In a secret land, far away from the habitation of man, dwell the world's remaining dragons -- hoping the dragsaur beasts have vanished forever. Here they try to live their daily lives, but all is not well and their talents are fading.
Things change, however, when, from a strange egg, Yoshiko is born - a dragon with a unique destiny.
Great adventure lies ahead as many challenges must be overcome, leading to a dangerous mission to the human world in attempt to return to the clans their missing magic!
This is a delightful novel about Yoshiko, a young dragon with a difference. Hatched from a remarkable egg, he is regarded as special by some and as cursed by others. In school he is mocked and bullied by some of his classmates. However, he soon finds special mentors and teachers who recognize his abilities, test his endurance and bestow on him a daunting quest. His success or failure may have a lasting effect on the hidden realm of Dragor.
While this may be geared to a youthful audience, it can be enjoyed by adults as well. It is fast-paced, and written in a flowing, lively style, with engaging characters. The plot is not uncommon (the novel is reminiscent in some ways of the Harry Potter books). But the twist is that humans are behind the scenes for most of the book. The main characters are dragons, and along with the adventures of Yoshiko, we get a fairly in-depth look at the physiology, the history, the mythology, the culture, the society and even the politics of dragonkind.
The Gift of Charms by Julia Suzuki My Rating: 2 Stars Average rating on Goodreads: 4.39 out of 5 Stars Pages: 288
This epic children's novel -- first in the Land of Dragor series -- has appeal for all ages.
It transports the reader to the magical Land of Dragor, where seven dragon clans live hidden from man having beaten off the evil dragsaur beasts. Their great war is over and the dragons live peacefully among the smoking mud pools and around The Fire Which Must Never Go Out, but the terrible years when they were enslaved by humans have left a lasting scar and they are told they can never soar above the mountains and leave their safe haven to explore the outside world. There is unease in the air of their mist-filled valley, and the coming of a strange egg heralds a new era. Unlike the normal delicate lilac, this shell is multi-coloured like the contents of a treasure chest. The newborn hatchling is called Yoshiko, but he is immediately treated with suspicion by the elders, and is lucky to survive. The last time a coloured egg was laid, legendary warrior leader Surion was born from a red shell, and with his gift of fire the dragons went to battle with the humans. Will Yoshiko bring a blessing to the clans, or a curse? Could Dragor be about to meet its saviour, or its destroyer?
Chameleon-like Yoshiko is bullied and tormented as he grows up, taunted at fire school as he struggles to produce a jet of flame. Desperate to hide his colour changes, he flees from school one day and finds himself on the fabled mountain of Cattlewick Cave, home to the mysterious and reclusive elder Guya. This chance meeting changes Yoshiko’s life, and as he develops from hatchling to youngling, he is inspired to spread his wings and venture outside Dragor. He returns with magic gifts – but only time will tell if they heal or harm Dragor.
I received this book directly from the author for an honest review. Thank you, Julia :D I greatly appreciate the opportunity.
I regret to say that I didn't like it. I felt that the dragons were too people like. I've read other middle grade books about dragons, but they seemed more realistic than this one. Some of the actions that the characters performed didn't go along with the creature they were supposed to be. Now, I understand that this is a middle grade book and the people who usually read it are much younger than me, but I just couldn't get into it.
The animosity between Igorr and Yoshiko developed too quickly as well...actually the whole book seemed to develop too quickly for my liking. The conflict was set in the very beginning and that didn't bother me, but it was the way that Yoshiko figured things out really quickly that didn't sit well.
And the dialogue... I felt that all the history and everything important was told to the reader with dialogue. Sometimes that's okay but for this story I felt like it didn't fit. And I felt like it was really forced and awkward. I even had a friend of mine read a few sentences with me and she felt the same way.
I really wanted to enjoy this book. I thought I would too because all of the great reviews I read on Goodreads...but I just didn't. So I give this book 2 stars because even though I didn't like it, I do understand that this is a middle grade book and not a book that I would normally read.
In the Land of Dragor, where dragons hide from humans, a new era is about to arise. Yoshiko was born from a multicolored egg. There has only been one dragon whose egg was not the normal lilac color, Surion. Some say that because of his odd egg he was cursed because he brought war upon the dragons, this causes Yoshiko’s parents to fear for their son so they keep his special egg a secret. As Yoshiko grows he begins to notice that he is different from all other dragons, he can change color. Soon Yoshiko seeks out help from an old dragon that is feared by all. However, that old dragon helps Yoshiko discover his destiny. Yoshiko never could have imagined that a young dragon like him would be destined to save the Land of Dragor.
As soon as I heard this book was about dragons, I jumped at the chance to read it. I was so happy to receive the ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of it. This book is a middle-grade book, but if I had not been told that, I would have never known. This book had me hooked from the beginning. I was so entranced by the writing that I forgot that this book was for younger readers, and I began to fall in love with it. This book follows Yoshiko on his journey through fire school, and it also deals with him being bullied there. One of the many things I love about this book is that it deals with problems kids have at school. Yoshiko was bullied a little, but he learned to ignore it and turn the other cheek. This is only one of the many lessons in the book and that is what makes it perfect for young people and adult.
Along with the great lessons, you get to enjoy the enchanting world of Dragor. The world building in this book blew me away because with every word I read it was as if I could see the Land of Dragor. I was thoroughly enchanted with Julia’s writing. She made me feel like I was in the story, experiencing everything and that is what I love about this book. The feeling I get when I read this book is free and magical. The plot is so creative and unique that you cannot help but feel gripped by it. The characters in this book are all so relate-able even though they are ten and eleven years old, most of them. I related to Yoshiko because he felt so useless and scared, but then he realized that he is special in his own way and cannot let others tell him any different. The real beauty of this book is that it is not only about one little dragon who does extraordinary things, but also about a little dragon who had the courage to prove wrong those who told him that he was just a curse.
I highly recommend this book to anyone really, but if you are looking for a world of dragons, mystery, and beautiful writing then The Gift of Charms is the book for you. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series! I give it four out of five stars!
This charming tale of a young dragon’s coming of age, his trials and tribulations through dragon school and eventual adventure has it all - a fabulous cover, an interesting map and an intriguing plot.
