Review | The Warrior Poet – by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Outlander. But better. Oh and it has magic. So way better.

This book follows the story of Neve, who lives in present day Portland Oregon, and William Butler Yeats, who lives in 19th century Ireland. Connected from a past life, they are reunited through magical forces, and must figure out how to stop the evil trying to take over Ireland, rediscovering themselves, and each other, along the way.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, especially given that this is book 3 in the Faery Rehistory series, and I haven’t read the first two. But I was very pleasantly surprised by how engaged I was. I did not feel lost even once.

The main characters had very unique voices, which was refreshing, with excellent insertions of pop culture references (including Outlander) that were both humerous and situationally appropriate. I almost always knew who was speaking and was able to forge a relationship with these characters because of how well I came to know them through their consistent dialogue and behaviors.

Since this was book 3, I was expecting a lot of exposition. While there was some, it was done in a way that kept the story interesting, and revealed just enough that was relevant to this story, and nothing that wasn’t. And there weren’t pages and pages of it at the beginning, only 3 or 4 paragraphs scattered throughout 316 pages, introduced only when necessary for the current plot. So well done on this. Too many series books just rehash info from previous books that have nothing to do with the current narrative, and it’s very amateur. Fisher was expert here.

The magic was also very natural. This book explored reincarnation, Irish gods and goddesses and folklore, the poet William Butler Yeats (which I was skeptical about, but wrongly so), with a very intriguing and suspenseful build up to both the romantic encounter and the “big battle” at the end. Unlike some books, Fisher devoted about 60-80 pages to the climax, so I didn’t feel cheated at all. Her use of time travel was also very strategically done.

And the sex scenes…

🙂

Graphic and tasteful. Not overdone. Definitely not cringy like others I’ve read. They were also well placed in the story.

This book was a great read, and I’ll be adding book 1 and 2 to my reading list in the future and watching for more books by this very talented author. Sharon Lynn’s Fisher’s book The Warrior Poet from Blackstone Publishing, hits bookshelves on 12 October, and I highly recommend it!

Happy Writing!

~MJ

Review | The Adventures of Odysseus, by Sonia Elisabetta Corvaglia, Illustrated by Anna Lang

The fourth and final children’s book in the the Little Library of Greek Myths went down without a hitch. My son even said that he wanted to read it again another night. A clear success.

As with the other three books in this series, the artwork was attention grabbing for a child, and the story was straightforward and a good length for a bedtime story.

The Adventures of Odysseus took us through Odysseus’ more popular exploits, and made them more child friendly as well (hitting the cyclops in the eye versus stabbing him for example). I thought Sonia Corvaglia did a great job on this one, choosing the most engaging and interesting stories from Odysseus’ wide birth of narrative to retell.

And my son wants to read it again, which is a major win. I also enjoyed this book, and I definitely recommend this one for your children’s library.

This book and the other three in the series from Starry Forest Books, Zeus, Hercules, and Theseus and the Minotaur hit shelves today, 21 September 2021.

Review | Theseus and The Minotaur – by Sonia Elisabetta Corvaglia, Illustrated by Anna Lang

Theseus and The Minotaur, by Sonia Elisabetta Corvaglia and illustrated by Anna Lang is part of the Little Library of Greek Myths published by Starry Forest Books and will be available for purchase on 21 September 2021.

This is the third book in this series that I have read to my son Dante for a bedtime story and there is one more left to go. Like the other two, the artwork is excellent for this age range; colorful, fun, and straightforward, and the pictures clearly depict what is going on in the story.

Like Hercules, the story length was perfect for a bedtime story–right in between “I feel cheated if we don’t read another story” and “I’m bored.”

Also like Hercules, this children’s adaptation stuck pretty closely to the original Greek myth about Theseus and the Minotaur, and tamed it down by having Theseus capture the Minotaur and tie it up so it couldn’t hurt anyone else versus slaying it outright. I think this was a good move for a children’s version.

My son seemed to enjoy this book. There were significantly fewer interruptions from him as I read than when I read Zeus. However, I don’t think this story provided much that he could relate to as a child, and he seemed more interested in swiping his finger across my phone screen to turn the page than listening to the story. Although, he did ask a few questions about things that were happening in the story so I know he was paying attention, which is success in my opinion.

Despite that, when I asked him if he wanted to read it again, he said no. However, last night he wanted to read another story “like the one we read yesterday” so I’m chalking his comment about not wanting to read it again largely up to the fact that reading it on my phone doesn’t allow a child to see the whole picture, literally only one half of it, which definitely detracts from storytelling experience. I honestly think having a physical copy would have made the difference for Dante.

I would recommend this book for your children’s library. The story of Theseus is a classic and Sonia Elisabetta did a great job making this one kid friendly, and Anna Lang’s art was really great. I want to especially applaud Anna Lang for not only making the artwork kid friendly in appearance, but also selecting a color scheme that imitates the ancient murals and paintings from ancient Greece, it really imbues this collection with a classical essence.

Review | Zeus – by Sonia Elisabetta Corvaglia, Illustrated by Anna Lang

Zeus, by Sonia Elisabetta Corvaglia and illustrated by Anna Lang is part of the Little Library of Greek Myths published by Starry Forest Books and will be available for purchase on 21 September 2021.

This is the second book in this series that I’ve read to my son Dante at bedtime. Like the first, Hercules (which you can find my review of here), the bright colors and artwork are really kid friendly and engaging.

Zeus follows a few exploits of the Greek god Zeus and discusses some of his relationships with the other gods, painting a friendly picture of Mount Olympus that successfully avoids any major moral conflicts. So no awkward “Why is he stealing? Stealing is bad” questions from my son this time.

Almost none of the stories were accurate to the Greek myths about Zeus, which wasn’t too problematic for me because the real Zeus (rapist, kidnapper, adulterer, murderer) is really not someone that should be a role model for kids, so taking liberties with his stories in a children’s book I can accept and encourage.

Despite this though, I’m disappointed in this book.

This kid friendly version of Zeus was not very engaging for myself or my son. It was a really generic rendering of a god who just throws thunderbolts.

I would have liked to see retellings that are a bit more relateable to kids. Zeus interacting with his children: how he helped Hercules along his trials, or gave permission to Hermes to help Odysseus escape Calypso, gave Artemis her silver bow, or teamed up with Athena to resolve a conflict, for example.

A retelling about how Zeus viewed the gods squabbling over the Trojan war could have been interesting. A story about the three brothers divvying up rule over heaven, ocean, and underworld would have presented an opportunity to show kids how siblings can reach a compromise when all of them want the same thing. Any of those stories could have been relatable, engaging, and enlightening for a kid.

What I really can’t get behind though, is the exorbitant amount of words on each page. The stories, in addition to being generic, were really long. My son kept interrupting me to show me his toes or tell me some random thing that happened at daycare. The Hercules book did a good job in keeping the story interesting with few enough words on each page that they could be read quickly the page turned to a new picture to keep kids interested. Zeus though, not so much.

I personally would not recommend this book, but it might be worth getting for the sake of having a full collection of Little Library of Greek Myths. It does reveal a little bit about the hierarchy of the gods and introduces Zeus as their leader, which is pretty integral to understanding Greek mythology. So the book is not without its merits. Perhaps a child older than 4 would enjoy it more and maybe be able to read it themselves.

This book is available for purchase along with Hercules and two others which I will also review in the coming days. So stay tuned!

Review | Hercules – by Sonia Elisabetta Corvaglia, Illustrated by Anna Lang

Hercules, by Sonia Elisabetta Corvaglia and Illustrated by Anna Lang is part of the Little Library of Greek Myths published by Starry Forest Books and will be available for purchase on 21 September 2021.

I read this story to my son, Dante, who is turning 4 next month. He really enjoyed it and was engaged from start to finish. It was the perfect length for a bedtime story, not too long to lose his interest and not too short that he felt cheated if we didn’t read a second book.

The artwork was also really good, the bright colors are excellent for kids in this age range, and the story is really easy to follow. There are no big complicated words, and the author retells the trials of Hercules in a way that is understandable to children. Overall, I think this book would be an excellent addition to a children’s library.

My biggest issue is that the book ends without completing the final trial to capture Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the underworld. It ends with “a hero like Hercules will definitely succeed.” So it built up the tension for the final trial and then didn’t deliver and I was super confused.

There were several trials that the story skips or sums up with a single sentence, and this didn’t bother me at all because it would have been too long for a bedtime story if they were included, but ending the book with the hero essentially “unfinished” with his trials is a bit irksome. Dante asked me about it too so I think he was a little sad too, but overall he was happy with the book.

If the author was concerned about which trials to cut and keep, I would have cut the trial about stealing Hippolyta’s belt. Dante stopped me in the middle of reading and said “but stealing is bad, why is he stealing her belt?” which was a bit of an awkward moment as a mom and one I would have appreciated not having to be in if there was an option. Given that the author did skip other trials, it would have been good to leave out stealing Hippolyta’s belt and given us the Cerberus story for the end. What kid doesn’t like a three headed dog story?

Overall, it was enjoyable, and I will be reading the other 3 titles in the Little Library of Greek Myths series to my son in the next few days, so stay tuned for those reviews!

%d bloggers like this: