Tag Archives: middle grade

Review: The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

The Mark of the DragonflyPublishing Date: March 25, 2014 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 400

Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields.

The girl doesn’t remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she’s from the Dragonfly Territories and that she’s protected by the king.  Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home.

The only sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train.  But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year.  And stowing away is a difficult prospect – everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible.

Life for Piper just turned dangerous.  A little bit magical.  And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey.

I haven’t read a lot of steampunk, but I do enjoy reading it when I have the chance, so I was excited thatThe Mark of the Dragonflywas a middle grade steampunk novel. While a lot of other commitments got in the way of my reading time, I ended up really enjoying this book. I was excited to read yesterday on her website that Johnson is writing another book that takes place in the same world!

Anyway, on to a discussion about The Mark of the Dragonfly. I found the world of Solace to be vivid and interesting. I loved the idea of forgotten items in other worlds falling through a rift of sorts into Solace. I also thought that while I didn’t get particularly attached to her, I thought Piper was a good character for this kind of story. I like her sass and how stubborn she was. (I also couldn’t help thinking of Anna as Anna from Frozen, even though I haven’t seen the movie.) I think my favorite thing about this book (outside of the steampunk elements) was Piper and Anna’s relationship. I enjoyed seeing how it developed over the course of the story. I also loved the descriptions of the different cities and areas that the characters traveled through. The ones where they actually spent some time were really vivid in my imagination and I really enjoyed how drastically different they all were from each other.

One thing I didn’t like, though minor, is that there are a lot of words used to describe animals and other things that are never really expanded upon to explain what exactly they are, and I found that a bit jarring. But that was a fairly minor thing. The only other thing I found a bit off was that Piper is supposed to be thirteen, and I think she says Anna is eleven or twelve, but neither character read that age to me most of the time. They seemed to be older characters who would sometimes seem to regress to what their actual age was supposed to be.

I am looking forward to more books being written about Solace and learning more about the world, but Piper and Anna’s journey was an interesting peek!

I was pre-approved for this title by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Review: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Ophelia and the Marvelous BoyPublishing Date: January 28, 2014
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 240

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science.  She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows.  On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long-forgotten room.  He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen.  And he has been waiting for Ophelia’s help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy, everything that she believes will be tested.  Along the way she learns more and more about the boy’s own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never, ever giving up.

Though I didn’t read this book from the perspective of someone who has read the original fairy tale, there is so much to love about it. If I had been able to read Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy as a kid, I would have been ecstatic. Swords are and always have been a huge interest of mine, so I really enjoyed that her father is an international swords expert. Ophelia is a great protagonist. She’s nerdy, stubborn, and all around fun.

I envisioned the museum from the story’s setting as this massive, almost epic place. I loved the descriptions of the different galleries and the museum’s seemingly forgotten corners, and loved the concept of the Wintertide Clock.

Foxlee really has a way with words. I was more or less captivated by the story she told. While there were some moments in the prose when it was a bit overly repetitive or where the story was a bit predictable for my taste (which I suspect is partially due to the book being middle grade), I really loved it overall. The descriptions were lyrical and vivid, the characters were distinct and enjoyable, and other than the pace slowing down a bit toward the middle, the book was hard for me to put down.

I was pre-approved for this title by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars