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text 2015-07-12 05:23
Heir of Pendel (A Pandoran Novel) (Volume 4) - Barbara Kloss

For a star rating and review please see InD'tale magazine online, July/August 2015 issue http://www.indtale.com/reviews/young-adult/heir-pendel-pandoran-novel-4

Source: www.indtale.com
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review 2014-01-22 00:00
REVIEW: Breath of Dragons (A Pandoran Novel, #3)
Breath of Dragons (A Pandoran Novel) (Volume 3) - Barbara Kloss

Please hold on for a minute while I try and process everything that I just read. I need to let the feeling of reading a book that I loved - like, in an oh-my-god, swoonworthy, I want to read it again right this very minute is that weird? kind of way - wash over me for a second.

My only complaint, and it's not a real complaint, is that now I have to wait a painful amount of time (1 year? 2 years?) for the next book to come out, in order to find out how the series will end. I don't know if I can handle the waiting, you guys, I really don't.

You see, I went into this book thinking that it was the final book. Trilogies are all the rage after all, right? Once I got 90% through, I finally figured out that it wasn't, and my stomach kind of dropped. I'm trying to look at the bright side here - I mean, I get a whole additional book filled with this amazing, young-adult, fantasy romance story, right? But oh, the waiting, the waiting, the waiting...

Okay, so, now that all of my feelings have processed (somewhat), I guess I should talk about the actual book itself. In this book, we continue to follow the adventures of Daria, who is now trying to find the box of Pandor (with Alex and Vera in tow). Meanwhile, Eris' army of shadowriders is pressing in on Valdon, which paints a pretty dire picture for Stefan and his realm.

So, what specifically did I love about Breath of Dragons, then? Pretty much all of the same things that I loved about Gaia's Secret, but multiplied exponentially because in this book, the stakes were much higher. To sum it up though, we have engrossing adventures and a great overarching storyline - check; a wonderfully sweet but seemingly star-crossed romance - check; interesting world-building and fantasy elements - check; dragons - check; characters that you love and want to see succeed - check; and, last but not least, excellent writing that's descriptive and right on point with pacing - check.

Regarding the pacing, the previous book (The Keeper's Flame) had slowed things down a bit in order to portray Daria's life in the castle. But, I'm happy to say that Breath of Dragons utilizes more of the same wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am action-packed speed of the first book. There was never a dull moment, indeed, and that's saying a lot considering that this book was 120 pages longer than either of the last two installments.

I also think that Ms. Kloss made improvements to the structure of the narrative. One of my big issues with having a singular first-person narrative (especially in multi-book series) is that the world becomes too big in scope to be portrayed to the reader effectively by just one character. Fortunately, Kloss recognized this, and even though over 90% of the book is from Daria's point of view, we do get occasional peaks into the thoughts of some other characters.

If I had one honest criticism about Breath of Dragons, it'd be that Daria's abilities are becoming a bit deus ex machina, and it seems like there's almost nothing she can't do (or at least, won't be able to do eventually). Alex is also a bit too perfect, so it's not like Daria is the only one getting the super-hero treatment from Kloss. Character depth is certainly not the book's strength, let's just say. Yet, when it comes down to it, I don't even care because it didn't stop me from loving the characters or the story.

(Also, as a side note, I really missed Fleck in this book, but I'm hoping he'll have a major role in the series conclusion!)

So, there you have it. This book was amazing, and everyone who enjoys young-adult fantasy and/or fantasy romance should give this series a whirl. Anyone who has already started the series should feel confident proceeding with Breath of Dragons, because it's the best book in the series so far. And anyone who has already read Breath of Dragons and now has to wait what seems like forever for the series conclusion can join me in a fetal position on the floor.

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review 2014-01-15 00:00
REVIEW: The Keeper's Flame (A Pandoran Novel, #2)
The Keeper's Flame (A Pandoran Novel, #2) - Barbara Kloss

Having just finished Gaia's Secret (the day before I finished this book, hah), I couldn't wait to get my grubby e-book loving hands on The Keeper's Flame... which I then proceeded to plow through in about 7 hours.

I have some mixed feeling on this installment - mixed because even though I still loved it, of course (like, a lot a lot), I was still a bit disappointed because it didn't hit on all cylinders like Gaia's Secret.

My biggest issue with the book was Daria's complete lack of confidence in herself. Essentially, for reasons unknown (until later on), Daria has lost her magical abilities. Because of this, her confidence takes a major hit, to say the least, and there's tons of self-deprecation to be had. I wish there had been a, "Hey, I don't need magic to be awesome!" realization moment, especially considering that Daria has a lot of physical skills and good instincts - but, nope.

Everything else, though? I'd say it was all great, for the most part. The story switches gears in The Keeper's Flame, so whereas Gaia's Secret was fast-paced and full of adventures, this book slowed things down as it explored Daria's adjustment to her new life. Nonetheless, Daria manages to find herself in more than a few scrapes along the way, and events are constantly in motion.

As a side note, I think that the romance aspect became a bit more pronounced in The Keeper's Flame - it was still not quite front-and-center, but was almost there - so be careful if you don't like that kind of stuff. In this book, too, there were times when the romance teetered on too-angsty or too-mushy, but in the times that it was on point, it was just oh-so-squee.

So, this is the part that now sucks - having to wait for the next (and last, I believe) book in the series! I'm lucky enough with the timing since Breath of Dragons comes out next week (yay!), but even that is going to feel like an excruciating wait right now.

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review 2014-01-14 00:00
REVIEW: Gaia's Secret (A Pandoran Novel, #1)
Gaia's Secret (A Pandoran Novel, #1) - Barbara Kloss

Oh... my... wow. Just wow.

When I bought this book, I wasn't expecting anything too special - just your standard, 3-ish star, young-adult fantasy fodder.

Instead, I found this hidden gem that I just loved to pieces. In fact, I don't even want to write this review right now, because all I want to do is go and read the next book in the series. But, alas, that wouldn't do justice to this book, which I so thoroughly enjoyed, so here I go.

In Gaia's Secret, you follow the adventures of Daria Jones, who is thrown from her boring life in Fresno into the magical world of Gaia. Throughout the book, Daria strives to re-unite with her father (who just up and disappeared from Fresno one day), while simultaneously trying to find her place and role in this new world.

To be honest, you won't find anything all too original in Gaia's Secret. Yet, helping to fuel the story and picking up for any creative slack is the writing, which is descriptive in its depiction of Daria's surroundings and the events taking place, but never to the point that the story feels like it's dragging. In fact, the book is pretty much perfectly paced. The writing is engaging but light, so that the book always feels at home in its young-adult genre.

The story is told through Daria's point of view, so she ends up being a well-developed character that you come to love. You can really sympathize with her during the book, and feel her frustrations when her friends and family are constantly leaving her in the dark and hiding truths. First-person POV storytelling isn't my personal favorite to read, generally, but it works well enough here. I did get annoyed being constantly in the dark with Daria, and with some characters for always keeping the truth from her, but on the same note that just made me rally behind Daria all the more.

Just as a heads up, there is a romance angle in this book. Although it's not the main focus of the story, as this is a fantasy book first and foremost, it does play a pretty major role. So, if you dislike that sort of thing, you may want to (sadly!) pass this book up. But, for those of you that like having romance dashed in with your fantasy, you will only adore this book all the more. The romance is lovingly and achingly developed, in the good "slow-burn" kind of way.

Since this book is part of a series, the story obviously leaves off with some major loose ends. Now that I think about it, I don't think the major baddie of the series has even made an appearance yet. I almost wish that the loose ends had been resolved and that this story had been a stand-alone, because I loved it so much and can't imagine the next installment being able to stand up to Gaia's Secret. At the same time, I'm oh-so-happy to have the opportunity to experience more of Gaia, with so much of the world left to explore. In fact, I'm going to do so, right about... now.

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