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The Icarus Aftermath by Arielle M. Bailey (Review)

Aaahh, I’m finally here with a review for a book I’ve been very excited about for a very long time, a Greek mythology in space novel by a lovely author friend who has at last released her debut novel! *flails around* I’m terribly behind because this came out ages ago, but I’m at last reviewing it and — y’all! It’s sooo good!

Title: The Icarus Aftermath

Author: Arielle M. Bailey

  • Date read: February 5, 2021
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Science fiction / Space Opera / Greek Mythology / Retelling (Minotaur and the Labyrinth)
  • Age: YA/NA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 358 (paperback)
  • Series: The Sunfire Saga, #1
  • Fave character: Talos and Mikon
  • Source: The author and Amazon
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC from the author and was not required to write a positive review. I ended up buying a paperback and finishing on that. XD All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

The Icarus Aftermath was a FASCINATING read! Greek Mythology meets Star Wars, and it WORKS. I don’t read much sci-fi so I was a little nervous going in, but it felt like an awesome movie from the first moment and completely pulled me into the story.

The Minotaur and the Labyrinth in space with the greatest found family characters—what is not to love? It was so much fun! Which sounds weird to say, since it deals with a lot of grief and there’s a war/rebellion on and everything, but the moments of family and shenanigans were the perfect balance to all of that. The writing’s gorgeous and packs a punch, the mysteries and adventures and spying were super compelling/edge-of-your-seat, and I definitely fell in love with most of the characters (though the bossy ones were on and off for me. XD).

Okay, but the characters, though! I love their loyalty and looking out for each other and the tight-knit aspect of their little rebellion family of the Sunfires. (*stares into distance for a moment because of relating to Xuthos for not being a part of it* *blinks back to the present* ANYWAY.) The Starfires were great. All the side-siblings we get a bit of—what a group! XD So many brother feels, too—I’m 100% here for it. And I loved Icarus even though he’s, well, dead for most of it (not a spoiler, it’s what the book is about!), and I liked Koralia most of the time—she was quite a different, interesting heroine, and I felt for her a lot sometimes.

Then we have my FAVORITES, namely Talos and Mikon and Xuthos. I can’t even describe them! They’re so multidimensional but I adore them, particularly Talos, brooding commander of the rebels who’s just so solid and trying to keep everything together—ultimate older-brother figure and just sheer AWESOME and I wanted more of him. Okay, yes, and Mikon, larger-than-life, half-Olympian (so essentially superpowered?) and the absolute most charming, smirky character EVER, but with occasional anger management issues. I can’t with him. He’s the best. XD TALOS. MIKON. I adore them! Xuthos is a bad-boy fighter pilot and even though he’s not quite one of the Sunfires, I feel like he belongs, and he’s got more of a heart than he lets on. And, yes, Koralia trying to wrangle Mikon and Xuthos is the greatest thing and I loved those parts. XD They make a great trio! (Even if I wanted Talos in more of it. XD)

The banter and snark and humor in this book absolutely GIVE ME LIFE. I love it so, so much. The dialogue is gold and the interactions and shenanigans are the greatest! I kept quoting particularly golden lines aloud. *grinning*

Also, some of the sci-fi aspects reminded me of my favorite Timothy Zahn Star Wars books, which made me happy. 🙂

Greek mythology in space was such an interesting twist! I think I missed some things due to not being as brushed up on Greek myth as I probably should be, but I could still enjoy the book despite that. I did pick up on the Minotaur and the Labyrinth retelling bits which were SO well done and unique and awesome. I just love how perfectly it fit into the sci-fi setting! Absolutely brilliant. 😀

It also gave me ALL THE FEELS and there was a particular character I did NOT expect to like as much as I did and uuuuugh why do authors kill off characters. (Yes, I literally did bombard the author with a shrieking message about how could she have killed this person. XD Ahem.) ANYWAY, sometimes character deaths make me knock stars off but I think I’m okay, just whoa, ouch. So I may have had a bit of a quibble or two, heheh, what with that and occasional confusion due to not reading the genre much/references going over my head, but that’s pretty much on me. But yep, all the feels and also all the FUN too, so there’s that!

[Heads-up for readers who might be sensitive to some of these things: there’s some PG-13-level language, brief mentions of various scandals (ah, yes, Greek mythology characters and their messy drama…), and some dealing with character deaths. Clash of the Titans meets the new Star Wars trilogy, basically.]

It feels like a beautiful homage to Star Wars and Greek myth. If you like either of those, this book is going to be your next favorite read. 😀 Delicious, and I’m definitely looking forward to more from this author! You might not have known you needed a sci-fi Minotaur/Labyrinth retelling in your life, but you absolutely do! And especially Talos and Mikon and snarky shenanigans and brothers and family and space battles and magic and all of the feels—you need all of that in your life even more. A gorgeous, masterful book!


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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Blood of the Seer by C.M. Banschbach (Review)

Happy release day to Blood of the Seer, only my most anticipated release of 2021! *flailing* The first book was my favorite read of 2019, and this one is even better if you can believe it (believe it), so here’s my review! (Also known as me shrieking to the hills and flailing forever and a day, but anyhoo . . .)

Title: Blood of the Seer (The Dragon Keep Chronicles, #2)

Author: C.M. Banschbach

  • Date read: January 23, 2021
  • Rating: 5 stars (all of the stars!)
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: NA
  • Year pub: 2021
  • Pages: 324 (e-book)
  • Series: Book 2 in the Dragon Keep Chronicles. Book 1 is Oath of the Outcast—read my review of that one here.
  • Fave character: Rhys/the Baron, a.k.a. my smol floof of anger management issues
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher. This review is my own independent and fair evaluation.

Links

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleAuthor’s WebsiteSwag Preorder link (through 2/16/21)Signed Paperback

The smol floof of anger management issues that is the Mountain Baron/Rhys is back in this spectacular conclusion to the duology that began with Oath of the Outcast! YOU GUYS. OH MY WORD. This book—THIS BOOK. Just—I don’t even know if I can be coherent enough to review it, especially without spoilers, but let’s give it a shot. I JUST LOVE THIS BOOK AND THIS SERIES SO MUCH.

The stakes and everything have scaled up in this one and everything climbs to another level, as if Oath of the Outcast was the amazing setup and this one drags us deep into a whole new level of epic. DID I MENTION EPIC? (*whispers softly* Epiccccc.) Again, I don’t know how much to say to not spoil things . . . But I’ll just say that you want the Baron and his Cairns on your side if there’s a war going on, or at least not NOT on your side. *grinning*

The scope is broader, we have new characters and already beloved ones, there’s kind of a war on, Rhys is trying not to deal with stuff he really needs to deal with (but being totally awesome in the meantime), and there’s more going on with the Seer/bond/vision world thing which is so fascinating and I shall not spoil. Also, lots of things that only get hinted at in book one are front and center and it’s fabulous. *cackles*

CHARACTERS! Of course, we have our Mountain Baron himself, Rhys MacDuffy (shhhh, he says that’s not his name because banishment, but pffft, details), and he’s still an absolutely growly, terrifying, amazing outlaw with a heart of gold that’s slooowly emerging more than he wants it to and is still prone to go stabby on you if you’re evil or, you know, annoy him. RHYS IS MY FAVORITE FOREVERRR. He’s just the best and following him through all he goes through is just—my feels! He’s my smol floof of anger management issues (yes, I named him that) and I love him so. He totally makes these books. 😀 His arc and story are my favorite.

Then we have Sean, the Seer of the title, and he’s such a cinnamon roll and the brother feels with him and Rhys are realll. I love seeing more of him and finding his fierce side but he’s also just such a goodhearted guy and he and Rhys will do anything to protect each other even if they’re not “supposed” to be brothers and they’re just liiiife. (Brother tropes are the best, hush.)

Alan! Alan is another great almost-bro of Rhys and the loyalty is fierce with this one. His humor and happy-go-lucky, laid-back, chill-seeming self are the perfect recipe to make us laugh (or make Rhys pretend he’s annoyed at him), but he’s also got a bloodwrath warrior side. Alan makes the bestest friend and we all need an Alan, for reals.

Also, new characters! Brother Ennis is a fantastic new addition and I love him so much (this guy! So good-natured, always ready with a soul-seeing remark or a staff to smack with), and there are more of the Cairns who we get to know better and they’re also amazing. (I mean, terrifying. But amazing.) We’ve seen the Cairns a bit in the first one (especially Bryn, Rorie, and Jes, my friendsss!), but they are SUCH an intriguing bunch, and I love how unique they are. *can count off like ten of them by name with info about them but will restrain myself* They’re terrifying outlaws but they follow their Baron anywhere, and it is just the most amazing tight-knit band of bloodthirsty outlaws Celts, essentially. I love them so.

And Ajax, the Baron’s mastiff—aaahh, this dog! He’s basically Rhys’s emotional support loyal hound and it’s great. Everyone needs an Ajax, too. Then there’s DAMON who’s another favorite (oh my word, Damon) and involved with my favorite fantasy trope. *grin, grin* They’re just all amazing! *collapses* Not to mention a certain side antagonist has a veryyyy interesting arc and it’s my favorite. Ahem. (I know I keep saying everything’s my favorite. WELL, IT IS.)

It’s just the greatest cast! AND ALL THE INTERACTIONS AND SNARK (the snark, though) ABSOLUTELY GIVE ME LIFE.

There are some powerful scenes and arcs that give me all the feels and draw me in so hard. Also, I beta-read an early version of this a few years back, and reading the final version was such a rush of coming home as I read these vivid scenes that were already coiled deep in my heart like a beloved dragon and sprang to life. (May I just draw your attention to some clifftop scenes and the castle and standing stones and some Baron-being-dramatic scenes—oh, boy, the TENT, and the forest-court bit—and Damon scenes, and the epilogue scene, and I’m gonna stop now before I list everything.) I just got SO excited to rediscover this book now that it’s published and it was EVEN BETTER and I’m blown away and already want to re-read the duology, even though I just re-read Oath before diving into Seer. (The back-to-back reading experience was amazing, binge-reading them in just over a day.) I know it’s a series I’m going to want to come back to and read again!

It was such a perfect, satisfying conclusion. I adore how it ended. Just. All of it. It. Was. Perfect. IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY. It was everything I wanted and just wrapped up SO WELL and I’m utterly pleased. 10/10 would read about Rhys and this world for a DOZEN books but at least the two we have are absolute perfection, so there’s that. 😀

This one definitely goes down as one of my favorite books and series! Brothers, outlaws, an incredible cast, the Baron (of course!), snark, soul-deep journeys, an awesome fantasy/Celtic feel, and the sheer epic of all of it combined. What is not to love? IT’S. SO. GOOD. I adore, adore, adore this book and I hope it will amaze and delight others as much as it did me. *hugs it forever*

Blood of the Seer is a magnificent conclusion to a stunning Celtic fantasy duology about redemption and brotherhood that you absolutely need in your life!


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Talk to me! Do you like Celtic Fantasy? Are you excited for this one? (Or have you not read Oath of the Outcast, in which case you muuuust!) 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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kingswarriorcover Coiled Songkeeper AWishMadeofGlassFinal


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! 🙂

Oath of the Outcast by C.M. Banschbach (+ Giveaway!)

Guys! It’s heeeere! I’m ridiculously excited to get to share with you my most-anticipated book of the year!

I had the chance to beta-read an early version of this book last year and I’ve been dying for it to be published ever since — and it’s now out (well, book 1 is, since what used to be one novel called The Mountain Baron was cut in half and Oath of the Outcast is the first half of what is now called The Dragon Keep Chronicles) and I just read the final version and ASDFGHJKJLKDJFKLSJ I CAN’T. You need this epic book in your life!

IT’S.

SO.

GOOD.

Read on for my review and a giveaway and the rest of the info and blog tour stops!

But first, here’s a little about the book . . .


Oath of the Outcast

A lost brother.
An unwilling outlaw.
A rising enemy.
An unusual alliance.

Years ago, Rhys MacDuffy was brutally cut off from his clan, stripped of his name and inheritance, and banished to the remote Dragon Keep. Perched high above the Shang Pass in the land of Alsaya, he assumed the mantle of the Mountain Baron, serving out his sentence as the overseer of the worst outlaws and outcasts.

But one day he receives a desperate message from the clan who disowned him: MacDuffy’s Seer—his beloved brother—has been taken by their enemies.

With his band of Mountain Brigands and an unwelcome sidekick, Rhys leaves his mountain stronghold to find and rescue his brother. The tide of war is rising amongst the Clans of Alsaya, fueled by the magic-wielding sect of Druids who seek to unleash a dark force the world has long forgotten.

Can the bond of blood run deeper than banishment?


(On the author’s mantelpiece…)

Links


(The beautiful paperback I bought at Realm Makers; my tiny new dragon — Snufkin Keevan MacDuffy — who I named partially after this book; and the epic prize pack themed for Oath of the Outcast which I won in a raffle at the conference! *shrieking*)

Title: Oath of the Outcast

Author: C.M. Banschbach

  • Date read: July 25, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars!
  • Genre: Celtic Fantasy (Am I coining this genre name? Yes, yes I am.)
  • Age: NA
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 338 (paperback)
  • Series: The Dragon Keep Chronicles, #1
  • Fave character: Rhys/the Baron (my smol floof of anger management issues)
  • Source: I received an e-ARC from the author, and also bought a paperback at Realm Makers 2019. All opinions are my own.

I’m sitting here not sure how to form words to adequately express how much I love this absolutely awesome book. I just love it so, so much! OATH OF THE OUTCAST is, hands-down, one of the best books I’ve read all year. I have an addiction to this author’s books, and this the most absolutely brilliant one yet!

I was utterly drawn in from page one, pulled into this delightfully-Celtic-esque world (can I just go live there?) full of so many awesome things. This is a story of clans and brothers, snark and stabbing, pines and mist and mountains and rugged hills and a castle by the booming sea. It’s a story of the bonds of brothers—both by blood and by friendship deeper than blood (so it’s basically my favorite thing: a buddy story, of epic proportions)—and of an outcast banished from his clan, haunted by his past and so totally done with everyone. XD

The characters and their banter and snark and stabbiness are my absolute favorite! Particularly Rhys MacDuffy/the Baron, a.k.a. my smol floof of anger management issues. I just love him so much! He says that Rhys is dead, that he has no family, that he’s just the Mountain Baron now (and has built up something of a reputation where the very name makes people turn pale), but somewhere deep inside he’s still got a little of that old Rhys buried away behind the icy exterior of the Baron. Rhys/the Baron is a deeply scarred man, too betrayed to trust again, who has given up on redemption (but I’m holding out for it!), and yet somewhere he’s got a little bit of a heart of gold left—he just won’t admit it. And he will stab you as soon as snark at you, but if you’re one of his men or his brother (who he says he doesn’t have) he’ll do anything for you. Rhys/the Baron is just one of my favorite characters of all time and so well written and just gaaah. He gives me all the feels! I kind of relate to him and love this gruff epic character so much! HE’S THE BEST. He totally makes this book!

The rest of the characters are so fabulous as well, and I found myself deeply invested in all of these totally-real people—including one of the villains who totally surprised me by making me start to get invested in him. (Not the other villains. They are still the creepiest of ever! O_O You’ll know what I mean when you finish the book. XD) They’re just all so real and enigmatic and just can I please grow up to write like this someday?

The Baron’s band of outlaws are the Cairns and they are so scary but I also love them to death. I love their loyalty to the Baron and also how they freak everyone out. XD None of Robin Hood’s “merry” men here; they’re deadly but also have hidden slivers of gold in their hearts (totally stealing that from an interview about the book because it’s SO TRUE). Bryn and Rorie and Jes and Fulke are so amazing! They’ll do anything for their Baron and it’s the absolute best.

(Oath of the Outcast at Realm Makers 2019, complete with Reese’s. Because Rhys. XD)

And then we have Alan, who used to be best friends with Rhys and is trying to get that back a little and the Baron is so done with him (but also secretly not) and just I CAN’T. THEY’RE THE BEST. I love how Alan is so fun and full of energy and then you’ll almost forget he can totally be as deadly as the other characters. And Sean, Rhys’s younger brother, who is a cinnamon roll and a Seer and Rhys will literally do anything for him, and Sean will too but Rhys won’t let him. XD And there’s a huge-spoiler character but his name starts with a D and he’s involved with one of my most-favorite tropes and alksdjflksjd I LOVE HIM. I need more with this character and I can’t wait for the next book!

