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In the Shadow of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson (Review)

A Regency mystery novel with spies and highwaymen, secrets and blackmail and romance? Sign me up!

Title: In the Shadow of Croft Towers

Author: Abigail Wilson

  • Date read: May 13, 2019
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery / Regency Romance
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 319 (paperback)
  • Fave character: Mr. Sinclair
  • Source: Thomas Nelson publishers through BookLook Bloggers
  • Links: GoodreadsThomas Nelson Barnes & NobleAmazonAuthor Website

Set in Regency England, IN THE SHADOW OF CROFT TOWERS is a delightful mix of Regency romance and murder mystery.

Sybil Delafield travels to Croft Towers to become a companion to the old woman who owns the estate, and finds that nearly everyone at the mansion and nearby town has secrets, including Mr. Sinclair. As the mysteries and shadows deepen, Sybil doesn’t know who to trust, even as she begins unraveling the secrets of her own past.

Highwaymen, Dragoons looking for French spies in rural England, smugglers, and people turning up murdered are only some of the interesting twists. Secret messages, blackmail, and the shadow of an old tragedy, all hang over Croft Towers and those designing to inherit it from old Mrs. Chalcroft, who has her own secrets.

It has a delightful autumnal, onset of winter feel, with a somewhat eerie mansion and night rides through the woods and moors and town.

This book kept me totally absorbed! I particularly loved the middle bits where the mysteries kept mounting higher and higher. It was fascinating how every single person had something to hide, or at least were not as they seemed. I loved finding out what was going on, and guessing at things, and the experience alone was so delightful.

I also loved how the romance and the mystery were perfectly balanced and neither overwhelmed each other. It was such a neat idea to mix Regency romance with a mystery, and I loved how it was so exciting. There’s a sort of love-triangle, though I didn’t feel totally convinced by the one part of it, but I’m not the biggest love-triangle fan, so that might simply be me.

I particularly liked Mr. Sinclair’s character and all his mysteriousness! Mrs. Chalcroft (his godmother) was a fascinating, eccentric character. I found myself rooting for Sybil to discover what was going on, and for a certain romance. 😉

The ending wrapped things up fairly well, but I found myself wishing for more or for something different for a few of the details (like I was disappointed there wasn’t more about a certain character mentioned near the end), and there were one or two happenings that seemed surprisingly dark for this sort of book, particularly what happened with one of the other characters (no spoilers!). A few things also felt off, or at least improbable, for the time period—at least to me, though I’m not an expert—and there were one or two inconsistencies.

But none of that detracted from my sheer enjoyment of the book, and I absolutely loved the shadowy mysteriousness mixed with the Regency era!

I’m going to have to pick up more from this author in the future, because I had a thoroughly good time reading this—I totally recommend it if it sounds like your cup of tea!

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

About the Book

The Secret of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson

Croft Towers holds more than its share of secrets . . . and Sybil is determined to uncover them all.

When Sybil Delafield’s coach to Croft Towers was robbed by highwaymen, she should have realized that her new position as companion to old Mrs. Chalcroft would be no ordinary job. Upon Sybil’s arrival, Mrs. Chalcroft sneaks into her room in the dark of night, imploring her to relay messages to town that are to stay hidden from the rest of the family. Who exactly is she working for and what do the messages contain?

When fellow passengers of the robbed coach are later murdered, Sybil’s hunt for the truth takes on a new urgency. The only person she can rely on is Mr. Sinclair, Mrs. Chalcroft’s godson, but under all his charms he too leads a double life. Sybil must decide if he is the one honest voice she can trust, or if he is simply using her for his own advances.

With murderers, smugglers, and spies on the loose, nothing—and no one—in Regency England is what they claim. Can Sybil even trust what she knows about herself?

You May Also Enjoy

spysdevotion Northanger Abbey magiciansward

What do you think? Do you enjoy Regency time period or murder mysteries?

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The Fatal Tree by Stephen R. Lawhead (Bright Empires Series)

I’ve got a long-overdue review to share with you, and a giveaway!

Title: The Fatal Tree (Bright Empires, #5)

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

  • Date read: May 18, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Sci-Fi / Time / Christian / Contemporary
  • Age: YA and up
  • Year pub: 2014
  • Pages: 340 (hardcover)
  • Series: The Bright Empires, #5 (final one!)
  • Fave character: All of them. ❤
  • Source: Amazon
  • Notes: Definitely be sure to start with book 1, The Skin Map.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleAuthor’s Website

Review of The Fatal Tree

review

5starrating

In the immortal words of Bilbo Baggins (at least in a certain film), “I’ve put this off for far too long.”

I was waiting for the right words, but I’ve realized that there’s simply no way to do justice to this book in a review, and so instead of waiting for a time that will never come, I’m simply going to say something about it, even if it’s not enough.

You see, the Bright Empire series (of which The Fatal Tree is the fifth and final book) meant so much to me that I can’t quite put it into words.

I enjoyed it, loved it, and it had a profound influence and effect on me. The series worked its way into a deep part of me that makes it hard to get at to explain. I’m not sure if you’ve had this experience, but sometimes you read something that becomes a part of you. It changes you. And so you can’t really talk about it—not really, not in a way that could explain to anyone why it happened to reach you at that soul level, because if it didn’t do the same for them, then they just won’t understand. And that’s all right, because every book affects people differently, if at all. It just makes it difficult to explain.

So it’s seems silly to attempt it, and I won’t try, but I will say that this series is a part of me, like several other book milestones along the way through my younger life—I won’t go through those here. It’s enough a part of me that I don’t really think about it, but it is and it’s there.

So here are a few things about the series that made it something special, at least for this literary traveler.

For one thing, there’s Mina. She was the first female role-model I’d met in a book since I was very young. I want to be her. (More on that in My Tower of Fantasy.) Heroines never interest me in fiction much; I don’t know why, but I’m usually more drawn to the heroes. So Mina was something new and different. She showed me it was possible to do oh-so-many things. She’s the bravest character I’ve ever read about, but she started as a stressed, tired young woman from our modern days. Literally plucked out of her life and thrust into another one, she refuses to give in and transforms her situation into something incredible. She is clever and heroic and rather more brave than I think I’d ever be, but she is so incredibly loving and steady too, and she shines. She makes a way in the world, and is loyal to her friends, and capable, and an entrepreneur, ready to try new things whether in a bakery or fearlessly treading the roads between worlds, but she’s still human and shows that it’s okay to wish you could be home taking a hot shower to avoid the world at times. And, I mean, who wouldn’t want to go visit her and Etzel’s joint Kaffeehaus in 1600s Prague? It’s the most amazing place! I think what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t really have role-models in fiction, and that we need those. I’ve had plenty of fictional heroes, and I needed those too, and I had Eilonwy and Princess Irene and Eowyn and others, but I hadn’t met a modern heroine I could look up to, and I think in a rush to write “realistic” characters (read: dull and flawed, or fake and artificially “strong”), people just don’t write truly heroic characters anymore. Not the ones who can actually be looked up to, and show a blueprint of what might be, and meet me where I am and inspire me and show me that I can be something more and do things. I won’t ramble on about her more than that, but Mina is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

The series also firmly embedded into my mind that whole “there are no coincidences” thing, which as much as I always knew in theory I didn’t really believe if you know what I mean, until reading this fascinating series. If there’s one thing I took away from these books, it was that, and I adore it.

O’er earth we see Thee, and Thy footsteps trace / Through the Bright Empires of unbounded Space

Then there’s how I’ll run across things in life, or in other literature, or in a song, or history, and I’ll see it echoing back to this series—whether it’s a name, or a place, or something else—and I’ll go “Aha! It’s like Bright Empires!” and I’ll do a little dance of intrigued joy. (For example, I stumbled across a translation of a Welsh song called Adra (Home) by Gwyneth Glyn and it so strongly fit this series I thought “What a coincidence! Oh, that can’t be right . . .” ;)) Aside from simply being great fun to find things in life that remind me of a beloved series, it opened up a whole new world to me—and how could it not, with such a broad canvas of times, places, people, and thoughts painted together with such intricacy and skill?

And also with beloved characters and humor and enjoyment, because that’s the important bit that makes the rest stick in your mind. Because there’s the thing: you can have the most interesting or enlightening book in the world, but if it’s not fun, it’s not going to stick with you—or with me, at any rate. And you can have an enjoyable story, but how much more enjoyable is it if, amidst the fun, it stretches your mind far afield and shows you a whole new world and makes you think? I love how this series did all of those things for me, and all in a mind-bending, genre-defying, completely new sort of way.

But aren’t you going to talk about this book, not just the series, then? you ask.

Oh, very well.

I see the series as a whole and so I don’t have terribly much to say specifically about the final book, other than as the end of a saga. (Especially not without massive spoilers, which nobody wants because you must discover them on your own when you read the books; and you ARE GOING TO, right? *stern but loving look*) But there are a few things, so I’ll mention them.

I don’t know how I feel about a few things that happened, and at least at one point I wished that some of the characters could have come in at the end with the others and they didn’t—but then I realized that they were perfect where they are. Several pairs of people are THE MOST ADORABLE THING. (I’m sorry, I’m a romantic. XD)

Familiar places (like Black Mixen Tump) swirl back into the story, and continue to be fascinating. Desert sand in Egypt to frozen ice and the Stone Age, with Prague and Constantinople and all the rest in between. I love the richness of all the different countries and times we get to visit in this series, and how vivid they are (even if some can get downright frightening!), and especially the good hearts of many of the people we meet. Everything’s so genuine, laced with a thread of nobleness and light.

I still adore all of the characters, fiercely. Mina, Kit, Etzel, Cass, Giles, Tony, Haven, Gianni, the members of the Zetetic Society, and all the rest. They’re my friends now. ^_^ I was so delighted to get to finally complete their story in this book, and I absolutely love how all of their tales intertwine and fit into the book so neatly but with threads trailing afterward to the future. And I love all of their interactions SO MUCH. They make the book. 😀

Even the villains are interesting, and far from straightforward. Burleigh’s plotline is one of the two most skillful ones of its kind I’ve read in my life.

And, of course, there’s a time-related thing or two that finally happen in this book, which I’ve been waiting for since the first one. One in particular made me SO HAPPY. (Looking at you, chapter 11.) Speaking of timey-wimey things, that sort of thing always makes my head spin (in a good way) and I think I filled a couple of pieces of paper with diagrams of different people’s timelines and where and when they crossed and it was still dreadfully confusing and I love it so much. XD Someday I’m going to carve out the time to read the whole series again, and I’m looking forward to that with relish. (And maybe then I’ll finally fully understand the ending, which tied my mind in knots. :D)

Then there’s that whole having-to-save-the-world thing, what with the whole universe about to end and everything, which is as serious as it sounds and just as exciting—and there may or may not be some death in there, and I’m not saying I totally understood how everything turned out (I like a good goes-slightly-over-my-head-and-requires-a-rereading ending—just look at Diana Wynne Jones), especially with science-y things going over my head, but everything came together from the previous books and on the whole I was terribly pleased with how The Fatal Tree wrapped up the series. (I’m also so glad we got a what-happens-next bit at the end too! *collapses*)

It was an experience, and one it’s taken me nearly two years to get around to finally externalizing and typing up in the form of a “review” (or shall we call it an essay?), but I can safely say that the Bright Empires is one of the most delightful series I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Even if only as an enjoyable adventure, I recommend them highly to anyone who cares to try their luck. Or, since there is no such thing as coincidence, let’s say that luck is the wrong word and leave it at that. 😉

I’m deeply indebted to Mr. Lawhead for penning such a—well, brilliant is the only word for it, in so many ways—series, and I look forward to delving into more of his books very soon.

(Also . . . THE SPOON. :O WHAT. DOES. IT. MEAN. I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.)

Read my reviews for the previous books in the series:

10SkinMap 2bonehouse 3spiritwell

GIVEAWAY!

I happen to have a spare paperback copy of the first book in the series, The Skin Map, and I want to share the love!

Visit the Rafflecopter HERE for a chance to win it!

(USA addresses only. Runs 4/11/19 through 4/17/19. Winner will be contacted by email and announced here shortly after.)

[Edit: Giveaway is closed! The winner is Grace T! Thanks for entering, everyone! :)]

Have you read any of these? And do you have a favorite Lawhead book? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Second Impressions: Short Stories Inspired By Jane Austen (Vintage Jane Austen)

I’m reviewing the short story collection Second Impressions today as part of the Vintage Jane Austen Blog Event. (All the VJA books are on a Kindle countdown deal this week, so get ’em while they’re discounted — or pick up lovely paperbacks! Find the links with my mini reviews here.)

So excited to share this sweet collection with y’all! 🙂

Title: Second Impressions: A Collection of Fiction Inspired by Jane Austen

Editor: Hannah Scheele

Authors: Hannah Scheele (Introduction), E. Kaiser Writes, Gail Bryant, Therese Peyton, Mikayla Holman, Jennifer Baxter, Hannah Jones

  • Date read: October 22, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Short stories / Retellings (Jane Austen) / Contemporary / Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Kingdom Adventure / Sci-Fi
  • Age: Anyone
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 222
  • Series: Vintage Jane Austen (this is a bonus to go with it; it’s not actually in the 1930s like the others)
  • Source: I received a free e-copy of this book for review purposes; these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: AmazonGoodreadsAbout the Authors

The moment I read the opening line of the first story in this collection (from “Chocolate Surprise” by E. Kaiser Writes) — “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman, in possession of any income at all, must be in want of some chocolate.” — I knew I was going to have the best time reading these stories. I was right. ^_^

From the lovely introduction right through each of these nine tales to the end of the collection, I was touched and charmed and smiling (or laughing), and overall delighting in finding these sweet gems, retelling or otherwise revisiting Jane Austen’s tales in many different colorful ways.

We have four set in modern times, two in the original time period (like a direct prequel and sequel), one in the 1950s, one non-magical fantasy, one kingdom adventure, and even a sci-fi story! Three involve Emma, two Pride and Prejudice, two Mansfield Park, and one each of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility. I enjoyed them all!

Below are my mini-thoughts on each entry. Second Impressions (I love the play on titles, harking back to Pride and Prejudice’s early title “First Impressions”!) is a lovely add-on to the Vintage Jane Austen series. One thing is for sure: if you like Jane Austen’s works at all, you’re going to want to give these stories a try! 🙂

Introduction – Hannah Scheele

5 stars

Hannah collected a varied and sweet bunch of stories in the contest for this collection, designed absolutely gorgeous covers for the Vintage Jane Austen series, and wrote a delightful introduction too! This was a lovely introduction, full of heart and honesty and a touch of wit; perfect for the collection. I read it twice, before and after reading the stories. It made me happy. ^_^

Chocolate Surprise – E. Kaiser Writes

5 stars

At the beginning, I wasn’t totally sure which retelling this was, or if I’d like it, but pretty soon everything clicked and I was like “OH!” and the pieces fell together. And I loved the end! I also loved the letter, and Kingston was great. 😀 It’s set in the 1950s, and the color and detail was fabulous and so vivid. I shall allow you to discover the story it retells, yourself, but overall I really enjoyed it! 🙂

Gently Pursued, Finally Persuaded – Gail Bryant

5 stars

Aww, so sweet! 🙂 A Contemporary retelling of Persuasion, set in the 1990s, this was an unconventional love story, with a Christian theme and a thread of humor. It said this was the author’s first short story, but you would never have known it! The writing was well seasoned and full of clever or fun turns of phrases scattered throughout. The story left me with a smile. ^_^ Lovely!

The Secret of Pemberly Estate – Therese Peyton

4 stars

I wasn’t so sure about this one. It’s a direct sort of sequel to Pride and Prejudice, set in 1815. I had just re-read Pride and Prejudice, and some of the characters in this story seemed to act out of character, to me at least, and some of the plot confused me. It was, however, very original/thrilling/theatrical, like a mystery. Not my favorite, but it did have vivid imagery and was an interesting read. 🙂

Emma’s Irritation – Mikayla Holman

5 stars

Eep, I loved this one! It’s a sort of prequel, set a few years before Emma, and features a teenage Emma and her relationship with Mr. Knightley, as well as some scenes fans of Emma will find intriguing and fun. Mr. Knightley felt very Mr. Knightley ish! He was great. And I could imagine Emma herself being something like that as a teen. I loved the bantering dialog and fun! And just… really enjoyed it. 🙂

Mother’s Day – Jennifer Baxter

5 stars

Aww! ^_^ I can’t really explain this one without giving it away, somehow, but it was an extremely unique and touching twist on a Sense and Sensibility story in a modern setting. It’s very short, but every word counts, and just… I don’t know! It was subtle but just lovely. 🙂

The Mansfield – E. Kaiser Writes

5 stars

OH MY GOODNESS. This story! I never would have imagined Jane Austen in space would work as well as this did. The idea of Mansfield Park’s story taking place on a spaceship (instead of in a mansion) was genius and worked astonishingly well. The characters and dialog were great (the worldbuilding too) and the Mansfield Park story translated SO well to this new in-space setting that it was just delightful! 🙂 I don’t even read much sci-fi but this was great. XD

Elaina – Hannah Jones

5 stars

I was trying to categorize this, and I think I came up with Christian Fiction and the newly named Kingdom-Adventure genre. (There wasn’t really adventure? But hey.) This retelling of Emma set in a kingdom of knights. etc., and featuring her as a princess, was so neat! Again, it translated really well, and I thought that was great fun. 🙂 Amazing how well a little kingdom works to replace Emma’s small town!

Peace in the Orchard – E. Kaiser Writes

5 stars

Imagine Pride and Prejudice set in an idyllic, non-magical, fantasy-type kingdom where Mr. Darcy is a dragon-slaying king, and you pretty much have this one in a nutshell. XD There’s a lot of lovely description of this original, fantastic world, and it mainly focuses on the Elizabeth and Jane characters. The orchard scene at the end was my favorite. 🙂

Maid in Houston – Jennifer Baxter

4 stars

This was a Contemporary retelling of Mansfield Park, featuring a Hispanic heroine — who I quite liked — and a modern setting in Houston. It was a little strange to me, but had some lovely parts and overall it was a very good retelling of Mansfield Park, and so fluidly written and original! It’s about every-day people, and I loved that. The part at the end about love was beautiful. ^_^

~ ~ ~

The Vintage Jane Austen Blog Event

Check out the rest of the blog tour, and the giveaway!

November 5

November 6

November 7

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11

Giveaway

As part of this special blogging event (November 5-11), we are giving away a $25 Amazon gift Card.

Enter to win HERE.

So what do you think? Does Second Impressions sound intriguing? Which story are you most curious about?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

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

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

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

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

Dreams and Devotion

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

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

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

Dreams and Devotion releases July 15, 2017

Buy the book for the special preorder price, here.


Giveaway

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


About the Author

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

Find her at www.thedestinyofone.com


Stops on the blog tour:

July 8

Bookish Orchestrations ~ Faith Blum

July 9

His Princess Warrior ~ Katie Hamilton

July 10

In the Book Case ~ Tarissa Graves

Jessica Greyson ~ Jessica Greyson

July 11

Gods Peculiar Treasure Rae ~ Raechel

Read Another Page ~ Rebekah Morris

July 12

Whimsical Writings For His Glory ~ Jesseca Dawn

Shannon McDermott ~ Shannon McDermott

July 13

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

July 14

Knitted by God’s Plans ~ Kendra E. Ardnek

With a Joyful Noise ~ Amanda Tero

Once Upon an Ordinary ~ Kate Willis

July 15

Jaye L. Knight ~ Jaye L. Knight


Title: Dreams and Devotion
Author: Sarah Holman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

***

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

***

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Read my other reviews for the series:

  

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

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

5 Thoughts on “Father, Forgive Them” (Short Story) by Sarah Holman

Title: Father, Forgive Them
Author: Sarah Holman

  • Date read: July 4, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Short Story / Christian / Biblical-Era Fiction
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 30 (Kindle)
  • Source: Amazon
  • Notes: Short Story; read for the 10/10/10 challenge (reading/reviewing 10 of Sarah Holman’s books/stories in 10 weeks)
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Blog

1. There’s not really a lot to say about this without giving it away, since it’s such a brief glimpse, like a window looking at a few scenes, but I enjoyed it. 🙂

2. This is an interesting short story focusing on the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and specifically on a few words Jesus spoke which the hero of the story, Jonathan, can’t get out of his head.

3. The setting was vividly painted—I could see the olive trees and hill in one scene. There were also some poetic turns of phrase and imagery which I quite liked.

4. Jonathan and his encounter with the stranger at the end was my favorite part. 🙂 Beautiful. ^_^

5. I don’t usually read Biblical-setting fiction, so I don’t know how this compares, but if you want a quick read with a different look at the Resurrection story, you’ll enjoy this touching short story. 🙂

(Listening to the song “Stronger” by the Newsboys while I write this review—fits together, somehow!)

~ ~ ~

Do you ever read short stories? Have you tried Sarah Holman’s fiction yet — she’s great! And, randomly, do you like listening to the Newsboys band? Thanks for reading! ^_^

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Ten Things I Love About The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz

Title: The Beast of Talesend
Author: Kyle Robert Shultz

  • Date read: May 17, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling / Mystery / Alt-20s Fairytale history
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 128 (paperback)
  • Series: Beaumont & Beasley, #1 (Sequel, NOW, please? *holds hand out imperiously*)
  • Fave character: Nick and Crispin!
  • Source: Amazon

Beauty and the Beast + 1920s detective story + alternate history where all the fairytales were, well… actual history + snark + humor + lovable and entirely unconventional characters = The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz, a.k.a. The Book You Need To Read Right Now.

Not convinced? LET ME CONVINCE YOU. Ahem. (Fangirling may ensue. You have been warned.)

10 Things I love about this book:

1. IT’S SO FUNNY. OH MY GOODNESS. I love books that make me laugh and make me want to quote them to the world, and if there’s one thing this book did extremely well, it was that. It did other things extremely well too, which I will get to, but MY GOODNESS, THE HUMOR. XD (Even the chapter titles are funny.)

2. NICK. It’s told in first-person by Nick Beasley, private detective, whose self-appointed goal in life/job is debunking magical cases and proving that magic doesn’t exist. (Which… is kind of awkward when he gets turned into a beast. …Not a spoiler, it’s in the blurb, and mentioned on the first page. XD) NICK IS THE BEST. I don’t often care for first-person, but his narration absolutely made the book. IT WAS PERFECT. And he has such a dry-humor, kind of grumpy personality, and is the last sort of person you’d think of as a hero, but he’s actually super noble underneath, despite his grouchiness, and overprotective of his younger brother, Crispin, and just—NICK IS GREAT, OKAY. I love him and he’s awesome. 😀

3. CRISPIN. Oh my goodness, CRISPIN. He is definitely one of my top fave things. 😀 He and Nick have this great brother dynamic where Nick won’t let Crispin do anything and acts like he’s super young (they’re both in their twenties. XD) but Crispin has more going than Nick thinks, and they banter sometimes and Crispin is just absolutely funny and adorable and the best. 😀 (The part about the feet on the desk! XD *dies laughing*) Just just just CRISPIIIIIIN! ❤ All that needs to be said on the subject. I just loved this character! ^_^ (And I’m beyond ecstatic that he will be in the sequel more. YES. These brothers! <3)

4. Setting + Alternate + Fairytales. THIS WAS WONDERFUL. It’s set in an alternate world, very much like ours in London (their version of London is called Talesend) in the 1920s buuuut… different. Like, where our fairytales are their actual history, and the story is set in the 20th Century E.A. (Ever After), give-or-take 1900 years after the end of the last fairytale… (or is it??). There are so many references to these fairytales, just woven casually into historical references and conversation, which was BRILLIANT and so so much fun, and that on top of it being a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast absolutely made my day. 😀 I LOVE alternate history, and fairytales, and old-detective-stories and just… THIS MIXED THEM SO WELL. ❤ (Plus, any story with a shady possible-gangster-crime-boss-who-deals-in-magical-artifacts has got to be good. I mean really. Let’s mix all the genre things and make it glorious. :D)

5. Lady Cordelia, a magical but also magical-accident-prone and eccentric (putting it too lightly; she’s nutty, but delightfully so) but capable woman, was a fairly fun character as well, especially when paired off against Nick, since they don’t always see eye-to-eye. 😛 (I mean… that would be difficult in any case, seeing as he’s a seven-foot monster and she’s just a presumably-normal-sized young lady, but still.)

6. THE BANTER AND CHARACTER DYNAMICS AND THE HUMOR. I know I mentioned humor before, BUT IT’S IMPORTANT OKAY. I can’t say enough about books that are this funny, because humor just makes me happy, and life is too short not to laugh copiously. Which is why books like this exist to help us with that. I love the dialog and interactions and narration and just aaaall the funny things! But it’s got intense bits and action and danger and twisty plot things all mixed in with the hilarity, which makes it even more impressive.

7. Can I just say how awesome this author’s writing is? LIKE SERIOUSLY. If all the above is not enough to convince you, just consider that all this wackiness is utterly seamlessly thrown together and well-written and just please can I be this good of an author when I grow up. The writing is gold! Actually this whole book is gold. Just— So so good.

8. Not to mention, this is a super fun, clean, family-friendly read. So awesome, am I right? Other than some scary Beasts (comes with it being a retelling of… well… Beauty and the Beast…) and slight scariness/intense wrapup, I don’t recall anything that younger readers should steer clear of. It was just delightful all-around! 🙂

9. I’m pretty sure… yep, I can’t think of anything, so I will say: There is nothing I don’t like about this book! Yes, that can be one of the things I like about it, that there’s nothing I dislike. This is my review, so my rules, so I will write it how I want. XD

10. It’s fairly short, which means that I read it in an afternoon, so that was nice—even if I would have wanted it to go FOREVER because I want to keep reading this glorious hilarity! But that’s not actually a con, because fortunately this is only the first in a series, so I’m going to get to read more adventures of the Brothers Beasley and Lady Cordelia and this hilarious fairytale-mashup world AND I CAN’T WAIT AAAAHHH! (No seriously, I can’t wait. Where is the next book? I NEED IT NOW. *flails* *pouts because I have to wait till it comes out*)

Conclusion:

READ THIS BOOK.

(I will say nothing more about it because I do not want to spoil its amazingness. But go read it. Honestly. It’s that good. In fact, it’s better.)

About the Book

Private eye Nick Beasley lives in a world where fairy tales ended a long time ago – where zeppelins now soar the skies instead of dragons, and where the first automobiles have taken the place of flying carpets. He’s made a name for himself across the Afterlands by debunking fake magicians and exposing fraudulent monsters. This is the modern age, after all. Magic and monsters are long gone.

At least, that’s what Nick believes. Until he gets magically transformed into a monster, that is.

The only person who may be able to help Nick is Lady Cordelia Beaumont, one of the last enchantresses in the Afterlands. But in order for her to cure him, they’ll have to retrieve a powerful artifact from a ruthless crime lord – who is also Cordelia’s father.

The fate of the Afterlands lies in the hands of a runaway enchantress and a monstrous ex-detective. What could possibly go wrong?

Links: AmazonGoodreads • Author’s Blog

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What do you think? Sound intriguing? IT’S AWESOME. Have you ever read an alternate-history book?

Also, don’t forget to drop by Kyle’s blog where he’s giving away a signed copy of The Beast of Talesend this week as part of the Silmarillion Awards celebration! (The ebook is also reduced to 99 cents on Amazon until July 30th.)

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

10 Thoughts on “Courage and Corruption” by Sarah Holman

Title: Courage and Corruption
Author: Sarah Holman

Date read: June 16, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Christian / Adventure / Historical Fiction (in fictional country, medieval times)
Age: YA
Year pub: 2016
Pages: 161 (Kindle)
Series: Tales of Taelis, #3
Fave character: Uncle Edwin and King John
Source: Amazon
Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Ten Thoughts on Courage and Corruption

1. Still enjoying this series. 🙂 I think this one was the most well-written in the series yet, and it’s awesome to see this author’s writing improving more and more over time!

2. It’s about a twin brother and sister (Christopher and Catherine) who don’t… erm… get along. 😛 They have to learn to become better people etc. There are a lot of strong Christian messages/themes along this line throughout the book. 🙂

3. I didn’t enjoy the first half of the story as much because it was hard reading about these characters being so angry and argumentative, so I… kind of didn’t like them very much then because they had so much to learn. Likely just one of my reading quirks. 😛 So for that reason, it wasn’t my personal favorite of the series, even though it’s the most well-written and would likely be a favorite with most readers. 🙂

4. In the second half of the book, I warmed to the story much more, and I found myself quite enjoying the intrigue and excitement, once most of the character-building parts had been dealt with. 🙂

5. I LOVED the plot that emerged in this one, linking back to a certain event in Adventures and Adversities, and featuring descendants of the little prince from that one! :O I was so hoping that plot would come back and it DID. 😀 That was one of my favorite things about the story. ^_^

6. My other main favorite thing was all the little stories Uncle Edwin told. 🙂 That was so fun, like lots of mini tales within this one; my favorite was the one about the Shepherd King and the one about Princess Brianna and John in the garden. 😀 Lovely little follow-up to Brothers and Betrayal! AWK. Such cute. ^_^

7. It’s been great reading more of these books set in the medieval country of Taelis! I especially loved seeing familiar places like Coraway Castle and Delmore Castle (both of which are super super cool… I’d love to live in Coraway Castle! I hope to see more of it in future books too. :)).

8. There are also lots of references to characters and events from the first two books, which I loved. ^_^ (Some of that’s inevitably a little sad though, of course, with multiple generations. 😦 But oh well. Otherwise I liked the references.)

9. Oh, and along that line, it was neat to see the main characters from Brothers and Betrayal in this one a little, much older but still lurking around being great. 🙂 Bryon, John, and Brianna all make appearances. 🙂

10. Overall, while some of it didn’t click for me personally, I think most people would really enjoy this! If you like Christian fiction with strong themes and families and adventure and medieval times, you will probably like this one; and like I said, it’s probably the most well-written yet. 🙂 Can also stand alone. I’m definitely curious to continue reading this series in this lovely land of Taelis. ^_^

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In the series so far (will update with links to my posts as I review them):

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer