ARC Review – The Tea Dragon Festival

As these are graphic novels I don’t want to reveal much about the plot so I am actually going to do a mini series review for both issues here. However, both issues can easily be read as stand alone stories.


Title: The Tea Dragon Society

Author: Katie O’Neill

Series: Tea Dragon #1

5 STARS

From Goodreads:

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives — and eventually her own.

My Thoughts

This is just completely adorable. This gorgeous little graphic novel has such a beautiful message of love, friendship, embracing your heritage to finding new passions. It is just a fabulous world, that made me want a Tea Dragon even though I am not a tea drinker. It is filled with diversity representation including POC rep ,disability rep and varying sexual orientations. The colour palette and artwork is just stunning and gives a calming and centring air to the story that just leaves you with such a positive and refreshed feeling, just like a good cup of tea (I guess). It’s Just a brilliant little read.


Title: The Tea Dragon Festival

Author: Katie O’Neill

Series: Tea Dragon #2


Release Date: 17/9/19

5 STARS

I received a free eARC copy from , Oni Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

From Goodreads:

Rinn has grown up with the Tea Dragons that inhabit their village, but stumbling across a real dragon turns out to be a different matter entirely! Aedhan is a young dragon who was appointed to protect the village but fell asleep in the forest eighty years ago. With the aid of Rinn’s adventuring uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, they investigate the mystery of his enchanted sleep, but Rinn’s real challenge is to help Aedhan come to terms with feeling that he cannot get back the time he has lost.

My Thoughts

This is more of a companion or prequel to the Tea Dragon Society, the series could easily be read in any order without the reader loosing their understanding of the stories. You would just be introduced to some characters a little earlier. The Tea Dragon Festival is just as gorgeous in its writing, artwork and colour palette as the Tea Dragon Society. It adds a lot more to the lore of the Tea Dragons, we meet true Dragons and we get a glimpse into the past of a couple of the characters from the Tea Dragon Society. It also maintains the same level of diversity. The inclusion of a deaf character and sign language is done in such a tasteful way, having a mix of those who communicate solely by signing and those that combine speech and signing is excellent. The message is still as heartwarming and it still leaves the reader in that beautiful calm place the first did. I am hoping that we keep getting glimpses into the world of the Tea Dragons.

Series Review: Sea Witch and Sea Witch Rising

I recently re-read Sea Witch in anticipation of Sea Witch Rising as I had been granted an eARC copy from NetGalley. I never wrote a review for Sea Witch on my first reading, so this is a perfect opportunity to review both. If you want to just read my Sea Witch Rising Review scroll down it starts about half way down.


Title: Sea Witch

Author: Sarah Henning

Series: Sea Witch #1

E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 30
(see breakdown below)

3 STARS

⭐⭐⭐

From Goodreads:

Everyone knows what happens in the end. A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss. But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends. One feared, one royal, and one already dead.

Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch.

A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.

My Thoughts

This is a mix of a little mermaid retelling (based more on the original Anderson story over the Disney version) mixed with an Ursula origin story. And on the whole it is an enjoyable read if you make it to the end. The last 50 pages are the best aspect of this book. It’s where all the action happens and it makes some fast paced action packed twists and turns.

However, the rest of the book before that ending is slow. I do like the historical aspects and research that lend some world building to the story but there is no real development of the setting out with the use of the historical knowledge. The characters are also fairly flat as well. I did initially enjoy the friendship between Evie and Nik, it was refreshing to see a male/female friendship that was not laced with an undercurrent of romance but as I predicted that was short lived. The main four were just bland even to the point where they became indistinguishable from each other.

When it came to the writing, i actually preferred the flashback sections as they were the only points within the first 300 pages of the book that moved the story forward and gave it some action. The rest tended to be very much Evie worrying about her status as a lower social class than her friends and that she might be found out as a witch without any forward momentum on either issue.

It was an enjoyable read and the last few chapters were solid and exciting but middle of the road for the rest so the highest I can rate it is 3 stars.

ESCAPE Score

ENDING – 5

STYLE AND PACE OF WRITING – 6

CHARACTERS – 4

ATMOSPHERE AND WORLDBUILDING – 4

PLOT – 6

ENJOYMENT – 5


Title:  Sea Witch Rising

Author: Sarah Henning

Series: Sea Witch #2

E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 33
(see breakdown below)

3 STARS

⭐⭐⭐

I received a free eARC copy from Harper Collins UK , via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

From Goodreads:

“The Little Mermaid” takes a twisted turn in this thrilling sequel to villainess origin story Sea Witch, as the forces of land and sea clash in an epic battle for freedom, redemption, and true love.

Runa will not let her twin sister die. Alia traded her voice to the Sea Witch for a shot at happiness with a prince who doesn’t love her. And his rejection will literally kill her—unless Runa intervenes.

Under the sea, Evie craves her own freedom—but liberation from her role as Sea Witch will require an exchange she may not be willing to make. With their hearts’ desires at odds, what will Runa and Evie be willing to sacrifice to save their worlds?

Told from alternating perspectives, this epic fairy tale retelling is a romantic and heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic, and the cost of redemption.

My Thoughts

I have to admit I enjoyed this one more than the first in the series. The story overall was more engaging and I do feel we got a wee bit more insight into the merworld and the magic system that was missing from the first book. However, this book still had its faults.

Like the first book the plot of this one changes into a completely different story for the second half and it is that half that is the most entertaining with most of the action. And again the first half was somewhat boring, even a little run of the mill. Its the little mermaid story mixed with the Frozen, sisters saving sisters storyline, that has no real thrill to it. We can already predict what is going to happen.

The second half is where this book gets interesting. This seems more like the story Henning wanted to tell and I don’t know why this had to be a series as this would have been perfectly fine as a stand alone. In fact the prologue contains a great recap (I wish more books did this) of the first in the series that you could just read this one on its own and be more that satisfied with the series.

Again its just lacking a bit of the page turning excitement to continue reading to move it up the the star ratings so it is a solid 3 stars, it entertains but doesn’t make it to the top books read list.

ESCAPE Score

ENDING – 6

STYLE AND PACE OF WRITING – 5

CHARACTERS – 5

ATMOSPHERE AND 5

PLOT – 6

ENJOYMENT – 6

Series Review – The Crown’s Game

 

Title: The Crown’s Game and The Crown’s Fate

Series: The Crown’s Game

Author: Evelyn Skye


The Crown’s Game

Pages: 399

 3.5 Stars

Books filled with Magical competition, beautiful lyrical writing which is reminiscent of the Night Circus set in a fantastical version of tsarists Russia. It is filled with descriptions of sweet treats to die for and beautiful and romantic displays of magic.

As this is a series review it may contain Spoilers, I have tried my best to keep it spoiler free:

“Cinnamon with a dash of death”

THE STORY

The Tsar’s reign is threatened by the approaching Ottoman and Kazakh empires so the Tsar turns to an old protection. Russia has a source of magic which can be tapped into by the imperial enchanter. Vika Andreyeva and Nikolai Kirmerov both can control magic and have been training their whole lives. Now that the Tsar has activated the Crown’s game , a magical duel to decide the next imperial enchanter, they must battle to the death. Things are further complicated when it is revealed to the heir to the throne, Pasha, that the two competitors are his best friend and the woman they are both in love with. This threatens to reveal the secrets of the game, expose magic and to the collapse of the tsardom.

MY THOUGHTS

To me this was very like the Night Circus in both the set up and the magic system. Both magicians work with very different forms of magic one more elemental and one more mechanical, this makes for a beautiful juxtaposition when they have to battle that comes across clearly. I was hoping that the player’s of the crown’s game would be more detached from each other to allow for more of a battle. Though the twist at the end does up the steaks considerably.



The Crown’s Fate

Pages: 438

4 stars

THE STORY

The Crown’s Fate follows directly on from The Crown’s game, however all is not happy for our group. The game did not end as expected but Russia has its new enchanter and for the victor it is not the boon they thought. The loser has lost more than just their love and their friends, their mind has been left  in taters and the seeds in revenge have been planted for the events of The Crown’s Game and the revelations that occurred.

MY THOUGHTS

This story was so much darker than the first, it was more of what I wanted the first one to be. The descriptions of the fantastical version of Russia, the magic and the sweet treats were just as beautiful and moreish as they were in The Crown’s Game. The introduction of revenge game and the almost slave like nature of the imperial enchanters position gave  this a lot darker tone. The only part I was not enamoured with was with the love “square” it seems to be overly complicated and was kind of shoehorned into the plot when it wasn’t necessary.


This was a solid little duology that if you love magic and pastry you will adore. I can’t emphasise how beautiful the description of magic is, it really does make the book. The atmosphere and elements of each of the magical displays are gorgeous and I could have read books and books based on them alone.

Have you read this series. What did you think? What was your favourite display of magic? who was your favourite character?

Until next time Happy Reading!