It’s a spectacular story and so epic! I love it so much. It feels like a movie. A really epic, sweeping, thrilling, AMAZING movie. With just a bit of an almost-cliffhanger. XD I need the second book to be out NOW! *flails around*

This is one of only a handful of books I’ve been anxiously awaiting this year, and I’m SO thrilled it’s finally out! I was an early reader and was blown away when I read the original version, so when I say that it has only gotten better, I want you to realize how much I mean that. And I also can’t decide if this means I need the second book more because I actually know what happens . . . XD

(Realm Makers roadtrip w/ the author)

I also keep staring at it because I love the cover and I’m so happy to be holding this gorgeous book in my hands, so there’s that. *hugs it forever* (It’s so prettyyyyy. My preciousssss.)

It’s a bit dark and raw and real, so if, in the immortal words of The Princess Bride, you’re bothered by “fighting, torture, revenge” (but no true love—like, there’s no romance in this and it’s basically an awesome buddy story x10000. XD), and creepy druids with evil magic, and invented-swearing, etc., just be aware that it’s a darker story. But it’s so, so good!

I honestly have a bit of a book-hangover after reading this and I don’t know how anything I read is going to feel this awesome (until the sequel comes out next year). Ack!

I simply can’t do this book justice in a review. I could talk about it all day long! You just need to go read it, right now.

OATH OF THE OUTCAST is truly fantastic and you need it and Rhys/the Baron/smol floof of anger management issues in your life! YOU JUST DO.

(Also. Y’all. From what I know of the second book, Blood of the Seer, it’s going to be EVEN MORE amazing than this one, if that’s even possible. So. Yeah. I can’t wait for the conclusion!!)


Giveaway!

We’re giving away books! Open internationally!

  • 2 ebooks,
  • 1 paperback,
  • 1 combo pack of a bookmark and a map postcard!

Enter to win HERE!


Author Info

C.M. Banschbach is a native Texan and would make an excellent Hobbit if she weren’t so tall. She’s a pizza addict, a multi-faceted fangirl, and a firm believer in being authentic—even if it means acting like a dork sometimes! 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 also writes YA/MG fantasy-adventure as Claire M. Banschbach.


Tour Schedule

July 22

July 23 – Release Day!

July 24

July 25

July 26

July 27


Does or does it not sound ABSOLUTELY EPIC?? You need this book in your life! 😀 And make sure you enter the giveaway. ^_^ Let me know what you think in a comment!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

10 Thoughts on Kate’s Dilemma by Sarah Holman (Kate’s Case Files, #3)

The third book in Sarah Holman’s “Kate’s Case Files” series is releasing June 1st!

It’s currently on sale as a pre-order (the price will go up after publication), so you can check that out. 🙂 (And scroll down to the bottom of the post for info on the first book being free on Kindle through May 20th!)

Meanwhile, I’m here to review the book. 😀

Title: Kate’s Dilemma

Author: Sarah Holman

  • Date read: May 6, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Mystery / Christian / FBI
  • Age: New Adult?
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Series: Kate’s Case Files, #3
  • Fave character: Patrick and Thomas
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I read an ARC of this book from the author (thank you!) and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

10 Thoughts on Kate’s Dilemma by Sarah Holman

1. I don’t read a lot of modern fiction, and definitely not usually FBI mysteries. But Sarah Holman’s Kate’s Case Files is a special series that has twined itself around my heart. These books are like my candy, or a fun TV show—I’m addicted and I love them. XD So I was really excited for this third installment, and it did not disappoint!

2. In Kate’s Dilemma, Kate is having trouble trying to fit in with the group, having second thoughts. We also get some fascinating hints/details/backstory about the various characters, which was very intriguing.

3. The team is headed to Charleston, North Carolina in this one. I haven’t been there, but the level of detail woven into the story makes me feel like I have now! It feels so well-researched and authentic and I was brought right into the setting. 🙂 So that was brilliant and I loved it.

4. It’s a fairly short novel and was a very quick read for me. I only meant to read the first chapter at first… and the next thing I knew, I’d been sucked into the story and only emerged when I was through. 🙂

5. I enjoyed following the trails of mystery with the team—the compelling leads, character growth and interaction, and touch of danger and excitement by the end, which I’ve come to expect from the Kate books.

6. Kate and Brian worked together for most of the story. I enjoyed getting to find out more about him—the fun, easygoing member. 😀 He and Kate make a good team. I felt like I knew the least about him, so getting to know Brian better was fantastic! (And I love when he throws paper airplanes at his boss. :P)

7. Kate and Patrick weren’t working together very much in this one (though I liked the scenes where they were), which is giving them an opportunity to figure stuff out on their own. But I did love Patrick’s parts as he infiltrates a college campus. Patrick’s always great!

8. I still like their somewhat gruff boss, Thomas, and his snarky lines—I’m looking forward to more of him in the future. I bet his part of the story would have been exciting, but probably scary too, so it’s just as well it was mostly off-screen, I suppose. XD

9. Each character has a part to play and I feel like I get to know them all a little more with each tale—Kate, Patrick, Brian, Kim, Logan, and Thomas. I’m very fond of this FBI team! ^_^

10. I can’t wait to continue the series! I’ve enjoyed all three books very much. 🙂 I recommend this series if you like clean modern stories about crime-solving, loveable characters, and a faith element. You can start with book one (Kate’s Innocence), but I imagine starting with this third book would work, too. Another lovely book! *thumbs-up*

Favorite Quotes

(What can I say; this book is very quotable. XD)

“Hasn’t anyone told you? The FBI always gets their man…person…criminal… whatever.”

***

“Patrick, you’re now enrolled at the University of Charleston. You’re also twenty again according to your file. I envy you.”

***

“You see how damaged you are, but that is never how Christ views you, Kathrine. He sees you as you can be and what you will be.”

***

Thomas grunted. “Yeah, I picked them all because the files said they would be the best for this team. I didn’t realize that I was getting a whole batch of religious people. What are the odds? Actually, I’ll tell you: one in a billion.”

***

“Besides, I’ll win a lot of sympathetic souls to my side while sporting this bruise. Half the girls on campus will fawn over me, and the guys will see it as a mark of courage.”

Kim rolled her eyes. “For the record, I think it is a mark of your recklessness and failure to listen to advice.”

Patrick smiled. “Duly noted.”

***

“And please try to avoid getting hit again. Purple is not a good color for you.”

***

“One, I don’t like eggs. Two, I only like sausage in moderation. Three, this means that I hate breakfast.”

“There are other breakfast foods, oatmeal being my favorite, fruit, nuts…”

“Whoa, you are making it sound way too healthy.”

***

“I know that it seems easier to hide from the pain—to put on a mask so that all people see is what you want them to see, but then you’re never truly known. You can neither be hated or loved, helped or hurt because no one can touch you. It’s a very lonely place.”

***

“Are you always this grumpy after being knocked out?”

~ ~ ~

Do you like mysteries? Have you checked out this series yet? Now is a great time, since the first book, Kate’s Innocence, is free on Kindle through May 20th! 🙂

Read my reviews for the first two books in the series:

katesinnocence

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

The Magicians’ Reckoning (by H.L. Burke) – Spellsmith & Carver, #3

Title: Magicians’ Reckoning (Spellsmith & Carver, #3)

Author: H. L. Burke

  • Date read: October 12, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Steampunk / Fantasy / Gaslamp Fantasy
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 200 (ebook)
  • Series: Spellsmith and Carver, #3
  • Fave character: Everbodyyyy! (Okay, Jericho…)
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author (thank you!); these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: Amazon • GoodreadsAuthor’s Website

Firstly, I LOVE THIS COVER TO BITS. ❤ (And I’m not going to lie: I’m super pleased how it fits with my blog’s colors. XD)

So much happens in this story… Death, birth, marriage, life, laughter, love, heartbreak, magic, snark, clockwork fox, friendship, and fun. It’s all in there, and well-written and emotional, and I’M ADDICTED TO THIS AUTHOR’S BOOKS, OKAY? Okay.

It came super close to losing a star due to some sad things, buuut I’m mostly just relieved that it turned out much better than it looked like it might. XD

This book had SO MANY FEELS involved. It made me cry a couple times too—tears streaming down my face near the end there. It packed a punch. 😉 Normally books making me cry isn’t a thing in their favor, but I guess it just depends on the one. I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob. But I’m not FURIOUS at it, like I would be if certain unforgivable things had happened, and it actually ended really well, considering, so I’m happy. ^_^ But I will say no more on that count, because spoilers. 😉 BUT I’M MOSTLY OKAY, HONEST, THANKS FOR ASKING.

It’s sort of like the three books in this trilogy are stepping stones, as far as audience goes, though. To ME at least, the first book feels like YA—more lighthearted, focused on the buddy (or really-not-buddy. XD) relationship between the two heroes, with a dash of romance between one of them and the other’s sister, and it’s a wild romp in Faerie. Basically my favorite thing. The second one felt more New Adult to me, with a newly-wed couple and more issues like law and some other issues, and more to the steampunk city, and not as much magic. It just felt… older, somehow? And then the third one feels more Adult (to me) since it’s dealing with a married couple and being new parents, and also some dark subjects, and more about being grown ups, and there’s just… a lot going on. So the first one is very much my favorite, and the other two books… I don’t connect with their lives as much since it’s outside of my experience? But of course, since I love the characters so much, I wanted to follow them and see what happened, so. 😉 Just so readers are aware that the content matures as the books progress, which kind of surprised me, but hey. And it’s just hard to top the brilliance that was book one. XD

I loved Lotta in this!! I don’t know why, but the parts from her perspective where she was comparing human emotions etc. to machines (because she’s an introverted, technical person and understands how to fix things, but other people are kind of a mystery for her) were just awesome. I LOVED how she used her unique outlook to manage to deal with people. 🙂 And she and Auric are really cute, sooo. 😉

Jaspyr! Jaspyr the clockwork fox was in this more and I LOVE HIM SO MUCH. There were THINGS going on and I won’t spoil them but alsdkfjkldj so much awesome. 😀 Oh, and Rill of course is always a good thing. 🙂 And certain side characters who I also love…

There were some characteristic banter moments between my precious, favorite lads, Auric and Jericho, because their buddy relationship is the BEST. 🙂 There’s not as much as in the first book, of course, but still some fun. And in a way there wasn’t much TIME for that, since it’s a somewhat more feelsy book and all the characters go through the wringer and just— *collects them all and wraps them in blankets and gives them tea because the poor precious characters*

There’s also more Faerie stuff going on again in this one than in the middle book (not as much as in the first, but some) and it was creepyyyy. O.o Meep. Though I did want to smack some of the characters’ heads together BECAUSE THEY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. Goodness. It was kind of stressful but engrossing, I suppose. XD And I still love this world, and magic system, and just all of it. ❤ So much great, vivid fantasy in this gaslamp, steampunk, fantasy world. 🙂

Anyway, it was a good conclusion to the Spellsmith and Carver trilogy, a tad more adult/dark/sad than I expected (but I lived. ;)), and there was still a lot of awesomeness and fun, and I just love Jericho and Auric and Rill and Lotta and Jaspyr and the rest SO MUCH. ❤ If you enjoyed the first two, you’ll probably like this one as well!

Now, allow me to direct you toward Magicians’ Rivalry, book 1, because I know I’ve said it before, but you need that book in your life if it isn’t yet. 😉

Favorite Quotes

Accepting his proposal … more like putting together a machine from scrap without any schematics to reference. How did one make a marriage? There really should be instruction manuals about that sort of thing.

***

Lotta tried to remember what friends having tea were supposed to talk about. She’d tried to read a book that involved a lot of talking over tea once, but had only got about halfway through before putting it aside in favor of a steam engine repair manual. Now she regretted that.

***

Auric managed an anxious laugh. “Well, if you do kill me, I’ll try not to take it personally.”

“It’s not funny.” Jericho scowled.

***

Lotta dug through her bag. Her uncle always told her it was a bad idea to travel with dynamite. Well, she was about to prove how wrong he was!

***

“Or blow up her beacon!” Lotta instinctively reached towards her satchel.

“I think we should try and scope things out before we rush in and demolish things.” Jericho’s tone could’ve scrubbed rust off old iron.

***

The door knob rattled.

“I said, go away!” Auric pulled the pillow over his head.

A whiff of burnt cedar and a slight crackling of magical energy, and the door popped open.

Auric tossed his pillow into Jericho’s face. “Did you just use an unlocking spell on my door?”

Jericho tucked his stylus into his pocket. “No.”

~ ~ ~

Click covers for other related reviews:

Beggar Magic Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians' Rivalry Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians' Trial Coiled

~ ~ ~

Have you tried Spellsmith and Carver? And do you enjoy steampunk, or have any recs for me? 😀

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer