The Beginning, Book 1, Part 1

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The Beginning, Book 1, Part 1 of the McKinnon Legends, by Ranay James tells the story of a duchess named Morgan Pembridge who escapes her abusive uncle. Disguised as a boy, she encounters a night named Nick McKinnon, and together they flee her uncle.

It is hard to give much more of a synopsis without giving away the plot, but I’m sure if I tell you that this feels more like a romance story than a time-travel story (which is what it claims to be), you can figure it out.

Honestly, I think this is one of the hardest reviews I’ve written. It’s very easy to write reviews when you obviously love something or obviously hate it. This book was sort of in the middle. The story was not strong, but was promising. I didn’t want to put it down . . . until the last 1.5 hours (I listened to the audio book). In that last 1.5 hours, I found myself rolling my eyes and saying “Oh, come on! We are really going to do this again?!” (Imagine a tone of sarcasm and exasperation as you read that sentence.)

It is hard to justify why I believe events in the story were unrealistic and drawn out without actually giving away spoilers. So, you will either have to trust me, or read the book yourself. 🙂

If you want a very thorough review, you can check out Hayat’s review on Goodreads. Please note, that my review is only of Part 1. Apparently, parts 1 & 2 were published as separate books but have since been combined into one book. Hayat’s review is of part 1 and 2.

Also, I will say this book is probably PG-15 for some sexual references. Not enough to warrant my “sensitive reader alert” but enough to caution parents about letting their teens read it. 

P.S. And no, if you are wondering, I will not continue to read this series.

Raising Dion

 

A couple of days ago, I was really grumpy and decided it was best to avoided human contact. So, I barricaded myself in my room and watched 3+ hours of Raising Dion, Netflix’s new TV series. I had started the series the week before and was about halfway through. Those 3+ hours of binge watching took me to the end of the series.

The series is about a boy named Dion (in case you didn’t figure that out) who finds he possesses magical powers. Together with his mother, Dion must learn to manage his powers while facing a mysterious magical creature (The Crooked Man).

There are so many things I liked about this show that it is impossible to list them all here. The show is well-acted, intense at times, and filled with humor. But my favorite aspect of this show was the values. Two things in particular stood out to me:

  1. “You can’t shrink yourself to make other people comfortable.”
  2. “You can be a hero if you want.”

“You can’t shrink yourself to make other people comfortable.”

This was said to Dion when he was suppressing his powers so he wouldn’t scare his mom. He was afraid the added stress of his powers would make his mom feel sad.

I thought this quote was appropriate because in today’s society, we focus a lot on changing who we are to make other people comfortable. We tiptoe around certain topics and avoid certain words because we are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. However, in reality, we are not responsible for other people’s feelings.

This does not mean we can be rude and insensitive. This simply means that we are allowed to have opinions and values that differ from others, and if they are offended because we don’t agree with them, that is their problem and not ours. We should not feel obligated to hide our opinions, beliefs, or values simply because other people may feel upset.

The conversation continues in which Dion is told that his mom “is allowed to feel sad,” which I thought was a good reminder for us. It is okay if we feel sad or angry or scared. Just because a feeling is unpleasant doesn’t mean we should ask other people to shrink themselves by changing their values, beliefs or opinions, so that we can avoid experiencing an unpleasant feeling.

“You can be a hero if you want.”

Dion says this to Charlotte, another individual with powers, who lives in fear The Crooked Man will get her.

This particular quote stood out to me because we can all be heroes if we want to be. Our past does not determine our future. We have the ability to choose where we want to go from this point in our life. Our circumstances, no matter how dire, do not confine us to one outcome. If we want something, we can choose to go after it, to become it. We can choose to overcome despite the fear, the challenges, and the struggles in life. Our present and future are what we choose to make it.

If you are looking for a good show to watch, you might consider checking out Raising Dion. I know I am looking forward to seeing what the second season brings.

Sensitive Reader Alert: For those of you who have not discussed same-sex attraction with your children, you might want to skip episode 7. Kat Neese, Dion’s aunt, is a hard working woman who will do anything to help her sister and her nephew. There is a scene in episode 7 when Kat and her girlfriend are cuddling in a bed. While this scene is mild in terms of relationship scenes – clothes are on, there is no sex – if you haven’t discussed same-sex relationships with your children, it will raise questions.

The Corundum Conundrum by J. Kevin Earp

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 10.58.16 PMAnother solid book by J. Kevin Earp! In fact, the ending of this one even surprised me. As I cannot say much without giving away spoilers, I will just have to leave it at that.

I will note that characters with minor roles in the first book are given larger roles in this one, playing with the idea of mercy, forgiveness, and healing after trauma.

P.S. For those of you who enjoy clean books written for adults, you might consider giving it a try.

*I am related to the author and was provided with a copy of The Corundum Conundrum (Marcus Lear Mysteries Book 2) free of charge in exchange for my review. I received no monetary compensation.

Plague of Shadows by Michael Wisehart

PlagueofShadowsHow long do I have to wait for the next one?

I can say with certainty that I enjoyed this book far more than the first one, probably because there is significantly less torture. (The torture in the first book made me squeamish.)

In the last book, my favorite storylines were ones involving Ty and the Weilder Council, but in this book, I really enjoyed Ferrin, Rae, and Ayrion’s storylines.

I will say from a reader’s standpoint, the book could have benefited from a synopsis of the first book, The White Tower, along with a character list and short bio of each. It has been a long time since the first book was released (approx. 3 years), and I’d forgotten some major plot details and supporting characters, some of whom have a larger role in this book. After reading 12 chapters of Plague of Shadows, I decided to re-listen to the first book to refresh my memory. Once I did that, I was able to truly enjoy Plaque of Shadows.

In conclusion, this series is still in my top-10 list and is definitely worth reading. (I’m even thinking about buying the audio version. Tim Gerard Reynolds is an AMAZING narrator!) But, if you have not read The White Tower recently, you will want to do so before starting this book (unless you are one of the lucky few with a photographic memory).

I received an advance copy of “Plaque of Shadows” by Michael Wisehart in exchange for a review.

Authors, Artists & Artisans!

Had a nice time at the Higher Ground Books & Media‘s “Authors, Artists & Artisans!” event.

I spent way too much money, but hey, I got some Christmas gifts! (Thanks Michael Fehskens and Meaghan Fisher: Children’s Author)

Met some authors that I’ve read (J.Kevin Earp) and several that I’d like to read (Mina R Raulston, Parker Stevens, and Carolyn Williams). My reading list just got longer!

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