Saturday, September 1, 2012

Writing... and rewriting

I believe I failed to mention that I reached the ending of my first novel.  I failed to mention it because when it actually happened, I discovered that it was not particularly newsworthy.  Because although I now know where and how this story ends, I am by no means finished with it.  There is a still a long way to go before I can feel confident that I have written a complete manuscript.  Almost before I'd gotten to the end, I was rewriting parts of the beginning and middle, and adding whole new scenes.  I think parts of it are pretty good, almost readable in fact.  Parts of it are absolute drivel.  And parts are missing.  So now I'm adding, fixing, tweaking, revising, and so forth.  Some of it is fun, but some of it is rather miserably hard work.  I am hopeful that all of this work will eventually make for a halfway decent book.  Meanwhile, I just keep writing.  And rewriting.  And rewriting some more.  And then once I've done all that, I'm thinking I'll go back and do it again, from the beginning.  Sounds fun, right?  Well, it is, a little.  It's like polishing away layers of grit and grime and tarnish to find out if what's underneath might actually be valuable.  I'm discovering (inventing, really) nuances to my characters and my world that I didn't think about before.

In my first draft, my focus was just on getting the story out of my head and into actual words.  Now I want to take the essential parts of that story, the parts I've already written, and make them into something that other people might someday enjoy reading.  Because honestly, why write if not for others to read and enjoy?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Opening Ceremonies

Just ask anyone in my family, and they will tell you that the Olympics are definitely one of my favorite things. I have been particularly obsessed with the Summer Olympics since 1996. Generally, when they come around, I plan to shut down my life and become a couch potato for approximately two weeks. That's not exactly an option these days, but I still try to watch as much of them as I can.

So last night, we enjoyed the celebration of sport and British culture that was the Opening Ceremonies. Say what you will about the pacing, the announcers, the bored-looking Queen (come on, people, she's like 100 years old), the theme interpretation, or whatever. I thought it was really cool. So here, bullet-style, are some of my favorite moments:
  • Kenneth Branagh quoting Shakespeare. Now that's a stage voice!
  • James Bond "escorting" the Queen into the stadium. The best of British security!
  • Huge creepy puppets depicting major villains in British children's literature. A 100-foot Voldemort!
  • Mary Poppins saves the day!
  • The music. Awesome. Chariots of Fire? Featuring Mr. Bean? Oh yes! And a tottering old Paul McCartney (or was that Angela Lansbury?) rocking out to Hey Jude? Does it get any better?
  • A record-speed Parade of Nations that culminated in all the flags flying on "Glastonbury Tor"
I will probably post several entries in this blog in the coming days. I am looking forward to so many things about these Olympics. As Greg says, "There's nothing like sitting on your butt for two weeks, watching other people exercise." Oh, it is so true. Bring it on.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

So...this is my first post since the end of May. I apologize. I've been busy.

I read this book because a couple of people raved about it, and quite honestly, I have wasted enough brain cells on the self-published paranormal teen romances I have read recently, and I was ready to read something published by a real publisher. This post is not a rant about the generally unfortunate quality of free and/or cheap teen paranormal romances out there, but let me just say I won't be reading anymore of them for quite awhile. And that is enough on that.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is somewhat difficult to define. I would have to classify it as part urban fantasy and part (I know!) teen paranormal romance but it is not quite either of those things. It is really so much more. Whatever it is, I thought it was brilliant. The cover flap tells very little of the real story. It is about a girl named Karou, who was raised by "monsters" and yet tries to live a moderately normal life. We meet her in Prague, where she is a student at an art academy and recent victim of a broken heart. Between her arrogant, seedy street actor ex-boyfriend, her delightfully waspish best friend, and her errands to various parts of the world, collecting teeth for her foster father, her life is anything but normal. And it quickly becomes even more remarkably strange, including a desperate fight for her life, the tantalizing hope of love, shocking revelations, and overwhelming tragedy.

This story is very dark but very beautiful. The characters are complex and fascinating, the world is remarkably well-constructed, and the story is intriguing and well-written. If you like fantasy or teen romance,   or fascinating stories that you can lose yourself in for a few days, you will probably like this one. I am now eagerly awaiting the sequel.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Eating in Pueblo

A conversation earlier today got me thinking about all the places I love to eat in Pueblo. There are some really tasty places to eat here, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites. In alphabetical order:

Angelo's - My favorite things about Angelo's: The pizza, the atmosphere, the setting, and the lemon cucumber dressing. Oh my gosh, that stuff is so good. Everything there is good in my opinion. And because I don't like to eat outside, I love it that you can sit inside on the bottom floor but still feel almost like you're eating on the Riverwalk.

Bingo Burger - Hands down, the best burger I've had in Pueblo, and well worth the price. They use fresh, local beef and buns from the Hopscotch Bakery. The Bingo Burger has Pueblo chilies mixed in with the meat. You just can't go wrong with that! Plus, it's a cute little place and the people are always really friendly. Warning: If you eat the sweet potato fries at Bingo Burger, you will be ruined for any other sweet potato fries anywhere. Yeah, they're that good. Try them with Thai Curry Ketchup. Your tastebuds will thank you.

The Daily Grind - One of my first Pueblo favorites, The Daily Grind makes an excellent latte, in several intriguing flavors. They also have great sandwiches and really good soup. The BLT is the best sandwich by that name that I have ever had. I also like the Californian. And their potato soup is loaded with all the good stuff, particularly butter and cream. Gotta love that. It's a little pricey and the atmosphere, especially later in the evening, can get a

Do Drop Inn - I like their pizza, although Greg isn't crazy about it. I've heard several opinions on it but basically if you don't like thick, sweet crust, you won't like it. What sold me on Do Drop Inn was when a friend and I had the lunch buffet at the Pueblo West location recently. Everything was good and fresh, and the eggplant parmegiana was To. Die. For. Wow. So good.

Enclades - If you like cajun food and you haven't tried this little spot on 4th Street downtown, you are missing out. Everything there is good. The pecan pie will absolutely melt in your mouth. And if you like it hot, you must try the green chile gumbo. The combination of cajun spices and green chile is out of this world.

GG's BBQ - I ate there once when it was in a gas station on the Mesa, but now it's in a new location on the Hwy 50 frontage road just off Morris. Good barbeque is not easy to find in Pueblo but this place is good. Even their sides are really good. And they have really tasty homemade sauces. I hear the carrot cake is incredible.

Mi Ranchito - I'm ambivalent about most Mexican restaurants in Pueblo, but I do like the food at the Mi Ranchito on the Mesa. Their tamales are good, their salsa is edible, and they have these fried taco things, I can't remember what they're called exactly (Tacos Dorados, maybe?) but they are pretty tasty. The one in town is fine too, but I like the one on the Mesa better.

Paul's Great American Heroes - Pueblo has quite a few really good sandwich shops, but I'm rather fond of Paul's. It's got fun atmosphere, fun names for the sandwiches, and really good bread. I love good bread. The I Like Ike and Ben Franklin are among my favorites, but pretty much everything at Paul's is good. I've even had halfway decent posole there, and that's not an easy thing to find anywhere, especially in Pueblo. Also, if you order the daily special, Paul's can be pretty cheap.

Wireworks - Worth a mention because it's vegetarian if you're into that. They do have decent lattes, really good soup, scrumptious bagels, and hummus. I enjoy hummus.

That's all I can think of for now. Please feel free to comment with suggestions for places I didn't mention or haven't tried yet. I didn't include chain restaurants in this list because everyone knows about them, but I will say I'm quite fond of Chili's, Ruby Tuesday has a wonderful salad bar, and I think Texas Roadhouse is the best place in Pueblo for reasonably priced steak, although Applebee's steak is certainly acceptable and I've always loved their French Onion Soup. Okay, I'm done.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Some books are clever stories. Some are sad stories. Some are romantic stories. Some are strange, disturbing stories. Some are incredible flights of fancy. Some books have magic. Some have dramatic, historical settings. And some books are exquisite, remarkable works of art to be enjoyed and admired through the ages. The Night Circus is all of these.

With its shifting points of view, present-tense style, and somewhat non-linear presentation of events, The Night Circus will either pull you in or put you off from the beginning. In my opinion, the writing is brilliant. Like the circus itself, it draws you in with its unique flavors and setting. It has a rich quality to it that makes the black-and-white theme more striking than stark, the moments of color brilliant, and the characters real and alive. The descriptions of food and clothes are particularly imaginative and delightful.

The circus is a venue for a dramatic magician's duel: two opponents pitted against each other from a very young age by their instructors. The rules of the game are left somewhat vague, as is the determination of the winner. Meanwhile, those who experience the circus are completely fascinated by it and changed by the experience...while those involved with the circus remain remarkably unchanged. The opponents display their skills and work around each other and the other members of the circus as the game becomes an intricate, complicated process that eventually spirals toward a dramatic and unexpected conclusion.

If you're looking for a uniquely pleasing reading experience, try The Night Circus. I would recommend it particularly for book clubs because all the nuances invite discussion. I will say that I chose to read it in small doses because I found it overwhelming if I read too much at once. It's quite a book.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beyond Hope's Valley by Tricia Goyer

After my last post, a few people asked what kind of books make me happy.  My answer?  Books like this one.  Let me explain why:

This book is the third of Goyer's "Big Sky" Amish novels about Marianna Sommer and her family. I posted my comments on first one, Beside Still Waters, in October. As I pointed out in that post, I do not read Amish novels as a general rule (okay, I never read them) but I got seriously hooked on these. The writing is excellent, the characters almost seem to leap off the page, I can just picture the setting, and the story is sweet but also compelling.  I read this book in less than a day.

Marianna Sommer has returned to Indiana from West Kootenai, Montana, to help her brother and his longtime sweetheart as they start their new life and family together. Despite her best intentions, she is distracted by thoughts of her own upcoming wedding and her longing for the places and people she left behind in Montana.  She wonders if she made the right choice.  She also struggles with the harsh and unyielding way that the Amish community in Indiana reacts to her newfound beliefs about God and His love.  All Marianna wants to do is share that love with the people she has known for her entire life, but they can't see past their traditions, disapproval, and resistance toward change.

As Marianna and those she loves sort through the tragedies and mistakes of the past in order to find God's will for the future, He gently reminds them that He has a plan and is working all things for good.  This is a wonderful book about redemption, peace, spiritual growth . . . and romance. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Amish fiction, Christian fiction, or even just good clean romance.

So why did this book make me happy?  Believe me, it was more than just the ending.  First of all, I liked it because I like the characters. After three books, I feel like I've gone along with Marianna for a real spiritual journey.  I love this character.  She isn't perfect, she has struggles, she questions her motivations and her decisions and sometimes even her faith, and I like that.  I also appreciate the other characters and the way they come to life through the pages of this series.  I like the honest, "real-life" way these people deal with questions of life and faith.  I admit, I like the warm fuzzy love stuff. But my favorite moment in the book wasn't exactly warm and fuzzy; it was when one of the characters realized that God loved her and forgave her, that something that she had carried guilt over for years wasn't her punishment for her past, and that God had a wonderful plan for her future.  That moment almost made me cry.  And yet, moments like that are what really make me happy.  Quite simply, this book delivers.

One other thing that made me happy and has nothing to do with the plot at all: When I opened the book the first thing that I saw was my best friend's husband's name in the acknowledgments.  How fun is that? I love it that people I know are working toward the success of "happy" books like this one.  So way to go, Aaron Linne.  And cheers to his wife Ashley, my BFF.  You people rock.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Just make me happy!

It seems that lately, most of the books I've been reading (or hearing about, because believe it or not, I don't spend all my time reading) are in some way depressing, disturbing, or dystopian. I don't write about most of these books on my blog, because as the title suggests, this is a blog about things I like. So I don't write about things I don't like. And quite honestly, I don't like books that break my heart on purpose without putting it back together again. I don't like books that give me nightmares. I don't like books that leave me wallowing for days in a sense of hopeless longing for another world, a perfect world, where the atrocities committed in these books don't exist. Don't get me wrong: I know the world is messed up. I know there are messed up people out there who do messed up things to those who don't deserve it. I know that in the real world, not everything gets wrapped up nicely in a big sparkly bow at the end of the book, series, episode, or film. But guess what? That's why I read fiction. To escape the real world and get lost for a few hours in a story of another place, another time, another people, where things actually work out well and the tears I shed are happy tears. It doesn't mean everything has to go perfectly all the time. A good plot has to have conflict and heartbreak along the way. But for heaven's sake, let it end well. Seriously. Let's think about this for a minute:

Would we love Star Wars if ultimately, the Emperor won?

Would we love The Lord of the Rings if Frodo failed?

Would we love Pride and Prejudice if Elizabeth married Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy married Anne de Bourgh?!

Of course, I realize this is a matter of personal taste. There will always be a market for horror, for sad endings, for dystopians, because there are people out there who enjoy those things. But this is my blog, and I am not one of those people, and so I say: Just make me happy! Let the guy get the girl. Don't kill off so many characters that your book is a graveyard littered with tombs. And for heaven's sake, don't mess with kids! If you must hurt your characters (and I know, sometimes you must), find some way to heal them in the end. Mend those broken hearts. Piece back together the broken lives. Destroy the broken system. Restore justice. Let love win. End with the hope that somewhere, someday, there will be a day with no more tears and no more pain. Praise God, I know that day is coming, and I long for it with all my heart and soul. But while I'm here in this broken and dying world, I like to read fiction that lifts me out of it for a little while, instead of pressing me deeper into it. So please, authors resist the urge to shock and horrify me. Just make me happy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Watercrossing by Krissi Dallas

If you've kept up with this blog at all, you probably know by now that I'm a pretty big fan of Krissi Dallas. I've been waiting on pins and needles for her latest book, Watercrossing, ever since I read the teaser in the back of Windfall. So you can probably imagine my excitement when I won a pre-release copy through her Facebook page. (Since Greg and I were with my parents on vacation in Pagosa Springs when I found out that I won, they don't have to imagine my excitement. They got to witness it firsthand) Well, the book arrived on Saturday afternoon, and I finished it (all 300+ pages) before I went to bed on Saturday night. Yeah, I was really excited.

There is always a certain exhilarating dread that goes along with the anticipation of the latest book in a series. I find myself asking questions like, Will I like it? Will it live up to my expectations? What if I hate it? Will it be as good as the rest of the series? Believe me, I've had to live with my share of disappointment.  But thankfully, Watercrossing does not disappoint. Not only is it just as good as the previous books in the Phantom Island series, Windchaser and Windfall, but I think it's even better. The story and the characters pulled me in and wouldn't let me go until the last page.

If you haven't read Windchaser and Windfall, read them. If you have, you know that Windfall ends with Whitnee and her friends back at Camp Fusion after an out-of-this-world experience on the White Island of the Dorians. Whitnee is desperate to get back and try to find her father, who has been missing for six years but just might be hidden somewhere on the Island. Several individuals on the Island are just as desperate to get her back, for various reasons. While Whitnee, Caleb, and Morgan plan, research, and hope to find a way to get to the Island, life rolls on at Camp Fusion. Romance is in the air, and Whitnee finds herself drawn to her friend Caleb, despite all the potential complications of their friendship and the knowledge that there is someone else somewhere out there -- someone she would really like to be able to forget. There are some adorable and downright hilarious scenes between Whitnee and Caleb. I laughed a lot while I read this book.  But just underneath the fun and frivolity, all is not well. Morgan is clearly distracted and not herself, and Whitnee's camper Amelia sinks into depression because she feels rejected by her parents. As the summer rushes to a close, the friends put together a great plan for how to get to the Island and what they'll do what once they get there, but you know what they say about best-laid plans...and if you want to know the rest of the story, you'll just have to read the book.

I do have to say one thing about the ending: it isn't one. Like the end of Windchaser, it's more of a pause for breath before the next book. Unfortunately, unlike Windchaser, the next book did not come out simultaneously, so fans will have to wait on pins and needles warmed by hot coals for Watermark, which is rumored to be out "sometime next year." Bummer. So if you are the kind of person who doesn't handle suspense well, you might want to wait and read both books at the same time.

When I read the Wind books, what really impressed me was the worldbuilding. Krissi does such an amazing job of it that when I saw the map of the White Island in the front of Watercrossing, I thought, "Yeah, that's pretty much exactly where I thought everything was." As you read, you can really "see" the people and the places in the story. In Watercrossing, it's the character building that really stands out. From Whitnee's determination to act more like an adult and keep her focus on finding her Dad without distractions (hello, hot Island boy) to Morgan's struggles, and all the little glimpses we get to see of other characters in between, these people come to life. They feel like real people with real issues that I can really care about it, and I love that.

In spite of the crazy ending, I really liked this book. For some reason, the word that always comes to mind when I think of Krissi's writing is "sparkly." Since I love sparkly things, I was thrilled to see that Watercrossing sparkles and shines even more brilliantly than I dared to hope it might.

(In case you're wondering, Watercrossing officially releases May 22, but you can get it earlier if you know where to look. Also, I reviewed it because I liked it. I receive no compensation of any kind from the sales of this book.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Radical by David Platt

Awhile back, I started reading a little book titled Radical. I was just getting into it when Katelyn took an interest in it and I had to hide it from her. Then I forgot where I hid it. Greg recently found it "hiding" on a bookshelf (novel place to find a book, right?) and I picked up where I left off. This review is based on my hazy memory of the half I read at first, and the recent insights and convictions I've experienced in finishing it.

As a reminder: I don't often read nonfiction. It usually doesn't hold my interest. If I finish reading a work of nonfiction, it's usually for one of two reasons: it was short, or I thought it was fascinating. I finished Radical for both reasons. It's only about 200 pages, and yeah, I think that's short. But the main reason I stuck with it was that I found myself either agreeing with or convicted by Platt's statements. He points out several areas where he believes we get things wrong in American church culture; areas where our practices tend to ignore or contradict the teachings of the Bible. He does this using Scripture and stories of how real people live out the Bible in their real lives, both in America and around the world. He then proposes the "Radical Experiment," a year of living a life based on real faith rather than the pursuit of the American Dream.

I loved Platt's statements about our need to love and thirst for the truth of Scripture. I completely agreed with his explanation of why we should take the Gospel to those who have never heard. I was challenged and convicted by his call to make disciples and care for the poor.  I think that in our materialistic, cynical, and (quite honestly) lazy culture, this book could serve as a wake-up call to those who claim to follow Christ. Or, it could be a book that people read, or start reading, and say, "Yeah, what he says is fine, but I've heard it all before. I think I've read it in another book. Yawn." I've actually heard people say that about this book in particular. That makes me a little sad and a little frustrated, because there is good truth in this book and others like it, that might actually change our lives if we choose to live it out. So the question I was left with is: "Am I willing to make changes in my life based on what I've read in this book, or am I just going to say it was a worthwhile read, and leave it at that?" I would rather make those changes, because deep within me, beyond my laziness and cynicism, beats a heart that longs to show others the glory of God, no matter what it takes.

So, if you're just looking for a good read to chew on and evaluate on an intellectual level, I'm sure there are plenty of more academic books out there for you. But if you know in your heart that you're living a very surface-level Christian life and you want to discover some ways to go deeper and really live out your faith, pick up this little book, read it all the way through, and most importantly, do what God tells you to through it.  Shallow Christians make this world sick. Let's dare to get a little radical and take back our faith from the American Dream.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Goodbye, Chuck

Tonight one of my favorite shows on TV ended. It was a quirky, nerdy, sappy, and often cheesy little show called Chuck. Yes, I've been obsessing over it for the last few days. And yes, I cried (a lot!) when it was over. So why is it that TV shows, of all things, can do that to me when normal life stuff usually doesn't? I believe it is the power of a story. So let me tell you one.

About two years ago, thanks to the good folks at Netflix, Greg and I discovered Chuck. I'd heard about it and wanted to watch it but we don't watch much TV and I think it was on at a bad time for us. Anyway, for a month or two we actually got our money's worth of our Netflix membership. I wasn't sure what to think about the pilot, but after Chuck vs. the Helicopter, I was hooked. We would watch the four shows on the disc in two or three days, return it, and repeat the process a day or two later when we got the next disc. That's how we caught up on those two great first seasons. We'd laugh, I'd yell at the TV (it's what I do), and then we'd look at each other and say, "One more?" It was fun.

What's the appeal of a show like Chuck? Well, it's nerdy. And goofy. And kind of sweet, sometimes sexy, occasionally serious, but mostly silly. It's a show about a (seemingly) regular guy, a little down on his luck, who one day gets an email from his former college roommate and friend who turned on him, got him kicked out of Stanford, and stole his girl. When Chuck opens the email, he downloads the Intersect, a supercomputer full of government secrets encoded in subliminal messaging, into his brain. Just one of those things that could happen to anybody, right? Over the next five seasons, Chuck meets spies, saves the world in pretty much every episode, and tries to keep his "spy life" from endangering his "real life," all while chasing after superspy Sarah Walker, the girl of his dreams. There's spy spoofs, romantic angst, cool spy gadgets, and stupid nerd humor. And I loved it. Over five seasons, we saw brilliant writing, terrible writing, good acting, terrible acting, awesome bad guys, so-so bad guys, cool guest stars, and the wacky antics of the employees at the Buy More, Chuck's "cover job."

What I loved, and I think most fans of the show loved, was the heart of the show. Chuck is just a downright good guy, who loves his family and his friends and would literally do anything for him. And even though that gets him in trouble sometimes (okay, a lot. Actually, most of the time), it all works out in the end. Most of the time. A lot of crazy, unbelievable, stupid stuff happens in the course of every episode, but good prevails. That is the connection that takes a good show, a good story, and makes it great. We all know that in this world, good doesn't always win. Bad people do terrible things to good people, for stupid reasons like power, ambition, and greed. Sometimes even good people do dumb stuff that hurts others. But ultimately, we want good to win. We long for it. We need it. Why? Because even though this world is messed up, God is good. He wants us to know that He will ultimately save the day. Good will win the fight against evil. God will win the fight against the enemy. Good stories remind us of that simple truth, and that is why they can touch us in ways that real life sometimes can't.

If you haven't seen Chuck, go ahead and give it a try. Maybe you'll like it, and maybe you won't, and maybe you'll cry like I did when it was over. Even the good stories aren't perfect, but God's story is. If you haven't found that one yet, you have no idea what you're missing.

(One little note regarding content: Chuck is not exactly what I would call a family friendly show. There is often rather brutal hand-to-hand combat and other sorts of violence, as well as some pretty risque scenes and outfits in just about every episode. Standard stuff in TV these days, but I thought I'd offer fair warning.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

After reading Inheritance, Paolini's monolithic finale to his epic cycle by the same name (which I generally refer to as "those Eragon books"), I decided to review the entire series.

The books center around Eragon, a simple farm boy who chanced upon a dragon egg in the forest and went on to alter the course of the world. Throughout the course of the series Eragon grows in his abilities as a dragon rider and in his relationships, as he becomes more mature in his dealings with his dragon Saphira, his elf-friend Arya, his cousin Roran, and the leaders of the various people of Alagaeisa. Ultimately he must face and destroy the tyrannical and nearly invincible Galbatorix in order to free the land from his rule and attempt to restore the race of dragons, which the evil king almost completely destroyed.

Paolini's attention to detail is impressive. His mastery of a thesaurus is downright heroic. His dragons are delightful. His storytelling is brilliant, but ultimately his story was missing something. I hate to say it, but it's true: I was disappointed by the ending. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I just couldn't appreciate the vastness of what the author was trying to do with the story. Still, in my opinion, it got away from him. After I finished Brisingr, and while I waited for this widely anticipated final volume, I was concerned that he had bitten off more than he could chew, and set events into motion which he would not be able to satisfactorily resolve. And in my opinion, that is exactly what happened. When I finish an epic series like this one, I want to feel something. Honestly, I want to cry. When I finished Inheritance, I felt nothing. Not excited, pleased, satisfied, happy, heartbroken, or any of those things that a really good book (or movie, or TV show, or sometimes even commercial) can make me feel. That in itself made me a little sad.

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the series. Remember, in the spirit of positivity I only review things I like on this blog. Paolini obviously put a lot of thought into developing the major races of Alagaesia, including their languages, cultures, histories, and people. And although there are those who say his work is largely derivative of the true masters (read: Tolkien), I actually was impressed with his creativity and ingenuity. Plus, I am very forgiving of anything involving dragons. I love dragons, and Eragon's Saphira is no exception. She is really a great dragon. There were several other nice touches throughout the series. I could get all caught up in the things I didn't like and probably bore everyone to death, but I'm not going to do that here. Instead, I'll say that the books are good but not great. I recommend them to die-hard fantasy fans but people who can take or leave fantasy would probably be better off leaving these books.