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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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The Beast of Talesend AUDIOBOOK Review

Title: The Beast of Talesend
Author: Kyle Robert Shultz
Narrator: Richard “Spanners” Ready

  • Date finished reading (erm… listening to?): September 1, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Age: Anyone, really
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Hours: 4 hours, 13 minutes
  • Series: Beaumont & Beasley, #1
  • Fave character: Nick and Crispin
  • Source: Audible code from author for review
  • Notes: Audio version. Re-reading. Read my original review HERE.
  • Links: AudibleAmazonGoodreads • Author’s Website

I have flailed elsewhere about how much I love this book, and this time I’m here to talk about the absolutely delightful audiobook version.

I remember thinking, when I heard about the audio version, that The Beast of Talesend would make a positively fantastic audiobook. Add to that a British narrator and the levels of fantastic go through the roof. Fast-forward to my ecstatic reaction when the author offered me a chance to listen to the audiobook and review it. I gladly accepted, started listening to it right away, and . . . Oh, was I ever NOT disappointed!

The light, fun, humorous, fairytale quality of this book, makes it the perfect audiobook, and the Britishness reminded me of my favorite audiobooks from when I was younger. The Beast of Talesend audiobook is perfection. 😀

I don’t listen to audiobooks often these days (though I used to). They’re not always convenient for me, and these days I generally prefer to absorb stories through physically reading printed words with my eyes, you know? Otherwise my mind can wander and I miss important details, which drives me up the wall. (Not through the roof. Through the roof is a good thing in this case; up the wall isn’t.) I have listened to many audiobooks over time, but don’t as much anymore, except in extreme cases of really, really wanting to listen to one for some reason. Like this one.

In this case, the reasons were twofold: 1) I already had read The Beast of Talesend and loved it and wanted to re-read it anyway (never mind that it was only three months since I read it the first time), and 2) I listened to a sample and the narrator has a fabulous British accent.

I’m one of those shallow (erm, that is, blessed with good taste. *cough*) people who absolutely loves accents, and as an American who primarily lives in fictional worlds created by authors from the British Isles, accents which are English, Irish, Scottish, etc., are my favorites. Mr. Richard “Spanners” Ready has a fabulous British accent which was so fun to listen to, and that alone would have made this audiobook splendid.

HOWEVER, he’s also an amazing narrator, and the book was a delight to hear read by this fellow. He does different voices for all the characters, which was SO fun, and some with different accents as well. His narration as Nick Beasley (the main character who tells the story in a somewhat dry and totally funny way) was brilliant, and for some reason I particularly liked his depiction of Cordelia—she was spot-on! Actually, all the characters were. THEY WERE AMAZING! The acting/performance brought the story and characters to vivid life, and I simply LOVED that! It was like watching a movie… just… you know… listening to it instead. In a way, this is better, because you get the audio-drama quality BUT can still imagine everything appearing the way your imagination wants to paint it. And this narrator’s way of bringing the characters to life only adds to that. 🙂 He drew out so much of the character interactions, drama, excitement, and humor in the BEST way. It was fantastic and so fun!

Narrator quality varies in audiobooks, and I would say there are lots who are okay or even good, but not so many who are the best of the best. Out of the many narrators I’ve heard over time, I’d put Richard Ready in my top five with a very select few who are outstanding. He’s delightful to hear, and a narrator of true quality. 🙂

One or two characters sounded a little different than I, personally, had imagined (I think of Crispin with a higher voice and Whitlock with a lower voice; though both were great in the audio), and one area in the beginning was slightly rushed-feeling to listen to. But those are literally my only “complaints” (and very unimportant ones at that), because overall this audiobook was PERFECT and an absolute delight. I LOVED IT!

Some of my family was listening in while I listened to this, and we all had the best time. 😀 It’s also handy that it’s a shorter book—only a little over 4 hours long, so it was just right to listen to without feeling like it was going to take an age. I’ll probably even listen to it again sometime (What? The shock! Unheard of!) because it’s THAT fun.

Overall, my reaction: read this book, people! Better yet, have Richard Ready read it to you, because he’s fantastic. 😀 (And, great—now I want an audiobook of book 2, The Tomb of the Sea Witch…)

(I was given an Audible.com code for a free download of this audiobook from the author. I was not required to write a positive review, and these opinions are entirely my own.)

