Posts Tagged ‘dragons’

finding-angel-coverHaving written stories for several anthologies, Heckenbach launched her debut novel “Finding Angel” on Sep 1, 2011. As a homeschooling mother, fantasy lover, and self-proclaimed science geek, Heckenbach put her skills into creating the Toch Island Chronicles. There are currently two books released in the series, with Seeking Unseen (Book 2) published a year after the first. Finding Angle is available as a Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook.

Story overview:
Angel knows that her family isn’t related to her by blood, but she loves them just the same. Particularly her younger foster brother. Having been adopted at a young age, and lost her childhood memories, she often wonders what her birth parents are like.

Fascinated by the world of fantasy, whether books or pictures, Angel feels a close connection to otherworldly elements. Not only is she smart for her age, but her recent curiosity over a beetle that her brother found sets her to task. Her mission: to find out what type of beetle it is.

Before exhausting the library’s resources on the subject, Angel meets an oddly dressed boy by the name of Gregor. Little did she know that the beetle was magical, and the boy had been searching for her for years. But most of all, Angel was soon to discover that her love for magical worlds wasn’t based on fantasy at all.

My thoughts:
Cleanly written in the third-person limited narration, I quite enjoyed this story. Some elements of it made me think of Inkheart (by Cornelia Funke), with Gregor’s personality a bit like Farid’s. Only, instead of obsessing over Dustfinger, his eyes were fixated on someone else. Some reviewers likened this book to Harry Potter while others to The Lord Of The Rings. But, magical and elven elements aside, I thought it followed its own path fairly well–standing on its own two feet. If you like a good young adult fantasy, don’t hesitate to give this one a look.

Things to consider:
There is no foul language or sexual situations (considering two teens of the opposite sex live alone together for some time). No excessive violence to speak of, but there are a few scenes regarding death and a few that contain some gory elements. Overall, nothing objectionable that I could detect. I’d recommend this for preteens and older, with a slight emphasis toward girls as the protagonist is female, but boys should also come away feeling significantly satisfied.

Opportunities for discussion:
Like Angel, who dreamed of being in another world, Christians believe that we were created for something better. Something beyond what we see before our eyes. It is this longing that sometimes leads us into obsessing over fictional worlds. We know things have gone wrong, and we know they need to be fixed; therefore, many authors have sought to create environments in which they can express such struggles. Fiction is a wonderful place, a place where we can be more than who we are, and the world can be larger and better than the one we live in now. Yet these are only shadows of the true thing which is to come–as C.S.Lewis speaks to in Narnia’s The Last Battle. Remind your youth that the wonders of fantasy and fiction are an important part of a bigger picture, one with which we can all be a part of in the hereafter.

Igraine the BraveI checked out this book because I enjoyed the Inkworld/Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke.

Here are my past reviews of the trilogy:
1) Inkheart (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 1)
2) Inkspell (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 2)
3) Inkdeath (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 3)

Story overview:

Soon to be twelve years old, Igraine eagerly awaits her birthday present. Even though she insists on being a knight, she doesn’t hesitate to accept gifts made from magic. Her mother, father, and brother worked on her gift with the help of some special magical books.

During the process, Igraine’s parents were accidentally turned into pigs. This wouldn’t be so bad except that (1) they could not use magic in pig form, (2) they needed giant’s hair in order to be turned back, and (3) their old castle suddenly fell under siege by a man named Osmond who took over the castle next-door. Osmond’s desire was to capture the magical books and become the most powerful wizard in the world.

Igraine goes on a quest to find giant hairs while her brother stays back at the castle to fend off the intruders (with the aid of the magic books and the castle’s defenses.) On her journey, Igraine comes in contact with the Sorrowful Knight of the Mount of Tears, and the two travel back to hopefully save the day.

My thoughts:

To be honest, after I started to read Igraine The Brave, I ended up putting it down and letting it sit on the pile for awhile. Why? Because the beginning forced a lot of explanatory narrative onto the reader, which in my opinion, is completely unnecessary. But once I got past that part, it didn’t take long for me to appreciate the story (I recommend starting with Chapter 1 and then going back to the preface once you have finished the book.) Wonderfully designed characters (especially the cat, Sisyphus,) a neatly designed fantasy world, fun personalities, great situations of tension, and the story is creatively magical. It is also easy to read and the writing style is of good quality. A great book for lovers of fairy tales.

Things to consider:

Great for girls and boys; ages nine to twelve (and younger if you read it to them.) No questionable content in the form of sexual situations, foul language, or dark themes. Even the violent scenes are quite tame. The one thing that may be considered disturbing to some children is when the knights get turned into fish and the cat has them for a light snack. Honestly, this is funny, but some children might take it seriously. Overall a great family book that is bound to become a favorite during story time.

Opportunities for discussion:

Part of the fun of this book is that it is not overly serious. However, in all stories, there is at least one good opportunity for discussion. One thing that stood out to me is the honor code of a knight. Ask your children to tell you the difference between the Sorrowful Knight and the Heartless Knight, and which they would rather be.