Book Review: Whisper of the Woods – D.G. Driver

Title: Whisper of the Woods (A Juniper Sawfeather Novel – Book 2)
Author: D.G. Driver

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Juniper Sawfeather seems to have a talent for finding mythological creatures. Or maybe the creatures are finding her.

The mermaids she saved from the oil spill are long gone. There’s no evidence of them, and she’s been branded as a liar and a fake in the media and at school. Her environmental activist parents have moved on to a protest to save Old Growth trees from being chopped down. June isn’t particularly concerned with this cause until after falling asleep at the base of a giant tree she wakes to find herself 40 feet in the air on one of its branches!

From this point on she becomes obsessed with the tree, and it appears the tree is becoming obsessed with her too. Soon, she is trapped 170 feet above the ground, and the magical spirit that resides in the tree isn’t interested in letting her go free or allowing anyone else to save her. Is the tree spirit good or evil? Will Juniper’s feet ever touch the ground again?

My Review:
After reading Cry of the Sea, author D.G. Driver asked me if I might be interested in reading Whisper of the Woods as well. Juniper and her adventure was still in my head when she asked, so I decided to go for it, even though I’m slowing down on accepting review requests and pushing towards my #2016TBRChallenge. I’m glad that I accepted the request, and it’s going to be difficult to get through 2016 (if the book comes out) to wait read the last installment.

What I Loved:
Whisper of the Woods really drawled me into its story, keeping me wondering what was going to happen next – especially the tree itself. ‘Why does it seem to talk only to Juniper, and what is it going to do next?’ were some of the questions I was asking myself while reading. I really enjoyed going on this journey with Juniper and learning more about the legend of the great tree, and it’s tie into the mermaids in Cry of the Sea, especially when I found out at the end that it was based around (I’m sure with creative licenses used at will) a true Indian legend. I was intrigued by the tree’s pull on Juniper from the beginning, how she became obsessed with it and knowing as much information about old trees as she possibly could.

I am also happy to know that while things don’t seem to be exactly great, Juniper’s relationship with her mother seems to be improving from where it left off in Cry of the Sea, and I feel like the third installment of this series will probably be a big one for the both of them.

Not So Much: I was confused by Juniper and Carter’s relationship in this book. Clearly they are in the midst of dating, however it felt like things weren’t going well over all. There was never any real good interactions between them to make it to the end of this book and everything be happy again.

I also felt like there were many times in the story where the tree was manipulating the feelings of Juniper and others who were near or touching it, however that didn’t seem to come up in conversation either. I just feel like things were taken at face value and accepted by the supporting characters: Juniper climbed up a tree, or is she stuck in the tree? There is something weird going on with the tree. Juniper never seems to make a real effort to explain it to anyone believing she wouldn’t be trusted anyway. Even at the end it was glossed over, yet everything is just…okay.

The Verdict:    
I enjoy stories that suck me in, even if after everything is done I still have questions. This book is clean and very YA appropriate, and I love that there are great messages of caring for the earth, and animals and others woven into to the foundation of this series.

Book Review: Cry of the Sea – D.G. Driver

Title: Cry of the Sea

Author: D. G. Driver
Synopsis (From Goodreads):
Juniper Sawfeather is choosing which college to attend after graduation from West Olympia High School next year. She wants to go to San Diego to be far away from her environmental activist parents. They expect her to think the way they do, but having to be constantly fighting causes makes it difficult to be an average 17 year old high school student. Why do her parents have to be so out there? Everything changes when she and her father rush to the beach after a reported oil spill. As they document the damage, June discovers three humans washed up on the beach, struggling to breathe through the oil coating their skin. At first she thinks they must be surfers, but as she gets closer, she realizes these aren’t human at all. They’re mermaids!Now begins a complex story of intrigue, conspiracy and manipulation as June, her parents, a marine biologist and his handsome young intern, her best friend, the popular clique at school and the oil company fight over the fate of the mermaids.
My Review:
I feel so bad because I was approached to review this book early last month. When D. G. Driver approached me I was just getting ready to leave on my cruise vacation, couple that with the fact that I’ve never read a ‘mermaid’ themed book, it seemed like it was the perfect read for the trip.  Then I get there, and reading inside seemed kind of silly since I was on vacation to be outside in the beautiful sun and heat, and reading on my iPad outside is nearly impossible – if nothing else, it’s not good for my eyes.  So I didn’t read this while on vacation.  And then it’s taken me a few weeks in addition to get to it.  I just hope she didn’t think I’d forgotten about her.
As I said, I have never read a mermaid book, mostly because I have a very difficult time with a half/half species relationship concept.  I know that there’s the whole “they turn to humans when dry” aspect, but I don’t know – I mean they are half fish, and the normal theme of mermaid with human just never really appealed to me.  (I feel a bit hypocritical because I do like werewolves and vampires and such, it’s just a silly preference I suppose.) However, this book is not your typical “Little Mermaid” themed kind of book.  Imagine discovering a new species – one that is human-like as some apes and monkeys are,, and yet very much like a a fish too.  This appeals to me.
What I Loved:  The story-line if this book was great, we have a typical teenager trying to bust the seams of her parent’s mold and do her own thing.  Juniper’s making her way in life while not abandoning her upbringing.  I like that.  I like that her relationship with her parents seemed to be pretty realistic; once the dust settles from an argument, they are still a family and work through their issues.
Any kind of animal activism I can stand behind, even if this is based upon a mythological creature, a lot of things still stand true.  Do we ever stop and think about the emotions of animals that we treat as objects?  I don’t mean your pets, but what about other animals.  Cows?  Goats?  Do you want to know what caused me to become Vegan?  People posting silly animal videos on Facebook – and watching them and realizing that these animals were expressing happiness, joy, love, at times compassion toward one another – sometimes toward animals that weren’t even their own species.  Sometimes animals show more humanity than humans, I think.  So a book that has even a little hint of compassion and love towards animals – no matter what kind,  is good to me.
But that’s not the only reason this book was good.  This is a well written young adult book with conflict and some action, some teen drama and a touch of romance.
Not So Much:  This is an opinion on a character rather than on the book itself, but I will say that I wasn’t found of Juniper’s mother, she was pretty over bearing and didn’t have many redeeming qualities.  Near the end I was wondering what was going to happen with that relationship, because she was just a little over the top.  Then her dramatics were kind of shoved aside and never really revisited.
Rating: 4 Stars – A good book, great for teenagers!
Rated: PG – very appropriate for younger eyes.