James & the Dragon by Theresa Snyder (The Farloft Chronicles #1)

Title: James & the Dragon
Series Title: The Farloft Chronicles
Author: Theresa Snyder
Date Added: February 23, 2016
Date Started: February 15, 2018
Date Finished: February 19, 2018
Reading Duration: 4 days
Genre: Fantasy, Mid-Grade/Young Adult (YA), Short Story

James & the Dragon coverPages: 61
Publication Date: June 21, 2013
Publisher: Self
Media: eBook/Kindle


What would you do if you were adopted by a dragon? When ten-year-old orphan James nearly drowns in a bog, he finds himself rescued by Farloft, a centuries old dragon with a glittering collection of treasures and an even richer collection of stories. But, dragons and boys are not meant to live together – or are they? When Laval – a wizard harboring a secret hatred for Farloft finds out about James, he sees his chance for revenge.


Farloft the dragon in instantly likable with his sound arguments and fascinating stories, although it’s unfair to ignore his nemesis, Laval’s, point of view.  The wizard has very sound reasons for hating the dragon, though Farloft’s prior actions were based on even more past experience, nor could he have known the unfortunate outcome.

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The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau (Book of Ember #4)

Book of Ember

<–The Prophet of Yonwood (BOE #3)

Note: Since this is a sequel there are spoilers for the prior book even in the blurb.  Something to keep in mind if you haven’t read the prior books and don’t want to be spoiled.

Second Note:  TSN gets (US) political for comparison.


Title: The Diamond of Darkhold
Series Title: Book of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Date Added: September 17, 2017
Date Started: January 14, 2018
Date Finished: February 19, 2018
Reading Duration: 36 days
Genre: Mid-grade/Young Adult (YA), Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

The Diamond of Darkhold coverPages: 285
Publication Date: August 26, 2008
Publisher: Yearling Adventure
Media: Paperback


It’s been several months since Lina and Doon escaped the dying city of Ember and, along with the rest of their people, joined the town of Sparks. Lina knows they are lucky to be there, but life aboveground is hard. Instead of opening a can for dinner, they must plant and harvest their food. And while there was no sun or moon in Ember’s sky, neither was there rain, sleet, or wind. Now, in the middle of their first winter, Lin finds herself feeling homesick for her old city.

It’s during this dark time that Doon finds an unusual book. Torn up and missing most of its pages, it alludes to a mysterious device, a piece of technology from before the Disaster. Doon becomes convinced that the Builders of Ember meant for them to find the device when they left the city, to help them in their new lives. Together, Lina and Doon must go back underground to retrieve what was lost and bring light to a dark world.

In the fourth Book of Ember, bestselling author Jeanne DuPrau juxtaposes yet another action-packed adventure with powerful themes of hope, learning, and the search for truth. 


The final installment to the series finds Lina, Doon, and the other Emberites fully integrated into Sparks so they all live as one people, but times are hard, and Lina finds herself longing for the warm familiarity of her underground home.  Doon’s discovery of the blurb’s mentioned book gives them a reason to return to the now dark and dying Ember where things don’t go quite according to plan.  There are people living there, but if squatting were still a thing in this post-Disaster world then the Trogg family would be squatters.

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The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau (Book of Ember #3) (DNF)

<–The People of Sparks (BOE #2)                              The Diamond of Darkhold (BOE #4)–>

Title: The Prophet of Yonwood
Series Title: Book of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Date Added: September 17, 2017
Date Started: December 23, 2017
Date DNF: December 27, 2017
Reading Duration: 4 days
Genre: Mid-grade/Young Adult (YA), Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

The Prophet of Yonwood cover

Pages: 289
Publication Date: April 1, 2006
Publisher: Yearling Edition
Media: Paperback


Nickie will grow up to be one of the first citizens of the city of Ember. But for now, she’s an eleven-year-old girl whose father was sent away on some mysterious government project.

So when the opportunity to move presents itself, Nickie seizes it. But her new town of Yonwood, North Carolina, isn’t what she’d anticipated. It’s a place full of suspicion and mistrust, where one person’s visions of fire and destruction have turned the town’s citizens against each other. Nickie explores the oddities around her–her great-grandfather’s peculiar journals, a reclusive neighbor who studies the heavens, a strange boy who is fascinated with snakes–all while keeping an eye out for ways to help the world. Or is it already too late to avoid a devastating war?


There seems to be some disagreement with whether or not this is the 3rd or 4th book.  Goodreads has it marked as the 3rd, but in my set The Diamond of Darkhold is the third installment and Yonwood doesn’t even have a number.  I can kind of understanding putting the prequel in the midst of the series to have readers reflect on how the world arrived at this point while the resolution to the narrative is still up in the air, but I see better advantages of reflecting when the original story is full told.

Regardless, The Prophet of Yonwood wasn’t nearly as engaging as the other books.  This is disappointing since the lead up to what caused the conditions prompting Ember’s construction could’ve been a gripping tale.  While I didn’t finish it, it seems like the author’s focus was on prophesy and proselytizing instead.

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The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau (Book of Ember #2)

Book of Ember

<–The City of Ember (BOE #1)                                      The Prophet of Yonwood  (BOE #3)–>

Note: Since this is a sequel there are spoilers for the prior book even in the blurb.  Something to keep in mind if you haven’t read The City of Ember and don’t want to be spoiled.


Title: The People of Sparks
Series Title: The Book of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Date Added: September 12, 2017
Date Started: October 22, 2017
Date Finished: October 23, 2017
Reading Duration: 1 day
Genre: Mid-grade/Young Adult (YA), Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

The People of Sparks coverPages: 338
Publication Date: May 25, 2004
Publisher: Yearling Adventure
Media: Paperback


When Lina and Doon lead their people up from the underground city of Ember, they discover a surface world of color and life. The people of a small village called Sparks agree to help the Emberites, but the villagers have never had to share their world before. Soon differences between the two groups escalate, and it’s up to Lina and Doon to find a way to avoid war!

In the riveting sequel to the highly acclaimed The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau explores the nature of conflict and the strength and courage necessary to overcome it.


We will renounce violence, which is so easy to start, but so hard to control.

In the second Book of Ember, Lina and Doon play Moses in leading the exodus from their dying city.  The find a settlement called Sparks where the descendants of the Disaster survivors live.  Having absolutely no experience or even knowledge of the world they’ve found themselves in, they ask the leaders of the village for help.

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The Diamond Tree by Michael Matson

Title: The Diamond Tree
Author: Michael Matson
Date Added: January 26, 2016
Date Started: September 28, 2017
Date Finished: October 1, 2017
Reading Duration: 3 days
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Short Story, YA/Mid-Grade

The Diamond Tree coverPages: 70
Publication Date: July 12, 2010
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Media: eBooks/Kindle


Dall is eager to prove himself a worthy prince, but what do you do when your older brothers have already slain every dragon and rescued all the princesses? You heed the advice of an old woman and set off on a quest! When Dall starts finding diamonds along the way, he discovers his quest may have a more unique ending than he had planned. Ages 6-12 and great for parents to read with their children.


This is a cute, little fairy tale with all the proper elements.  I could’ve done with a bit of something different from the typical Rescue Romance, but there might have been some Tarot references within concerning main character Prince Dall (The Fool), a literal Hanged Man, and a wise old woman who could play the part of The Hermit.  Regardless of its foibles and cliches, it was a fun, quick read.

3 stars.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (Book of Ember #1)

Book of Ember

The People of Sparks (BOE #2)–>

Title: The City of Ember
Series Title: Book of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Date Added: June 28, 2016
Date Started: August 30, 2017
Date Finished: September 12, 2017
Reading Duration: 13 days
Genre: Mid-grade/Young Adult (YA), Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrauPages: 270
Publication Date: May 13, 2003
Publisher: Yearling Adventure
Media: Paperback


Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness….

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?


“But what if they don’t find them? What if they never come out again?” “I think they will. People find a way through just about anything.”

The City of Ember is a marvelous example of the necessity of a prologue in some cases since it lays the foundation of the story to follow: how Ember came to exist, created by the mysterious and long dead Builders to harbor humanity from some unknown disaster two centuries ago.   The only record they left of their existence was a timer box set to open in 200 years with instructions therein.  Each mayor of Ember was supposed to safeguard the vessel, passing it on to their successor when their time came to an end, but as things often go, the vital information was lost ad now Ember is dying.  Food is growing scarce and famine is imminent, but even more dire is the instability of their aging generator, because if it fails, Ember will go completely dark.

