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“We have not yet slain the devil: how shall we determine who is to be our new god”



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The 1-line Review:

A seriously quotable fantasy novel .

The longer review:

There were at least 3 lines that I read and had to pause for a second because of how impressive the lines read. The first one that stopped me was “”We have not yet slain the devil: how shall we determine who is to be our new god.” that was a seriously awesome line to me. I can’t find the other 2 quotes for the life of me but there were a couple others that had some real pull.

The story starts off with a Ranger’s Apprentice feel and the rest falls in line with a story similar to The Beyonder’s series.  It is a lightning-fast non-magic fantasy.  The story is driven by political shifts and espionage, but not to the Level of Game of Thrones. This story would be a great read for a youngster who would love Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, but are too young for those levels of reading.

I was impressed with the sage-ness of the character Mordecani. Many of the ‘quotable wisdoms’ came from him. The main character, prince Korbin, progresses well from start to finish and was a very likable main character.  Prince Korbin ages from boy to man and has to fight with feeling of Duty, and a justice of law that must be brought down upon him.

The strength of the writing and flow of the story overcomes any debut novel shortcomings I detail below. I very much enjoyed the book start to finish.


Where the book lost a star:

Half a star for character naming. Down to the end I was confused with character and location names. The author favored names beginning with A (Aeggis, Ascanth, Astrith, Adamah, Addrich) and R (Rotchardin, Raccanith, Radrin, Roald) .  The sound of many of the names felt too similar,  like how Angie and Angela are similar while Angie and Amanda are less so.

My other gripe was the interjection of a young character in the middle of the novel. There needed to be a flash back type memory or discussion placed somewhere  in the beginning of the novel to tie that character to something. Rather it felt completely out of no where.

Bottom Line:

This was a great debut, I expect the next to really build and flourish off of this first tale. The land of Adamah has real potential to flourish into a great fantasy realm.

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The Lost Branch


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The 1-line Review:

What can I say, I loved this book just as much as the first. The magic gets even better, the plot lines are deep and woven, and we get a great story line into the history preceding the main trilogy story line.

The longer review

Marcellus, Nicolai, and Corren have to handle new roles as King, Prince, and Head of the order. The Norther magical guild, The Osiris Colony threatens the balance of the realm with a claim to the powers of the Phoenix. The earth faeries face a challenge that will challenge their way of life. Can the new king and his brothers safeguard the realm of humans and fairies before the land they know is destroyed?  (you should read and see)

The magic continues to impress from the first book. The book dives into the history of the  Mapmaker and the earth fairies that added a great depth of knowledge to the character of Salerno as well as the origins of The Order.  There is still much to learn about the order, leaving mysteries for the next installment.

The Lost Branch matches the great depth the first book, Gift of the Phoenix, contained . Again the layers of major and minor plot lines are woven together so intricately, and feel separate but connected at the same time  I felt like there were several “mini ending” throughout the story that gave me a satisfying sense as each perspective plot line came to a close.

The main character of each chapter rotates among Marcellus, Nicolai, and Corren, with occasional chapters and excerpts centered around pro and antagonists. Each chapters grips and pulls you into a story line, only to be switched back into another characters story pages after. It ends up creating quite the page turner as you constantly are reading to get back to each character to see what happens next.

Bottom Line:

 I can’t wait for the next! this series is truly one of the great ones.

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The Dragon boy is back!


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(You can read the beginning of the book in that blog link up there!)

The 1-line Review:

Action and adventure are abound in a book even better than the first.

The longer review:

The Watcher of Zargon built upon the strong foundation built by Ben the Dragonborn. It was hard to put this book down, reading one chapters became eight as I tried to stretch my lunch breaks to get more reading in. Much less takes place at the school as Ben, Allison, and new student Mack are quickly dropped into Zargon. The rest of the story became a back and forth of

Zargonian war, family feuds, and diplomacy written in a way that is understandable and appropriate for the  intended reader (juvenile) while still being very entertaining for an adult reader.


I think the greatest improvements from book one stem from the growth of the author. Ben and Allison’s feelings and actions more accurately portray their age (14-15 years old) in this book. I felt they, particularly Ben, acted a bit younger than 13-14 year olds in the previous book. The Watcher of Zargon also has much better chapter to chapter flow than its predecessor; it sheds some of the episodic feel of the last book.


By the end of this book, readers of the six world series have journeyed with ben through 3 worlds, with the promise of an adventure on an unexplored world in the next installment. I certainly hope we get a story into each of the remaining worlds that have not been traversed by Ben and Allison.

Where the book lost half a star:

I’d say my only wish for for a bit more length to the stories. A little more dialogue and a interpersonal development will go a long way for the  coming stories. I think any youngins’ reading the next installment will already be invested in the series and be able to take a little more complexity without losing interest.

Bottom Line:

A series that is picking up speed and worth coming back to again!


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Ben the Dragonborn by Dianne Astle- Review


The Quick Review:

Boys between 8 and 12 will absolutely love this book; it is written perfectly for this age group. Ben the Dragonborn is a fun and exciting read that fiction-fantasy fans of any age will be able to get into. The story reads very quickly and is easy to follow.  This is the kind of story you will want your children to read if you want to show them that reading can be fun; and not like all the awful books teachers make you read in grade school.

The Longer Review:

Ben the Dragon born is a great new fantasy series. The book has a recipe of successful concepts and ideas that are familiar to a YA fantasy reader, but in no way does this book seem like a copy. It is unique and original in every way.

Portals to unknown worlds; gifted children chosen for quests; an array of imaginative creatures; and a school that is magical and secretive.  Fans of the 100 Cupboards series, Fablehaven, Percy Jackson, and Harry Potter will find something to love in this book.

The Story:

Ben is a regular student at a not so regular school. He knows the school is different, but he and his friend cannot figure out why.  A meeting with his principle turns into a quest to another world. Ben has to decide if all this is real, and if he really has what it takes to save another world from a disaster that the natives cannot fix themselves.

The Writing: 

Astle’s writing is very easy to read and follow. Her story is not bogged down with too much detail or unnecessary back-story. Ben the Dragon born felt like a fun, bight adventure that is perfectly suited for the “Juvenile Fiction” genre.

The story reads very quickly, and the characters move very fast through the story. My only critique is a budding romance between 2 characters. They go from despising each other to putting up with each other in a few chapters. Then you turn the page and one is saying she loves the other.  This happened over the course of a day, maybe two, in the story. It was just way too fast for those feelings to develop like that. That said it did not detract from or get in the way of the story, and is probably a believable progression of feeling for a very young reader.

The Characters:

The story follows the POV of Ben, a student at Fairhaven. He goes through most of the story with 2 companions around his age, Jared and Charla. Ben and Jared seem very average, no over the top emotions or character flaws. It is nice to see main characters who are normal, rather than super nerdy or over defiant. Charla is over confident and a little arrogant, which plays well into the adventure.


This is a must read for boys. Books like this are what get you into reading at a young age. I wish I had more stories like this when I was in grade school. It is an exciting story, full of adventure, and easy to read. I look forward to the next one.

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