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Masters and Beginners by Daley Downing (Review)

Twinsies! My cat loved that there was a fellow stripey cat on this book. ^_^ (Thank you, Callette, for putting up with me using you as a photo prop. XD)

Title: Masters and Beginners
Author: Daley Downing

Date read: May 3, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Age: YA
Year pub: 2017
Pages: 194 (paperback)
Series: The Order of the Twelve Tribes, Volume 1
Fave character: Alexander Torrington (and Flynn… and Jules… and… yeah, lots of them. :D)
Source: From the author in exchange for my honest review
Links: GoodreadsAuthor’s Blog • Purchase here or email the author at the address provided on her blog 🙂

Masters and Beginners is a delightful modern fantasy novel for young adults (or anyone, really), featuring some of my favorite things, namely Faerie things! I had a lot of fun reading it! I don’t read a lot of modern fantasy largely because I don’t often like it, but this is one I didn’t mind reading and overall enjoyed muchly.

There are Faerie things (fae/faery/elves used interchangeably) which were really cool, and talking cats who are more than cats (Jules! Loved her! :)), Fae characters both good and bad, Seelie and Unseelie (I particularly liked/would like to know more about Alex…), other mysterious beings, mystery, family, humor (I laughed aloud a couple of times), adventure, and other awesome things like PORTALS, yay! (Loved how the portals were used.) It was a very rich tapestry of different elements. 🙂

It starts out a little bit slow, drawing us into this well-constructed storyworld of our modern times with an undercurrent of mythological things, and steadily builds as we meet beloved characters, are immersed in all the details and magical feel of it, and drawn deeper into the mysteries and dangers, until it gets quite exciting and intense near the end there! O_O I was so drawn into this storyworld, and although I might have liked to have gotten to know a few of the characters better (next time!), overall I really fell in love with these characters and this setting, and just had an incredible time reading it! ^_^

In a lot of ways, it was very different from other YA books I’ve read, which was both fascinating and a delightful breath of fresh air. 😀 There are actually *gasp* nice people! And the parents aren’t dead! *more gasps* And the parents are actually nice and a part of the story! *triple gasp* There was more of a focus on the entire family—who actually love each other *biggest gasp of all*—and even some homeschoolers. All of this was super neat to read in a YA book. 😀

Also, not a big thing, but the main characters, the Driscolls—Sophie and her brother Flynn, and their parents Kate and James, and little brother Callum—are already a part of this set of people (the Order of the Twelve Tribes, which is where the series gets its title) who know about the crazy stuff going on in the world, so they didn’t need to go through the “wait, faeries exist?” transition that’s common to a lot of modern fantasy type stories. They do, of course, become more a part of it, and learn new things, so it’s not like there’s no wonder or discovery, but already being past the big hump of knowing it all exists is a great twist. 🙂

Sometimes angels in fiction make me twitchy—I have no idea why—but I think I managed to get over that this time and found it intriguing and different how there were all kinds of legends, mythology, faeries, Nephilim, angels, etc. just woven together in the history of this setup. Some of it was a litle weird, but I hadn’t seen something like this done before, so it was interesting to have Faerie mythology and elements of Christianity/Hebraic history/legend seamlessly woven together and taken for granted as things that are a part of the world. 🙂

Other fun things:

  • References: I loved the little references to things like Doctor Who, the “Warriors” cat books, King Arthur, things like the veil between worlds being thin Halloween night, and other myths and legends—so much fun. 😀
  • Extras: There are lyrics or quotes at the beginning of all the chapters, as well as “extra” material at the end of the chapters—emails, documents about the Annex, texts between characters, letters, etc.—both of which lent it an extra atmospheric and authentic quality, which I absolutely loved! 😀

As for possible downsides (if they can be called that)…

  • I might have liked seeing more of some of the characters, but that’s what sequels are for. 😉 Same with the actual Annex (the warehouse with mystical artifacts)—I think I thought there would be more with that, but with portals and such, who even needs artifacts when you have the real thing? XD
  • At the beginning especially, there were a lot of names all at once that were a little hard to keep track of, which was simultaneously difficult and made it seem more real—like this is an actual organization with interconnected families, and naturally something that complex is hard to keep track of for a sudden reader. I might have liked some more reminders of who was who with some of the side characters, but that may have been me not paying enough attention.
  • One thing—the only thing I might have actually disliked—I’m still on the fence about… I can’t really talk about because it’s a spoiler about how some things ended up at the end. There are enough hints at something different happening in a later book that I’m deciding that I THINK it’s okay… so I will wait it out on that one to see. But it’s just a general trope I don’t like in fiction, so not a particular fault of this book, I guess? SPOILER (highlight to read):: When characters forget some of the things that happened, “for their own good” just because some powerful being, who’s supposed to be benevolent, can’t have them spilling secrets. But then what’s the POINT of having the story and them having those adventures? *wails* I want them to remember all those times they had together! D: Buuut there was a hint that mayyybe they might break free of it and remember at some point, so I’m holding on to that. 😉 ::END SPOILER

But overall, I didn’t have a lot of complaints! It was just a fun read that I loved! 😀 (For those who care, there was a little mild language, and some sweet possible romances, and of course a bit of fairytale violence, but nothing bad, really. Overall it’s a pretty good clean read, if readers are worried about that. :)) I found it to be definitely not as dark as a lot of the YA books out there, which made me happy. Also, the adults in the story have prominent parts as well, so it’s more rounded, about whole families, which I really liked, and makes it more likely that both young adult and adult readers will both find something enjoyable about the book. 🙂

Overall, I may have had a quibble or two, but really, I just had a blast reading it. 😀 I’m giving it 5 stars for the amount of enjoyment it gave me, and the breath of fresh air and fun this book was. 🙂 I can’t wait to see where some of this goes in later books, too! Definitely looking forward to future books in the series releasing someday so I can return to this delightful storyworld! ^_^

(I received a free 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.)

Exciting book mail! This was my mini-subscription box with the book when it arrived! You can purchase an ebook or signed paperback copy, or a limited-edition mini-subscription box with surprise gifts and a letter from one of the characters. I recommend the latter. 😉

Faeriiiies! ❤ I just love faerie books, don’t you? 🙂 Are you a fan of contemporary fantasy? Does this book intrigue you? Lemme know in the comments! ^_^

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

10 Thoughts on Beggar Magic by H.L. Burke

Title: Beggar Magic
Author: H. L. Burke

Date read: April 25, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy / Steampunk
Age: YA
Year pub: 2014
Pages: (Kindle copy doesn’t have page numbers… Amazon claims paperback version would be 208 pages)
Fave character: Brick (also Vickers, near the end)
Source: Either got it free on Amazon one time, or free for signing up for H.L. Burke’s newsletter; don’t remember which.
Notes: I read this book for the Fellowship of Fantasy book club April 2017
Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor Website • Author Blog

Ten Thoughts on Beggar Magic:

  1. Another fun yet genre-defying read! (Apparently I really love those. XD) It started out like a mild Steampunk story with elements of very original fantasy, and then turned into a sort of academy-story, which turned into a murder mystery, and all with a strong thread of friendship and a dash of romance. Basically it was great. 😀
  2. The world was super interesting! It’s a psuedo-19th-century kind of feel, with a Steampunk flavor, but some other parts of it seem kind of more old-fashioned. I loved the fantasy element of the “Strains” which are musical wisps of something like magic/sprites. There are class-distinctions based on how well you can hear/use the Strains. And much of the story takes place in a sort of academy thing in an intriguingly-arranged city with different sections specializing in different things. Anyway, for some reason I found the whole world and setup super fascinating. I could also see everything SO clearly. And the “costumes” and rifles and just—LOVE!
  3. There were several directions I would think the story was going, but it kept doing something totally different and unexpected. I don’t know if that means I’m disappointed, or if it means it was awesome because it was so surprising and original and kept me on my toes! I guess I’m not actually disappointed, just… mentioning it was different than I thought. It also got QUITE intense near the end there! I kept forgetting to breathe. o.o
  4. Brick! I really liked Brick. 😀 Brick is a deaf guard who is absolutely epic but also kindhearted and sweet—basically Brick is awesome and he was my favorite. 🙂 All the parts with him were the best. ❤
  5. Leilani, our heroine, was all right—for some reason I felt a little detached from her? But I liked her okay. I thought it was neat how in most books she’d be considered the “side-kick” and Zebedy would be the hero, but Leilani got to be the heroine of this. 😀 Leilani only has “beggar magic” which means she isn’t particularly gifted or special, like Zebedy is… so normally, Zebedy would be the heroine and main character, and I thought it was neat how it’s basically a story from the POV of the “chosen one’s” side-kick. So cool!
  6. Zebedy was spoiled and I didn’t usually like her too much, but I didn’t always dislike her either… and sometimes I felt sorry for her… Eh, I don’t know. I might have liked her more if the story was from her perspective, but like I said above, I did like how it was told from Leilani’s POV.
  7. Leilani’s and Zebedy’s friendship was really cute (if occasionally rather trying, as many besties-stories can be…). 🙂 As were… other relationships which are spoilers. Much cuteness all-around! ❤ EEP. My little adorableness-loving heart is VERY happy. ^_^ (Especially with how everything turned out at the end. :))
  8. I was really surprised by Vickers’ character—at first I SUPER disliked him (and for some reason thought he was way younger than he was), but somewhere along the way I realized I’d actually… grown to like him. o.o Rather a lot, actually! I wished we could have seen more of Vickers. But this hardly ever happens where I dislike a character but then end up absolutely loving them! So kudos on that.
  9. THERE WAS A PLOT TWIST. WHICH I SUDDENLY GUESSED DUE TO A SUBTLE HINT. AND I WANTED IT TO BE TRUE. AND THEN IT WAS. AND IT MADE ME HAPPY. 😀
  10. Overall, there were a couple things—hard to pinpoint—which kept this from becoming a top-favorite-of-all-time, but it still seems to deserve a spot on the 5-star list, and on the whole it was a super fascinating, suspenseful, original read, and funny with great dialog too! I’m actually super fond of this story and really enjoyed it! 🙂

Favorite Quotes

“Jess and I do not flirt. We converse.”

“I didn’t know conversing involved so much eye-batting.”

***

“Walk like a lady.”

Like a quick lady, Leilani decided.

***

“It’s a long story, but Vicky is my nemesis.”

Leilani mulled over this as the girls took the path back to the maze entrance. She had never known anyone with a nemesis before.

***

Leilani hoped she wouldn’t lose her ability to think if she ever fell in love.

***

“I don’t understand it either, but Art fellows like things that don’t make sense.”

***

“That’s Art. They get all the odd ones.”

***

“Vickers Buffet, eighteen.”

“That is Buffet as in to hit someone repeatedly with a blunt object? Correct?” A smile played about Zeb’s mouth.

Vickers smirked at her. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“Not really. Did you get that, Leilani?”

Leilani quickly scratched out the information. “Vickers Buffet, eighteen, likes to hit things repeatedly with blunt objects. Check.”

***

[Leilani reading a book:] It was a romance, the dry kind where the boy and girl fought for foolish reasons, and she kind of hoped one or both would die before the end.

***

“Did you come here just to insult my office?” [Vickers, of course. He is awesome. XD]

~ ~ ~

What do you think? Intriguing? Do you have any favorite steampunk-esque, or academy-type, or unique fantasy-world books?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Sentinel + Viper by Jamie Foley (Double Review)

Time for reviews of a novel and novella by Jamie Foley!

Title: Sentinel
Author:
Jamie Foley

Date read: April 26, 2017
Rating:
5 stars
Genre:
I… really don’t know what to call it. Fantasy / Contemporary (other world) / Apocalyptic / Suspense
Age:
YA
Year pub:
2016
Pages:
281 (Kindle)
Series:
Book 1 of the Sentinel Trilogy (Followed by 2: Arbiter, just released, and 3: Sage, coming soon. Prequel novella: Viper.)
Fave character:
Jet Valinor!
Source:
Amazon
Links:
GoodreadsAmazonSigned Paperbacks • Author’s Website

WHAT DID I JUST READ? I have no idea, but I know I had an absolute blast and loved it so much! 😀

Picture a fantasy world with (surprise!) modern times (not here, but similar to our time-period), and some fantasy elements like mind superpowers; then add an apocalypse, secret military agents out to wreak havoc, lovable characters (including an awesome sarcastic ex-sniper), snarky conversations, and loads of humor, all wrapped up in a layer of suspense, with a dash of Christian-allegory undertones—and you have a unique, well-written, good-clean-fun novel called Sentinel, which reads almost like an action-movie (but funner)! Definitely outside of my normal reading, and I’ve never read anything like it, but I so enjoyed it!

Reasons why this book is awesome:

  • Jet! First I have to mention Jet Valinor, who is a new favorite character and definitely a top reason for liking this. He’s my favorite kind of dark, growly, snarky, mysterious, dangerous, but awesome, with a heart of gold, type character. He’s got mind-power skills and military skills and generally you want him on your side when there’s covert military ops attacks, apocalypses, or general problems of any kind. He’s also got excellent snarky lines. What is not to love about Jet? Even without all the other awesomeness (of which there was lots), Jet just totally made the book for me. 😀
  • Buddies-who-aren’t. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE stories about two characters who are thrown together and REALLY don’t get along but have to work together. And when one of them is a rather flippant teenage boy (our hero, Darien), and the other is dark, no-nonsense Jet who is not going to put up with stupidity… you know it’s going to be awesome. They kind of hate each other but are the best and have such excellent interactions AND I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH.
  • Banter/humor. Coming right up on that last one, there is SO much awesomeness in the form of Darien and Jet bickering, and general snark and humor, plus some of the writing is humorous too.
  • Right there, you have four of my favorite things, all rolled up in this book: an awesome favorite character, a buddy-story (where they aren’t… yet. ;)), humor, and hilarious snarky banter. SO MUCH YES. But oh, you want more reasons?
  • Fantasy! Fantasy makes everything better.
  • Mind-powers etc. which are called Aether, and the different kinds people can be include Arbiter (mind-things like telepathy or memories), Sentinel (use it like striking force), Valnah (emotions), Vanguard (making walls of force), and rare ones like Healer, or Sage (seeing the future).
  • Road-trip! Okay, so it wasn’t a huge part of the story, but I SO enjoyed Jet and Darien stuck in a car together with only Sorvashti to act as peace-maker. So much gold. 😀
  • So original and unique—this world and everything is just new and I loved it.
  • It’s well-written and gripping.
  • The other characters are great too and the different cultures etc. and mysteries and hints are really interesting.
  • Everything else—just read it already!

Reasons why I thought I wouldn’t like this book (but actually loved it):

  • It’s modern, which isn’t my favorite — but it’s modern in another world and somehow isn’t the usual blech of many modern books.
  • It’s apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic (which is a close relation to dystopian, which is a no-no for me, and in general I’m not the biggest fan of the world ending?) — but again, being in another world… I don’t… actually… mind? Plus we didn’t actually see the end of the world happening, since it was kind of off-screen (“Looks like the apocalypse started without us.” — one of my fave quotes in the book) and I’ve heard it’s just going to move more toward general fantasy-world kinds of things with less technology in later books. And because it’s not OUR world, I don’t actually mind, somehow!
  • It is definitely SUPER intense and suspenseful, which might have gotten too much for me, but the humor keeps rolling in to keep it a little more light-hearted.

Warnings:

It’s kind of violent/intense/scary, but that’s it. Basically a great YA novel! It certainly kept me breathless on the edge of my seat! O_O (I’m not sure if I remembered to breathe in the last third of the book. Whew. *collapses*)

Overall:

I loved this book and can’t wait to read the next one! (Largely because WHAT EVEN JUST HAPPENED AT THE END? I need Arbiter right now.) I’m quite hooked by this world and in love with these characters, and I can’t wait to find out where the rest of the series is headed. 😀 All in all, an excellent (if different) book. ^_^ *hugs it*

Favorite quotes:

“Easy for you to say. You already know what your power is.”

“They’re called ‘gifts’,” Tera murmured, “and I’m pretty sure yours is impatience.”

***

Levi yelled something about volleyballs being expensive.

***

Darien racked his brain for the smallest reason he could have been summoned by something as scary-sounding as ‘the Grand Master council’.

***

He squinted and found a fresh crack snaking from the right windshield wiper to a small spider web in the center. “Speaking of bad news, you owe me a thousand credits.”

It’s the end of the world:

“Cool. So, the world is ending, but who cares, right?”

***

“So it’s the apocalypse and special forces are after us. Awesome. We’re all gonna die.”

Darien and Jet:

“That’s enough,” Jet said.

Darien froze. “What?”

“Jet! Would it kill you to be nice?” Aleah shot Jet a disapproving look, then gave Darien a sheepish grin. “I’m sorry. He’s just… introverted.”

Jet snorted and looked back out the window.

And a psycho. Darien forced a laugh. “No problem.”

***

Is ‘Thracian’ his dad? Why does he call his dad by his name and not ‘Dad’?

Jet barely contained a growl. He could call Darien out on it—again—but this time it’d be just as awkward for himself. Note to self: get him to build mental shields. Immediately.

***

Darien’s thoughts ran over Jet’s like a freight engine.

***

“Why not?”

“Because it’s dangerous, you idiot! And untested and stupid.”

Darien grinned. “Did you just call yourself stupid?”

Jet sighed. “I should have left you in Katrosi.”

***

(I love them so much. ^_^)

~ ~ ~

Title: Viper
Author: Jamie Foley

Date read: April 12, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Military Thriller / Contemporary Fantasy (in another world)
Age: YA
Year pub: 2016
Pages: 118 (paperback)
Series: Prequel to the Sentinel Trilogy (Sentinel, Arbiter, Sage)
Fave character: Jet Valinor
Source: From the author (thank you, Jamie!)
Links:
GoodreadsAmazonSigned Paperbacks • Author’s Website

A little different than the main series books of the Sentinel Trilogy, Viper is set years before Sentinel, and therefore pre-apocalypse… which means society hasn’t collapsed yet, and it reads very much like a contemporary thriller, with a dash of fantasy powers and military strike team and hostage situations. Just… y’know… in another world. 😉

It was VERY thrilling and intense and suspenseful! Not what I usually read, but I was definitely super absorbed and worried. 😛 As a novella, it was also a quick read. There were a few typos, I had trouble keeping Copperhead and Moccasin (two of Jet’s Viper strike team) straight, plus it’s short, and generally not entirely my usual reading cup of tea, hence 4 stars; but I did really enjoy it and it was engaging, well-written, and super intense!

Also Jet is awesome. I found him to be even more awesome in the next book, meeting him from an outside perspective, so I didn’t realize when I read this just how cool he was… so in a way I didn’t appreciate that, but now I do. 😛 Now that I’ve read Sentinel, I actually want to read this again as backstory-on-my-favorite-character. XD

Jet and Sorvashti are great together, especially with her way of speaking since she doesn’t know his language well, and he doesn’t know hers—loved that! Language-barrier things are so fun. It was hilarious and adorable. ^_^ It’s told in their alternating POVs, which was really interesting. I enjoyed both of their perspectives.

Like I said, it’s a prequel, and I read it first, instead of starting with book 1. This was an interesting introduction to the world/cultures/characters of the series, so I enjoyed having some background on everything. But it would also be awesome to read as backstory once already familiar with the way things are introduced in Sentinel. So… I can’t decide which is better. 😛 Probably don’t do it like I do, and instead start with Sentinel. (But you can read either first.)

Definitely an overall enjoyable, quick read which got me hooked on the series and world and characters, and left me eager to read more! 🙂

(I was given a copy of this novella by the author; I was not required to write a review; these opinions are my own.)

~ ~ ~

(Look, it’s Jet with a spear! This cover means SO MUCH MORE now that I’ve read Sentinel…)

Arbiter (book 2) just released!

Check out the Arbiter Blog Tour and giveway! My post for the blog tour will be going up on my other blog Wednesday morning — tomorrow! — so watch for that!)

I’m going to be reading Arbiter soon; I can’t wait! 😀 I’ll be reviewing it here once I’ve read it, so stay tuned. 🙂

What about you, my Pagelings? Have you read any of these? Do they intrigue you? Let me know in the comments!

~ ~ ~

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

10 Thoughts on The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doué

firethorncrown

I’m going to share 10 thoughts on The Firethorn Crown today.

I mean, maybe I should do 12, since it’s about 12 dancing princesses?

But I’m doing 10 because it’s nice and round and I want to.

Ten is a great number!

People love ten!

So that’s what I’m going to do.

Anyway… A little about the book and then my Ten Thoughts.

factoids

Title: The Firethorn Crown

Author: Lea Doué

  • Date read: February 11, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy (Fairytale retelling: The Twelve Dancing Princesses)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2015
  • Pages: 289 paperback
  • Series? Book 1 (Yesss, there will be more books about different princesses! *cheering*)
  • Fave character: Eben!
  • Source: Won a paperback from the author in a giveaway from Clean Indie Reads; but I also bought the ebook version.
  • Notes: Read for Fellowship of Fantasy‘s bookclub February 2017 read, which was sooo fun.

review

4starrating

Ten Thoughts:

1. THE COVER. It is awesome. Excuse me while I stare at it forever.

2. TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES! I’m totally here for a retelling of my favorite fairytale. (Which may mean I was pickier about how I wanted the book to be than I should have been, but oh well.) It was so fun to read this retelling and I greatly enjoyed seeing how it was done. 🙂

3. Eben the guard was awesome and my favorite. 😀 I wish we’d gotten more of him and/or some of his POV. He was epic! That is all.

4. The princesses, as usual, were a little hard to sort at first, but I did get used to which were which eventually. My favorite was Neylan (with her mini dragons!). And the princes (some of them pairing off with princesses) WERE SO FUN. Orin the goose prince, Holic the red-head prince… So funny, loyal, and helpful. 😀

5. DRAGONS. I might have liked more details about them and to see more of them, but it was really neat that there were all different kinds/sizes, as natural wildlife. The butterwings (kind of like butterfly dragons, mini ones who hang around in the flowers) were my favorites. I wish they’d been outright stated and described instead of implied, though, because sometimes it took me awhile to figure out that honeysucklers, woolies, etc. were kinds of dragons. But dragons! Looking forward to seeing more of them in the later books!

6. It took a break from other retellings in which the princesses’ king dad is a grumpy semi-antagonist for some of the story; instead, he’s away most of the book, so their mom fills in that role. XD

7. I don’t know how I feel about the villain. There seems to be a longstanding twelve-dancing-princesses-retelling tradition in which we have a mysterious character that we don’t know if he’s good or not but I kind of WANT him to be good, but… he’s not. Or is he? Eh. I have complex feels about this character and don’t know what I think. I DON’T KNOW. MUCH CONFUSING FEELS.

8. I really enjoyed this book—a lot—but I didn’t love it for some reason, and I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe because of how attached I am to the fairytale it’s retelling, so I’m pickier? Maybe the way it constantly hinted at things but never stated stuff, as if the writing was shy of the forbidden “telling” versus showing? (But taking it too far?) Maybe I was conflicted over a certain character? Maybe there were a lot of things I wished had happened that didn’t? Anyways, there was something a little bit off which prevented it becoming an absolute favorite, BUT I did enjoy it a lot and it was overall a quite good book. 🙂

9. I quite liked the world—it was colorful and interesting. I look forward to seeing more of it! (Especially the dragons. Ahem.)

10. Overall, it was great fun reading this retelling and I can’t wait to continue the series! There are characters I’m excited to see more of, and mysteries left vaguely hanging (like True the goose. WHAT is the deal with True the goose??). If you enjoy good clean fun books and fairytale retellings, I recommend giving this one a try. 🙂

(Note: I won a copy of this book from the author in a giveaway. This in no way influenced my opinions, which are entirely my own.)

summary

From Goodreads:

firthornPrincess Lily, the eldest of twelve sisters and heir to a mighty kingdom, desperately seeks a break from her mother’s matchmaking. Tradition forbids marriage with the man Lily loves, so she would rather rule alone than marry someone who only wants the crown.

Fleeing an overzealous suitor, Lily stumbles into a secret underground kingdom where she and her sisters encounter a mysterious sorcerer-prince and become entangled in a curse that threatens the safety of her family and her people. Lily can free them, but the price for freedom may be more than she’s willing to pay.

The Firethorn Crown, a re-imagining of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” is the first in the Firethorn Chronicles, a series of stand-alone novels inspired by fairy tales and other stories. Follow the sisters on their adventures in a land where sorcery is feared, women can rule, and dragons fly.

findbook

{Goodreads} • {Amazon} • {Author Website}


Thanks for reading, dear Pagelings!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

The Shadow Lamp by Stephen R. Lawhead

shadowlampphoto

5starrating

Title: The Shadow Lamp (Bright Empires, #4)

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

review

Firstly, THIS MAY BE MY FAVORITE BOOK OF THE SERIES YET. Hard to say, because they’re so good, but you know. Just so much is HAPPENING in this! (Speaking of which, it’s increasingly difficult to review these books as the series goes on, without spoilers, but I’m continuing to do my best.)

Questing, beloved characters who are so fun to read about, adventures on the high seas and across many times and places, and something about the end of the world… all make an excellent, gripping adventure. Like I said, possibly my favorite in the series yet!

THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON AND IT’S SO EXCITING. Things have been happening through the entire series, of course, but I feel somehow that there was MORE, and there’s a lot coming to a head in this one. It’s positively thrilling. 😀

One of the things I was very excited about, was various of the characters finally meeting up! I simply love it when a story follows several people on their own journeys and then they start meeting and… it’s the best. I’m not going to say WHO is meeting up, because that may range into spoiler territory? BUT IT’S FABULOUS.

Speaking of characters, I’m so attached to these! Even the ones I started out disliking, or being wary of, I like now. (Villains aside. *cough*) Kit (so funny and British and… and… KIT-like!), Mina (I want to be her), Etzel (his food, though!), Giles (his new part in the story—HE IS THE BEST), Cass (new heroine, who’s growing on me), Haven (wow. So hard to figure out), Gianni (Italian hand-gestures when he talks!), and all the rest of the cast, old friends and new. One of my favorite things is seeing these characters interact. ❤ Especially in CERTAIN PAIRS. *cough*spoilers*cough* Anyways, they’re all great and I love them. 😀

The dialog in this book. Gold. GOLD. It’s clever, funny, or thoughtful in turn. And the writing as a whole is so enjoyable to read. (I still love the chapter and part titles too. “In Which Tomb Robbing Is Encouraged.” “Many Unhappy Returns.” “The End of Everything” [okay then]. “In Which Time Is of the Essence.”)

Two random fun moments I loved: When Kit eats so much he vows he’ll never eat again—until smelling Etzel’s honey-and-walnut rolls. XD And when Kit is teasing Cass about the Brothers Grimm living around the corner and she almost falls for it—priceless. 😀 There are so many fun incidents.

What the villains are up to, as well . . . So much going on and all quite fascinating. O_O Not saying anything about them but EEK. THINGS.

Also: nautical adventures and pirate attacks and THINGS. Whenever Captain Farrell is mentioned, I can’t help thinking of a certain song. (And, for the matter of that, I love names like Smollet and the Black Spot sneaking in and reminding me of other beloved high-seas adventures…) It just makes the book feel like an even richer tapestry, filled with all manner of references for the attentive eye to pick out. It was so rewarding to read closely.

England, Prague, Egypt, and other fascinating places are back in this one, the Zetetic society is working to figure things out, and the plot is slowly but surely making new twists and turns and taking new shapes. I really wonder how they’re going to get out of this one!

I want to go to Prague and eat pastries at Mina and Etzel’s Kaffeehaus, and to have tea with the Zetetic society, please and thank you.

This book used the word “eucatastrophe.” It made me very happy.

The final scene before the epilogue. SLOW MOTION. That scene is sticking with me. These books have a way of ending at these amazing, chill-inducing, vivid scenes. I love it.

THE EPILOGUE. OH MY GOODNESS. I CAN SAY NOTHING ELSE. BUT. THINGS. O_O

I’m finally reviewing this book because I’m about to start the final book and I’m so. excited. And have some slight trepidation. (How can this finish?? What’s going to happen??) But mostly excited. I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS. I can’t wait to see how the series wraps up!

Some favorite quotes

“Good afternoon,” she said, pausing to cast a critical eye over him. “Are you among the living at last?”

“Hi, yourself,” replied Kit.

“Ley leaping?”

“The man who showed me called it ‘crossing the Coyote Bridge.’”

“That’s a new one.”

“He’s the Lord High Alchemist and, just so you know, he takes his position very seriously. If we see him, a bow and curtsey are in order. And whatever you do, do not mention the Turks. Oh, and be sure to call him Herr Docktor. He insists.”

Cass gave Kit a look that said, Pinch me, I’m in a dream, and Kit returned it with a glance that said, You cannot make this stuff up.

“Then, by all means, tell me about the Zetetic Society—if that is allowed.”

“No need to be snarky, Mr. Clarke,” chided the woman.

“Forgive me for being—what was it?”

“Snarky.”

Gianni paced to the other side of the room, hitting his stride as he warmed to his thesis, his hands describing complex Italianate gestures in the air.

[Page 283 (hardcover edition), last six lines, end of chapter 27. I’m not typing it here for reasons of semi-spoilers, BUT SO CUTE.]

“Cassandra, my dear,” said Kit, mimicking the old-fashioned, elevated tone of his late great-grandfather, “we should all very well know by now that there is no such thing as coincidence.”

summary

From Goodreads:

4shadowlamp

The quest for answers—and ultimate survival—hinges on finding the cosmic link between the Skin Map, the Shadow Lamp, and the Spirit Well.

The search for the map of blue symbols began in a rainy alley in London but has since expanded through space and time and includes more seekers.

Kit, Mina, Gianni, Cass, Haven, and Giles have gathered in Mina’s 16th-century coffee house and are united in their determination to find a path back to the Spirit Well. Yet, with their shadow lamps destroyed and key pieces of the map still missing, the journey will be far more difficult than they imagine. And when one of their own disappears with Sir Henry’s cryptic Green Book, they no longer know who to trust.

At the same time, the Zetetic Society has uncovered a terrifying secret which, if proven, will rock the very foundations of Creation. The quest for answers is no longer limited to recovering an unknown treasure. The fate of the universe depends on unraveling the riddle of the Skin Map.

factoids

Date read: October 25, 2016

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: (Oh boy, let’s see if I can pigeonhole it at all…) Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Sci-fi / Christian / Time

Age Group: Young Adult. Adults will enjoy too!

Published: 2013

Pages: 378 (hardcover)

Series?: Book 4 in the Bright Empires series. (Book 1: The Skin Map — read my review here. Book 2: The Bone House — read my review here. Book 3: The Spirit Well — read my review here.) Followed by Book 5: The Fatal Tree.

brightempireslawheadcollage

Favorite Character: ALL OF THEM. (Also known as Kit, Mina, Giles, etc.)

Source: Read from the library; have since acquired a copy because I needed to own this series.

Other Notes: Make sure to start the series properly with The Skin Map!

findbook

{Goodreads} • {Amazon} • {Barnes & Noble} • {Author’s Website}


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: Hexwood

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

Date read: April 6, 2017

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi/Contemporary/Time/Arthurian

Age: Toeing the line between YA and Adult? New Adult? Anyways, slightly darker.

Year pub: 1992

Pages: 449 (paperback)

Fave character: MORDION. Mordion Mordion Mordion

Source: Birthday present, preciousss

Find: On Goodreads here

Favorite quote:

“Can’t you treat yourself with a bit more consideration?”

“Why should I?” Mordion said, hugging the duvet round himself.

“Because you’re a person, of course!” Ann snapped at him. “One person ought to treat another person properly even if the person’s himself!”

“What a strange idea!” Mordion said.

An ordinary modern-day British girl (kind of), named Ann, stumbles into an epic fantasy world (…sort of), and meets a pigeon-hole-defying, spoiler-drenched man named Mordion, and a boy named Hume (maybe).

There are also robots. And dragons.

There’s also an inter-galactic sci-fi mess going on, some Arthurian legends sprinkled around the edges in totally unexpected ways, and oh, yeah, the entire thing is out of order in a time-bending confusing labyrinth of plot-twists.

Nobody is who they seem (or rather, they may be somebody else… or several somebody elses. I literally kept a list/diagram while I was reading).

FEATURING:

  • Dragons
  • Robots
  • King Arthur and Merlin (sort of)
  • Time which is… fluid, shall we say, and more complicated than Doctor Who
  • A tragic brainwashed assassin to rival Bucky Barnes (he’s got nothing on this guy)
  • A complex plot-within-plot that makes my head hurt and kind of makes Inception’s layers look like a children’s cartoon
  • Several hundred plot twists
  • An unexpected romance
  • One of my new favorite characters of ever (not sure how I feel about this)
  • Weirdest book I’ve ever read
  • Has more genres mashed in it than I’ve ever seen in a single book (Contemporary/Fantasy/Sci-fi/Time/Arthurian/Romance/YA/Adult/DWJ)
  • Darker than most DWJ books (except Deep Secret)
  • One of my top five-or-ten DWJ books (despite the darkness/weirdness… don’t hold it against me; I’m surprised at me too)
  • First new-to-me DWJ book since my How to Read Diana Wynne Jones blog posts (part 1) (part 2); it lined up with pretty much everything, x100000
  • I need to reread it now, please and thank you

Don’t read this as your first DWJ, and if you do read it, know you’re getting into an insanely complex, inter-genre, rather dark story, for which reason I only recommend it to older teens/adults. If I recommend it at all. I loved it to bits but have a feeling that it’s far too weird to recommend to anyone at all. I literally can’t predict who would/wouldn’t like this. You’ll either a) love it a ridiculous amount (*raises hand*), b) hate it, or c) not understand it at all. I have a feeling there’s no middle ground.

Anyone who has read it: TALK TO ME! I need somebody who understands my confused feels about this book.

If you need me, I’ll be in a corner with my mind blown, contemplating re-reading this book so that I can understand it, and generally having a massive book hangover. Because how am I going to find anything to read, after this mindbending confusing thing, that will not feel like bland cardboard? HELP. *collapses* (I’m hoping Stephen Lawhead’s The Fatal Tree might help me with this… *reaches for bookshelf*)


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones

5starrating

The March Magics theme this year is “A Matter of Lives and Death” — the Lives part referring to the Chrestomanci series, since Chrestomanci is the title of a nine-lifed enchanter.

For the Diana Wynne Jones read-along for March Magics which Kristen @ We Be Reading is hosting, four of the Chrestomanci books were featured.

Today I’m looking at the final one, The Pinhoe Egg. I just read it for the second time and had an absolute blast with it! ❤ *hugs book* So, so good! ^_^

Here, have a review. (Please excuse the flailing; I can’t help myself.)

Title: The Pinhoe Egg

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

factoids

  • Date read: March 5, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2006
  • Pages: 515 (hardback)
  • Series: Chrestomanci, #6
  • Fave character: Chrestomanci
  • Source: Library
  • Notes: Re-read aloud (reading for second time), for March Magics Diana Wynne Jones readalong

[Find The Pinhoe Egg on Goodreads]

review

AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH I LOVE THIS BOOK SO SO MUCH!!! It may be my absolute favorite Chrestomanci book ever. ❤ And one of my top DWJ books, period.

Just so much is going on in this thing! Not to mention all the fabulous characters, including several familiar ones.

It’s closer to an actual sequel-type-book than Diana Wynne Jones usually wrote. A lot of her sequels follow entirely different characters, just in the same world, with cameos. This was more of a proper sequel to Charmed Life and some of the other Chrestomanci books, and it was such a delight to be back at Chrestomanci Castle with Cat, and Chrestomanci, and Millie, Janet, Roger and Julia, etc. New characters Marianne Pinhoe and her brother Joe were great fun. I also really liked Irene! And a certain character who’s a spoiler ‘til near the end… but he was great too! 🙂

It’s HILARIOUS, too. Julia and Janet going into a horse-craze, Roger and Joe and their inventing, etc. (WE BELONG TO CHRESTOMANCI CASTLE!)

And I so so enjoyed reading about Chrestomanci and his misadventure or two and how he fixes things when he knows about it; Marianne and the Pinhoe shenanigans; Cat and his problems with having to raise a baby griffin, keep a horse happy, help Marianne without Chrestomanci (doesn’t go so well), and learn more about his magical abilities, because he is, after all, going to be the next Chrestomanci someday.

These CHARACTERS, though!

Cat is just a fabulous hero. I really like him a lot, for some reason.

Marianne is a lot like Cat, though his opposite in some ways. They’re fun together.

Millie is the best mum/wife ever. She’s so calming and great! Gah.

Time would fail me to talk of sullen Joe Pinhoe, Roger and Julia, Cat’s sort-of-sister Janet, the lovely Irene (formerly Pinhoe; yes, there are a lot of Pinhoes in this), and all the rest. But it’s such an awesome cast!

Plus Klartch the griffin. There’s also a unicorn. Yesss to the fantasy goodness.

Last, but far from least, Chrestomanci himself is the absolute BEST!

I felt like we got to see an unusual amount of Chrestomanci in this one, which was fantastic! His dry and witty dialog, his sarcastic look that makes you want to melt into the ground, his elaborate dressing-gowns (one for every day of the year, according to an interview with the author!), his elegant suits, his vague looks that mean he’s paying extreme attention, his calm ability to step in and fix a magical disaster efficiently and with some great sarcastic remarks — as soon as he knows the disaster is there, of course (since the main characters often don’t tell him until it’s almost too late).

But he’ll also make sure that the right people help fix it, so that they learn from their mistakes, etc., and also that the right people get their comeuppance. It was also fabulous/hilarious to see him more in a parental-type-role, dealing with the antics of his son and daughter, Roger and Julia, as well as with young Cat and Janet.

AND HIS DIALOG. I CANNOT GET OVER HIS DIALOG. He’s sooo funny and dry and sarcastic and just… I cannot. (It was absolutely so much fun reading this book aloud, if only for his lines.)

Chrestomanci (a.k.a. Christopher Chant, since Chrestomanci is merely the title of the nine-lifed enchanter) is simply one of the absolute best characters ever; and if ever I was in a magical difficulty, I’d definitely want his help!

I love this series, and although I would read dozens more if there were any, this book was the perfect ending for it. Classic DWJ, and Chrestomanci is one of my top-favorite characters ever. ❤

Have you read any of the Chrestomanci books? (Which is your favorite?) If not, you must read one ASAP, because they are delightful books, and you need Chrestomanci in your life!

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer