Tag Archives: Book Review

An 11-year-old’s review of The UnderTakers: The Last Siege of Haven

 

Before the review, a note from “Mom”:
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how I first encountered a Ty Drago book.  For those of you who don’t know me, I have three sons. 14, 11, and 9.
 
My 14 year old (AKA the Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer) is an avid reader. Always has been. After years of struggling to get Middle Dude to even read a comic book, I’d given up. Then I started having the same trouble with Littlest Dude. In a panic, I rescheduled a weekend to bring Littlest to meet Dan Gutman… the author of the only book the kid agreed to read if I twisted his arm.  Middle Dude came kicking and screaming (Well, not that bad, but he wasn’t happy)
 
What, Doesn't this look like Ty Drago?

What, Doesn’t this look like Ty Drago?

Anyway, this is where Ty Drago comes in wearing a big old red cape

(Well, kind of. We actually didn’t even meet him) …
 
While we were buying a few Dan Gutman books at the Barned and Noble stand, Middle Dude comes up and hands me this book. “Can we get this?” he asked. “It looks sooo cool!”
 
I flipped over this very thick book 480 stinking pages. It was HUGE.  I said, “You’re not going to read this.”
“Yes I am,” he pleaded. “It sounds awesome.”
 
I stared at this monstrous book that I knew would end up as a doorstop or mashed in the toy graveyard in the corner of his room. With a sigh, I purchased The Undertakers, figuring if he read five pages, I was way ahead of the game.
 
That is when the magic happened. That night, I found Middle Dude hiding under the covers with a flashlight READING.  Did you hear that? R.E.A.D.I.N.G.
 
I couldn’t believe it!  A few weeks later, he was done and asked for the second book. And then the third. And then the on-line material!
Wahoooo!
This kid who hated reading, was suddenly devouring Ty Drago books.  And once he blew through them all, he was far more open to trying other books. 
Now he reads every night with a smile on his face. Thank you Ty Drago!  You are my hero.
 
Enough of my babbling … Here is Middle Dude’s review.  I was going to correct his punctuation and typos and stuff, but I figured I’d leave it as he typed it.  Enjoy!
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The UnderTakers

The Last Siege of Haven.

 .
To Ty Drago,
Over all i really liked the book. It was literally non stop acition and i read most of it on one night because it was so great. The only thing i disliked was that most of the book was based on getting amy to haven.
Throught out the book i just kept thinking in my head oh my gosh what will happen next. my favorite part of the book was when they were being chased by the baby malum, it really added alot of action to the book, like a hole new species.
another part i like was when helene got out of her homeless old lady suit for backup. that came out of no where. When prentended to lose his sight i was like oh my gosh how did he lose it he isnt eighteen yet and a bunch of other questiosn like who will be the leader.
i enjoyed the part when they set haven with traps so the corpses wouldnt get in. i was also sad when [SPOILER REMOVED] died, but at least {SPOILER REMOVED} saved [his or her] friends.
overall this was one of the best books that ive ever read and i cant wait for the next 2 (i think there will be 2 more) books that you will write.
it always seemed like every second was an hour when i waited for your book “the secret of the corpse eater”.
i hope it wont be like that for the 5 book. i hope that wont happen this time.
  Happy Reading,
[Middle Dude signed his name.  So cute! but Mom is removing for privacy’s sake]
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Purchase Links:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | TBD

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Rafflecopter! Enter to win one of 5 digital copies of Last Siege of Haven (The Undertakers #4) by Ty Drago Click here

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ABOUT TY DRAGO:

Ty Drago does his writing just across the river from Philadelphia, where the Undertakers novels take place.  In addition to The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses,The Undertakers: Queen of the Dead, and The Undertakers: Secret of the Corpse Eater, he is the author of The Franklin Affair and Phobos, as well as short stories and articles that have appeared in numerous publications, including Writer’s Digest.  He currently lives in southern New Jersey with his wife and best friend, the real Helene Drago née Boettcher.

Author Links:  Website Twitter Facebook Goodreads

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Middle Dude received an arc for his fair and honest review. Where he would never pan a book (He’s cool like that) He has, like his older brother, respectfully declined to review a book after reading. He wouldn’t have typed all that out if he didn’t feel strongly about the book.

Book Review: The Artisans by Julie Reece

I’ve been looking forward to this book release for a long time. Julie Reece is the author of CRUX, which is one of my favorite paranormal/mythical novels.

Now she’s out with a brand new YA novel. Woohoo!

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The Artisans is a “Southern Gothic”. I had no idea what that meant, so I was surprised when it started to get a little scary. (At one point, I even had to shut my eyes, which made me remember that I was reading a book, which is a little hard to do with your eyes shut.) It is a creepy read at times, but only one spot got “gory” (Which was probably mild by horror standards, but it made me cringe a little.)

This is a loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, with a touch of the cobbler fairy tale thrown in for good measure.

A teenage girl is blackmailed into designing clothes in this “mean but cute” rich dude’s mansion in order to save her father. But there’s a catch – the mansion is haunted. And Mr. Hotness might have a few family secrets.

Ooooooo, yes,

They are the scary kind.

I enjoyed this book a lot, especially the last 30% or so when things started to heat up between the main characters, and the ghosties started to get a little… ummm, “impatient”. The last ten percent or so flew by. This is great for romance fans who don’t mind a little “boo” mixed in with their love story.

What is interesting though, is that this book is a duology, which means there is another book coming out. I am very interested to see where the author takes us in the next book, because The Artisans definitely had the feel of a stand alone. There is really nothing “left hanging”. So, if you are the type that likes a stand alone, don’t worry about picking up The Artisans. It definitely ends, and ends satisfactorily.

I would recommend this book for a nice quiet weekend read, or a fun book to hide under the covers with.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | kobo | TBD | Goodreads

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Rafflecopter!

Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of The Artisans by Julie Reece (INT)

Click here to enter the rafflecopter!

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About Julie Reece

Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.

I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.

Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.

Then I thought I’d write one down…

Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!

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Eleven-Year-Old’s Review of “The Three Thorns”: Brotherhood and the shield by @Michael_Gibney @chapterxchapter @tantrumbooks @month9books

TTT-CoverI figured a middle-grade review would be best coming from a middle-grader. Here is what he had to say, in his own words:

.

What was the book about?

It was about three orphans who band together when a bunch of guys tried to kill them. They end up traveling to a new magical world and find out that they have special powers and are part of a prophecy that says they will bring down the evil emperor.

What did you like about the book?

I liked how there was lots of action and adventure. There wasn’t just talking all the time. There were a lot of fight scenes, and it never got boring.

Who was your favorite character?

Tommy was my favorite. He was the oldest of the kids, and he was really mean when the story started, but he changed over the course of the book.

TTT-CoverTell me about the bad guy.

He has assassins and a big army. You don’t really see him to much.

You mostly see the big scary assassins that are nine feet tall and in every fight scene. They are really more like the bad guys in the story.

What was your favorite part?

When they broke out of the orphanage, everyone chased them. Mr. Jennings offered a year of work off to any of the other orphans who caught the kids who escaped. There was so much action! And they forgot something and had to go back, and someone got caught and stuff, and it was really exciting.

On a scale of one to 5… One being that book you didn’t finish last year because it was boring, and five being the best book you ever read, how would you rate “The Three Thorns?”

TTT-CoverI think 4 stars.

Why?

There was a lot of action and a lot of chasing, but the part  where they were being taken to the castle didn’t have a lot of action.

There should have been some fight scenes to make it more interesting.

Would you be interested in reading the next book?

Yes. They ended it in a way that made me say “Omigosh I have to see what happens next!”

Would you recommend this book to your friends?

Yes, to my friends that like action adventure books.

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 A note from Mom:

There you have it, directly from my son. I have to say that each day he finished reading with a smile on his face. He is easily bored, and there are a lot of books in his “did not finish” pile. He does not put up with books that don’t keep his attention. There is a rafflecopter going on to promote this book. Click below to enter. Good luck!

Purchase Links:

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD | Indiebound

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Rafflecopter Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c08c9e8e288/?

More about the book:

THE THREE THORNS (THE BROTHERHOOD AND THE SHIELD #1)

Three brothers born to a once powerful King were abandoned at birth and cast out into the old world as orphans – alone and unaware of the other’s existence or their royal heritage.

In the new world, by order of the false King, three of the most lethal assassins are sent to kill the children before they come of age and avenge their father’s throne.

But when the brothers find one another, Benjamin, Tommy and Sebastian must resist the temptation of magic and power if they are to defeat the unspeakable evil that has threatened them since birth.

The Three Thorns is book one in an exciting children’s fantasy series called The Brotherhood and the Shield from debut author Michael Gibney.

ABOUT MICHAEL GIBNEY:

Michael Gibney began working in restaurants at the age of sixteen and assumed his first sous chef position at twenty-two. He ascended to executive sous chef at Tavern on the Green, where he managed an eighty-person staff. He has worked in the kitchens of Morgans Hotel Group, 10 Downing in Manhattan, and Governor in Brooklyn’s DUMBO, among many others. Over the course of his career, he has had the opportunity to work alongside cooks and chefs from many of the nation’s best restaurants, including Alinea, Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Daniel, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Bouley, Ducasse, Corton, wd~50, and Momofuku.

In addition to his experience in the food service industry, Gibney also holds a BFA in painting from Pratt Institute and an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Connect with the Author:  Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

What makes you abandon a novel you are reading?

I recently finished a novel that was truly painful. In respect to the author, I’m not going to name it… but it was NOT an enjoyable read.

All the other novels I have lined up were screaming “Try me! I’ll be better, I promise.” And I was pretty sure that ANY of them I picked would have scaled higher on the enjoyment factor.

Was it written poorly?

I don’t think so.  You see, I purchased this book because it was by one of my favorite authors. In fact, this is someone I’ve reviewed and given five stars to, and if you hang here you know I don’t give away five stars all that freely.

I almost gave it up on this story five times, but I continued reading hoping that the author that I’d fallen in love with would shine through.

It didn’t happen.

What didn’t I like?

Well, I think it was a lot of things. This was a western. I detest westerns, but I’d read one last year that I really enjoyed, so I figured my favorite author could pull it off, too.

Ah, no.

The main character also had an annoying name. “Jazzy”.  Yeah, I’m serious. Don’t you want to smack her upside the head already?  I hoped my favorite author could overcome the annoying name.

Nope, didn’t happen.

In the end, I forced myself to finish. Probably because I purchased the book and wanted to get my money’s worth. Probably because I was waiting for some kind of a Sixth Sense ending that would make it all worth my time.

Didn’t happen.

In the end, though, something about the background came out that made me sympathize with Jazzy. Interestingly enough, I suddenly connected. Unfortunately, it was in the last couple of pages… thousands of words too late.

I’m wondering that if I had known this little tidbit of information in the beginning of the story, if the necessary connection between reader and character would have happened… that maybe, just maybe, I would have cared enough about her that I would have been worried when the stagecoach got overrun by bandits. I would have worried when the gun was pointed in her face. I would have cared if Mr. Perfect saved her scrawny butt…

The problem is that I suddenly cared to late, and it did not fix the rest of a very uninteresting read to me.

Have I given up on this favored author? I don’t think so, but I will be much more leery of picking up another title of hers. It’s a shame.

What did I learn?

I try to take away something from every novel I read. In this case, I will remember that if there is a secret or something in a character’s past that may help reader connection, I will push that little tidbit up front.  Late revelations are just that. Late. In this case, too late for me.

What about you? What makes you stop reading a book you have paid good money for?

Jennifer___Eaton

Book Review of “Surrender” by Aimee Lane

I wrote the header for this post, and then I sat and stared at it for a while. I’m not even sure how to review this book. Let’s try to start with the basics.

Were there any explosions? Yes, there was, but you’d miss it is you blinked. I had to re-read the section to make sure what happened…. But there was an explosion, so she earns an extra cookie for her efforts.

What POV was it in? Second person. That was fine… but it switched back and forth between the character of Lily and Cael. For half of the book, this worked wonderfully. The other half, it didn’t work for me. I’ll explain later.

Okay… let’s get into the good stuff

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Aimee Laine has a sharp writing style. She is crisp, concise, and not overbearing on her settings. I prefer a novel that moves, and for the most part, Surrender does keep flowing.

The last 40% or so (yeah, I read on a Kindle) flew by. Great plot, great pace, and lots of heart pumping excitement. I really enjoyed it and had trouble putting it down.

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Head Hopping:

Okay… so… here is my problem. I completely understand why she skipped between points of view in the end of the novel. I worked beautifully.

However, it didn’t work so well for me in the beginning. I think I could have gone through almost all of the beginning entirely in Lily’s POV and not missed out on much.

I think the author tried to keep it consistent, and made sure we saw Cael’s POV in the beginning so it was not jarring at the end. For me, it backfired, because I found I wanted to stay with Lily.

Too many characters.

There were just too many characters in Surrender. Half the time I was lost and had no idea who was who. Now, in saying this, there was a “book one” that I did not read. This may be part of my confusion. But my mind wanted to focus on Cael and Lily and the family that Lily went to live with. But Cael was always involved with long conversations with other people that just seemed to go on forever (from my perspective) because I wanted to get back to Lily.

Aimee Laine did her job, in that I cared about Lily… but I just didn’t care about all the rest of them… even if they were trying to save Lily.

Long conversations.

I touched on this a second ago. I feel like there were too many extended conversations. Honestly, I started to skim from time to time, thinking: “Let’s get back to Lily.”

Was this two short stories that became a novel?

At about 40% in to the novel, I was dreading writing this review. For the reasons above, I was really not liking it. It felt like it was winding down, and it pretty much did, with one loose end. But there was still 60% of the novel to go.

Huh

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All of the sudden, when the characters grabbed onto that little loose end, my interest became peaked. Suddenly, I was drawn in. I cared. I stayed up late reading. I hid from my kids trying to get a few extra pages in. We had company, and I was bored, so I scooted upstairs and got a chapter in and slipped back before anyone wondered about me. I was interested. I was hooked. It came together.

I did have a slight cringe when three or so new characters were introduced into the ensemble, but the pacing kept me going. Right up until the very last page you find yourself on a roller-coaster ride of awesomeness.

When I finished, I closed my Kindle and said “Wow, that was great.”

But here lies my quandary… I feel like I have read one three-cookie “okay” book, and one four cookie “really great” book. So how the heck do you tie that all together?

I’m just not sure. I wish that the author had found a way get past the first half of the book faster. There just seemed to be too much fat there, when all the beefy good stuff was at the end.

Would I recommend Surrender?

Yeah, I think so. Especially if you read Little White Lies. The beginning might make more sense if you have read the first novel in the series.

But if you find the beginning a little “tame”, don’t hate me… just get to about the 40% point and enjoy the ride. The second half of the novel really moves, and it is an enjoyable, tense read right up until the last few pages.

A Review of “Instinct” by J.A. Belfield

I gave this novella a try despite my better judgment about a shorter work with the “same” characters in a different setting from the original novel Darkness and Light.

DARKNESS AND LIGHT referenced a “past life” meeting between Jem and Sean, and this initial meeting is the premise for “Instinct”.

The idea of werewolves in a pre-electricity setting intrigued me.  Within the first few pages, I was swept up in the story, and quite glad I’d given it a try.

Despite its length, I found this in many ways superior to the full-length novel.  I’m not sure if it was setting or the interesting pickle Sean was in. Werewolves, after all, are not supposed to fall in love with humans.  It’s a big No-No, and boy does the head of the pack get ticked off when he finds out!

The world- building is excellent. I really felt drawn back in time, and the idea of werewolves just seemed to “fit” in the setting beautifully.  If you haven’t read Darkness and Light, I’d recommend “Instinct” first to wet your appetite and decide if the premise turns you on, because these are the two characters who are reincarnated in Darkness and Light.

Personally, I would have loved to see Instinct continue.  I think it had novel-length potential, and I enjoyed the historical setting immensely.

Click here to tweet about this review: http://clicktotweet.com/6lgeC

A Review of “A Touch of Greek” by Tina Folsom

Okay, honestly, this is the type of book that I normally wouldn’t admit to reading. I’m not really even sure why I picked it up.  I was looking for something “light” to read and something brought this to my attention, so here we are.  Ugh… I’m embarrassed to say that I really enjoyed “A Touch of Greek” [[cringe]]

The premise is that Super-Hunky Greek God Triton gets caught sleeping with the wrong woman.  Zeus gets ticked, and due to Triton’s history of womanizing he decides to teach Triton a lesson. He strips the young god of his powers and sends him down to Earth. He can only get his powers back if he can convince a mortal woman to love him.  And just for fun, this woman ends up being blind, so she cannot even be attracted to his godly good looks.

Yeah, yeah I know – the whole idea just makes me want to barf too, but I still liked it!

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the writing was awesome.  In fact, I thought I was reading a middle grade book to start, and ageless Triton spoke like a middle-schooler in the early chapters.  He was totally unbelievable… but I pressed on because “something” and I’m not even sure what, held my interest.

By the end, I was really rooting for Triton.  I got scared when I should be scared, and happy when I should be happy, and really nervous when the God of the sea was not there to stop a natural catastrophe.

Come on!  Fall in love with him already!  Don’t you know thousands will die if he doesn’t get his powers back???? Geesh!

[Snicker] I am soooooo laughing at myself.  Despite this books flaws, it was genuinely entertaining.  I turned off my ever-present internal editor and just enjoyed a light, fun to read story.

I’ll subtract one star for the hokey beginning, and poor dialog from Triton in the early chapters, but I can forgive the rest for the genuinely fun read this was. And the writing seemed better as the novel progressed too, so it is quite possible that the tone of the writing in the early pages was a plot device that was just lost on me.

Rocket Science this is not, but sometimes ya gotta just relax and read something just for the fun of reading, you know what I mean?

JenniFer_EatonF

Road to Publication #25 – One week to Release Day – And the Reviews are in…. Deep Breath

I think I’ve mentioned that people have contacted me to say that they liked the story.  Yeah, that gave me the grins and giggles.  But the actual reviews have now started to pop up on Goodreads. (Amazon is not live until the actual release date.)

When I heard, my hands shook.  “Nope, not going to look.”  I was a wreck.  Then I got a nudge from a friend telling me that I should definitely look.

Here are the reviews of “Make Believe” so far on Goodreads… cutting out just the parts that mention Last Winter Red. Links are included in case you want to see the full review.

Brook – 4 Stars http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/459716333

Last Winter Red was probably my most favorite story. I am really into dystopian literature and this definitely had that underlying theme. I loved the world building that went on. And I liked the separation of the “classes” in the two different worlds, which is something you see in all dystopian novels. I could definitely see this story sprouting into a book or even a series. And I loved the twist to this story, it was one I was not expecting!

Jill – 4 Stars  http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/462048340

Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton … was an interesting story. It reminded me a little of Brave New World. We have to civilizations living apart from each other both thinking the other is diseased and living a strange lifestyle. This follows a girl that is moving from one civilization to the other and the discoveries she makes about her life and herself. This is one of the top stories in the anthology.

Danielle Villano – 4 Stars http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/460337884

This was such a great premise for a story! “Last Winter Red” had a significant dystopian feel that was not present in the other pieces, and so it stands out in my mind. While Emily is a bit whiny as a main character, her personality is completely justified: her upbringing has her believing that she is entitled to a certain way of living, and a certain caliber of privilege. As she leaves the boundaries of the Red and enters the world of the Gray, she is faced with the fact that she is “different,” and not cut out for the hardened Gray lifestyle. The twist in this story was very well-done and I enjoyed it immensely.

Rachael Morgan – 4 Stars http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/442896275

MAKE BELIEVE is a magical collection of short stories. Just the right size for someone like me who falls into bed too late every night and doesn’t have much time (or energy) left to read! It was a pleasure to escape into so many diverse fantasy worlds, some completely different from our own, others familiar but with a dash of the paranormal. All the stories were well-written, but I think my favourite was LAST WINTER RED, followed by BIRTHRIGHT. Those two captured my attention the most, and kept me clicking through the pages when I should have been switching off my light and sleeping! Overall, an enjoyable escape from the real world. Fantasy-lovers should definitely check this one out.

Jen – At Random – 5 Stars http://lratrandom.blogspot.com/2012/11/make-believe-anthology.html      (Loved it overall and didn’t comments on any story specifically.

Aimee Lane – 5 Stars http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/327147561

Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton 4/5
Another self-sacrifice story, but one mixed in with selfishness (on some people’s parts) and a totally different world in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic setting. I liked that this was totally different than the rest with its settings and purpose.

Sans – 5 Stars on Amazon

Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton
This one is a kind of dystopian tale in that Terra is surrounded by a wall to keep out the “diseased”, the people inside are known as Reds. Reds are supposed to marry and have many children to increase the population as they all seem to die young. Outside the people are known as Grays, or vermin. The two are not supposed to mix ever. There’s a “red” doctor trying to help the grays and give them health care as they seem to be living to older ages and have age related ailments that need medical help. Emily is a Red besotted with the doctor who ferrys the doctor supplies from Terra to Outside. Emily’s husband died before they have children so she now needs to find a new husband and begin having children to contribute in Terra and be considered a good valued Red.
I enjoyed this as the dystopian genre is one of my favourites. I would also love
to read more about these characters too. Maybe this short story could be the
start of a series?  So I would give this story a 5/5 I want more!

Wow.  Ya gotta love that!  But I’m a realist, so I will now stop reading them again until someone nudges me.

This really helps me moving forward, though.  Maybe I should step out of my comfort zone more often!

How about you… have you had success with something that was far different from anything you’ve done before?

Review of Eragon by Christopher Paolini. What did you think? I mean seriously?

The Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer and I discuss the Novel Eragon by Christopher Paolini.

Now, to be honest I read this before I started beta-reading, so I was able to turn off my internal editor and just enjoy the story… but I really liked it, for all the same reasons Dude talks about here. Take a listen, and if you’ve read it, let me know what YOU thought, and why.

So, what are your thoughts on Eragon? I mean seriously. Come on and chime in!

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