Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Exclusive interview and giveaway with author Rachel Hartman (author of SERAPHINA and SHADOW SCALE)!!

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We were so excited to finally be able to sit down with Rachel Hartman for our Lytherus Book Club interview! Her books, SERAPHINA and SHADOW SCALE, were the Lytherus books of April, and they’re some of our favorites yet. In this interview we really dig into the depths of the story that she wrote. We talk about the characters, the different directions she takes them, themes like prejudice and racism, magic, and all sorts of other wonderful things. The video interview is below!

We also wanted to share two other links with you. The first is from our first ever interview with Rachel, from SDCC 2012, where I had the pleasure of interviewing both her and Christopher Paolini together about dragons! Keeping with that theme I also want to share a recent interview Christopher did with Rachel a few weeks ago. They talk about a lot of really interesting things, things that are really different than what we covered, things like depression and writing.

We are also giving away a copy of SHADOW SCALE to one lucky winner! Be sure to enter below for your chance to win. (US only, sorry!) The giveaway runs until June 10th, 11:59 EST.
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Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Lytherus book club: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, part 2

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We’re deep in the middle of SHADOW SCALE, the sequel to SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman. And wow, the second half of this book … it’s fantastic.  I absolutely loved the path the story took. Let’s dive right in, but not before I remind you to comment below with any questions you might have for the lovely author, as we have an exclusive interview looming on the horizon!

Okay! So, We left off with Seraphina and Ingar visiting with the priest half-dragon Pende and Cambra, his half-dragon acolyte. Pende removed Jannoula from Ingar’s mind, and Cambra is caring for him to help him find himself again. Here are the major goodies that happen in the second half of this book:

  • Seraphina takes the little book to Ingar to translate, to distract his mind. Camba and Ingar weren’t home, and as she leaves she spots a half-dragon with wings above. Seraphina tries to talk to her but she just flies away. Over the next few weeks she tries repeatedly to see Cambra but is met with excuse after excuse and never gets in.
  • She heads to the part of the city that housed dragon exiles to look for her uncle and Eskar, his dragon guardian and girlfriend. She talks to a dragon and he confirms that Eskar has been there, but she’s been gone for two weeks without word. And he knows Orma but hasn’t seen him.
  • Abdo is in bad shape. Pende can’t unhook Jannoula while Abdo fights with her, so they’re forced to wait the battle out. Abdo is in a half-state.
  • She sets off to find the other half-dragons. They all avoid her or are unreachable. After she steps in the path of one she learns that the priest won’t let them talk to her, he worries she’ll take them away. They can’t disobey, but she’s looking for a loophole.
  • She finally is invited into Camba’s. All the local half-dragons are there, excited to talk to Seraphina. She learns about how Pende took all of them under his wing and helped them. But they all have disappointed him in some way, leaving the temple and his god for other paths (except Camba). There’s a familiarity between them that Seraphina has dreamed of for her kind. Ingar also reveals that the book she gave him is the only known testament of the heretic saint. Ingar promised to write up a translation for her to read.
  • Glisselda told her that Kiggs and Comonot were traveling to her, with the plan to have the dragon leader head into the mountains to the dragon capital, where dragon politics required he be listened to. Kiggs was to take her home with the other half-dragons.
  • Kiggs revealed that he came with Comonot to see Seraphina, which has him feeling guilty about keeping it from Glisselda.
  • She’s summoned to a meeting of dragons, where we meet a teenage dragon who is determined to identify with the country she’s in, not the dragon one. Eska also shows up, and encourages them to take over a censor lab up the valley on the way to the dragon capital, to help them hide, etc. She also reveals that Orma is there.
  • the next day a ship is pursued into the harbor. It’s filled with the knights who were training to fight dragons, escaping their island home that was attacked by Josef. They’re forced to leave the following day to head for Glisselda’s kingdom, and Kiggs goes with them. Seraphina decides to go with the dragons up into the mountains to try and save her uncle.
  • Before they leave Seraphina takes Abdo to Pende to get Jennoula unhooked. But as Pende tries to remove her she tricks them all and not only stays hooked in Abdo but manages to hook into the old priest too.
  • On her way home she passes a gathering where the teen dragon and her friends reveal that some of the dragons are leaving, and that there are enemy ships in the harbor that they can help with. They turn into dragons and, working together, burn down the enemy fleet. They are subsequently banished for essentially starting a war.
  • The dragons and Seraphina leave, heading up into the mountains. When they get to the censor lab a group of four head in, Eskar and Seraphina being two of them. Eskar tells Seraphina that she was mated to Orma.
  • They sneak in through the sewers, where they run into quigs (the smaller dragons). The leader says he’s been waiting for them and that everything is in place. Eskar tells them they have two days to get all the sabotage finished and that Seraphina and the teen dragon (Brisi) will help them.
  • Once inside she asks a quig to help her locate Orma. He takes her to a computer room, and though there’s a file on him they can’t seem to locate him in the lab. In conversation he says in passing that there was a half-human trapped here, that the censors raised it from a baby and did experiments on it. He says that she wasn’t released, but that the war dragons used her because she became amazing at strategy. He reveals that she’s actually the famous General Laedi, a brutal war general. This also revealed that she was working for the enemy dragons.
  • The battle happens. While the dragons are fighting a quig takes Seraphina to question a doctor dragon about Orma. He has a message for her from Jannoula, that her uncle was sent to her, at Seraphina’s home, and that she was done playing.
  • She follows Comonot and Eskar to the archives where they talk to the old archivist about Jannoula. She’s been manipulating all sides for a while, encouraging the old thinking dragons to challenge the peace. She even knew about Imlann, hidden as a spy.
  • The archivist reveals something called the Great Mistake. 700 years prior dragons experimented, breeding with humans. As Orma suspected, these had to be the saints. They were meant to be an army against humans, but they sided with the humans and created the martial art that kills dragons instead. After this failure dragons created the censors to not only eliminate the memories of this but to also make sure something like it never happened again.
  • The five teen dragons fly Seraphina back to her home. On the way they encounter a hostile dragon and work as a team to take him down, something dragons usually don’t do.
  • She lands in a field with the knights. Kiggs is there, and she says she wants to talk to the queen. He informs her that Jannoula got there before he got back and he’s not allowed in the city. Lars snuck her in. And worse, she’s declared herself a saint and the people are buying it. They decide to sneak Seraphina into the castle to befriend Jannoula and see if she can free the queen from her influence.
  • She hops into Neduard’s mind that night, and he reveals that she’s gotten him too. And that all the foreign ones are there except Abdo. She checks in on most of them and confirms this. Abdo is in the woods outside the city. Everyone else seems trapped by Jannoula’s mind except Camba.
  • Seraphina and Kiggs sneak in that night. They try to get to the queen but Seraphina can’t bluff her way in. So they wait in a room off the council chambers till the following day’s meeting. They share a passionate kiss.
  • In the meeting the next day Seraphina reveals herself and also that Jannoula is the famous General Laedi. Everyone buys her explanation, that it was all to get her to Seraphina, everything she’s done, to unite all the “saints”.
  • She settles in with the other half-dragons, biding her time while she tried to figure out what was going on. She witnessed the others making a net out of the mind-fire and how everyone fell to their knees when they saw it. Jannoula had also preched about Seraphina to the masses, calling her the counter-saint (which back in the day was the dude who challenged the power-greedy saint leader and was subsequently buried alive).
  • Phina confers with Kiggs and it seems like he’s getting swayed too. He says that the net will help stop dragons and protect the city and that the country was more important and that getting rid of Jannoula could wait. He gets caught following her one night, seems swayed by Jannoula’s charm, and is integrated back into castle life like it was nothing.
  • Seraphina is given the translation from the book that was passed to Ingar while he was recovering. It’s the testament of the heretic saint. Her lover was the original anti-saint, Pandowdy. Her brother was Abastar, the saint who craved power and had him buried alive and others killed who disagreed with his doctrine. There’s also mention of Pandowdy defeating Abastar during a casting of the net by reflecting it back on him. Seraphina decides to attempt this with the few half-dragons she can seem to trust the next time they all cast it. If Jannoula is knocked out Camba can unhook the others from her mind.
  • But, before it happens, Jannoula takes her to breakfast with Kiggs and Glisselda, where she states that someone is in love with Seraphina, making Selda flee from the room looking sick, Kiggs following.
  • Jannoula takes Seraphina to the roof with them, which makes Phina suspicious, but not until she throws the powers into Neduard and Ingar does she learn that Jannoula was spying in Neduard’s head without him even knowing about it.
  • She reveals all the parts of the upcoming war to Seraphina, how she’s basically manipulated all the sides to her end, which she wants to be a bloody one where they all destroy each other.
  • Seraphina’s locked away in a tower, away from the fighting. The net is bringing down all dragons, good and bad, and there’s a battle on the back side that the humans are up against. Then, to make things worse, Orma shows up to visit her … and has no idea who she is. His memories have been erased. Seraphina is devastated by this.
  • That night the queen’s personal guard frees Seraphina and leads her to the queen, who helps her escape.  Before she does Glisselda kisses Seraphina, and we learn that the queen is in love with her.
  • She heads off to the shrine Abdo was hiding in, but he’s not there. She reads an inscription and realizes it’s about the anti-saint Pandowdy, and she wonders if he was buried nearby. It makes her think of the one half-dragon she’d had in her mind that she’d never met, also named Pandowdy, and wondered crazily if they could be the same. She sets off to find him. And does.
  • They talk. She asks him to help. He says he has but she hasn’t noticed. He won’t come and be the monster for her, or the peace maker, he says. She leaves, frustrated.
  • She opens a present from her friends, a mirror, and it gives her the idea to try and reflect the light back on Jannoula. Her plan requires her to run in between the fighting armies and wave a flag of peace, like a lunatic.
  • As she talked to representatives of all sides Jannoula appears on the tower and captivates all of them with her mind fire. Seraphina, thinking over everything, decides to break down the door in her garden to where she had put Jannoula, and steps through. It frees her mind fire. Suddenly she’s huge and can see it all, all the filaments that connect to Jannoula. She tries to fight, but weakens. But then Abdo joins his mind fire to hers. She then summons Pandowdy, who rises from the swamp. He takes Jannoula and severs all her ties.

That’s pretty much the end of the book. I know I basically did a summary, but so much stuff happened, and all of it was important! There were a few other important things that happen, including the epilogue, where she’s hanging out with Orma and he starts to want to figure things out. That gives me hope for his future.

The thing I liked about this book is that Seraphina’s path wasn’t predictable to me. I mean, yes, I knew she was going to try and find the other half-dragons, etc., but the way it pans out wasn’t at all what I expected. Things were not easy for our heroine for most of this book, but the way things happened had a fresh feel to me. And Jannoula, wow. She’s a really great villain. The end, where we really learn that it’s all been about payback for what happened, was really heart-wrenching (especially the stuff that happens with Orma). But at the end of the day she’s just a sad, broken person.

I’m really glad things work out for Seraphina and Kiggs, though I’m a bit sad about Glisselda not getting what she wants. But, then again, the end of the book is written rather ambiguously on this subject, and though we know for sure that Seraphina and Kiggs end up together, and that Glisselda and Kiggs get married but plan to keep it a friendship, we don’t actually know what happens with the two girls. What is clear is how close the three of them are, almost like a solid unit, and that’s enough.

This series was always meant to be two books, from my understanding, so this is probably the last we’ll see of these guys. I will admit that this makes me sad, because they are such wonderfully complex characters set in a rich world, but there’s so much wonderful stuff in the books that I’ll be able to return to them and enjoy them time and again.

So, I’m really curious. For those of you who have read SHADOW SCALE, did you enjoy it? Was it what you expected? Anything you want to know from the author? Be sure to post your questions in the comments today, I’m interviewing her tomorrow!

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Lytherus book club: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, part 1

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*Don’t forget, I’m interviewing Rachel sometime in the next week or so, so get your questions in! Feel free to write them in the comments below*

This long-awaited sequel to SERAPHINA was something I was excited to read. And it didn’t let me down. These books together tell a wonderful story, and I really enjoyed the direction the second book went. So, today let’s dive into the first half of SHADOW SCALE and see what goodies Rachel Hartman had in store for us!

First up, here’s the blurb of SHADOW SCALE. If you haven’t read SERAPHINA there will be some mild spoilers, be warned!

61KW8eu2uVL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

SERAPHINA leaves off with a dragon civil war brewing between those that want peace with humans and those who don’t. We also see our main character, Seraphina, planning on setting off into the world to try and find the other half-dragons like herself. There’s also the hidden love between her and the Prince Kiggs.

Here are the main points in the first half of the book (chapters 1-17):

  • Three months have passed since the end of book 1.
  • Eskar, a warrior dragon, returns to the kingdom with news of uncle Orma, who is in hiding from the censors who want to clear the emotion out of his brain. In a letter to Seraphina he mentions discovering something about half-dragons being able to blend their minds together into a web of sorts.
  • Discussing the net with the others, Abdo reveals that he can see their energy (he calls it soul-light), and speculates that this must be what is combined to make the net. Also, all of them have strands connected to Seraphina. She, however, seems to be missing her soul-light.
  • They try to weave the soul-light net and succeed, so Seraphina sets out to find the others, with Abdo in tow.
  • Lots of journeying happens next. First stop is Dame Okra’s area, and they find Neduard, a plague doctor with a good soul and a finch beak. He agrees to join their cause.Next they come across the hermit gal, Blanche, who tentatively agrees, with convincing from Abdo. Then off to find the painter, Od Fredricka, who vehemently refuses.
  • They head off to a nearby mountain to find a giant half-dragon, Gianni Pato. Everyone’s scared of him as he comes into town, and then, to make things worse for himself, he kills an assassin priest who followed the group after visiting Od Fredricka. But not before the priest throws a knife, which severs the tendons in Abdo’s hand. Also disturbing, he calls out Seraphina’s name, which he shouldn’t know.
  • Seraphina realizes it’s Jannoula, and reflects on her story. Jannoula is a half-dragon with a terrible real life, so when Seraphina was younger she used to offer her a peaceful place to escape in her mind. But slowly Jannoula took over her mind without Seraphina realizing, becoming her, and eventually Seraphina locked her away into a dark stone cabin in her mind where she couldn’t come out. That had been years ago, and she’s still scared of Jannoula’s powers, especially now that she’s back. She seems to leave the giant for the time though.
  • They get back to Dame Okra’s, and as they tried to take Gianni Pato into the city he roars, and Josquin, their friend and guide on the first part of the journey, falls off his horse and breaks his back, becoming paralyzed. Seraphina realizes Jannoula is back.
  • The next day, talking to Dame Okra, Seraphina realizes with horror that Jannoula is in her mind now too. She’s controlling Dame Okra, saying that they have the same goal, to bring the half-dragons together, but Seraphina doesn’t trust her a bit. To confirm it, Od Fredricka shows up, saying she wants to join them now. Jannoula got to her too and changed her mind. Seraphina is appalled and scared. She warns Glisselda and Kiggs about Jannoula and all she’s up to.
  • Before they set out to find more half-dragons Seraphina gets a letter from Orma. He sends a pearl ring along with it, saying it’s important, but not explaining. He also says he has things to tell her when he sees her.
  • Abdo reveals in passing the next day that Jannoula visits the minds of the half-dragons where he’s from, but the head priest half-dragon can unhook her from their minds. Abdo says he knows how to do it too. He tries to unhook Dame Okra, but not only fails but has to battle Jannoula in his mind. He says he’s free of her.
  • They head to a city in the next country, where all the Earls are scheduled to report on a certain day, and Seraphina hopes to find one of the half-dragons among them. On the way Abdo grows more and more listless.  That night Abdo was taken over by Jannoula while he slept. She let him believe he was free of her, but she hooked him too. He continues to fight her, though it’s taking its toll on him.
  • The group heads to the capital (on a dubious lead from Jannoula), and upon arrival notice that an army has camped around the city. Alarmed, they head for the leader and discover that it’s Josef, the thought-to-be villain in book 1. He’s marched his army right in and taken over as king. And worse, Jannoula is his right hand man, so to speak.He had cancelled the earl meeting so that no one could vote against him. And he’s not sharing the info with Glisselda.
  • Jannoula has him in awe. She projects her soul-light out for people to see and they think she’s a living saint. She’s also hooked another half-dragon, Ingar. She convinces Josef to let them continue on, but not before he takes away the devices that allow Seraphina to to communicate with home, and she sends Ingar with them (“to help” she says, but really to keep an eye on things, since he’s fully hooked).
  • On the trip Ingar reveals that Lars is also hooked. She contacts Lars to warn Glisselda and Kiggs about Josef as the new leader before Jannoula can figure out what she can do.
  • Once on land Abdo takes them to his home, where he doesn’t get out of bed. Seraphina gets another device to communicate with home and passes on all the news she’s learned about Jannoula.
  • To discract Ingar while she sets off to find the half-dragons in the city Seraphina takes him to the library. While there she discovers a book of her uncle’s, with notes inside about his research on human-dragon breeding. He speculates that the saints everyone worshipped were, in fact, half-dragons. She also finds an old book he mentions, though it’s in a language she doesn’t understand. She takes it.
  • As she’s leaving she’s confronted by half-dragon Cambra, who works for the priest half-dragon, Pende. She takes them both to him. Ingar fights, as Pende is known to be able to unhook Jannoula from minds, but Cambra captures him anyway.
  • The priest looks into Seraphina’s mind to prove she’s not with Jannoula, and he tells her that she used to have power but she’s locked it up. They can’t even see her soul-light at all. She sets free the little bit of Pende she has from her mind as his request. He then frees Ingar from Jannoula, which throws him into a state of shock.

It’s really hard to sum up Rachel’s books, because there’s just so much that happens! All of it is relevant, and interesting, and propels the story forward. This book is all about the half-dragons and what it means to find them and bring them together. It’s also become clear that, even though there’s a dragon civil war brewing, Jannoula is the villain of the story. She says she has the same goals as Seraphina, and yet she’s terrifying with her ability to take over people’s minds and control them. At this point she seems like an unstoppable force. She won’t get Seraphina as long as she’s blocked off, but slowly she’s taking hold of all the other half-dragons around her.

Most of these 275 pages or so have been a journey, a slow burn building up characters and situations that pull from bits of the first book, but mainly add to the richness of the knowledge we already have of this world and its characters. Stay tuned, for we’ll cover the second half of the book this week as well, and I can’t wait to see where the story takes us. There are a lot of loose ends at the moment, and things are feeling pretty hopeless. This should be good!

Don’t forget, I’m interviewing Rachel sometime in the next week or so, so get your questions in!! Feel free to post them in the comments below. We really want to hear what you have to say about these books and characters!

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Lytherus book club: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, part 2

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First, let’s get all the feels on the table: I love this book so much. I think SERAPHINA is brilliantly written and the characters are wonderful. If you haven’t read it, and you love dragon-y things, don’t miss out, it’s wonderful.

Now, onto the second half! I’m going to just jump right into my summary. There was lots of crucial info that was dumped, so I tried the collect the most important points below:

  • on their way out to search, Kiggs and Seraphina find a dress hidden in a cave; speculate it’s a maid’s from meeting her lover.
  • they discover proof of a dragon via its toilet, and the dead uncle’s horse in there.
  • they visit the banished knights, who confirm the dragon was indeed Seraphina’s grandfather, and they show off their lost martial art of dragon-fighting.
  • on their way home the dragon in question reveals himself. She bluffs their way out of it (awesomely!), talking to him and making him think she was a full dragon.
  • She had called her uncle to come and help, which she denied, and Kiggs suspected her of lying to him. In all this madness they hug, and she realizes that she loves him.
  • The dragon leader learns of Seraphina’s existence and demands Orma return home and have his memories erased, or be killed. He says he’ll run before he’s to forget his sister and Seraphina.
  • Seraphina’s blasted into a memory of her mother’s where she overheard dragons talking treason, saying they were going to overthrow the dragon leader and break the peace treaty. One of them was Seraphina’s grandfather. We also learn these rogue dragons infiltrated the knights and caused their banishment.
  • Her boss, the music master, reveals that he knew who her mother was, that he invited her to study with him once he heard her play.
  • She’s tricked into the laundry where the older princess and Selda’s guardian cut her wrist to prove she’s a dragon. But her blood is red not silver, and she’s saved by dame okra.
  • The princess helps her change out of her bloody dress and sees the scales on her waist, but thinks its a chastity belt.
  • She meets with Orma to tell him about her new vision of treason from her mother’s memory, and they speculate that part of the plan was to eliminate the knights all together. They also speculate that it’s going to come to older generation of dragons against younger generations, wanters of war vs those raised with peace as the ideal.
  • They are busted by Basind, the dragon Orma was helping adjust to human life. He’s actually there to inspect Orma, to see if he’s been corrupted by emotions. He wants to take Orma away to have his memory cleaned, but Seraphina helps Orma escape before that happens.
  • While hiding in a church, she bumps into the Comonot, the leader of the dragons. While they talk someone tries to kill her, stabbing her in the back. Thankfully the dagger hits her scales. The Comonot interjects, killing the would-be assassin.
  • When Kiggs questions her later she confesses she knew the assassin. He threatened her previously when he saw her give to a poor quigutl (other dragon species) and get a talking quig toy in return, saying she was a sympathizer.
  • She talks to Comonot about her vision, trying to convince him. He doesn’t buy it. He also wants her to help him understand human emotions.
  • She then tries her luck with Kiggs and Selda. They don’t fully believe her theory that the evil dragon is hiding in plain sight as an Earl, but they agree to up his security at the ball. Seraphina also lines up the other half-dragons (there are three around besides her) to be on the watch.
  • She meets Abdo in person, finally. Yay!
  • The Comonot comments at the end of the evening, when it looks like they’re all in the clear, that Kiggs isn’t watching their royalty as closely as they are watching him. They get to his aunt, and she’s been poisoned.
  • Seraphina contacts the other half-dragons, and with the help of Dame Okra’s intuitive gut they find the queen and Selda in the tower. Everyone suspects it’s the Earl, but on impulse Kiggs sets off the quig toy, and the princess’s teacher, Lady Corongi, is the only one who stands, listening. This reveals her to be the hidden evil dragon, Seraphina’s grandfather. He escapes with Glisselda over his shoulder.
  • They follow, and Seraphina reveals her secret in front of her grandfather and friends to stall him till help comes, from both the half-dragons and her uncle, who she called with a secret device. But not before she kisses Kiggs impuslively, of course. They free the princess with the help of Abdo and Lars, and as Imlann turns to breathe fire at them Orma appears in dragon form and battles him in the skies.
  • There’s a dragon battle in the sky. Eventually others come to help and kill Imlann, but not before he hurts uncle Omar pretty severely. Abdo made it though, jumping to Omar from Imlann.
  • Seraphina, with the help of Lars, confirms her words as truth to Kiggs and Selda. She shows them her scales.
  • Days later there’s a meeting. The queen is dying from the poison, so Selda takes over. She also reveals a letter sent that confirms there are dragons who are starting a war to break up the peace. They all decide to go to war against these dragons to preserve the peace, ironically. They also decide that Seraphina will find the other half-dragons, because together she thinks they could be something formidable.
  • At the end she talks to Kiggs, and he confesses that he loves her too. But they decide to put it on the back burner till the war is over, and hope that Selda will release him from his obligation to marry her.

Man, those are a lot of points! But this part of the book was so rich with details that there was a lot I wanted to include. There are all the twists with the villain, the love story, the half-dragons, the uncle, the dragons, all of it. And even as I read it again I’m reminded about why I love this book so much. It’s complex, detailed, with a rich world around interesting characters. That’s sometimes a hard balance to find, and SERAPHINA definitely handles it well.

Now, on to the love story! I love that Kiggs loves her mind. That’s really prevelant throughout the story. He says at the end that, even through her lies he could see her heart and the truth of who she was in her soul. Vary rarely these days in YA are there romances that don’t focus on the hotness of the other person first. Theirs has always been a meeting of the minds, and it’s just perfect. And the connection they have with both being outsiders in their own way, it was inevitable that they’d find a connection with that. It seems like such a specific, unique sort of exclusion they both have experienced, and the struggles they have both had with it connected them together as friends. It’s pretty much perfection.

So. Going into SHADOW SCALE, we have a brewing dragon civil war. Selda is acting as queen. Orma is on the run from the censors trying to clear his memories. and Seraphina is going to find the others of her kind. I cannot wait to see what they are like, and how the beings in her mind connect with the real people.

Stay tuned for our coverage of SHADOW SCALE this week. And don’t forget, we’re interviewing Rachel super soon, so don’t forget to submit some questions! Is there anything you’ve ever wanted to ask a New York Times bestselling author about? Now’s your chance, don’t miss it!


Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Lytherus Book Club: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, part 1

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Woo! Excited to share thoughts on this AMAZING Book! I’ve reviewed it for Lytherus before, so if you’re familiar with that then there’s no surprise about my love for Seraphina.  But I wanted to read it again, as I hadn’t picked it up since 2012 and I wanted to go into book 2 with everything fresh in my mind.

So. What’s this book about? Let’s start with the official blurb:

Seraphina_book_cover_(US_addition)In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.

The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.

When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life.

So, I’m going to change up the format of the book club yet again, because it’s no fun for me as the writer or you as the reader for me to basically re-tell the story in a more condensed version here. I’m also assuming you’re reading along with me, so I thought I’d go through what we’ve read so far and list out the important things/questions/interesting factoids, etc. For this post I’m covering chapters one through seventeen. Here’s what stood out to me as worth remembering:

  •  In this world dragons can fold themselves into human form.
  • Seraphina is half-dragon. Orma, a dragon who is both her guardian and teacher, is also her uncle.
  • Dragons and humans have been at peace for forty years, a celebration of which is on the near horizon.
  • A member of the royal family was brutally murdered by beheading, and people are speculating it’s dragons.
  • Seraphina is seeing her mother’s memories, which come to her in fits.
  • She has a garden of grotesques, as she calls it, in her mind, visions that keep returning filled with the same seventeen strange people and creatures.
  • She can understand the dragon language.
  • She encounters a woman in court, Dame Okra, who is one of the grotesques in her mind garden; she realizes they are real live people. She also realizes they are also half-dragons, by the revelation of the Dame’s small dragon tail.
  • Orma’s father, Imlann, a renegade dragon, sends word to Orma that he’s around and to watch out. Orma thinks he’s hiding in plain sight and that he wants to stir up trouble and mess with the peace.
  • Seraphina encounters another half-dragon, Lars, who is also a musician at the palace.
  • She’s getting friendly with the prince, Kiggs, who is betrothed to the princess, his cousin and also Seraphina’s friend. She’s not quite sure what to do with all the feels.
  • Two traveling knights spotted a rogue dragon. Seraphina suspects it to be her grandfather Inlann.
  • She realizes that she can talk to the other half-dragons with her mind, which freaks her out a bit.
  • She and Kiggs set out to find more of the knights who saw the renegade dragon, in hopes they can help identify him.

So, the first half of the book is setting up the world nicely, and educating us to the tensions between humans and dragons. Seeing it from the point of view of someone who has a foot in both worlds is really interesting. She seems to be embarassed about her dragon half, as it’s seen as disgusting, but she can empathize with them, thanks to her uncle and her mother’s memories.

I also love that she meets some other half dragons. I enjoyed seeing the special talent that each possesses, and it will be cool to see what else is revealed as the book continues.

The love story, as it were, is based on attraction of the mind, which is fantastic. Seraphina thinks she’s repulsive and unlovable, so she never really lets herself feel anything. But she can’t help falling for Kiggs, who admires her strength, courage, and brains, and is a sincere friend to her. They also have the connection of not feeling like they quite belong, since he’s a known bastard. Though the love story isn’t the main driving force of the book it’s wound nicely in there, and I am interested in seeing how it pans out through the rest of the book.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the second half of the book! Until then, don’t forget to submit your questions in the comments below for Rachel Hartman. We’ll be doing an exclusive video chat with her soon, so ask away!


It’s spring cleaning time! What’s that mean? Free Books!


Recently we looked at our giveaway shelves and realized that they’re overflowing with wonderful books waiting for a home. So this month we’re going to be doing a little spring cleaning, and you’re in luck, because it means lots of great freebies for you!

Every Friday during the month of April we’re going to post a new set of books for giveaway. Each set has a different theme, and all are books that have been out for a while, so it’s time for them to go. We’ll also be throwing in some signed goodies by one of or favorite authors ever, Christopher Paolini! We have lots of random odds and ends signed by Christopher, and we’re excited to include something in each book pack.

Be sure to stop back each Friday this month to get your chance to enter for a new set of books!

Book Interviews, Book Reviews, Books, Interviews, Reviews

Lytherus Book Club: Seraphina series by Rachel Hartman!


april book club headerWe’re so excited to announce our April book club books, and they’re by one of  our favorite authors: Rachel Hartman! We have interviewed Rachel in the past about her amazing first book, Seraphina. But we didn’t want to miss the chance to feature her again, now that her second book Shadow Scale is finally available.

Here’s how our book club works. Each week we’ll be reading a certain number of chapters. At the end of each week we’ll post a summary of what’s been read, along with our theories, ideas, speculations, and general things we enjoyed.

We want you to read along with us! You’ll have the chance to share your thoughts as well, and we want to hear what you have to say. You’ll also be able to submit questions for the author, and the best questions will be presented in our exclusive one-on-one google chat with the author at the end of the month.

Here’s how the break-down this month is going to go:

  • April 8: First half of Seraphina: Beginning through chapter Seventeen
  • April 15: Second half of Seraphina: Chapter Eighteen through the end.
  • April 22: First half of Shadow Scale: Beginning through chapter Seventeen
  • April 29: Second half of Shadow Scale: Chapter Eighteen to the end.

There also may be some goodies to give away, so don’t forget to stay tuned!

What’s the series about (besides dragons?!)? Here’s the official blurb:

Seraphina_book_cover_(US_addition)Lyrical, imaginative, and wholly original, this New York Times bestseller with 8 starred reviews is not to be missed.  Rachel Hartman’s award-winning debut will have you looking at dragons as you’ve never imagined them before…
In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.

The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.

When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life.