Dragon Defender

8 Jan

Today’s book review is part of a blog tour. I received a free electronic copy of the book from the publisher, through NetGalley, prior to signing up for the blog tour.

About the Book

Dragon Defender by J.A. BlackburnTitle: Dragon Defender (Dragon Defense League, Book #1)

Author: J.A. Blackburn

Publication Date: October 19, 2013

Publisher: Pip & Grey

Number of pages: 242

Recommended age: 10+


Summary (Amazon):

For over a thousand years dragons have existed in secret . . .

Peter Clark can build a robot from scratch and pick a lock in two minutes or less. But he can’t figure out why his mother left or why his grandma refuses to talk about her. When Uncle Dominick shows up on Peter’s twelfth birthday with a letter that hints at answers and an incredible story about dragons, Peter follows him, determined to find out the truth about his mother’s disappearance.

What he finds is a reality far different from what he ever could have imagined – where dragons live in hiding, hunted by poachers for their magical parts, and a small group of men and women work tirelessly to protect them. These are the Dragon Defenders. Peter’s uncle is one. So was his mother. Now it’s Peter’s turn.

* Finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association 2013 Literary Contest *

My Review

Middle grade fiction is best when you start reading and before you know it a couple of hours have gone by and you’re surprised that the book is already over. And that’s basically what happened to me while I was reading this book. It starts off with a pretty cool concept: dragons are real and 12-year old Peter Clark is part of a long line of dragon defenders. This melding of a high fantasy concept with an otherwise realistic present-day world made for fun reading. Rather than spend a lot of time engaged in world building, the author is able to thrust her readers into the action pretty quickly.

The biggest sticking point for me happened pretty early in the book. The issue was that I was a bit skeptical as to how Peter’s non-custodial uncle was able to get him through the border crossing, with seemingly no passport or other documentation. It is mentioned that uncle Dominick has some sort of paperwork–but I don’t see how he could have had anything for Peter. After all, Peter’s legal guardian, his grandmother, didn’t even know he’d left at that point. All of that said, I was able to move past it to enjoy the story.

I would have liked a little more character development in the story. Peter has a fairly well fleshed-out personality, complete with specific talents, interests, and flaws. However, all of the other characters seem pretty one-dimensional. Uncle Dominick is the mysterious, cool grown-up. Xana is the over-enthusiastic girl who acts without thinking. Mario is the poor Mexican orphan who acts as a guide. Even though we spend a lot of time with the latter two as companions to Peter on his adventure, they never get fleshed out much. And they don’t really grow or change during the story.

The dragons living among us hook was a good one, though. I thought that the author did a nice job of building the dragon lore. And I am incredibly interested in the Dragon Defense League–its formation, history, work, other members. These things were only touched on a little–but there were hints that we would learn more in future books. Excellent work, Blackburn. When you’re writing a series, you’ve got to give your readers a reason to come back.

I’m giving this book 3 stars. It was an enjoyable bit of escapism. I think that kids who enjoy fantasy and adventure will like this book quite a lot. Despite my criticisms, I see a lot of potential in this series. First books can be challenging to write–especially if you’ve already started to map out the future for the series. How much is too much to reveal and how much is not enough? This book didn’t hit that perfect balance–but it still hooked me in.


Amazon (Print) | Amazon (Kindle)

About the Author: J.A. Blackburn

J.A. Blackburn, Author

J.A. Blackburn

J. A. Blackburn lives in Seattle, Washington in a small white house overlooking the sea with her husband, Jason, her son, Camden, and their dog, Bella. Dragon Defender is her first novel.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads



* $50 Blog Tour Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest runs: January 6th to January 31, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, J.A. Blackburn and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

Click this link to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dragon Defender - Blog Tour Button  J.A. Blackburn

Dragon Defender Blog Tour Schedule (2014)

January 6

Mother Daughter Book Reviews (Launch & Review)

Victoria Simcox (Interview)

January 7

The Dragyn’s Lair (Dual Reviews)

Cherry Mischievous (Guest Post)

January 8

Reading and Sharing (Book Review)

January 9

Brooke Blogs (Review)

Carpinello’s Writing Pages (Author Interview)

January 10

The World of ContestPatti (Author Interview)

Bound 4 Escape (Review)

January 11

Deal Sharing Aunt (Review)

January 12

Mythical Books (Guest Post)

Book Room Reviews (Review)

January 13

The Hippie Bookworm (Review)

Books Direct (Author Interview)

January 14

BeachBoundBooks (Review)

January 15

A Year of Jubilee Reviews (Review)

January 16

Reviews By Karen (Review)

Stitch Says (Author Interview)

January 17

We are the Noisy DinoFamily (Review)

Musings by Jay Faulkner (Guest Post)

January 18

Kay LaLone I Love Books (Review)

January 19

Lakshmi Gosyne (Guest Post & Review)

January 20

Sher A. Hart: Written Art (Review)

WS Momma Readers Nook (Guest Post/Excerpt)

January 21

Mel’s Shelves (Review)

January 22

Cassandra Lost in Books (Review)

Word Magic: Articles & Tips for Authors (Review)

January 23

Tales of a Bookworm (Review)

January 24

Dawn’s Disaster (Review)

Identity Discovery (Guest Post)

January 25

Jemima Pett, Princelings Author (Review)

January 26

When I Grow Up I Wanna Write a Kids Book (Review)

Heart of a Philanthropist (Review)

MDBR Book Promotion Services


4 Responses to “Dragon Defender”

  1. Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviewsr January 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    Thank you for your detailed review Destiny. It’s true that striking that balance between giving enough information for a first book but leaving enough unrevealed for a series can be quite tricky. Thank you for providing your feedback – we’ll have to see where the author goes next with the series! Thank you for taking part in the Dragon Defender Blog Tour.

    • Destiny January 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      I’m always rather amazed by people who write series, because it seems so hard to think that far in advance. I’ve talked about it some with an author friend who is writing a series herself. She didn’t nail her first book (but it was still awesome). One of the things she gets from feedback, though, is that she gave too much information and not nearly enough information! Which, I guess, goes to show that striking that balance is even more difficult than one might think.

      I am interested to see where this series goes. There’s definitely a lot of strong potential there, and she’s planted the seeds for some exciting adventures. My personal hope is that we’ll see growth in all of the characters as they grow up within the series.

      As always, thanks for giving me the chance to take part.


  1. Blog Tour Launch, Review & Giveaway: Dragon Defender by J.A. Blackburn | Mother Daughter Book Reviews - January 8, 2014

    […] Reading and Sharing (Book Review) […]

  2. Blog Tour & Book Blast Sign-Ups: Dragon Defender by J.A. Blackburn | Mother Daughter Book Reviews - January 29, 2014

    […] Reading and Sharing (Book Review) […]

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