Review 5 star
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Princess Journee is a little mouse with a big mission. In the Pond of Reflection (Pearls of Wisdom Series Book 1), written by Catherine Ann Russell and illustrated by Brooke Connor, the princess lives with her royal father. He abhors shallowness and has forbidden mirrors in the peaceful kingdom so that no one will be self-conscious about their appearance. The internal person, the “inside-out,” is of greater importance. But Journee doesn’t know what she looks like and feels she doesn't know enough about herself even though she is aware the external does not define her. For her birthday, she goes out on a quest, traveling through the kingdom with three friends, in search of the Pond of Reflection, which can serve as a mirror since the kingdom has none.
With a pristinely flowing narrative and quirky characterization, The Pond of Reflection (Pearls of Wisdom Series Book 1) has a lot of charismatic strength, and the story never falters. A moral fable at its finest, it springboards off a Bible verse, Proverbs 27:19, to build a winsome story about finding true self-respect. It's a beautiful, high-quality fantasy story about a set of four close-knit animal friends who quietly meander through an enchanted countryside and discover life together, with a splendid yet understated interior of illustrations and decorative page design that makes this book perfect for little readers to savor and read over and over. Catherine Ann Russell’s book is the sort of story I loved to read as a child and I'm sure many young people today will enjoy it too because it depicts the world of children, what they need and what preoccupies them, so sympathetically.
Review 5 star
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In Unlegendary Dragon: The Magical Kids of Lore (Book One of the Unlegendary Dragon series) by R. L. Ullman, Connor Pendridge has just moved to the island of Lore with his mother. When he visits the local Renaissance Faire, he realizes magical beings lurk there, blended in with the Faire performers. It seems Avalon was a real place and Excalibur, the legendary sword, has a complicated history. The sword has been broken into three essences controlled by three amulets. One of them belongs to Connor, but he can’t get the hang of how to use it. When Connor’s mother is kidnapped by a sinister sorceress, Connor and his friends Gabby and Wade have to use their powers as a team and figure out how to defeat their enemy.
Unlegendary Dragon: The Magical Kids of Lore has a great sense of fun as well as some inspirational moments. R. L. Ullman has a really clever style of writing that spins familiar fantasy concepts such as Arthurian mythology and the reluctant hero archetype into a fresh and sparkling enjoyment that leaves you with the profound feeling you’ve never known any characters as cool as these. Banter between Connor and his friends, expertly woven recurring jokes, and lots of physical humor create scenes that are intricate and often flat-out funny. Connor is a strong hero with a well-depicted individuality to him. Being inside the mind of a boy who is learning to turn into a dragon is the ideal reading experience if you want a fun adventure that lets your imagination soar.
Review 4 star
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This review was done for an older version of this book, which was titled as Footnail Book 1: Genesis Awakens. That book is still on Amazon in paperback. The more recent version, released later in the same year, is the one linked to in the Find It on Amazon.
Gen Isherwood has fallen away from God recently, but an epic spiritual adventure awaits when she returns to her family’s ranch in Footnail: Book 1: Genesis Awakens, a fantasy series for young adults authored by Howard Haugom and Akorede Adekoya. Part of the story is set in present-day Canada and follows Gen as she takes on her family’s magical destiny of protecting three nails that have immense spiritual and historical significance. A subplot set in the Roman Empire shows Empress Helena, mother of Constantine and ancestress of Gen, becoming entangled with the same powerful nails. The two plots are linked by Gen’s flashback visions, by a family of bodyguards who protect the women through the ages, and by a wise old man with unimaginable powers who guides both the Roman and contemporary characters.
Footnail: Book 1: Genesis Awakens is well worth reading and Howard Haugom and Akorede Adekoya have successfully created a thrilling and layered story. I was drawn in by the premise of a brave girl fighting dark elements and Gen really delivered on that angle as this book is a coming-of-age story about a very interesting girl in a situation that is quite fascinating! Empress Helena is also a strong character and both she and Gen exhibit vulnerability and unexpected strength on their paths to becoming spiritual warriors in a plot that spans centuries. The villains, undead soldiers who originated in Roman times, appear in a veritable explosion of well-described fantasy battles, and the backstory about how they have always hunted the nails had me amazed and intrigued. An intense feeling of catastrophe overcome by light pervades this exciting take on Christian motifs and themes.
This is the companion for Sarah Scheele's newsletter blog. In it I share reviews for books I'd recommend/are similar to my own.