Read + Review: Legend of the Dragon Slayer: The Origin Story of Dragonwatch

As the prequel of the book series Dragonwatch, Legend of the Dragon Slayer describes the origins of the Dragonwatch society, who will hunt down life-threatening dragons in the magical lands of Selona and beyond for generations to come. Long ago, King Titus of the Kingdom of Selona was concerned about the dangers facing his realm from the south, north, east, and west. They were feared among the populace of Selona, and included the Gorgon of the Southern Swamp, the Yetis of the Northern Mountains, the Vampire of the Eastern Forests, and the Phoenix of the Western Waste. He issued proclamations promising wealth, titles, and marriage with the princess if anyone could eradicate these perils for the kingdom. Despite the bounties, only the son of a lowly cobbler, named Konrad, would face the challenge. As Konrad unexpectedly defeated enemies one by one and recounts fabulous tales of his adventures, he rises in fame and becomes known as the Legender, and accumulates favors, wealth, and titles from the King. After being rewarded with the rule of Selona by the aging king, he would have to face the greatest challenge of all: dueling Kula Bakar, an unbeaten conqueror, to protect Selona.

The part I love most about this book is its inclusiveness to all readers. At first glance, Legend of the Dragon Slayer seems to just be a short picture book destined for elementary school students. However, the extensive use of advanced vocabulary and sentence structure made the book still intriguing to me, a high schooler. The illustrations provided are very detailed and do not overpower the text. They allow readers to visualize the story similar to an average person from Selona would as Konrad recounts his adventures. The yellowed page design with eloquent patterns is further pushes the lore of the story. Lore aside, I felt that sentences felt awkward at times due to the organization of the text and repetition of similar wording. Due to the repetitive nature of the plot, Konrad seemed too full of himself at times, perhaps even a bit egotistical. To solve this obstacle, the author managed to add personality to Konrad through dialogue close to the end. Overall, the book is a quick and fun read, and a great way to get into a magical series!

The typical purpose of prequels of a series is to provide a backstory to the existing plot in a series to satisfy avid fans. Although I have not touched this series beforehand, the book was incredibly written and new readers like me can still be drawn into the narrative, which makes this work one of the most memorable prequels I have read. In fact, I am so compelled to learn about the plot of the rest of the series that I will be checking them out when I get a chance!

Reviewed by  Eric H. at Twin Hickory Area Library

Read + Review: Words Composed of Sea and Sky by Erica George

When Michaela, a talented poet, asks her stepfather to financially support her in going to the college of her dreams, she is heavily disappointed by his little enthusiasm to help her. And so, she finds herself entering a poetry contest about the mysterious legend of Captain Benjamin Churchill, known for his brilliant poetry skills. However, as she sinks deeper and deeper into his life, she discovers a hidden figure under his name: Leta Townsend. As the book goes back and forth between periods of time, the readers find themselves falling consistently in this light and gentle romance intertwined with these characters as they explore the beauty of poetry.

 I thought the book was written delicately and immersed the readers into an atmosphere of relaxation. The book was mainly romance, and the author managed to relate the genre into poetry, one of my passions. At first, I imagined the book to be poetically written but was slightly disappointed to find that it was just a general book with a few poems here and then. Usually, romance is not my type of book I couldn’t resist picking up this book when I saw the title and saw its beautiful sunset cover (I know, I know, I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But still, the design was lovely!) Although the romance between Michaela and her lover was cute in some moments, I thought that the romance between Captain Benjamin Churchill and his lover was more deeply written.

 As mentioned above, I have the obsession of writing and reading poetry making me enjoy books that have characters that relate to literature. Although I was slightly disappointed that the author decided to write the book in a general way, the poetry that she included along the story was beautifully written and made up for the grudge. Also, I felt that this was also slightly historical fiction which is also one of my favorite genres which made this book stand out even more from the rest.

Reviewed by GC at Twin Hickory Area Library

Read + Review: Lumberjanes: A Summer to Remember

The book LUMBERJANES: A Summer to Remember by Shannon Watters was a narrative in which youths from a summer camp divide themselves into three groups. The three respective groups individually find their paths through different journeys. The first group is a batch of two youngsters aiming to win a badge through the value of community. In the second one, there is a trio that seeks to leave the Jurassic world with togetherness. Finally, in the third group, youth face the conflicts of an unprepared stadium for singing and a tale of romance. In the end, it connects all three stories to a new journey in itself. From funny characters like April to more reflective ones like Mal, the book opens a sense of imagination to readers. Although a comic strip intended for camping and scouting, LUMBERJANES: A Summer to Remember conveys a story for all.

 In my view, I thought the book was enjoyable with its spirit. Many scenes in the narrative offer one a sense of the reality of life in general. From reserved characters like Barney to adventurous ones like Jo, I can relate these figures to my own life. For example, when Barney receives his first badge, I am reminded of moments when good things came for me to cherish without myself desiring it. However, I resented the occasional lack of context the book gave. It was sometimes challenging to make clear some aspects of the text. The comic wasn’t as humorous at times as well. Regardless, the comic LUMBERJANES: A Summer to Remember still communicates an adventure for a

 Frankly, I liked how the book connected the three different journeys to form a new one, concluding it with a cliffhanger. It gave more room for creativity and imagination.

Reviewed by Nathan P. at Twin Hickory Area Library

Read + Review: The Secret Life of Kitty Granger by G.D. Falksen

In a wonderful adventure during the 1960’s, “The Secret Life of Kitty Granger” explores the hidden world of spies and the aftermath of World War II. Kitty Granger, a young worker in London, possesses a unique eye for detail. When her peculiarity leads her to unearth a conflict between Russian and English spies, she receives an opportunity to partake in it as an agent herself. Eager to save her dwindling family business, Kitty delves into the undercover realm. As her aptitude for covert operations grows, as does the threat on the Parliament, and Kitty must assume an alternate identity to intercept the enemies’ strategy. Unfortunately, Kitty finds herself in far more danger that she previously thought, and the fate of the entire country lies in her hands. Mystery and deception align in G.D. Falksen’s thrilling tale.

 The suspenseful writing style masterfully conveyed the mystery and drama in “The Secret Life of Kitty Granger”. Compelling twists and turns never ceased to keep me enthralled and captivated by the story. I particularly appreciated the diversity in the characters and how their distinct personalities were flawlessly written. The story was brought to life by the plot, memorable settings, and the characters themselves. Overall, I enjoyed every aspect of this novel.

One memorable thing about the novel was Kitty’s “oddity”. Her skill was consistent and useful throughout the book and drove the plot forward without seeming unrealistic. Furthermore, her unique mind allowed for unconventional but clever solutions to obstacles. Its addition allowed the story to distinguish her but not make her a firm outcast.

Reviewed by  Soumya K. at Twin Hickory Library

Read + Review: Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke

Curse of the Specter Queen follows the journey of Samantha (Sam) Knox. Sam loved to solve clues, but the death of her father really scarred her. She is able to regain the exhilaration of solving that next clue with the help of childhood friends, Bennett and Joana, and a mysterious little black book. The book causes Sam to leave the comfort of her little bookshop in rural Illinois to travel to Dublin, Ireland. There she encounters the HellFire Club and the brothers of Solas Fior. Both groups are deeply tied to the book. By using her knowledge on book repair and ciphers, Sam discovers that the book holds the secrets of the curse of the Specter Queen. Sam works with Bennett and Joana to prevent the Specter Queen from being resurrected.

 I liked the old, mystery feel of the book. Moke really embodied the type of writing and language I think you would find during this time period. The author also utilized a lot of literary devices such as personification and metaphors. I remember reading the book and being able to clearly note the author’s use of the devices. I wished that Alistair and Veronica’s, people Sam met on the ship that took her to Ireland, characters had been elaborated on a little bit more. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It successfully reached out to the little adventurer in me.

 One memorable thing about the book was the use of different ciphers. I thought that it was very interesting and cool that the author took the time to talk about different types of ciphers. She also nicely developed the clues used to solve the curse problem.

Review by Maya R. , Fairfield Library