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5 Thoughts on Armor of Aletheia by Ralene Burke

Title: Armor of Aletheia

Author: Ralene Burke

  • Date read: October 31, 2018
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Christian Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 268 (ebook)
  • Series: Sacred Armor Trilogy, #1
  • Fave character: Tristan (eventually. ;))
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review, and all opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Such an enjoyable book! It seems like it’s been awhile since I’ve read a really classic-feeling Epic Fantasy quest novel, so this one hit the spot nicely! I love how it felt classic, but also had some new twists that I didn’t see coming. I particularly loved the world in this one! There are elves and dragons and shapeshifters and a griffin and a talking (ish) horse, and scary wolf-like things called lupens. I also loved the wintry feel and the different places, both gorgeous and scary, that the characters visited.

Karina, our heroine, could be a little frustrating at times, but on the whole she was great—and I loved Dom the horse! 😉 I also loved a certain shapeshifter elf (so feisty and cool!), and a guard captain who was awesome. But my favorite—eventually—was Tristan! At first I wasn’t sure about this bounty hunter, but as I suspected, he quickly became pretty awesome. 😉 I won’t give anything away but I’m all here for the character-arcs is all I’m saying. The banter between Tristan and Karina is MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE. 😀 I love them so much. ^_^ Tristan particularly is rather quotable, and I always love that. (Also, how cool are their names!)

Sometimes it seemed a little rushed or confusing (to me), some of the wording felt a little odd (maybe just me?), and it could maybe have used an extra edit (though I did read an Advance Reader Copy, so I don’t know if it was the final version). But those things didn’t detract from the story too much. 🙂 It took me a little while to get really into it, but by about a quarter through I was loving it. 😀

It was neat reading about this world of three kingdoms (including Aletheia) and following Karina’s quest! Like I said, there were some twists, and even though it had a classic fantasy quest feel, it still felt fresh—and suspenseful! Also, the parts where the Creator guided them and where Karina met basically an angel were cool, and the element from the title—the armor of the Creator, including the belt of Truth and the shield of Faith—is a really neat concept to explore in a fantasy world, and I’m looking forward to where it goes.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read and I’m so glad I picked it up! Perfect for fans of Christian fantasy. I’m already looking forward very much to the sequel and seeing where Karina and Tristan and their companions end up next! 🙂

~ ~ ~

What do you think? And what’s the latest great fantasy you’ve read?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

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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!

5 Thoughts on Mind Writer by Mike Lynch & Lisa Godfrees

Title: Mind Writer
Authors: Mike Lynch & Lisa Godfrees

  • Date read: January 24, 2018
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Futuristic Thriller / Sci-fi / Dystopia / Christian Fiction
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2016
  • Pages: 360
  • Fave character: Clixon
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I was given a copy of this book when I met the author at a writing workshop. (Thanks, Lisa!) I voluntarily reviewed this; my opinions are my own.
  • Links: Goodreads • AmazonLisa’s Website • Mike’s Website

5 Thoughts on Mind Writer

1. I don’t usually read sci-fi, thrillers, futuristic novels, or dystopia—and this is all of those in one! So I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. 🙂 I do make exceptions in my usual reading genres to try different things sometimes, though, and when I was given a copy of this book and thought the premise sounded intriguing, I decided to dive in. I’m glad I did!

2. Mind Writer is a thrilling, engaging read, very well written and exciting. There are many twists and surprises, and each time the characters have a plan and it’s thwarted, they have to dash right into a new one… Governmental plots, a hired assassin, a heroine on the run with a special ability, crime bosses, and an underground Christian movement. The plot was fascinating to follow, with all its twists and turns, and all the little sub-plots and motives of the different characters! It felt like a movie. 🙂

3. The concept of people who have the ability to transfer someone’s mind/memories/soul to another body was interesting (though it seemed more fantasy-like than scientific to me, personally, which was fine). It was unique, and intriguing how that came into play in the story, particularly the memory aspect, and how the “colors” of people’s souls reflected on their level of goodness… I don’t want to spoil anything, though. 😉

4. I liked the heroine, Rinee, as well as anti-hero Clixon who has secrets of his own and something of a character arc, and other characters like Saminy with her accent and sweet family, and another unexpected ally or two… I particularly loved the parts with Rinee and Clixon—they make a great pair, and I loved their talks; they often made me smile or laugh. 🙂

5. Some of it was a bit scary for me (I just… don’t usually prefer dystopia! Just a me-thing. I know I’m in the minority. XD) and it was a bit gruesome occasionally, but otherwise as far as I remember it’s a clean read, and I believe young adults and adults alike would enjoy it. If you’re looking for a YA futuristic thriller with a Christian theme and a dash of sci-fi and dystopia, this is the book for you! ^_^

~ ~ ~

Let me know what you think, and if it sounds intriguing to you!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

Dreamings and Muses (by Daley Downing)

 

Title: Dreamings and Muses
Author: Daley Downing

  • Date read: December 5, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Short Stories / Contemporary / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 76 (ebook)
  • Fave character: Desmond
  • Source: I received a free ecopy of this book from the author (many thanks!) for purposes of writing an honest review; these opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsBarnes & NobleAuthor’s Blog

This is a small collection with unique, interesting, well-written stories. Not the sort of thing I read often, but they were definitely gripping! 🙂 Contains a short story, a novelette, and two pieces of flash fiction—one is sci-fi, two are contemporary with connections to fantasy, and one is… hard to define, but I suppose it’s contemporary fantasy.

The first one, “Just Pretend”, might be my favorite—I quite enjoyed the feel and setting, following a writer named Siobhan (love the name!) as she’s visiting England, semi-researching her book on the history of folklore, and gets dragged into a family party. I really liked Desmond too. He was great! And they were cute. 😉 I can’t really say much else because spoilers, but the connection to fairytales (sort of) was neat, and I really liked the writing too. 🙂 Haven’t quite decided how I feel about how it ended, and I definitely wanted there to be MORE, because I didn’t want it to end, but on the whole it was enjoyable, and I loved the details. It also felt British which was delightful. ^_^ 4 stars.

The second one, “Me and You”, was… interesting. I don’t really know what I think about it? It kept me reading and felt very real and vivid, especially the characters! I just don’t click well with some of the elements—which is just me. Contemporary isn’t my favorite for some reason, and a lot of the issues the heroine deals with just… weren’t my favorite. Entirely me, though! She’s going through an almost-breakup with her husband (which was well-resolved though!) and there’s backstory about a tragic car accident, and a character who might be her imagination… (Or a ghost… or an angel…) The main character’s a writer too, and it was in first-person-present-tense. It was very well written, which I really have to give it points for, and I liked parts of it, just not entirely my thing. 🙂 I’d call this one a novelette, as it was a longer short story. 3.5 stars.

Primitive” was more like flash-fiction, a very brief one-off sort of thing, sci-fi, mostly looking back at a previous backstory. It was interesting, I just don’t really care for sci-fi much. XD Which, again, is entirely me! It felt a little like a single scene, a window looking into a larger story, if that makes sense; it wasn’t quite a complete story, but intriguing. 3 stars.

Tad Fallows and the Quarter Pints” is another favorite, which I found intriguing and fun! I really need to re-read Masters and Beginners to remember what the entire links were, but it was neat, and I loved the humorous sort of style it started out with. 🙂 Again, very vivid, and great writing. And anything with a bookshop is bound to be fun. 😉 It was also more like flash-fiction, quite short, which made it more impressive to me that all the characters had such distinct personalities and everything! Loved the feel. 🙂 4 stars.

Overall, a couple of these weren’t really my thing, although one of those WAS extremely well written, and I enjoyed the whole collection in its way. 🙂 Recommend for those who enjoy mostly-contemporary with a dash of fantasy or sci-fi to their short stories, and just well-written, vivid tales with very real characters and the occasional dash of humor. I really like this author’s style, and so much of it was beautiful and imaginative, even in mostly-contemporary settings, and on the whole I had a good time immersing myself in these short stories for something different! 🙂

Favorite Quote

If we believe faeries are real, it brings a sense of magic to our very boring, difficult, everyday lives. It gives us a glimpse into a world of adventure, heroism, true love, and happy endings. It inspires us to pull a little magic out of ourselves, and bestow it on others.

(from Just Pretend in Dreamings and Muses by Daley Downing)

~ ~ ~

Do you like contemporary fantasy? And do you read short stories much? I don’t, but it can be fun at times! Lemme know in the comments — and isn’t the cover by Alea Harper so cute/pretty? 🙂 *has a thing for blue covers and stars*

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Second Impressions: Short Stories Inspired By Jane Austen (Vintage Jane Austen)

I’m reviewing the short story collection Second Impressions today as part of the Vintage Jane Austen Blog Event. (All the VJA books are on a Kindle countdown deal this week, so get ’em while they’re discounted — or pick up lovely paperbacks! Find the links with my mini reviews here.)

So excited to share this sweet collection with y’all! 🙂

Title: Second Impressions: A Collection of Fiction Inspired by Jane Austen

Editor: Hannah Scheele

Authors: Hannah Scheele (Introduction), E. Kaiser Writes, Gail Bryant, Therese Peyton, Mikayla Holman, Jennifer Baxter, Hannah Jones

  • Date read: October 22, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Short stories / Retellings (Jane Austen) / Contemporary / Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Kingdom Adventure / Sci-Fi
  • Age: Anyone
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 222
  • Series: Vintage Jane Austen (this is a bonus to go with it; it’s not actually in the 1930s like the others)
  • Source: I received a free e-copy of this book for review purposes; these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: AmazonGoodreadsAbout the Authors

The moment I read the opening line of the first story in this collection (from “Chocolate Surprise” by E. Kaiser Writes) — “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman, in possession of any income at all, must be in want of some chocolate.” — I knew I was going to have the best time reading these stories. I was right. ^_^

From the lovely introduction right through each of these nine tales to the end of the collection, I was touched and charmed and smiling (or laughing), and overall delighting in finding these sweet gems, retelling or otherwise revisiting Jane Austen’s tales in many different colorful ways.

We have four set in modern times, two in the original time period (like a direct prequel and sequel), one in the 1950s, one non-magical fantasy, one kingdom adventure, and even a sci-fi story! Three involve Emma, two Pride and Prejudice, two Mansfield Park, and one each of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility. I enjoyed them all!

Below are my mini-thoughts on each entry. Second Impressions (I love the play on titles, harking back to Pride and Prejudice’s early title “First Impressions”!) is a lovely add-on to the Vintage Jane Austen series. One thing is for sure: if you like Jane Austen’s works at all, you’re going to want to give these stories a try! 🙂

Introduction – Hannah Scheele

5 stars

Hannah collected a varied and sweet bunch of stories in the contest for this collection, designed absolutely gorgeous covers for the Vintage Jane Austen series, and wrote a delightful introduction too! This was a lovely introduction, full of heart and honesty and a touch of wit; perfect for the collection. I read it twice, before and after reading the stories. It made me happy. ^_^

Chocolate Surprise – E. Kaiser Writes

5 stars

At the beginning, I wasn’t totally sure which retelling this was, or if I’d like it, but pretty soon everything clicked and I was like “OH!” and the pieces fell together. And I loved the end! I also loved the letter, and Kingston was great. 😀 It’s set in the 1950s, and the color and detail was fabulous and so vivid. I shall allow you to discover the story it retells, yourself, but overall I really enjoyed it! 🙂

Gently Pursued, Finally Persuaded – Gail Bryant

5 stars

Aww, so sweet! 🙂 A Contemporary retelling of Persuasion, set in the 1990s, this was an unconventional love story, with a Christian theme and a thread of humor. It said this was the author’s first short story, but you would never have known it! The writing was well seasoned and full of clever or fun turns of phrases scattered throughout. The story left me with a smile. ^_^ Lovely!

The Secret of Pemberly Estate – Therese Peyton

4 stars

I wasn’t so sure about this one. It’s a direct sort of sequel to Pride and Prejudice, set in 1815. I had just re-read Pride and Prejudice, and some of the characters in this story seemed to act out of character, to me at least, and some of the plot confused me. It was, however, very original/thrilling/theatrical, like a mystery. Not my favorite, but it did have vivid imagery and was an interesting read. 🙂

Emma’s Irritation – Mikayla Holman

5 stars

Eep, I loved this one! It’s a sort of prequel, set a few years before Emma, and features a teenage Emma and her relationship with Mr. Knightley, as well as some scenes fans of Emma will find intriguing and fun. Mr. Knightley felt very Mr. Knightley ish! He was great. And I could imagine Emma herself being something like that as a teen. I loved the bantering dialog and fun! And just… really enjoyed it. 🙂

Mother’s Day – Jennifer Baxter

5 stars

Aww! ^_^ I can’t really explain this one without giving it away, somehow, but it was an extremely unique and touching twist on a Sense and Sensibility story in a modern setting. It’s very short, but every word counts, and just… I don’t know! It was subtle but just lovely. 🙂

The Mansfield – E. Kaiser Writes

5 stars

OH MY GOODNESS. This story! I never would have imagined Jane Austen in space would work as well as this did. The idea of Mansfield Park’s story taking place on a spaceship (instead of in a mansion) was genius and worked astonishingly well. The characters and dialog were great (the worldbuilding too) and the Mansfield Park story translated SO well to this new in-space setting that it was just delightful! 🙂 I don’t even read much sci-fi but this was great. XD

Elaina – Hannah Jones

5 stars

I was trying to categorize this, and I think I came up with Christian Fiction and the newly named Kingdom-Adventure genre. (There wasn’t really adventure? But hey.) This retelling of Emma set in a kingdom of knights. etc., and featuring her as a princess, was so neat! Again, it translated really well, and I thought that was great fun. 🙂 Amazing how well a little kingdom works to replace Emma’s small town!

Peace in the Orchard – E. Kaiser Writes

5 stars

Imagine Pride and Prejudice set in an idyllic, non-magical, fantasy-type kingdom where Mr. Darcy is a dragon-slaying king, and you pretty much have this one in a nutshell. XD There’s a lot of lovely description of this original, fantastic world, and it mainly focuses on the Elizabeth and Jane characters. The orchard scene at the end was my favorite. 🙂

Maid in Houston – Jennifer Baxter

4 stars

This was a Contemporary retelling of Mansfield Park, featuring a Hispanic heroine — who I quite liked — and a modern setting in Houston. It was a little strange to me, but had some lovely parts and overall it was a very good retelling of Mansfield Park, and so fluidly written and original! It’s about every-day people, and I loved that. The part at the end about love was beautiful. ^_^

~ ~ ~

The Vintage Jane Austen Blog Event

Check out the rest of the blog tour, and the giveaway!

November 5

November 6

November 7

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11

Giveaway

As part of this special blogging event (November 5-11), we are giving away a $25 Amazon gift Card.

Enter to win HERE.

So what do you think? Does Second Impressions sound intriguing? Which story are you most curious about?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Burning Rose Review + 3 Steps To Rewriting Fairytales Guest Post

Hi everyone! I’m excited to be a part of the release of Hope Ann’s paperback collection, Burning Rose!

In this post, I’ve got a review for the book, below, and an awesome guest post from Hope Ann about writing fairytales! 🙂 Thanks for coming over to my blog today, Hope! ^_^

Enjoy!


Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated author. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, playing with inspirational photos, blogging, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She is the author of Legends of Light is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about her at authorhopeann.com


Guest Post from Author Hope Ann

Burning Rose and My Three Steps to Rewriting Fairy Tales

There are three steps I follow when I settle down to rewrite a fairy tale.

Research the basics

I go back and read the original fairy tale before I do anything else. The popular version of some stories, like Beauty and the Beast, are much different from the fairy tales themselves. This isn’t to say you can’t use aspects of popular retellings, such as having a Gaston character in a Beauty and the Beast story, but brush up on the original story first and write out the basics you want to keep. For Beauty and the Beast, this would include a beast who is overly protective of a rose, a girl who gives herself for her father and lives at the beast’s place for a number of months, and ends with a week where she leaves and comes back late. Many fairy tales are very basic with a simple plot that can be treated almost like an outline

Ask why

Why does the beast care about the rose so much? Why does the father let his daughter give herself up, or does he allow it at all? Why is Beauty late in returning home? Many fairy tales abound with many questions that are never explained. Answering these can create fascinating backstories and subplots.

Twist familiar aspects of the story

Maybe the beast doesn’t want Beauty in his castle anymore than she wants to be there. Maybe the witch in Rapunzel is actually saving the child from her parents. Maybe a brother eats the apple in Snow White to protect his sister and ends up asleep. Have fun. Switch good or bad characters. Switch the roles of a character or combine them. Most readers know how a given fairy tale ends. Twist the story enough so they don’t know if the characters will get their happy ending, or twist it again to completely turn the fairy tale on its head. The important thing to remember is to treat the original fairy tale like an outline and move out from there.

I’ve enjoyed changing fairy tales, even ones I don’t care for, into exciting stories. And now, for the first time, you can read my first three retellings in one paperback book!

A war, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.

Elissa, a villager from the northern mountains, attempts to save her brother and ends up trapped in a hidden valley with a strange host and a treacherous enemy.

Evrard, the Wingmaster of the Prince’s army, races against his own weakening powers to discover the location of his twin and save her from deadly mistbenders.

Haydn, a pardoned rebel from Tauscher’s army, confronts shadows of myth and former comrades in his struggle to keep his sister safe and find the stolen Stormestone.

BONUS

Before the war, before the legends, before the Separation, there was a man who started it all. There was a curse, a promise, and a sacrifice. There was the Oathkeeper.

Fairy tales retold as you have never heard them before.

ROSE OF THE OATH: Beauty and the Beast
SONG OF THE SWORD: Rapunzel
SHADOWS OF THE HERSWEALD: Hansel and Gretel
and
ROSE OF THE NIGHT: a Rose of the Oath prequel

Order Burning Rose now!


Title: Burning Rose
Author: Hope Ann

  • Date read: September 30, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling (Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 452 pages (paperback; though I read an ebook version)
  • Series: Legends of Light, 1-3
  • Fave character: Haydn, Evrard, Adrian
  • Source: The author (thank you!)
  • Notes: This is a collection of 3 novellas and a novelette prequel.
  • Links: Add on GoodreadsPurchase

I very much enjoyed this collection! 🙂 Here are some individual thoughts about each story, and then some thoughts at the end about all of them in general.

Rose of the Night

3 stars

This is a prequel novelette set before the three novellas. It’s not a fairytale retelling, but is an allegory of the Fall of Man and has a few other Christian elements. It was actually super depressing and dark—as might be expected from that kind of thing. XD But wow. O_O So I didn’t care for it as much, BUT I liked it better once I had read the next story and could just view it as the backstory of the Beast character from the Beauty and the Beast story. XD Overall, a little depressing for me (others might enjoy it more!) but definitely gripping, interesting, vivid, and very atmospheric! 🙂

Rose of the Oath

4 stars

A Beauty and the Beast retelling! I enjoy those, and this was original and intriguing! It has some unique things like the heroine’s brother, instead of dad, picking the rose, and the rose itself is VERY connected to things… 😉 It was so fascinating seeing the “Beauty” character (Elissa) communicate with the “Beast” character (Oathkeeper Adrian) because he couldn’t really speak because of a curse. I didn’t love Elissa but she was all right, and Adrian was pretty awesome, so. 😀 I liked Eldric (her brother) too! I’m trying to think what else I can say without spoiling things! It’s classic and new all at once. I kind of want to live in that castle. The writing was vivid, and there’s a lot of scary wolves and gorgeous roses. What’s not to like? 🙂 It’s not quite a top-favorite for some reason, but overall it was intriguing and exciting, and I really enjoyed it! A good B&B retelling, and a good story in its own right, too. 🙂 *hugs story*

Song of the Sword

4 stars

This one was so unique and fascinating! The two different planes of existence, the “Tangible” and the “Melody” or spiritual realm. It was so cool reading about Evrard, who has the ability to slip back and forth between the two. (Think, like… Inception, or Jill Williamson’s the Veil, but different.) I really liked Evrard. Andrinion the falcon was kind of a know-it-all, but fun too. XD Roinette is the heroine, who is the Rapunzel character, and I liked her too. (Though, in a fun twist, she has a “pet”/friend, a white cat with wings, who is named Punzel. :P) It’s kind of a VERY loose Rapunzel retelling… there’s a tower and Roinette has long hair, but that’s mostly it… But it was still fun. 🙂 There were a few times when the stuff about which “Realm” the characters were in got confusing or didn’t quite line up, but I still liked the idea a lot! I was a little sad that there wasn’t any romance, because I kind of suspected there would be (because… um… Rapunzel?), but I might be a minority. XD There were a couple of twists—both of which I partially guessed—and I really liked one and the other really disappointed me because sometimes you WANT to like a character but then they’re evil and yeah. >.> Ahem. But the other character twist was awesome. XD Anyway, I’m a little mixed about a couple of things, but on the whole it was just so original and neat. Exciting and fun! 🙂

Shadows of the Hersweald

4 stars

The first half of this one drove me rather batty with only hinting at things with NO explanation, even though the hero would have known; a classic example of hiding information from the reader, which is a personal annoyance of mine. Ahem. Could just be me, though. XD (And I fully admit I had a headache when I read this one, so it’s possible my brain functions didn’t pick up on things I should have, but still.) That frustrated me, especially when a few things just didn’t make sense. BUT by the end, once everything came together and I finally figured out what was going on, it turned out to be one of my favorites in the collection! 🙂 So that was impressive. ^_^ I keep thinking about it and I almost want to go back and re-read it now that I know what was going on. XD It’s a loose but original retelling of Hansel and Gretel—I liked how a few elements from the original made it into this one in unexpected ways. 🙂 I really, really liked Haydn. The story was vivid when it wasn’t being vague, and the setting was neat, and the other characters were cool too. Sometimes I wasn’t sure who I should like because I kept being afraid all of them would turn out evil. XD So that kept me on my toes. 😛 Overall, although the first part annoyed me, I ended up loving it muchly! 🙂

Overall Thoughts About the Burning Rose Collection

The three novellas had strong sibling themes going on, which was nice. You don’t always see a lot of that. ^_^

There is one particular plot-twist that ALL four stories had, which started to get tedious… I won’t say what it was, because spoilers, but things do kind of stop being plot twists and start being repeating plots eventually… But I might not have noticed if I’d read them all separately? And I kept predicting them… whoops. (#curseofbeingawriter)

However, one good thing about having them all in one collection: I did love how, even though the stories all follow totally different characters (except Adrian in the prequel and Rose of the Oath), there was still an overarching thread to follow through. It was kind of like it might be if episodes of a TV show followed different storylines but had an overall plot in the background?

I sometimes felt like since I was expected to already know the allegorical elements from Christianity, they weren’t explained IN the stories very well? Which was a little odd. And it also often happened off-screen. But what there was I did like. 🙂 (Other than the prequel being depressing. XD)

The writing was distinctive, and, while sometimes (due to the short nature of the stories) I was a little confused about what was going on, mostly these novellas were vivid, gripping, thrilling, and unique, while spinning threads of familiar stories into a tapestry of new, colorful tales. On the whole, I quite enjoyed them, and recommend them to anyone who likes a good fairytale! ^_^

(I also noticed that the next one that’s supposed to come out in this Legends of Light series is a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling! Excuse me while I search for a time-machine so I can go read it. 😀 *bouncing in excitement*)

(I received a free e-ARC of this collection from the author—many thanks! These opinions are entirely my own.)


Have you read any of Hope Ann’s novellas? (You can find Rose of the Oath for free, by the way!) And have you ever read any retellings of Hansel and Gretel? Or do you have some favorite retellings of B&B or Rapunzel? Let’s talk about aaall things retellings! Let me know in the comments! ^_^

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Mythic Orbits 2016 (Anthology Review)

Title: Mythic Orbits 2016: Best Speculative Fiction By Christian Authors
Editor: Travis Perry

Date read: June 4, 2017
Rating: 2.5 stars overall — individual ratings later
Genre: Short Stories / Christian / Fantasy / Sci-fi / Paranormal / Horror / Time Travel
Age: YA or up, but kind of dark
Year pub: 2016
Pages: 342 (paperback)
Source: Was given a copy by Lisa Godfrees at a writing event (thanks, Lisa! :))
Notes: Short story anthology
Links: AmazonGoodreads

I don’t think this is a collection I would have picked up on my own, but I met a wonderful author, Lisa Godfrees, who has a story in this collection, at a writer workshop event, and she was kind enough to give me a copy. It looked like something very different from my previous experience, so I curiously dived in. (I WAS warned that they were dark stories, but I pressed on all the same. :P)

This anthology contains 14 short stories by various authors, as well as an excellent Editor’s Introduction by Travis Perry. The stories were nearly all well-written, gripping, and fascinating—I breezed quickly through them and couldn’t stop. They were also mostly dark, disturbing, or creepy as well—or at least in genres I don’t usually read—which is not my usual cup of tea. XD

I don’t read many short stories, and I also don’t usually read Sci-fi, Paranormal, or Horror, which is where some of the stories in this collection fall, so I don’t think I’m exactly the proper audience to review this? Though some are also Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Time Travel, or have Christian or allegorical elements. The point of the collection was to have varying stories that fall broadly under the Speculative Fiction label, written by various skilled Christian authors, published in 2016. You won’t happen to find language or inappropriate situations in here, but most of the stories happened to be pretty dark and creepy, as it turned out. 😛

It was definitely an interesting read, and I liked some of the stories, but most of them were not, overall, for me. I’m rounding the total collection rating to 2.5 stars… some were more or less. Below is a rundown of the contents of this anthology, with my brief thoughts on each.

Please keep in mind, these are only my PERSONAL thoughts/ratings/opinions, and others might like them more. 🙂

***

FAVORITE OF COLLECTION (5 stars; 1 story)

5starrating

Cameo – by Linda Burklin

  • Time Travel
  • 39 pages
  • 5 stars

A young woman in our time finds a cameo necklace, and when she dreams, she seems to—impossibly—go back in time and visit the girl the necklace belonged to, who needs help… This one was super fascinating and I was SO WORRIED about what would happen, but it turned out to be my absolute favorite in the collection. 🙂 The time-travel was really well done and I really liked the characters and the mystery and just… yes. I really, really enjoyed it. 🙂 Some of it was still very creepy, but not as much as it looked like at first. Anyways, I liked. ^_^

***

MOSTLY LIKED (4 stars; 3 stories)

Dental Troll – by Lisa Godfrees

  • Contemporary Fantasy (/Horror?)
  • 5 pages
  • 4 stars

So, I LOVED this one for most of it. 😀 It’s well-written, humorous, and fascinating. What if tooth-fairies are made up but there are actually creatures like them, just… different—namely Dental Trolls? A little girl meets one. I thought I was going to love it, but the ending took a turn for the creepy/dark/horrifying and just… no. o.o So I’m taking a star off for that. I mostly loved it, especially the writing and humor and idea, but I didn’t care for this ending, personally. XD


HMS Mangled Treasure – by L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright

  • Contemporary Fantasy
  • 51 pages
  • 4 stars

Okay, so this one was definitely unique. 😀 A pirate ship with scary fairy-ish beings is stealing cars in a modern-day city, and a no-nonsense mother decides to get her car back (because it has her son’s doll in it), researching how to deal with fairies, and meeting a strange guy in a trench-coat who I quite liked. It gets points for all the fairy-lore references, in a modern-day setting, with creepy fairy-pirates etc. Some of it was weird, especially the ending, so I’m not totally sure how I feel about it, but it was definitely mostly fun to read about—extra points because of The Tempest reference. XD


A Model of Decorum – by Cindy Emmet Smith

  • Paranormal
  • 20 pages
  • 4 stars

So… this one was kind of… werewolf-ish. *twitch* Which I don’t usually care for. But it was also kind of a Little-Red-Riding-Hood retelling, and was well-written and interesting and I couldn’t help liking most of it, for some reason. XD But it’s still werewolves, which is kind of creepy for me… but I liked it more than some. 🙂 And it just takes a lot for me to like something I normally wouldn’t, so I’m impressed. XD

***

GOOD BUT NOT FOR ME (3 stars; 5 stories)

Ghost Roommate – by Matthew Sketchley

  • Paranormal/Horror?
  • 20 pages
  • 3 stars

Even though I don’t really care for stories featuring ghosts, I was super surprised by really enjoying a lot of this. XD It was FUNNY, and I dearly like funny things. It started getting a little weird and then ended at a quite dark/creepy (but also vague?) point, so… it’s probably 3.5, rounding to 3, because I quite liked some of it, but the ending was… um… yeah, no. >.>


The Bones Don’t Lie – by Mark Venturini

  • Fantasy
  • 27 pages
  • 3 stars

WELL. That was fascinating and rather eerie and also confusing. It’s in a fantasy-world and it kept me interested but I was also confused about the different groups and couldn’t figure out what happened at the end and if it was happy or not. So. That makes me a little twitchy. I don’t know what I thought! o.o


Domo – by Joshua M. Young

  • Sci-fi
  • 17 pages
  • 3 stars

I don’t do well with sci-fi? Sorry, but it’s true. XD This was about an intelligent robot, featured some chess-games with an old priest, a dog, and some questions of robots and God. It was interesting for sure, but again, just… I’m not totally into sci-fi. 😛


The Water Man – by Sherry Rossman

  • Christian Paranormal?
  • 17 pages
  • 3 stars

This was almost written in a sort of code, which I didn’t totally get till the end. It was interesting, set in an old-folks home, from the point of view of an old man; it’s kind of dark, with a murder mystery sort of thing, and I’m torn on what to think of the ending. Dunno. I think I liked some of it and it was well-written and interesting, just it was super creepy and not… totally… for me.


Graxin – by Kerry Nietz

  • Sci-fi
  • 28 pages
  • 3 stars

This one was actually super-well written and fascinating—set on some planet’s moon, about a robot searching for a kind of ore, and finding… something mysterious instead. It was intriguing and I felt like it was trying to say some interesting stuff, but I just don’t connect well with sci-fi and the ending was… kinda strange. I think I was rooting for him, but… still… ACK, I don’t know. I can’t decide what I thought about this one.

***

NOT QUITE (2 stars; 2 stories)

The Disembodied Hand – by Jill Domschot

  • (Uncertain of genre; Christian Paranormal?)
  • 6 pages
  • 2 stars

This one had some interesting bits (maybe an angel?) and was intriguing but kind of confusingly written. I don’t know. It was fine but not my thing.


Nether Ore – by Kirk Outerbridge

  • Sci-fi
  • 77 pages
  • 2 stars

Okay, so I’m torn. This was the longest story in the collection, and it had me positively hooked. It was super fascinating, original, and unique. It’s kind of like a post-apocalyptic sci-fi place with squids and mines and scientists with creepy-creepy secrets, and elements of a mystery and of residual Christian stuff. It was well-written and I couldn’t stop reading but it was just super-super creepy and just… Nope. Not my thing at all. So I’m torn because in a sense it was really good, and it even had a fairly-good ending, but for me personally, it was too horrifying. O.o Meep. Others might enjoy it, though.

***

ABSOLUTELY NOPE (1 star; 3 stories)

Baby, Don’t Cry – by R V Saunders

  • Sci-fi?
  • 8 pages
  • 1 star

This is more a “what?” than an “absolutely nope,” but still. I had no idea what the point of this story was, and I think it turned out to be sci-fi but… I’m not even sure. It was weird and confusing and I didn’t understand it until the end (so I’m not going to say because it might be a spoiler but I don’t know) and then I wondered what the point was? Perhaps I’m missing something. Just kind of disturbing and not that interesting for me.


Escapee – by Richard New

  • Sci-fi/Paranormal
  • 9 pages
  • 1 star

On a space-ship (or two), following a criminal who is more than he seems at first, with a couple of alien creatures. Mixing sci-fi and paranormal, this just… was not my thing. It was okay but kind of creepy. I was intrigued but I don’t care about sci-fi and I’m not a super fan of following the point-of-view of such a creepy person? Other people might like it, but… not me.


Clay’s Fire – by Kat Heckenbach

  • Horror/Paranormal
  • 8 pages
  • 1 star

Absolutely least-favorite in the collection, this was positively horrifying and I wish I hadn’t read it. I simply don’t do horror like this. Just. No. WHY. Far too creepy for me.

***

Overall, an interesting experience! I think it’s just me personally who didn’t like some of these, or “get” them. If they intrigue you at all, and if you don’t mind a bit of darkness/weirdness, you might find a story or several to enjoy in this collection. And I did enjoy a few. 🙂

(I was given a free copy of this book by one of the authors, and was not required to write a review. These are, naturally, my own opinions.)

~ ~ ~

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer