Archive | April 2019

The Electrical Menagerie Audiobook Review!

I finished this only this morning and it was INCREDIBLE! ❤

I just had the most delightful experience!

It’s somehow fitting that a story largely involved with theatrical performance should be brought to life in this way by a talented audio performer. It was wonderfully theatrical to listen to—the next best thing to seeing it on a screen. I LOVED it!

It’s a wild ride of adventure, imagination, flying trains and islands in the sky, electrical robots, a stardust-powered steampunk-feel, show-business and illusions, mystery and sabotage and insidious plots, an 1800s-feel, and one of my favorite things: a “buddy story.”

Mollie Reeder’s skillful tale is a story to touch the heart of any creative and anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing something MORE. It’s one of the most sheerly enjoyable books I’ve ever read, but it also has a depth to it that makes you re-examine life and learn new things about life and ourselves, through the adventures of these delightful characters who are wholly human—both making mistakes and committing feats of imagination and heroism. It inspires me to reach for the stars. And it makes me laugh, which is always important. 😉

I read The Electrical Menagerie when it first came out, and it joined the select ranks of one of my favorite books of all time. So to say I was excited for the chance to re-experience it, as an audiobook, is an understatement.

I started the audio version with caution, however. Would any rendition of this beloved book be able to do it justice?

But I needn’t have worried. While I still may prefer reading physical books, this audiobook was a sheer delight! I had SUCH a blast listening to it! It was like revisiting an old friend and it came alive anew. ^_^

Travis Baldree’s rendition of these larger-than-life characters was wonderful and I 100% enjoyed hearing them all come to life! The different accents were great fun (I particularly liked Miss Skyhawk’s voice) and Carthage and Huxley re-delighted me all over again! I was constantly smiling or laughing, even on this second reading. The other characters are incredible too, and the dramatic or exciting scenes soared.

I LOVE this book and Carthage and Huxley, who are both absolutely AWESOME characters in their totally different ways, and the sheer rich imagination of everything about The Electrical Menagerie.

This book gives me ALL THE FEELS. It made me laugh and it made me cry, in both its book and audiobook forms. (Now THAT is a feat.) I love the humor and the heart of it, how authentic and real it is—despite, or perhaps because of, the otherwordliness of it—touching the soul, but not in any artificial way, while making one smile.

I didn’t used to listen to many audiobooks but I’ve slowly been drawn into that world, and now I love them. It was fabulous to get to re-live this magnificent story while going about daily life.

I can only say that The Electrical Menagerie is an EXPERIENCE. “I’m Arbrook Huxley”—(er . . . Deborah O’Carroll)—“and you can quote me!” (All I need now is a sequel. ;))

I love that this book is now available in a new format to delight new readers—or should I say listeners? I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who needs a touch of stardust and wonder in their lives!

(Thanks to the author for the complimentary audiobook code. All opinions are 100% my own.)

Book Information & Links

Title: The Electrical Menagerie

Author: Mollie E. Reeder

Narrator: Travis Baldree

You may also enjoy my original review (including some favorite snarky quotes), 10 Reasons You Should Read The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder!

Audiobooks: yea or nay? And have you read this incredible book yet? I totally recommend it in ANY form! YOU NEED CARTHAGE AND HUXLEY IN YOUR LIFE.

Keep imagining! ❤

Flower of the Underworld by Hazel West: Blog Tour!

GUYS! I’m so excited there’s a new Urban Fantasy novel from Hazel B. West, author of my favorite Blood Ties, An Earthly King, and Scars of War Modern Tales of Na Fianna books!

This one is not in that series but is called Flower of the Underworld, and is a modern Greek myth retelling, featuring Hades and Persephone and all of Hazel West’s trademark humor and delightful characters and banter! (At least, that’s what I’m gathering just from the excerpts I’ve seen. ;))

Flower of the Underworld is releasing TODAY!

Read on for all the info, a giveaway, and a delightful excerpt! I’m really looking forward to this one! 😀


Title: Flower of the Underworld

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mythology Retelling

Synopsis

What happens when the Lord of the Dead accidentally falls in love with the Goddess of Spring? 

Well, when there are brothers with crazy political agendas and overprotective mothers involved, a simple romance may not be as simple as it looks. Hades wants nothing more than to woo Persephone, but his fellow Olympians have other ideas. Zeus and Poseidon seem set on starting World War Three, Persephone’s mother wants her daughter to marry Ares, the insufferable God of War to make sure the earth doesn’t get destroyed in the process, and Hades is being pressured by his brothers to join in a fight he never wanted a part of. He’s definitely going to need some help with this one. Calling on his friends Hermes, Artemis, and Apollo, they do the only thing they can: kidnap Persephone themselves and team up to try and stop Zeus before his plans succeed. 

This modern retelling of Hades and Persephone is part romance, part political intrigue and guaranteed to be a version you’ve never heard before.

Purchase Links

Add it on Goodreads • Amazon Paperback (coming soon!) • Amazon KindleSmashwords


About the Author

Hazel B. West is the author of several novels including historical titles like On a Foreign Field, By Blood or By Bond; Wolfsblood, a book about werewolves in Roman Britain and the Modern Tales of Na Fianna series, which feature modern Irish warriors with swords and fast sports cars and lots of faeries.

As to what she prefers to consume (aside from bacon and coffee) she can often be found with her nose in dusty tomes about mythology and folklore, serial killers, and other dark and gruesome things. She has an almost unhealthy penchant for stories about siblings, particularly brothers, and you can probably win her over by alerting her to any books or shows that feature this. She is a true book dragon and has a lovely hoard of books (and Pop Figures). When she’s not writing, she’s probably still being antisocial, reading books, drawing, or binge-watching the same shows over and over because there’s nothing else quite like Supernatural and Merlin. She also likes to listen to music because, who doesn’t? Hazel’s particularly fond of modern folk and classic rock, which is usually what makes up the majority of her book playlists.

Author Links

WebsiteTwitterGoodreadsInstagram


Giveaway!

Be sure to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Flower of the Underworld! Enter via the Rafflecopter HERE! (Commenting on the posts in the blog tour gets you extra entries into the giveaway! :))


Hazel will be hosting a live Q&A on her Instagram account on Thursday night (April 25th) from 8-9PM EST so get your questions ready for her! She will also be taking questions from Twitter for those who don’t have an Instagram account during the same time. Feel free to ask questions about Flower of the Underworld, or just writing and books in general, Hazel isn’t afraid to go off topic. If you’ll be asking questions on Twitter please make sure to tag @artfulscribbler with the hashtag #FlowerQ&A.


Excerpt!

I smiled back a bit awkwardly. I know I only ever came just to sit in the garden and never bought anything, but the girl never seemed to mind and she was one of the only employees I had ever seen. I began to realize I probably looked a little out of place there with my unkempt charcoal grey suit, minus the jacket and my red shirt rolled up to the elbows, but I didn’t really care either.

“Yeah, I’ve been busy,” I told her. I was not the best conversationalist. One of the main reasons I stayed as far away from Olympus as possible. The good thing about the dead was that they didn’t much care for conversation anyway, and the other denizens of the Underworld weren’t much better. “But the garden here is a nice place to sit and just relax for a while.”

She put the pot she was carrying down on the edge of the pond. “I like to think it is. Have you ever thought about starting a garden at home? It provides a nice place to relax, and gardening is a good form of stress relief.”

“Hm,” I replied regrettably. “Don’t know how well that would work out.”

“Well,” she said and looked me up and down. “I’m going to take a guess at office job?”

I raised an eyebrow but nodded in confirmation.

“How about a plant for your desk?” she asked. “It really does make a room brighter.”

I smiled but shook my head. “I’d like to, but I really don’t live in a good climate for plants in general.”

“Where are you from?” she asked.

“Er…down south.”

“Florida?” she asked knowingly.

I shrugged, considering. “Close enough.”

“In that case,” she said, beckoning me forward toward the garden center portion of Olympus Landscaping. “I think I might have the perfect plant for you.”

Curious, I followed her inside, again marveling at how beautiful everything looked. There were no half-dead hardware store plants here. They were all as fresh as they could be.

She went over to a shelf and plucked a tiny pot from it, and handed it to me. “I would say start with an air plant. It’s almost impossible to kill, and they do well in practically any environment.”

I took the tiny pot and stared down at the little green plant, which kind of looked like grass, but had a sort of velvety feel to it.

“Thank you,” I told the girl, smiling at her. “I think I will like to keep this on my desk.”

“He should be a good first plant for you,” she told me. “His name is George.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “George? Do you name all your plants?”

“Of course.” She smiled, and I honestly couldn’t tell whether she was teasing or not.

“Okay then,” I nodded, thoughtfully looking down at my new green friend. “And how much do I owe you for George?”

“Oh, he’s a gift,” she insisted and stopped me before I could protest. “Just take good care of him.”

“Well, I shall certainly endeavor to do so,” I promised. “By the way, I never caught your name.”

“Oh, it’s Persephone,” the girl said with a smile. “What about you?”

I hesitated. I never went by my actual name when I was among mortals. It kinda got a bad rap. Nothing closes down a conversation quicker than admitting you’re the Lord of the Dead. “Oh, well, you can just call me H,” I told her.

“H,” she said, seeming to consider it as her eyes narrowed. “So, you’re a man of mystery; I suppose I can deal with that.”

The sparkle in her green eyes made me unable to keep from smiling and Persephone smiled back. “Well, I’m glad to hear that,” I told her. “But I’m afraid I have to go for now. I will take care of George, and, thank you for him, by the way.”

“You’re welcome,” she replied. “I hope to see you again soon.”

“Me too.” I turned with great reluctance and left the landscaping center, heading back toward the spot Charon had parked the Bugatti.


I can’t wait to read more about this fun Hades and Persephone and of course George the plant! *grins*

There will be more excerpts in the other tour stops and since I’ve had a sneak peek at those, I know that you won’t want to miss them. XD So be sure to follow the tour the rest of the week — check out all the info on Hazel’s blog!

What do you think? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to enter that giveaway! 😀 Thanks for reading!

Similar Reviews

bloodtiescoverfront copy earthlykingcoverpic2-copy 

Giveaway Winner!

Just a quick post to announce the winner of my giveaway for The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead!

If you haven’t heard of this book, it’s an excellent beginning to a brilliant series that I adore! Check out my review for book 1 and the final book which I just reviewed (no spoilers, but a good overview of my thoughts for the series)!

Since I first started reading these books as a result of winning a copy of The Skin Map, I felt it was only fitting to pass on the love since I had an extra paperback!

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, the winner is . . .

*drumroll*

Grace T!

Congrats! I’ll be in touch via email shortly! 🙂

Thanks very much to those who entered, and I will have to give away more books soon. 😀

Do check out this fabulous series, Bright Empires!

Thanks for reading, my dear Pagelings!

Book Ishness/News! (April 2019)

Good day, my Pagelings!

I have a whole passel of bookish news and book ishnesses to share with you today, and you’re not going to want to miss these freebies, a giveaway, some exciting books releasing, and my March Magics wrapup, as well as a look at my current nightstand of books I’m reading!

Giveaway!

Firstly, in case you missed it, I’m giving away a paperback of The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead, and there’s still two days left to enter to win it, so hurry and enter here! (US only, ends midnight 4/17/18)

Vote for your favorite fantasy!

If you’ve read 2 or more of the 20 books that made it to the semi-final round of the fan-voted Alliance Awards hosted by Realm Makers, then you can vote for whichever ones you’ve read using a star-rating system! You still have a week left to vote — get it in before April 23! Vote here!

They include (titles link to my reviews if I have them): The Story Peddler (Lindsay A. Franklin), The Electrical Menagerie (Mollie E. Reeder), Spice Bringer (H.L. Burke), Song of Leira (Gillian Bronte Adams), Renegade Skyfarer (RJ Metcalf), Mark of the Raven (Morgan L. Busse), Fawkes (Nadine Brandes), Bitter Winter (Jaye L. Knight), Common (Laurie Lucking), and many others! So go check it out!

Jill Williamson Audiobook Kickstarter

Jill Williamson launched a kickstarter to fund audiobooks of her stellar Blood of Kings fantasy trilogy, and it has cool rewards if you support it! The first goal is fully funded, which means there WILL be an audiobook of By Darkness Hid, but there’s still a little to go to reach the first stretchmark (for an audiobook of To Darkness Fled) and it would be amazing if it could get even beyond that, so go check it out and see if it’s something you’re interested in! (I love this series and Jill was one of the first authors I got to meet, so the idea of this coming to audiobook is exciting to me. ^_^) [EDIT: The audiobook of book 2 is now funded! EEP! We need your help to get the final book in the trilogy funded too! :D]

Fairy Tale Central is live!

If you missed when I shared about it, the new website Fairy Tale Central, hosted by some of my dearest fairy tale loving pals, has been absolutely ROCKING it with reviews and commentaries and all sorts of fairy tale goodness, focused on the fairy tale of the month, Rumpelstiltskin. Sound like fun? IT IS! Be sure to check it out if you haven’t!

(And while you’re at it, check out the new website of one of the founders, Christine Smith, who moved from Musings of an Elf to a new and even more gorgeous site, ChristineSmithAuthor, and if fairy tales or fantasy or writing is your thing, you NEED to check out her blog!! <3)

APRIL RELEASES

So much coming out this month, and I feel like I’m even missing a few!

  • H.L. Burke has a new book out, Match Cats, three short tales of cats and love — can’t wait to read this one!
  • Flight of the Raven is coming AT LAST!! I adored the first book in this series by Morgan L. Busse (Mark of the Raven) and have been dying to read the sequel ever since. It’s arriving April 30th and I could not be more excited!
  • Encircled, a collection of six fairytale retellings by six authors, including Laurie Lucking, J.M. Hackman, and Jebraun Clifford, released TODAY and is so pretty sitting shiny and new in my Kindle. I can’t wait to check it out!
  • I just read Shadow Figure, which is a short story releasing in just a few days from E.B. Dawson. It’s the sequel to Government Man (another short story), kinda dystopian and sooo intense but I loved it! I’ll be reviewing several stories by this author soon. 😀
  • Cait at Paper Fury has a new book out, The Boy Who Steals Houses, and it sounds like a fabulous contemporary novel!
  • This Cursed Flame by Selina J. Eckert, releasing April 27, is available for preorder and features a mix of urban and portal fantasy, elemental magic, genies and djinn, some fabulous female friendships and delightful characters, stunning settings that feel straight out of Pinterest fantasy art boards (in the best possible way), and a talking ocelot! I loved this one, and totally recommend it! (Disclaimer: I did edit it. But. You know. It’s still unbiased-ly good. ;))
  • A Greater Strength from Rebecca P. Minor (who runs the Realm Makers writers conference) also released today! I haven’t read the first book yet but it’s FREE at the moment and features elves, so I’m looking forward to reading it — plus, just look at the gorgeous cover of this sequel! :O
  • The Fourth Musketeer (Part 2) just came to Patreon from Kyle Robert Shultz, with more Julio and the Three Musketeers and a certain other fan-favorite character. It’s so, so good! (One of these days the Patreon stories will come to a collection for other readers, but for now, there they are.) (And I did edit this one as well.)
  • Speaking of things I’ve edited and also speaking of Kyle, he has two nonfictions releasing this month! (Yes, this boy has been busy. XD) The 10,000-Word Secret is a short nonfiction book available for free to subscribers of his new nonfiction-and-writing related newsletter, and Not Write Now is a hilarious and brilliant reverse-psychology book on writing, which I totally recommend! It. Is. Perfect. XD It’s releasing April 30th and is up for preorder too, and you can check out his post about both of these.
  • And finally, Hazel B. West (author of my favorite Modern Tales of Na Fianna books) is coming out with an urban fantasy retelling of Hades and Persephone called The Flower of the Underworld which I NEED IN MY LIFE. I’ll be sharing about it for the blog tour when it releases next week on April 23!

Wait, not quite finished!

C. M. Banschbach has a new short story out, free for subscribers to her newsletter! It’s a short story prequel to something you may have heard me flailing about as “The Mountain Baron” which is now going to be TWO books, the first of which, Outcast’s Oath, is releasing this summer (and features the character I call my smol floof of anger management issues, Rhys the Mountain Baron). I’M SO EXCITED. ❤

Definitely check out the short story! 😀 (Because it’s free and I beta-read it so I know it’s amazing, and you need this snarky Scottish-like epicness in your life. YOU JUST DO.)


MY READING NEWS

APRIL NIGHTSTAND

Oh, look, we’re halfway through April already. Wonder how that happened . . . *nervous laughter*

Instead of making lofty reading goals that I knew I wouldn’t make, I just took a photo of all the books I was currently reading when April hit (pictured above) and have fit in a couple of small things since.

  • I actually read TWO nonfictions this month (*gasp* Three if you count reading The 10,000-Word Secret again, since I edited it.) Odyssey of a Texas Sailor — a true story of a Texan man attempting to sail from England in a boat by himself in 1985, told in his journal which is highly amusing, and gathered by his daughter and published. Larger than life, fun, and absolutely fascinating! And Oh Snap! I’m Making Money . . . Now What? by Chris Morris, which is the only accounting book with a sense of humor, apparently, and was useful. 🙂
  • I finished my 6th read of Howl’s Moving Castle (left over from March Magics) and I REGRET NOTHING. I love that book so, so much!
  • I’m listening to The Electrical Menagerie on AUDIOBOOK and having a blast! I’ve been meaning to reread that one since I finished it last year, so this is a treat. 😀 I’ll be reviewing the audiobook when I finish, so stay tuned! (CARTHAGE AND HUXLEY FOREVER. ❤ )
  • I’m also listening to Cress, though I am not very far in yet and have sort of put it on hold until I finish The Electrical Menagerie . . . but I love it so far and am looking forward to returning to it. 🙂
  • And I finally got back to my re-read aloud of Second Son, and am loving that! BRANT! ❤
  • I’m halfway into the ebook of Spindle by W.R. Gingell, Fellowship of Fantasy Bookclub book of the month. I ADORE IT SO FAR! It’s like Sleeping Beauty with a Howl’s Moving Castle flavor. 😀
  • I’ve also been beta-reading and copyediting, and recently binge-read a whole handful of sci-fi short stories by E.B. Dawson and got ADDICTED to them. They’re so good, halp! (And I don’t even read sci-fi??) I’ll be reviewing those soon because I MUST FLAIL.

So! There’s the first half of my reading for April. 😀

MARCH MAGICS Wrapup

Yes, hello, March ended over two weeks ago and I haven’t shared about how my March Magics went! (But don’t worry, wizards are never late, and I was reading about a lot of them, so clearly I’m immune to lateness too.)

Here are the Pratchett and Diana Wynne Jones books I finished in March — not very many, but so delightful!

  • The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett was SO SO GOOD. I adored it. 😀 (Those Nac Mac Feegle, though! XD) Plus, the illustrated copy I found at my library was the coolest. O_O
  • My reread of Reflections by Diana Wynne Jones was absolutely delightful. ❤ I loved revisiting her thoughts on fantasy, writing, children’s books, and of course her own works. So much gold!
  • And Hexwood was brilliant and I still love it SO MUCH — plus it was fantastic to read it now that I knew what was actually going on. XD I think it’s going to need at least a third read at some point! (AND MORDION. I HAVE SO MANY FEELS.)
  • And I read about half of Howl’s Moving Castle, which I finished in April, and is still my FAVORITE BOOK EVER. ❤

March Reads

I didn’t read much in March that wasn’t March-Magics related, but let’s see . . .

  • Healer’s Bane was a fascinating novella with a gaslamp/dystopian type flavor. I really enjoyed it and have many feels! Read my review.
  • The 10,000-Word Secret I already mentioned and it’s pretty cool (and free!).
  • And also This Cursed Flame! I guess when I edit things and then they come out the next month, it’s handy, since I know they’re good and can tell you to go look them up! 😉
  • So yeah, those and March Magics books are all I managed to read in March, but I guess it’s still a reasonable number of books, and they were all really good, so. 😀

Whew! I think that’s it on the news front. So much exciting bookishness going on! What book things are you excited about? Let me know in a comment! Thanks for reading! 🙂

The Fatal Tree by Stephen R. Lawhead (Bright Empires Series)

I’ve got a long-overdue review to share with you, and a giveaway!

Title: The Fatal Tree (Bright Empires, #5)

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

  • Date read: May 18, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Sci-Fi / Time / Christian / Contemporary
  • Age: YA and up
  • Year pub: 2014
  • Pages: 340 (hardcover)
  • Series: The Bright Empires, #5 (final one!)
  • Fave character: All of them. ❤
  • Source: Amazon
  • Notes: Definitely be sure to start with book 1, The Skin Map.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleAuthor’s Website

Review of The Fatal Tree

review

5starrating

In the immortal words of Bilbo Baggins (at least in a certain film), “I’ve put this off for far too long.”

I was waiting for the right words, but I’ve realized that there’s simply no way to do justice to this book in a review, and so instead of waiting for a time that will never come, I’m simply going to say something about it, even if it’s not enough.

You see, the Bright Empire series (of which The Fatal Tree is the fifth and final book) meant so much to me that I can’t quite put it into words.

I enjoyed it, loved it, and it had a profound influence and effect on me. The series worked its way into a deep part of me that makes it hard to get at to explain. I’m not sure if you’ve had this experience, but sometimes you read something that becomes a part of you. It changes you. And so you can’t really talk about it—not really, not in a way that could explain to anyone why it happened to reach you at that soul level, because if it didn’t do the same for them, then they just won’t understand. And that’s all right, because every book affects people differently, if at all. It just makes it difficult to explain.

So it’s seems silly to attempt it, and I won’t try, but I will say that this series is a part of me, like several other book milestones along the way through my younger life—I won’t go through those here. It’s enough a part of me that I don’t really think about it, but it is and it’s there.

So here are a few things about the series that made it something special, at least for this literary traveler.

For one thing, there’s Mina. She was the first female role-model I’d met in a book since I was very young. I want to be her. (More on that in My Tower of Fantasy.) Heroines never interest me in fiction much; I don’t know why, but I’m usually more drawn to the heroes. So Mina was something new and different. She showed me it was possible to do oh-so-many things. She’s the bravest character I’ve ever read about, but she started as a stressed, tired young woman from our modern days. Literally plucked out of her life and thrust into another one, she refuses to give in and transforms her situation into something incredible. She is clever and heroic and rather more brave than I think I’d ever be, but she is so incredibly loving and steady too, and she shines. She makes a way in the world, and is loyal to her friends, and capable, and an entrepreneur, ready to try new things whether in a bakery or fearlessly treading the roads between worlds, but she’s still human and shows that it’s okay to wish you could be home taking a hot shower to avoid the world at times. And, I mean, who wouldn’t want to go visit her and Etzel’s joint Kaffeehaus in 1600s Prague? It’s the most amazing place! I think what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t really have role-models in fiction, and that we need those. I’ve had plenty of fictional heroes, and I needed those too, and I had Eilonwy and Princess Irene and Eowyn and others, but I hadn’t met a modern heroine I could look up to, and I think in a rush to write “realistic” characters (read: dull and flawed, or fake and artificially “strong”), people just don’t write truly heroic characters anymore. Not the ones who can actually be looked up to, and show a blueprint of what might be, and meet me where I am and inspire me and show me that I can be something more and do things. I won’t ramble on about her more than that, but Mina is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

The series also firmly embedded into my mind that whole “there are no coincidences” thing, which as much as I always knew in theory I didn’t really believe if you know what I mean, until reading this fascinating series. If there’s one thing I took away from these books, it was that, and I adore it.

O’er earth we see Thee, and Thy footsteps trace / Through the Bright Empires of unbounded Space

Then there’s how I’ll run across things in life, or in other literature, or in a song, or history, and I’ll see it echoing back to this series—whether it’s a name, or a place, or something else—and I’ll go “Aha! It’s like Bright Empires!” and I’ll do a little dance of intrigued joy. (For example, I stumbled across a translation of a Welsh song called Adra (Home) by Gwyneth Glyn and it so strongly fit this series I thought “What a coincidence! Oh, that can’t be right . . .” ;)) Aside from simply being great fun to find things in life that remind me of a beloved series, it opened up a whole new world to me—and how could it not, with such a broad canvas of times, places, people, and thoughts painted together with such intricacy and skill?

And also with beloved characters and humor and enjoyment, because that’s the important bit that makes the rest stick in your mind. Because there’s the thing: you can have the most interesting or enlightening book in the world, but if it’s not fun, it’s not going to stick with you—or with me, at any rate. And you can have an enjoyable story, but how much more enjoyable is it if, amidst the fun, it stretches your mind far afield and shows you a whole new world and makes you think? I love how this series did all of those things for me, and all in a mind-bending, genre-defying, completely new sort of way.

But aren’t you going to talk about this book, not just the series, then? you ask.

Oh, very well.

I see the series as a whole and so I don’t have terribly much to say specifically about the final book, other than as the end of a saga. (Especially not without massive spoilers, which nobody wants because you must discover them on your own when you read the books; and you ARE GOING TO, right? *stern but loving look*) But there are a few things, so I’ll mention them.

I don’t know how I feel about a few things that happened, and at least at one point I wished that some of the characters could have come in at the end with the others and they didn’t—but then I realized that they were perfect where they are. Several pairs of people are THE MOST ADORABLE THING. (I’m sorry, I’m a romantic. XD)

Familiar places (like Black Mixen Tump) swirl back into the story, and continue to be fascinating. Desert sand in Egypt to frozen ice and the Stone Age, with Prague and Constantinople and all the rest in between. I love the richness of all the different countries and times we get to visit in this series, and how vivid they are (even if some can get downright frightening!), and especially the good hearts of many of the people we meet. Everything’s so genuine, laced with a thread of nobleness and light.

I still adore all of the characters, fiercely. Mina, Kit, Etzel, Cass, Giles, Tony, Haven, Gianni, the members of the Zetetic Society, and all the rest. They’re my friends now. ^_^ I was so delighted to get to finally complete their story in this book, and I absolutely love how all of their tales intertwine and fit into the book so neatly but with threads trailing afterward to the future. And I love all of their interactions SO MUCH. They make the book. 😀

Even the villains are interesting, and far from straightforward. Burleigh’s plotline is one of the two most skillful ones of its kind I’ve read in my life.

And, of course, there’s a time-related thing or two that finally happen in this book, which I’ve been waiting for since the first one. One in particular made me SO HAPPY. (Looking at you, chapter 11.) Speaking of timey-wimey things, that sort of thing always makes my head spin (in a good way) and I think I filled a couple of pieces of paper with diagrams of different people’s timelines and where and when they crossed and it was still dreadfully confusing and I love it so much. XD Someday I’m going to carve out the time to read the whole series again, and I’m looking forward to that with relish. (And maybe then I’ll finally fully understand the ending, which tied my mind in knots. :D)

Then there’s that whole having-to-save-the-world thing, what with the whole universe about to end and everything, which is as serious as it sounds and just as exciting—and there may or may not be some death in there, and I’m not saying I totally understood how everything turned out (I like a good goes-slightly-over-my-head-and-requires-a-rereading ending—just look at Diana Wynne Jones), especially with science-y things going over my head, but everything came together from the previous books and on the whole I was terribly pleased with how The Fatal Tree wrapped up the series. (I’m also so glad we got a what-happens-next bit at the end too! *collapses*)

It was an experience, and one it’s taken me nearly two years to get around to finally externalizing and typing up in the form of a “review” (or shall we call it an essay?), but I can safely say that the Bright Empires is one of the most delightful series I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Even if only as an enjoyable adventure, I recommend them highly to anyone who cares to try their luck. Or, since there is no such thing as coincidence, let’s say that luck is the wrong word and leave it at that. 😉

I’m deeply indebted to Mr. Lawhead for penning such a—well, brilliant is the only word for it, in so many ways—series, and I look forward to delving into more of his books very soon.

(Also . . . THE SPOON. :O WHAT. DOES. IT. MEAN. I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.)

Read my reviews for the previous books in the series:

10SkinMap 2bonehouse 3spiritwell

GIVEAWAY!

I happen to have a spare paperback copy of the first book in the series, The Skin Map, and I want to share the love!

Visit the Rafflecopter HERE for a chance to win it!

(USA addresses only. Runs 4/11/19 through 4/17/19. Winner will be contacted by email and announced here shortly after.)

[Edit: Giveaway is closed! The winner is Grace T! Thanks for entering, everyone! :)]

Have you read any of these? And do you have a favorite Lawhead book? Thanks for reading! 🙂

5 Thoughts: Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares (by Shaun Hume)

Good morning (or afternoon, or whenever), my dear Pagelings!

I’ve got a British, Urban Fantasy, academy-ish sort of book to share with you today!

Title: Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares

Author: Shaun Hume

  • Date read: February 19, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Age: MG-YA
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 339 (Kindle)
  • Series: Ewan Pendle, #2
  • Fave character: Rusty, Enid, Enola, Jack Mangrove, Ewan, etc. I LOVE ‘EM ALL.
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I was given a free ebook copy of this book from the author (thanks!). I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Blog

Ewan Pendle is back! I enjoyed the first book in this series (Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith) and I’m pleased to say that this sequel is just as enjoyable, and in fact adds new awesomeness. 😀

5 Thoughts on Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares

I love these characters, getting to read more about their adventures, relationships, and interactions, and also their backstories and mysteries. Some questions are answered, while others are hair-raisingly raised — and there was one reveal in particular at the end that more or less had me jumping up and down going “I KNEW IT! YESSS! :D”

The setting is fun (a hidden academy in modern-day London for people who know about the existence of Creatures and have lessons in things like sword-fighting? And includes an adventure to Scotland? Sign me up!) and I just feel rather at home in this world and at the Firedrake academy and with these characters! (Plus, the fact that the author lives in England, I believe, only makes it that much cooler because I feel like it’s authentic!)

The plot hits a good balance between adventure and some slower times to get to breathe and enjoy the characters and mysteries. It’s exciting and cozy and fantastical and mysterious all at once, and I love that! It’s a bit long (though shorter than the first one), but I felt like it really picked up about a third of the way in! Some errors and typos were minorly distracting, but for the most part I was too busy having a blast to care at all. XD

More awesome things:

  • The new (if brief) addition of a suitably dragon-y dragon — I hope to see more of him in the future! I LOVED how dragon-like he was!
  • Adventure that includes an attack by a flaming skeleton wil-o’-the-wisp in a bog in Scotland at night. Can you say exciting?
  • Dream world intriguingness! O_O
  • Problems like trolls and goblins and the titular Castle of Nightmares — keeps things interesting!
  • Reveals about Ewan and his backstory that have me even MORE curious. :O
  • More of our young hero Ewan, Enid the pirate (she’s AWESOME), my favorite Rusty who is in it a bit more (hurrah!), Matilde and Max of course (need those loyal friends!), tantalizing hints of Brigid and Betony and Jack Mangrove (NEED MORE!), and of course the mysterious Enola Whitewood! I adore this cast. 😀 They’re awesome and my friends. ^_^

Perfect for fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events (but without the gloom) or Harry Potter (but without the magic, exactly), or for anyone who loves a good acadamy adventure, or an urban fantasy set in modern-day London and Scotland! I feel like all teens would enjoy this, and some of us who are a bit older too and just enjoy a good book. Other than some slightly scary parts, it’s suitable for all readers, and is just a blast! ^_^

A Favorite Quote

‘However, for now, your chief task during these dedicated Vanguard sessions will be the taking of notes.’

The enthusiasm in the session suddenly wilted like petunias left in a hot car.

‘Notes? We’re only going to be taking notes?’ moaned Enid, scandalised. Something told Ewan she would have zero qualms about tackling a ferocious Creature with a sword in only her first week as a Grade Two.

‘Oh well there goes my hopes,’ Rusty offered from Ewan’s side, ‘I kind of fancied being thrown headlong into the action, after that rather tame first year.’

‘Tame?’ whispered Rosie Prince, the ends of her short blonde hair fizzing at the mere suggestion, ‘we nearly all got killed by a white wraith!’

‘Ah,’ Rusty replied with blithe nonchalance, ‘there was only one of those. And that wasn’t even during Lyceum hours. It’s like being a detective and going on holiday, init? Someone gets offed in your guesthouse, and everyone else expects you to solve the murder … Then it’s just annoying. The sessions last year were a world class yawn in comparison.’


Review for book one:

What do you think? Sound intriguing? What’s your favorite academy tale or British-set fantasy? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Introducing Fairy Tale Central!

GUYS. I’M SO INCREDIBLY EXCITED. I have something magnificent to share with  you.

There is a new fairy tale site run by some of my favorite people and it is launching this week (it officially launched yesterday!) and I am sooo ecstatic! Fairy tales are basically my FAVORITE thing and just . . . I can’t. This is so glorious.

Read on for more info and then go visit it and bask in the awesomeness!

Once Upon a Time two girls had a dream. A dream of a fairy tale site, an internet library, if you will, for all the fairy tale lovers of the land to gather and converse. To learn, to read, to fangirl/boy, to bask in the goodness that is fairy tales.

As this dream blossomed, the two girls recruited a third. Because, after all, all good fairy tales come in themes of three.

With the third member in place, the girls got to work. The dream began to take shape, until it was no longer just a dream. But something real.

Introducing…

FAIRY TALE CENTRAL

This newly launched site run by Arielle Bailey, Faith White, and Christine Smith, is your source for all things fairy tales.

Every month a single fairy tale will be featured, and posts will include:

  • Reviews for retellings/shows/movies/etc.
  • Essay, origin, and discussion posts on the featured fairy tale
  • Interviews with fairy tale retelling authors
  • Galleries featuring fairy tale artists and artisans
  • And a whole lot more!

The FTC’s goal is to unlock the magic that is fairy tales and build a community of fellow fairy tale enthusiasts. Arielle, Faith, and Christine are thrilled to share this new fairy tale centric space and connect with all you epic fairy tale fans!

You can CLICK HERE to find the site and join the Fairy Ring! (Don’t worry, you won’t be enchanted or cursed.) And, if you want to connect even more, you can find the FTC on:

(If you’re inclined to share about the FTC in those places too, you may or may not be blessed by a fairy godmother. *smile, smile*)

Do tell a friend, or a dragon, or the fairy living in the hollow tree behind your house. All humans and mythological creatures alike are welcome!

Talk to me! Are you a fairy tale fan? Does this site intrigue you? I’M SO EXCITED! Do drop by and give it a visit/follow! 😀 Thanks for reading! ^_^