Book Review: ‘The Girl Who Rode Dragons,’ by Arthur Butt

5-stars for ‘The Girl Who Rode Dragons,’ by Arthur Butt.

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‘Fun and inspiring’

When approaching the review of a fantasy novel, one must ask five fundamental questions. And perhaps a billion others. (Okay, maybe not a billion. But a lot.)

  • Is it engaging on a level suitable for the target audience?
  • Would it engage and satisfy readers outside that target range? Adult readers.
  • Does it bring in fresh ideas?
  • Did it transport me out of my real world and into the fantasy realm creation of the writer?
  • Does it make a statement? Some semblance of the writer’s social, moral, political or philosophical intent that drove him/her to pen this story?

There are other questions one uses when critiquing a novel. Of any genre. Does the The Girl Who Rode Dragons_Arthur Buttauthor understand story structure? Does the story touch the reader on an emotional level? Are the characters believable and well-developed? Is there a hero with a clearly defined goal? Does the author entice the reader to care that the hero/protagonist reaches that goal? Is the plot coherent? And perhaps 100 (Better?) others that deal more with the minutia of good storytelling.

I would argue, after having read, ‘The Girl Who Rode Dragons,’ that this story satisfies all these questions.

The book targets young readers but is certainly a satisfying read for those of us who’ve somehow managed to sustain our imaginations and know how to step away from reality for a fun adventure into a realm where magic and magical creatures exist and where one is freed from the constraints of our rational minds. Those disrespectful overlords of ours determined to make us scoff at whimsical creativity and have a bad time while reading something fun.

The book is certainly engaging – For young and mature readers. Standing somewhere between those benchmarks, I found it wonderful. The story follows a young girl who, because she’s a girl, is not allowed to do the one thing she desires most. Ride dragons. How can one not find something like that engaging?

Though one may claim using dragons, a fantasy device used since the Middle Ages, removes that freshness I mentioned, I would argue that Arthur Butt breathed a new approach into this story by making Jackie (The story’s protag) desirous of becoming the town’s first girl dragon rider in a realm where girls are excluded from this quest. (There are many other fresh ideas I’ve chosen to leave for you to explore once you receive your copy of this exceptionally cool book.)

I was certainly transported away and into Mr Butt’s fantasy world. It’s adequately described, and after a while, I was right there with Jackie when the dragon egg she finds hatches looking ahead to her eventually riding it.

There are several praiseworthy statements in this clever, imaginative story including: ‘Girls are as capable as boys and should be treated as equals,’ and ‘You can achieve your goals if you believe in yourself and persevere.’

As for the billion, well, one hundred, other questions I consider when critiquing a book, I will offer this brief summary:

Yes: Mr Butt is a fine storyteller who understands story structure, character development, the hero’s journey, and all other facets of good storytelling.

Yes: Jackie (The protag) has a clearly defined goal, and I was cheering her on as she…. (Just click the link in the book cover and get a copy, okay?)

Yes: The characters are believable. Strip away the fantasy, place them in a present-day context and they’d fit right in. The family interactions are real. As is Jackie’s rebellious personality. Transpose the quest to ride dragons into a quest to play football, or be on the maths club, and the story would still work. Well!

Yes: I wanted Jackie to reach her goal from the first scene when she stated her desire.

What I liked most:

Story:

This is a well-written story that follows a logical path with many rewards along the way. I love a story that entices you to care about the main character and fills a nicely mapped outline with fresh ideas, sentimental circumstances and meaningful statements.

Character development:

Jackie (Jaqueline) is driven, determined, rebellious, sweet and lovable. Arthur Butt is equally good with writing characters as he is with story. I played The Girl Who Rode Dragons in my mind as a film, and, as a writer and screenwriter, I was drawn into the idea of converting this to a film script and pitching it to those clever writer / directors over at Disney and Pixar.

Criticisms:

I have but one. Certainly, nothing that would preclude me from handing this a 5-star rating and my highest recommendation.

Short chapters, concentrating on one scene or scene sequence, work better with young readers. Their attention spans are held in a tighter grasp when a chapter begins on a beat and moves logically through to a closing point. Though the author’s chapters are not long, I believe this book would reach an even a younger audience with shorter, more concise chapters.

Summary and Recommendation:

‘The Girl Who Rode Dragons,’ by Arthur Butt, offers everything an avid fantasy reader looks for in a novel and more. It’s sentimental without being maudlin or gushy. It’s intelligent, inspirational, and above all, it’s fun.

I give the ‘The Girl Who Rode Dragons,’ by Arthur Butt a 5-star rating and my highest recommendation.

Review by T. E. Mark – Writer / Screenwriter.

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Book Review: ‘The Girl in 411,’ by Amber Skye

5-stars for ‘The Girl in 411,’ by Amber Skye

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‘Sophisticated, steamy and smart.’

Approaching the review of ‘The Girl in 411,’ an extremely well-written piece of erotica by Amber Skye, I found myself confronted with two challenges.

The Girl in 411_Amber SkyeOne was how to critique it based on the essentials of good storytelling: Story structure, character development, plot, pace, etc. And the other was how to critique it on its secondary intent. Was it sexually stimulating?

There was actually a third. This is a genre I rarely read. Not that I’m burdened with any cumbersome morality issues. I just struggle to keep up with the genres I like most: Science Fiction, Fantasy / Adventure, Historical Fiction, Romantic Comedies, and a few others, while writing my own books and screenplays.

So, facing those challenges, I decided to critique this piece differently than I would any other genre. Focusing mainly on the writer’s style and the book’s secondary intent.

Please feel free to let me know if I’m on the right track.

Amber Skye is a stylistic writer who understands the craft, and, I will assume, has studied creative writing extensively. She’s clear, focused, has a worthy vocabulary and knows the basics of story and scene.

The story is logical and believable, the characters seem real enough, and Ms Skye ventured more deeply into her characters’ identities and motivations than one might expect from an erotica piece.

The story revolves around Jennifer, a private nurse, who moves into an apartment following the death of an elderly woman she was tasked with caring for.

Shortly after moving into her apartment, Jennifer encounters Zoey, a feisty neighbour who decides to claim Jennifer as her submissive lover.

Though the sex scenes are explicit, targeting Lesbian, Bi-sexual, or Bi-sexually curious women, the writer took time to explore her character’s innermost feelings about the affair. Her conflict as she sought to rationalise her desires while awarding herself the justification for exploring this alternative sexual relationship.

This is a clever approach. And real.

The author certainly deserves praise for delivering something more than a simple-minded piece that wanders haplessly from one sex scene to another forgoing the interest in making the reader think, feel for and perhaps identify with her characters, while they’re sweating away in sexual bliss turning the pages.

As for whether the scenes are explicit and well-written enough to be stimulating, I will only say this. I cannot imagine a woman anywhere with even a minor girl fetish, or curiosity NOT finding this a satisfying, stimulating read. This is steamy writing at its best that also explores character.

What I liked most:

Character:

As I stated above, the author used her sophisticated writing style and literary prowess to provide insight into her main character’s thought processes regarding a burgeoning sexual affair with a female neighbour.

As a screenwriter, I’m called upon to write for all types of characters. Reading this gave me insight into how a woman would perceive this type of relationship and the inner conflict she might face. One day I may write and thank Ms Skye for granting me the insight on how to write one of my characters better than I would have had I not read and analysed this work.

Writing style:

Amber Skye is a clever writer who uses her literary devices well. She does something I believe only good writers do. She tells her story as if she were sitting on the sofa next to you reciting it aloud. This is a smart, typically successful technique all writers should practise.

 Criticisms:

Only one, and nothing that would lessen my 5-Star rating or high recommendation.

Periodically the dialogue seemed unnatural. At other times it was very natural. This is a common problem even with veteran writers. It very well may be the most challenging part of the storytelling process.

Summary and Recommendation:

‘The Girl in 411,’ by Amber Skye is a skilfully written piece of erotica fiction. The story is solvent and well told, and the characters are well described physically and intellectually.

NOTE: Because of the content and explicit sexual situations, this is certainly not reading material for everyone. One should adhere to Ms Skye’s age appropriate recommendations before venturing into this piece.

Without hesitation, I give ‘The Girl in 411,’ by Amber Skye 5-stars and my highest recommendation.

Review by T. E. Mark – Writer / Screenwriter.