The Dragon Grammar Book succinctly covers everything from subject and verb agreement to dangling participles and misplaced modifiers in a fun and engaging way. What was your goal when you began this book?
My goal was to create an easy-to-understand and fun grammar book for a wider audience, from middle grades to adults, that would encourage the reader to want to read and learn grammar. As a writer, editor, and publisher, I often come across the same grammar mistakes made by adults, so I wanted the book to be a refresher guide for adults while being a learning guide for children.
What do you find people struggle with the most when learning the English language?
The English language is a complicated language to learn and even confuses seasoned writers on occasions. The thing I see most people struggle with is the proper use of homonyms, like your vs. you’re; and other confusing words, like when to use affect vs. effect. Second to that, punctuation seem to present a lot of problems.
What I liked most about this book was how it distilled ideas down to simple bits of information. What was the hardest part about writing this book so it’s understood by kids and adults?
Most books aren’t written for such a wide audience, so the challenge was in finding that middle ground where the writing would engage the entire group of readers. Personally, I appreciate simple explanations that don’t over explain, which led me to the idea that other adults might too.
Do you plan to create more educational novels like this featuring characters from your fantasy series?
Yes, I have a few ideas brewing, but the idea that keeps coming up front and center is to write my characters into a book about short-story writing. I’d like this book, too, to be for middle grades through adults. The characters are presently voting on the project, so we’ll see where that leads us.
The Dragon Grammar Book is the ideal grammar book for kids, dragons, and adults alike. From multi-award winning children’s fantasy author, Diane Mae Robinson, The Dragon Grammar Book introduces middle grades through adults to the basic rules of the English language with easy grammar lessons. Featuring the zany fantasy characters in the author’s The Pen Pieyu Adventures series, The Dragon Grammar Book is sure to be enjoyed by the whole kingdom.
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The Dragon Grammar Book: Grammar for Kids, Dragons, and the Whole Kingdom, by Diane Mae Robinson, is a handy writing tool for kids in one neat, little package. Robinson presents readers with a succinct list of terminology, ten chapters covering everything from subject and verb agreement to dangling participles and misplaced modifiers. Throughout the grammar guide, readers are treated to engaging illustrations of Sir Princess Petra and Snarls, the dragon. From beginning to end, The Dragon Grammar Book, provides readers with everything they need to address those most common questions they encounter as budding writers.
Robinson begins her grammar guide with a very useful and well-organized grammar terminology section. Teachers, students, and parents will find the opening 15 pages of the book an extremely helpful tool for quickly skimming and finding definitions and examples of each of the parts of speech, punctuation, along with a few writing terms tossed in for good measure.
Let’s face it, kids can shut down at lightning speed when a textbook comes into sight. The Dragon Grammar Book provides the perfect amount of information presented in short bursts that don’t overwhelm the reader. Accompanying explanations for each rule are not too wordy, and hold the reader’s attention long enough to make a point. The ongoing dragon theme is tucked into each of the example sentences throughout the book.
As a teacher, I appreciate the wide variety of topics covered in the fairly short text. The author has chosen to include some areas students will encounter as their writing develops over the course of several years. Chapter One’s focus on confusing words was a breath of fresh air to this teacher. Arranged alphabetically and featuring brief, easy-to-understand examples, this portion of the book is simple to navigate and covers each and every roadblock young writers encounter as they learn to proofread and edit their work.
I give The Dragon Grammar Book: Grammar for Kids, Dragons, and the Whole Kingdom 5 out of 5 stars. Having a useful resource that engages students and includes a wide variety of grammar rules with short, fun examples is difficult to find. Robinson has produced a winner with this easy-to-navigate, all-inclusive, grammar guide for kids.
Pages: 140 | ASIN: 198871401X
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“Where shadows of past sins are revealed in the Light”
Abandonment. Dark Amish secrets. And an unforgettable romance between the daughter of an American minister and a famous British music producer tormented by tragedy.
When magazine editor Faith Edwards must take an assignment away from her tightly controlled life to travel to London—or else—she is not prepared for the series of unfortunate events that follow, or her intense attraction to David Ashton, a man who condemns all in life that she holds dear.
Set against the haunting backdrop of Cotswold, an English medieval monastery nestled high against the raging sea cliffs, and spanning an ocean’s width of unrequited love, Faith and David are forced to battle their greatest fears—unwittingly setting themselves on a course to bind their fragmented hearts together.
But will the dark chains of bitterness, not so easily broken, threaten the light of their future?
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The Prophet and The Witch by James W. George is a historical fiction book, continuing on from the first book, My Father’s Kingdom. The year is 1675, and four years have passed since readers joined popular characters such as Brewster and Linto in New England. The signs of war have been steadily brewing since, with so many individuals struggling to hold the peace. Inevitably, all efforts have proved futile, and the battle now begins between the English and the Indians. This is one of the most gruesome wars many will be privy to, but one which numerous people are determined to end, preventing further bloodshed and restoring peace to both sides.
The Prophet and The Witch is divided into three parts, covering the summer of 1675 to the summer of 1676. Within each section, the chapters are short and focused on some wonderfully developed individual characters as they contend with the implications of this war.
I was genuinely shocked at the obvious association between war and religion in this account. A huge proportion of the story focuses on the beliefs of the men fighting, highlighting how their personal religious understandings act as an explanation of why war is a necessity. The English see things, such as the turbulent weather, as the wrath of God’s displeasure, but then condemn what they see as mere pagan superstitions of the Indian tribes. However, if they were to reflect, they would soon see more similarities than differences in that both sides look for signs, albeit just of a different type!
As a reader, it is difficult to pick a side of this battle. The English Christians rely on the word of God, trusting they are doing his work in ridding a blasphemous tribe who butcher innocent civilians. Yet, to the Indians, the English and their own actions are similarly threatening! The reader never fully feels they can condemn either side, for each are doing what they see as their duty to survive. The question of religion therefore lingers throughout the book, quietly encouraging you to question whether man or God is responsible for this creation of war…
Israel Brewster and Linto are firm favourites throughout the story. Their portrayal is refreshing and their actions commendable, in an otherwise fraught and harrowing period. These two are both the savours of the story for me personally as they question man’s motives and speak out when they feel an injustice is occurring.
For those who haven’t read the first book, there is an extensive summary at the beginning of book two, instantly bringing readers up-to-date with the action so far. You never feel like you are at a disadvantage because of this.
The Prophet and The Witch is expertly written and instantly engaging from the first few pages. An exceptionally drawn historical fiction account. I was captivated by this very well-structured book, and would recommend as one of the more intellectual of reads.
Pages: 375 | ASIN: B0755QL6CR
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If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why exactly it’s so natural to quote another person, Why Do We Quote by Ruth Finnegan is a great place to start. This book is laid out much like a textbook and goes over the history behind quoting in a comprehensive timeline. The text is easy to read and peppered with anecdotes which is a far cry from many traditional textbooks. It proves itself to be a wonderful companion piece to any student who may be researching this area as well as informational for an average person to learn more. It’s a look at the subconscious process of quoting and how we are influenced by those around us and what we are exposed to. Quoting itself is something many take for granted and is a process that is so ingrained in our society that we barely realize what we’re doing most of the time. Finnegan will take us on a journey to find out why.
The professional layout of this book would have readers believing that they picked up something from a university or college course. Indeed, this book would be a welcomed companion in a variety of studies from English to the Social Sciences. While the content is dense, it is not too heavy a read. The rationalization that Finnegan provides allows readers to identify more with the subject matter, therefore absorbing and learning from it easier. The illustrations match the content well and there are proper citations for what is being used. This is very important for a book about quoting others. Improper citation would ruin any academic or professional credibility.
Although this is a study disguised as reading material it may indeed be too heavy for a non-academic to enjoy. This is not the kind of book you pick up just for fun: you need to be genuinely interested in the contents or else it will be a book you never finish. To that end, this book may not grab the casual reader. As long as you go into this book with the expectation to learn, you will not be disappointed. Finnegan carefully guides her readers on the history of quotation and gently teaches along the way.
If you are looking for education and a better understanding of how language works, this is a great piece to add to your collection. This comprehensive history of quoting complete with illustrations is a great piece to add to any student or academic’s library. It’s a fascinating study that is sure to grab the interest of those who enjoy this type of reading. Be wary of its length and don’t be afraid to pause while reading it. Finnegan writes in a way that is easy to put down and pick up. Her personal anecdotes also add flavor to something that might otherwise be dry and boring.
