Wednesday, March 2, 2022

IWSG and Happy Book Birthday, Elena the Brave by Julie Mathison!

Oh wow...oh wow....oh wow! I totally forgot that today is IWSG day! I'm editing this in a little late (better late than never, right?) and look forward to visiting many of you today.

IWSG meets the first Wednesday of every month (although it's a HUGE writers/authors group with tons more to offer than just these posts). Head over here to learn more!

Special thanks goes to the founder of this amazing group, Alex J Cavanaugh, and all of those who work with it to keep things running. Also, thanks to this month's cohosts:

I'm going to skip over this month's question and simply give my woes and tidbits, since writing has been so hard for me the last...well, it's been awhile. I have story ideas but the plots never seem to sit right. I have words and can't find the time to really sit down and write. Do I have time? Actually, yes, but my head is constantly spinning with so many other things going on in life, at the moment, that it's impossible to concentrate. 

Okay now, you're probably expecting me to wish this wasn't so, which I do to a certain extent (I love to write!). But these other things floating in my head need to be there, for the most part, and so, I'm stacking up my ideas, thinking about them when I can, dabbling a paragraph here and there for future reference or to solidify ideas, and am just waiting when I can let all of it loose on the world.

Do you also have times in life like that?


Now, to today's review!

Today's read comes from an author, whose works I've enjoyed so far. She's written Believe, which won several awards last year, and the first book in the series I'm look at today, which also won an award. So, this one promises to be a goodie. I did read the first book in this series and enjoyed it quite a bit. If this second one kept the adventure going? Well, let's find out!

Old Rus, #2
by Julie Mathison
Starr Creek Press
Middle Grade Fantasy
366 pages

From award-winning indie author Julie Mathison comes the sequel to BookLife Semifinalist VASILISA

Old Rus, a land of witches and ogres, bogatyr warriors and six-headed dragons, magic and myth. A land lurking below the waking world, a fabled land – except for the chosen few.

It’s 1942, and the world is at war. Elena Petrovna Volkonsky is just a schoolgirl in a Pennsylvania steel town, the Russia of her forebears long forgotten – except in tales, sung by her babka in haunting tones. Elena can picture Old Rus clearly as she ponders her pet rock, its surface black and smooth, but its depths strange. Such visions! The snow-swollen Dnepr, wending southward through the wild steppe all the way to Byzantium. Vladimir of the Bright sun, ruling from glorious Kiev!. If only it were real. If only hers was not just an ordinary family in trying times. An ordinary family – with an extraordinary destiny.

Be careful what you wish for.

Meanwhile, Old Rus is in crisis. A dragon flies, a maiden is captured, and the great bogatyr, Dobrynya, is tasked with her rescue. But his son, Mitya, senses treachery on all sides. How can you save a man who will not save himself? And must he venture alone, trailing his father across the steppe where warring nomads range, even to the distant peaks of the Sorochinsk Mountains? He is prepared to do just that when a strange girl appears in the prince’s stables and upends all his plans.

What happens when two worlds – and hearts – collide



Dabbing a little history with folklore and fantasy, this is an exciting coming-of-age adventure, which hooks in so many ways.

I did read the first book in the series, enjoyed it quite a bit, but found this second one even better. While it is best to read this one as a series, since the main character grows during her adventures, it isn't too hard to sink into the second book without the background knowledge, either.

Elena thinks the world of her mother and wishes she could be as supportive and giving to others in need, but she has her hands full with the twins, who cause more trouble than even she could ever imagine. And it's this beginning which sets the stage to launch into the rest of the adventure. I loved the jaunt into history as it swirls in dates and facts surrounding the 1940's, but then, it's also just a touch before fantasy and folklore take over. The richness of the culture still thrives as in book one, and even deepens. But my favorite part is still the fantasy with its magic and dragons and moments, which made it impossible to put the book down.

The writing flows very well, allowing the scenes and characters to gain depth without ever losing on pacing. A lot happens in this tale, but it never grows boring or too heavy. I would recommend it more for the upper end of the middle grade audience and even for the young adults, due to the writing style and intricate tale weave. But it's a fun read for a variety of ages because of that. 

The ending wraps up everything nicely, and still, I do hope there is more to come, since it's hard not to wish that the adventure will continue.


Natalie Aguirre said...

The magical world in this book sounds so fun. And I like that it's historical fiction too. Glad you enjoyed book 2 even more than the first one in the series.

C.D. Gallant-King said...

My brain is always full of too many things. Too many stories to write, too many appointments, too many projects at work, too many everything...

Elena the Brave sounds fun!

Nick Wilford said...

With everything that's going on, it's easy to understand not being able to concentrate to write. Don't worry, it's still there and you will get back to it when the time is right.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I hope it all swirls around to a story you can write! Although everyone's brain is really swimming right now.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I love a little history swirled in with fantasy, and the cover is fantastic. So vivid!

I hope things calm down for you soon, and you can get some writing done. When the time is right, of course!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jot things down so you'll remember later when it's time to write.