Book Review: The Inquisitor’s Tale

The Inquisitor’s Tale, Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog (2016, Dutton Children’s Books/Penguin Random House, Middle-Grade Historical Fiction/Fantasy)

the inquisitors tale

From the publisher:

1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.


The Inquisitor’s Tale, written by Adam Gidwitz and illuminated by Hatem Aly, is a smart, thought-provoking and tightly-crafted work of art. From the beautifully detailed illustrations to the incredibly researched historical data, this book pulls you in to its world in so many ways. The book feels like an old tome which helps set the stage, then the narrative style makes the reader feel like they are seated at the table in the pub alongside the book’s characters. The story unfolds in a beautiful and almost poetic way, as the reader is introduced to the children and discovers why the King of France has declared war against them.

With a diverse cast of characters, the book examines what it means to be a friend, religion, and the power of words. From the spoken words of the narrators to the written words that spur the children to action, the reader sees that words, rumors and stories can change the course of history. While this is a work of fiction, there are many historical accuracies and hidden truths woven throughout the telling of the children’s adventures. I don’t have enough words to capture the wonder and beauty of this magically spun tale.

Religion does play a major role in the text, but I think the book can be enjoyed by those of any faith, as the children reflect on what faith is and what religion really means.

Children and adults can enjoy this charming tale featuring a wide cast of intriguing characters and a setting as rich and wonderful as the book’s illuminations. Highly recommended for children of all ages.


Book Review: Mommy Loves You

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, soon-to-be-mothers, surrogate mothers, and all the others who take on the role of mother in someone’s life. What a beautiful day to honor those who mean the most to us.

Today I bring you a book about a mother’s love.

Mommy Loves You! (2017, Sleeping Bear Press, Picture Book)

mommy loves you

From the publisher:

From the author-illustrator team that created Grandma Loves You! comes a touching story just for Mommy and baby. Told in charming verse with the signature bunny characters, this book celebrates the deep love a mother has for her child, this pair’s adventures and tender moments will warm the heart.

You are my moonbeam,

My stars in the sky.

My hopes and my heart,

My cute honey pie.


Mommy Loves You, written by Helen Foster James and illustrated by Petra Brown, is the newest installment in the adorable picture book series from this talented duo. With soft, beautiful illustrations and honey sweet verse, this is a book to be shared and cherished with young children. If you are looking for a gentle, quiet book to share with little ones before bedtime, this is the story for you. Highly recommended for all mothers to share with their little ones. Best for ages 3 to 5.

5 stars for mothers everywhere

Thank you to Sleeping Bear Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: And I Darken

And I Darken (2016, Delacorte/Random House, Young Adult Historical Fiction)

and i darken

From the publisher:

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.


In And I Darken, Kiersten White weaves a dark and detailed tale of a reimagined history featuring Lada, a female Vlad the Impaler. The detail the author put into the writing is incredible and lends great authenticity to the text, but it does slow things down quite a bit too. Shelved with teen fantasy at the bookstore, some readers will be disappointed that this is not a fantasy. This is firmly in the realm of historical fiction and features no fantastical elements.

Lada is imposing and often vicious and makes for an interesting main character. The character dynamics are complex and well done, though adult readers may find there is a surprising and sometimes overwhelming amount of teenage angst. Lada feels out of character at times as she nearly fawns over her love interest.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read and interesting new take on a historical figure. The subject matter was clearly thoroughly researched and the writing style will appeal to many. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this while some may find the pace a bit slow and the amount of names and locations confusing.

Best for ages 14 and up do to violence and adult themes.

4 stars

The sequel to And I Darken comes out this summer. Check out And I Rise when it hits shelves!

Book Review: The Dragon Hunters

The Dragon Hunters (2017, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Picture Book)

dragon hunters

From the publisher:

Away across the oceans,
where few have dared to roam,
upon a wondrous island,
a family made its home.

Living on an island means life is full of adventure for brothers Flynn and Paddy. So when a dragon swoops out of the sky and nabs their beloved dog, Coco, Flynn and Paddy know it’s up to them to bring her home. That night, they pack their bags, make some terrible sandwiches, and set off on an epic adventure…

See the map in this book come alive! Includes BONUS Dragon Brothers map in 3D for your phone or tablet! Download the free AR Reads app on your Android—or iOS—compatible smartphone or tablet to see and hear dragons fly, geysers gush, and get a glimpse of your favorite characters in action!


The Dragon Hunters, written by James Russell and illustrated by Link Choi, is a tale of two brothers told in rhyme. Dragon stories are always popular with children and this story is sure to be a hit. The rhyme is well done, and the illustrations are fantastic. The book moves along quickly and will keep even the shortest of attention spans engaged. The two brothers use teamwork and ingenuity to retrieve their dog from the fire-breathing dragon, and parents will love to see a story where siblings get along and work together.

While I reviewed an e-book version and did not get to test it out, the book has interactive features which can be unlocked by using the appropriate app. This could be a fun feature for slightly older children and add to the story-telling experience.

This story will engage children in the upper range of picture books as the style feels more like a chapter book than a lower-level picture book.

If your young readers love this book, there are more to come! The Dragon Hunters is the first in a brand new series, The Dragon Brothers, with two more books scheduled for release in the coming months.

Highly recommended for children ages 5 to 8.

5 burning stars to fight a flaming dragon

Thank you to Net Galley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for a reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.