Ahab by E.B. Dawson (Book Review)

Sooo, I’ve got a review for a scifi Moby Dick retelling today! (I also posted it on my Instagram so this post is about the same as that, if you’ve already seen that, just with other info. :))

Title: Ahab

Author: E.B. Dawson

  • Date read: November 14, 2020
  • Rating: 4 stars? I don’t even know how to star this because most of it’s, like, 6 out of 5 stars. XD And then the ending is not okay. T_T So. ???
  • Genre: Sci-fi / Space Opera / Retelling
  • Age: YA/NA?
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 191 (ebook)
  • Series: No
  • Fave character: Don’t make me choose between Ahab and Starbuck. They are both amazing in different ways and are the best working together.
  • Source: The author (e-ARC) and Amazon (finished ebook I preordered)
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

I physically can’t properly review this. I couldn’t handle that ending but otherwise AHAB was amazing and until then I loved every second of it!

E.B. Dawson’s scifi is my favorite, and this one blended old and new, a wonderful Moby Dick retelling set in space, chilling and charming at turns. And Ahab and Starbuck are everything. Buddy stories are the BEST. This came SO close to being one of my top fave books of the year. 1800s-ish feeling but IN SPACE?? So amazing. 💚

I need happy endings, though. I NEED them.

I saw this sad ending coming but foolishly held out hope. Heh. So yeah, while I hated the ending and will not apologize for that (#happyendingsadvocate because #hope), the rest of the book was AMAZING and if you like buddy stories and don’t mind some feels/tragic-to-bittersweet endings, you will LOVE this.

(It also says something about the sheer quality of this book that I don’t hate the book, only the ending–which often makes me write a book off completely. It was utterly entrancing, overall.)

So yes. Good book. Sad ending. Like, couldn’t fall asleep, type sad. 😭 (If you need even MORE feels while reading, you can listen to In the Embers by Sleeping At Last, Brother by Kodaline, and Burn the Ships by For King and Country, which is what I did accidentally. Um. Yeah. Some awesome songs I’ve been listening to lately and a very feelzy combination with this book. It felt quite…ironic.)

The book was amazing while I was reading it, though. Just. Wow. Every word was just–on point. And, again, that 1800s feel? But scifi at the same time? It was perfection. How often do you get a buddy story with intense space voyages but also a gorgeous ball/party and walking 1800s-type streets. I could read this foreverrrr. All of it was incredible until the last chapter or so.

Now excuse me while I go lowkey imagine a (non-heartrending) alternate ending and also flail about how spectacular the rest of the book was.

Aaand I’ll just go cry now, thx. 😭

(Confession: I’ve never actually read the original, and the Moby Dick “book” in this picture is actually a wooden bookend. 😂 Maybe the original prepares you for the ending? 😬 I wouldn’t know. 😅 Also, I adored getting to the part near the end which is basically the Voyage of the Pequod short story, just a little different. I reread it along with the book and enjoyed it immensely. And hey, if AHAB sounds amazing but like me you can’t handle tragicness, do pick up VOYAGE OF THE PEQUOD.)

Thanks to the author for the e-ARC even though I ended up reading the final ebook I ordered since I read it after release because I’m so behind on my reading. 😂


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Sword of Soter by Ralene Burke (Review)

Back again with a review for a Christian fantasy adventure! I’ve been meaning to read this one for ages, so hurray for finally doing so!

Title: Sword of Soter

Author: Ralene Burke

  • Date read: October 26, 2020
  • Rating: 3.5, rounding up to 4
  • Genre: Fantasy / Christian Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 295 (paperback)
  • Series: Sacred Armor Trilogy, #2 (Book 1 is Armor of Aletheia — read my review)
  • Fave character: Tristan
  • Source: the author
  • Notes: I received an e-ARC of this book for an honest review, and later won a paperback copy. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

(3.5 stars, rounding up to 4)

I’ve been so curious to continue this series since reading Armor of Aletheia and I’m excited that I finally read this one. Following the continuing adventures of queen/prophetess Karina, former bounty hunter Tristan, and their companions, was another wild ride!

Tristan is my favorite—I wish he’d been in it more!—and I loved seeing more of Rashka, who is a super cool elf Guardian; she definitely has some tricks up her sleeves. 😉 We also meet new characters who keep the reader guessing. And if you want to read about a chilling villainess, this is the right book, ack! Plus, I mean, we’ve got scary wolf-like lupens, a griffin (!), and a fun talking horse, a.k.a. Dom (everyone needs a horse like Dom).

I’m afraid I . . . disliked pretty much the entire subplot involving Sam, particularly how it ended up; it just kind of stressed me out, personally. *cough* Maybe that’s just me. But the rest of the book was very interesting and an enjoyable read!

The classic fantasy quest feel, but with new things too, was neat. I loved the castles and caves and tests and escapes. (Mazes, though!) So much adventure! The world was so vivid, and the twists kept me on my toes so I was never quite sure what was going to happen next.

Since it had been quite awhile since I’d read the first book, I didn’t remember as many details about that as I should have . . . So I suspect I may have liked this one more if my memory was better or if I’d reread book one first. And like I said, I wasn’t a fan of the Sam subplot. But for the most part I enjoyed it. 🙂

I’m so excited to read the next book, especially with that unexpected ending twist that’s leaving me very curious about how things will be affected . . . Meep! I can’t wait to find out what’s in store for Karina and Tristan and friends!


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Audiobook Review: The Road to Bremen by Kelsey Bryant

A little something different today — I’m reviewing a fun audiobook!

Title: The Road to Bremen

Author: Kelsey Bryant

  • Date read: October 23, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Retelling
  • Age: Anyone
  • Year pub: 2019 (book), 2020 (audiobook)
  • Length: 2 hours, 27 minutes (122 pages)
  • Source: the author
  • Notes: I received a code for a free Audible download from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: AudibleAmazon (book format)GoodreadsAuthor’s Website

Listening to this audiobook was delightful! The narrator, B. E. Berhow, brought the characters to life—I particularly loved his voices for Rudiger the rooster (my favorite!), and Katarina the cat (she felt so marvelously cat-like!).

All of the voices he did were splendid (solid, clever Etzel the donkey, and loyal, mournful dog Jager), and I love how the characters leapt from the page—er, headphones?

I had read the book before, so it was wonderful to re-discover in this audio form, especially with the foreshadowing that came with knowing what was in store. 😀 I can only imagine that discovering it the first time would be fun as well!

It was such a fun and soothing listen! ^_^ Highly recommend!

***

(As for the story itself, here are my — slightly updated — thoughts I’d shared in my previous review when the book first released.)

I’ve always loved the folktale of the Bremen Town Musicians, the old donkey, dog, cat, and rooster on the road to become musicians in Bremen. Kelsey Bryant skillfully retold this fun tale and the audio version brings a whole new charm to it!

I loved how the retelling felt true to the original tale but brought out new and unexpected things too, with some excellent twists and turns! It has its own share of excitement and adventure and, yes, peril at times! But it still feels so absolutely cozy at the same time, which made me happy. 🙂

The Road to Bremen is like a golden sunbeam across a field of wheat on a quiet summer day. It just FEELS lovely. You want to bask in it as you read. It’s rich and well-written and draws you along like a breeze calling you to the shade of the forest. You can feel the dust of the road and you’ll smile or laugh at the quiet humor or the banter between these larger-than-life (but so REAL!) animal characters as they go on their adventure.

The characters are so loveable! Etzel the donkey, from whose perspective the story is told, absolutely stole my heart. I just love this donkey and his voice! He has so much character. Jager the dog is sort of mournful but funny. XD Katarina is so CAT-like and prim, and I loved the dog-vs.-cat references. And then Rudiger is so extremely vain and always quoting Aesop and it’s great. XD I just love them all! You have to read this to meet them!

Also, I love that it’s set in Germany and how there are German words thrown in here and there. I felt so immersed in the forest and town and roads and setting. It made me feel at home. 🙂

I totally recommend this if you enjoy retellings and need a quick listen, or if you have children in your life. It’s a wonderful listen (or read, if you get the illustrated version!) and made folding laundry and so on much more enjoyable. Just— *hugs book* It feels totally classic and makes me happy! ^_^

Utterly charming! A tale full of heart. ❤


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Come Marching Home by Hazel West (Blog Tour!)

Hey guys! I’m so excited to join in on the blog tour for Hazel West’s new book, COME MARCHING HOME, which released this week!

I am looking forward to reading this one — I always love Hazel’s books! (The Modern Tales of Na Fianna urban fantasy Irish series, and futuristic London novel The New Emperor’s Concerto from earlier this year, are some of my favorite books.) And the idea of a WWI-ish fantasy novel is so intriguing!

Read on to find more about the book, check out the rest of the tour, and read an excerpt!

Come Marching Home (cover design: C.B. Cook)

About the Book

Title: Come Marching Home

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: After being away for over a year, Alfonse Keller has returned from the trenches on Teuton’s western front, fighting in the war that’s broken out against the Steppes. He should feel relieved now that’s he’s back in his own village in the care of his brother Ernst, but he’s not. It seems like nothing has changed except for him, like he’s a traveler from a different world.

When Alfonse left to join the army, he was a natural magician making a name for himself, but after a tragic incident resulting in the death of his friend, and his own crippling injury, he no longer has the ability to use magic.

Suffering from constant nightmares and revisited trauma, Alfonse can’t get the trenches out of his head. Ernst tries to help, but he doesn’t really understand either. How can he, when Alfonse doesn’t really understand himself? He feels like a phantom, standing on the outskirts of a life he’ll never live again.

As Ernst tries to do everything he can for his brother, he can’t help but feel like Alfonse is slipping away, that maybe part of him never left the trenches at all. But how can he save his brother when Alf refuses to let anyone in?

Release Date: October 13th

Book Links

Author Links

Preorder Goodies

Preorder goodies!

If you order Come Marching Home by the end of October (extended even though it released on the 13th), you can email the receipt of your purchase to sirwilliamssquire@gmail.com with your address and Hazel will send you a goodie pack!

Goodies:

  • A bookmark
  • A sticker with art by H.S.J. Williams @h.s.j._williams
  • A playlist curated by Hazel
  • (And if you order the paperback, you will also get a signed bookplate)

Tour Schedule

Today’s the last day of the tour but you can see the rest of the posts if you drop by the official blog tour post on Hazel’s blog, HERE.

Excerpt

The tables were mostly filled with the soldiers, all in plain clothes like Alfonse and Franz, glad to be out of the mud-caked uniforms. They were all talking amongst each other, casting dark glances at the bar, where a riot of giggles erupted. Alfonse and Franz stopped and stared at the cluster of girls that had formed around the one figure in a steel blue tunic, ribbons adorning his chest and his familiar voice cutting above the feminine titters, obviously purposefully loud so that everyone in the pub could hear.

“And so there I stood, facing down three Steppish soldiers with only a pistol in one hand and my trench shovel in the other. My company had been pinned down by the enemy and we couldn’t let them get across enemy lines, so I had my men throw grenades to herd them toward us, smoke them out like pheasant! And that was when I led the charge. I’ll spare you ladies the details, of course, but needless to say, we won the day.”

“Oh, Captain, you must have been so frightened!” one of the girls gasped, touching his arm gently.

“Of course, only a fool would not be frightened,” Klaus told her teasingly. “The key is to not show it. That way you can still inspire courage in the men.”

“Oh, you’re so brave, Captain Klaus,” another girl said.

Alfonse saw red. Everything shut down and he felt himself walking forward before he knew what he was doing. Franz reached out and grabbed his shoulder, calling to him, but he shook his friend off.

“‘Inspire courage’—is that what you did, Captain?” Alfonse spoke loud enough to be heard over the eruption of female giggles. The whole pub fell silent, the girls turning to glare at him, Franz and Hewitt watching tensely, and the soldiers straightening up and looking on with interest, murmurs running through them.

Klaus just sat there, his face darkening, before he smoothed his expression. “Sergeant Major Keller. I didn’t realize this was your village.”

“No, I’m sure you didn’t,” Alfonse said. “You barely remembered any of the men who fought under you. And you’re right, this is my village, this is my local pub, and I’m not going to tolerate you telling fake war stories in here among a bunch of soldiers who know better.”

A louder murmur arose from the occupants. “You want to know how the story really went?” Alfonse demanded, unable to stop. It felt good and he found he didn’t care about any consequences right now. “We routed the enemy, there was mud, blood, and death. The captain didn’t show up until the rest of us men had secured the Steppish soldiers and a boy had lost his life. Never in all my time in the trenches, did I ever see Captain Klaus pick up a shovel. He was too busy sitting on his high horse to be down in the mud with the rest of us.”

“How dare you?” Klaus said, pushing through the women to get to him. “I’m your superior!”

“Last I checked, we’re not on the front anymore,” Alfonse said.

And there we are! Doesn’t it sound intriguing? Thanks for reading! 🙂

More reviews for books by this author:

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The Midnight Show by Sarah Pennington (Review)

Where are my fellow fans of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale? I’m here today with a review for a delightful retelling of that story, with a jazz-age twist, by one of my favorite up-and-coming fairytale authors!

Title: The Midnight Show

Author: Sarah Pennington

  • Date read: September 27, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairy Tale Retelling / Twelve Dancing Princesses
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 152 (paperback)
  • Fave character: Bastian
  • Source: Amazon
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book but ended up purchasing a paperback and reading that instead. XD All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Sinister fey plots. The stage. Dreams. A clever detective. An exasperated singer. And a fabulous twist on my favorite fairytale.

I’ve loved this author’s previous fairytale retellings, so I was ecstatic to hear of a Twelve Dancing Princesses one! I loved this retelling! I love how it keeps to so many of the original tale’s features, but also makes it entirely its own thing. Making it a fantasy mystery was brilliant and I loved that take on it, with the detective and everything, so very much! It makes perfect sense. That was one of the neatest things about this story—how everything just made sense and fit so well together! (Always a fun thing when retellings do that.) Also, now I need more magical mysteries.

Set in a jazz-age setting, THE MIDNIGHT SHOW feels like the 1920s but in an invented world, which was so unique! I loved the “feel” so much. (There were also so many delicious foods and it made me hungry, so thanks for that. XD) I loved the mix of a ’20s-ish feel but also adding in magicalness and fey, all taken for granted as part of the world. So, so cool! I love somewhat-more-modern books where the magical part is just a part of the world.

No spoilers, but I also really loved the twist on the old woman and the invisibility cloak—Bastian’s helpfully magical items were awesome!

The mystery was deliciously creepy—again, hard to talk about without spoilers, but . . . *shivers* I almost didn’t want the book to end because I was afraid for my character friends and what might happen to them. XD Meep. The ending was fabulous, though! So many threads wrapping around to meet up and finish it off. Yesss. It was also sooo neat how dreams factored into the story! That was another thing, which I can’t get into much, that was super cool.

Dayo was a bit snappish (understandably) but she grew on me—one of my favorite scenes was her umbrella poking bit. XD (And I totally relate to her feeling of being at odds with Bastian’s morning self. XD) Bastian was fabulous and I loved his character. A great detective and a great guy, I loved his stick-to-it-ness (probably a real word for that, but anyhoo) and his ingenuity, and the occasional banter! They were both great leads.

I imagine people who are more into music, theater, jazz, etc., than I am, would probably enjoy it even more. ^_^

Since it was a short read, I almost wish there was more to this ’20s-ish world with its clubs and dashes of fey and barest hint of gangster-like stuff (and I would totally read more), but at the same time, this short book was like a perfect bite-sized window onto a rich world and it felt just right.

I totally recommend this as a quick, fun, intriguing read, with relatable characters and a delicious mystery, especially for anyone who loves the ’20s or the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Go read it! Go read it now!


More fairytale retellings by this author . . .

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Have you read any fantasy mysteries or Twelve Dancing Princesses retellings? Doesn’t this one sound intriguing? Let me know in a comment! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Five Thoughts on Mardan’s Anointed by Kathrese McKee (Review)

Hey, my fellow pagelings! At long last I return to this little blog to attempt to catch up on some reviews I’m wayyy behind on—so let’s dive right in with a review of a fantasy novel I really enjoyed!

Title: Mardan’s Anointed (Mardan’s Mark, #3)

Author: Kathrese McKee

  • Date read: September 25, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Christian Fantasy / Kingdom Adventure
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 287 (paperback)
  • Series: Mardan’s Mark, #3 (Read my reviews of the other books in the series here.)
  • Fave character: Aldan
  • Source: the author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book as part of the street team, and later won a paperback copy. I was under no obligation to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

 Five thoughts on Mardan’s Anointed

1. Another fabulous book in the Mardan’s Mark series! Book one (Mardan’s Mark) was an adventure quest/survival story, while book two (Mardan’s Heir) was much more of a political-intrigue-around-the-palace sort of story. Mardan’s Anointed (book three) skillfully blends the feel of both books, picking up directly where Mardan’s Heir left off and following the separate paths of Princess Srilani and Aldan. Although I missed having them together, I so enjoyed reading their alternating chapters as they both face challenges in who they’re meant to be, and I loved-loved-loved how it ended up for both of them! (The parallels near the end particularly were stunning.)

2. I’m going to try to talk about this without sharing spoilers if you haven’t read the first two. XD Aldan’s quest in the southern kingdom was epic, and there were some unexpected happenings that left me on the edge of my seat! Exciting quests (for thrones and other things), castle infiltrating, woodland ambushes . . . So much awesomeness going down in this book! Aldan is growing SO much in trying to be worthy, and he’s already awesome, so. 😀 (Also, I remember loving his speech on the beach.) Also, all his loyal guys just make my heart happy.

3. Princess Srilani is stuck kind of trying to temporarily run the northern kingdom and being met with all kinds of opposition, but I love that she keeps going despite all that. I enjoyed reading about her (figurative) journey as she navigates politics etc. And where her story goes at the end! Wow, wow! So cool, though I’m looking forward to where it goes after her, too. (Trying to talk about this without spoilers is so hard. XD) Also, I loved how there were some parallels to certain biblical stories, and that whole mountain bit at the end! Yessss. So very cool!

4. I also liked the other side characters and how their stories are developing—like Prince Jamson coming so far, Princess Maelan getting to do stuff, Aldan’s brothers being epic as per usual, etc. I also have Feelings about Judge Elison. And I kinda feel bad for Greyson so I want more of him in the next book, haha! Plus, Raymon is super awesome, and I love him and Lady Elilan together! And I’m totally still shipping Srilani and Aldan and need book four because of it. XD

5. Like I said, there were some fabulous unexpected twists that are leaving me grinning, and I can’t wait for the fourth (and I believe final) book! (Fortunately, this one didn’t cliffhanger like book two did. Still with things awaiting in the fourth book, though! Eep!) It also reminded me a little of Jill Williamson’s excellent Blood of Kings Trilogy . . . So if you enjoy those or are a fan of Christian Fantasy, you’ll enjoy these! (Essentially Kingdom Adventure since there isn’t really anything magical or fantastical aside from one or two miraculous things?) Overall, I had a marvelous time reading this and just felt happy to be back in this world in the Marst kingdoms with Aldan and Srilani and everyone! So enjoyable!


Read my reviews for the other books in the series so far . . .

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Does this series sound intriguing? And let me know what you’re reading lately in a comment. Thanks for reading! 🙂