Monthly Wrap-Ups

December 2017 Wrap-Up

I say it every month, but I honestly can’t believe how fast this month flew by.  I just got back to NYC after spending an AMAZING Christmas with my family, and although I was sad to leave them, I am getting excited for what the new year has to bring!  December was my first attempt at setting a concrete blogging schedule (Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday), and I think I like how it’s working out so far.  Here’s to hoping I can stick to it in the new year 🙂

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Books Read:

 


Currently Reading:36118876


Christmas Book Haul

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Broadway Book Chat: Erica Stephan

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December Reviews:

The Gwythienian by Savannah J. GoinsThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard


December Posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Fictional Bookish Settings I’d Love to VisitHarry Potter Spells TagTop Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read in 2017 This is My Truth Now TagTop Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Hope Santa BringsCake Book TagTop Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I am Looking Forward to Reading in 2018

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Broadway Book Chat

Broadway Book Chat: Erica Stephan

Broadway Book Chat

As an actor, every job you do, you make a new family. There is something special about theatre and it’s ability to bring people together in a way that is unlike any other. I have made so many amazing friends throughout my career, and many of them share my love of books and literature. Since theatre brings stories to life, I thought I would feature some of my favorite performers (my fabulous friends and castmates) and see what their bookshelves look like! Welcome to my Broadway Book Chat!

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Erica Stephan

Last seen at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

Instagram: @the.elf.shop

What are you currently reading?

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

What is your favorite book series?

My favorite book series is Harry Potter. I have read all of them more than 5 times. I obsess over fantasy books all the time…I nerd so hard…. but the Harry Potter obsession never fades. That being said, the Lord of the Rings books are a really close second. J.K. and J.R.R are magic.

Who is your favorite author?

These are so hard to narrow down!! But I have to say J.K. Rowling. Although that is a very standard response, and there are so many unbelievable fantasy authors I admire…she is my go to. If I could sit down and talk to anyone I would call up JK Rowling. I have SO MANY QUESTIONS.

What book inspires you and why?Untitled design

Honestly, all the Dr. Seuss books. The colors, images, and words from those books have stuck with me since I was little. They are so unbelievably creative and inspire me to invent whatever the hell I want. I like to think the inside of my brain looks like a Dr. Seuss page.

Which literary character would you like to play?

I would love to play Éowyn from Lord of the Rings. I have a speech of hers underlined in my book with the page marked and I’m waiting for the day I can use it as a monologue.

What book would you like to see made into a musical/play/movie?

I really hope “The Princess Bride” musical happens in my lifetime. ITS GOTTA HAPPEN. I would love to see it with a sort of “man in chair” a la drowsy chaperone type of narration because the voice that William Goldman uses to narrate and write the book in is hilarious. It is like the movie amplified by ten. I laughed out loud multiple times reading that book. Any fans of the movie must read the book. Its incredible. Also, anxiously awaiting “The Name of the Wind” series that is in the works…..and the third book. Need it yesterday.

What is next on your reading list?

The next book on my reading list is “Clash of Kings”. I just started diving into the Game of Thrones series. I caught up on the tv show… which is shocking because I’ve truthfully never watched an entire show in my life… and I am now deeply obsessed. I had to start reading the books to get more info on the plot lines and characters. I’m also excited to see where the books and show branch off from one another as I get deeper into the series.

What was the last show you were in and who did you play?

The last show I was in was “Madagascar” the musical at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. I played “Private” the penguin and “Mort” the lemur. It was a blast. I’ve never sweat so much during a show…So much sweating. So many puppets. So many children.

You have an amazing side business. What is the story behind The Elf Shop?

The Elf Shop is my small jewelry and craft business. I officially started it in 2014 when I launched a website and etsy page, but it’s been around since I was little. I have always loved making handmade gifts…One of my favorite things to do is create and invent specific crafts for people based on things they love. I started calling it “elfing” when I was little. Because around Christmas time especially, I was always in my room being “an elf”. I would really like to get that verb in the dictionary one day. I had a shop in the attic of our house that I would craft in all the time….and then in the basement of my house in college. Now, the elf shop takes up the majority of my living room haha. (Shoutout to my roommate and sister Becca for accepting that she has a mini hobby lobby where a tv would be)

Where can people see/buy your creations?

You can see and buy my creations at www.theelfshop.net. Or check out my etsy page @theelfshop21.

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I will feature a new performer every month! I would love some suggestions for questions you would like to ask, or things you want to know!  Leave them in the comments and I will add them to future interviews! A major thank you to the actual best human I have ever met, Erica, for sharing with us! You’re magical. ❤

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I’m Looking Forward to Reading in 2018

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Happy Holidays bookworms! 2017 was a great year for books, and 2018 is already gearing up to be another one!  Here are 10 books I am excited to read in the new year!

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War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

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 A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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Origin by Dan Brown

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The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight

 

*Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish*
Book Reviews

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard Review

23174274Goodreads Summary: If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

My Thoughts: After feeling kind of luke-warm about Red Queen, it took me a while to pick up the second book in this series, but I can safely say that I understand the hype now.  My biggest qualm with the first book was Mare’s lack of involvement in everything that happened to her.  I honestly didn’t really like her and found it hard to find a reason to root for her, except that I knew I was supposed to.  That all changed in Glass Sword.  Mare finally took charge of her situation and I am living for it.  She is more likable, relatable, and real in this book, and I think Aveyard did an amazing job of showing how complicated and dark Mare’s emotional life is after everything that has happened.  It makes sense to me now, after reading the second book, why Mare was how she was in the beginning.  Her journey is a much larger than I had realized.  All of the characters are so much more complicated and well developed in this book, including the tortured and exiled Cal, whom I adore.  I loved the plot with the new-bloods, and finding out about each of their powers was exhilarating.  The immediate action in the first chapter really drew me back into the world, and I appreciated the lack of unnecessary recapping.  The battle scenes were spectacular and gruesome once again, and I was screaming out loud at my book.  They are so incredibly cinematic, and I am dying to see these books on film (and would also die to play Evangeline Samos… hit me up Hollywood).  In addition to all of that, I think my favorite thing about this series is that I have absolutely no idea who to trust, what is going to happen, or how the hell they are going to get out of any of it.  I am so happy that I finally gave this series another shot because I am completely hooked.

Tags

Cake Book Tag

Happy Thursday my fellow bookworms! I was tagged in this Cake Book Tag by the lovely Elise @Roaming Reader, and after binge watching The Great British Baking Show, I was definitely in the mood for some cake!

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I don’t really read a lot of dark books, so I’m gonna say Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.  The concept captivated me completely, and I loved the characters.


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I feel like I have been using this one a lot lately, but I still am surprised by how much I liked it, and how warm and fuzzy it made me.


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I still don’t know how I feel about this.  On the one hand, I love it because it’s more Harry Potter and I actually liked the plot.  On the other hand, I didn’t love the dialogue, and I thought the plot was a little too ambitious for the medium.  I’ve heard it is AMAZING on stage, and I still cannot wait to see it, but I definitely have both strong positive and negative thoughts about this one.


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This is always the first book I tell anyone who asks me for a recommendation to read.  It has yet to be beaten among my favorite books.


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I got about half way through this beast, and just couldn’t get back into it.  There were some really beautiful passages in it, but overall it was a bit too slow to hold my attention.


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I just finished this one, and I still can’t get over it.  If you haven’t read it yet, you gotta get on it fast.


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I tag anyone who loves The Great British Baking Show as much as I do!

 

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope Santa Brings

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I love the Holiday season.  Everyone is more cheerful, pretty lights are everywhere, and seasonal drinks are at Starbucks! My favorite Christmas gifts, both to give and receive, are books.  Sharing my favorite stories with people I love always makes my heart glow.  This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is Books I Hope Santa Brings! I will be sending this list to the North Pole as well 🙂


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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I have been wanting this book for so long, and just haven’t been able to bite the bullet and buy it.  Hopefully Santa can fix that for me, because it is about time that I read this one.


Dead Locked and Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

As much as the thought devastates me, I NEED these last two books.  I am not ready for this series to be over, but I’m also dying to find out how it’s going to end. I just love Sookie, and I have a feeling I’m going to be upset by the ending… But I need to know.


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Origin by Dan Brown

I love Robert Langdon and the exciting, fast paced writing of Dan Brown.  I can’t wait to just breeze through this one too.


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The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

This book seems to have all of my favorite elements and I can’t wait to read it! And the cover is so pretty!! 🙂


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The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

I just need this one.  It’s a necessity.


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The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Every time I go to Target, I pick this book up.  I’ve been on a book buying ban (and surprisingly have been doing really well), so I haven’t gotten it yet.  It looks like it will be a feel good book, and who doesn’t want one of those?!


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The Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston

I loved the first book, and I am ready for the second one now.  Please and thank you!


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Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Another book I’ve been eyeing for a while and just have a feeling I would love.  Either this book buying ban needs to end, or Santa needs to come through.


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Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I have always wanted to read Agatha Christie, and the new movie looks SO GOOD.  I definitely want to read it before seeing the movie.


Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss

Santa has magic right? Send some of that holiday magic over to Mr. Rothfuss so we can get this book already! We’re DYING over here!


What books are you hoping to get from Santa? Did I miss any important ones? Let me know in the comments!  Happy Holidays Everyone! 🙂

 

 

Book Reviews · The Classics Club

The Handmaid’s Tale Review

38447Goodreads Summary: Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

My Thoughts: Wow. Just Wow.  I knew I would probably like this book with all the hype about the Hulu series, but it really blew me away.  It was different than I expected too.  I thought it would be a lot gorier.  While the whole concept is dark, the way Offred speaks with her matter of fact tone, and the way she relays the information in small, unorganized rambles, kept it feeling lighter but seemingly more sinister.  I absolutely loved the structure of the plot and timeline.  The small bits of information we got about the past, randomly interspersed with the current events, kept me turning the page.  I just had to know how the world got to be like it was.  I really appreciated the mundaneness of the story, as opposed to the epic fight we see in most dystopian novels.  It really made it feel real, and somehow more interesting.  I totally felt for Offred and the Handmaids, and while The Wives were so unlikable, as a woman, I felt for them too.  The whole society and way of life of The Republic of Gilead is disgusting, and yet makes for a very compelling story.  Reading about the situations these people were put in often made me sick to my stomach with my jaw on the floor.  It was appalling, and yet I could not stop reading.  I loved Moira and how her spirit helped Offred stay sane in her situation.  I was surprised that I actually liked the Commander.  I thought his behavior was a great juxtaposition to the villainy of men in Gilead, and made the reveal of who he most likely was and what he accomplished in his office, even more shocking.  The ending killed me.  I couldn’t believe that Atwood would leave us hanging like that, but it worked so well, and made me think back on everything I just read in a completely different light.  This book is absolutely brilliant, and I think it is a must read for everyone.

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Book Hangover

Tags

This is My Truth Now Tag

Thanks to Abbey at Three Cats and a Girl I was tagged to answer these crazy fun questions in the ThisIsMyTruthNow tag created by Jay!  In addition to all the bookish things, Abbey has a section of recipes that all sound amazing!  Check them both out and give them some love! ❤

Rules

  • Create your own new post and call it “Tag: This-Is-My-Truth-Now” and be sure to include in your tags the words (without quotes) “ThisIsMyTruthNow Tag”
  • Include these rules when you copy/paste to your own post.
  • Be sure to thank the person that tagged you and include their responses at the bottom of your post, so someone can get to know them too. Tell everyone something interesting about the person who tagged you.
  • Include a link to my(Jay’s) original post mentioning this blog so we can see how many people choose to play along. Link to cut/paste is: ThisIsMyTruthNow
  • Choose 12 bloggers to tag and include a link to their latest post, so others can check them out and meet new people.
  • Answer all 12 questions in The Challenge Questions section, but replace the 12th question with your own new one around telling the truth or revealing something interesting about yourself — you can leave the existing if you can’t think of something. OR Complete the Dare at the end.
  • Be sure to copy/paste the “Truth or Dare” section at the end of this post. It’s important to the challenge — so you better carefully read it!
  • If you’ve haven’t been tagged, but you want to play along, you can totally jump on in and post responses to the tag on your blog.

 

This is My Truth Now

1. You’re on your way to a birthday dinner that your friends have thrown for you. When you arrive, your favorite author is having dinner by himself or herself and asks you to sit with them, before you even see your friends or they see you. You have two choices: (1) You can sit with the author, but can’t tell your friends that you’ve abandoned them for three hours, or (2) Meet your friends and lose the only chance you’ll ever have to talk with the author. Pick one or the other — no exceptions or communication to your friends to tell them about the author — and explain why:

I would definitely take the chance to spend time with my favorite author.  My friends know me, and would understand how important that would be to me.  Sounds like the best birthday present ever to me!

2. You’ve got an opportunity to spend a few hours alone “in your bedroom” with a character from any book you’ve previously read. The character tells you that (s)he would like to lock the door and spend some alone time with you. What book and character is it, and do you decide to enter the room and lock the door, or tell them you aren’t interested?

Jamie Fraser from Outlander, and absolutely.

3. If you could turn any male character from one of your favorite books into a female character (or change a female into a male) in the book or book series, which one and why?

Kvothe from Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  I just think it would be really cool and bad-ass for that character to be a woman, and I would like to see how it would influence the circumstances of the series.

4. What blogger currently on your follower’s list (meaning they follow you too) do you admire the most and why?

The Orangutan Librarian. This monkey has posts that are very insightful, but also hilarious.  I always look forward to reading their stuff.  There is always a comment back and I admire the involvement in the bookish community.

5. If you could change any one decision your favorite book character made, what would it be and why?

Harry going after Sirius in Order of the Phoenix.  I get it, but I really don’t think he had to die, and if Harry had just listened for once it probably could have been avoided.

6. If you could pick 1 character from a book and 1 character from a TV show you watch (that is NOT based on a book) to be in a relationship together, who would you choose, and why?

Buffy Summers and Eric Northman (Book Eric, not TV Eric).  I feel like Eric is a perfect mix of Angel and Spike, and he would be perfect for Buffy.

7. It’s your last day on Earth. As you are about to cross that final finish line, a mysterious shadow appears, giving you a choice: (1) You can go move forward to whatever comes next for you [based on your own spiritual or religious beliefs], or (2) you can become a character in a book series and exist permanently doing whatever that author chooses to do with you in the book. Which do you choose, and if it’s option 2, reveal the book and author.

I would go into the Harry Potter universe and let Ms. Rowling do with me as she pleases.

8. If you could steal a pet from someone in any book you’ve read but had to replace it with a friend’s pet (meaning they wouldn’t ever see their pet again), would you do it? If so, explain the who and why.

I don’t really feel that strong of a connection with literary pets, and I know my friends would be ugly crying without their pets, so I wouldn’t do it.

9. If you could turn someone from your real life into a character from a book, who from your life, who in the book and why? 

I am fortunate enough to have so many amazing people in my life, and I really value all of my relationships, so I wouldn’t replace anyone.

10. Post a picture of the cover of a book you read in 2000 and the book you are currently reading now. (Note: if you weren’t alive in 2000, pick the first book you ever read and tell everyone what year it was from).

11. Your favorite character (under 18) needs a place to stay for 3 months and asks you if (s)he could stay in your spare room (yes, you have one for the sake of this question). Who is it and what is the reason (s)he needs to stay with you?

Harry Potter is hunting horcruxes and needs a safe house. I got you.

12. What is one superpower/magic skill that a favorite character of your has that you wish you had as well? What character, what power/skill and why?(you can change this question when added to your blog, but please let me know your answer to this question in the comments below)

Besides just wanting to be a Wizard, I think having Nanny from Glass Sword’s power to change her physical form would be so cool and useful.

DARE:

If you choose not to accept the tag, you have to follow through on whatever dare the person who tags you chooses.

You must finish a series you are in the middle of before you can start anything else.  If you’re not currently in a series, you must start and finish a trilogy before reading anything else.

I tag:

Amanda @Peaks and Pages

Nina @NinasBookTalk

The Nerd @Nerd Narration

Amberry Books

Amanda @The Lexington Bookie

and anyone else who wants to play! Consider yourselves tagged! 🙂

Alright people! Let’s see your truths!

 

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read In 2017

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I can’t believe 2017 is almost over!  I have read so much more this year than I have been able to in the past, and that makes me happy! 🙂  Starting my blog was a huge part of that, and I found a bunch of books through blogging that I wouldn’t have read otherwise.  Thanks to this week’s theme from The Broke and The Bookish,  here are my Ten Favorite Books that I read in 2017 in no particular order.

38447The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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30253864Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

17927395A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

21853621The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

24921954The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

6723017The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

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Prism by Nina Walker

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Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

 

Book Reviews

The Gwythienian by Savannah J. Goins Review

36327173Goodreads Summary: Seventeen-year-old Enzi Montgomery had worn the stone around her neck for years. It was set in a cheap metal fitting, nothing fancy. But it made her wonder if she was crazy. Sometimes, when she had it on, she could disappear. She couldn’t make it happen. It just worked on its own. But always at convenient times, like when she’d needed to hide again from Caleb. Maybe she’d only been imagining it; insomnia could do that to you. The nightmares had never left since that day seven years ago and she’d never really learned to cope with them. But what if she wasn’t crazy? When she finds out that someone else has been searching for the stone—someone from another world—she must decide what to do with it. Should she get rid of it? Or find out what other secrets it holds?

*A big thanks to Savannah J. Goins for this ARC in return for an honest review!*

*Mild spoilers ahead! Proceed with caution!*

My Thoughts: I had a lot of mixed feelings about this book.  After reading the first few chapters I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but Goins’ easy going and fast pace writing style made it an enjoyable read.  That being said, my biggest issue was that I found it difficult to connect to the characters.  I could not stand Enzi.  She was whiny and negative about herself and her life.  The scenes with her bullies actually made me laugh out loud because they seemed so unrealistic and unmotivated.  As the story progressed and we learned more about Enzi’s dark past and trauma (which I thought was handled really well), I grew to empathize with her more, but I still found it hard to want to root for her.  Despite my feelings about our protagonist, I became invested in the mystery surrounding her powers and her father.  The more we learned about the necklace and it’s connection with the other realms, the more interested I became.  Goins did a great job of developing the realms and their histories, and making us excited to learn more about each one.  The problem was that I became more interested in the other realms than I was with Odan Terridor and the Gwythienians, a race of talking dragons.  While I found the Gwythienian lore and customs intriguing, I felt no connection to them as a whole.  I’ve never had an affinity for dragons, and overcoming my traditional view of what a dragon is was difficult for me, and I think it hindered my ability to fully immerse myself into their world.  I appreciated the slow build in Enzi and Gaedyen, a Gwythienian’s, relationship.  I found their friendship really endearing and enjoyed their banter.  As their journey with the stone progressed, you could definitely see the powerful affect they had on each other’s character arcs and growth.  However; I did get a little weirded out when Enzi started to develop romantic feelings towards a dragon.  Despite its flaws, I  did enjoy the plot and mysteries of this story.  After the huge cliff-hanger ending, I am invested and want to know what the future holds for Enzi, Gaedyen and the fate of the realms.