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Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner (Nightshade Chronicles #1) (DNF)

Title: Nightshade City.
Series Title: Nightshade Chronicles
Author: Hilary Wagner
Date Added: May 17, 2016
Date Started: June 23, 2017
Date DNF: June 30, 2017
Reading Duration: 7 days
Percentage Read: 28%
Genre: Fantasy, Mid-Grade/Young Adult (YA),

Nightshade City

Pages: 260
Publication Date: October 1, 2010
Publisher: Holiday House
Media: Hardback/Library

Shares Paradigms With: Redwall, Watership Down (both linked in the blurb below)


Deep beneath Trillium City, a modern metropolis, lies the Catacombs, a kingdom of rats of extraordinary intelligence and ability. The once peaceful and democratic colony has become a harsh dictatorship ruled by the High Minister Kildeer and his henchman, Billycan, who runs the Kill Army and collects weekly Stipend from the terrified subjects. The two of them rule with iron fists. With most of the adult rats wiped out in Killdeer’s Bloody Coup and the subsequent great flood, orphaned young male rats are forced into the army and the females into servitude or worse. But change is coming. . . .

Two orphan brothers, Vincent and Victor Nightshade, sons of a hero killed in the Bloody Coup, manage to escape from the Kill Army and meet up with Juniper Belancourt, leader of a rebel group seeking to overthrow their oppressors and restore peace and democracy in a new city. The brothers are quickly caught up in Juniper’s cause: “We survive by cover of night. We live in the shadows, waiting for our redemption! Our name must symbolize our burning spirit. . . . Tonight and forever, we are Nightshade City!”

Juniper’s plans are complicated by many factors. His lovely young niece Clover has been picked by Killdeer to be his next Chosen One, so the rebels and their allies the Earthworms must work fast to save her. Can the rebels locate their enemies’ War Room? Can Juniper’s former love, now holding a position in Killdeer’s Ministry, be trusted? Will the rebels be able to execute their plans without the aid of a young Topsider (human)? And how will Vincent and Victor fare in battle will they honor their father’s legacy of courage?

NIGHTSHADE CITY is rich with memorable characters: Vincent, who comes of age in this time of change; his worshipful younger brother, Victor; beautiful, intelligent Clover; Mother Gallo, a canny survivor who discovers her lost love only to risk losing him again; the charismatic Juniper, a kind and courageous leader whose vision carries the rebels into great danger; Killdeer, a decadent narcissist with surprising depth; and Billycan, a truly demented former lab rat, brilliant, vicious, and Juniper’s sworn enemy.

This enthralling animal fantasy, in the classic tradition of Redwall and Watership Down, encompasses timeless themes of honor and loyalty, family ties and lost love, alliances and betrayals. Readers will respond enthusiastically to this surefire page-turner, set in a brilliantly imagined world filled with easy-to-root-for heroes and villains they’ll love to hate.


This story was touted as sharing paradigms with both Redwall and Watership Down, two of my favorite series/novels of animal centered fantasy/fiction.  In Hilary Wagner’s work, they are anthropomorphic like the former and are forced to fight against a totalitarian regime like the latter.  Unlike Brian Jacques’ long running series though, the rats of Nightshade City have a human factor to contend with, and the fact that the protagonists are rats differentiates it from Redwall even more.  Mr. Jacques has an extremely strict system where certain species fall (and there’s a great deal I can say about that in terms to how it compares to social class, but that’s a subject for another post), and rats are almost always villainous except in a few cases, which are quite noteworthy.

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Elijah Dart: Angel of Death by Jonathan L. Ferrera (DNF)

Title: Elijah Dart: Angel of Death
Author: Jonathan L. Ferrara
Illustrator: Aaron Ferrara
Date Added: November 2, 2015
Date Started: June 19, 2017
Date DNF: June 28, 2017
Reading Duration: 9 days
Percentage Read: 58%
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal/Supernatural, LGBTQ, Mid-Grade

Pages: 128
Publication Date: May 29, 2014
Publisher: Self-Published
Media: eBook/Kindle


Before his fourteenth birthday, ordinary Elijah Dart would have never gone snooping around in a graveyard, joined an old ghost for tea, or battled Hellhounds with a scythe. If only he hadn’t followed the Reapers through the graveyard on All Hallows Eve, he would have never been in training to take his father’s place as the next Angel of Death.


This novel is by the author of The Ghost of Buxton Manor, and it contains the same sweet charm.  It’s an earlier work, and there are some editing issues in terms of grammar, punctuation, and a few sentence structure foibles.

The story is cute.  Elijah is kind of a precious, cinnamon bun, so there’s an adorable incongruence with him being the new Grim Reaper/Angel of Death, which is the role he’ll eventually take over from his father in a sort of morbid passing down of the family business.  The Darts have their own personal cemetery (not suspicious AT ALL), and a groundskeeper/butler who reminds me of Dampé from Ocarina of Time.  Elijah stumbles upon a reaper reunion (which I’m pretty sure I could make into a triple entendre if I thought about it hard enough) in said graveyard prior to finding this out on his birthday, which also happens to be Halloween.  Things escalate or rather descend from there.

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The Quantum Ghost by Jonathan Ballagh (The Quantum Worlds #2)

The Quantum Worlds

<–The Quantum Door (TQW #1)

Title: The Quantum Ghost
Series Title: Quantum World
Author: Jonathan Ballagh
Illustrator: Ben J. Adams
Date Added: April 14, 2017
Date Started: April 29, 2017
Date Finished: May 20, 2017
Reading Duration: 21 days
Genre: Young Adult (YA), Mid-grade, Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic/Dystopian, Speculative Fiction

Pages: 206
Publication Date: April 29, 2017
Publisher: Self-Published
Media: eBook/Kindle

Shares Paradigms With: The Matrix, Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Trigger

On a cold autumn night, twelve-year-old Remi Cobb makes a startling discovery—a mysterious object floating on the pond in her backyard. With no idea where it came from, or how it got there, Remi is compelled to unravel its secrets. Her quest for answers takes her on a perilous journey across realities, where she finds a crumbling world—and the dark forces behind its ruin. Here she learns the truth about her connection with the strange object, and of those that will stop at nothing to destroy them both.

But even if she can find a way to survive, can she find a way home?


Mr. Ballagh not only does it again with this second foray into his Quantum Worlds, but he manages to do it better.  Any of the minor issues I had with The Quantum Door were utterly absent from novel.  The author doesn’t waste any time with the narrative.  He jumps right into the action of the book, and it’s instantly engaging.

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The Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh (The Quantum Worlds #1)

The Quantum Worlds

The Quantum Ghost (TQW #2)–>

Title: The Quantum Door
Series Title: Quantum World
Author: Jonathan Ballagh
Illustrator: Ben J. Adams
Date Added: February 18, 2016
Date Started: March 3, 2017
Date Finished: March 31, 2017
Reading Duration: 28 days
Genre: Mid-Grade/Young Adult, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Post Apocalyptic/Dystopian

Pages: 255
Publication Date: August 14, 2015
Publisher: Self-Published
Media: eBook/Kindle

Shares Paradigms With: Stranger Things, The Matrix

Discover what lies beyond the Quantum Door. The mysterious woods behind Brady and Felix’s house have been deserted for years. But things change when a fence goes up and the brothers notice strange things happening at night. From the moment they dare cross the fence, the brothers enter a world of dark technological secrets that will rock the foundation of everything they know to be true. And once they enter, there’s no turning back. *Some places are better left alone…*


This was a decent mid-grade/YA science fiction novel with excellent pacing, non-stop action, and relatable characters.  Often when you have two (especially same gender) sibling characters, their descriptions will start to run together, but this wasn’t the case with Brady and Felix.  The older Brady is more cautious and a bit shier, while his younger brother Felix is bolder, almost reckless, and an inventive genius.

The story reminded me of Stranger Things right off the bat with its “mysterious girl in the woods,” and “strange power outages,” but that’s about as deep as it goes with that particular narrative.  The Matrix-y parts have to do with the neurogeists (“brain ghosts”), which are terrifying antagonists similar looking to the sentinels that the boys and their new friend Nova have to face beyond the titular door where she comes from.  There are more Matrix-like paradigms, but I’d be wading into spoiler territory if I revealed them.  There’s also an interesting God motif insofar as all powerful beings choose not to intervene, and humans pay the (potentially deserved) price for our own hubris, but even deities can regret their choices.

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