Yoshiko is the young dragon at the centre of the story, which seems to be aimed at children around the age of 9 to 12, and his growth from an egg to a confident young dragon, who eventually meets a human, is pitched so very well. Julia Suzuki weaves much of the story of Yoshiko’s development using dialogue which I think works and found believable. His relationship with his parents is handled with sensitivity and obvious awareness. I liked the main character, Yoshiko, as well as Guya, a kind of grumpy hermit who becomes Yoshiko’s mentor. I greatly enjoyed their discussion about humans and the contrast with dragons – particularly their physiology! We also meet Igorr the bullying dragon from a rival clan and I detected lessons from the author about tolerating differences between individuals. I wondered was she ever a teacher?
One is tempted to compare it with the works of J K Rowling, Terry Pratchett and maybe Tolkein, but my feelings are that those authors were writing for a slightly older audience. This is a new author with a great fantasy adventure to be enjoyed by pre-teens in my humble opinion. This book is an introduction to a dragon series but could be read as a separate children’s story, though the ending seemed a little rushed and left me feeling a bit high and dry. It is very well written with strong character development against an intriguing story of a background world of dinosaur/dragon “evolution”. Ms Suzuki's first book shows originality and a talent for writing that I am certain will attract many new young readers, and among them for sure will be my own grandchildren.
I was given a copy directly by the author and was absolutely grateful for the opportunity. Thank you! My first thought about this book was it's intriguing. It really is--the title, the plot, the cover, the map. (Yes, it has a map! And I actually adore it! I have a thing on books with maps and I think that's why I thought this book will be pretty awesome.) It started okay. Telling a brief history about Dragor and a strange egg with colors of a rainbow given to birth that soon revealed to be Yoshiko. But after some few chapters, I found it boring. I knew this is a middle-grade book but I read it anyways because I was eager to know how this book will turn out. So, I tried to finish it. The events seemed to be a little too fast and less detailed. I thought this was written in a rush. I liked it. I really did, at least I tried to. There are chapters I enjoyed. Like the challenges Yoshiko faced and how he had overcome them, how he trained hard and developed throughout the story and his journey to the land of humans. But it didn't really work out for me. I think this is not really my type of book. I really appreciate this book, though! I feel bad whenever I give a book a rating of 3 and/or below.
This is an absolutely delightful book for adults and children alike. Young Yoshiko starts his new school, makes lots of new friends but starts to feel a little different from the other dragons when he begins to change colour every time he feels stressed. Not helping the stress is the local bully Igorr from another clan, a youngling that is often bullied by his own father. I actually liked the way this character grows throughout the story.
Yoshiko finds out he is destined to help save the land of the dragons and restore their lost crystals. Without spoiling anything the way in that Yoshiko learns of his destiny and the training he undertakes are again written so well. You can see every dragon character in your head and it's easy to imagine this as a film.
The story is written in a way that makes the book flow really fast, I read the book in just a few days. A good story, strong characters what's more to ask? I would heartily recommend this book to anyone
The Gift of Charms, book 1 in The Land of Dragor series, tells us the story of Yoshiko, a young dragon living among seven clans of other dragons, in which are his family, friends and even enemies. He was different from the beginning: his egg shone every color of the rainbow. Dragons all over Dragor (the land where they all live) had heard about this strange egg being laid, and all of them were curious, however there were mixed opinions about it: some thought he had a great future ahead of him, while others were afraid. When Yoshiko's egg finally hatches, he's just as healthy as any other baby dragon, and there's no evidence that he came from that strangely colored egg. Or is there? As he grows up and attends fire school, even stranger things than his already strange egg start to happen, and he'll prove to be a lot more than just another young dragon. What's left to know is: is he a curse, or a blessing?
When I started reading this book I realized quite quickly I was going to enjoy it. It is fast-paced, well developed and there's no such thing as "boring parts". The story's really easy to get into, and you'll be able to read it in a day if you wish. Yoshiko, our main character, is as innocent as much as he is smart. It is nice to see this new world we're presented through the eyes of such a young character. He's also very determined when it comes to fulfilling his tasks, and it's always good to see that kind of determination in the younger generations, human or not. Also, when we're given this type of point of view, it's like the world seems brighter and happier (that was why I mentioned our main character's innocence). The other characters surrounding Yoshiko also fit in really well with each other and with the plot. Even the ones who didn't like the young dragon and did everything they could to harm him were essential for the construction of this world and the story itself. Another aspect I'd like to mention, which I really enjoyed as well, is how Dragor exists along with the human world. I liked how the author didn't separate the two of them so we could get a more clear view on how Dragor appeared and the situation in which dragons and humans currently live in. One thing I couldn't help but notice was that even with this book being fantasy, the lesson I took from it can be applied real life: when we outcast somebody because they're different from the majority, that doesn't mean they aren't capable of extraordinary things that will benefit each and every one of us. We have no idea of what the future holds for them, but we have to be willing to give these people a chance to prove themselves. The only complain I had about this book was how in Yoshiko's journey (which I won't go into further detail about because that's a crucial part of this story) there seemed to be almost no adversities, or at least they weren't that explicit. Then again, he already had a lot happening to him before, so maybe it was time for things to get a little easier. I am very much looking forward to read book 2 in this series, as I loved book 1 and had a wonderful time with it. I recommend it to each and every one of you who are reading this, and hope you enjoy it as well. You can buy your own copy on Amazon if you decide you want to give it a try.
A long, long time ago, many great creatures roamed the earth. Then, dragsaurs, a dinosaur/dragon super species, became extinct with the dinosaurs. Fortunately, the dragons managed to survive.
Unfortunately, the dragons became slaves to the humans, till the great rebellion, when they all fled to the land of Dragor…
One day, a dragon couple named Ketu and Kiara had a dragon baby, who was born from a strange, multi-colored shell. Rumors spread, and the clan’s Hudrah arrived to take the baby away. However, she was paid off, and she held her tongue, despite her beliefs that the dragon hatchling, known as Yoshiko, was cursed.
The Gift of Charms is Yoshiko’s coming-of-age story, and his destiny to save all of the dragon clans by restoring their abilities!
“There may be greatness ahead for Dragor… if a dragon can master his gifts.”
I worried that since this is a middle grade/children’s novel, that I wouldn’t like this story or that I would find it boring. I couldn’t have been any more wrong in my thoughts. I couldn’t believe how fast this story pulled me in!
This is a tale of a dragon who is bullied for being different, thought to be cursed, and is sent on a dangerous mission that only he can complete. He is a dragon who you root for! What fascinated me was how relatable the Author made the dragons. They had families, attended school, and had rules (commandments) to abide by. I loved the map at the beginning of the book, and I think kids would enjoy this feature!
Another thing that I enjoyed about this book was how cleverly the author intertwined the history of the dragons with Yoshiko’s destiny. I loved reading about the history of dragons, and how they came to be in Dragor. I even found the different clans fascinating.
I also enjoyed the steady pace of The Gift Of Charms. I think it is easier for kids to stick with a book when the pace is steady, and there aren’t any lulls in the story. I highly recommend this novel to preteens, and adults who love dragons! :)
5 out of 5 flames!
I received a copy of his book in exchange for a fair and honest book review. This in no way swayed my opinion or rating. My full book review can be found here: https://aprillwood.wordpress.com/2015...
I was given a free copy of this by the author and asked to review it.
Let me start with the positives. I have given this book two stars for imagination. The story appeared to be aimed at 8 to 10 year old crowd, and the plot would certainly entertain them. It was cute and original. I applaud the author for her vivid imagination.
The execution however, leaves much to be desired.
This book reads like a first draft by someone who had a great idea, but rushed into publishing before careful review. Her writing, and sometimes grammar, are poor. Her sentence structure is inept and convoluted, occasionally leaving me to wonder which character the pronouns were referring to. She began far too many sentences with conjunctions, most frequently “but,” which made the phrasing of her prose redundant and boring. In general, her sentences either rambled or dragged. She also used far too many unnecessary paragraph breaks, creating odd disconnected thoughts when the prose and action should have flowed. I do not know where to begin with all the unnecessary words within her manuscript, I found myself mentally editing out entire sentences which were utterly superfluous.
I have read reviews that forgive her writing style as, “meant for children.” I disagree. I read almost everything, save intense horror novels and erotic romance. Included in that broad spectrum is a frequent dip into children’s literature. A good children’s book should be written just as well as a good adult book, it is only the plot that varies. C. S. Lewis’ "Chronicles of Narnia" is loved by adults and children, not just for plot, but because it was a brilliantly executed work of literature, the same with Tolkien’s "Hobbit" and J. K. Rowling’s "Harry Potter" series. You can knock Travers' "Mary Poppins" in your thirties as not being “your cup of tea,” but it is difficult to dispute that it is well written and imaginative.
"The Gift of Charms" had all the promise of imagination but fell far short of the well written element of literature. I am sorry to say that I cannot recommend it for either adults or children.
*I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
I did want so much to like this book. I read great things about it, but I feel it just did not live up to my expectations. I should also mention that this is more of an MG book than the YA I would normally review, so I did try to take that into account when reading and reviewing.
I found the plot entertaining enough, if not slightly predictable: a young dragon, different from the rest who must cope with bullying and then become better than his classmates to fulfil a secret destiny. It might be a bit well worn but it can make for a good read.
I didn't, however, find the characters very relatable. They were all a little flat: the bully was full of nasty comments and stands up to his father at the end, the protagonist is initially wound up by him but learns to rise above it. I think a lot of this was in the dialogue, which was quite wooden at times and just didn't sing to me. I found the dragons too human in their character and habits: why do they need to fry food and write things down in records? I would have been more interested in them having their own way of living rather than it being so similar to humans.
The book spent a good amount of time building up the story and training Yoshiko for his destiny, all of which was enjoyable, if not a little fast paced. So when it came to him fulfilling this destiny, I was surprised to find how easy it was. I know we saw him do a lot of training, but when he flies out of Dragor to find the charms, he flew out, found them and flew back. For a hero's journey, I'd expect some more challenges and excitement.
Overall I found the whole thing quite rushed and not in depth enough for my liking. I liked the idea and I think with a little more character development and some more exciting plot twists, it could have been a good read.
The Gift of Charms is my very first dragon story. Ever. I know. Don't judge me!
It sure is different.
Though I can say that the base story line is pretty much cliche. The usual pathetic progonist who turns out to be really special then wins at life at the end.
The writing was really fine.
ANDDDDDD PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE tell me that this is not part of a series. It's not, right? I like the way it ended. Happy and successful and everything.
I guess this is more of a children - middle grade kinda book. Because really, the writing, the plot, the flow, the everything was so easy to understand. I'm guessing it was made for younger audiences.
Deep down, The Gift of Charms talks about a very important thing: Accept who you are because everything happens for a reason. You never know when life will be good to you and show you the positive side so as for now, you have to be strong and hold on.
And magic is everywhere. You just have to have the right eyes to find it. Like look at this book. It's filled with fantastic magic.
And honestly, this book has left me in an enchanted stance.
And I took a star out because: - I was upset that the dragons thought we'd kill them if we find them. One Yoshiko please. I'd love one. - I.., kinda fell asleep halfway... it's probably me, but in my opinion, the story wasn't thrilling enough. I don't know, maybe it's because of the cliche story line... But if I'm right and this is aimed towards younger audiences, then it's great!
Overall, I liked the story enough. It felt magical and seemed like a supernatural get-away. In case you just want a life so simple and filled with magnificent adventures. In case you need an escape from reality who's beating you up, you'll learn a thing or two in this book.
A fantastic start to the new Dragor series, Yoshiko and the Gift of Charms has certainly convinced me read more of the author's books in the future.
There is a magical land called Dragor, and in that land a mysterious egg is laid. Last time this kind of shell hatched, curses and hardship put the land through a lot of suffrage. But this was centuries ago, surely it can't happen again? The parents are determined not to be superstitious, but when Yoshiko is so different from the rest how can they not wonder?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I recommend this to literally everyone. It is told beautifully, and even though I prefer 1st person to 3rd person, I liked how we got a glimpse of emotions and secrets from all angles and characters.
This book is not only a fun narrative story, it sends out brilliant messages too. For example; "The greatest strength can be the greatest weakness.", "Better to try and fail than never to try." etc.
It also deals with serious issues too; like bullying and not fitting in. Yoshiko feels like he doesn't belong with any of the other dragons. All of them can breathe fire and fly to miles in the sky - while Yoshiko can barely even puff a bit of smoke. Another dragon in the class causes the most bullying, and encourages the others to tease and pick on him. I felt really sorry for him! I just wanted to knock the bullies flat and shout to Yoshiko 'your life is worth living! You are different in a good way from the rest! Don't give up! Ignore them!' Obviously, I couldn't do that . . . . but that is one of the reasons it made me carry on with the story.
To make it even better, the amazing adventure is bounded in a beautiful little red paperback! With a ribbon bookmark ..... very nice!
I hope you enjoyed the book as much as I did if you do read it, it may not be a dystopian YA book that most of you enjoy, but trust me, this is a classic in the making! And come on, who doesn't love dragons?!
I am notorious as being a slow reader, meaning that I can read a book, and put it down for days/weeks/months before starting again where I left off. However, I have read the pre launch copy in a day. I have never read a book that has engaged me so much & wanted to carry on reading until the end.
I think the book is more engaging for young readers, but lovers of the Fantasy genre will enjoy this book immensely. The manner in which the author has expressed emotions of Yoshiko, the young dragon throughout his young life, training & carrying out his adventure was mesmerising. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book from start to finish, and really had trouble putting it down.
Unlike the complexity of Lord of the Rings where you have to constantly check back on what you read, it is unnecessary whilst reading this book. The author has been cautious if not clever in disguising the where's & how's of the Land of Dragor & it's past. I finished the book & inevitably I wanted to learn & know more about the Land of Dragor. I am sure the author will provide that in future books to follow. There is a lot of mystery/myth surrounding the "Hermit Dragon" Guya & although there is some explanation for his being, as well past experience & interaction with man there are glimpses that Guya has more untold secrets that may surface. I especially liked this.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this fabulous book & has been written in the true Fantasy genre. I really like the way the author has emphasised on the lead character's emotions & dare I say made Dragons "more human".
I am really looking forward to the official release later this year in September & the future follow up from the Land of Dragor. Andy
Note: I was sent this book by the author in exchange for a free, and honest review. These opinions are my own, and I was not compensated financially to review this book.
This is Julia Suzuki's first novel, it is a middle grade novel for ages 8+. Set within a fantasy world Yoshiko is a dragon who is born in mysterious circumstances. Instead of being born out of the shell of normal colour, he is hatched out of a rainbow shell. This is disputed to be either a curse or a blessing to the Land of Dragor. As Yoshiko grows it becomes clear that he is not like the other dragons his own age. This book deals with various themes including bullying, finding your inner strength, bravery, and not bending to peer pressure.
My personal view of this book was that it was okay but not great. For me personally I was not hooked into the book and didn't find anything too special about it. While I feel that the way the novel dealt with issues like bullying and friendship were important and positive, the characters were rather one dimensional, flat, and lacked connectivity to the reader. The plot was okay and had some exciting parts and dramatic parts, but was predictable. I also felt that the language was well chosen for the age range, and level that the book was written for. In conclusion I didn't find much to make this book stand out from previous children's literature. But this was not a bad book, just average. Therefor if you have a dragon obsessed child, or a child who likes reading fiction/fantasy let them have a go at it, maybe they will connect to the characters or plot more than I did.
I received this book as an ARC. I have not been solicited for my review and all opinions contained are my own.
I thoroughly enjoyed the perspective from which the story is told and I'm sure that will appeal to the target audience. It is told from the perspective of a young dragon. I love dragons. It's always fun to see humans described by non-humanoids. We are such silly creatures!
Overall, it has great bones, but poor execution. It took effort for me to stay engrossed in the story line, which bore similarities to The Karate Kid. The young kid, picked on by his peers for being different; the wise teacher who gives him tasks to complete his goal.
There's also destiny and magic and quests of honor and importance. It reminds me of the tales parents tell their children that have some great morality the child must learn. Redundancy told from a different point of view.
While it wasn't something that I would read, I do see the potential in it and feel my own children would take pleasure in reading it, once it's polished and printed.
The Gift of Charms is a children's fantasy story I would suggest a reading age around 9-12 years. The story is about dragons and the hidden land they live in. It opens with the hatching of a special egg and the birth of Yoshiko born to the Nephan clan. There are seven clans in the Land of Dragor and the dragons from each clan vary in colour and special abilities.
We next meet Yoshiko a 10 year old dragon attending his first day of Fire School where he makes both friends and enemies as they are taught to breath fire, fly and enter the hot fire pits. Yoshiko has an embarrassing trait, he changes colour and he doesn't know why until one day he flies off and meets the mysterious dragon called Guya.
Guya understands that Yoshiko is different and sets him three tasks to test his strength and determination. If he can prove himself he'll get some answers and an important quest.
A good book for younger readers who enjoy the fantasy genre.
*I was sent this for review from the author.* This book was really well written! The author used great word choice and had beautiful language. The main character Yoshiko was adorable, and I absolutely loved him. I also thought that Suzuki did a wonderful job in terms of description. She had a knack for describing things in such a way that the novel did not drag on, but was still very good. This book was really refreshing to me because I had not read a middle-grade book for quite a while. I am liking this book more and more as I write this review! I do wish that felt more connected to the book and to the plot. I had a bit of a difficult time getting myself engaged with it.
A great children's book. Don't let this put you off as an adult!!! Even though it's a quick read it's worth going on the adventure and you'll want more!! I would have loved to have a story when I was younger that I could believe really existed in a mysterious hidden land that was also easy to read (sorry JK). My favourite part was definitely the peril at the mountain trial practice. I look forward to the next one!!
This is a captivating tale for young readers, and interesting enough to feed the imagination of older fantasy readers as well. It starts out rather slow, but once the little dragon starts training, the adventure and excitement continue through the rest of the book. Entertaining and well written! I look forward to the sequels.
More of a 2.5 but as Goodreads doesn't do half stars this rating will have to suffice. I was actually given this book by the author to read and review so thank you Julia, sorry it's taken me so long!
This book is aimed at children, I definitely say children rather than middle grade as the writing is very simple and easy to read- which is also makes it a little repetitive in places.
The story is great, but it took a long time before the main dragon, Yoshiko, discovered what his fate was- before that he was sort of annoying, and seemed very sensitive for a dragon. When one dragon bullied him, he flew away and cried.
Although making readers aware of bullying I felt this could be the wrong direction to take it in. Yoshiko should have stood up for himself.
As I said, the story is simple, but I struggled to finish the story because it didn't pull me in like most fantasies do. The dragons were personified that if you made them human, there wouldn't be much if a difference in character.
But I finished it, and the ending was worth it, although it seemed to just be like 'okay this happened let's get on with lives now' when it was something super important!
I can definitely see children enjoying this book but it just wasn't for me.
This was generously given to me to review by the author. I found that with this book Yoshiko looked like Spyro the Dragon, that's probably just my childhood getting in the way. The story is predominantly what I would think of a children's fantasy, I think that it would be brilliant for a child to read as an introductory book to the fantasy genre. The problem that I found was when I first started reading the book, was that I could not relate to a young dragon, the bits that emphasised that he was a dragon kicked me out of the story. This changed as I got further into the book as I became more emotionally invested into the story. I found that Igorr was the Malfoy of the story, it helped me to hate him as I imagined him with a monobrow. There is a lot of character growth throughout the book from characters that you initially dislike to characters that grow on you or do redeeming actions. This is well worth a read, any parents wishing to introduce the children to the fantasy genre, this would be a good book to start with.
#BookReview: The Gift Of Charms (Book 1) Series: The Land of Dragor By: Julia Suzuki
Review by: Brittany Perez April 15, 2014
About The Book: Book Information Series title: The Land of Dragor Book title: The Gift of Charms (Book 1) Paperback: 288 pages Publisher: John Blake Publishing Ltd, Dino Imprint ISBN-10: 1782199241 ISBN-13: 978-1782199243 AMAZON READERS MAY NOW PRE-ORDER THE PAPERBACK RELEASE OF ‘THE GIFT OF CHARMS’ AT AMAZON http://tinyurl.com/o95ufw9%0ARelease/... date: 4th September 2014
Book synopsis: The Gift of Charms This epic novel, first in the Land of Dragor series, transports the reader to the magical Land of Dragor, where seven dragon clans live hidden from man.
Their great wars with humans and evil dragsaurs are over and the dragons live peacefully among the smoking mud pools and around The Fire Which Must Never Go Out, but the terrible years when they were enslaved by humans have left a lasting scar and they are told they can never soar above the mountains and leave their safe haven to explore the outside world.
There is unease in the air of their mist-filled valley, and the coming of a strange egg heralds a new era. Unlike the normal delicate lilac, this shell is multi-coloured like the contents of a treasure chest.
The newborn hatchling is called Yoshiko, but he is immediately treated with suspicion by the elders, and is lucky to survive. The last time a coloured egg was laid, legendary warrior leader Surion was born from a red shell, and with his gift of fire the dragons went to battle with the humans. Will Yoshiko bring a blessing to the clans, or a curse? Could Dragor be about to meet its saviour, or its destroyer?
Book Review: Let me take you on another delightful tale into wars, dragons and other mythical beings. If this has caught your attention thus far, you may just want to read more, or not, that is solely up to you. In a new series The Land of Dragor, The Gift of Charms (Book 1) by Julia Suzuki, published by John Blake Publishing (ltd), Dino Imprint. The book takes place in the Land of Dragor, a magical island where seven dragon clans live hidden from man. When you open the book, you see a am played out where each clan is stationed, as well as the layout of the grounds with large mountains, hills and water. The only thing I recommend is showing a map before the separation took place. A map before war, when man took place and their ending with the dragsaurs.The first map I think should be the second map, the second map showing the division. a first map should be created showing how things were before the division and the war took place. The map could be labeled "Once upon a Time" and the second map could be called "There and Now". In the story of Book of Charms (Book 1), the dragons are the main focal point of the story. around the dragons a original mythology was created, in the process creating a original tale that appeals to both to children and adults alike. In a tale shrouded with mystery, deceit and years of struggling. The living peaceful dragons are constantly reminded of a time when war broke between them and humans, and because of the humans they live with sorrow in their hearts because they cannot fly, being the majestic creatures they are. They have to stay below the mountain tops which is considered their "safe haven", never allowing to leave to explore the outside world. Yoshiko a youngling has to deal with growing up in school being bullied and given a hard time by his piers. He doesn't' pick up on the school challenges well as some of the others. Knowing he has to face the Fire Pit Challenge in the Fire Games isn't comforting knowing he can't perform the tasks. This is a charming and delightful story as you journey with him on his destiny to the worlds mountains and search for the dragon clans stones, he must travel to the human world where the stones are located and will solve the clans painful problems of losing their special abilities. This is a touching story of Yoshiko finding his strength emotionally and mentally to carry out his greatest journey in his life.
*** I was given a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review ***
Dragor is an isolated valley, the only place on the planet inhabited by dragons and hidden from prying eyes. Here dragons have lived in peace since the great war against the humans and dragsaurs. Now, to stay safe and strong, they ensure their existence stays hidden, and go about their everyday lives. And yet something seems to be missing in their lives, preventing them from feeling completely happy and at ease.
Yoshiko is a dragon hatchling born under abnormal circumstances. Something about his birth raises alarm in the dragon community but, the truth is hidden and Yoshiko’s parents manage to keep their son from harm. Now, he’s a youngling like any other, about to attend the Fire School for the first time so he can also learn and grow to be a strong and skilful dragon. But, school isn’t as easy and exciting as he thought it would be and Yoshiko struggles to fit in.
Gradually he comes to find that he is different from all dragons of his age, in fact any dragon he’s ever met or heard about. And as he struggles to deal with things, he eventually finds out that there’s more to him and the dragon community than he thought. How will Yoshiko fare, and will he be able to face up to his destiny?
The Gift of Charms is a charming tale (no pun intended) of a young dragon who constantly feels out of place. One who is different not just figuratively but literally. The story follows his growth from a shy dragon to one who works hard on getting stronger, and learns to accept and understand his differences from others. This gives him the strength to take on an unimaginable task and do something no other dragon has ever done before.
I had not realised as I accepted this book to read and review that it is for middle grade children. So yes, I was a little put down (not to mention, lost for a while as to what to do). But I decided to continue with the story for two reasons. Firstly, because it seemed to be an interesting and cute story and secondly because it’s about dragon life! What do the dragons do, how do they live? What are their habits? How is their society and culture? This is the first book I’ve read which deals with these things and it was fun! Fun, to read about a young dragon as he goes to school, meets a bully, struggles with his abilities and is curious about his own world. Just imagining all of it was delightful, and so cute! I can totally imagine this as an animated movie.
While I liked reading this tale, I wish it had slightly more detailing and was a little slower. The information and history of the dragons and their past could’ve been better in narrative form rather than as dialogues. There are a few errors here and there, but otherwise this is a well written story about a unique world. The characters are also nicely developed. However, I sincerely hope there’s more to Yoshiko’s difference and the way that uniqueness manifests. Also, there was never a hint of something lacking in the dragon community which makes them whole. And since the ending was extremely rushed, the lack of explanation was more apparent, especially considering the title of the book. And lastly, Yoshiko’s venture and interaction with a certain someone was not lengthy enough. Everything was over and done with in a breath! It seemed too easy. Basically, everything comes down to the fact that the book was a bit too fast paced and was definitely rushed at the end.
Overall, a captivating story which is sure to be fun for young kids and an extra kudos from me for concept.
To begin with The Gift of Charms is a charming book. It lures the reader into a world of Dragons. Original, entertaining and a real treat for readers. The world conjured up by the writer is authentic- and even the fictional world is steeped with history. The author craftily uses the history teacher( Ma’am Sancy- a dragon by the way) to explain to the reader the essential background story needed to understand about the Land of Dragor.
Like any good story it starts with a mysterious birth of a Nephan Dragon, Yoshiko. His parents Kiara, and Ketu however save him from Yula, a Hudrah whose job is to destroy any cursed or unhealthy dragon youngling. But, Yoshiko survives, and he goes to school making new friends. He learns to use his Fire, and flying too. He goes through a tough time at school. A mocking, villainous Igorr from another tribe makes it a point to ridicule him whenever he could. Meanwhile he is confronted by a colour changing problem. He begins to seek out answers about himself, and about the Land of Dragor. He meets a wise dragon who lives in seclusion called Guya. This wise old Guya( he is a lot like Gandalf) motivates him to take a test. The preparation for this test is an important part of the story as it portrays Yoshiko’s growth physically and mentally. Physically he develops his fire breathing skills, flying skills, and heat resistance skills, and mentally though subtle he acts maturely to bullies in school and he develops confidence in himself.
After all the training he is ready to face the test, and he passes all of them in flying colours. Then once again, Guya the Dragon hermit reveals his dark secret about meeting a human and how he helped him to stay alive. He tells Yoshiko that his destiny is to save the The Land of Dragor. Guya also tells him about the loss of talent of the dragons, and the only way to save them will be to fly beyond their land to the outside world to meet the human who will give him the charms( or precious stones). Yoshiko because of all his training accomplishes the task, and he saves his land with The Gift of Charms.
What I liked?
I liked the world of Dragor. It was real, and any serious fantasy reader will like the story. The characters were defined well. I felt the dragons were more human in their manner and their speech. One particular part I really enjoyed was the Trail Mountain part. The twists and turns of Yoshiko made me feel as though I was going through the mountain. The language was lucid, and crisp- I was able to finish the book in one single sitting which simply means that this book was really interesting.
What could have been better?
The ending was rather blunt. The author could have taken more time with the climax scenes. It was like, “I need to hurry up with the story, I don’t have any more time to write.” Other than that, it was really enjoyable.
A critical reader will surely find many similarities with popular fantasy fiction. For instance Igorr, and Gandar, are very much like Lucius Malfoy, and Draco Malfoy.( Father and Son- Bad guys.) But that is unavoidable I think- every writer is influenced at least unconsciously. As a book intended for the young audience, the author has consciously incorporated situations in the novel to help young people to cope up in school and to improve their self-confidence. It will also motivate young people to follow their dreams, but in an honest and righteous way. A hallmark of any good children’s novel is that it should be entertaining, morally sound, and must have an authentic fantasy world. This book covers it all. Julia Suzuki I am waiting for the next book.
Read this review and others at The Silver Petticoat Review: Gift of Charms
Review by Rebecca Lane
This is the first novel in Julia Suzuki’s enchanting Land of Dragor series, and, I must say, it is a fabulous start. Suzuki transports her readers to the magical world of Dragor, a land where seven dragon clans live hidden from the humans who would choose to enslave them. Right off the bat I was sucked in by the surreal descriptions of Dragor and it’s almost ethereal landscape. Suzuki is a magician with words, and you feel as if you can actually smell the grass under your feet or the wind beneath your wings as she entices your mind into entering her fictional world. The descriptions were vivid and tangible, making it very easy for me to jump right into the story of the young dragon Yoshiko.
Yoshiko’s story begins with his birth and almost immediate kidnapping. The poor mite is barely brought into the world before someone decides he is different, cursed, and must be taken away from his clan. Thankfully, this crisis is averted and Yoshiko is allowed to stay with his family, but right away we can see that life will likely not be too easy for him. What do we find out next? Well, Yoshiko is the unfortunate victim of bullying in dragon school. His nemesis Igorr taunts him endlessly for being different, boasting that his clan is far superior to Yoshiko’s. Yoshiko, not being the most aggressive of lads, puts up with this bullying for a time. However, one day after he’s finally withstood all the bullying he can, he runs off alone to escape.
By accident or perhaps fate he ends up in the forbidden mountain. There he meets an older dragon named Guya, who helps him conquer his fears and insecurities, acting as a kind of mentor.
I appreciated the message against bullying in this part of the story. The message Suzuki sends to children reading this book centers around the idea that being different is not a bad thing. Yoshiko eventually stands out amongst his fellow dragons, appreciating his differences and not trying to follow the herd. I know that bullying is a big issue for kids in school today, not to mention for adults as well, although it may be subtler. Dealing with it in a positive manner, as Suzuki does in her novel, helps to shed light on the issue and increase understanding and hope. I think that is one thing that makes this book a great read.
Yoshiko’s meeting Guya is the catalyst that changes his life. Yoshiko finds the strength to resist Igorr’s bullying and become a strong and unique individual. At this time he also begins training with one of the most skilled and revered Dragon Guard. As I don’t want to ruin the surprise I shall leave you with the knowledge that he is training for an adventure that will change not only his life, but also the lives of all dragons. I absolutely loved this book, and would recommend it to anyone, regardless of age. Suzuki beautifully brings this magical world to life, not only in her description of the land itself, but in the stories of the dragons and their clans as well. Suzuki creates a well-rounded mythology in her novel, giving each clan their own past and unique character, as well as a history with the humans who want to enslave them.
I could actually see this turning into a really great kids television show on Disney or Nickelodeon. The series format really lends itself to that serial style. I think it would end up being a great hit as a cartoon.
Sometimes you read a book that is like a big mug of hot chocolate – it’s very satisfying and warms you all the way through – and sometimes those books have some very interesting sprinkles you’ve never seen before and some uniquely coloured marshmallows you’ve never tasted before. That’s how I would describe Yoshiko and the Gift of Charms in a nutshell – or should I say a mug?
Dragons almost always take on the role of sidekick in a fantasy story and are often portrayed either as unruly pets or ethereal creatures. It is just wonderful to find a story where dragons are the main characters and humans are the mythical race. The Land of Dragor is a beautiful place to escape to, rich in detail, legend, myths and lore which is impossible not to get wound up in. In the same breath, Dragor also shares a lot of similarities to the human world: young dragons must attend school and undergo the same challenges that any human child might. I think this is what I find so captivating, Julia Suzuki has created a world of fantasy with an original mythology but has kept it grounded and relevant to children.
Yoshiko is a fantastic hero character, just like any child he has his fair share of flaws when he begins his journey – he’s self-conscious, self-pitying and has unusual physical attributes, all of which open him up to bullying from the spiteful Igorr. But as the story unfolds, so does Yoshiko’s character. His hard work and determination improve his abilities and confidence, and bring out the courage that was hiding inside him. Yoshiko is a wonderful role model and the story is peppered with important messages for children and, as an adult who loves a good story, I certainly appreciated them too! The book is packed with other well-formed and engaging characters from the overgrown bully Gandar and his terrorised but equally nasty son, Igorr, to the wise old recluse, Guya, who is definitely my favourite character. Everyone you will find in life, you will find within the pages of Yoshiko and the Gift of Charms and I think that is what is at least partly at the heart of this book: it’s a fantastic exploration of character. Each of the seven dragon clans have different character traits and flaws but this story is about finding the cure for those flaws and overcoming them. It’s about identifying why a character behaves the way they do and not judging them based on their flaws but based on what they have been through and what they have achieved, looking at what they can do rather than what they can’t.
Yoshiko and the Gift of Charms is simply a wonderful story filled with subtly delivered lessons on life which you really cannot stop learning. That’s why, if this were a film, I would give it a U certificate because it is meant for everyone and has something to give to everyone who reads it, whatever your age. I have been thoroughly charmed and fallen in love with Yoshiko and the Land of Dragor and I cannot wait for the next book – especially if it is in the same beautiful hardback format as the first!
I was asked by the author whether or not I would be interested in reading this book and giving my my honest review. Being a writer myself I know that it's a great help having people review your work, so I said I would. Upon briefly reading the first few pages of the book, and reading the synopsis, I recontacted the author to ask whether or not my 9 year old daughter could read it, as she is a) within the target age range, b) an avid bookworm, and c) extremely fond of dragons (particularly red ones, rather coincidentally). The author said this was absolutely fine.
So, my daughter Lydia has been reading this for several days now, and has just finished it. We've sat down and had a little chat about it together. Her initial star rating was 4.5 out of 5, but we discussed the fact that she has to opt for either a 4 or a 5 because there's no option for 4.5 on Goodreads, and she said she thought it was good enough to round up to a 5. The reason for the initial mark-down of 0.5 was because she felt it was a little slower to get into than she would have liked. I did ask her whether or not she would have been interested enough in the beginning to continue reading (had I not asked her to read the book!) and she said yes, she would have continued reading, but it was just a TAD too slow paced at the very start of the book. She did stress this was just at the start though, and it does pick up the pace later on.
She really liked the main character Yoshiko because he is quite unique. He's essentially a new species of dragon, so she tells me, and she found this very intriguing.
She said there were just a couple of words that she didn't understand, but she got the gist of the sentences regardless. Bear in mind the age rage is 9-12, and although she is a great reader, she's at the bottom end of the age range, so one or two words she has not yet encountered. (See this is why I think reading is so great for children - they expand their vocabulary as a result!) Aside from this, she stated that the language and sentence structure was appropriate for the target audience.
I asked her if there were any scary elements to the story, and she said no. When I enquired whether or not this was a good thing, she rather emphatically told me that it was definitely a good thing! I don't think she's very fond of scary stories!
When asked about the descriptions (of background, characters, scenes etc.) she said they were perfect - just enough descriptive language to capture the imagination, but nothing so excessive that it gets boring.
She said the only boring part was the very beginning, and one other part when Yoshiko is going into the school fire-pit for the first time. Other than that, the story was engaging and she found herself wanting to read more to find out what was going to happen.
I asked her what she thought of the ending, she said it was a suitable ending. It tied everything up that had already happened in the book, but left it sufficiently open for a sequel.
Finally I asked Lydia if she would want to read a sequel, and she said yes, definitely.
That just about sums it up. A thoroughly recommended book.
Please note - this is a review for the Kindle e-book edition.
Although I am typically into reading Young Adult (YA) books, it’s always good to read other stories from different genres. The Gift of Charms is one of those books that you will want to get your hands on. Even though the book is said to be for 8-12 years old, the story can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Without giving any spoilers, The Gift of Charms is about a misfit dragon named Yoshiko. Yoshiko lives in a dragon community that is blocked and separated from the human world. While attending school, the young dragon learns the necessary techniques it takes to be a dragon in his community, such as breathing fire and flying. Yoshiko has a hard time learning these techniques and is often bullied for it. Although true, Yoshiko does not let bullying and the inability to partake in these techniques hinder him. He keeps practicing and practicing until he reaches perfection. Also, in this story, Yoshiko is a very special dragon. Without giving anything away, Yoshiko learns that he will play an important role in protecting his community.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. The author does a great job describing her characters and providing real emotional moments. She provides a fictional world that is developed through evolution, creation stories, and myths. By adding these ideas, the story is enriched with culture and a reason why dragons exist outside the human world. Furthermore, the people who read this story will fall in love with Yoshiko because he is willing to learn and strives for success. Also, the story is very unique. Typically, dragons are always bad guys or secondary characters in books Through this story, the reader gets to see how dragons live and how they have evolved throughout time in their secret community.
This book is a perfect story for children. It hits on several of the issues that children deal with every day, such as bullying and learning in school. First of all, Yoshiko has to deal with bullying throughout the book. He is made fun of for not being able to breathe fire or fly, but Yoshiko does not let that hinder him. Yoshiko learns from his mistakes and strives to get better at these techniques. He keeps practicing until he gets each technique right. From reading this story, children will learn that practice makes perfect and that bullying is an issue that should not be tolerated. Furthermore, I hope that each reader sees that being different is ok. Although you may be unique, you are still special and important to the world.
In my final words, this book is one that you will want to pick up. I found myself wanting more and could not put the book down while reading. In all honesty, the book kind of reminded me of Harry Potter in some instances, especially the loathing relationship between the characters Yoshiko and Igorr. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read because there is something in the story for everyone. So go out there and buy this book. I promise you will enjoy Yoshiko’s dragon adventure.
This debut novel from Julia Suzuki is a fantasy story, a fable of magic and mythical creatures, a story of family, acceptance and courage. I believe is written at a suitable level for older children around 9-12 years old.
Whilst it is not my normal genre, I thought it was a delightful tale with charming characters, including the brave Yoshiko, the loyal Elsy, the wise Guya, the bully Igorr and the mysterious Ageless Ones. One of my main enjoyments of this story came from the character development, seeing Yoshiko turn from a unsure young dragon to a hero and understanding how Igorr is belittled and ignored by his own father.
The tale is set in the mythical land of Dragor, a land hidden from the eyes of humans and inhabited by dragons, not the vicious and dangerous creatures of folklore but human-like creatures with intelligence, morals and conscience. Banished to their own land and wiped from human memory, the dragons are living in peace and safety, however their powers are gradually dwindling that their future is in jeopardy.
Along comes Yoshiko, born from an unusual rainbow-coloured egg. On starting fire school, young Yoshiko realises he is different from the other dragons and is bullied because of those differences. He learns that differences do not make one dragon better or worse than others, but that all the clans have their own strengths. This helps Yoshiko to become comfortable in his own skin. Yoshiko is helped by Guya to understand the importance of his birth and his destiny to help save the Land of the Dragons. The tale follows Yoshiko's attempts to fit in with his contemporaries and his quest to fulfil his destiny.
I liked that the book sends a strong message to the reader about bullying. The dragon clans are distinguished by the colour of their skin/scales and specific mention is made of the different skills attributable to each clan. The tales instructs the reader to accept and appreciate those differences, rather than ridiculing and bullying someone because of them.
As mentioned above, I don't read a lot of children's stories and, as such, I had to keep reminding myself that the depth of background information contained within the book would be significantly less than in adult fiction. However, I think that the fact I wanted to know more is a good indication of how much I enjoyed the story.
My only criticism would be with the editing. There were some grammatical errors which jumped out at me, such as starting a sentence with 'And' and a couple of punctuation oddities. However, I am aware that I am probably being a bit pedantic and as I was reading a review copy, I appreciate that those errors will likely have been rectified in the final version.
Overall, this was a good debut by Julia Suzuki and I would be happy to recommend this book to friends who have children. I look forward to reading more from Ms Suzuki in the near future.
Dragon fantasy has been done time and time again, so writing anything remotely original or unique is an admirable feat for any author. The fact that this is Julia Suzuki’s first book makes it all the more surprising as her tale of courage, friendship and our favourite mythical creatures are enough to warm anyone’s reminiscing heart.
The story follows Yoshiko (because apparently dragons can’t have names like Eric or Keith), who is born out of a multi-coloured egg; an occurrence which has never been seen in the Dragons’ home of Dragor and is thought to be a curse. However, this theory is hidden from dragon kind and Yoshiko is brought up to be a normal dragon. Once he attends Fire School, he becomes a subject of taunting as he’s not as quick to pick up things as the other younglings, but it’s up to Yoshiko to learn that his talents lie elsewhere and he’s more valuable to dragon kind that he ever thought.
Throughout the novel, I couldn’t help but recognise the likeness to the Harry Potter series. Obviously, Yoshiko is a dragon rather than a boy wizard but he and some of the other characters had similarities to Harry Potter characters; Yoshiko with his bravery, self-doubt and naivety like Harry. Igorr, who we see is persecuted by his father who makes him proud and bitter like Draco. Then, Guya who was wise and kind and maybe a little bit mad like Dumbledore.
Of course, with this being a children’s book – these types of characters are really interesting ones to use but I found that due to them seeming awfully familiar, the story becomes incredibly predictable and I doubted whether I needed to finish the book to know the ending.
However, the dragon world itself was magically meticulous and I thought that Suzuki’s interpretation of the dragon myth was engaging and entrancing with perhaps a little dash of ‘oh my god, why was this not written when I was a kid’ – if you get what I mean.
As much as I enjoyed and appreciated the thought behind Dragor; this is without a doubt for children and if this was my ten year old self writing this, I would have given it five stars as well as a mortifying, illiterate review likely to consist of phrases such as: “best book evaaah<3” and “omigod I luvv dragonnzz(:”. So really, you’re lucky that it’s sixteen year old me.
Finally, the writing style was brilliant for this story and helped it develop fantastically. But, the story did lose its charm (see what I did there?) towards the end and led the story to have a bit of a poor conclusion.
Three stars for the creativity, imagination and detailed childhood themes, but it was let down by its predictability.