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Admirable by Sarah Holman (Short Story)

I’m starting to work through reading the Tales of Taelis series, including the short stories, and hope to have several reviews going up for the series over the next few weeks, before the release of the next book… So here is the first one! ๐Ÿ™‚

Title: Admirable
Author: Sarah Holman

Date read: May 4, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Adventure / Christian (Medieval, Fictional Setting)
Age: YA
Year pub: 2016
Pages: 38 pages (Kindle)
Series: Tales of Taelis Short Stories, #1 (prequel to Adventures and Adversities)
Fave character: William
Source: Amazon
Links: Goodreads โ€ข Amazon โ€ข Author’s Website

This short story is a very quick, fairly intriguing read. It was a nice introduction to the world of the Tales of Taelis seriesโ€”book one is Adventures and Adversities, which I hadnโ€™t read yet.

Admirable provides a little backstory for William, a character from Adventures and Adversities, and I enjoyed stepping into this medieval setting (in a fictional place) and meeting William and his sister, both of whom I quite liked. ๐Ÿ™‚

The frequency of typos and errors was somewhat distracting, and William seemed to act older than he was supposed to be (could just be me!) but otherwise it was an interesting and enjoyable read. ๐Ÿ™‚

I did like this peek at this medieval world of castles and such, with some sweet Christian characters, and I look forward to reading more stories in the Taelis series!

(Also, I LOVE that cover!)

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In the series so far (will update with links as I review them):

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Thanks for reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Ghostly Echoes (A Jackaby Novel) by William Ritter

ghostlyechoes

3starratingTitle: Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby, #3)

Author: William Ritter

review

I’ve been looking forward to reading this for quite awhile, and now I have conflicted feelings on this book, and I can’t entirely decide what I think about it or what I should rate it. I just feel vaguely “meh.” I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but afterward… I dunno. I LOVED the first book (and the novella); the second one annoyed me; this one just fell a little flat somehow?

A couple things annoyed me/I didn’t like, or seemed totally randomly thrown in there “just because”, which was weird, and a couple things came out of the blue or weren’t explained; plus it was darker/creepier than the first two, at least to me. I mean, it’s about a ghost and underworld stuff, and there’s a ghost in the title so obviously. XD And I didn’t mind a lot of that as much as I thought I would, but still not as fun as the first one.

Buuut it did have some cool Faerie stuff in this one, so I liked that.

But it also kind of cliffhangered! At least, the book was suddenly over but the story wasn’t. So I feel strangely like I didn’t finish reading the book? Even though I know I did. It’s… kind of a weird feeling… >.> I do look forward to reading the final book whenever it comes out to see how it all ends up, but there’s some spark that the first one had that’s just died for me in the last couple. Might just be me, though.

I do still like Jackaby (most of the time), and Charlie’s loyal and adorable and awesome, just… not around very much (his parts were cool though). And I liked the Faerie stuff! Even though some of that was weird too, as were all the dead-people type things. And Jackaby doesn’t seem to be his usual fabulous self all the time. I mean, he is, and I still like him, but he’s not as THERE with his lines as he used to be; at least I don’t think so.

Anyway, it’s a pretty good book, just… I’m not enjoying them as much as they go on, I guess. (It’s also very possible I just wasn’t in the mood when I read it, since I was sick. *shrug*) I guess I enjoyed it okay, I just feel “meh” and mostly kinda left hanging since it didn’t wrap things up and is just leading up to the next book… But Jackaby is still fun to read most of the time, so there’s that. ๐Ÿ™‚ And we get some slight hints about Jackaby backstory in this, so that’s neat… Hopefully there will be more in book 4. >:D

So, overall… read the first book, Jackaby, and the novella The Map. I’m still on the fence about the rest, so that will probably remain true until I can see how it wraps up in the final book. *nod* There’s just something about reading an “unfinished” book that leaves me unable to review it very well… Beware of cliffhangers, people!

summary

From Goodreads:

ghostlyechoescoverJenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murderโ€”her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jennyโ€™s fiancรฉ, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jennyโ€™s case isnโ€™t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigailโ€™s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleaguesโ€™ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

factoids

Genre/Category: Historical Fantasy / Mystery / Paranormal

Age Group: YA

Published: 2016

Pages: 340

Series?: Book 3 in the Jackaby Series — 1 Jackaby, 2 Beastly Bones, 1.5 The Map. (See my series review for all of these.)

When Read: November 28-29, 2016

Favorite Character: Jackaby, Charlie

Source: Library

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{Goodreads} โ€ข {Amazon} โ€ข {Barnes & Noble}


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

 

Reading Roundup #3: March 2016

ReadingRoundup2

Muchly belated, here are the many things I read in March! So much awesome reading. โค

Here are some mini-reviews for a bunch of them and/or links to my reviews for the ones I reviewed in full… (Covers from Goodreads and all titles link to their pages on Goodreads as wel.) Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

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1. Blood Ties – Hazel B. West

Reviewed this on my other blog. Friendships and battles and Faerie and modern/medieval Ireland, huzzah!

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2. A Spy’s Devotion – Melanie Dickerson

Reviewed this. Lovely Regency romance! Melanie’s amazing at this time period, just like I thought she’d be! ๐Ÿ™‚

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3. Comet in Moominland – Tove Jansson

Well, strike me pink, that was a rollicking delight of fun and charming oddness! (Especially reading it aloud with British accents, because it did seem to call for it, despite the fact it’s originally Swedish.) I believe it’s quite possible that I’m now thoroughly addicted to the world of the Moomins!

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4. Moominsummer Madness – Tove Jansson

Ack, I love it! *huggles book* Snufkin is my FAVORITE EVER! โค He’s so awesome and just the best! And what he did about the signs . . . and his twenty-four little woodies — GAAHH SO CUUUUTE!!! โค I about died from the adorableness and awesomeness of this. Also, I love Little My. She’s hilarious. XD All in all, great little book! โค

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5. The Exploits of Moominpappa – Tove Jansson

Yet another fun one! I loved getting to read Moominpappa’s memoirs — such escapades, such oddness, such fun! ๐Ÿ™‚ Moominpappa has quite a “feel” to his storytelling. It’s great. Also the Joxter was fun — nice to know where Snufkin’s slightly lawless ways originated. ๐Ÿ˜‰ So much fun! And I especially loved how the memoirs would pause occasionally as Moominpappa is interrupted in his reading by Moomintroll, Sniff, and Snufkin, as they ask questions about the story and their various daddies’ adventures. Loved that! And the way that it all came together at the end was marvelous. ๐Ÿ˜€ The Moomin books are just loads of bizarre whimsical fun.

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6. Deep Secret – Diana Wynne Jones

Read this for March Magics. Wow, what a book. o.o It was more adult than any DWJ I’d read before, but still so so good. It takes place almost entirely at a Sci-fi/Fantasy convention which was super fun. XD Also world-hopping and centaurs and just yes. I do mean to write a review, I just haven’t yet…

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7. The Beautiful Pretender – Melanie Dickerson

Reviewed this on my other blog. It was AWESOME! But then, it’s a medieval fairy tale romance story mixing Beauty and the Beast and The Princess and the Pea and it’s by Melanie Dickerson, sooo… of course it’s awesome. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Possibly my favorite from her yet!

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8. Moominland Midwinter – Tove Jansson

A good wintry tale, another fun Moomin story. ๐Ÿ™‚ Little My is the best. XD

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9. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

I FINALLY read this one! This was for Amber Stoke’s read-along over at Seasons of Humility. Really enjoyed the book on the whole! I could have wished for less of Isabella (UGH I hated her) and more of Henry Tilney, but still. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Maybe I’ll post a more complete review at some point…

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10. Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing For Children – Susan Cooper

I don’t read a lot of nonfiction but I was excited to read these nonfiction essays by Susan Cooper about writing. While some of them may be on writing “for” children, this collection wasn’t really… It was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I didn’t like/agree with everything, but she did have a lot of good things to say about fantasy and such, so that was fun! Definitely glad I read it.

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11. Playing with Fire (Skulduggery Pleasant, #2) – Derek Landy

Another scary, action-packed fantasy tale in modern Dublin with Skulduggery Pleasant the skeleton detective! But most importantly, containing numerous witty lines (by Skulduggery himself, naturally) and lots of humorous banter between him and Valkyrie, because THAT’S what I really read these books for! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I don’t think I liked it quite as much as the first one, but it was gripping and I find myself rather glad that it’s a book instead of a movie because with a book, it’s just the words and imagination; whereas if it was actually on a screen, it would probably be far too scary for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And just think of all the dialog I’d miss in that case! o.o Skulduggery continues to be hilarious and awesome, the real reason I’m reading these things. I hope to have more awesome Skulduggery lines in the future… HE’S SO QUOTABLE AND FUNNY AND EPIC. Skulduggery’s the best. โค

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12. Moominvalley in November – Tove Jansson

I was nervous that I wouldn’t like this one at first… but it turned out okay, so I was glad. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m not sure I liked the translator of this one as much? And it starts out rather melancholy and I wasn’t sure if I liked the characters much, but of course they grew on me. I thought it would be sad but it wasn’t. Yay! And of course I love Snufkin! ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was awesome how everyone kept coming to his tent. XD And I really liked Toft too, he’s adorbz. Some of it was a little vague and hard to sort of grasp in your head if you know what I mean? And it definitely feels different than the other ones, probably mostly because the Moomins aren’t there… And kind of more shadowy and melancholy. But I ended up enjoying it more than I thought, and Snufkin in particular (and Toft) make it better of course! ๐Ÿ™‚

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13. Rising Shadows – Ashley Townsend

Aaaand reviewed this one. So much enjoyable! Will… โค Really fun little book.

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I kind of read a lot in March! It was a good reading month.

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Series Review: The Snow Spider, Emlyn’s Moon, The Chestnut Soldier, by Jenny Nimmo

mgcntrilogy

Series: The Magician Trilogy

Titles: The Snow Spider (#1), Emlyn’s Moon (#2), The Chestnut Soldier (#3)

Author: Jenny Nimmo

review

Overall Thoughts

These were slim books, each of which I read in a sitting, and I was in the mood for some short reads, so that was nice. I’m not sure what I think of them overall? I mean… I enjoyed them okay, some of the writing was lovely, and it’s obvious that they’re not meant to be taken too seriously — just fun adventures written for kids.

They follow a modern Welsh boy (Gwyn) from age eight to thirteen, as he discovers he’s the seventh descendant from the last magician in his family line — which has a magician every seven generations since a Welsh magician of legend named Gwydion. So Gwyn has inherited his ancestor’s magic in his blood, and he has to learn responsibility for it and how to look out for his friends and occasionally fight fantastical things, while trying to keep it all from the various relations/neighbors who, due to the modern setting, don’t understand these things. The usual. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I did really like the Welsh setting. I’ve read a few books, now, set in semi-modern-day Wales (these particular ones were from the 1980s) and they all had a similar “feel,” so I found that to be neat. The ancient craggy hills, the wild wind, the old legends creeping into modern day, the sort of almost-lilt of the slightly-odd way they talk even in English, and the occasional smattering of Welsh words dropped here or there.

It may just be the shortness of the books, but I did often feel like things were rushed or not explained well enough. Some of it was super vague and I was confused about what was going on a lot. But like I said, they don’t seem like they’re supposed to be super in-depth. Still, a bit more of explaining things might have been nice. Some of the characters seemed to change randomly, which was weird? But that might have been just me. Sometimes it just felt oddly… unfinished.

One thing that I didn’t like so much, and is a common problem in contemporary novels (one of the reasons I avoid them generally) was the dysfunctional/not getting along of families. Though at least these each tended to focus on one family/problem per book, and generally sorted out most of it by the end, so that was good. I do like seeing repaired families. ๐Ÿ™‚ Still, it’s rather difficult for me to get through the stuff before, in order to get there. I just… don’t enjoy reading that stuff. (Some people call it “conflict” and insist that books need that sort of thing. I believe there can be plenty of “conflict” without that sort of uncomfortable mess.) So, one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” sort of things for these books and me.

I quite loved the scraps of Celtic legend thrown in here and there, weaving into the story. That was great! I’m trying to remember specific things it mentioned that I knew about… But anyway, I feel like there were a few things I’d read of before, and even if I hadn’t, it felt… comfortable. In that eerie, mysterious Celtic way, you know. I’m just used to such myths and legends and it feels quite natural to have them built in like this. So that was enjoyable for me.

Oh, and something that really annoyed me (I know it’s inconsequential, sorry) was the excessive use of exclamation marks after dialog. I think it was just an ’80s thing and/or a children’s-book thing, but it felt like they were always quipping or yelling, even though they weren’t supposed to be, and it felt kind of condescending. But that’s just a minor issue and I eventually got mostly used to it. Still, thought I’d mention it.

So… I don’t know, a bit of a mixed bag. There were a few things I really enjoyed about it, but a lot of the overall feeling was one of incomplete meh-ness… but I dunno. By the end of the trilogy I did realize I’d become somewhat attached to the setting and some of the characters. It just felt kind of homey. I think I’ve figured out that happens to me for most things I spend three books in. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m not sure I particularly recommend them? But some people who like modern fantasy, and don’t mind small books about very young kids written for a younger age, might enjoy them. I’m not sorry I read them, or anything, and found some enjoyment for myself, they’re just not 100% my “thing” and I don’t know if they’d be others’ either.

Additional Notes on Each Book

snowspider

The Snow Spider (#1)

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I remember starting this out, accidentally, late one night, and then staying up to finish it. I was thinking, near the end, of possibly giving it 4 stars, since it was rather intriguing and some of the writing was pretty, and I tend to be fairly generous in my star-ratings. Then the ending was a little flat for me, so I settled on 3 stars. It’s not a bad book, it was just… okay for me. I wished a few things had turned out slightly different, and some of it wasn’t well explained. But I did enjoy it okay and it kept me interested, and the Welsh setting/legends were fantastic. (It’s also quite appropriate how Gwyn’s birthday/when people disappear and all, is on Samhain.)

emlynsmoon

Emlyn’s Moon (#2)

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This was mostly from the POV of Nia, a girl minorly mentioned in the first book. I think I wasn’t expecting that. This one actually reminded me a lot of the Julia Redfern books by Eleanor Cameron (just add a little magic). About a very young, very reckless/hotheaded girl who gets into scrapes, though her continued lying got to me a little, especially since half the time I really understood it, and half the time I… didn’t. I also loved Nia’s art school project part of the plot — quite lovely (though with some misfortunes along the way. *wince*). It was also quite interesting to see the hero of the first book, Gwyn, from another perspective! And then there was Gwyn’s cousin, Emlyn. There could have been more to his story, but I enjoyed his part of it all the same. He was a great addition (I’m sorry, I can never resist the golden eyed/slightly troubled boys).

chestnutsoldier

The Chestnut Soldier (#3)

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I don’t really do half-stars but… this one might be 3.5? I think I overall liked it better than the first two, but I’m not sure if it quite reaches 4 star distinction? I don’t know. The plot was much more interesting to me though, the whole mystery/legend surrounding Evan, the strange distant “cousin” (he’s not actually) of Nia who comes to stay at their village. The fascinating question of who he was, when, and all, kept me quite interested. I did wish that Emlyn had been in it more — he barely showed up, it seemed to me. This one was rather scarier than the first two, perhaps, but it also had more of the Welsh things instead of just the silvery people from the first two. All in all, my favorite of the trilogy. By this time I’d become rather attached, methinks. Anyways, it had its problems, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit and was pretty satisfied, I think, with how it all turned out. ๐Ÿ™‚

summary

From Goodreads:

The Snow Spider (#1)

1snspOn Gwyn’s 9th birthday, his grandmother tells him he may be a magician, like his Welsh ancestors. She gives him five gifts to help him–a brooch, a piece of dried seaweed, a tin whistle, a scarf, and a broken toy horse. One blustery day, unsure what to do with his newfound magic, Gwyn throws the brooch to the wind and receives a silvery snow spider in return. Will he be able to use this special spider to bring his missing sister, Bethan, home? THE SNOW SPIDER spins an icy, sparkly web of mystical intrigue that sets the stage for the next two books in this outstanding trilogy.

Emlyn’sย  Moon (#2)

2emmnYoung magician Gywn and his friend Nia have been warned to stay away from Emlyn Llewelyn, the strange boy who claims his mother lives on the moon. And yet, a mysterious magic continues to draw them to him. But why? It’s up to Gwyn and Nia to solve the mystery, with the help of Arianwen, the Snow Spider. Readers will race along with Gwyn in this fantastic magical adventure to rescue Emlyn and his family before it’s too late.

The Chestnut Soldier (#3)

3chsdrGwyn can feel danger coming in the wind. Somehow he knows the warnings have to do with the broken toy horse that holds the evil spirit of a prince who lived long ago. When Gwyn discovers that the prince’s dark soul has escaped from the horse and is seeking revenge Gwyn, Emlyn, and Nia have to figure out how to save the mysterious soldier who claims to be Nia’s distant cousin. With the help of the Snow Spider, can they recapture the prince’s soul without hurting the Chestnut soldier?

factoids

Genre/Category: Contemporary Fantasy

Age Group: Middle Grade

Published: 1986, 1987, 1989

Pages: 128 hardback, 154 hardback, 203 paperback (485 total)

Series: The Magician Trilogy (also called the Snow Spider Trilogy). List on Goodreads.

When Read: February 6, February 20, February 22, respectively (2016)

Favorite Character: Humm… Well, I liked Emlyn in the middle book, and in the final, I’d say Evan (sometimes… whenever he was… ahem… himself).

Other Notes: Book 1 I got from the library; book 2 was given to me; I found book 3 at a library sale.

Read for the Fantasy Love February Reading Challenge hosted by Grace @ Fictionally. (This is my first review for the mini-challenge… I will hopefully have a few more coming this week! Don’t worry, there will be some medieval fantasy adventures too. ;))


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

 

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

thethieflordย  3starratingTitle: The Thief Lord

Author: Cornelia Funke

review

This book is basically: “Peter Pan meets Six of Crows (a younger version) meets The Boxcar Children” in modern-day Venice with a slight twist of fantasy near the end, in this gripping adventure tale of two brothers and their unexpected friends… especially a mysterious boy named Scipio. Who is awesome. I adored how Prosper looked after Bo — it made me happy. (Also, pet tortoises! Poor Victor. XD)

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Most of the book was 4 stars…

Solid 4 stars throughout, might have made it to 5 stars if it had ended how I wanted…

As it is, it’s being kept from a disappointed-2-stars currently by remembering that I liked it most of the time and by pretending there’s a missing chapter afterward. ๐Ÿ˜›

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The ending was more like 2 stars…

(If you would like to read a brief description of the alternate ending chapter which doesn’t exist, I include it in spoiler tags in my review on Goodreads. That’s what happens in the chapter that doesn’t exist, after the end, which I maintain should/could happen. *coughcough* …It all COULD still happen! I insist. Ahem. *folds arms stubbornly*)

Basically other than a couple discontentments about the ending, it was a great read. I just… am evidently enormously picky about my endings. >.> *cough* Obviously a flaw of mine… Somewhat disappointed, but I can pretend a missing chapter continuing the ending, so. XD

summary

I started to put the back cover copy here… and realized that it basically entirely misrepresents the book. XD So I’m making up a version of my own…

Orphan Prosper and his little brother Bo connect with a group of street children and try to evade the well-meaning but unfortunate detective Victor, who has been hired by Prosper’s nasty aunt and uncle to find them. It’s a game of cat and mouse — and no one knows how to play that so well as the Thief Lord, a mysterious boy who has taken the brothers and their friends under his wing. But troubles await them, with secrets lurking which could tear the tight-knit group apart. All Prosper wanted was to protect Bo… He didn’t intend to get entangled in these mysterious goings on. Nothing is as it seems, and they are about to discover that a little magic may still lurk in modern-day Venice…

factoids

Illustrator: Illustrated by the author.

Genre/Category: Contemporary / Fantasy

Age Group: Young Adult (some scary situations involving children, and mild language)

Published: 2002

Pages: 345 paperback

Series?: No.

When Read: January 16-17, 2016

Favorite Character: Scipio, of course! He was so awesome…

Other Notes: Translated into English by Oliver Latsch. Given to me by a friend.

findbook

{Goodreads} โ€ข {Amazon} โ€ข {Barnes & Noble} โ€ข {Libraries}


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages…

~ The Page Dreamer