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The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin (Book Review)

(Whoops, had a glitch there when I tried to post this at first. Hopefully this works better!)

Hey! I have a review to share today! (I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post, due to not having internet at home right now, but I’m excited to be able to get a post up for this series finale which I just finished last night!)

Title: The Story Hunter

Author: Lindsay A. Franklin

  • Date read: June 4, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: older YA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 368
  • Series: The Weaver Trilogy, #3 (Book 1: The Story Peddler — my review. Book 2: The Story Raider — my review.)
  • Fave character: Kharn
  • Source: Amazon
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

What a majestic conclusion to this fantasy trilogy! I’m not sure quite what I expected, but I quite enjoyed THE STORY HUNTER, for the most part!

It was somehow cozy and familiar to be back in this world for the finale of this series, even with my near-panicked uncertainty of AAHH WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN? (You know, like coming into watching Endgame for the first time. XD) I was so curious to find out what was going to happen to these characters — after waiting all this time for the last book to release — and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would!

Which . . . sounds wrong, when I put it that way. But I was bracing myself for a lot more darkness and sadness, on par with the second book, and was pleasantly surprised with how things wrapped up. Don’t get me wrong — this book is definitely somewhat dark and grim, in some ways more than book two (although book two had all the middle-book-darkness-without-any-victory-to-offset-it feel which is, I suppose, why I enjoyed this one more). The stakes also ramped up a bit for the finale, and there were one or two darker parts that weren’t my favorite. But there was also much hope and light sprinkled in, a lot of triumph and unexpected twists, and even a proper eucatastrophe moment, to use Tolkien’s word. So I guess I would say it balanced itself out.

There’s heartache and loss but also love and light, and it wrapped up everything in a mostly-satisfying way and made me pretty happy. ^_^ It did give me all the feels (laughing at banter, shedding a tear or two but in a good way at the beautiful legacies left behind) but it didn’t tear my heart out like I was afraid it would, and overall, by the end, it left me . . . uplifted. Which is something that’s good to feel at the end of a series. 🙂

I quite enjoy the unique world and it just felt cozy to be back in it, like I said. It’s colorful and unique, even shrouded in the darkness that’s fallen across it as of book two. All the caverns and strands were particularly cool! And I loved following the large cast of characters — all well juggled, although I wanted more of Kharn but I suppose under the circumstances that wouldn’t have worked out so well. XD

I’m not mentioning everyone by name because I don’t want to give anything away (awk, trying to write book three reviews without spoilers is hard!) but I will say I was glad to see how several of the characters’ arcs ended, and some of them make me smile. I also loved the beautiful tribute near the end to those lost along their journey, which made those sad parts a little more worth it, somehow.

There were one or two things and/or character actions that seemed to come totally out of the blue and left me kind of bewildered and going “wait, what?”, but I rolled with it and things turned out better than I expected in some cases, so I’m cool with it, mostly. XD (And to be fair, it could just be the fact that I read the previous book a year ago, and the first book two years ago, and I may have just missed certain connections or not remembered seeing things before — like Celyn, who I’m not complaining about AT ALL but had no memory of meeting before.) And, again, a couple of the darker parts I wasn’t fond of, but there you are.

Still, on the whole, I absolutely LOVED how it drew so many elements from the previous two books and wove them together, all the strands weaving into a beautiful, if sometimes scary, tapestry. Everything connected for the finale, in a swirling crescendo of color and characters — I absolutely loved how everything came together for the end! It made me so happy. The adventure definitely kept me on the edge of my seat, worried for everyone at every step, not able to put the book down and reading until midnight to finish.

Overall, I’m so glad I finally got to read the end of this saga, and while there were a few stumbles along the way (and I don’t really recommend the second and third books to younger or sensitive readers), it’s still been quite a journey — an often-fun one, with laughter and tears and a reminder of the good and the light in the world, even amidst the darkness.

Because the light wins and “winter will not last forever.” A magnificent, fitting end to the Weaver Trilogy. ^_^


More reviews!

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Orphan's Song Songkeeper  Seahorse Kindle Cover copy THE SUNKEN REALM KINDLE COVER SEPT 2015


Have you read any in this series? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Winter Spell by Claire M. Banschbach: Review/Tour!

“But what if we fail? What if I can’t undo the magic?” Tonya whispered, her fear leaking out onto her face. “Then you try again. That’s all failing is. Something not done right the first time.” (Loved this quote SO MUCH I had to make calligraphy of it. ❤ )

It’s heeeere! This magnificent book released yesterday and I’m thrilled to be a part of the blog tour today and share 12 Things I Love About Winter Spell!

But first, tour and book info, including a giveaway! (Tour links are at the end of the post.)


About Winter Spell

A half-breed faery. A war-weary princess. A quest to free three kingdoms from the deadly winter spell.

Constantly doubted by her ocean faery kindred, Tonya Freyr-dottir only wants to untangle the dormant ice and water magic within her. Then a strange attack makes her unleash a fierce winter on the land and sea. And she has no idea how to stop it.

Princess Diane serves faithfully at her brother’s side, trying to restore their kingdom of Myrnius after the devastating Dark War. Now with brutal winter wreaking havoc, everything they have worked for might be lost to famine and destruction.

Desperate to help, Tonya travels to the far north to unlock her magic, aided by Diane, as well as two land faeries: Dorian, a reckless healer and August, a mischievous warrior. But the north brings fresh dangers, unearths old wounds, and offers more questions than answers.

With doom threatening human and faery alike, Tonya must find a way to trust her new friends and release her magic before all fall to the fury of winter’s spell.


Now available!


Preorder Info

Adorable art (!!), bookmark, and northern lights sticker (not pictured)

Pre-order goodies include a character art postcard of four characters from Winter Spell done by @h.s.j._williams, a series bookmark, and northern lights sticker! Submit receipt to campitorpress@gmail.com

Pre-order packets will also be available to those who buy the book in ebook or paperback up to 5/7 and submit receipt to campitorpress@gmail.com


Note: Winter Spell is book 3 in the Faeries of Myrnius series, but can be read as a standalone. However, series is best enjoyed in chronological order.


Tour Giveaway

Follow the Rafflecopter link HERE to enter a giveaway including Ebooks and swag pack!


Author Bio

Claire M. Banschbach is a native Texan and would make an excellent hobbit if she wasn’t so tall. She’s an overall dork, pizza addict, and fangirl. When not writing fantasy stories packed full of adventure and snark, she works as a pediatric Physical Therapist where she happily embraces the fact that she never actually has to grow up.

She writes New Adult/Adult fantasy as C.M. Banschbach.

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Title: Winter Spell

Author: Claire M. Banschbach

  • Date read: January 11, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars — ALL the stars! 6 stars if I could!
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 309 (ebook)
  • Series: The Faeries of Myrnius, #3 (but can stand alone)
  • Fave character: DORIAN! Also August. And all of them.
  • Source: The author (and also Amazon)

12 Things I Love About Winter Spell

1. Just imagine the most epic, fun, adventuresome wintry story, full of magic and faery awesomeness and FABULOUS characters. Then throw in a dash of a buddy story, an adorable romance, some humor and twists and feels (of course!). Then imagine that it’s super well-written and absolutely captivating and fun too. THAT is what this book is!

2. THIS BOOK, GUYS! IT’S SO GOOD, HALP. One of my favorites I’ve read this year — one of my favorites, period! I’ve read it three times and loved it more each time. (Disclaimer: I copyedited it, but my unbiased opinion simply as a reader is that I love it and I just ordered a paperback so I can read it againnn.) I had the most incredible time living in this book and this world with these characters! *hugs Winter Spell forever* I don’t even know how to explain how good it is in a review but let me give it a shot. *deep breath*

3. The characters are MY FAVORITE and one of the best things about this book. They’re all so broken but help each other and I just — ! *squishes them all in a huge hug* Tonya is a pretty epic main character, a faery warring with her ocean and ice natures. It’s mostly her journey and I love it! Princess Diane is the other point of view, who is also fabulous! (Her journaling and no-nonsense self!) They were both so relatable and also epic, in their own ways, and I loved their stories. I found a lot of me in them. Then we have August and Dorian! August is a fun-loving warrior faery related to CERTAIN PEOPLE from a previous Myrnius book, which was SO cool. 😀 August is one of my favorites! And every side character was well-written and unique and I loved so many of them! Edmund, though! And Ralf! And Lilja and spoiler people and just ALL OF THEM. They are all SO EPIC.

4. DORIAN. Dorian gets his own point in this list because he’s THE ABSOLUTE BEST AND I LOVE HIM SO MUCH. I CAN’T. The strong, quiet faery healer who’s actually unexpectedly stabby and doesn’t put up with August’s shenanigans. XD He’s just — I can’t describe how cool he is. 😀 MY FAVORITE. Dorian is just absolutely amazing. And so is August! They are both precious and epic and fabulous, especially when they are antagonizing each other but having to work together. THE BEST.

5. Relationships. Okay, but for real, I love how this book has nearly every awesome relationship that I love reading about! A buddy story (you know those are my favorite!), but also other characters with an ADORABLE romance (I ship them so hard!). Two of my favorites right there, but ALSO siblings, besties, families, found-family, platonic relationships . . . and all written in a fresh, relatable way. I love all of iiiit! I remember thinking while I read that it was all of my favorite things/relationships and that they worked together SO WELL and made it so balanced and layered!

6. The banter and the humor just make my day. You’ve got to have snarky dialog on a quest adventure, especially with a buddy story on the side. 😉 I want to quote all of it! These characters! *hugs them all again*

Princess Diane and her brother, King Edmund, are so fun. XD

7. The winter and the north, though! Guys! It just felt so deliciously cold and atmospheric. I absolutely loved all the details, especially in the North in the third part of the book or so, with the caribou and the pines and polar bear (!), and even more ice and snow, and the fantasy-world version of the Northern Lights! *screaming* I. LOVED. IT. SO. MUCH. It was just so cool! (No pun intended. Okay. Pun totally intended but no less true. XD)

8. Speaking of the north, can we talk about the worldbuilding/cultures and how detailed and awesome they were? Aahh! I loved being back in Myrnius, and the nods to the previous books made me happy (though you can read this one even if you haven’t read Adela’s Curse or The Wolf Prince). I LOVED seeing the different faery cultures, especially. The ice faeries and ocean faeries and plains faeries. All the details that were such a part of the story and totally pulled me into the world. SO DELICIOUS. The faery magic was also SO COOL. I loved how it actually served a purpose and MADE SENSE. So, so good. Also! I need to go live in Csorna Hold or Konungburg or even Chelm. RIGHT NOW. Like. Take me theeeere. (And let me eat some of the delicious food that kept making me hungry while I read the book. XD)

9. TWISTS, Y’ALL. I can’t share them, clearly, because spoilers. But aaahh, there were delightful plot twists, both vaguely expected and totally WHOA WHAT that kept me on the edge of my seat. It’s a wild ride and a thrilling adventure!

10. MY FEEEELSSS. Yes, this gets a whole point too. XD Again, spoilers, so I won’t go into it, but I have SO MANY FEELINGS about my precious character friends and their stories. *muffled screaming* I got so emotional and worried and aaahh! I love them so much and got so invested! And I love that while it’s a fun story, it also showed me things about life and enriched me just by following along in these characters’ boots. The best books do that. ❤

11. The writing is also — gaahh, I love it! It’s just right for the story. Also, Tonya’s ocean-based descriptions of everything when we’re in her POV is absolutely BRILLIANT. I love it so much. I also love how the world and its history and the characters’ backstories all have this DEPTH that made me feel like we were just barely scratching the surface of the ice and that there’s so much more lurking just out of view.

12. In conclusion: I loved everything about this booook! It is entirely made of fabulousness. There’s not a single thing I disliked. I ADORE IT. JUST READ WINTER SPELL RIGHT NOW. You need Dorian and Tonya and Diane and August and this fun, wintry, faery, magical epicness in your life! YOU JUST DO.


You may also enjoy . . . (by this author or wintry books)

pc PoDcover


Tour Schedule

Monday 4/20:

Tuesday 4/21:

Wednesday 4/22:

Thursday 4/23 – RELEASE DAY!

Friday 4/24


And there we are! Doesn’t it sound like such a fun book? Let me know in the comments if it piques your interest and/or if you like wintry books! Thanks for reading! 🙂

My Diana Wynne Jones Journey (Part 2)

My Diana Wynne Jones collection so far! (Not counting a few extra copies. ;))

Way back in 2016, I posted “My Diana Wynne Jones Journey (So Far)” during a previous March Magics, and I had a ton of fun listing each book by DWJ which I’d read and some thoughts about them. (It also amuses me how some of my thoughts/favorites have changed since then. XD)

I’d say a Part 2 of such a post is long overdue (I have sixteen books to talk about!), so here we are!

Here are the DWJ books I’ve read since that post. Those first few years definitely had most of my favorites, but I’ve read some more gems since. ^_^

(Also, last time, I mentioned rereads as well, but I’ve done a fair amount of rereading DWJ these last couple of years and I’m mostly only listing the ones that are new reads this time.)

All titles link to Goodreads, in case you want to read more about them.

2016 (continued)

The Merlin Conspiracy

May 16, 2016

My original review consisted of this: “YES TO THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!! ❤ I need an elephant. AN ELEPHANT. Also Romanov. Yesssss. ACK DIANA WYNNE JONES BOOKS ARE LIFE I TELL YOU. (I may coherent a review someday.) ROMANOV.” So I must have liked it quite a lot, even if it’s a bit hazy in my memory due to how long it’s been since I read it. XD Definitely due for a reread! But it’s about Nick, who’s in Deep Secret, so that was fun. (Did you know he was slightly based on a teenaged Neil Gaiman? 😀 His not-coherent-until-breakfast-and-coffee parts, at least. XD) Also, I was reading it when I had a flu, which was appropriate, since one of the characters did too. XD

The Ogre Downstairs

August 6, 2016

This one was different but interesting, and a little more like a normal modern fantasy than I was used to reading by her. Many shenanigans and unreliable narration. XD But my favorite part was when two of the characters accidentally switched appearances and stuff ensued. XD A shorter read and kind of strange but fun!

Eight Days of Luke

December 28, 2016

Who likes Norse Myths? This fun little book by Diana Wynne Jones features some of that in some most unexpected ways! She was writing about Loki (and Thor etc.) in modern times back in 1975, before the Marvel movies were making this cool more recently. XD It’s been awhile since I read this one and I need to read it again, but I remember it being unique and really enjoying it. 😀 I liked David, and Loki is very much of a trickster! The mythology elements and characters are woven in so well, in surprising ways (DWJ is excellent at this), and there is much fire. XD Luke was just so much fun. XD

2017

Wild Robert

March 1, 2017

I wrote a review for this one awhile back but it was so much fun! It reminded me partially of The Boggart, and a little bit of Howl for some reason, and it was surprisingly short and I didn’t want it to end — it just stopped and I wanted more! Ack! But it was very cool and had so many shenanigans I loved the twists so much!

Aunt Maria

March 1, 2017

I reviewed this too, and it was really different. It built up and had some cool twists, and some of it was creepy, but it also had fun parts. And so many magical happenings and interesting characters! It’s told in first-person by Mig and it was sooo intriguing to read it as a journal of sorts. It also has one of my favorite quotes about happy endings. I love it so much and I had to make a quote graphic for it awhile back, which I’ve shared before but I have an excuse to share again. 😀

Hexwood

April 6, 2017

Another top-favorite one! And definitely requires more than one read-through. XD I re-read it for March Magics last year and it was even better the second time. It’s just a mind-blowing book, with soooo many different genres and complex twists all thrown together. I love it so much! And Mordion is my absolute favorite! Some of it’s a bit darker, and it’s terribly confusing at times until you piece together what’s happening (I kept a diagram of who was who while I read it!) but it’s just so unique and delightful. 😀 It also has out of order timey-wimey stuff, modern/sci-fi/fantasy, Arthurian elements, robots, dragons… ALL THE THINGS. Check out my review if you like. ^_^

Another of my favorite quotes. ❤

Puss in Boots

May 14, 2017

This is a rather short kid’s-book about Puss in Boots, which was fairly straightforward but a fun read. 🙂 I now consider it the ultimate version of this fairy tale. XD DWJ did a good job of making it make more sense and of course her cat character was fabulous. It was fun and had a few illustrations too. Not 100% necessary to read this one but I did really enjoy it. 🙂

Dogsbody

June 3, 2017

This one was sooo unique and I loved it being from the POV of a dog! And in Ireland. The mystery was really interesting. Also, the Wild Hunt! And sentient planets. *grinning* Yep, it has all sorts of things. XD Again, a bittersweet ending meant it wasn’t my faaaavorite, but there was a lot to love. But seriously, dog point of view! XD So much fun!

2018

The Game

March 6, 2018

The whole idea and the mythosphere and all the story bits were brilliant. I wish it had been longer than a novella because it was so fascinating. LOVED this one. I want to re-read it. I particularly love all the myth bits and the characters and all of it.

Yes Dear

March 18, 2018

This was a picture book! Which… again, I don’t remember that well, but I do remember reading it, on a special library trip to a library I hadn’t been to before, specifically because I knew this book was there and it was my birthday month and I wanted to read it. XD I know it was fun (people, pay attention if a child tells you something magical is happening. :P) and I was glad I read it!

The Homeward Bounders

March 12, 2018

EXTREMELY vivid and I loved parts of it, particularly the worldhopping stuff and a certain cool character! Actually, more than one… Just… bittersweet ending, and creepy parts, and I’m stark terrified of anchors now. O_O But a great narrator and WORLD HOPPINGGGG! Kinda mixed on it but there were definitely great things about it. Fascinating and intense and really interesting!

A Sudden Wild Magic

March 31, 2018

I enjoyed this one but I consider it one of her darker, stranger books. XD This one was written for adults so there was more content in this and just more disturbing, so… I figure you can give this one a miss unless you’re being thorough like I am and trying to read all her books. XD Feels a bit more scifi than some. I did enjoy parts of it though! I mostly remember the part with the guy who loved his car. XD And I think there were centaurs!

Dalemark Quartet Re-Read

Okay, I said I wasn’t going to post about re-reads in here, but it’s worth noting my epic re-read of the entire Dalemark Quartet in the second half of 2018. I loved it so much, and there were even plot threads I’d forgotten, so some of it was like discovering it the first time! DWJ is the only author who can do that to me. XD (We won’t discuss how many times I forgot and rediscovered the villain of Conrad’s Fate. XD)

2019

A Tale of Time City

January 6, 2019

Who loves timey-wimey stories? Meeee! A few of Diana Wynne Jones’s books have time stuff in them, most notably this one. The idea of Time City, a city outside time, was really cool. I read this one early last year and had a blast! A bit of sci-fi and WWII era for those who like that. (Even if I don’t usually; but I didn’t mind. XD) If you like Doctor Who you might enjoy this! Elio is the best and I NEED A BUTTER PIE!!!

Earwig and the Witch

January 20, 2019

The illustrations were actually really distracting for me on this one and I feel like I would have liked it better if it hadn’t been illustrated? That’s… weird and probably just me. XD It mostly wasn’t a super favorite but I did enjoy some of it, of course. There’s always something fun about DWJ books! Also, the cat was great. XD

That’s all I got to last year of new ones. I did a lot of re-reading DWJ throughout the rest of 2019, though, and it was so fun!

2020 (so far)

Unexpected Magic

January 8, 2020

An anthology of sci-fi and fantasy short stories. I especially loved No One (genius robot plots. XD), Little Dot (wonderful story from a cat’s point of view), and Everard’s Ride (unique novella set in historical times with some interesting twists and not quite like anything I’d read! One of the author’s earlier works). Some stories were creepy or a bit too weird — short stories are always hit or miss for me, regardless of their author, but it was a quite interesting collection! So glad I finally read this one.

The Islands of Chaldea

March 12, 2020

The latest one, which I just read this month for the first time! It was so much fun! I loved Aileen and the sprawling cast of varied characters. I loved the different islands and getting to travel across them (rather like the British Isles but still with their own twists). I loved the creatures! What fun. And I love how it all wrapped up rather well —  I’m quite curious where Diana’s sister Ursula picked up the story’s threads, but they worked quite well! And the little romance threads were adorable, and the twists were delightful! (Also, how about that hot air balloon?? <3) So much fun! What a delightful final work from an incredible author.


And there’s my DWJ Journey, part 2! I’ve so loved getting to discover more of her works in the last few years.

I still have a small handful left to read. (The Time of the Ghost, Witch’s Business/Wilkin’s Tooth, Stopping for a Spell… I think that’s it? Not really counting Changover since it was before her main works and so hard to find. There might be a stray short story or few.) But I’ve read most of her books — 39? I think? — and a couple other short stories.

It’s been a beautiful journey (8 years so far, as March 14 this month, which marked the 8 year anniversary of the first time I read Howl’s Moving Castle!), and the best thing about it is that I get to wander back down this road and stop to enjoy the stories and places along the way all over again.

Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading. ^_^

Emberhawk by Jamie Foley: Review!

Happy release day to this incredible adventuresome fantasy that I adored! Read on for my review, A.K.A. why you need to read this book at once. 😉

Title: Emberhawk

Author: Jamie Foley

  • Series: The Katrosi Revolution, #1
  • Date read: March 6-10, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 337 (paperback)
  • Fave character: Ryon, Felix, and two slightly-spoiler-ish characters. 😀
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free ARC from the author and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleSigned CopiesOther BookstoresAuthor’s Website

Emberhawk is an absolutely delicious book, with swashbuckling adventure, a richly detailed world, and snarky characters I had a total blast reading about! I loved it so much!

I’m a huge fan of Jamie Foley’s Sentinel Trilogy, so I was thrilled to get to dive into the first book in a new series set in the same world! Emberhawk takes place over a thousand years before Sentinel and has a different feel but is an equally fabulous read. Sentinel fans, you’re going to love this book—and if you’re new to Jamie’s works, Emberhawk is the perfect book to start with! IT’S. SO. GOOD.

THE ADVENTURE

I was totally absorbed in this fresh take on a fantasy story, and just wanted to hang out with these characters forever. The plot kept me enthralled, following our main characters, and I love how there’s an exciting story on the surface that at first seems like a straight-up adventure, but also extra depth and schemes hidden beneath the surface that slowly comes to light, masterfully woven in.

There are secrets, spies, shifting alliances . . . tribes and settlers, a tyrannical empire . . . It was SO intriguing to follow the different political schemes threaded through the adventure and find out who’s working for who. All the characters were so multi-faceted. Nothing’s as it seems! There were some really thrilling twists, especially near the end, that had me shrieking. Eep! (Also, aaahhh! I need to find out what happened to a certain character! Where’s book two? *grabby hands*)

Snarky banter and humor, a bit of star-crossed lovers tossed in, a rich and layered world (I love the world-building so much!), and all of that on TOP of a super thrilling, adventurous tale . . . and all tied together with the fabulous writing I’ve come to expect of this author. It doesn’t get better than this! 😀

THE CHARACTERS

Our main characters Kira and Ryon make a fabulous pair. I loved them so much! Ryon is awesome and epic, and I love his heart of gold character. He’s just the best! Kira is a bit of a trapper/inventor and a spitfire. Their banter gives me life. XD I adored reading their story and I love them so much!

Not to mention the other fabulous characters! Some of them I feel like it would kiiind of be a spoiler if I mentioned their names? Especially with certain loyalties being up in the air for a lot of the book. XD But there were some EPIC side characters who really grew on me and I’m so excited to read more about them! A certain under-cover guy (you’ll know who it is by the end!) who’s one of my favorites, and a certain antihero assassin-type character who is verrry intriguing and I so hope there is more to his story!

Felix gets his own paragraph because Feliiiiix! XD Snarky fox elemental—what is not to love? He’s in the Sentinel Trilogy a bit and I was delighted to find him in this book as well! The snark, his way of dashing about on side-quests and sassing everyone and being absolutely epic, and turning into other cute or epic animals—aaahh! Just. This fox! He’s sooo much fun!

IN SUMMARY

Elementals, forest adventures, elemental fire and water magic, creepy d’hakka (huge tree-spider-scorpions! :O), different cultures and alliances, true love and friendship and siblings, arrows and fire and disrupted ordinary lives, a princess, an assassin, nefarious plots, lovable characters and snark and romance . . . There is SO much excitement and awesomeness in this book! *hugs Emberhawk forever*

I just adore it and I NEED book two! Fantasy lovers, here’s another book that needs to go on your to-read list ASAP. A complete delight! ❤


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Facebook Live (March 10, 2020)

Also, if you see this before 8pm Central on release day (March 10), be sure to drop by at that time for a Facebook Live party on Jamie Foley’s Facebook page with Q&A, giveaways, and the cover-reveal for book 2, Silverblood! 😀

Have you read any of Jamie Foley’s books? What do you think of this one? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Stephen R. Lawhead: In the Region of the Summer Stars (Review)

I have a new favorite book and today I get to shriek about it to you guys to tide me over until I get my hands on the next book in the series! *grins*

Title: In the Region of the Summer Stars

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

  • Series: Eirlandia, #1
  • Date read: February 29, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars! (Summer ones. ;))
  • Genre: Celtic Fantasy
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 333 (hardcover)
  • Fave character: Conor
  • Source: Library
  • Links: GoodreadsBarnes & NobleAmazonAuthor’s Website
  • Quotes: “I sing because I have no more tears,” the bard replied.

Another deftly woven tale by master storyteller Stephen R. Lawhead, this book is sure to enchant fans new and old alike. It certainly delighted me! It felt like coming home. A new favorite! There are usually a handful of books each year that I want to award six out of five stars, and this is one of them.

Lawhead’s Bright Empires books are some of my favorites ever, so I was extremely excited to finally dive into Eirlandia. And book one has so lived up to my hopes! I love it so much and I can’t wait to read the second one soon to prep for the final book in the trilogy, releasing this summer. (Aaahh!)

I loved disappearing between the pages in this utterly absorbing tale, full of adventure and rich detail and characters who spring to life in this green land of wonders and warriors and words. I lived and breathed it, completely captivated. I love Celtic things, and this is a splendid Celtic Fantasy. I need more books like this!

A few things I loved:

THE SETTING + FEEL

From the first page I just felt so at home reading In the Region of the Summer Stars. The feel of this book touched my Irish soul and makes me think back on memories of the tales of old Ireland that I grew up listening to and reading about. Stepping through the page into Eirlandia made me so happy to just be there.

Welcome to a skillfully woven tale of warriors and druids and faery. Travel the rolling hills and secret forests and cliffs by the sea. Join these various clans and feel the strong themes of brothers-in-arms, honor, loyalty, and fierce bravery, but with dashes of good-natured humor. I didn’t know quite what I expected, but it was everything I wanted. ^_^

The way the characters talk is also great—I love how it has an Irish lilt to it just with the way they say things. It makes me happy. (And their lighthearted Irish sense of humor which is the best.) I also loved the familiar words and names, the rich history and lore they’re drawn from, and even the sounds of them. Brehons, Tuatha de Danann, Lughnasadh, Tylwyth Teg, Tir nan Og. Oenach, Aoife, Eamon, Brigantes. Harps and pipes and bodhran drums, checked cloaks and spears and brooches and torcs. Just all of it. ^_^ The sound and feel of it makes me happy like nothing else does aside from J. R. R. Tolkien’s world of The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings. (And yes, I do have an idea of how to pronounce most of those, I promise. XD)

THE PLAYERS

Then there’s Conor. Conor mac Ardan has this marvelous way of being clever and stubborn and loyal and thick-headed and chaotically reckless all in turn. He’s my favorite! I loved following him through the book on his journey. The way he comes up with the most outlandish plans that are sheer crazy and yet somehow he charges in and pulls them off—mostly. It’s the best! And yet he’s super smart, too, sometimes, and a really skilled warrior (honestly, though. So. Epic.), and you won’t meet a more loyal or honorable friend, either. Occasionally Madoc or Donal and Fergal have to smack some sense into him, but that just makes him all the more human. 😉 Conor is the best, okay! My new favorite hero.

I love the other inhabitants of this tale as well! Conor’s brothers-in-arms Donal and Fergal are fabulous. I love their camaraderie with Conor and each other, and their loyalty and joking around! It’s like the best kind of brother/buddy tale and I love it. Madoc is a marvelous mentor-type character—I loved him and his dryness and wisdom, and how he makes Conor work at figuring things out instead of just telling him things. 😛 Rhiannon is fascinating but I won’t spoil info about her. And so many other people. They’re all so real and I just loved reading about them! Oh, and the bits between some of the chapters, from the points of view of other characters than Conor, were fabulous and enlightening. So neat.

I loved seeing some good and wise druids (yesss) and bards, and the faery were magnificent. I was quite pleased with how they were written and hope to see more of them! They felt just right. Another thing I appreciated was the horses and how central they were to the story, and how the warriors cared for them. They were like characters themselves instead of just transportation that gets forgotten about like in some fantasy books. XD The attention to details like that was delightful.

THE STORY + ENDING

While it’s not non-stop action (though there is a bunch of that!), the story definitely kept me absorbed and on the edge of my seat the entire time, full of devious plots and intrigue and mysteries, which were fascinating to follow along as Conor and company attempted to untangle the threads to see the pattern lurking behind all the guile. Threats and invaders, cunning kings and betrayal, secrets and hidden schemes . . . it was all there!

(Just a heads-up that there were one or two scenes that were a tad dark or gruesome etc., so a brief caution to younger readers or those who prefer to avoid it. Other than a couple of parts, though, I wouldn’t have minded reading it in my teen years in the not-so-distant-past.)

There were some marvelous twists at the end that had me going WHAAAAT! :O That ending, though! It was sooo good. So many things going down. O_O I stayed up late and finished around midnight and WOW. It ended on a wee bit of a cliffhanger, so it did. 😉 I need to get my hands on a copy of In the Land of the Everliving as soon as I can, or sooner!

CONCLUSION

Ancient Ireland + warrior brothers-in-arms + mystery/adventure + faery + druids + delightful characters + masterful writing = what’s not to love? IT’S JUST SO GOOD. I love it so much!

In the Region of the Summer Stars was magnificent and blew me away. I’m thrilled to have stepped into Eirlandia in this tale, and I can’t wait to go back. ❤


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Any Lawhead fans out there? Have you read this one? What do you think? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Beyond the Shadowed Earth by Joanna Ruth Meyer (Review)

I’ve got a review for you today! A review for a book by one of my favorite authors — and I can definitely say the book wasn’t quite like anything I’ve read before!

Title: Beyond the Shadowed Earth

Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer

  • Date read: January 31, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Epic Fantasy
  • Age: YA/NA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 400
  • Series: Companion novel to Beneath the Haunting Sea, but stands alone
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s WebsiteBarnes & Noble

About Beyond the Shadowed Earth

It has always been Eda’s dream to become empress, no matter the cost. Haunted by her ambition and selfishness, she’s convinced that the only way to achieve her goal is to barter with the gods. But all requests come with a price and Eda bargains away the soul of her best friend in exchange for the crown.

Years later, her hold on the empire begins to crumble and her best friend unexpectedly grows sick and dies. Gnawed by guilt and betrayal, Eda embarks on a harrowing journey to confront the very god who gave her the kingdom in the first place. However, she soon discovers that he’s trapped at the center of an otherworldly labyrinth and that her bargain with him is more complex than she ever could have imagined.

Set in the same universe as Joanna’s debut, Beneath the Haunting Sea, Beyond the Shadowed Earth combines her incredible world building and lush prose with a new, villainous lead.


What a stunning, mythic, gripping fantasy tale! This again affirms that I want to read everything this author writes. AWK! There are so many twists and it was so unique that it’s going to be hard to write a spoiler-free review, but I’ll give it a shot. I had SO MANY FEELS after reading it that it took me awhile to sort them out enough to write this review. I’m not sure I’ve quite recovered, even now. XD

Beyond the Shadowed Earth was rich and vivid, gritty, raw, but also gorgeous. It’s darker than I usually like but I still loved it! The writing utterly captivated me, completely reeling me in to this world. Golden deserts and lush palaces (perfect for climbing on the roofs! ;)), rugged mountains and sea and travel, and so much imaginative fantasy effortlessly threaded through the whole.

I was a little nervous about the main character, Eda, having been a villain in the companion book. I loathed her in that. XD But, as I should have guessed (given this author’s talent), Eda totally grew on me and had a fascinating journey in this book. No spoilers but I’m extremely impressed with the writing and her story and have a lot feels! What a spitfire. It’s been quite a journey, that’s for sure!

The characters were all very well drawn and intriguing, and it’s fitting that you could never be quite sure where their schemes lay, given that Eda herself is somewhat of a scheming character—eheheh. I was kept very much on my toes with all the deceptions and twists! The characters were all very real, and I don’t want to give any spoilers but their stories were fascinating. I particularly loved the mapmaker, Morin! Also his sister. Actually, sisters in general played a big part and seemed like a theme in the book, which I loved!

I will mention that it’s very dark. There’s a looot of blood and death and betrayal, and mild swearing, and some quite creepy, disturbing parts—which comes with the territory, I suppose. XD I’d recommend it for more mature teens and up.

Moving back to more things I loved! One of my favorite things about this world is their mythology and how we get bits of stories within this story. I absolutely loved that! It gave it so much depth and richness and was just so interesting. Also, the eagles!! I loved them so much! (You’ll see what I mean when you read it. ;)) One of my favorite parts was the second half, with the mountains and the journeying. (Also! Snow leopard!! *squeaking*)

This book is a companion novel to Beneath the Haunting Sea, which I also loved. Both can stand alone, and are very different, but I loved the nods, references, and parallels between the two!

It’s like nothing I’ve read before! Although, having said that, I suppose it does remind me some of The Silmarillion, for the scope and the “gods” in this (who seem to be spirits much like the Valar in The Silmarillion), though created by the One. And I hear that it’s rather like Megan Whalen Turner’s books too, which makes me curious to try those! And the deserty bits reminded me a little of King’s Folly by Jill Williamson. Okay, so it did remind me of other things, but still felt utterly unique and new. If you enjoyed any of those three, or are already a Joanna Ruth Meyer fan, you need to give this a shot.

The themes were really interesting and left me thinking about this story for days afterward—as did all of my poor tangled feels which took me awhile to untangle enough to write this review! XD So many feels! I just—awk! How do I even explain this book and all the thiiings and feels! *collapses* It was just really good, and in a sense I’m surprised at myself for liking it as much as I did, because some of it just isn’t my cup of tea, but I still just . . . really enjoyed it!

Overall, it’s darker than I usually enjoy reading, but it was so breathtaking I didn’t mind as much, and despite the shadows and death and rawness, there’s a beautiful tale of redemption here, with excellent twists and gorgeous writing. If you love fantasy and can handle a darker tale, this one is well worth checking out!


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Have you read any of this author’s books? I totally recommend them! Echo North and Beneath the Haunting Sea are both lovely as well! Thanks for reading! 🙂