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

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


‘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:


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.


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.

Book Review: ‘For the Love of Politics,’ Anthology by Wild Dreams Publishing

4.5-Stars for ‘For the Love of Politics,’ Wild Dreams Publishing


‘Stylistic and diverse’

Anthologies are a treat for avid readers as they allow them to consume a variety of complete stories – often in a single sitting while sampling different writing styles. Occasionally from different genres.

On the other hand, reviewing a book of short stories presents specific challenges:

  • Were the stories equally engaging?
  • Were they equally well-written?
  • How will I assess the collection if the answers to the above questions are no?

Fortunately, with one exception, due in part to the sheer diversity of styles and the literary prowess Forthe Love of Politics_2of each writer, I was not forced to confront that third question.

‘For the Love of Politics,’ is a rich selection of short stories compiled by Wild Dreams Publishing and presented as political romances. But I found them to be much more. They’re finely crafted character-driven dramas wrapped in political settings with romance and occasional sexual situations as significant, though never dominating, sub-plots.

This made reading this anthology pleasurable as I embrace the art of story, and more specifically, the art and craft of character-driven story. I’m also a fan of stylistic writing, and each author in this compilation displays exceptional stylistic talent.

I was struck while reading this, how unique each story was. The diversity made the adventure fun.

A man running for the US Senate who, though in a torrid love affair with one woman, finds himself pulled to the apparition of another drawn from his subconscious. The fantasy and mystery element here made this my favourite of the nine stories. A Whisper of Wings, by M. E. Giguere

An American diplomat falling for a Nigerian politician/businessman in the US to gain support for a farming initiative. Well written and interesting but moved a bit too quickly. Not Just Politics, by Tanya DeLoatch

A woman hired as a lobbyist to persuade a Senator’s vote on an education issue who must choose between her mission and her integrity when the married politician attempts to seduce her. Nice, sophisticated style – admirable attention to detail as the author explores the lobbyist’s inner conflict. The Lobbyist’s Dilemma, by S. L. Heinz

A 48-year-old driven woman – destined for a life in politics, accompanies a senator’s wife to Nepal following an earthquake where she finds love and a better understanding of herself. Clean writing. Nice structure and character development. The story is well told, and the love affair and explicit sex, though there, simply work to support the main plot. The Gift of Foresight, by Kris Lomonaco

A wonderful tale in the form of a Historical Fiction / Adventure with Dante, a young ambassador despatched from ancient Babylon to India where he is to present himself to the Queen – The Spinster of India. This story is nearly free verse poetry and was an absolute joy to read. The Spinster of India, by Hunter James Luck.

A clever first-person account of a female Secret Service agent asked by the American president and first lady to take charge of their 17-year-old son while the first lady undergoes cancer treatment. This story has a gritty realism about it as the author allows her protagonist to expound on her inner feelings throughout. Impasse, by Tina Maurine.

Volition, by Tina Maurine  An abbreviated version of a longer story, this one offers little more than a setup to a romantic situation. I sensed no real story here.

A Promise Kept, by Mary Darlene Messina – A young woman accepts a live-in caregiving position after her husband dies and finds a remedy for her loss, a new accepting family and a new direction. Nice, stylised, inspirational writing with a strong theme.

River, by Jude Ouvrard – A clever, witty piece of a 30-year-old young man, the son of the US President working in some capacity at the White House, who decides politics just isn’t his thing. He gets up, makes his formal announcement and literally bolts with a smile. I chuckled from the beginning to the end of this one. Smart writing. The rebelliousness of Dawson, the story’s protagonist, seemed very real. The writer also writes fluid dialogue.

Electing Ellie by Michelle Rene – In a small-town mayoral election, a young teacher receives the support of the student body and of her family. This is a nice piece. The author writes from the heart and literally commands you to like her protagonist. I also enjoyed the narrative. Nice style.

 What I liked most:


Reading different authors is always fun and often instructive. One gains an appreciation of different styles, phrasings, vocabulary and approach to storytelling.

As a writer and screenwriter, I find reading different writers’ work invaluable. Quoting Stephen King: ‘If you are to be a good, versatile writer, you need to read broadly – covering all genres. Not just the ones in which you write.’ I love that quote and follow it.

I find reading a learning experience. Whether it’s a good Sci-Fi piece, my favourite genre, a Fantasy, Historical Fiction or Romance, there is something to be learned in every piece of literature. And I thoroughly enjoyed this nicely written collection


With an anthology of nine individual stories, I certainly found areas deserving criticism. Nothing spectacular – worth mentioning here, and nothing that would lessen my 4.5-Star rating and High Recommendation

Summary and Recommendation:

For the Love of Politics is a clever anthology of dramatic short stories. They’re unique, diverse and display a broad range of literary talent.

Without hesitation, I give For the Love of Politics a 4.5-Star rating and a High Recommendation.

Review by T. E. Mark – Writer / Screenwriter