Story: 5/5
Narrator: 5/5
Performance: 5/5

~ ~ ~

Have you read this yet? BECAUSE YOU NEED TO! (And the audio version is a fun way to try it; just sayin’. ;))

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

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Was using my shiny Sherlock bookmark while reading this; didn’t realize how appropriate it was until further in. XD

Title: The Invisible Library
Author: Genevieve Cogman

  • Date read: July 28, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Steampunk
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 2016
  • Pages: 330 (paperback)
  • Series: Book 1 in the Invisible Library series (Series list on Goodreads)
  • Fave character: Vale and Kai
  • Source: Library (the appropriateness of this fact is not lost on me…)
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazon

This cover makes me happy.

Well. That was… interesting. O_O

I wasn’t planning on reviewing this, buuut I’ve had a few people ask for my opinion, so I’m doing a quicky review for it! 🙂 (Quicky here having the meaning of long, because hello, it’s me we’re talking about. *coughcough*)

THINGS I LOVED

So, it’s basically a mystery, set in an alternate London where it’s steampunk-y and also magical; there are Fae and other creatures; it’s about BOOKS; there’s this enormous Library outside of time and space; the heroine is a librarian questing for a certain book, with an awesome sidekick and an awesome detective; and pretty much WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE? (I mean, a couple things, but we’ll get to that later.)

Imagine a Holmes story with steampunk and magic and Fae and books. That’s pretty much this, and I loved that. 😀 IT WAS SO FUN AND INTRIGUING!

The bookishness was fun, the mystery element was engaging, it was SUPER exciting and action-y a lot of the time, and written in an occasionally witty style, with characters to love once you get to know them, and some great dialog. Overall, it was quite enjoyable. 🙂

And the characters were all well-written and intriguing!

Irene was an interesting heroine, and I liked how bookish she was (I mean, Librarian, yes?) and sometimes just wanted to go curl up and read, but was usually pretty capable even if she didn’t feel like she was. I also loved how she loved mystery stories. XD

Kai! Yes, Kai was pretty cool. XD I really liked him most of the time. 🙂 Can’t say much about him because SPOILERS but yes. 😀 I’m curious to learn more about him and his “family”… And the way he was able to adapt in certain situations was awesome. Anyways, he was great. 😀

Vale! Oh my goodness, Vale. XD So I actually didn’t like him at first? o.o But he quickly grew on me, and basically he’s a detective in this time period so naturally I had to think of him as slightly Holmes-ish (though different of course). But I mean, Holmes in a magical world. XD And I loved his sword cane and capability and he was just awesome. 🙂 (Also curious to find out more about him…)

I also liked the interactions between these three—love these characters! ❤ *hugs ’em*

Silver was… interesting. O.o Slightly creepy Fae characters like that are always intriguing to read about, even when they’re kind of creepy. 😛 I actually was surprised we didn’t see more of him in this one, so I suspect he’ll be in later books more? And when he was up on the table like “bring me my gun!” that was awesome. XD

I really really disliked Bradamant and Alberich. I think I was more or less supposed to, kinda, so we’ll call that a good thing. 😛

(While I’m thinking of characters… Was there a love triangle? I don’t know if there was a love triangle. I think the point of the book was not focused on romance; so much so that it didn’t give any clear ideas on it, just veiled ideas [no pun intended] that were super confusing. Maybe I’m being overly picky and it’s not an issue? I dunno. I just felt like it was maybe being love-triangle-y, though it could just be professional-awesome-friendship on one side and romance on the other. Totally possible. It just didn’t give me enough information so it left me wondering because I’m silly like that. XD Probably for a later book…)

THINGS I DIDN’T LOVE AS MUCH

There were a couple things I didn’t care for and it did take me awhile to get into it, but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed myself. XD

FYI, as far as “content” (which I don’t always include in my reviews but in this case since I was asked to review it, some readers may wish to know) there’s a little swearing, and a few implied references I could have done without, but considering I found it in the “Adult” section of the library it wasn’t too bad (I frequent the YA area, okay; it’s not a crime), and it’s also rather creepy/violent a few times. I don’t usually mind, though there was one part where a cyborg alligator tore off a bystander’s leg and I was like “too much information!” 😛 It just startled me because otherwise it mostly wasn’t too graphic. XD

It’s also totally random and petty, but I HATE characters like Bradamant, which always lowers a book’s quality in my opinion. The back-stabby, “perfect”ly beautiful ladies who are deadly and spiteful, up against the rival heroine who thinks of herself as plain etc. etc. It’s old, and tiresome, and a little too much “mean girls” cat-fight-y for my taste. 😛 It’s a “me-thing” which I’m sure nobody else cares about, but… personally it annoys me a lot. *cough*

And a couple of tiny unimportant things freaked me out, like Irene thinking it was cool that Kai gave her a nickname based on Milady de Winter. MILADY IS CREEPY AND EVIL OKAY. JUST. PLEASE. DO NOT BE FLATTERED BY THAT. -_-

And honestly sometimes the Library creeped me out. >.> I’M SORRY. Sometimes it was cool, but sometimes I didn’t like some things about it…

And just typical mainstream book quibbles. *shrug*

Still, I enjoyed myself and was impressed that turned it around when I wasn’t as caught up to begin with, and still made me love it in the end. 🙂 Though it did have an annoying tendency to leave out a TON of information and make you wonder about things and just not INFORM the reader enough, or was confusing about it—for me, anyway—so a lot of the time I was flailing blindly through, going “stop dancing around things and ‘showing’ things—just TELL me something for once or I will throw you across the room!” Ahem. It wasn’t THAT bad but I just felt like we didn’t get enough info up front and that was kind of frustrating for me? I don’t enjoy feeling unintelligent OR uninformed and this was trying to do both to me. 😛 But it got better once it finally slipped enough info in, so yay! 🙂

But enough of that! I don’t mean to bash it really—I ended up quite enjoying it! 🙂 If it intrigues you, I’d say try it out. 🙂 And I’m curious to see where the next books lead… I’ll probably try out the sequel at some point. Gotta get back to this fascinating world and follow these awesome characters more, dontcha know! ^_^

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Magicians’ Trial (Spellsmith & Carver #2) by H.L. Burke

Title: Magicians’ Trial
Author: H. L. Burke

  • Date read: August 4, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Steampunk
  • Age: New Adult?
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 203 (Kindle)
  • Series: Spellsmith and Carver, #2 (see my review for book one!)
  • Fave character: Jericho and Auric
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author (thank you!) and these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Another fabulous Burke book! Due to the amount that I loved the first Spellsmith and Carver book, and the fact that I was expecting something more like the first one, I didn’t enjoy this one quiiiite as much as I hoped to, but it was still an excellent book! I just wasn’t expecting it to be so different. XD

Book 1 (Magicians’ Rivalry) featured the buddy-story-type beginning friendship of Jericho and Auric, and shenanigans in Faerie, with a dash of cute romance. It’s very fantasy-esque, features SO MUCH snark, and I adored it so much! (I guess I thought the next one would be more of the same. :P)

Book 2 (Magicians’ Trial) was completely unexpected, which now that I’m over that, is likely a good thing, because NEW. Even if the other kind is more my favorite. XD I’d call this one more of a steampunk story with dashes of magic and yes some of that famed snark still. 😉 It’s mostly set in their capitol city, instead of in Faerie, and there’s not as much magical happenings because MAGIC DROUGHT which is kind of our heroes’ fault… XD

I loved Auric and Jericho’s continuing friendship (with bouts of bickering, naturally) even if I miss the early days of it; and two certain characters are MARRIED now (*gasp*) which made for a different angle to the story than what I’m used to… You don’t see a lot of the continued adventures of married couples once the beginning romance has led to a wedding. XD I still prefer the first-romance part buuut at least it was new. So there were different dynamics in this one (married couple, friends who are actually friends now and not just by necessity, and a lot more of Rill than last time) which was definitely unique, even if different than I hoped/expected. XD

It was super exciting, well-written, and awesome though! I did really enjoy it. 🙂 It’s a thrilling, unique tale, more like a mystery and a steampunk city type of thing, with dashes of fantasy and snark and beloved characters, romance, humor, peril, betrayal, and so many things! I think it felt a little more like Beggar Magic than Magicians’ Rivalry, if that makes sense, but it was fascinating to see these new places and characters, and lovely to read more about Jericho, Auric, and Rill. 🙂

There’s also a new character, Lotta, who is very different, but neat—and she’s super shy and paranoid and mechanic-y, which was adorable—as was a certain new blooming romance. 😉 And I liked her uncle. XD Also there is more of Jaspyr, the mechanical fox—yay!—and I absolutely loved a certain part where he proved himself! *bouncing up and down and cheering* And a scary magical assassin lady with a totally creepy mechanical monkey. O_O EEP. And all sorts of mysterious characters doing mysterious things and popping in and out, and an austere inspector, and various plots—basically very mystery-vibed! WHO DO YOU TRUST. Ahem.

It was super interesting to see them having to use their wits to get them out of things sometimes when magical things wouldn’t work. XD Clever and fun! And of course the highlight is still Auric and Jericho’s great buddy relationship, on top of the snarkiness and humor and adventure. ^_^ AURIC AND JERICHO! ❤

All in all, I still loved book 1 the most, but this one was totally different and fascinating, thrilling and unputdownable (it’s a word, hush), and another worthy addition to the Spellsmith and Carver trilogy! (Now I’m anxiously awaiting book 3, terrified for what will happen to my precious character friends in the final installment, but so looking forward to more of these awesome characters in this fascinating fantasy/steampunk world!)

If you haven’t gotten a bit of Spellsmith and Carver in your life yet, you need to—so hasten to it, book friends! You need them in your life. ^_^

Favorite Quotes

“Technically, Auric could go alone,” Jericho said. “However, I don’t trust him to. Not that he wouldn’t represent us well, but he already hinted that he’d take the fall for this, and I want to be sure he doesn’t confess to something to spare the rest of us and end up in jail or worse.”

Her mouth tightened. “Yes, because Auric is the one who has a history of making stupid sacrificial gestures to protect the people he loves with no regard for his own well-being. That’s definitely only Auric. No one else we know has ever done anything foolish like that.”

***

“Are you sure you don’t wish me to accompany you?”

Auric rolled his eyes. “You, too? What, do I have ‘incapable of speaking for myself’ written on my forehead this morning?”

***

“I’m sorry. I should go. You’re obviously busy setting booby traps and—”

***

“Just a fox sniffing about the hen house for an opportunity.” Jericho snorted.

Jaspyr yipped.

“No offense, buddy.” Jericho rubbed the fox’s ears.

***

Auric gasped. “The water is rising.”

“How can you tell? Is it the fact that the stream is blocked by a cartload of rubble and it’s swirling about our ankles?” Jericho indulged in an eye-roll. Sarcasm wouldn’t help anything, but it soothed him.

***

“I can’t swim, remember?”

Auric gaped. “Still? After everything that happened last time, you never bothered to learn?”

“I’ve been busy!” Jericho snapped.

***

“Trust me, he’s going to regret that. After all, it is foolish to get on the bad side of either Spellsmith or Carver … and I just happen to be both.”

***

He entered and found Auric lying on the floor surrounded by a sea of papers, a thick, leather-bound book over his face.

“Death by bureaucracy?” Jericho chuckled.

Auric pushed aside the book and squinted at him. “Just resting my eyes.”

***

No, Jericho told himself. This is not how I die. I’ve faced dragons and vengeful Fey. I’m not going to be killed by a ridiculous monkey.

***

“Uh-huh. Auric, do you know what I thought of you when we first met?”

“Not really, I guess.” Auric strode over to an upholstered bench against the far wall and sat down.

Jericho stood over him. “I thought you were a spoiled brat who only cared about himself,” he said.

Auric raised an eyebrow. “Thought as in past tense, right?”

~ ~ ~

Other similar reviews:

  

So, are you a steampunk fan? And have you tried Spellsmith and Carver yet? 😀

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

(I just like this, okay. ^_^)

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

The Tomb of the Sea Witch by Kyle Robert Shultz

Today I’m reviewing the sequel to The Beast of Talesend, AND I’M SO EXCITED!

Title: The Tomb of the Sea Witch
Author: Kyle Robert Shultz

  • Date read: July 23, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale retelling (Little Mermaid, bits of Beauty and the Beast, etc.)
  • Age: YA — or, well, anyone really
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 209 (paperback)
  • Series: Beaumont and Beasley, #2 (read my review for Book 1, The Beast of Talesend)
  • Fave character: Crispin and Nick
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free Advance Review Copy of this book from the author (many thanks!). I was not required to write a positive review and these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Blog

I don’t know how to review this book! I JUST LOVED IT A LOT, OKAY?

There are SO many amazing twists, and spoilers that I have to avoid talking about because I don’t want to spoil it… I also kind of want to keyboard-smash and flail in all-caps that everyone should read this… I will attempt to be coherent, but MAN, this might be hard. *twitch* Ahem. *gathers self*

This is an utterly fun adventure! From the moment I read the prologue (in Nick’s delightful dry narrator tone, of course) I knew I was going to adore this book—and was I ever right! (The answer is yes; yes, I was right.)

I loved The Tomb of the Sea Witch just as much as book 1, The Beast of Talesend—possibly more, if that’s possible. O_O I… I don’t even know; I loved them both a LOT. But this one has potential to be my favorite so far, if only because of a few awesome things which were even more prevalent than before.

LIKE THE CHARACTERS.
AND THEIR BICKERING.
AND THE HUMOR.
AND THE FAIRYTALE TWISTS.
AND ALL THE PLOT TWISTS.
AND MAGICAL CREATURES.
(And I will try to be coherent, promise. *cough*)

More fascinating fairytale bits feature in this! Book 1 was largely Beauty and the Beast, and this one has remainders of that, but is mostly The Little Mermaid… ish… but different. (I will say no more. XD) Other THINGS are also referenced. O_O Needless to say, this post-fairytale world of the Afterlands is still FASCINATING, and totally unpredictable, and I can’t wait to see what other fairytale things get woven in later on!

THERE ARE TWISTS GALORE. The adventure got pretty intense in the midst of all the humor and character interactions! Eep! *collapses* EXCITEMENT. And so much trouble for our heroes. XD I couldn’t put it down and had to keep flipping those pages. It kills me that I can’t say much about the plot because I LOVE so many of the plot twists, but I will not spoil them—just go read the book yourself! (But these plot twists though. So many amazing and/or ominous developments! :O)

Nick is still an AWESOME narrator—seriously, he’s a favorite! ^_^ I just love his loyalty and grouchiness and he’s fabulous. ❤ Cordelia is taking a turn for the mysterious (I mean, she had a dash of that to start with) and—gah, I need to know more about her. O.o She’s great too. 😀 CRISPIN IS IN THIS ONE MORE. *does a dance of happiness* I absolutely loved Crispin in book 1, although he wasn’t in it very much, so I was ecstatic to find that he has more of a central role in this one. SO MUCH CRISPIN. ❤ It’s still mostly about Nick, but more Crispin “screen-time” this time around was great, and all the shenanigans he got up to were hilarious. XD He also went through a lot… *cough* *hugs Crispin and adopts him*

But even better than each individual character on their own? ALL THE CHARACTERS TOGETHER. I absolutely LOVE this trio! THEY ARE THE BEST!!! *hugs them* Nick and Cordelia are so great; I love their banter. I love Crispin and Nick’s brotherly shenanigans and interactions. I love how Nick and Cordelia try to keep Crispin in line and he tries to keep THEM in line and—laksjdlfkj SO MUCH ADORABLE. All three of them just make the greatest trio! There are some fabulous character arcs going on here during the continuing quest to de-Beast-ify Nick, and more questions raised about all the characters… ACK, I can’t wait to read more about these three! Anyhow, the Beasley brothers are fantastic together! I love themmm! ❤

There are other fun characters introduced, too. 🙂 Molly, for instance. *grins* I really like her. 😀 She and a certain character were so adorable together. XD And we have an ominous dragon with SUCH a presence… o.o And since it takes place largely at a magical “anti-hero” type school (*laughs so hard over this*), we have a small group of students dubbed “the Mythfits” by Nick—and they were so fun. XD And Kiran (a certain descendant of a certain character…) was verrry interesting and I’m curious about him. Mer-people also feature—yay!—as well as mythical creatures galore—many of which Crispin “adopts” in this, which was beyond adorable. 😛 (The little dragon/salamander though!! “Zup-zup!” <3)

I must confess, the very ominous epilogues got me extremely nervous for what will become of these characters in the upcoming sequels—eep! O_O (NEED. MORE. BOOKS. NOW.) So as far as any “downsides,” that’s literally all I can think of: that I’m VERY worried for my character friends, and there’s a bit of intense, dark scariness throughout the book, mostly in the second half. (But all mixed in with hilariousness, so it still felt pretty lighthearted overall. Of course, it being intense only means it’s VERY EXCITING and only makes me want to read them more, sooo…)

Short version: This book is one of the funniest I’ve read, with the BEST dialog, and is an utterly original twist on fairytales, with some of my favorite characters ever; I totally recommend it. JUST READ IT ALREADY, EVERYONE. Or, well, maybe read The Beast of Talesend first. BUT READ THIS BECAUSE IT’S FABULOUS.

Now I’ll just be over here flipping through both books and reading amusing quotes from Nick and Crispin and co., while waiting impatiently for the sequel, because I NEEDS MORE OF THESE, PRECIOUSSS.

(P.S. This was the perfect thing to read over a weekend when I was kayaking—all the water!—and my family also benefited from it because I couldn’t resist quoting aloud parts of it as I read; there were lots of laughs. The book photography opportunities were also perfectly timed. <3)

(This quote was so appropriate for being at the beach, I had to snap a picture of it. XD It will stand in for quotes, because if I were to share my “favorite quotes” like I do sometimes, I would literally quote the whole book…)

~ ~ ~

So there you are! Do you have this or The Beast of Talesend on your To-Read list? BECAUSE YOU SHOULD. XD And what’s the best fairytale retelling, or funniest book, you’ve read lately?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer