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Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2018!

It’s time for the top reads of 2018! My favorite books I read, plus some runners-up, and for fun, my top couple of nonfiction and re-reads. So let’s get to it!

But first, a few stats, because stats are fun. 😉

Goodreads claims that I read 123 books in 2018.

“Panic ye not, Grant,” in the words of my favorite Chrestomanci; many of those were short. 😉

(Brought to you by my love of spreadsheets) I read:

  • 42 new-to-me novels
  • 12 new novellas/novelettes
  • 14 re-reads
  • 30+ individual short stories
  • 4 anthologies
  • 10 nonfiction books
  • 11 picture books
  • 3 beta-reads (which don’t count on the Goodreads total . . .)

If you’re curious to see them all, you can find them here on Goodreads.

Oh, and . . . visual representation of lots of the books I read last year. 😉

Books I read in 2018 (exactly 52 physical books! Perfect) which aren’t ebooks or borrowed from libraries/friends.

TOP 15 BOOKS OF 2018

I’m terribly indecisive about actually listing favorite books in order of favorite-ness, so these are not precisely in order, although the top-ish ones are slightly more beloved. But all of these top-15 are the most splendid books I read all year and they’re all delightful. (The top 4-ish kept wanting to trade places so . . . they’re probably my favorites overall?)

1. The Electrical Menagerie (Mollie E. Reeder)

Carthage and Huxley! ❤ An introverted illusionist and his smooth-talking young manager. Floating Isles and trains run by stardust. A murder mystery, sabotage, and a plot against the throne. An electrical butler. And most of all, some of the best banter and writing I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading! It’s so absolutely magnificent and Carthage and Huxley are my favorites! ❤ ACK. I JUST LOVE IT.

[Review]

2. Echo North (Joanna Ruth Meyer)

East of the Sun, West of the Moon. A white wolf. A scarred girl. An exuberant young man. A house with mirrors which are like books that you can step into and live their stories. Hal and the Wolf and Echo are such delightful characters and the imagination and writing left me positively pen-slain. A dash of Beauty and the Beast and Tam Lin only made it more perfect. ❤ I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

[Review]

3. Lady Moon (Rachel Starr Thomson)

I loved Lady Moon so much that I immediately re-read it aloud to my siblings. A whimsical original fairytale. A princess who we first meet languishing beautifully on the moon. A nefarious uncle. An absolutely un-pigeon-hole-able Immortal by the name of Tomas who is procrastinating his destiny (I need his clocktower to live in). And other delightful characters such as the Revolution (XD) and Winnie the wombat. I JUST CAN’T. This book is so, so fantastic and I adore it. ❤

4. Masque (W.R. Gingell)

Beauty and the Beast. A murder mystery. A delightful, funny style perfect for fans of Wodehouse, Heyer, or Diana Wynne Jones. I loved Isabella — she had such spirit! — and of course mysterous Lord Pecus. And I also loved the Horse Lords. XD Also, the book that answered questions was like a character itself, and the magical communication and hand-mirror and so on were so cool. And it was just so GORGEOUS. So many shenanigans and such humor and fun! ❤ (There’s a bit of gore due to the murders so it’s not for the squeamish but otherwise it’s perfectly delightful!)

5. Falling Snow (Skye Hoffert) — in Five Poisoned Apples

Snow White. A twist on the Huntsman and Prince characters that you’ll never see coming. A dark Faerie circus. Peril and darkness and beauty. Fire and snow. Deception and innocence. Chayse was such an awesome character and I loved him! Cynfael was so fascinating. And the writing is incredible. ❤

[Review]

6. Minstrel’s Call (Jenelle Leanne Schmidt)

The epic conclusion to the Minstrel’s Song series that began with King’s Warrior! Quests and favorite characters galore, twists and adventure, dragons, prophecies . . . It has everything. Brant and Kiernan Kane are the absolute BEST. I JUST LOVE THEM SO MUCH. And there were some twists and just — my mind was blown by all the epicness and it was a perfectly satisfactory conclusion. ❤

[Review]

7. Sage (Jamie Foley)

HELP. I can’t talk much about this because of the absolute stacks of spoilers involved . . . But there’s arena fights and characters on wings, fantastical super-powers and futuristic technology in a fantasy world, and it’s all so absolutely INTENSE. Jet is my favorite. So is another character who shall remain nameless but WOW. I was so impressed by said character’s story-arc! Just so, so good. It’s like a fantasy thriller and I probably didn’t breathe for all 300+ pages. XD

[Review]

8. Song of Leira (Gillian Bronte Adams)

Wow. Just — wow. A griffin. A small girl with a big Song. The saif which is on the cover (I need one to ride!). Beloved characters including plucky Ky, gruff Amos, and Cade who I particularly like. All the characters come SO far and go through SO much but there’s beauty too. The ending stuff was so absolutely epic that I simply can’t even. ❤

[Review]

9. The Return of Beaumont and Beasley (Kyle Robert Shultz)

Two novellas. Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dragon archaelogist Malcolm Blackfire and reformed jewel-thief Melody Nightingale make a perfect (and hilarious) pair! (But seriously though, Malcolm!) A canine curse. Beast-ly Nick Beasley and our favorite Crispin Beasley pair up as detectives in alternate 1920s London, and their banter and brotherly interactions and all the humor and shenanigans make my day! Absolutely hilarious. XD (Crispiiiin!)

(Originally published as The Janus Elixir and The Hound of Duville. They were then bundled together and now make Beaumont and Beasley book 4, right after The Stroke of Eleven.)

10. Horseman (Kyle Robert Shultz)

Yes, I’m putting both of these on the list because I wanted to put one on and then couldn’t pick which. *cough*

The magical wild west. Part-time centaur con-man, Todd Crane. The Legend of Sleepy-Hollow like you’ve never seen it before. No-nonsense Marshall Amy Crocket. Plus Julio the Spanish dragon and Meg the sweet Gorgon teenager. And a dash of time-travel. So many shenanigans and adventures! It’s hilarious, and Todd is my favorite.

(Also, I edited this book, which means I read it . . . three times . . . so I got rather fond of it. Plus it’s sort of dedicated to me, so it’s kinda special.)

11. Blood in the Snow (Sarah Pennington)

Snow White. The Goose Girl. Asian-inspired fantasy. Gorgeously told. Awesome and super-fascinating magical system featuring wind and water. A great heroine and prince, and fantastic side-characters who I simply loved! (Like, talk about great “seven dwarves.”) Because Gan and Chouko are fabulous. And so are Baili and Xiang. SO complex and well-written, and fits everything together so well. I just love it! ❤

[Review]

12. The Last Motley (DJ Edwardson)

A simple tailor. A many-colored boy. Mysterious magic. Sinister shadows. A quest to a far-off island. I LOVED how this felt like an instant fantasy classic. It reminded me of Lloyd Alexander or Tolkien. Roderick the tailor is such a simply good hero, Jacob the Motley is precious, and Nagan is absolutely hilarious and my favorite. XD The Gitanos are so intriguing too, and we can’t forget Portia. I loved this colorful, rich fantasy. ❤

[Review]

13. Mark of the Raven (Morgan L. Busse)

A dreamwalking heroine. Assassins. Fantastic abilities like manipulating water. Wyverns. A young woman trapped by the darkness of her mother and her people’s past. A young visiting nobleman — who she’s supposed to kill. It’s all VERY EXCITING. Selene and especially Damien make great characters. ❤ (And Lady Bryren and the wyvern riders!) It was really gorgeous and gripping and just a solid epic fantasy.

[Review]

14. A Matter of Magic (Patricia C. Wrede)

This is ever-so-slightly cheating . . . because it’s actually two books in one and I’m kind of taking them as a whole, even though I read the second one first, and that was on my favorite list last year, but I’m sort of using it again? The first one was fun but I loved the second one more and . . . anyway, I’m mostly just calling the whole collection my “favorite” of this year. Regency fantasy. A young magician gentleman. A street thief girl who becomes his ward. Shenanigans and humor and magical adventures. I just really enjoyed it. 🙂 And it works best as one book.

[Review of the second half, which I read first.]

15. The Ruins of Gorlan (John Flanagan)

The first Ranger’s Apprentice book unexpectedly stole my heart. Total classic fantasy but fresh, too. Halt the Ranger is my FAVE. He’s the best and I love his dry humor. XD And of course we like Will. I just really identified with this book and Will’s journey and wanted to be a Ranger, naturally. 😉 It was just really refreshing and plain fun! (And Halt!)

[Review]


9 RUNNERS UP THAT MAKE ME HAPPY

The above list was SO hard to make because I read so many spectacular books this year! But those were the most absolutely spectacular ones.

But I still wanted to talk about some others! So off the top of my head I’m tossing in a runner-up list of a few that were just so much fun — even if they don’t quite fit on the list, or there was something about them that made them not quite a favorite, I still really loved some element of them, so I have to mention them too. 😉

I know there’s only 5 in this picture. I can count, I promise . . .

  1. Common by Laurie Lucking — I loved the FEEL of this one and just . . . it’s so absolutely sweet (but also exciting at times) and it makes me so happy! ❤
  2. Healers and Warriors by Daley Downing — This modern fantasy series just kinda makes me happy and there was a lot of epicness and fun and fabulous characters and so many thiiings going down.
  3. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen — I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading this. All the snark that is Sage. XD I did guess the twist but I don’t mind because it’s awesome.
  4. Lightporter by C.B. Cook — Because BLAZE. He’s my fave. Anvil, too. 😉 It’s just such a fun YA superhero book and I adored it.
  5. Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn — Sci-fi isn’t usually my genre, but this was such a fun book! It’s a heist story featuring Han Solo, Chewie, Lando, and others, by the best Star Wars author, and I just loved it. XD

Not pictured above because I don’t own physical copies but still make me happy:

  1. A Royal Masquerade by Allison Tebo — Because Burndee and Prince Colin bickering are HILARIOUS and the absolute best. (And the skunk. XD)
  2. The Worth of a King by Kendra E. Ardnek — Because Delaney and Granite and the winged horses and the Zovordians.
  3. The Game by Diana Wynne Jones — The whole idea and the mythosphere and all the story bits were brilliant. I wish it had been longer than a novella because it was so fascinating.
  4. The Stealthmaster’s Shadow by Hope Ann — Just because I can’t stop thinking about how fabulous Verus and his snark is. XD

(So . . . that’s sort of 24 books? I REGRET NOTHING.)


OTHER STUFF: Non-Fiction + Re-Reads

Top 2 Non-Fiction Reads

  • Tolkien: A Celebration — This one is here because of a stellar essay by Stephen R. Lawhead. I read the entire collection this year, but this essay is still one of my favorites of all time, and anyone who is a writer (particularly of fantasy) needs to read it!
  • Punctuation 101 by Jill Williamson — Speaking of writers . . . Everyone needs this one, too! 😉 I had the chance to help beta-read/proofread this little book and I absolutely loved it! PUNCTUATION 101 is practical, succinct, fun, and easy to read. I zoomed right through it! I learned a few things, and I think it will be a very helpful book to refer to in the future. 🙂

Top 2 Re-Reads

  • The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz — I’ve now read this four times and I still absolutely adore it and want to re-read it again. XD It’s hilarious and brilliant, and the characters, fairytale things, and humor, just . . . they get me every time! (Nick and Crispin and Cordelia are the absolute best!) You can read my original review here.
  • The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones — The absolute brilliance of time-travel in a fantasy world and all the characters I love and the twists and EVERYTHING. (Mitt and Navis, though!) I even forgot some of the twists from the first time I read it, so I got to re-experience some of them, which was awesome. DWJ is the only author who can do this to me. XD SO glad I finally re-read this series! (This is book 4, and it’s totally worth making it through the first three for this one. ❤ )

(Missing Masque and Five Poisoned Apples for Falling Snow in this pic because I tragically don’t own paperbacks of those two.)

So there you are! Various of the best books I read in 2018! (You can also check out my top 15 (ish) short stories of last year if you missed that, and my 2018 End-of-Year Book-Freakout Tag.)

What was your favorite book (or several) you read last year? And have you read any of these? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Also! Expect an epic recap of my writing news of 2018 along with goals ‘n’ stuff, over on my other blog, very soon!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Top 15(ish) Favorite Short Stories of 2018 + Winner

While working on my top-favorite-books-of-2018 post, I realized that I read a ton of awesome short stories this last year!

So while I’m working on that post (which I’ll share later this week), here — have a list of some fabulous short stories! Because short stories don’t get enough love.

Also, the winner of the ARC paperback of Echo North iiiiiis . . .

*drumroll*

Amanda Torr!

Congrats! I’ll be in touch with you about getting your info so I can get your prize sent off to you ASAP. 🙂

Dearest readers who did not win (as there can sadly be only one winner), thank you so much for entering and celebrating my blogiversary with me! I hope to do more giveaways soon. 😉

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer is releasing next week on January 15, so there’s still time to preorder a gorgeous hardcover! (And I think there’s some preorder goodies [!!!] if you do, so check that out . . .) Or ask your local library to get it. Or put it on your birthday wishlist. Or something! Because you must read it and it’s awesome. ❤

Okay! Onward to my favorite short stories I read in 2018!

Top 15 (ish) FAVORITE SHORT STORIES

(Titles link to Goodreads. I also link to my reviews on here if I have them.)

Mythical Doorways

Goodreads / Free on Amazon

I loved SO many of the short stories in Mythical Doorways, so overall I’m just calling it my favorite anthology I’ve read in a long time. ^_^ (I’m taking the mini-reviews from my full review on Goodreads.)

Favorites:

  1. Everwild (J.M. Hackman) — This one was awesome! A boy about to grow out of the foster system is given a choice between two worlds… Fascinating and vivid, and I liked how it ended. Lovely portal fantasy with a few twists. It was great. ^_^ Makes me want to try more by this author—and I fortunately have a novel (Spark) which can help me do just that. 😉
  2. Well of Fate (Savannah Jezowski) — Tosk the squirrel was so adorable! What a super-cute—and funny—little tale. Having a squirrel main character who’s a little bit nervous but determined to be a hero, in a mythology setting, was so much fun! And there was an awesome twist near the end! 😉 I’m looking forward to checking out the author’s When Ravens Fall novella…
  3. Jericho and the Magician’s Daughter (H.L. Burke) — AWK. Featuring Jericho and Rill a few years before the first Spellsmith and Carver book. They’re adorable! And they didn’t know they were in love… quite… yet… Super cute and exciting. It was also neat seeing a little more of Hedward Spellsmith. And of course there was Jaspyr the mechanical fox! It’s a great story and I loved this look at a sort of mini-prequel about Jericho and Rill. ^_^
  4. Threshold (Laurie Lucking) — AWK. THIS STORY. ❤ *hugs it* I don’t want to give anything away about it, but it had a couple of twists on the usual portal fantasy thing, and I was SO WORRIED about how things would turn out, but I absolutely LOVED IT. Shawn was my favorite. He’s the best. 😀 I got kind of a Peter Pan sort of feel with this one and I loved that. ^_^
  5. Idiot’s Graveyard (Arthur Daigle) — One word (name?): Jayden. Jayden is one of my new favorite characters and I’m not even sure WHY, but he’s quite unpigeonholeable and fantastic and giving me Howl/Doctor Strange sorts of vibes. I could easily read a whole novel (or series) about Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden (they remind me a little of things like Skulduggery Pleasant or Jackaby). I learned there was another short story featuring them (in Hall of Heroes, another Fellowship of Fantasy anthology) and instantly read/devoured/loved it. The world is kind of spooky, and yet a little elegant. And it’s so FUNNY. Like… I just love the style. I kept wanting to quote it. All the snark and polite cutting dialog! Anyway, it was a glorious short story and I loved it muchly. ❤ Just excuse me while I wish for more tales of Jayden and co. and am tempted to re-read the ones there are so far…
  6. Dragon Ward (Jenelle Leanne Schmidt) — How fascinating! I won’t spoil anything, but as a fan of this author’s Minstrel’s Call series, I loved how this had two or three different backstory references, when I only expected one! LOVED LOVED LOVED. It was delicious and unexpected. Anyone who hasn’t read the series will enjoy it too. The story of a girl and a dragon, and a strange experience they have… and meeting a certain character, who I love! 😀 An absolutely delightful tale. ^_^

Tales of Ever After

Goodreads / Free on Amazon

(I need to finish this anthology, but these two stories are my favorite so far.)

  1. Cinders (Kendra E. Ardnek) — Charming, and Cinderella’s a kitten! (Review.)
  2. At the Corner of Elm and Main (H.L. Burke) — Melted my heart away, a story about a sentinent lamp-post! Petition for this to be a Pixar animated short, please. (Review.)

Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden — stories by Arthur Daigle

If this were a novel, it would totally be on my top five books of the year. 😀 As it is, I simply have to mention these episodic short stories that I’m lumping together as “one” continuing story which I really hope will one day be published together as a collection about two of my new favorite characters of all time, Dana and Jayden. ^_^

The first two stories are free in two different Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies. They’re available also on a free website called Booksie (which is sort of like Wattpad) so you really have no excuse not to go read them right now. 😉 (I mean, unless you don’t like slightly spooky, sarcastic, hilarious, epic, fantastical short stories featuring two of my fave characters. :P)

  1. Not Quite a Hero (Hall of Heroes and Booksie)
  2. Idiot’s Graveyard (Mythical Doorways and Booksie) — I already mentioned this one above. 😉
  3. Surviving Fairytales (Booksie)
  4. A Fair Deal (Booksie)
  5. A Friend in Need (Booksie)

(They make me so happyyyy! ❤ )

Afterverse Stories

I read several of Kyle Robert Shultz’s new short stories this year (as his editor), and enjoyed all of them, but of particular note are these three personal favorites of mine:

 

  1. My Man Beasley (on Kyle’s Patreon) — Featuring three of my FAVORITE things, this one is basically Tam Lin meets Wodehouse meets Beaumont and Beasley. Enough said. XD (What would happen if Nick Beasley met someone like Bertie Wooster and had to help fix his magical problems?)
  2. The Centaur Express (free on Kyle’s newsletter) — Todd Crane, part-time centaur in the magical wild-west, has to fill in for their version of the Pony Express, and the mailbag will literally eat him if he stops. XD
  3. Someday at Christmas — This one gave me ALL THE FEELS and it’s a Beaumont and Beasley/Crockett and Crane crossover and it’s perfect. ❤

Mollie E. Reeder short stories

Sooo, maybe these are novelettes. I DON’T CARE. I have to talk about them because I ADORE THEM BOTH.

  1. Arbrook Huxley and the Star-Crossed Lovers (free on Mollie E. Reeder’s newsletter) — This is actually how I “met” Huxley, so of course I was super excited to read The Electrical Menagerie (which is somewhere near the top of my top-15-books-of-2018, spoiler alert. ;)). It’s hilarious and great fun and I recently re-read it after reading TEM, which only made it better. XD
  2. The Sixth ChristmasAaahh! How is this author so amazing?? 😭 😍 *hugs story* Fantastic Christmas short story! A Christmas Carol sort of vibe but original and awesome. I loved it so much. I just meant to read the first page and then couldn’t put it down. ^_^

Others

The Villain Who Saved Christmas (C.B. Cook) — Utterly charming. ❤ Supervillain! Christmas! What more do you need? (Review.)

Windswept (Sarah Delena White) — A gorgeous fantasy original-fairytale-esque short story. ^_^ Tiding me over while I wait for the sequel to Halayda. ❤


(Oh, look, three of these are Christmas short stories. Apparently I love those. XD)

Do you read shorter fiction much? I don’t always, but seem to have devoured quite a few in the past year (possibly why Goodreads claims I read 123 books in 2018?), and I just had to give a shout-out to some of these gorgeous, charming, or funny ones!

I’ll be back in a couple of days with my top 15 novels I read last year, so stay tuned! Have you read any of these? Thanks for reading! 🙂

At the Corner of Elm and Main by H.L. Burke (Mini Review)

Hallo, my page-dreamers!

I’m back for one last mini review on the Tales of Ever After blog tour! (Scroll to end for giveaways, which are ending TONIGHT, so hasten!)


At the Corner of Elm and Main

by H. L. Burke

 

What an utterly charming and perfect story! ❤

GAH. *clutches heart* *clutches this story and hugs it* At the Corner of Elm and Main is SO ADORABLE. I love it so much! ❤ I’m having a hard time explaining it, but how cool is the idea of a sentient lamppost? It makes me think of a Pixar short or something. Which of course is perfect. 🙂

I love the setting and “feel” of this one, feeling somewhat shadowy and cold with (probably) cobblestone streets and rain and a lamplighter going around lighting lamps, including our hero, Abner.

Abner the lamppost is MY FAVORITE THING. He’s wonderful. I loved reading the story from his perspective. And I loved the mysterious old woman who sits on the bench, too.

This is a positively delightful original fairytale type story, with SO much heart and charm. It’s a joy to read, but also has depth to it, and unexpected feels. Everything was so vivid and the delightful writing drew me right into it. It’s going to sound weird but I really related to the lamppost character. ^_^

I’m definitely going to be reading this one again sometime. It lit a light in my heart and made me smile. 🙂

I can’t say anything else without spoiling it, but basically, you need this adorable story in your life ASAP! Go forth and read it and have your heart melted like mine was! ❤


If you missed them, you can read my review for two other short story in this collection, Believing Fairytales (by Arthur Daigle) and Cinders (by Kendra E. Ardnek).

Check out the rest of the stories in this anthology! It’s free on all ebook platforms! (See links below.)

Tales of Ever After

Rescue a princess, meet a mermaid, win your reward.

The authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy tackle fairy tales from once upon a time to happily ever after. Explore twists on old tales and brand new magical stories. Meet feisty mermaids, friendly lampposts, and heroes who just might be monsters themselves.

This fourth anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy will lead you on a quest for entertainment and storm the castle of your imagination. So make a wish and enter the deep dark woods to find stories that will make you laugh, shiver, and maybe even fall in love.

LINKS

Amazon • Books2Read Universal Link • Goodreads


Tour Schedule

Check out the blog tour schedule HERE.


GIVEAWAY!

And now it’s time to enter a delightful giveaway the Fellowship of Fantasy authors are hosting — there are 3 giveaways! (Rafflecopter hates me so you’ll just have to click the links. XD)

U.S. Only Giveaway:

(All books are paperback, and possibly signed)

***LINK***

International Giveaway:

(All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice)

***LINK***

Comment Giveaway:

The person who leaves the most comments across the blog tour will receive the chance to read special sneak peaks from several of the authors’ upcoming works!


Do you like stories featuring inanimate objects who are more than they seem? I love them — they’re so adorable! Are you going to check this one out? 😉 Thanks for reading! 🙂

Cinders by Kendra E. Ardnek (Mini Review & Giveaway)

Hi everyone! I’m back on the Tales of Ever After blog tour with a mini review for another short story from this collection! (And there’s still a giveaway at the end if you haven’t entered yet. ;))


Cinders

by Kendra E. Ardnek

 

Okay, that was adorable and enchanting! I have a new story to put on my growing list of top-favorite Cinderella retellings. 😀 I LOVED this one!

The thing about retellings is that you can’t usually say much about the twists/plots/bits that make you really like them, without spoiling the story. XD So I won’t. But I did LOVE the twists a ton. Some I suspected, others were a delightful surprise, and a few times I got worried about how it would turn out and then things worked PERFECTLY and made me absurdly happy.

There’s also a cute kitten. And humor. And loveable characters! And… well… what more can be said? It’s a classic Cinderella story flipped on its head and made fabulous all over again. I loved it so much! The perfect story to start out this collection. 🙂

So what are you waiting for? Go pick up this free collection and read Cinders! I’ll be over here contemplating rereading it, and hugging it because I adored it. ^_^


If you missed it, you can read my review for another short story in this collection, here.

Check out the rest of the stories in this anthology! It’s free on all ebook platforms! (See links below.)

Tales of Ever After

Rescue a princess, meet a mermaid, win your reward.

The authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy tackle fairy tales from once upon a time to happily ever after. Explore twists on old tales and brand new magical stories. Meet feisty mermaids, friendly lampposts, and heroes who just might be monsters themselves.

This fourth anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy will lead you on a quest for entertainment and storm the castle of your imagination. So make a wish and enter the deep dark woods to find stories that will make you laugh, shiver, and maybe even fall in love.

LINKS

Amazon • Books2Read Universal Link • Goodreads


Tour Schedule

Check out the blog tour schedule HERE.


GIVEAWAY!

And now it’s time to enter a delightful giveaway the Fellowship of Fantasy authors are hosting — there are 3 giveaways! (Rafflecopter hates me so you’ll just have to click the links. XD)

U.S. Only Giveaway:

(All books are paperback, and possibly signed)

***LINK***

International Giveaway:

(All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice)

***LINK***

Comment Giveaway:

The person who leaves the most comments across the blog tour will receive the chance to read special sneak peaks from several of the authors’ upcoming works!


What do you think? Doesn’t this one sound charming? Do you have a favorite Cinderella retelling? And have you picked up Tales of Ever After for free yet? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Believing Fairytales by Arthur Daigle: Mini Review (+ Featuring Me Squawking About Jayden Because #Excuses)

Welcome to the Tales of Ever After blog tour! 🙂

I’m here today to share a mini review of one of the short stories in this NEWLY RELEASED anthology of fairytale retellings (and original fairytales) from the Fellowship of Fantasy! It released yesterday; I’m really excited. 😀

And don’t forget to scroll through to the end where there’s a giveaway. 😉


Believing Fairy Tales

by Arthur Daigle

Tagline: Some fairy tales are true. The dangerous ones are partly true.

*cue Deborah O’Carroll’s review*

 

Short stories are hard to review without spoiling, and I really don’t want to spoil this one because it has an excellent plot twist, but I’ll do my best. 😛

Arthur Daigle is one of my new favorite authors I’ve discovered this year, due to just a couple of short stories in previous Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies. (Those two short stories featured one of my favorite-ever dynamic duos, Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden.)

So I was excited to review this short story! Despite not having said two favorite characters in it, this short story does contain Mr. Daigle’s signature humor, fantastical setting (including monsters), twists, and a snarky main character who stands up for himself, as well as a mischievous goblin.

Nestor is a boy who spends his time keeping the shrine of the Brotherhood of Righteousness clean and reading old manuscripts — and Gibber is a little goblin who loves to annoy him and prank people. Their relationship was fun. XD

Enter some problems in the form of some villains, a lot of hilarious conversations (with snarky lines like: “I would have lost my faith in humanity if I’d ever had it.”) and a plot twist that I started slightly guessing at (and had me going “OOH!”), and it’s overall a delightful original fairy tale type story. 😀

I loved the bits about people not getting fairytales right. XD

This story was a lot of fun, and the setting and humor reminded me of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. It’s slightly scary (just fantasy violence) but awesome overall, and I loved it! I’m excited to read the rest of the stories in this collection, as well as more of Arthur Daigle’s work!

Fantasy that makes me laugh is my favorite, and this absolutely qualifies! ❤


While You’re Here…

Not 100% related to the story I just reviewed, but I’m not going to finish a post featuring Arthur Daigle without mentioning how you can check out the short stories that made me fall in love with his writing.

If you’re curious to read about Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden (since I’ve mentioned them a few times and LOVE THEM SO MUCH. Ahem.) you can find a story each about them in previous Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, Hall of Heroes and Mythical Doorways — which are FREE and have other delightful stories in them as well! (And did I mention free?)

Or if you just want to meet Jayden NOW (I don’t blame you) you can read said short stories on Arthur’s Booksie account here, here, and a NEW ONE that just came out (*shrieking* I’m so excited!) here.

I’m sorry, but I’m also TOTALLY NOT SORRY because Jayden is my fave. 😀

(And I really need to check out this author’s Goblin books someday… I believe all his works take place in the same world. Which is awesome.)

Okay, I’m done derailing this post, now. *cough*

This has been a public service announcement. Carry on.


Check out the rest of the stories in this anthology!

Tales of Ever After

Rescue a princess, meet a mermaid, win your reward.

The authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy tackle fairy tales from once upon a time to happily ever after. Explore twists on old tales and brand new magical stories. Meet feisty mermaids, friendly lampposts, and heroes who just might be monsters themselves.

This fourth anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy will lead you on a quest for entertainment and storm the castle of your imagination. So make a wish and enter the deep dark woods to find stories that will make you laugh, shiver, and maybe even fall in love.

LINKS

Amazon • Books2Read Universal Link • Goodreads

(The ebook should be free most places, and if it’s not yet — say, on Amazon *cough* — it WILL be… soonish… So keep an eye out. Or you can get it for 99 cents which isn’t bad; or buy the paperback because it looks shiny.)


Tour Schedule

Check out the blog tour schedule HERE.


GIVEAWAY!

And now it’s time to enter a delightful giveaway the Fellowship of Fantasy authors are hosting — there are 3 giveaways! (Rafflecopter hates me so you’ll just have to click the links. XD)

U.S. Only Giveaway:

(All books are paperback, and possibly signed)

***LINK***

International Giveaway:

(All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice)

***LINK***

Comment Giveaway:

The person who leaves the most comments across the blog tour will receive the chance to read special sneak peaks from several of the authors’ upcoming works!


Do you enjoy funny fantasy too? Have you met Jayden yet? Are you curious to read this story or the rest of the anthology? ISN’T THAT TALES OF EVER AFTER COVER GORGEOUS?? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

March Magics 2018: Wrapup

I know this is a bit late, but bear with me as I wrap up my reading etc. for March Magics!

(via webereading.com)

Books Read

For March Magics 2018 (all new reads this year for me) I managed to read:

  • The Game – Diana Wynne Jones — This was a quite short novella, so I wish there’d been more, but what there was I LOVED. The idea of the Mythosphere was AWESOME, I loved Flute and Fiddle and Troy, and there were some great references (like the one about The Lord of the Rings and the One Ring. XD). Loved it! 5 stars
  • Dragons at Crumbling Castle – Terry Pratchett — This was a collection of shorter stories by young Terry Pratchett, which were published in a paper when he was in his teens. I loved them! XD The illustrations were actually kind of distracting/annoying to me (and definitely made the book seem like for a younger audience than it needed to be), but most of the stories themselves were downright hilarious, and simply sheer fun! In a way, I enjoyed it even better than some of his fiction for older readers, because sometimes you just want to enjoy yourself. 😛 5 stars
  • The Homeward Bounders – Diana Wynne Jones — Um. OKAY THEN. O_O This one was fascinating and very different. It’s in first-person (I ended up really loving Jamie, the narrator boy) and… well… let’s just say that DWJ wasn’t all that into happy endings apparently at this time? *cough* It was kinda bittersweet, though at the same time I don’t know how else it COULD have ended. It was like Dogsbody in that way. ‘Twas scary too! But really addicting. And the world-hopping was fascinating. There were also a couple of characters I loved. XD I felt like it was a lot more serious at first and didn’t get really funny and DWJ-ish until the second half, but I really started to enjoy it then. OH. BUT ANCHORS. O_O So, since I was reading this for the first time, and I also had A Blink of the Screen by Pratchett out from the library, I was NOT okay with the Doubleday anchor on the side of that book (see picture above). NOT OKAY, I TELL YOU. (If you’ve read The Homeward Bounders, you will know why. O_O) Anyway, I read it finally and liked a lot of it. 5 stars because I couldn’t not.
  • Yes Dear – Diana Wynne Jones (picture book; not in the above photo) — This was a cute little picture book I read quickly while visiting a library during the month. Not a lot to it, but it was fun. 🙂 4 stars
  • A Blink of the Screen – Terry PratchettShort story anthologies are always a huge hit-or-miss with me. A lot of these I just didn’t “get,” connect to, or care for, particularly some of the stranger or more sci-fi ones. But I did enjoy some of them! Particularly the one about English queues, the one about Father Christmas, and a couple others I don’t recall just now because I don’t have the book handy at the moment. So some of those are 5 stars and I loved them. XD It’s funny to me that I loved his short fiction from when he was younger (i.e. the Dragons at Crumbling Castle book) better than the ones when he was older and “a better writer.” XD I think I may go back to Pratchett’s longer fiction, and Discworld in particular. 😛 2.5 stars overall; ratings varied
  • A Sudden Wild Magic – Diana Wynne JonesNot my favorite DWJ book — it’s an Adult book (very, very specifically) and this is why I feel like she should have stuck with children’s books. XD I don’t recommend it for younger readers, and feel like a lot of my friends simply wouldn’t care for this due to some of the content. (Definitely don’t start out with DWJ with this one — start with Howl’s Moving Castle, because it’s the best. :D) This was an interesting read, and while I didn’t care for some of it, it was gripping and fascinating as always — I’m pretty sure DWJ can’t write a terrible book; just not her best. And the car stuff was pretty funny. XD And I liked some of the characters at times (just… less than usual…) and some of it was fun. And centaurs. 😀 Anyway, not a must-read, but I’m glad I got around to reading it in my continuing journey to read all of DWJ’s books. 3.5 stars

Other March Magics Ishness

This month I also picked up a copy of Pratchett’s The Carpet People when I was visiting a book shop for my birthday… so I’ll get to read that one at some point too.

I will definitely have to still get around to reading DWJ’s Unexpected Magic anthology, which I intended to try but it was out at my library, so I did not get the chance to read it this month, sadly… But sometime!

Posts

As far as posts, I shared these reviews (click covers to visit their posts):

And, on my other blog, I shared a post about some of my favorite Diana Wynne Jones quotes and talked a little bit about them:

Diana Wynne Jones: 6 Quotes to Live By

(the rest are in that post)

Anyway, those were the festivities for this March Magics, for me.

I had fun and I’m looking forward to next year, as always. 🙂

Thanks to Kristin for hosting!

Did you read any Diana Wynne Jones or Terry Pratchett books this March? And have you read any of the ones I mentioned? Let me know your thoughts!

(P.S. What do you think of my new blog header??)

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

The 15 Most Glorious Book Gems I Read In 2017

Guys, it’s 2018!

WHAT EVEN.

I have no idea how this happened, but it has.

This gives me license to share with you THE MOST GLORIOUS BOOK GEMS I READ IN 2017. And also mention some of my book-reading stats of the year because obviously I need to squeal about even MORE books. It’s who I am. 😉

(Most of the books I read last year which I have physical copies of around.)

STATS

SOME STATS

According to my Goodreads Reading Challenge, in 2017, I read:

88 books

20,368 pages

(I find it perfect/hilarious that my shortest and longest reads both had sea covers. XD)

Here are some stats I put together from a spreadsheet. (And if you include some short stories and picture books, etc., which I didn’t include on my challenge, then I read 125 books this year. ;))

  • New Books (i.e. novels & novellas) I Read: 62
  • New Anthologies: 7
  • Short Stories (Singles): 17
  • Non-Fiction: 5
  • Re-Reads: 17
  • Picture Books: 18

SOURCE/ETC

  • Won: 6
  • Library: 14 (most of these were picture books. XD)
  • Audiobooks: 1
  • For Review (more or less): 37
  • Books in Readalongs/Bookclubs: 13
  • Beta-read: 5-ish

OTHER STATS

  • Diana Wynne Jones: 11
  • Jane Austen related: 7
  • Words of Reviews Written (according to Scrivener where I kept my reviews for this year): approximately 50,000. XD

BLOGOVERSARY

Also, last week, on January 1st, it was my blogoversary! :O

I’ve now been blogging here on the Page Dreamer for two entire years and I’m gobsmacked at this information.

Thanks for coming along with me all this way! ❤ And if you’re newer — welcome! I hope you’ll have as much fun here as I’ve been having! ^_^

TOP 15 READS OF 2017

Anyway! Without further ado, in no particular order (I mean, slightly more favorites are nearer the top, but it’s not 100%…) here are the top 15 (ish) books I read in 2018!

(Click the titles for my reviews! And the author names for website links.)

1. Hexwood (by Diana Wynne Jones)

This one still wins for most mind-boggling and… well… everything. I mean, there had to be a DWJ book at the top, of course, and this was the best one by her I read all year. So, naturally. And then there’s fantasy/sci-fi/King Arthur/timey-wimey/PLOT TWISTS. Plus Mordion. IT WAS SO GOOD. I need to read it again. (See review linked from title above for disclaimers. XD) (ButMordionThough.)

2. The Beast of Talesend / The Tomb of the Sea Witch / The Stroke of Eleven (by Kyle Robert Shultz)

(So, I can’t quite decide which of these is the best, hence I’m tossing them all together and saying it’s kind of one book. XD)

THESE BOOKS. I’m utterly addicted to the Afterlands and all these fairytale etc. retellings, not to mention the humor and the characters I love. ❤ Plus they’re really clever and well-written, and just… really good books. With just a smidge of alternate-1920s and steampunk to spice things up. AND TWISTS. Definitely one of my favorites of the year! (Nick! Cordelia! Malcolm! CRISPIN!)

3. Halayda (by Sarah Delena White)

I don’t know exactly how to describe this, but it’s epic and Fae and perilous, and I absolutely love Taylan and Zad and the snark and romance and fantasy, with snatches of Celtic mythology re-imagined in there. It’s just a sweeping, glimmering fantasy epic, and I love it. ^_^ I read this as an ebook with the Fellowship of Fantasy book club, but I had to get a paperback copy for myself for Christmas because I needed to own it! I hope to re-read it someday. 🙂

4. Magician’s Ward (by Patricia C. Wrede)

Regency Fantasy! Which is a genre I discovered this year, and I’m in love. I haven’t really read anything else in this genre, but I’m excited to read the prequel to this, soon. All that to say, this was a Regency England setting with magic and fantasy, and a former street thief girl trying to learn to be a “proper” lady of the time (with hysterical results), and also one of my favorite characters, a magician named Mairelon. It was just so much fun!

5. The Fatal Tree (by Stephen R. Lawhead)

The Bright Empires series has meant SO much to me that I’m having a hard time putting it into words. Which is the main reason I have yet to review this. I WILL, I just… How do you sum up an epic series like this? But I read this series at just the right time in my life, and this book was a great conclusion (I mean, how could it not be??), and I love basically every element of it! It’s a brilliantly written series, I adore all the characters, the plots and twists and timey-ness were fascinating, and the series was deep and just… they’re Really Good Books, okay? I will talk more about this at length, but it’s probably the single most influential series I’ve read for many years. ❤ I HIGHLY recommend trying out The Skin Map if you haven’t, so that you can get to this one — which definitely deserves a place in my top 5.

6. Sentinel / Arbiter (by Jamie Foley)

These have to go together, since I think of them as practically one book. And I NEED book 3. NEED. Jet is one of my favorite characters of all time — he’s just so awesome! — and I love his and Darien’s friendship. The world is so original, I really love some of the fantasy elements and can’t wait to see more, they’re super thrilling, and the character interactions and dialog and snark are just SO FUN! I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the final book and seeing how things work out!

7. Where the Woods Grow Wild (by Nate Philbrick)

This book is sort of like Prydain-meets-Narnia-meets-Wingfeather-Saga. Which is to say, it’s REALLY GOOD. Truly delightful fantasy, skillfully written, quirky, original, and just a lot of fun. It was so imaginative, and any time I say something reminds me of Lloyd Alexander, that is a HIGH mark of praise from me, since that author brought me to fantasy. I really want a sequel! If you haven’t tried this one out, it’s so much fun. 😀 (I read an ebook version of it for review, but I simply had to get a copy for my sister to read!)

8. Scars of War (by Hazel B. West)

I actually re-read the first two books in this series this year to get ready for this one, because I love this series/characters/world SO MUCH. Because an alternate modern Ireland with medieval aspects and epic warriors who drive fast cars is basically MY FAVORITE. This one was a roadtrip featuring two of my favorite characters (Oberon and Aedan), and a modern Faerie changeling plot, and basically WHAT IS NOT TO LIKE? It was so much fun. ^_^ I need more!

9. Magicians’ Rivalry (by H. L. Burke)

Another buddy story, this is one of my favorite such tales! Auric Spellsmith and Jericho Carver are basically opposites, and they do not get along AT ALL, but they have to work together. Unique magic and a scary land of Faerie and a dash of steampunk make this book a delight to read. Throw in the snark and the dash of romance (because Jericho is in love with Rill, Auric’s sister; queue awkward and ADORABLE) and it’s just SO MUCH FUN. ❤

10. Beren and Luthien (by J. R. R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien)

I almost didn’t put this one on here, because it’s not EXACTLY a normal book (being a collection of poetry and prose from various stages of Tolkien’s composing of this tale), and also because I don’t suppose it’s quite how he’d want it. But I’m putting it on anyway, because, despite those problems, it’s still absolutely gorgeous writing (and poetry), and it’s fun to see different stages of the story (even if Tolkien himself might not have wanted people reading his early drafts). The illustrations by Alan Lee are fabulous. And it’s the only new thing by Tolkien I read this year, so NATURALLY it needs to go on my top list. 😉 Here’s to 100 years of Beren and Luthien! ❤

11. The Little White Horse (by Elizabeth Goudge)

I can’t describe this story, but it’s so delightful. It’s set in England in the 1800s, and sometimes you wonder if it even IS fantasy or just FEELS like it, but there are so many fun surprises, and it’s simply one of the most beautiful stories I’ve read in my life. It’s historical and fantasy and Christian and all without quite feeling like one of those. It reminds me a little of George MacDonald, and something else, but I don’t know what. It’s like a beautiful original fairytale in novel form. And it was written in 1946, so it has the old style of writing which is fun to read sometimes because it’s DIFFERENT. I also loved its whimsical nature, and all the eccentric characters we meet — I love them all!

Plus, it has two of my favorite quotes:

‘I should like this story to be like all the best stories and to end in “Happily ever after”.’

and

‘In every fairy-tale there is a kernel of truth.’

12. King’s Warrior / Second Son (by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt)

*huggles books* These were so fun! I think my favorite is Yorien’s Hand (book 3, which I re-read this year too), but these were so enjoyable too! I love this more classic kind of epic fantasy, but with its own twists too. And I love the Myth Folk (especially the Dragons. ;)) and just all of it. Best of all are the characters, like Brant and Kiernan Kane (two of my favorites of all time! ❤ ), and all the rest! I just love them SO MUCH. ^_^ I’m really looking forward to finishing this series in the upcoming Minstrel’s Call. 🙂

13. Masters and Beginners (by Daley Downing)

This one’s a straight-up modern fantasy novel, which is a little unusual to make it to a top list, for me — but that’s precisely why this one did, because it was refreshing and fun and didn’t have all the annoying things I don’t like about modern books. 🙂 Plus, FAERIES, and I just love how the Order integrates modern things with fairies and mythology and Biblical things, and it’s fascinating! And I love the characters as well, and just — I’M VERY FOND, OKAY?

14. Moonblood (by Anne Elisabeth Stengl)

I remember enjoying Heartless and Veiled Rose, but this seems to be where Goldstone Wood gets going, so I’m SO happy I read this with the Imps of Goldstone Wood fan club on Goodreads (I hope we’ll get back to reading the books together sometime!). I so enjoyed getting to see more of Eanrin and Imraldera and Leo and Rosie and BEANA and Oeric and basically ALL MY PRECIOUS PEOPLE. It’s gorgeous and perilous and such great Fae-fantasy, and just excuse me while I hug it. Plus so well-written. o.o I need to read Starflower…

15. The Reluctant Godfather (by Allison Tebo)

And lastly, a simply utterly fun little story! This charming novella-length retelling of Cinderella was simply a BLAST to read! Burndee the fairy godfather is SO grouchy and it’s hysterical! I love the snark and dialog and humor and fairytale twists. And of course Burndee himself! Isn’t a fairy godfather who hates humans and just loves to bake cakes original? I love him. XD It reminded me a little of Broken Glass (my FAVORITE Cinderella retelling of all time) and of the Talesend books a bit (because humorous and fairytales), and it’s just so fun. ^_^


So there you have my favorite books of the last year!

Have you read any of these or are any on your TBR? Because YOU NEED TO!

And what was your top favorite(s) read of 2017?

Tell me all in the comments!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer