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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

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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

Persuasion Retelling: Perception by Emily Ann Benedict

Title: Perception
Author: Emily Ann Benedict

  • Date read: August 3, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction (1930s) / Christian Fiction / Retelling (Jane Austen’s Persuasion)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 198 (ebook)
  • Series: Book 4 in the multi-author Vintage Jane Austen series (but stands alone!)
  • Fave character: Freddy
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free advance reader copy of this book from the author (thank you!); these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s WebsiteSeries Website

Another excellent addition to the Vintage Jane Austen series! I’ve quite enjoyed reading each of these standalone retellings by different authors—all so different, yet similar too, and delightful one and all thus far! 🙂

This one is a sweet retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, except it’s set in 1930s America during the Great Depression.

Perception is a lovely tale, in its own right, and also as a retelling. I so enjoyed all the parallels to Persuasion—which is one of my favorite of Austen’s novels—and also the twists and how it fit into a new era. It was fascinating how well this story translated to the ’30s, featuring Captain Wentworth’s character (Freddy, in this one) as a post-WWI soldier, and Anne Elliot (Abbey, in this) as part of a once-rich family which has to rent out their home due to financial troubles of the Great Depression. It all fit SO. WELL. I loved that. 🙂

I loved the characters! Abbey was a relatable heroine (quite liked her!) and Freddy was fabulous and unexpectedly fun sometimes. XD I quite liked some of the other characters too, like Freddy’s sister and her husband, and Sam. Many fun characters! I was impressed with how well-drawn the characters were, how some of them who in the original version I disliked, Miss Benedict’s writing managed to turn into characters that I either liked, or at least understood more and saw their side of things. Excellent character building!

The settings—both geographical and time-related—were quite well done too! It was interesting visiting Boston and Cape Cod and other places filling in for the old locations in Persuasion, and the 1930s feel felt very real—and I liked the old cars and such as a great touch. 🙂

Mostly, the plot and characters line up very well with the story it is retelling, but there were also a few surprising additions and twists which were super interesting! Like Abbey’s unexpected business venture, and other developments and surprises which were neat, and which I will not spoil. 😉

I also loved the Jane Watson cameo (so fun finding them in each of the books!!), and the few dashes of excitement and a snatch or two of unexpected peril, as well as the humorous bits of dialog from time to time. It was also kind of beautiful at times. ^_^

This author’s writing is lovely! It has a sort of quality to it that I can’t quite pinpoint, but was perfect for this story. I’m looking forward to trying more of her work. 🙂

Overall, this is a quite fun retelling of Persuasion, and a lovely clean romance of almost-lost-love, with a few surprises and even a dash of murder-mystery lurking in the background, all set in a well-drawn ’30s atmosphere, and skillfully penned. I quite enjoyed myself reading this, and definitely recommend! ^_^

Favorite Quotes

“So am I engaged to both of them now?” Freddy asked, smiling.

“I don’t think that’s legal, Freddy,” Bonnie replied drolly.

***

Abbey relaxed, grateful not only that someone had thought to throw a party for her, but that she had been able to escape attending.

***

Abbey could have laughed at Freddy’s appearance. He was clearly not yet sufficiently awake for this sort of conversation.

***

“You’re my guardian angel, Abbey,” she said as she climbed into the car.

“No, not really, Sam. I’m just a messenger.”

“But that’s what angels are. That’s how God says, ‘I’m here, and it’s going to be all right.”

***

“Tired physically, or tired of someone?”

Abbey couldn’t help smiling. “Tired of many someones, to be honest.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“I want to eat pasta.”

***

“I can’t settle for merely liking a man when I’ve known what it’s like to love one.”

~ ~ ~

Read my reviews for others in the series so far:

Have you read any retellings of Persuasion, or other Jane Austen books?

(Note to any potential reviewers: For a limited time, Emily Ann Benedict is currently looking for a few people to review this book on Goodreads and Amazon in exchange for a free download of it, so if you’re interested, do let me or her know! Thanks! You can also find the book at the links above.)

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Coiled by H. L. Burke

Title: Coiled
Author: H. L. Burke

I love H.L. Burke’s books, so I was absolutely delighted when I won this in a giveaway! (I loathe snakes, but her funny snek memes make me laugh, and I ended up really enjoying this book despite the scary snakes. XD)

I was only vaguely familiar with the Eros and Psyche myth this retells, but it did feel familiar enough (and kind of Beauty-and-the-Beast-ish too), that I quite enjoyed the retelling aspect! 🙂

The mirror curses were fascinating and that whole fairytale-ish element was well done!

It had a rather “Greek myth” feel to it, even though it’s clearly supposed to be a bit different, which was interesting because I haven’t read much like that. It felt fresh and different for a fantasy novel. The mix of “gods” with a Christian theme was surprisingly well done!

I loved the sweet true-love romance and these lovable characters and their great dialog. 😀 Quite fun! ^_^

Laidra was such a good soul, and Calen was super nice and awesome. 🙂 Also, Zephia was really cool. :O I loved the parts with her and Laidra as well, even if I missed Calen for those bits.

The villainous characters were chilling and creepy, but also oddly human, so that you get the feeling they’re just hardened from their lives and more “real” and sometimes almost feel bad for a couple of them—almost. 😛 Not quite. XD

Some of it was grittier than I would have liked and I could have done without a few of the references, but mostly it was just very well written and gripping. 🙂

Overall, it’s not my favorite but I still really liked it! It’s a great fairytale romance tale, fresh, engaging—sometimes fun or heartbreaking or sweet by turns. I quite enjoyed it! ^_^ Looking forward to more great novels by this author! 🙂

(Note: I won a copy of this book in a giveaway and was not required to write a review; these opinions are my own.)

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

5 Thoughts on Quest for a Beast (Short Story) by Sarah Holman

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been catching up on Sarah Holman’s novels and short stories, in a challenge to read and review 10 of them in 10 weeks, and this is the last one! I’ve so enjoyed finally reading some of these tales I’ve been meaning to read for so long, from this prolific author. 🙂

Here’s a quick review for a short story today.

Title: Quest for a Beast: A Beauty and the Beast Story
Author: Sarah Holman

  • Date read: May 28, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Christian / Contemporary / Short Story / Fairytale Retelling (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2015
  • Pages: 41 (Kindle)
  • Fave character: Nelson
  • Source: Amazon
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazon • Author Website

5 Thoughts on Quest for a Beast

1. A quick and intriguing short story. Some parts I wasn’t sure if I cared for, and/or might have disagreed with, but overall I was impressed with the writing of this story and it kept me very engaged, so I’m giving it a 4-star rating. 🙂 It’s loosely based on the Beauty and the Beast story, which was fun to pick out, as well!

2. Quest for a Beast is a modern tale about a girl and her brother and some other teens who go on a slightly perilous trek through some woods (most of the story) to find a criminal (known as the Beast) and bring him in for the reward. Whether or not they succeed… well, you’ll just have to read it to find out. 😉 I don’t read a lot of straight-up modern fiction, so it was a little different for me, but I was super absorbed as I read, and curious how it would turn out and what would happen. I did guess a couple of things (and kind of hoped for them) which made me super happy! 😀

3. There were a couple different Christian messages in here and I really liked the redemption one, being a common Beauty and the Beast theme. 🙂

4. The characters were all individual, and I liked Adara okay and Nelson definitely grew on me. 🙂 I was a little disappointed that Adara’s brother, Jasper’s, story-arc wasn’t addressed, even when another character’s was. I guess it’s a short story so there wasn’t room, but I still would have liked some sort of improvement from him. 😦 So that was a little sad. There’s still time, but still.

5. Ooh! I loved a certain reference at the beginning! 😀 I think Adara was reading a Cindrella retelling, also by this author (Waltz into the Waves) and that bit of meta-ness made me super happy as well! 😀 Overall, it was an original and interesting short story, which, aside from a couple quibbles, I really enjoyed! ^_^

Favorite Quote

“You stay here while I go turn off the alarm.”

“How will you do that?” Philip asked.

“I have done my research,” Nelson replied nebulously.

~ ~ ~

What’s your favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling? 😀

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Blog Tour, Giveaway, + Review: “Dreams and Devotion” by Sarah Holman

Welcome to the blog tour for the release of Sarah Holman’s latest book in the Tales of Taelis series: Dreams and Devotion!

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been reading through the series up to this point, and enjoying it greatly, so I’m excited to share it with you! 🙂

Here’s a bit about the book, as well as a GIVEAWAY and other tour stops, and then below is my review. 🙂

Dreams and Devotion

Some dreams will be dashed, and their devotion will be tested.

Dara’s life is full of farm work and worries, especially now that her older brother is a priest in a far off city. Yet she still has time to dream of the life she hopes will someday be. She dreams of marrying her dear friend and the worries of her family ending. Now, the selfishness of one person threatens her very way of life.

Dresden’s initial excitement about living a life devoted to the service of God quickly is dashed on the rocks of reality. The life of a priest is nothing like what he imagined. To make matters worse, he finds out his family back in his home village is on the brink of disaster. Torn between his vows and his love for his family, what will he choose?

Dreams and Devotion releases July 15, 2017

Buy the book for the special preorder price, here.


Giveaway

*****ENTER GIVEAWAY VIA RAFFLECOPTER HERE*****


About the Author

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of many published books and short stories. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Find her at www.thedestinyofone.com


Stops on the blog tour:

July 8

Bookish Orchestrations ~ Faith Blum

July 9

His Princess Warrior ~ Katie Hamilton

July 10

In the Book Case ~ Tarissa Graves

Jessica Greyson ~ Jessica Greyson

July 11

Gods Peculiar Treasure Rae ~ Raechel

Read Another Page ~ Rebekah Morris

July 12

Whimsical Writings For His Glory ~ Jesseca Dawn

Shannon McDermott ~ Shannon McDermott

July 13

The Page Dreamer ~ Deborah O’Carroll
(You are here! ^_^ Thanks for dropping by! <3)

July 14

Knitted by God’s Plans ~ Kendra E. Ardnek

With a Joyful Noise ~ Amanda Tero

Once Upon an Ordinary ~ Kate Willis

July 15

Jaye L. Knight ~ Jaye L. Knight


Title: Dreams and Devotion
Author: Sarah Holman

  • Date read: June 17, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Christian / Adventure / Historical Fiction (in fictional country, medieval times)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 137 (Kindle)
  • Series: Tales of Taelis, #4
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC from the author for review purposes (many thanks!); these opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Dreams and Devotions is a well-written medieval tale about a brother and sister, Dara and Dresden (love their names!): a peasant girl’s life at her farm and home village, and her brother’s life as a new priest, separately facing adversity and growing stronger in their faith. It’s an extremely emotional and rather bitter-sweet book, focusing on the little things, but it kept me so absorbed and it was overall quite good.

My favorite part was the moonlit harvest scene—I loved it! ❤ There’s a scene that’s staying in my memory for a long time. ^_^

Even though it was not an “exciting” story, and focused mainly on the day-to-day life of farming in medieval times and other struggles, it was so well-written and had me absolutely hooked. I could NOT stop reading! I was super caught up in it. 🙂 It’s definitely an unusual and unique tale, more somber and thoughtful than fun or adventurous, but keeping the reader’s attention all the same.

There were many heart-touching or heartbreaking moments, both good and sad, which made me tear up a few times. I don’t always like when books do that but it definitely made me feel strongly. 😉 Sometimes there seemed to be no hope for awhile, but it did sometimes bring goodness out of the darkness and show God using some things for good. There were a lot of good messages throughout the story, many of which I liked. 🙂

I’m continuing to love visiting this land of Taelis! 🙂 Delmore Castle and various characters from Courage and Corruption feature in this book, which was super neat! The harvest song even came back! I’m curious to see where the rest of the stories will take us, so I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series! ^_^ In the meantime, this is the fourth and latest Taelis book (though they can all stand alone!), and I’ve enjoyed the whole series so far. 🙂

It was a lot sadder than books that I normally like to read, feeling more like real-life sometimes than a work of fiction, leaving a few threads not wrapped up in a (to me!) satisfactory way (I wanted one character’s story to end up differently, but all we got was a note in the epilogue that unfortunately left it hanging, and I also expected a romance but didn’t find one; both were sad parts), but despite all that I’d still say it’s a good book, even if not my usual cup of tea. It was very well written, and I’m so impressed with the fact that, despite any quibbles or sadness (and these are my own, personal opinions!), it was still a very good book and had me extremely absorbed. Overall, quite good. 🙂

If you like Christian fiction and medieval times, a well-written book with heart, some bittersweetness, and people overcoming daily struggles and growing closer to God, you will love Dreams and Devotion. ^_^

Favorite Quotes

It was a stick he had fashioned into a crude bow. He had made it in their younger days when he and Geoffrey would play The Archer in the forest. She had been allowed to play with them at times, sometimes playing the part of the brave princess Brianna, sometimes playing a maiden in need of rescue.

***

“Dara, the greatest gift that we can ever offer anyone is ourselves. You have been a friend to me and so many others. You have not let the disappointments of this year keep you from being someone who dares to dream, hopes for the best, trusts God, and loves without holding back.”

***

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Read my other reviews for the series:

  

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Have you tried the Tales of Taelis series yet? Thanks so much for dropping by, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! ^_^

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Kate’s Capitol (Kate’s Case Files #2) by Sarah Holman

Title: Kate’s Capitol
Author: Sarah Holman

  • Date read: July 4, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Christian / Contemporary / Mystery / FBI
  • Age: YA? (The characters are technically adults, but I feel like teen readers would love it too, and it’s entirely clean. :))
  • Year pub: 2016
  • Pages: 175 (Kindle)
  • Series: Kate’s Case Files, #2 (I also reviewed book 1, Kate’s Innocence, awhile back.)
  • Fave character: Patrick
  • Source: Amazon
  • Notes: Read for 10/10/10 challenge
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Blog

Another thoroughly enjoyable mystery story from Sarah Holman!

In a way, Kate’s Capitol was quite different than the first one. Kate’s Innocence (book 1) had a lot of action and peril; this one has more of a political/office/spy sort of feel, so there was still tension, just of a slightly less life-threatening sort for most of the book. It was interesting watching the FBI team tracking trails of paperwork etc. This one is somewhat tense but not as high-stakes as the first book, so they feel rather different, although it got exciting and perilous at the end there for a bit—eep!

Overall it was a good modern mystery/thriller. Even the office parts, of which there were many, kept me absorbed, even if you’d think they wouldn’t be as interesting. But it seemed very authentic and well-researched; I felt like I was in the Austin capitol building and other settings. The attention to detail was fabulous! (I know the author worked there for awhile, and it shows; I was totally pulled into the place!)

This novel was a quick read, which I absorbed in an afternoon, and was fast-paced and enjoyable. I felt like I was watching a TV show, actually. 😀 As if each book is like an episode (or maybe a pair of episodes), self-contained with full storylines, but with a few ongoing threads continuing from book to book—what’s in Kate’s past that she doesn’t like to think about? Are Kate and Patrick ever going to realize they’re perfect for each other? Is Thomas going to have a character arc? Etc. I really liked this feeling. 😀

I love this cast of characters, this close-knit team of FBI agents who are friends, and have enjoyed getting to know them. 🙂 Brian, Logan, and Kim seem more side-character-ish, with not as much focus on them, though they are still lovable, while it’s mostly about Kate and Patrick (I really like him!) and maybe a bit about Thomas sometimes—perhaps because he’s the superior who’s kind of in the shadows and not around as much; I’m curious to learn more about him. They all have a very well-drawn individual “feel” to their characters, like people I know, and I’m extremely fond of them. ^_^

I thought I was going to be sad that Kate and Patrick were working separately for a lot of the story, but I actually ended up loving it! It was super fun to go back and forth in their POVs and see them working separate angles of the case, and talking through email or phone calls—it was unique and fun and upped the tension sometimes. 🙂 I love their story and so enjoy reading about them.

At first I was disappointed in some of the ending, until I recognized the point of it ending that way, realizing it illustrated a moral point, so I decided I was okay with it. It had some good Christian themes and thoughts as well. 🙂

For readers who enjoy clean Christian fiction with an FBI twist and a light dash of possible-romance—or even just an enjoyable mystery-type read, well-written and with a fun cast of characters—I highly recommend these books!

I’ve so enjoyed these first two books in the Kate’s Case Files series, and I look forward to more adventures with this team! 🙂

Favorite Quotes

It was much easier to snoop when you weren’t trying to look like you weren’t snooping.

***

“Like there is more to life then solving crimes and catching the bad guy.”

Patrick lifted his head. “Such as?”

“Tsk, tsk, you are a sad man, Patrick Connor.”

***

“One day, we are sitting in the office, getting ready for the work day.”

“I think you were making paper airplanes out of your reports,” Brian interjected.

***

Thomas tried to push in after her, but Patrick held him back. “You flashed your badge at that poor nurse, didn’t you?”

Thomas grinned. “It saves a lot of time and paperwork.”

Patrick shook his head. “I think that you could charm your way into the White House without an ID.”

“Why do you think they made me boss?” Thomas said, entering the room.

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Do you enjoy mysteries? Have you read any agent-y FBI-ish stories? Do you have a favorite agent-y book (or film/show) that you could recommend to me?? 😀

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer