The Talon Saga

To take her rightful place in the powerful Talon organization, hatchling Ember Hill must prove she can hide her dragon nature and blend in with humans. Her delight at the prospect of a summer of human teen experiences is short-lived, however, once she discovers that she must also train for her destined career in Talon. But a chance meeting with a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught.

– Excerpt from Amazon description (https://www.amazon.com/The-Talon-Saga/dp/B074C8YNK1)

Talon is the first book in The Talon Saga by Julie Kagawa. While I devoured the first book, aspects of it reminded me of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. There are two male characters who are in love/infatuated with Ember Hill (the main character). She, of course, has feelings for both of them, and these feelings complicate their already difficult life. Romance aside, I really did enjoy the first book and couldn’t wait to see what happened. I eagerly borrowed the second book, Rogue, from the library.

The second book, however, has not impressed me. While I really want to know what happens with the story, there is too much repetition in the second book. The internal dialogue between characters is the same in almost every chapter, and the conversation between the characters is essentially the same, just different circumstances surrounding the characters.

During their internal dialogue, the characters frequently reference the same events and thoughts they had during the first book. I did not mind in the first couple chapters because I think too many authors forget to provide context for people who perhaps haven’t read the first book or for fans who had to wait a year for the book’s release. However, aside from a brief reference for context, the information does not need to be frequently repeated. The same can be said for the romantic internal dialogue. Yes, the characters are struggling to understand their feelings for each other, but they apparently obsess over it every chapter or two.

The conversations between the main characters are repetitive as well. It usually consists of the two guys – Garret and Riley – expressing dislike for each other or Ember and Riley arguing about Ember’s reckless ideas. I admit, I’m on Riley’s side. I started getting frustrated with Ember because of her recklessness. While her character makes decisions based on her emotions, it still seems like she could use a bit more reason and common sense knowing the dangerous circumstances they are encountering.

In terms of Ms. Kagawa’s writing style, she is a good writer. The book is easy to read and draws you in. For those who loved Twilight, I definitely recommend this series. But if you are like me and get board when romance starts to take up a huge chunk of the character’s time, The Talon Saga won’t interest you.

Sensitive reader alert: There are a few instances of the F word (and some other profanity). So between that, the intense romantic infatuation, teen drinking, and an attempted sexual assault, I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone 14 and younger.

The Portal Wars Saga (Book 1)

When I started listening to The Portal Wars Saga (Book 1), I was optimistic that I’d found my next series. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The Hidden Tower is the first book in The Portal Wars Saga by James E. Wisher. The story follows Otto, the third son of a country baron, who desires to become an Arcane Lord. The problem? Magic is illegal. When an arranged marriage allows Otto to become a friend of the prince, Otto decides to use his new connections to advance the status of wizards and ultimately become one of the most powerful wizards himself.

The book itself is well written, albeit a little slow. However, as things begin to ramp up in the story, you begin to wonder if the main character is a hero or a villain. One might say Otto becomes obsessed with magic and power, an obsession that sees the initially considerate, somewhat likeable teenage boy quickly transform into a scheming, vengeful, power hungry individual.

As I prefer stories whose main characters are either heroes or are on a path towards redemption, this is not a series I will continue to read.

Sufficiently Advanced Magic

Adventure awaits in this land of magic and mythical gods!

Five years ago, Tristan Cadence disappeared during his Judgement – a potentially fatal quest to earn a magical attunement. Now, it is Corin Cadence’s turn to enter the Serpent Spire for his Judgement, and Corin has only one thing on his mind – find his brother.

By completing the Judgement, Corin hopes to earn a powerful attunement that will enable him to find his brother. As with all heroes, things never go as planned. While Corin does survive the Judgement, the attunement he receives is not one he was hoping for; furthermore, his actions in the Spire may have put him on the wrong side of the gods. And the last thing any teenager wants, is to be an enemy of the gods.

Sufficiently Advanced Magic, book one of the Arcane Ascension series, by Andrew Rowe quickly draws readers in with it’s easy to read (or listen to) writing style and well developed characters. Once you start, you won’t want to stop.

Arcane Ascension is one series I will be adding to my “favorites” list for teens and adults.

In terms of content, I give book one, Sufficiently Advanced Magic, a PG rating and book two, On the Shoulders of Titans, a PG-13 rating. The series contains some brief references to LGBTQ issues/topics. For the most part these references are quick and almost feel like they were thrown in there for the sake of being politically correct. However, because the second book has a few more references and contains some innuendoes, I would be hesitant to recommended it to younger children. (I will note that books one and two did not contain any sex. I have not read book three yet, but I hope it continues to remain relatively clean.)

Thieves at Heart

When I first started reading Thieves at Heart by Tristan J. Tarwater, I was excited. Tarwater’s writing drew me in, and I thought perhaps I had found a new fiction series to explore. However, it was not to be. Halfway through the book, I was still trying to figure out what the point of the story was.

Thieves at Heart follows the exploits of a young girl named Tavera who is being trained as a thief by her adopted father. Why do they steal? Because they like it. They get a thrill from planning and orchestrating a successful “take” (what they call their heists). Aside from that, there is no point to the story – no real plot – nothing moving the story forward.

While I did finish the book, I won’t be reading any more in this series. I’m the type of reader who enjoys stories with more intention.

However, like I said earlier, Ms. Tarwater’s writing did grab my attention within the first few pages, and I would consider trying another series that she writes. I think with a bit more proof reading and some editing, Ms. Tarwater shows great promise as a writer.

New Tricks (BBC)

These last two months, I’ve binge watched 12 seasons of New Tricks on Amazon Prime.

New Tricks is a BBC show about a British task force that investigates unsolved crimes and open cases. The leader of the Unsolved Crimes and Open Cases Squad (UCOS) is Sandra Pullman who was given the responsibility of establishing and running the unit after a PR fiasco involving the shooting of a dog during a hostage situation.

Pullman views her new position as a punishment, even more so when she learns that her staff will be comprised of retired police officers. These police offers are old men used to the police work of the 70s, when policy and procedure were lax and the idea of women on the force was out of the question.

Needless to say the combination of old and new policing, coupled with the cast’s quirky personalities, makes for a great story, some good laughs, and endearing characters. Definitely worth checking out!