Pages: 348 | ISBN: 1906924333
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If you’d like to know how people feel in a country different than your own, you should read collections of their thoughts. Century Sentence by Xu Xue Chun is just that: a collection of previously published thoughts from a man who lives in China. At a staggering volume of over five hundred pages, you will learn how Chun’s thoughts have impacted his life and how he feels about the state of the world. Available in both Chinese and English, for the purposes of this review we will be referring to the English version. Here, readers will be able to see inside the mind of a single citizen of China while learning how one man has taken his upbringing and applied his cultural views on various states and topics of global concern and turning it back again upon his own country.
This book is broken down into three key sections and the thoughts within are organized as such. The first section refers to a commentary on China. Here, readers will find the thoughts of a man who is not always at peace with the decisions of his country. Chun gives readers a glimpse at what his reality is and how he feels about this. He dabbles with philosophical ideas and his views on them. The second section is a commentary on Islam. Chun is not pleased with how things are developing around the world and within China on this subject. The final section is a commentary on Western and other countries. As a writer from a western country, it is interesting to see how others perceive my country from a completely different perspective. By sectioning off his thoughts like this, Chun makes it easy for readers to get into a flow.
As the author is Chinese and has limited English skills, by his own admission, grammatical and spelling mistakes are expected. It can be difficult to read this, however, because of how the translation was done. There is no flow and sentences can feel choppy and uncomfortable. Chun’s thoughts on western countries are fairly archaic. His thoughts on gender roles and how the world can resolve its incessant need to keep fighting itself are also alarming. There are several passages in the book where Chun makes reference to how men and women should treat each other and what Japan can do to be seen in a better light from his perspective.
If anything, Century Sentence by Xu Xue Chun is an exercise in seeing how a citizen of a country as large as China views the world around him. The thoughts are fairly well organized although the translation could use a bit of work. It is an exhausting read, however, and not one that would be easily recommended. This book could be useful for those who are studying international societies or for people who are looking for a wildly different perspective on world cultures.
Pages: 895 | ASIN: B01M8LIWBS
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In Between… Life by Luiz Valério de Paula Trindade is a collection of 30 of the Brazilian poet’s English-language works. Each poem is headed by a full-page, colour photograph that is related to the topic of the poem, showcasing the poet’s other loves of photography and travel. In the introduction, he states that his vision for the collection was to capture a range of human emotional experience in the most apt words possible, but without making the poetry feel inaccessible and distant. It’s supposed to feel like a conversation with a friend.
I loved the idea behind this collection, of sharing poetry as widely as possible. I can certainly imagine philosophising about some of the topics late into the night with a friend. Unfortunately, in places this aim detracted from the poetry itself, leading to the telling-rather-than-showing, shallow exploration of Human Dignity, or some of the repetitive, clichéd references to an unapproachable woman in impenetrable armour.
In other places, though, there was evocative imagery that I instantly related to; Turning the Page is a mature description of unrequited love, and it’s expressed as a rounded story. Many of my favourite poems appeared in the latter half of the collection, and most had this same characteristic. The well-chosen order of the lines and stanzas of You Don’t Know allowed me to travel with the main character as their feelings developed, and the ending felt like the cliffhanger in a novel – I wanted to find out what happened next!
Love is a common theme, but I felt as though more aspects of it could have been covered besides the romantic one – Especially For You was a notable exception. Within the romantic poems, Today stood out for me, written with a beautiful simplicity that was still deeply imbued with meaning. The repetition of similar phrases has a strength of several other poems. How combines this with descriptive imagery which really got me feeling its frustration! The rhythm adds to this nicely, but I thought the ending of it was a little awkward. I put this down to the occasional, unnatural syntax. I can imagine that in the poet’s native Portuguese these phrases would flow smoothly.
The last two poems I want to mention are Why I Write and Words. As a writer, their content resonated with me, and I think their description of the process and the importance of writing could help people who have different creative outlets to understand why I spend so much time doing it!
Overall, I believe the collection did cover a range of aspects of the human experience, and although it didn’t work for all of them, the poems that did benefit from the simple phrasing were very effective in bringing the emotions alive for me.
Pages: 94 | ISBN: 154303988X
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When live-action-role-playing adventure goes horribly wrong it’s up to our battered group to save the day! Dale, his girlfriend Jane, sister Katie and friend Gavin are off on a LARPing adventure. Dale isn’t used to this style of play and is finding himself wishing it was bit more interesting. One must be careful what they wish for in The Barrow of the Damned by Jonathan J. Drake. After a few days enacting their scenes the group is presented with a special module by Mr. Stephens, their coordinator. He leads them to a barrow where they will go to combat with other friends in an orcs-versus-adventurers play. They’ve even got a game master to keep them in line. All seems to be great, until the group steps foot in the creepy crypt for the first time. It’s dark, foreign and crawling with things that go bump in the night. Will they survive? Where are they, exactly? Finally, who is the one pulling the strings behind this adventure? Be careful what you wish for.
The story begins with a shock as a young man meets his end inside the barrow. This poor fellow will play an important role in the tale to come so it’s a good idea to remember him. The story isn’t too long with short chapters that serve to change up the perspective now and then. We get a good glimpse at what is going on from the viewpoints of all involved. There is a lot of blood and gore in this story, so if that’s not for you it would be wise to steer clear. Those who like a fantasy-adventure tale with a bit of horror will find this tale is right up their alley. The story appears to take place in the United Kingdom, although definitive places are never mentioned. Based on the terminology the characters use and the way they speak it is assumed that is where our tale unfolds.
While the story is relatively entertaining with shadows of J.R.R. Tolkien and some black humour dabbled about, the overall execution could use some polishing. There are grammatical errors and strange capitalization on words that pop up here and there which detract from the overall story. There are some key elements that aren’t explained very well that can leave readers with more questions than answers after completing the journey. Questions like, why are the Fates, who have origins in Greek mythology, in some barrow in what appears to be rural England? How did they get there? How long have they been there? From what we read, it seems like they have been there for a while, trying to steal something from a spirit who was created by the gods. With a name like O’Fleistus it’s assumed this spirit would be of English origins, but it’s not really explained. We get a bit of an explanation, but it could have been fleshed out much more instead of being revealed in fleeting conversation.
A little bit of blood and horror can dress up any LARPing event. What began as fun and games quickly turns into mayhem in The Barrow of the Damned by Jonathan J. Drake. This book has some very good potential if it had been fleshed out a bit more. There is opportunity to expand and explain more of the black-humoured story found on these pages. Aside from these minor drawbacks, it’s a fun and quick read. This tale is quite gruesome for the faint of heart. If that’s your cup of tea, you can’t go wrong venturing into this Barrow of the Damned.
Pages: 263 | ASIN: B00B79MVZA
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My Father’s Kingdom is a historical fiction novel centered around the religious strife during the American settlement at Plymoth in the late 1600’s. Why did you want to write a novel about this event and time?
I’m a big fan of historical fiction and I wanted to choose a topic the casual reader was not familiar with. King Philip’s War was one of the most tragic and devastating conflicts in American history, and too many of us have never even heard of it.
We have plenty of novelists focusing on topics like the Viking invasions of England, the Tudors, and the American Civil War…and that’s wonderful. These are almost always fantastic works. In my opinion, however, there are approximately 150 years of colonial American history (1620-1770) that are woefully neglected in fiction. There are certainly some great novels about this era, mostly about Salem, but I think the era as a whole deserves a lot more attention.
I find the Puritans and Separatists to be some of the most fascinating people in history. Their piety, courage and diligence were truly remarkable, but history is well aware of how they treated anyone alien to their political and religious worldview. The history of New England is also the history of incredible Native American nations like the Wampanoag and Narragansett, and their stories need to be told.
The narrative of this story is told from the perspective of native Americans and the pilgrims. Each offers a different opinion and set of beliefs on the alliance between the people. What kind of research did you do to ensure the story was as accurate as possible?
I’m not a historian but fortunately there is a wealth of historical research about this era, much of which I mention in my Author’s Notes. “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick is probably the first thing that comes to mind regarding this era. Sarah Vowell’s “Wordy Shipmates” is a fantastic read. Jay Moore and the Charles River Editors wrote “King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy” and it is a treasure of information. The online “Plymouth Colony Archive Project” by Patricia Scott Deetz, Christopher Fennell and J. Eric Deetz is an incredible resource for understanding how 17th Century New Englanders lived and worked.
Obviously, it was also critical to understand the Native American perspective of these events. Nativeamericannetroots.com was a valuable asset in that regard, among other sources.
As you can imagine, much of the history is crystal clear, but much is very murky. For example, we seem to have a very good idea what Metacomet told Deputy Governor John Easton when Easton tried to mediate the conflict. Conversely, there are numerous conflicting accounts of Wamsutta’s final days.
I felt that a consistent theme in the story was the importance of peace. What were some themes you felt were important to develop the story?
I’d say in addition to peace, some themes are the paradox of Puritan values and how they lived their Christian faith. The corollary theme would be how awesome yet baffling the English Christians must have seemed to the natives in 17th Century New England. A third theme would be no matter which community the characters hailed from (Puritan or Quaker, English or Wampanoag), they all looked to the divine, spiritual world to help guide them through what must have been astoundingly fearful times.
I found the characters to be very well developed and in depth. What were your inspirations for the characters?
Thank you for the compliment. I’d say one inspiration for Israel Brewster is the Chaplain Corps in the Armed Forces. Although I am certainly not a chaplain, during a recent deployment I had the opportunity to help review and grade annual award packages for the chaplains. It really helped to bring home the remarkable dedication and service they provide to the men and women they serve with. Sometimes I think we as a society are too quick to glom onto the scandals and shortcomings of the clergy, and are far too oblivious to the impact they are making in the lives of others.
Israel Brewster in 1671 is a model of certainty, whereas Linto represents all that is uncertain. He is a young man trying to find the meaning of his life in a world of sickness, hatred, and turmoil.
What is the next book you are working on and when will it be published?
Certainly, there will be a book two for “My Father’s Kingdom” and I hope it will ultimately be a trilogy. I’d like to publish book two this year. I’m also mapping out a novel about professional sports, because as much as I love my current topic, it will also be nice to write something light-hearted.
Author Links: GoodReads
“In 1620 more than one hundred devout men and women crossed the treacherous Atlantic Ocean and established a colony in the New World where they could build a righteous and Godly society. Without the fortuitous friendship of the Wampanoag people and their charismatic leader Massasoit, however, it is doubtful the holy experiment would have survived.
Fifty years later Plimoth Colony has not only survived, it has prospered, and more and more Englishmen are immigrating to New England. The blessed alliance with the Wampanoag, however, is in severe jeopardy. Massasoit has passed away along with most of the original settlers of Plimoth Colony, and their children and grandchildren have very different ideas about their historic friendship.
Thrust into the center of events is Reverend Israel Brewster, an idealistic young minister with a famous grandfather and a tragic past. Meanwhile, Massasoit’s son, known as “King Philip” by the English, is tormented by both the present and the past. He is watching the resources and culture of the Wampanoag nation fade away at the hands of the English and desperately wishes to restore hope and security to his people.
In a world of religious fervor, devastating sickness, and incessant greed, can the alliance of their forefathers survive? Or will New England feel the wrath of tragic, bloody war?”
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The Chimaera Regiment follows Hector as he sets off on a world altering journey. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The first idea that I incorporated into this story, or what eventually became this story, was the question, “What if someone compelled a worldwide society, perhaps not far into our future, back to a level of technology and culture comparable to the very first tribal communities?” Of course, by the time I wrote the book, I had decided to aim for something closer to the late Bronze or early Iron Age than the Stone Age, and the whole question became part of the world-building rather than a story I tell during the book.
The character of Hector started to develop as I began to catalogue ideas and lay out a basic plan of the plot. Up to that point, I had never completed anything longer than a short story (in spite of my best efforts), so I wanted to make it as easy as possible for myself to get all the way through a novel. To that end, I took that advice so frequently bandied about, “Write what you know,” and decided to make the hero someone a little younger than I was at the time.
The first draft of the novel was quite a bit shorter than it is now, and it ended up collecting dust in a box for a few years. (I prefer to write first drafts by hand.) Around the time a movie was released with, by total coincidence, my working title, I decided to go back to it and see what I could make of it. By that point, I had gotten a college degree and learned enough to know that the first draft had a good core, but the implementation was all wrong. Over the next couple of years, I went through the entire book and rewrote it, this time trying to make sure all the pieces aligned. It was at this point that I incorporated mythology into the story and titled it The Chimaera Regiment.
That initial idea is still in there, and you can see the edges of it as the backstory develops through this book, but I’m going to explore that question more closely in future books.
I think the story has roots in mythology. Do you read books from that genre? What were some books that you think influenced The Chimaera Regiment?
It does, and I do. My bachelor’s degree is focused on the Classics, which some may have heard called Classical Studies or (my favorite) Classical Philology, so I learned Latin and ancient Greek and I read a lot of Greco-Roman mythology, both in English and in the original languages. (My knowledge of Norse mythology is pretty limited, I’ve barely touched Egyptian mythology, and I’m as clueless as the next guy when it comes to anything else.)
For The Chimaera Regiment in particular, I looked to a lot of different sources for inspiration. What I wanted, perhaps most of all, was to craft a story that people would enjoy regardless of their educational background, but I also wanted to include a lot of “Easter eggs” for people with the same knowledge-base I have. So on the surface you have Hector on his quest to save the world from the Chimaera Regiment, and underneath that, I’m incorporating themes and plotlines from the myth of Bellerophon. Bellerophon, of course, was the hero that killed the Chimaera in the Greek mythos. Most of that particular tale comes to us from the writings of Apollodorus and one section of Homer’s Iliad, but there are a lot of minor references in other works, too.
While the myth of Bellerophon and the Chimaera is interwoven with the main plot, I also included references to other myths, both significant and minor, throughout. The vast majority of those can be found in Homer (either the Iliad or the Odyssey), Vergil (the Aeneid), or Ovid (the Metamorphoses), but to be honest, I enjoyed the process of hiding those references so much that I’m not completely sure I could tell you all of them at this point!
I found the characters in this story to be complex and engaging. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
Especially when it came to Hector, whom we follow more closely than anyone else, I wanted something realistic. I find a lot of “coming of age” hero stories jump too quickly from “callow youth” to “great warrior” without much reason for it. I didn’t want my readers to ask, “Wait, why can he do that? How come he’s not daunted by this fight or fazed by this tragedy? When did he have time to learn strategy?” Incorporating that development was important to me.
When it came to the other characters, it was a matter of establishing ideals for each of them—how they saw the world, how they expected life to go—and then challenging those ideals with reality. Sometimes reality is better than they thought, but usually, it’s worse; either way, they have to adjust to deal with that. It’s a process not altogether different from the way we deal with change in our own lives.
I find a problem in a well written stories in that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Is there a second book planned?
There is a second book planned (and, very roughly, a third). The sequel is titled The Aegipan Revolution and picks up, not where the main story of The Chimaera Regiment leaves off, but rather where our epilogue leaves off, with the child learning this epic tale from his history.
I’m in the midst of writing The Aegipan Revolution, and I’ve passed the halfway point, but there is still a lot left to tell. After that, I’ll need to edit it thoroughly (though hopefully not as slowly as the first book!). On top of that, my day job has me incredibly busy these days. So I’d love to set a date for the next book’s release, but I can’t realistically estimate that right now.
It is late autumn in the 2040th year of the Sixth Era. For centuries, peace has reigned among the tribes of men, but as an early chill descends on the land, a new war looms from the south. Lord Derek, ruler of the Chimaera Regiment, seeks to reestablish the ancient Fylscem Empire under his banner, and he will stop at nothing to restore the dominion of his bloodline.
Before him lies the idyllic Valley of Kyros, home of the Alkimites, where the last direct heir of the old empire lives in ignorance. Guided by the ancient Guardian Lord Aneirin, Hector son of Abram must travel to the primeval capital of his heritage. There, in the Library of the Ancients, he must retrieve the three Blessed Blades of the Emperor, symbols of his authority. Agents of the Chimaera Regiment pursue him, and barbaric tribes stand in his way, but his path may unlock the secrets of the past, and it could bring light—or darkness—to the future.
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