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Molly Storm by Annie Louise Twitchell

It’s Golden Braids release week! *cheering*

The Golden Braids are a collaborative release of five Rapunzel retellings by five different authors. Each book is very different, and I’m here to review one of them today (and I’ll be back tomorrow to review another one)!

You can enter a US giveaway for paperbacks of three of the books, and find the full tour schedule, HERE!

Today I’m reviewing Molly Storm, a Rapunzel short story by Annie Louise Twitchell!

First, a bit about the tale and the author . . .


About the Book

A witch, a pirate, a lighthouse, and… seaweed? Molly Storm is a short story inspired by the tale of Rapunzel.

“You and I, lass, we’re both sides of the same coin. We’re both the heart of the ocean, but you’re more the kindness and goodness. I’m the storms that crush ships. Don’t cross me, Molly. I’ll crush all the sweetness out of you.”

Find the book: Goodreads || Amazon


About the Author

Annie Louise Twitchell is a homeschool graduate who is obsessed with dragons and fairy tales. She enjoys reading, writing, poetry, and many forms of art. When she’s not writing, she can often be found reading out loud to her cat, rabbit, and houseplants, or wandering barefoot in the area around her Western Maine home.

Find her online: Blogspot || Facebook || Instagram || Twitter || Author site


Title: Molly Storm

Author: Annie Louise Twitchell

  • Date read: July 27, 2019
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Short Story
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 35 (ebook)
  • Source: I received a free e-ARC of this story for the blog tour and all opinions are my own.

(I love this cover!)

This was such a unique, fascinating take on Rapunzel, set in a lighthouse — which is perfect! I loved that it was such a quick and easy read, since it’s a short story, but still manages to really grab hold of you and keep you thinking about it. It’s a little bit haunting and super atmospheric and feels totally like a cloudy day above a rocky coast, which I loved!

It could also get a little dark here and there, and there were one or two things I didn’t care for, but on the whole I really enjoyed it. 🙂 I think I expected something a bit different, and almost can’t decide if I was disappointed some of the things I wanted to happen didn’t happen, or that it’s awesome because I couldn’t predict it. XD But what I did get was a very intriguing and different story, populated with memorable characters.

They were sooo interesting — and it was especially unique how it was told from the point of view of the witch from Rapunzel, the titular Molly Storm (love that name!), which made it so different. The pirate captain was so well written and chilling and I kind of loved reading his dialog even while I was shivering. XD The Rapunzel character was sweet, and I really liked Matteo, even if I wanted him to be in it more. XD

The stormy sea-side “feel” was my favorite part and I liked how well-knit-together it was, how several years was depicted so well in such a short space. If you want a short, slightly dark but with some hope, fantasy tale in a lighthouse by the sea with scary pirates and an unexpected twist or two, with more of a mother-daughter feel, this Rapunzel story is for you. 🙂


Do you like nautical stories? And what’s your favorite Rapunzel retelling? — besides Tangled! 😉 Thanks for reading! 🙂

Mini Reviews! Sci-Fi Short Stories (by E.B. Dawson)

You guys. I recently read the most INCREDIBLE short stories by E.B. Dawson. Part of what’s incredible? Most of them are genres like dystopian or sci-fi that aren’t “my” genres and yet these kept me utterly transfixed. I ADORED THEM.

So here are mini reviews for six short stories, ranging from a Beauty and the Beast retelling to dystopian thrillers to Moby Dick in space to a beautiful tale on another planet.

Whether or not you are a sci-fi fan, you need to check these out!

  • Author: E.B. Dawson (WebsiteAmazonGoodreadsFacebookTwitterInstagram)
  • Genre: Sci-fi / short stories
  • Date read: April 8, 2019 (except for Beast in the Machine, January 28, 2019)
  • Source: I received free ebook copies of these stories either for review or free on the author’s newsletter, except for Nomad of the Emirates which I purchased on Amazon.
  • Note: Thanks to the author for free copies of some of these. I was under no obligation to write positive reviews and all opinions are my own.

