Ryan to fulfill this goal to pay his perceived debt to hid brother.

Much as the first in the series, there are a few off comments about the dalliances of King Riley that would make me hesitate in giving this book to a tween audience. The cliche comments, light writing style and shallow characters would have me believe it has been written for a young audience.

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

 

Book Review : Dragon’s Rival
The Dragon and the Scholar #3

By H. L. Burke

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Having abandoned his friends and family and taken to the skies, Ewan hides himself in the Wilderlands, away from humans. However, an unexpected attempt on his life and a warning from another dragon lead him to suspect that not all is right in Regone.

Ewan returns to his homeland to attend his brother’s wedding and discover the source of the bounty on his head. Once there the dragon prince finds that Ryan of Westshire has been using his absence to court the Lady Shannon.

With unknown forces working to undermine his brother’s throne and his own heart torn between his love for Shannon and the desire to see her happy, Ewan must choose once and for all. Is he a dragon or a man? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Ryan has been diligently courting Shannon while Ewan has studiously ignored her, to the point of exhibiting his disregard for her. The bigger problem lies in the attacks on the kingdom of Regone. Shannon is taxed with the problem of figuring out if Prince Ryan is involved.

There continue to be references to men who should have/or have taken a woman to their bed (while not married), rape and other caddish behavior by even honorable men. Yikes! Why does the rest of the story feel like a tween book, when this is obviously not material I would want my child reading. It must be for a slightly older audience, but I don’t know if they will be interested in such a simplistic tale.

I believe the discrepancy of audience to written material lies, in part, to the whimsical covers. The illustrations look like the book will be geared to a younger audience. The books are also short, really more of a novella length, found in tween books.

In the series a positive point is that each book is self-contained. For example, in Dragon’s Rival, Shannon resolves her relationship with the man she loves rather than being caught in a continual love triangle. Another problem solved is Will’s feelings about his father and half-brother. Each book as a clear problem remaining that needs to be solved. In this book it is apparent that Ewan needs to solve the problem of his form – man or dragon. There are additional problems to solve, such as, finding Rowan and resolving King Riley, who is a persistent problem.

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

 

Book Review : Dragon’s Bride
The Dragon and the Scholar #4

By H. L. Burke

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Dragon Prince Ewan has promised his beloved, Shannon, that he will become a man again or die in the attempt. Now he will do anything to make good on that promise.

With the aid of his scholarly friend, Martin, Ewan consults the great Dragon Queen Harviss, who offers him a unique solution: return to the past to find Ewan’s Fey ancestor and beg for her help. Leaving Shannon behind, Ewan and Martin travel to a dangerous past and fall into the clutches of a powerful Fey queen.

Meanwhile, Shannon finds herself alone and with child. Unable to sit still with her husband absent, she joins with Ryan of Westshire in the prince’s desperate search for his young son. King Riley, however, will see Ryan dead before allowing him to find the lost child.

Can Shannon find a way to unite Ryan with his son? Or will the attempt cost her not only her life but the life of her unborn baby?

Will Martin and Ewan ever find the cure they seek or will they remain trapped in the past and Ewan separated from his bride forever? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

The Dragon and the Scholar was described as a saga. I feel like Shannon is seen less and less as a scholar as the series progressed, but it has been a yo-yo saga romance. In Dragon’s Bride I had expected it to focus on the problems of Shannon and Ewan with Ryan finding his son as a sub-plot. I was partly correct, in that these are the two main plots. However, I did not anticipate time travel would be involved. I do like surprises in books.

One of the new characters introduced was the fairy queen. I liked her because she was devoid of human compassion, was completely selfish and hedonistic. All of these characteristics made her decidedly fairy instead of human. Shannon and Ewan, as characters, don’t see much growth or change, but all of the characters are one dimensional. King Riley is evil, Prince Ryan is kind, Ewan is loyal, ect. The one character that does change is Martin. He has previously been solely focused on his career and an incorrigible flirt. After spending time with the fairy he realizes he wants something different in his life.

Dragon’s Bride

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

As the whole series goes, I didn’t just gobble it up and love it, but I didn’t absolutely hate it either. My biggest problem has been feeling like the intended audience and the content do not match. The covers look like the books are for a young audience.

I think it is very important for families to talk about their values and check in with what kids are reading. Sometimes a book can be a great conversation starter to help define family morals.

Outside of the sexuality, I found The Dragon and the Scholar series to be charming and a light read. Another problem was the magic system had a few holes in it that I would have liked to have explained, such as, why Adonna’s death would make Ewan’s transformation more permanent. I like magic systems to have  logical, plausible rules and parameters. The final constraint in my review is that I was to see multi-dimensional characters.

Other books that are light, fun and with female protagonists that I recommend are:

The Raven Ring by Patricia Wrede

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

 

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Fields of Gold – The Romp of Steampunk In The Old West Continues

Book Review : Fields of Gold
Magnificent Devices #12

e-book

By Shelley Adina

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Book 12 in the Magnificent Devices steampunk series!
If a wedding won’t stop a war, what will?

Gloria Meriwether-Astor’s belief in doing the right thing has carried her across the world and through dangers that would have felled a lesser woman. She believed that if she married the dashing Captain Fremont, she could approach the Viceroy of the Royal Kingdom of Spain and the Californias with impunity. She could convince the prince to stop the war their fathers began, and then she could return to Philadelphia with her husband, her conscience clear at last. Sadly, belief and reality are two different things. The prince agrees to her proposal on one condition—that she annul her marriage and become his wife instead!

Every woman has a threshold she will not cross. Gloria has come to love her riverboat captain, and the price of peace is simply too high. But when the evil stalking the pleasant gardens of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa claims its victim, the time for belief is over and the time to act—daringly, outrageously—is at hand. Do the witches hold the key to a way out of this trap?

All Gloria has to do is take up the crown of roses and play for the highest stakes. All she has to do is become the iron dragon, and start a war of her own.
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Gloria has the honor of being a character that I had cast off as uninteresting in the beginning of the series, but as Adina has continued the series, Gloria has become a character with depth. The riverboat captain, Stan, could be the prototype for mysterious men with an unknown background that are great at supporting a woman in her role as the protagonist. Real men are never so biddable. Anne McCaffrey always wrote male characters that served as a support for the women in their world. This is not to say the men are not strong, they are very masculine because women really do want a man who is strong in character and body. Gloria is in a tight spot, in love with her husband while a prince is in love with her; and she could stop the brewing war by simply annulling the marriage and instead marry the prince. Just because Gloria has two men in love with her it doesn’t mean Evan is out of the picture; he still pines away for Gloria. What is a girl to do?

The tale continues with the plot snaking towards an end with betrayal, love, secrets, more love, stolen kisses, unexpected surprises, the lost who are found, explosions, guns blazing and more love. Whew! In other words, just what you have come to expect in a Magnificent Devices book.

Previously I have stated there are a couple of good ending spots in this series if you’re not up to the full 12 (written so far, since there is a tantalizing loose end ready to be resolved). The fourth book, after the Lady of Devices is married is a good stopping point. Another stopping point would be when her charges, the Mopsies, are settled. Book 12 is another good stopping point because all of the main characters stories are resolved. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, but even I think I will give the Devices a break.

There is nothing more than a few kisses described in detail in this series. A rape is mentioned and there is an obvious lesbian relationship that readers may want to be aware of in advance.

3.5 out of 5 stars

3-half-star-hotel
Michelle

If you enjoyed this book try Cinder by Marissa Meyer and The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. 

For good clean, fun romance to try is Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede.

Another great fantasy to try is Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr.

Happy Reading!

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The Shattered Vigil – The Classic Battle Between Light and Dark

Book Review : The Shattered Vigil
The Darkwater Saga #2

By Patrick W. Carr

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Victory over the dark forces during the feast of Bas-solas should have guaranteed safety for the continent. Instead, Willet and the rest of the Vigil discover they’ve been outsmarted by those seeking to unleash the evil that inhabits the Darkwater. Jorgen, the member of the Vigil assigned to Frayel, has gone missing, and new attacks have struck at the six kingdoms’ ability to defend themselves.

Just when the Vigil thought they had quenched the menace from their enemy in Collum, a new threat emerges: assassins hunting the Vigil, men and women who cannot be seen until it’s too late. The orders of the church and the rulers of the kingdoms, fearing the loss of the Vigil’s members altogether, have decided to take them into protective custody to safeguard their gift. On Pellin’s orders, the Vigil scatters, leaving Willet to be taken prisoner by the church in Bunard.
In the midst of this, Willet learns of the murder of an obscure nobleman’s daughter by one of the unseen assassins. Now he must escape his imprisonment and brave the wrath of the church to find the killer in order to turn back this latest threat to the northern continent.
 (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Carr continues to be one of my favorite authors. I like his world building because of the complexities, but also because it is logical. In The Shattered Vigil we learn more of the intricacies of the relationships within the Vigil. It seems that the distrust was building in such a way, that even without the evil forces working against them, the Vigil was at a breaking point. Books that work well have flawed characters. From The Shock of Night the reader discovers fairly early that Willet Dura is mad; he sees a priest for his spiritual guidance and the others recognize that there are no footprints other than Willet’s.

“‘There’s no one here.’ I murmured those same four words over and again in a voice small enough to fit in the palm of my hand.” (p. 30)

“Bolt came forward out of the shadows. ‘He deserves to know the truth of your experience, Lady Bronwyn, and he’s stronger than you think. Men are like swords, tempered by circumstance.” (p. 31)

Bronwyn has an ingrained distrust of men, Toria Deel is still reeling from the separation from the man she loved who betrayed his ideals, Pellin fully knows he isn’t as good with people as his brother had been as Eldest and Volsk wants redemption, though even he doesn’t feel that he is worthy. Each character, including those not listed, have a greater depth and humanity.

The understanding of the church also is extended in this novel. Here is the critical passage:

“…they were admited to the cathedral of the Pueri, or the Servants, as most people referred to them. Pellin stifled a centuries-old regret at the split of the church. Barely a score of years after the north-south split between the continents, led by the priest, Maren Wittendor, the Servants had been the first to split from the Merum. The absold and the Vanguard had split soon after.” (p.70)

Knowing that evil doesn’t just quit, the Vigil is on a hunt to better understand their enemy.  All the ancient texts reveal no clue to the source of the evil that resides within the forest. They also need to understand how the Clast fits into the puzzle. Bronwyn, who has always loved the old children’s rhymes, has Custos searching for a connection to find out more about their enemy and how to defeat this growing evil. Custos discovery is unfathomable to the Vigil, and his knowledge is withheld masterfully by Carr until the final moments of the book.

The political forces within the northern kingdoms faces more pressure as the threat of the forest stretches unseen hands into their homelands. Even the kings and queens of the land are left stumbling for safety. The Vigil is the only hope, while they are also under attack and may soon cease to exist.

As a second novel, The Shattered Vigil, progresses the plot while developing the characters and increasing the intensity. So many second novels feel like a set-up for a grand finale, however, there is so much happening in this installment – think supernatural assassins – it feels like an important step in our progress to the end of the tale. I can hardly wait for the third book!

Sensitive readers need to know that there is a rape within the book. It is not graphically portrayed, but relies on the knowledge of what has happened and the characters dealing with the aftermath of the brutal experience.

As one more note, I am surprised that Carr’s novels are listed as Christian fiction because of the intense subject matter. Other ‘Christian’ novels I have read often feel like they are spun from sugar, without substance and a heavy dose of preaching. Carr never preaches; he just tells a good tale.

4  out of 5 stars

4 star

  • the Mother

Fans of Brandon Sanderson will enjoy Patrick W. Carr’s books and vice-versa.

I would also recommend trying Cinda Williams Chima, The Demon King and Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron.

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Legend in Green Velvet – A Book To Read On The Beach, or Plane or When In Scotland

Book Review : Legend In Green Velvet

By Elizabeth Peters

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Susan loved all things Scottish. So, when the opportunity presented itself, there was no question in her mind but that she would go to the archaeological dig in the Highlands. It was everything she could have wanted, and more. Much more.A cryptic message slipped to Susan by a sinister soap box orator was the first puzzle. Why did he choose her? Why was he chasing her? And why, Susan had to wonder, were she and the handsome young laird Jamie Erskine suddenly being pursued by the police who wanted to talk to them about. . .murder? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I was given a copy of Legend In Green Velvet while sitting on the beach after I had finished the book I had brought. I remember loving Elizabeth Peter’s series that begins with Crocodile On The Sandbank and was very excited to read this book.

I was surprised. Legend In Green Velvet misses the mark set by Radcliff and Peabody (characters from Crocodile On The Sandbank), but was still fun for a quick, light read. It was obviously written a long time ago and has some funny social taboos for todays world. I could see glimpses of future characters peeking out of the pages. James Erskine, the macho heart throb is a bit like Radcliff. However, James, also called Jamie, belts a woman across the jaw when he thinks she will start screaming for help – most unchivalrous! Even Susan is surprised that the recipient of such a hit would hold it against Jamie.

Just so you don’t think Peters is completely off her game here is a quote that I loved:

“He had a mane of white hair and bushy white eyebrows, as thick and as animated as the tails of Angora kittens.” (p.104)

Have you ever known a man with eyebrows like kittens’ tails? I have! She nailed that description!

It’s not a book to reread, but it was fun for a beach read.

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

Definitely read Crocodile On The Sandbank! Also try some books like The Raven Ring by Patricia Wrede and The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King.

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The Shock of Night – Should This Be A Mainstream Fantasy Novel?

Book Review : The Shock of Night
The Darkwater Saga #1


By Patrick W. Carr

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

When one man is brutally murdered and the priest he works for mortally wounded on the streets of Bunard, Willet Dura is called to investigate. Yet the clues to the crime lead to contradictions and questions without answers. As Willet begins to question the dying priest, the man pulls Willet close and screams in a foreign tongue. Then he dies without another word.

Willet returns to the city, no closer to answers than before, but his senses are skewed. People he touches appear to have a subtle shift, a twist seen at the edge of his vision, and it’s as though he can see their deepest thoughts. In a world divided between haves and have-nots, gifted and common, Willet soon learns he’s been passed the rarest gift of all: a gift that’s not supposed to exist.

Now Willet must pursue the murderer still on the loose in Bunard even as he’s pulled into a much more dangerous and epic conflict that threatens not only his city, but his entire world–a conflict that will force him to come to terms with his own tortured past if he wants to survive. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I highly recommend reading the ebook, a novella, By Divine Right, first because it will make the rest of the series make more sense! By Divine Right focuses on Willet and I felt a greater kinship with him that extends into The Shock of Night.

I’ve waited to do the review for this series because I wasn’t sure what I thought. I was so enamored with his first series, A Cast of Stone, that I had to give myself more time and a second read through to evaluate The Darkwater Saga more accurately.

I love Patrick Carr’s writing and the complexity inherent to his world building. In The Shock of Night Carr builds a new religion, politics, and a class system all within the framework of the plot. I feel like the story is character driven rather than event driven because the people carry the movement forward through their actions. I always prefer books where the plot is carried by the characters. I was surprised how violent The Shock of Night was because it is promoted as Christian fiction. I still feel that Carr should have a larger audience and his books should be published as mainstream fantasy.

Religious system:

There are four divisions of orders, each which emphasizes a different aspect of the same religion. The basic religion is based on a theology with a trinity godhead. The trinity is formed by Aer, Iosa and Gaoithe. So far, it has not been explained if the trinity is composed of three entirely different entities or if it a three within the one godhead.

The Orders:
1) Merum; they proclaim the liturgy without debate; wear a red robe. Their leader is the Archbishop.
2) Servants; the purpose of man is to serve man; wear a brown robe. Their leader is the Chief.
3) Vanguard: the purpose of man is to eradicate evil; wear a white robe. Their leader is the Captain.
4) Absold; the purpose of man is to forgive others as we are forgiven by Aer; wear a blue robe and are mostly attractive women. Their leader is call Grace.

The Vigil: all orders are under the Vigil, though all Orders are autonomous after breaking off from the original mother religion into sects. The Vigil members are responsible for containing the evil in the Darkwater forest.

Clast; drawing a constituency based on the anger that gifts are inherited and those without gifts are trodden down, without the hope of receiving their own gift. They seek equality – and revere the ungifted.

Social structure:

The classes are divided based on the inheritance of gifts. The nobility tend to have more gifts, and a purer strain of gifts. Merchants frequently display some gifts, while the poor are bereft of the gifts bestowed by Aer (the God). There is rising tension over the ownership of gifts because those without a gift tend to be impoverished.

Politics:

It is a medieval society with a king, lords and ladies, merchants, and revees, the king’s police, in addition to the poor. There are other kingdoms who potentially threaten each other, but they don’t play into the plot surrounding the Kingdom of Collum. Bunard is the city where the king’s fortress resides.

World Structure: 

The forest holds an evil  that has been contained by a secret religious order, the Vigil. Those who enter the Darkwater forest and return are mad. They hold within their minds a vault that is represented by a dark scroll. When the Vigil, the secret order, tries to either read the scroll or destroy the scroll the person becomes nothing more than an empty shell. It is discovered that some hold this vault and then unexpectedly snap, becoming a vicious murderer.

The known 6 gifts given by Aer are beauty, craft (for the body), sum, parts (for the soul), helps and devotion (for the spirit).

The nine talents for man include language, logic, space, rhythm, motion, nature, self, others and all.

The temperaments of creation are impulse, passion, observation and thought.

Aurium is a rare metal. The significance of this metal has not yet been explained.

Some Main Characters:

Willet Dura: protagonist, he is the King’s Reeve, solves murders and helps the urchins and destitute women.

Laidir: the King of Collum

Elwin: Eldest member of the Vigil, bestows an unexpected gift upon Willet prior to his death

Robin: guard of Elwin, died protecting him

Ealdor: a member of the Servants Order, a friend to Willet, resides in a small church in the poor section

Lady Gael: betrothed of Willet, intelligent and witty

Pellin: the new leader of the Vigil

Peret Volsk: potential member of the Vigil

Bronwyn: the oldest female of the Vigil

Toria Deel: the youngest female of the Vigil and in love with Peret Volsk

Laewan: member of the Vigil

Rory: leader and guardian of the urchins

Bolt: a guard within the Vigil

Custos: ancient librarian, particularly loves sweetened figs rolled in crushed almonds.

I really like his descriptive writing.

Quotes:

“The subtle note of disapproval in his voice drifted to my ears as if he had to bribe the air to carry it to me.” (p. 24)

“I’d been worried about pawns while knights and kings were after my head.” (p. 242)

“The curtain I’d seen so often on Bolt fell across his eyes again, like a sudden darkness that takes a man unaware, like the shock of night.” (p.243)

I’m not sure that I like it as much as Cast of Stones, however, it is well written and fascinating. I definitely feel like Carr should be seen as a mainstream writer more than a Christian author. The Shock of Night is appropriate for a mature young adult (over 16 years old) audience and adults.

4  out of 5 stars

4 star

  • the Mother

If you liked this one try Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series and The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima.

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The Rosie Project – A List For Finding True Love

Book Review : The Rosie Project
Don Tillman #1

By Graeme Simsion

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.  (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

To sum up The Rosie Project it would be best to make a list in honor of Don, the list master. Next, I would need to make a questionaire and a full project, collecting data and screening sources to use. However, since I’m not Don…..

I believe I laughed over every single page in The Rosie Project. Is it funnier because I have people in my family on the autism spectrum? I remember reading that Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks wife, wondered if the play My Big Fat Greek Wedding was only funny to Greeks, or did everyone find it to be funny (and, it became a loved movie produced by Tom Hanks). The Rosie Project is like the movie, in that, everyone can find the humor in it because we all want to find love, sometimes we are all socially awkward and sometimes we really don’t know what we want.

Here are a few of the funny moments (out of context I don’t know if they seem funny):

     “Rosie had moved on and was now examining my CD collection. The investigation was becoming annoying. Dinner was already late.
‘You really love Back,’ she said. This was a reasonable deduction, as my CD collection consists only of the works of that composer. But it was not correct.
‘I decided to focus on Back after reading Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. Unfortunately I haven’t made much progress. I don’t think my brain works fast enough to decode the patterns in the music.’
‘You don’t listen to it for fun?’
This was beginning to sound like the initial dinner conversation with Daphne and I didn’t answer.” (p. 49)

“‘No assistance is required,’ I said. ‘I recommend reading a book.’
I watched Rosie walk to the bookshelf, briefly peruse the contents, then walk away. Perhaps she used IBM rather than Apple software, although many of the manuals applied to both.” (p. 50)

I love the understated humor. More quotes:

     “Now I had ten days to learn to dance.
Gene entered my office as I was practicing my dance steps.
‘I think the longevity statistics were based on marriages to live women, Don.’
He was referring to the skeleton I was using for practice. I had obtained it on loan from the Anatomy Department, and no one had asked what I required it for.” (p. 131-132)

“As we drank champagne in the lounge, I explained that I had earned special privileges by being particularly vigilant and observant of rules and procedures on previous flights, and by making a substantial number of helpful suggestions regarding check-in procedures, flight scheduling, pilot training, and ways in which security systems might be subverted. I was no longer expect to offer advice, having contributed ‘enough for a lifetime of flying.'” (p. 179)

 

Here is the quote with a little spoiler in it:

     “So, to add to a momentous day, I corrected a misconception that my family had held for at least fifteen years and came out to them as straight.” (p. 275)

Here is my final problem in reviewing this book. I can’t actually recommend it to any of my friends because Rosie’s language is crude and she throws out the F-bomb with some regularity. There’s not explicit sex in the book, but sex is discussed frequently. It was the funniest book I have read in a long time and thoroughly enjoyed it.

By language it would get two stars. By humorous content 5 stars. So I’m rounding that out to 4 stars since I’ve disclosed the items that would disturb some audiences.

4  out of 5 stars

4 star

  • the Mother

If you have enjoyed Rosie try the 44 Scotland Street novels by Alexander McCall Smith. Though a completely different genre, you could also try Date Night On Union Station by E. M. Foner, it is extremely funny.

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Uprooted – Who Is The Intended Audience?

Book Review : Uprooted

By Naomi Novik

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I was excited to try a new author and see how a Polish fairy tale inspiration would work.

In a fantasy novel I love to see intriguing ideas, a new way of looking at the world and a cast of characters that are both endearing and overcome challenges. Uprooted has all of these elements, yet I felt something was missing…

The Dragon is a taciturn sorcerer. His motives were misunderstood, he was continually grumpy and he loved the engineered details of a spell. When faced with magic he could not understand he would lash out at his apprentice. He is, in fact, overtly rude to Agnieszka. An analogy could be drawn between the Dragon and the Beast, from Beauty and the Beast, both are churlish and are eventually charmed by the young woman residing in their stone fortress. I quite liked the Dragon at moments, but I never felt much chemistry between him and Agnieszka. I had hoped to see more change in the Dragon.

Agnieszka is fiercely loyal to Kasia, loves her homeland and is continually messy. Sometimes she mopes about, complains and gripes, but eventually she finds her inner strength to do the things she must for survival. Her character reminds me of the women from Anne McCaffrey’s writing in the 1980’s. Agnieszka is endearing because of her flaws, but she doesn’t feel new as a character. I enjoyed the contrast of the spell work that was effective for Agnieszka compared to the Dragon.

Kasia is a secondary character and her personality is not fully developed. Some might say she feels a bit wooden or even petrified from her experiences within the wood.

The wood has traditional connotations that it is the mysterious place of evil. Horrific monsters lurk within the wood and those touched by the wood are forever changed. Those who survive the wood have lost their innocence and they consequently spread the corrupt nature of the wood to those they touch. The wood, as a semi-sentient force, desires to swallow civilization.

So, what was missing? Who is the intended audience? Originally I felt it was written for a young adult audience because of the simplistic writing style – I was wrong. It is fairly straight-forward in the writing even though the concepts behind the writing are complex. I’m more forgiving of simplicity in a book written for a young adult audience, and expect a slightly more predictable plot, though love it when I’m surprised by twists.

Here are some samples of the writing:

“The moon was high that night, full and beautiful, blue light on the shining snow all around. I opened Jaga’s book as we flew, and found a spell for the quickening of feet. I sang it softly to the horses, their ears pricking back to listen to me, and the wind of our passage grew muffled and thick, pressing hard on my cheeks and blurring my sight.” (p. 102)

“I turned the pages with a finger and a thumb, holding them by the lower corner only. It was a bestiary, a strange one full of monsters and chimaeras. Not all of them were even real.” (p.275)

Here is a short sample from The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr:

“‘Lord Dura. I wondered when you would return to us.’ The subtle note of disapproval in his voice drifted to my ears as if he had to bribe the air to carry it to me.” P. 24)

Contrasting these two authors shows how Novik’s style is straight forward and unembellished. Novik doesn’t use similes or metaphors.

In the past, books for young adults were free from gratuitous violence. I still hope to see books without extreme violence, but even current children’s novels are more violent than books written 20 years ago. Uprooted has some violence, but nothing more extreme than other young adult books, which still led me to believe it could fit into the young adult audience.

Finally, here was the big clue that this was not written for a young adult audience – it includes two intimate scenes that soundly place Uprooted into a category for adults. The first scene doesn’t move beyond passionate kissing with a few articles of clothing tossed aside. The second scene, surprisingly, became a full on description of sex. I was very surprised because these two moments of passion were so out of context with the rest of the writing, the characters and the flow of the plot. I never felt like the Sorcerer connected with anyone on a human level.

More than what was missing, it was a question of inconsistency that has brought my review down to 2.5 stars. I didn’t lower it more because Uprooted had some fun ideas. Readers just need to know in advance it was written for an adult audience though much of it reads like a young adult novel. I can’t really recommended this book.

2.5 out of 5 stars
2 1:2 star
– Michelle

Other (young adult) fantasy books I recommend include : 

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
Serphina by Rachel Hartman
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
The Raven Ring by Patricia C. Wrede
The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

More (adult) books I recommend include:

Date Night On Union Station by E. M. Foner (humorous, science fiction)
Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina (light steampunk, it might be YA)
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell By Susanna Clarke (historical Regency fantasy)
Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot By Patricia Wrede & Caroline Stevermer (historical Regency fantasy)
Sword of the Lamb, The Phoenix Legacy series By M.K. Wren (science fiction)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (fantasy)
Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey (light science fiction)

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