Archives

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. 😄 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

10 Thoughts on Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

3.5 stars? (Rounding to 4)

Title: Mansfield Park

Author: Jane Austen

  • Date read: March 10, 2017
  • Rating: 3.5 stars, rounding up to 4-ish?
  • Genre: Classic / Historical Fiction (Regency)
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 1815
  • Pages: (I read it in a collection with tiiiny type, so not sure it counts… Some edition is listed on Goodreads as 560 pages so I’m going with that)
  • Illustrator: Hugh Thomson (does two illustrations count?)
  • Fave character: Fanny, Edmund (sometimes)
  • Source: (Collection) from library sale
  • Notes: In collection Jane Austen: Her Complete Novels

[Mansfield Park on Goodreads — see my review on Goodreads here]

10 Thoughts About Mansfield Park

(in the form of things I liked and disliked)

LIKES

1. Fanny, poor thing, and how she stuck firm to right even though she was a timid introverted soul who was so Cinderella-ed (a word which here means trodden upon by jerkish relatives/acquaintances/“friends”, and basically treated like dirt. [Oh, joy.]) that it was painful to read. She was nice. 🙂

2. Edmund (sometimes; when he was being sweet and not A BLIND FOOL). He was an excellent character at times—so sweet and thoughtful and kind. 🙂 Especially in contrast to every other character in the book… Anyways, at times he was great! (We won’t talk about the other times, which is why they’re in parentheses.)

3. I had enormous fun connecting Cinderella parallels whether they were intended to be there or not. (I needed to make something fun in this…)

4. How everyone pretty much got their due at the end… more or less. It made it almost worth it.

5. On that note, it’s hard to explain exactly, but I did like the outlook on things. Putting value on being moral and standing up for your beliefs and a quiet life in the country, versus a life of vice and doing what everyone else does and city life; and doing all of it through the story and dialog, too. ’Twas well-done. (It does make me think that Jane Austen would hate living in our modern era. Just sayin’.)

Bonus like: a quote that I loved (the speakers are Edmund, then Mary Crawford, then Edmund again)

You are speaking of London, I am speaking of the nation at large.”

“The metropolis, I imagine, is a pretty fair sample of the rest.”

“Not, I should hope, of the proportion of virtue to vice throughout the kingdom. We do not look in great cities for our best morality.”

DISLIKES

1. Every character in the entire book, except Fanny, and her brother William, and occasionally Edmund, are all HORRIBLE HORRIBLE BEINGS. It’s exhausting to read a book about this. (Okay, maybe I’m being sliiightly unfair. There were occasional moments of almost-human decency scattered through the cast. BUT IT WAS RARE.)

2. Mrs. Norris. I LOATHED MRS. NORRIS. The stingy aunt of Fanny, she’s basically a cross between an evil-stepmother and the type of miser that Scrooge was trying to be all his life and never quite made it to, with a dash of thorough mean-spiritedness. SHE WAS HORRIBLE, OKAY. UGH. -_- One of the worst characters in the history of EVER. Excuse me a moment, I need to go scrub my memory with bleach to get rid of my memories of her…

3. Mary Crawford. Can I get another UGH in, please? Because UGH. She’s this frilly little light-hearted soul who blinds Edmund in a really stupid kind of love (I can’t see WHY) and pretends to be BFFs with Fanny, but is actually self-centered and has not a bit of good deep down, really, and is thick as thieves with her awful brother and thinks he’s amusing and the best. Blech. -_- Speaking of…

4. Henry Crawford. He’s awful. I didn’t loathe him as much as Mrs. Norris and Mary through most of the book, but he’s awful. He’s a worse person than they are, definitely. I mean, deciding to purposefully try to make a girl fall in love with him, just to break her heart? SERIOUSLY WHO DOES THAT? *is disgusted*

5. Basically, it was way too long to spend reading a 150,000+ word novel about horrible characters being horrible to a poor put-upon heroine, and all the characters being paired with the wrong characters through almost the entire book until like the last two pages (I’m not even exaggerating), in which all that happens is awful things to the heroine. IT WAS HARD TO HANDLE, OKAY. I don’t usually say books are too long, but I would have been okay with this being a third of the length instead of suffering through that. many. pages. Don’t get me wrong—it was well-written and I did enjoy things about it (see above) but the subject matter was just so unpleasant that I, personally, had a hard time reading it.

Conclusion

Overall, not my favorite, but regardless, Jane Austen’s still a fairly excellent author, and I’m very pleased to have finally read her 6 novels. 🙂

Have you read Mansfield Park, or any Jane Austens? Let me know what you think of them!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages…

~ The Page Dreamer

Magician’s Ward by Patricia C. Wrede

magiciansward

5starrating

Title: Magician’s Ward

Author: Patricia C. Wrede

factoids

Date read: January 6, 2017

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: Regency Romance Fantasy

Age: YA

Year published: 1998

Pages: 288 (paperback)

Series? Book 2

Favorite character: Mairelon

Source: From library sale

Notes: I didn’t read book 1: Mairelon the Magician. (Also note: both books are available in a collection titled A Matter of Magic, which has the added perk of having a nicer cover than either volumes do alone.)

review

Georgette Heyer meets Diana Wynne Jones (though without quite the ridiculously wild shenanigans/characters and not as uproariously funny, yet still amusing in its own right) in a Jonathan-Strange-esque historical fantasy setting. Basically, this is a Regency Romance with magic. How delightful is that? 😀

It’s technically a sequel… but I got along just fine without having read the first book (titled Mairelon the Magician).

Our heroine, Kim, is a former street thief, who used to live on the streets of London, masquerading as a boy, and now lives in a fine house in London as the ward of Richard Merrill, a.k.a. Mairelon the Magician. Apparently the first book is about how they met. Mairelon is an upstanding gentleman (not to mention a somewhat young, handsome, and rich one, and therefore not ineligible) who, oh yes, also happens to be a magician.

The enjoyments of this novel include:

  • Getting to see a girl who lived most of her life as a street-thief try to fit well enough into Polite Society (think Jane Austen heroines) so that Mairelon’s Aunt Agatha won’t have a fit at her being improper (hint: Kim isn’t always trying, plus she has bad habits of talking in street-thief slang, so this does not always go well), while also being Mairelon’s apprentice and learning magic and trying to look after him in her way, while trying to solve a mystery.
  • Being immersed in the alternate history Regency setting, where magic is an established part of the world and it all makes total sense, and makes for a very fun read.
  • A mystery which kept me puzzled right through, involving an attempted-burglary in the house library, mysterious books, unusual magics, and suspense about various magical goings-on.
  • Mairelon himself, a character I took to at once and adopted into my “favorites” category. He reminded me somewhat of a slightly tamer version of Chrestomanci or Howl (likely because he’s a magician), and his cleverly cutting words where he manages to be impolite without seeming so (sometimes) were simply a joy. You can see he doesn’t really always care what Polite Society (so-called, as he says) thinks of him, but has to tread the line carefully so as to not utterly scandalize his aunt. MAIRELON IS AWESOME. That is all. ❤
  • Kim and Mairelon together are fabulous too. I will spoil nothing, but they’re great. 😀
  • Other characters, who include Hunch the loyal and grouchy manservant, a Russian Prince, some French magicians, and Mairelon’s mother who’s a fascinating character in her own right.
  • Humor and fun dialog too. ❤

Really, I don’t know what else to say. It’s a Regency Romance with fantasy, fun characters, and—oh yes—it’s by Patricia C. Wrede, who wrote the amazingness that is the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Searching for Dragons being one of my top-favorite books ever).

Jane-Austen-with-magic-and-mystery-and-cutting-dialog-and-Mairelon. What more need be said?

Fantasy Regency Romance should be a thing. I had no idea I was missing it, but now I need more of it in my life.


What think ye, my Pagelings? And have you ever read a Regency Fantasy? If so, PLEASE SPILL BECAUSE I WANT ‘EM.

(Posting this fantasy review today in appreciation of February is Fantasy Month hosted by Jenelle Schmidt!)

February-Fantasy-Month-Banner

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

 

Ghostly Echoes (A Jackaby Novel) by William Ritter

ghostlyechoes

3starratingTitle: Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby, #3)

Author: William Ritter

review

I’ve been looking forward to reading this for quite awhile, and now I have conflicted feelings on this book, and I can’t entirely decide what I think about it or what I should rate it. I just feel vaguely “meh.” I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but afterward… I dunno. I LOVED the first book (and the novella); the second one annoyed me; this one just fell a little flat somehow?

A couple things annoyed me/I didn’t like, or seemed totally randomly thrown in there “just because”, which was weird, and a couple things came out of the blue or weren’t explained; plus it was darker/creepier than the first two, at least to me. I mean, it’s about a ghost and underworld stuff, and there’s a ghost in the title so obviously. 😄 And I didn’t mind a lot of that as much as I thought I would, but still not as fun as the first one.

Buuut it did have some cool Faerie stuff in this one, so I liked that.

But it also kind of cliffhangered! At least, the book was suddenly over but the story wasn’t. So I feel strangely like I didn’t finish reading the book? Even though I know I did. It’s… kind of a weird feeling… >.> I do look forward to reading the final book whenever it comes out to see how it all ends up, but there’s some spark that the first one had that’s just died for me in the last couple. Might just be me, though.

I do still like Jackaby (most of the time), and Charlie’s loyal and adorable and awesome, just… not around very much (his parts were cool though). And I liked the Faerie stuff! Even though some of that was weird too, as were all the dead-people type things. And Jackaby doesn’t seem to be his usual fabulous self all the time. I mean, he is, and I still like him, but he’s not as THERE with his lines as he used to be; at least I don’t think so.

Anyway, it’s a pretty good book, just… I’m not enjoying them as much as they go on, I guess. (It’s also very possible I just wasn’t in the mood when I read it, since I was sick. *shrug*) I guess I enjoyed it okay, I just feel “meh” and mostly kinda left hanging since it didn’t wrap things up and is just leading up to the next book… But Jackaby is still fun to read most of the time, so there’s that. 🙂 And we get some slight hints about Jackaby backstory in this, so that’s neat… Hopefully there will be more in book 4. >:D

So, overall… read the first book, Jackaby, and the novella The Map. I’m still on the fence about the rest, so that will probably remain true until I can see how it wraps up in the final book. *nod* There’s just something about reading an “unfinished” book that leaves me unable to review it very well… Beware of cliffhangers, people!

summary

From Goodreads:

ghostlyechoescoverJenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

factoids

Genre/Category: Historical Fantasy / Mystery / Paranormal

Age Group: YA

Published: 2016

Pages: 340

Series?: Book 3 in the Jackaby Series — 1 Jackaby, 2 Beastly Bones, 1.5 The Map. (See my series review for all of these.)

When Read: November 28-29, 2016

Favorite Character: Jackaby, Charlie

Source: Library

findbook

{Goodreads} • {Amazon} • {Barnes & Noble}


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

 

The Spirit Well by Stephen R. Lawhead

spirit-well

5starrating

Title: The Spirit Well (Bright Empires, #3)

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

review

The middle book in this 5-book series, The Spirit Well was another great addition to the Bright Empires novels. Enthralled, I sped through it in just a few days and can’t wait to continue the saga. Once again, I’m in a hurry to review this one, in effect capturing my thoughts at this point, so I can scurry along to read book 4, The Shadow Lamp… I must find out what happens next!

Again, the character list, “previously”, and ending essay were amusing and enlightening — I just love how even the extra beginning and ending matter are interesting. In short, I love basically every word of these books — literally.

The story itself is progressing in quite a fascinating manner, branching out in all directions (past/present/etc.). There were many new revelations! Some of a tragic or scary nature… and others verrrry intriguing… Let’s just say there’s a lot going on (and as the series progresses, it’s increasingly difficult to write spoiler-free reviews, but I shall do my best). The writing continues to be phenomenal as well and it’s just a pleasure to read. 🙂

There’s quite a collection of characters by now, but I never got them mixed up, and they were one and all delightful to read about. There were several point-of-view characters, both familiar and new; most notably Cassandra Clarke. I think I like Cass. *nod* Kit and Wilhelmina continue to be my favorite people to read about, on their separate journeys. I JUST LOVE THEM SO MUCH. ❤ I always love reading about them. It’s also always interesting to get glimpses at the lives of the generations of the Flinders-Petrie family: Arthur, Benedict, Charles, and Douglas, piecing things together. (And I’m also beginning to know what to think about them… hmm…) I still loathe Burleigh and Snipe, for the record. (But what’s a book without some well-placed loathing for the villains, I ask you.) Still on the fence about Lady Fayth… I love Etzel and Giles, and En-Ul and his River City Clan. We can add the Zetetic Society (mostly Brendan [Irish accent!], Rosemary [tea!], Tess [oh goodness, this lady! XD]) to our list of new acquaintances — still working on what I think about the society as a whole since I feel only recently acquainted with it, but methinks I like these people — as well as Brother Lazarus, who’s a definite new favorite. He’s an extremely quotable chap. 🙂 The people in these books are so well written!

Once again, we’re all over the map and time-periods, and I absolutely love it. Modern-day Arizona (that’s new! We hadn’t been to America yet…), the Stone Age, Egypt, China, 1600s Prague, 1800s Italy, 1970s Spain, 1930s Damascus, present-day London, 1800s England, medieval Oxford… (And of course Black Mixen Tump. I love saying that name — dunno why — even though it’s a scary place.) What a delightful tapestry of time and locality! Not to mention sprinklings of different languages (German, Spanish, Italian, French, Latin) for an extra immersive, authentic flavor. These books positively ooze rich multi-cultural feelings and it’s glorious.

I’m not sure exactly why I felt this way (maybe because we didn’t in book 2?) but it was neat to pop back into modern-day London again! That part, and the contrast with the older time periods, was great. Love love love! (Sale! Everything must go! 😄 Goodness, how awful. :P) And ah, good old Grafton Street, bringing back memories of the opening of book 1… It makes me all nostalgic. (I still can’t help but feel that the opening chapter of The Skin Map, “In Which Old Ghosts Meet”, when paired with the presence of a “Grafton Street” in London, is suspiciously like a reference to a certain old song I know… Especially when so many characters in these books are so fond of repeating that there’s no such thing as coincidence…)

Some of the interlacing storylines, especially Mina’s, make my head hurt, and I love it. Time travel-y stories are delightful to read about. She hadn’t… done something important yet that we saw happen in book 1 — MIND. BLOWN. I was even trying to make a time/character thread diagram, which… didn’t go so well. 😄 I’m still trying to wrap my head around some of the time-y things.

Did I have quibbles or uncertainties? Maybe a couple. One part was very sad… even though I should have expected it. But still. Sadness. 😦 There were a couple things that had me pausing to reflect, leading to some interesting ponderings, so even if I wasn’t sure how I felt about them, they at least served the purpose of making me think. I’ll have to see how things pan out in the rest of the series, but they didn’t make me dislike it, per se, just… unsure. So my quibbles aren’t really quibbles, and I don’t have any concrete complaints.

A few more brief thoughts/reactions:

  • I love how the experiences of Kit and Wilhelmina in the times/places they “adopt” (or… perhaps adopt them?) are so good for them. ❤ They really benefit from their adventures, which is fabulous.
  • There is much tea and yummy foods. (In the words of Brendan: “That will be Mrs. Peelstick making tea. We live on tea, it seems.” …I love this book.)
  • It’s still perfectly enjoyable/appropriate for Young Adult readers, as well as for older adults, I would say — basically, everyone should read it.
  • Some more tendrils of Christianity creep into this book than in the previous two — the tapestry is widening out.
  • The language barrier/misunderstanding about the map was very well done.
  • The new ley lamp is absolutely fascinating.
  • The moment when a certain… erm… cat shows up by a certain… erm… road — that was one of those priceless moments of AAHH which I loved. No idea why, I just did.
  • I found the Spanish peoples’ reactions to Kit to be hilarious — nobody wanted to deal with him, and they kept shuffling him off to somebody else. 😄
  • That ending! How can it stop there? *flailing around* These books do have a tendency to simply stop and leave one squirming for the next one. 😉 I must read book 4 ASAP.

Overall? I greatly enjoyed this one and can safely say that it has joined the ranks along with The Skin Map (book 1) and The Bone House (book 2) as excellent specimens of books in a series I’m enjoying more and more.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I have a large book titled The Shadow Lamp (Quest the Fourth) calling my name, which I intend to devour at once. Toodle-pip and all that.

I will leave you with some quotes from The Spirit Well to help convince you that you need this series in your life (because you do, you know).

FAVORITE QUOTES

“I insist you go away before we both say something we will have need of confessing.”

“Dear lady,” offered the priest with a smile, “there are no accidents.”

Kit spent the next few hours idling in the gate-keeper’s lodge as a sort of quasi-captive — he was not locked up, nor was he free to go, for every time he got up and tried to leave, the porter came running after him, scolding in Spanish, and he was pushed back into the lodge. [I have no idea why I laughed so hard at this, but there you go.]

The old lady regarded her with a sudden intensity, then announced, “I’m going to adopt you, dear heart. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not at all,” Cass replied. “But do I look like I need adopting?”
“Not in the least,” Tess answered.

Probably, I should have locked Kit in the strongbox as well, she thought sulkily. [Wilhelmina, of course.]

“I am gobsmacked. … You clever little thing.” [Mina again. I love her dialog.]

“Don’t you know?”
He shook his head. “Nobody tells me anything.” [<– The story of Kit’s life, right there.]

“It does not matter where one starts; it is where one finishes that makes all the difference.”

summary

From Goodreads:

3spiritwell

The search for the map — and the secret behind its cryptic code — intensifies in a quest across time, space, and multiple realities.

But what if the true treasure isn’t the map at all . . . what if the map marks something far greater? Something one world cannot contain? Those who desire to unlock that mystery are in a race to possess the secret — for good or evil.

Kit Livingstone is mastering the ability to travel across realities using ley lines and has forged a link from the Bone House, a sacred lodge made of animal bones, to the fabled Spirit Well, a place of profound power.

His friend Mina is undercover in a Spanish monastery high in the Pyrenees, learning all she can from a monk named Brother Lazarus. Still determined to find Kit, she is beginning to experience a greater destiny than she can fathom.

Cassandra Clarke is overseeing an archaeological dig in Arizona when a chance encounter transports her to 1950s Damascus. There, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to the Seekers — the last living remnants of the Zetetic Society who need her help to track down the missing Cosimo Livingstone and his grandson Kit.

But there are darker forces at work in the universe whose agents always seem to be one step ahead of the rest–and they’re all desperate to gain the ultimate prize in this treasure hunt where the stakes increase at every turn. At the heart of the mystery lies the Spirit Well.

factoids

Genre/Category: Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Sci-fi / Time Travel / Christian / Contemporary

Age Group: Young Adult. Adults will enjoy too.

Published: 2012

Pages: 375 hardcover

Series?: Book 3 in the Bright Empires series. (Book 1: The Skin Map — read my review here. Book 2: The Bone House — read my review here.) Followed by The Shadow Lamp, and The Fatal Tree.

brightempireslawheadcollage

When Read: October 5-7, 2016

Favorite Character: Wilhelmina and Kit.

Source: Library

Other Notes: Be sure to pick up the first two books first! 🙂

findbook

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


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

The Bone House by Stephen R. Lawhead

bonehouse

5starrating

Title: The Bone House (Bright Empires, #2)

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

review

It’s a mind-baffling attempt, trying to figure out how to review this book… But I shall give it a shot so that I can capture some of my thoughts as they are at this point in the saga, before launching into reading book 3, The Spirit Well.

The Bone House picks up more or less where book 1 in The Bright Empires series, The Skin Map, left off — I say more or less, since the time aspect makes such statements more complicated and… fluid than usual, and let’s just say that “chronology” is a word I only dreamed of while reading this book, in the best possible way. 😉 It makes me want to start an elaborate chart to map out the character threads, timelines, eras, and locations… That would be FUN! And mind-boggling, but hey.

This series (of which The Bone House is but the second part out of five) is a wonderful mental exercise, which I’m enjoying immensely. 🙂 The myriad of character threads, localities, times periods, and relative time lines to each other, not to mention the way the story leaps between characters from chapter to chapter with abandon — it all calls for a very elastic mind! Like I said, excellent mental exercise. 😀

Not to mention that it makes me think and want to ask questions and to LEARN things. Which is just a lovely side-effect of this exciting timey-adventure (with many breath-taking parts, twists, and fascinating timey things which I LOVE), which I couldn’t put down. I’ve never read anything quite like this series!

Let me just put it this way: If most novels are the equivalent of a jog for the mind, the Bright Empires series is like parkour… in zero gravity… through multiple universes. 😉

This delightful second book, which I enjoyed as much as The Skin Map, carries us through time and geography to Egypt, England, Prague… to the Etruscans, and even people of the Stone Age… as well as the 1200s, 1600s, 1800s, and naturally includes characters from our own 21st century.

Each place, each person or group of people we meet, is steeped in the fascinating and rich tones of cultures old and new, strange and familiar, and all equally skillfully penned. I felt entirely drawn into each place, and the details were fabulous and so gorgeously written. I just felt THERE the entire time. The bits of other languages scattered throughout — Latin, German, some prehistoric dialect — lent an even further air of rich immersion. I just LOVED being so fully inside these places!

Also, the part with the “River City Clan” as Kit dubs them, in the Stone Age, was one of my favorite parts! I don’t want to give anything away, but I simply loved how they were portrayed, in such a unique and intriguing way. They felt… right somehow; not bumbling backward cavemen of the cliche mentality moderns hold, but solid, close to the earth, with their own wisdom and close connection with each other, which we seem to have forgotten in this, our own “civilized” age. It was… refreshing to consider another perspective, to see these simple folk who are more complex than one might think. I also really loved the part with En-Ul — it was fantastic. Love, love, love. I guess the whole cavemen thing and how Lawhead did it surprised me, in a good way. I just… really really liked it. 🙂

Time would fail me (in more ways than one) to discuss each facet of this book with all the different places and things that happened, plus I don’t want to give it away and spoil the joy of discovering it yourself… So I think I will say a few words about the wonderful characters and then dash off to read the next book… 😉

As a general note, I ADORED how the characters in this book were mostly… nice people. That may sound strange, but it was refreshing to me to read about characters who are actually decent folks, with the good old ways of hospitality and cordiality even to strangers. Again, something this modern age may lack? There was by no means any shortage of suspense (goodness, no! ALL the suspense!) but it shows that there are more subtle ways of keeping us on the edge of our seat in books than through every person the main characters meet being awful people who are out to mess up their lives. …I mean, there are obviously villains to do that still (in a serious way! O_O Eep to Burleigh and company… *shivers*) but the world(s) seemed to be inhabited by REAL people, not caricatures full of “flaws” and suspicion and general ill-will toward the heroes. And maybe no one else understands what I’m trying to say, or cares, but to me it was important, and again, it was a different take, which I really liked. 🙂 I like when things make me think and make me feel welcomed, and when I can truly ENJOY them, which is definitely true of these books.

While thinking about villains (if I can call them all such… hmm… I shall look forward to more developments!), let me just say that even being in their points of view was really interesting; if slightly disturbing… There were a lot of different points of view, even among the heroes, and though some readers might not appreciate so many different viewpoints flipping back and forth throughout the book, yet I found the many perspectives quite bracing and intriguing, personally!

All the character-threads were so neat and I can’t wait to follow them further through the rest of the series! Arthur Flinders-Petrie and his line, Lady Haven Fayth (what’s her deal??) and even Archelaeus Burleigh himself, in his own shadowy way… Eep. Side characters such as Xian-Li, Etzel, Dr. Thomas Young, Giles, and all the rest, are still a delight to meet, follow, and learn more about… So real and varied. I just love them all! (All right, not such a fan of Snipe. O_O He scares me a little… I’m not sure what to think of some of the characters yet…)

My favorite main characters, though, are still Kit and Wilhelmina and their two different storylines. 🙂 Kit is still such an enjoyable chap to read about — I don’t even know why, he’s just… amiable and British, in whose mind it’s something between fun and amusing to be in — and I greatly enjoyed his escapades, even when he did blunder a little… but, well, we can’t all be Minas. 😉 Even if we wish to be… Wilhelmina is AMAZING, by the way. I loved her in The Skin Map already, but she takes another step in The Bone House, into a new role as one of my favorite characters ever. I basically want to be her. Or, barring that, at least be more like her. (She’s also the only female character in a book that I’ve felt that way about since I was very young. This is big news.) I don’t think I can even begin to accurately describe her in this small space, but she’s brave and warmhearted and smart and confident and friendly and enterprising and she has that charming lively way with words and… I just feel like if she’s around, everything might be okay, you know? It’s a feeling I can’t quite put my finger on, but she’s definitely a favorite character, and one I’d like to be more like myself. She’s really fitting in fabulously in 1600s Prague, like a duck to water, and has come so far from the beginning of the first book — and so has Kit, at that, in his own way. Anyway, I can’t wait to read more about all of these characters!

Even the little things add fabulous touches to this book: clever and/or amusing chapter titles; the helpful (and witty) list of characters and the “Previously” summary at the beginning which did wonders to refresh my memory of the happenings in book 1 (I wish I’d re-read The Skin Map before embarking on The Bone House, since it was over a year between readings for me, but the summary was very helpful and I think I did okay); and the essay at the end which was fascinating… Even little things like Etzel’s muffins (I want some now!) and such thoughts from Mina as: Plus, of course, she would have chocolate. A girl after my own heart. 😉

(One final note: it’s “clean” and age appropriate for teens. 🙂 I’d class it as Young Adult, content wise, though adults will enjoy it as well. So, all you young people who care about such things, this series is not actually Adult, even if the main characters are in their twenties. I think young adults will love reading these. I may have left the ranks of teenagerdom somewhat recently, but I’m still a teen at heart and there was nothing that bothered me. :))

I think I can safely say that I greatly enjoyed The Bone House (in fact, I can’t think of a single complaint I have about it!). Another excellent read from a masterful author. I have a feeling that, as only part two out of five, this far-reaching and intricate tapestry has only begun, and I can’t wait to follow the ever-more-tangled threads into the next part!

Onward, to The Spirit Well!

summary

From Goodreads:

2bonehouseKit Livingstone met his great-grandfather Cosimo in a rainy alley in London where he discovered the truth about alternate realities.

Now he’s on the run — and on a quest — trying to understand the impossible mission he inherited from Cosimo: to restore a map that charts the hidden dimensions of the multiverse. Survival depends on staying one step ahead of the savage Burley Men.

The key is the Skin Map — but where it leads and what it means, Kit has no idea. The pieces have been scattered throughout this universe and beyond.

Mina, from her outpost in seventeenth-century Prague, is quickly gaining both the experience and the means to succeed in the quest. Yet so are those with evil intent who, from the shadows, are manipulating great minds of history for their own malign purposes.

Those who know how to use the ley lines have left their own world behind to travel across time and space — down avenues of Egyptian sphinxes, to an Etruscan tufa tomb, into a Bohemian coffee shop, and across a Stone Age landscape where universes collide — in this, the second quest to unlock the mystery of “The Bone House.”

The Bright Empires series — from acclaimed author Stephen R. Lawhead — is a unique blend of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery. The result is a page-turning adventure like no other.

factoids

Genre/Category: Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Sci-fi / Time Travel / Contemporary (ish; linked to our time) etc.

Age Group: Young Adult — Adults will enjoy too!

Published: 2011

Pages: 385 hardcover

Series?: Book 2 in the Bright Empires series. (Book 1: The Skin Map — read my review here.) Followed by The Spirit Well, The Shadow Lamp, The Fatal Tree.

brightempireslawheadcollage

When Read: August 8-16, 2016

Favorite Character: Wilhelmina! And Kit… and Arthur… etc.

Source: Library

Other Notes: Please do be sure to pick up a copy of The Skin Map before delving into this one! These are definitely not standalones and it would be a shame to get lost and miss the amazingness of the series by starting on book 2 instead of at the beginning. Plus, of course, The Skin Map is amazing, so. 😉

findbook

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


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

5starrating

Title: The Golden Braid

Author: Melanie Dickerson

review

Another excellent read from Melanie Dickerson! *huggles book*

I think it was the least standalone-ish of her books I’ve read so far, simply because it had so many delightful tie-ins to other books in the Hagenheim series. I loved that! 🙂 It was also so so cool how it tied in with The Princess Spy and the events going on in that and even some of the things behind the scenes we hadn’t seen before! So awesome. (Though a couple times it seemed like it was summarizing a bit too much and I would have liked more details/scenes sometimes. But that may also be because I don’t remember The Princess Spy all that well since I read it awhile ago. *shrug*)

I also loved how the Christian theme was so well-woven into the plot–it was just a really strong part of it, more-so than usual in these books, and I just thought it was super lovely and incredibly well-done.

And I loved the retelling, how it had so many nods to Rapunzel (and maybe even Tangled…?). Awesome retelling! But also rearranged and different and unique enough that I never knew what was coming, which was really cool. 🙂

The romance, as always, was adorbz and awesome and I loved both the characters. Rapunzel was super likeable, and Sir Gerek was, naturally, fantastic. I loved his grouchyness. 😄 And just… yes, he was awesome.

AND THE TWIST. OH MY GOODNESS THE TWIST. Okay, so I was picking up on little subtle hints and totally guessed it before it came to light, but that only made the revelation even BETTER because I pieced clues together and came to the conclusion myself and was hoping and hoping and then it WAS and just ASLKDFJLDKJF it makes me so happyyyy! ^_^ I only wish :: SPOILER (highlight to read) :: that there could have been a scene featuring Gabe and Rapunzel. I WAS SO HOPING THERE WOULD AND THEN THERE WASN’T. *cries* That was my only disappointment though. I just… it would have been so wonderful seeing a scene like that after what Gabe was thinking in The Fairest Beauty. *sniff* But oh well, I can imagine it, so that’s okay I guess. 🙂 :: END SPOILER ::

I also got a little teary-eyed there at one point, at a certain beautiful scene, so gotta give it credit for that. 😉

Anyways, aside from a couple little things, I absolutely loved it and just THE TWIIIIST!!! *flails around* So so so awesome and automatically made it twice as wonderful as it could have been. 😀

Overall, great book! ❤

summary

From Goodreads:

The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.

factoids

Genre/Category: Christian YA Romance / Historical Fiction / Fairy Tale Retelling (Rapunzel)

Age Group: YA

Published: 2015

Pages: 471 pages (Large Print Hardcover)

Series?: Book #6 of the Hagenheim/Fairy Tale Romance series

When Read: June 4 – 5, 2016

Favorite Character: Sir Gerek

Source: Library

Other Notes: Read a large print version because it was what my library had, and I for some reason really liked reading it like that. 😄 It was relaxing somehow. *shrug*

findbook

{Goodreads} • {Amazon} • {Barnes & Noble}


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer