The Dragon Sphere

the-dragon-sphere

The Dragon Sphere by Abel Gallardo (Young Adult Fantasy, Middle Grade Fiction)

This book, the first in a series called “Nation of Dragons,” introduces Landon Brown, a fifteen-year-old who learns that he is a “dragonoid” or “halfling,” half dragon and half human. He has no idea prior to this; all he knows is that his dad has been absent most of his life. His dad, it turns out, is a highly regarded elder among dragons; his mom is human. Full-blooded dragons can take on human form a few hours per day, while dragonoids are humans who won’t literally transform into dragons but have special powers and need training to learn how to harness them.

At fifteen, Landon goes into training in a summer camp for dragonoids, where he encounters a number of magical things and makes friends with other halflings, including Aurora, whose mother is a dragon elder. They learn about both good and evil dragons and that one of the most feared has been imprisoned in The Dragon Sphere. A group of evil dragons and their followers wish to find and release him in order to regain power over humans, and it becomes the mission of Landon and Aurora, along with their fellow trainee, Shade, to bring back The Dragon Sphere unopened. Unfortunately, many dragonoids before them have taken on the same mission and failed, never to be heard from again. Landon also sees this as an opportunity to finally find his dad and confront him about abandoning Landon and his mom.

This book is categorized as Young Adult Fantasy, designated for readers 12 to 18 in grades 6 through 12. However, it felt more on the younger side, like Middle Grade fiction. The simple, sometimes stilted, sentence structure and limited descriptions and character development left me, as a high school-aged reader, wanting more depth. That said, it has plenty of action, and the story will keep a middle schooler engaged. The author has a vivid imagination and has created an interesting dragon world and fun powers for young dragonoids. There are some messages about believing in one’s self and stick-to-it-tiveness, but the one I expected, about global warming and doing our best to preserve the environment from destruction, wasn’t developed.

Bella gives The Dragon Sphere four stars. 4 stars

Potty-mouth index: CLEAN

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Freya and the Dragon Egg

Freya and the Dragon Egg

Freya and the Dragon Egg by K.W. Penndorf (Middle Grade Fantasy)

I love it when a novel takes me to a new place and makes me want to know more about that place. I’m not talking about fantasy worlds, but real worlds, either historical or geographical or, in this case, mythological.

Freya and the Dragon Egg is much more than the cover art or the title would suggest. Freya lives in present-day Denmark, and Viking mythology is a big part of her life because her father is a Viking archaeologist. He runs a museum full of runes, tapestries, and other artifacts he has discovered. Among them is a dragon’s egg that he gives to Freya for safekeeping when it becomes obvious that thieves are looking for it. The egg transports Freya back in time to the Viking era. There she learns that she is the Summoned One who is expected to save mankind from the sinister Ragnar and his evil plans to control the Nine Realms.

For me, the best thing about this book was all of the Norse mythology that I learned about — the Nine Realms, the Valkyries, Valhalla, Norns, and so on — and also the origin of the term “berserk.” After reading it, I went online and found that all of it is true and the author really knew her stuff.

The story itself had some holes that left me wondering, but for middle-grade readers that may not be such a big problem. It has a somewhat confusing beginning because it starts with a dream — always a bad idea if you ask me — but quickly moves into a solid storyline with a twelve-year-old main character that kids can identify with. She solves problems, learns to trust herself, and develops new awareness of how important her family is to her. It’s the usual “finding out you’re a magical special person” thing that we all dream of, so we’re on her side.

The writing was pretty good. After too many “Freya did a double-take” lines, though, I was wishing for a new way of saying that.

Bella gives Freya and the Dragon Egg four stars. 4 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

A Supersleuth is Born

SuperSleuth

A Supersleuth is Born by T. Mara Jerabek (Middle Grade Fantasy)

I don’t usually review Middle Grade books, but I agreed to read this because the idea of a blind kid finding glasses that let him see sounded pretty good.

Ethan is a blind sixth grader who lives with his aunt because his parents have died. His best friend (and love interest) is Addison, a girl who meets him every day to take him to school, and his former best friend, Mikey, is now the kid who bullies him. He knows lots of people in town and is pretty independent, counting steps to get where he wants to go and being checked on by lots of neighbors as he travels between his house and that of the lady who takes care of him after school. One day, at the home of the caregiver, he finds a pair of magic goggles that give him the ability to see. They also talk to him about what’s going on, take pictures, record notes, and can increase his ability to hear conversations at a distance.

Meanwhile, his aunt/mom is a newspaper reporter who is trying to get new information about a bunch of stolen bikes in town, and since Ethan has always wanted to solve mysteries, he decides to use his new eyesight to help her and the police find the bike thief.

I’m not sure what to say about this, because everything was too simple and too quick, but maybe for middle-grade kids, that’s okay. The bullying kid, Mikey, suddenly becomes Ethan’s best friend again so they can solve mysteries together, but we never learn why he turned on him in the first place, and now, like overnight, everything’s okay. The mystery was a pretty minor one, and it’s hard to believe it took three kids to solve it when the police couldn’t. Plus, I never did understand why the thief had to steal kids’ bikes in order to do what he wanted to do. And I do think it would have been better if Ethan could have solved it all because he was an awesome blind kid instead of needing the goggles. They just turned him into another kid who could see.

I hope the author adds more tension and danger next time, to get the reader excited and nervous for Ethan, instead of making everything work out too easily. I liked Ethan’s voice as he told the story. He seemed like a kid I’d like to know, with a good sense of humor about life.

Bella gives A Supersleuth is Born three stars. 3 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free paperback copy from the author in return for an honest review.

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