Voyage of the Pequod

5 stars • Science Fiction / Retelling (Moby Dick) • AmazonGoodreads

This is Moby Dick in space. That idea is as perfect as it sounds and YOU NEED IT IN YOUR LIFE. *collapses* I’m not even as familiar with the original Moby Dick story as I could be, and sci-fi isn’t my usual genre, but I absolutely adored this short story! I suppose I knew enough to appreciate it as a retelling (though others might appreciate it more), but either way it was a brilliant story and totally captured me. I was instantly absorbed in this unique and fascinating tale. Electronic space whales! The remains of a war between man and machines (scary AI machines are soooo creepy! And the hints of backstory are absolutely fascinating). A battered space ship going out into the unknown. And the character interactions with the little crew, which I loved — there’s the new boy, and the old sailors, and of course the enigmatic captain Ahab and steady first mate Starbuck. They have a sort of buddy relationship going which is fantastic. It’s also one of my favorite things: a ship story (whether that’s nautical, piratical, space-ships, or airships. There’s just something classic about that and it was brilliant in this). It was just all so good, in such a short space! (No pun intended.) It was so intense I totally forgot to breathe! (Also I need a sequel! O_O) HELP. So, SO good! I don’t even know why but I loved it so very much I can’t put words to it! This is truly magnificent science-fiction.


Nomad of the Emirates

5 stars • Science Fiction • AmazonGoodreads

This story was so incredibly beautiful, help. What even are words? How can I describe it? It was intriguing from the start, and it’s very strange if you think about it (like sci-fi can be). But somewhere along the way, before I really knew what had happened, it stole my heart. This first-person story of a misfit girl from Earth who finds her place on another planet where she’s technically not supposed to be, and yet it’s where she’s most supposed to be of all places. The way she made a way in this foreign place and made it her home, how she’s a nomad, how she touches the strange cultures of the alien beings and makes a place there because of her openness and her heart for others and her willingness to understand those who are other, and what comes of it. That there is a place for those who haven’t found it yet — that it’s out there. I just love this story so much. It makes my heart ache and just — I don’t even know. It touched my soul. I don’t really know exactly how but it totally captivated me and I’m so glad I picked up a copy! And I laughed a couple of times, like with the hammock scene. Thinking of this story always makes me smile. I’m not sure, but I think this may be what sci-fi is supposed to be, a window to new worlds and a way to look outside to where the heart can reach — which can go even beyond things we know. Beautiful, beautiful!


Government Man

5 stars • Dystopian / Science Fiction • AmazonGoodreads

That was SO INTENSE. Oh my goodness! So, I’m not a big fan of dystopian type stories, but this one was super fascinating and kept me very intrigued the whole time. ACK. It was so well-written and fascinating (I know I keep using that word for this author’s stories, but I can’t help it because it’s true). I loved Caleb, our point of view undercover character. It’s set in a dystopian society with some of the usual things, but somehow unique too, and I loved some of the new spins on it. Especially Caleb’s personal story and what he does about it after . . . things happen. He’s absolutely the most epic person. 😀 Sometimes it felt like a cozy contemporary, like the bits in the coffee shop with Sarah, and other times like a mystery thriller, and then a dash of sci-fi with certain . . . er . . . developments (spoilers!), and all in a vaguely dystopian society. I just — I really loved it! Even though it was scary and super intense. I couldn’t stop reading, and loved it, and I was so happy to discover there was a sequel short story, which I promptly devoured too. It’s such a delightful mix of genres that I can’t quite pinpoint it, but whatever it is, it’s an excellent short story which I really enjoyed and couldn’t put down!

Note: You can currently read a free copy of Government Man and three other cool short stories if you sign up for the Phoenix Fiction Writers newsletter. PFW is an epic group of speculative fiction authors and you can check it out HERE.


Shadow Figure

5 stars • Dystopian / Science Fiction • AmazonGoodreads

This is a direct sequel to Government Man (I love that idea! Sequel short stories!) and I can’t talk too much about it because of spoilers for the first one, but it was another fascinating story. It delves further into the dystopian world introduced in the first, but from a new perspective, a certain heroine this time. It was intense too and I especially loved the “Shadow Figure” and all the things related to it. It’s heartwrenching in a sense, but full of possibility too (that I’m really excited about), and I somehow loved it. I definitely want to read more about these characters!


Gifted

4 stars • Urban Fantasy / Superpowers / Sci-Fi • AmazonGoodreads

What a fascinating story! I wasn’t always sure what was going on, but I knew I was hooked and couldn’t stop reading. This story had layers and it was so interesting to find each one behind the other. It’s some sort of Urban Fantasy mixed with superpowers and fist fighting in a ring, but it’s much more than that, somehow. I was so intrigued by Spencer and his story, and these other interesting people he meets. It was very vivid and I never wanted to stop reading, even if I didn’t necessarily “get” everything. It went in an unexpected direction, and definitely left me curious to know more.


Beast in the Machine

5 stars • Science Fiction / Retelling (Beauty and the Beast) • Goodreads • (This is part of a collection called Once Upon a Future Time, so if you’re interested in it, go check out the Kickstarter project, through June 22!)

Beauty and the Beast is my second-favorite fairytale, so the idea of a sci-fi version fascinated me, and I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. What I found was an enchanting blend of an old-world-feeling setting, in a charming sea-village where I could almost taste the salty breeze, with just a dash of futuristic technology to spice it up. I absolutely loved the writing and the feel of this one! Isabelle was a great heroine and brought such a strong personality to the story, drawing the reader into the story. Throw in a mysterious and occasionally unhinged young man named Sebastian Prince with a dark past, a mansion with a lab and a library, dream experiments gone wrong, and an adorable little robot named Cog (I loved Cog!) and you have the perfect recipe for a fresh take on a classic tale as old as time. I absolutely adored this retelling! It was my first E.B. Dawson story and from the very first page, I knew I had to read more from this author. It felt so COZY, though with a dash of peril and excitement, of course. Even if you’re not a sci-fi person, the sci-fi flavors are subtle in this, and any fans of Beauty and the Beast will find it as enchanting as I did!


So, I binge-read five sci-fi-ish short stories from this author and my overall impression was one of complete awesomeness. If I don’t watch out, E.B. Dawson is going to make me addicted to sci-fi! 😉

Are you a short story or a sci-fi person, or like me do you rarely dip your toes into those waters? I’m definitely planning on trying this genre more often — I used to a bit more when I was younger, and I clearly need to revisit it.

Do these stories intrigue you? Let me know in the comments — or if you have a top sci-fi book to recommend to me!

Introducing Fairy Tale Central!

GUYS. I’M SO INCREDIBLY EXCITED. I have something magnificent to share with  you.

There is a new fairy tale site run by some of my favorite people and it is launching this week (it officially launched yesterday!) and I am sooo ecstatic! Fairy tales are basically my FAVORITE thing and just . . . I can’t. This is so glorious.

Read on for more info and then go visit it and bask in the awesomeness!

Once Upon a Time two girls had a dream. A dream of a fairy tale site, an internet library, if you will, for all the fairy tale lovers of the land to gather and converse. To learn, to read, to fangirl/boy, to bask in the goodness that is fairy tales.

As this dream blossomed, the two girls recruited a third. Because, after all, all good fairy tales come in themes of three.

With the third member in place, the girls got to work. The dream began to take shape, until it was no longer just a dream. But something real.

Introducing…

FAIRY TALE CENTRAL

This newly launched site run by Arielle Bailey, Faith White, and Christine Smith, is your source for all things fairy tales.

Every month a single fairy tale will be featured, and posts will include:

  • Reviews for retellings/shows/movies/etc.
  • Essay, origin, and discussion posts on the featured fairy tale
  • Interviews with fairy tale retelling authors
  • Galleries featuring fairy tale artists and artisans
  • And a whole lot more!

The FTC’s goal is to unlock the magic that is fairy tales and build a community of fellow fairy tale enthusiasts. Arielle, Faith, and Christine are thrilled to share this new fairy tale centric space and connect with all you epic fairy tale fans!

You can CLICK HERE to find the site and join the Fairy Ring! (Don’t worry, you won’t be enchanted or cursed.) And, if you want to connect even more, you can find the FTC on:

(If you’re inclined to share about the FTC in those places too, you may or may not be blessed by a fairy godmother. *smile, smile*)

Do tell a friend, or a dragon, or the fairy living in the hollow tree behind your house. All humans and mythological creatures alike are welcome!

Talk to me! Are you a fairy tale fan? Does this site intrigue you? I’M SO EXCITED! Do drop by and give it a visit/follow! 😀 Thanks for reading! ^_^

The Road to Bremen! (by Kelsey Bryant)

The winner for the giveaway of a signed paperback of Common is . . . Raechel L.! Congrats, Raechel! The winner has been contacted. Thanks so much to everyone who entered! Stay tuned for more giveaways because I love sharing the bookish love! ^_^

Speaking of bookish love, I’m here with a review of a lovely novella/children’s book which released TODAY, and is a retelling of The Bremen Town Musicians! GUYS. I LOVED THIS LITTLE BOOK. ❤

The Road to Bremen by Kelsey Bryant

Utterly charming! A tale full of heart. ❤

I’ve always loved the fairytale of the Bremen Town Musicians, the old donkey and dog and cat and rooster on the road to become musicians in Bremen. I have fond memories of hearing an audio version of the story, and a particular picture book I found fascinating with pictures I remember vividly.

So when I heard Kelsey Bryant was writing a retelling of it, I was ecstatic! Her pen skillfully brought this story to life in this novella-sized children’s book, complete with charming illustrations by E. Kaiser Writes.

I loved how it felt true to the original tale but brought out new and unexpected things too, with some excellent twists and turns! It has its own share of excitement and adventure and, yes, peril at times! But it still feels so absolutely cozy at the same time, which made me happy. 🙂

The Road to Bremen is like a golden sunbeam across a field of wheat on a quiet summer day. It just FEELS lovely. You want to bask in it as you read. It’s rich and well-written and draws you along like a breeze calling you to the shade of the forest. You can feel the dust of the road and you’ll smile or laugh at the quiet humor or the banter between these larger-than-life (but so REAL!) animal characters as they go on their adventure.

The characters are so loveable! Etzel the donkey, from whose perspective the story is told, absolutely stole my heart. I just love this donkey and his voice! He has so much character. Jager the dog is sort of mournful but funny. XD Katarina is so CAT-like and prim, and I loved the dog-vs.-cat references. And then Rudiger is so extremely vain and always quoting Aesop and it’s great. XD I just love them all! You have to read this to meet them! There are a couple of human characters, of course, who add to the story, but I won’t spoil anything by talking about them. 😉

Also, I love that it’s set in Germany and how there are German words thrown in here and there. I felt so immersed in the forest and town and roads and setting. It made me think a little of Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale retellings and made me feel at home. 🙂

I totally recommend this if you enjoy retellings and need a quick, novella-sized read, or if you have children in your life. I feel like it would be a wonderful book to read aloud!

Just— *hugs book* It feels totally classic and makes me happy! ^_^

Disclaimer: I beta-read this book. I was not required to write a review and the opinions are my own.


About the Book

Their lives are saved by a dream. But only friendship can make that dream a reality.

Once upon a time…

Etzel the donkey is getting old, but he works hard on his farm—until the day Herr Hoffman decides he is no longer worth keeping. With no choice but to escape, Etzel sets off on the road to Bremen to seek his fortune as a musician. On the way, he rescues three other animals—a dog, a cat, and a rooster—who are also old and destined for death.

Will these four new friends find their success and worth as musicians in Bremen? Or does the road hold something better?

Based on “The Bremen Town Musicians” from the Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Ideal for kids from 7 to 11 years old, but great for all those young at heart.


About the Author

Kelsey Bryant lives in Central Texas, but being one-quarter German, she’s always wanted to visit Germany. Bogged down during the crafting of a much longer book, Kelsey started writing a retelling of one of her favorite fairy tales, “The Bremen Town Musicians,” to resuscitate her creativity. She rather liked the result.

Kelsey is the author of the Six Cousins series and Suit and Suitability, part of the Vintage Jane Austen series. The Road to Bremen is her first book for children. Besides writing fiction, Kelsey is a copyeditor, a martial arts instructor, and an avid student of the Bible. Visit her at kelseybryantauthor.com or on her blog, Kelsey’s Notebook.


Links

Purchase on Amazon (paperback or ebook)

Add on Goodreads

Announcement Post on the author’s blog!


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Thanks for reading! 🙂

ECHO NORTH by Joanna Ruth Meyer + Blogiversary!

Happy New Year!

And happy third blogiversary to the Page Dreamer! Thanks for following along on my li’l blog, my dear pagelings!

To celebrate, I’m giving away a paperback ARC of an awesome retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”! (Giveaway closed.)

It’s called Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer, who is a fabulous writer I met through Twitter and our mutual love of Diana Wynne Jones. ❤

Echo North was the last book I read in 2018 and it blew me away and made it onto my list of the best books I read all year! (Which I’ll be sharing soon.) Meanwhile, I’m here to review it today, and to tell you why you simply MUST read this gorgeousness!

Make sure to scroll all the way to the end to enter the giveaway for an ARC paperback copy! (Giveaway closed.)


Title: Echo North

Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer

  • Date read: December 29, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars! (I’d totally give it 6 if I could…)
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling / East of the Sun, West of the Moon (with a hint of Beauty and the Beast and Tam Lin)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 389 (ARC paperback)
  • Series: Standalone
  • Fave character: Hal, of course!
  • Source: Page Street Publishing
  • Notes: Thanks to the publisher for providing a free ARC of this book. A positive review was not required. All opinions are entirely my own.

My favorite books are the ones I find most difficult to review. AAHH. How can I explain my love for this book? IT’S SO, SO GOOD.

Echo North is so beautiful it hurts. I found myself utterly enchanted by this story of the girl Echo and the white wolf and Hal and the Winds, and I’m so sad it’s over because I wanted to just LIVE in it for ages and ages. ❤

Don’t you love those retellings that feel like they’re the REAL story? This one felt that way. A retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, I loved how it seemed like this was the real history behind it. More than seemed, it WAS and—well, you’ll have to read it. 😉 There’s also a hint of Beauty and the Beast, and just a dash of Tam Lin. All the retelling bits were brilliant and I loved them!

This is the story of Echo, our heroine, trapped by her scars, who tells the story in words so heartfelt and gorgeous that I wanted to melt into them. It’s the story of the white wolf in the house under the mountain, of his sorrow and secrets, trapped by a curse. It’s the story of Hal, the . . . I don’t have a word for him, because all of them fall short of his irrepressible personality! The indescribable young man Echo meets, who is trapped in the worlds of the book-mirrors and by a shadow of his own past. They’re my FAVORITE. I love them all. Their stories intertwine flawlessly and paint a stunning picture I happily lost myself in.

I sometimes almost forgot I was reading a retelling, because there was just so much MORE to this book. I think of it in three parts—the part where Echo is at home, the part in the House under the mountain, and the quest. They’re all fantastic (although the beginning part is kind of sad, but I somehow didn’t mind because it’s just what HAPPENED, you know?), but the middle bit is my absolute favorite. 😀

The book-mirrors were one of my favorite things—how cool is the idea of stepping into a mirror which is actually a book, and experiencing that? There were other awesome things about the book-mirrors but I don’t want to spoil them—you must read it for yourself! 🙂 Another thing I loved was the House! It almost has its own personality, and all the different unique rooms, full of fantasy and wonder and peril and bound together like patches on a quilt, were incredible. It was like having separate pockets of Faerie all tied together.

The sheer imagination left me speechless. This is what fantasy was made for. I was spellbound by all the many different imaginative worlds and stories and fantastical elements woven together by this author’s skillful pen. How did she come up with them all? It’s like the full potential of fantasy has been explored in these pages. There are a thousand unique things in this tale, all perilous and beautiful like frozen starlight.

It’s a story full of echoing joy and heart-rending sorrow, of stars and wind and snow, of a magical house and books explored through mirrors, of love and fire and woods and thorns, of music and wonder and mystery and adventure. None of it’s safe, exactly, but it’s all stunning. It was so vivid I absolutely BREATHED this story, both thrilling and quiet, on the edge of my seat but cozy at the same time, and got to know each of these dear characters so well. ❤

Because these CHARACTERS. Hal is the absolute BEST. I have a new favorite character, guys. 😉 He’s so full of LIFE and his dialog and exuberance are just—the best. But I love how there’s something deeper back there, with several layers of mystery. He’s like all my most favorite character types! I love Hal and Echo together—they are my favorite! ❤ The wolf was also awesome and also mysterious. He and Echo have a great dynamic as well! And I love Echo. And the romance was the best.

All the dialog and interactions in this book . . . SO GOOD. And there were side characters I loved as well! Everyone was so alive. Echo’s brother Rodya—there need to be more good brother characters in fiction!—is not in it terribly much but he was fantastic. And I absolutely loved Ivan the storyteller and his wife and just . . . this whole book, guys. I want to hug it forever!

Also, there are PLOT TWISTS. One of them I guessed and was totally hoping would be a thing. Another was hinted at and I vaguely suspected something was up, but oh, the glorious reveal of this mind-blowing twist! :O And some of the side characters had stories that were twisty as well. Did I mention how breathtaking the writing was? I just want to eat it! And I loved the music in the story and its descriptions. 🙂 It was all so masterfully done!

Some books simply enchant you, you know? This one stole a part of my heart and crept in as the last book I read in 2018 but one of my top favorites. I’m going to treasure my memories of reading this late at night near the cold end of the year, when I didn’t mean to read so late but couldn’t stop. ^_^

I could probably talk about this book for ages but I’m going to stop now and simply say: If you love fairytales and the fantastic and characters who will steal your heart, you absolutely must read this gorgeous tale, full of the wild echoes of Faerie, of piercing starlight and wind and ice and fierce love.

Just read it.


Quotes

“What is your name?” I asked.
“I do not have a name.”
“Then what am I to call you?”
“Whatever you like.”

***

“If I’d thought this story wouldn’t have a happy ending, I would have read something else.”
His blue eyes locked on mine, suddenly serious. “Must you always know a story ends happily before you feel equal to beginning it?

***

We dined with the Winds in a hall looking out over the world, and the colors tasted bright and the wine smelt of music.

***

“It’s all very exciting, if rather ridiculous.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “You are rather ridiculous.”
He winked at me again. “Are you ready to run?”
“What?”
That’s when one of the soldiers spotted us, his blade flashing toward our hiding spot.
“Run, Echo!” cried Hal. He grabbed my hand and we dashed into the wood.


About Echo North

She dreamed of the wood, and the wolf who was trapped there.

Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf―the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: if she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books- turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.

Echo North will release January 15, 2019

Add on GoodreadsPreorder on Barnes & Noble • Preorder on Amazon


Visit the author, Joanna Ruth Meyer, online!

WebsiteTwitter: @gamwynInstagram: @gamwyn


GIVEAWAY!

The publisher (Page Street Publishing) was kind enough to send me an extra ARC, which I am giving away here on my blog today!

To enter to win a paperback ARC of Echo North, click on this link to enter via the rafflecopter!

(US entries only. Open from Tuesday, January 1, 2019, through Sunday, January 6, 2019, midnight CST. Winner will be contacted by email and announced on this blog shortly thereafter.)

Giveaway is closed. The winner is Amanda, who has been contacted. Thanks for entering, everyone!


Doesn’t it just sound like THE BEST? *collapses* I loved it so much! (I have quite a book-hangover after this, which is a bad way to start a new year of reading — how will anything be this good again? — but perfect at the same time, and I don’t regret it one little bit. ❤ )

I hope you enjoyed my review, and be sure to enter the giveaway!

Thanks for celebrating my li’l blogoversary with me, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Five Poisoned Apples: Falling Snow by Skye Hoffert (Review!)

*emerges from my post-NaNo coma to bring you a review for an INCREDIBLE book which YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST READ*

It’s here, guys! Five Poisoned Apples released December 1st, and I’m incredibly excited about it — particularly because of one specific story that I just read and is by my talented friend Skye Hoffert.

Y’ALL. I’M SO EXCITED. I’m excited for her debut novella, Falling Snow, being out now — go Skye!

I’m also excited because this story was genuinely amazing. I expected to enjoy it but I was not prepared AT ALL for how much it blew me away!

I can’t wait to tell you about. 😀

Title: Falling Snow (in Five Poisoned Apples)

Author: Skye Hoffert

  • Date read: November 29, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale / Retelling / Novella
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Fave character: Chayse
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this anthology from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonSkye Hoffert’s Blog

Gorgeous interior cover artwork by Hannah S. J. Williams which totally captures it!

FALLING SNOW is a truly spectacular read. I’m utterly enchanted!

This review is going to be difficult to write, because how do I recover from something so amazing? MY FEELS. WHAT ARE WORDS. I’M PEN-SLAIN. I don’t know how to express how much I absolutely adored this story and how striking and thrilling it was and how it blew me away. But I’m going to give it a shot.

This tale is both mesmerizing and perilous, as a story about a circus run by fae should be. A deadly dance of deception and illusion and shadows. The first thing that comes to mind about this story is the feel, the atmosphere, the colors of it—the stark whites and blacks and reds and golds. It’s so vivid! There are so many contrasts—the grungy half of the circus performers versus the opulence of the queen’s side of things; the fire versus the cold (my favorite!); the calculated deception of the fae characters versus the pure innocence of Snow herself.

I love how you get this feeling where you hardly know where the magic ends and begins. I loved the fire-manipulating (and the character who does it!) but that’s the most obvious fantastical part—at least at first—and you’re sometimes left wondering about what is mere illusion and what is actual fantasy, which is just how a fae circus should be.

I really appreciated how perilous the fae characters were! Obviously, the evil queen character (this is, after all, a Snow White tale) who runs the circus was chilling and creepy. But the fae characters we like also had their edge of danger, which was fascinating, and I felt was totally true, somehow, to what a fae story should be. It was a natural part of what they’re like, but we, and Snow (the one human character), can see that it’s off a bit. But for the fae characters it’s part of their lives, a ruthless, deadly dance they live in—even if some of them wish for a way out.

The complete originality of a Snow White story set in a circus, and then the brilliant way that it wove in the different Snow White elements in unexpected ways, was so awesome! I can’t talk much about that here because of spoilers, but guys, it was genius. I love it so much. 😀

The writing was also incredible. Aaahh! I kept wanting to quote things and hoping to one day be able to write like that. Every word is sharp and in just the right place to absolutely drag you completely into the story and into the minds and lives of these characters I fell in love with. It immerses the reader completely into this circus world. I’m pretty sure I forgot to breathe for the last half of the story. O_O It’s super intense, and a bit bloody at times, so younger readers might find it a bit dark, but I absolutely loved it and couldn’t stop reading—the story was so thrilling and I had no idea how things were going to turn out!

Speaking of writing, I loved the alternating viewpoints of our main characters, Snow and Chayse, and getting to see everything (including each other) from different perspectives, and all the raw emotion from both, tucked down under the illusions. Which brings me to the last but opposite of least aspect: the characters!

I loved Snow and how precious she was, and how as the only human she was something kind of nice in the middle of the scary deceptions. But she wasn’t helpless either, and her goals and dreams and determination—not to mention her stubbornness and commitment to learning to walk the wire—really had me rooting for her, and sometimes breathless on the edge of my seat.

Chayse was my favorite, and part of that was learning about him throughout the story bit by bit, so I almost don’t want to say much about him! But he’s got a couple of unexpected roles thrown together, which was great, and his interactions with Snow are my favorite. ^_^ His interactions with the queen… O_O I felt really bad for this guy—my poor precious Chayse! He’s super dangerous but he also wants out. I loved him so much. And the fire… Needless to say, Chayse is absolutely awesome. 😀

And I can’t quite finish without mentioning Cynfael. This guy. O_O One of the most truly enigmatic characters I’ve read, ever. I kept changing my mind about his roles in the story, changing my feelings about him, and he kept me guessing. I can usually guess a character’s role but Cynfael defied conventions—the sneaky fae!—and I was genuinely blown away. (This writing, guys!) I’ll let you discover him yourself, because spoilers, but wow. Chayse and Cynfael also had some excellent scenes which I loved.

Oh, and (talking of Chayse and Cynfael) one final thing is the dialog. I LOVED IT SO MUCH. It’s so sharp. These characters are almost constantly exchanging either verbal duels or loads of snark or hidden meanings, and sometimes all three at once. It was absolutely fantastic. 😀

If I keep writing, my review will get as long as this novella, but FALLING SNOW is an absolutely stunning, breath-taking, edge-of-your-seat read. I positively adored it and plan to re-read it sometime!

I have yet to read the other tales in the FIVE POISONED APPLES collection because this one left me with a major book-hangover. I do look forward to trying them out, but even if you only get it for FALLING SNOW, it’s totally worth it.

You need Snow and Chayse and Cynfael and this gorgeous writing and super-aesthetic black-white-red-gold perilous-fae Snow White circus story in your life. YOU JUST DO. ❤

~ ~ ~

Whew. Sound like something you need? Because… GUYS. You do!

Also, do you have any favorite fae stories you can recommend to me??

How about circuses? (Thinking of The Electrical Menagerie, The Greatest Showman, and The Night Circus…)

*pretends I’m totally not eating a (totally-not-poisoned) apple while I write this post*

Talk to me! Thanks for reading! 🙂

A Royal Masquerade (by Allison Tebo) Review + Giveaway!

Good morning, Pagelings!

Today I’m joining in on the blog tour for A Royal Masquerade, the new Goose Girl retelling by Allison Tebo that released this week! There’s a giveaway and other fun stuff so make sure you scroll to the end! 😉


About the Book

Burndee can barely tolerate the mischievous Prince Colin, but the two of them are invariably thrown together in a way that keeps them at one another’s throats.

While attending a noblewoman’s wedding, Burndee and Colin’s private feud comes to a climax when Burndee loses his temper and does the unthinkable.  With Prince Colin unable to attend to his royal duties and Burndee bound by an inconvenient spell, can the two of them work together long enough to unsnarl the mysterious goings-on around them?

A madcap and magical retelling of The Goose Girl from a unique perspective.

Find the Book

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About the Author

Allison Tebo is a Christian author in her mid-twenties. A sales associate for a major transportation company, she writes books in her spare time. A graduate of London Art College, Allison also pursues children’s illustration and cartooning. When she is not creating art with words or paint, she enjoys narration, singing, quilting, and, naturally, baking. Allison blogs at www.allisonswell.com about the love of Christ, the joys of living, occasionally, all about the wonder of gifs.

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Title: A Royal Masquerade

Author: Allison Tebo

  • Date read: October 17, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale / Retelling / The Goose Girl / Humor / Novella
  • Age: Any
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 129 (ebook)
  • Series: Tales of Ambia, #3 (Can stand alone. Best read after Tales of Ambia, #1, The Reluctant Godfather)
  • Fave character: Burndee (and Colin. And both of them together. :D)
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this story from the author. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions are my own.

This book was absolutely SO MUCH FUN! Anyone who knows my reading taste probably knows that I ADORE humorous books, that I’m far more likely to fall in love with a story if there’s a favorite character (or two), and that I love retellings and fairytales. Put all three of those into a novella-sized package, and you have A ROYAL MASQUERADE.

I loved this book! As a sequel to The Reluctant Godfather, it follows the continuing adventures of Fairy Godfather Burndee, which made me super excited because I love that young, grouchy, cake-baking fairy godfather! He’s the best, and so is funloving Prince Colin—one of his wards—who are thrown into each other’s company at a wedding where there are mysterious goings-on and magical mishaps which had me laughing.

One hilarious misfortune after another pile on top of Burndee and Prince Colin, with hilarious results! I love both of them, but put them together and wow, it’s just SO MUCH FUN, because Colin is such a prankster and Burndee is so grouchy, and they have to learn to work together in the best possible buddy-movie kind of way. IT’S MY FAVE. XD (And there’s a hilarious, awesome twist fairly early on that I don’t want to spoil but let’s just say Colin may not look like Colin for the whole story and it’s SO PERFECT. XDDD)

The plot is a lot of fun because the Goose Girl plot is going on kind of in the background and WE can see it but the main characters don’t catch on as quickly because they have their own problems. It was sooo funny. XD As a retelling, the Goose Girl part was solid, and I liked the twist of the traveling troupe of actors (gotta have some theatricality!) and the little Dumovai creature. 🙂 I still enjoyed The Reluctant Godfather more, particularly since The Goose Girl isn’t my favorite fairytale, but at the same time, all the Burndee and Colin antics were perfect, so this one was still super enjoyable. 😀

Also, the fact that Burndee is so absolutely introverted and grumpy, and yet has to deal with all the nobles and people involved, makes it extra funny. Throw in some falling in the fountain, some cake mishaps and a skunk (the SKUNK!!! XD), and a colorful troupe of characters, and you have a recipe for absolute fun! Burndee and Prince Colin are MY FAVORITE and any story involving them is automatically going to be a new favorite, I think. (I also loved the brief appearance of a couple other characters at the end from the first book.) And I need to eat one of Burndee’s cakes!

If you like humor and comedy-of-errors type stories, and a sort of buddy-story, with loads of laughs and a fairytale retelling into the bargain, you definitely need to check this one out. 😀 As a novella, it’s a quick read and you won’t be able to put it down, or stop giggling—I know I wasn’t!

An absolute delight! ^_^


Blog Tour

Today is day 5 of the blog tour! Here are the posts before and after mine:

Eva: Author Interview

Jessica: An Interview With Burndee


Giveaway!

Check out these fabulous prizes Allison Tebo is offering as part of the blog tour! 🙂 A paperback of the book, candle, miniature glass goose, and chocolate. And second prize, a paperback and giftcard!

You can enter via the Rafflecopter HERE or click one of the images above.


Doesn’t it sound like SO much fun? If you’re a Reluctant Godfather fan you absolutely HAVE to read this, and if you’re not yet . . . well you must remedy that at once and read The Reluctant Godfather! 😉

Thanks for reading! 🙂