Monday, May 25, 2015

Two Renegade Realms (Realm Walkers)

Title: Two Renegade Realms

Series: Realm Walkers (Book #2)

Year: 2014

Author: Donita K. Paul

Summary: In book two of the Realm Walkers Series, Cantor, Bixby, and Dukmee must band together to find the storied realm walker Chomountain after the devastating attack by the corrupt Realm Walkers Guild. But what they discover while traveling turns their mission upside down and they must now find a way to restore Chomountain. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Cantor
~ Bixby 
~ Bridger
~ Dukmee
~ Chomountain

Review: Where to begin? Where to begin? Donita K. Paul has done it again! Dragons, adventure, danger... what more would you want in a fantasy novel?

I was very muchly excited when I was able to obtain a copy of this book to review. No matter that I haven't read the first book yet, but I'm planning on picking up a copy of that one just as soon as I'm able. *coughs* Moving on... Two Renegade Realms was definitely a fun read. There were a few little things that seemed a bit confusing, but that would be quickly mended if I had read the aforementioned first book first. The characters are lively and memorable, the plot was active and engaging, and I ended reading with a hunger for the next book. 

Frankly, I'm having trouble writing this review, because it's easier for me to write reviews for books I didn't enjoy. Yeah, I'm weird like that. My favorite character, without a doubt, was Bridger, the shapeshifting dragon. I could understand Cantor's frustration with him as Bridger tended to be a little on the oblivious and careless side, but he was so hilarious! Mrs. Paul has a terrific talent in giving each one of her dragons special personality. Even though most of her books include dragons as main characters/elements, the dragons in each series are so unique. I think that's one thing I love about her novels so much -- tons of dragons, yet it's never the same dragon twice. 

I also really liked Cantor's character development. More somber than most, Cantor is stuck with Bridger as his constant (dragon companion for the realm walkers), and he is not secret in his desire for a new constant. Bridger bears his complaints well, but he doesn't want to leave Cantor. Their teamwork got better as the novel progressed, and by the end -- well, now I can't give away everything, now can I?

The portals are incredibly epic. Just thought I'd point that out. 

Advisory: Some fantasy fighting and descriptions of battles, but nothing terribly graphic. A group of foreign/alien invaders are written as being awful enemies, gruesome and despicable. In one scene, they eat people, including babies which they seem to think a delicacy. It was the most violent thing I can recall from one of Mrs. Paul's books, but it's not portrayed graphically. 

Other things to note quickly would be scenes of injuries/sicknesses. Nothing big, but two of the main characters in the book are healers, so it's natural to expect that. Also, some suggestions of romance, but nothing really comes of it. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy Two Renegade Realms on Amazon!

*Please note: I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.*

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Case of the Missing Marquess (An Enola Holmes Mystery)

Title: The Case of the Missing Marquess

Series: Enola Holmes Mysteries

Year: 2006

Author: Nancy Springer

Summary: When Enola Holmes, the much younger sister of detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared—on her 14th birthday nonetheless—she knows she alone can find her. Disguising herself as a grieving widow, Enola sets out to the heart of London to uncover her mother’s whereabouts—but not even the last name Holmes can prepare her for what awaits. Suddenly involved in the kidnapping of the young Marquess of Basilwether, Enola must escape murderous villains, free the spoiled Marquess, and perhaps hardest of all, elude her shrewd older brother—all while collecting clues to her mother’s disappearance! (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Enola Holmes

Review: This is a fun twist on your typical Sherlock Holmes story. While I'm not normally fond of spin-offs of classic, favorite tales, this was pretty impressive. It's truly a fun, female, water-downed version of everyone's favorite detective.

Now I realize that description sounds awful, but bear with me. What do younger sisters read while their elder siblings are devouring the gruesome, graphic, descriptive tales of Sherlock's mysteries? Why, Enola Holmes, of course! If you want something that tastes of Sherlock, but isn't Sherlock itself, go for this book. I'd honestly like to get my hands on some more of this series. It's short, sweet, and mysterious.

Enola Holmes has mostly grown up without knowing her older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock. On her fourteenth birthday, Mrs. Holmes go missing. Kidnapped? Perhaps. However, when Enola's brothers arrive on the scene, they seem to think that she ran off on her own because she was fed up with her present life. Enola refuses to believe that her mother would abandon everything like that, and she's determined to prove it. Only, her brothers are now throwing a wrench in the works: she must learn to become a young lady. It's a nightmare for Enola right from the start. New clothes, new manners, new rules... after growing up secluded from society and a little tomboy-ish, Enola doesn't adapt as well as her brothers had hoped. And of course, that's only before Enola decides to strike out on her own to find her mother. 

One thing I really liked was just Enola's name. "Enola" backwards spells alone, and that fact was referenced several times throughout the book. Nothing spectacular, but I just thought it interesting, so I'm mentioning it. Usually, as a general rule, I don't read spin-offs as new authors tend to re-personalize (yes, I'm making that word up) my favorite characters. While Sherlock wasn't necessarily portrayed wrong in this book, I felt that he was watered-down perhaps a bit. He wasn't exactly the marvel that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle penned him as (of course, who could ever meet *those* standards??), but he still felt somewhat genuine. I think it helped that he wasn't a huge character in the story, more of just someone who popped in once in a while. The book is named after Enola, so you'd naturally expect more of her than Sherlock.

Advisory: I can't recall anything off the top of my head. Enola is becoming a young lady, yet nothing is discussed save for corsets, bustles, and the like. Some mild action typical of mysteries, but it has a very Nancy Drew feel to it.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy The Case of the Missing Marquess on Amazon!