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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! 🙂

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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

GoodreadsAmazon


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.

Find her online

WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads


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! 🙂

Blood in the Snow by Sarah Pennington: Review/Blog Tour!

Hey, my pagelings!

I’m SO excited today to be taking part in the blog tour for the Seven Magic Mirrors co-release of seven Snow White novellas by six different authors, all releasing this week!

Specifically, I’m reviewing Blood in the Snow by Sarah Pennington, and guys, I’m just SO SO EXCITED. I’ve known Sarah for years and she’s a delightful friend, blogger, and — now I know for absolute sure — a stupendous author! I’ve been waiting for her to have a book out for me to read and review and (hopefully) fangirl over for years and IT IS THIS DAY. I’m absurdly pleased about this. 😀

Also, make sure you drop by here to see all the stops on the blog tour and to enter a fantabulous giveaway for five paperbacks from this collection!

Now, my review . . .


Title: Blood in the Snow

Author: Sarah Pennington

  • Date read: October 24, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Retelling / Snow White / The Goose Girl / Novella / Asian-Inspired Fantasy
  • Age: YA/any
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 137 (ebook)
  • Fave character: Gan! But also Nianzu, Xiang, Baili, and Chouko.
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book as part of the blog tour. All opinions are my own.

BLOOD IN THE SNOW is a stunning debut from Sarah Pennington, an author I’ve long been watching. I was so excited to read it, and I’m absurdly pleased with the result. This first novella from her did not disappoint! The writing is lyrical yet unobtrusive, pulling one entirely into the story. Every facet of this tale is skillfully crafted together—the writing, the intricate plot, the characters, the themes, and the vibrant setting.

I loved this utterly enchanting retelling of Snow White and The Goose Girl! I never would have thought of the two fairytales together, but they work so incredibly well with each other in this book, I almost feel like this must be their natural state. I don’t want to share spoilers, but all the plot points were spot-on and yet felt organic and original, and a few of them surprising. The many complex threads were woven seamlessly together. Fairytale retellings are my favorite and this one was so well done, which made this reader very happy! ^_^

As much as I loved the retelling part, even the best retelling can fall flat if the characters don’t take off—but these absolutely came to life, and brought the story to life with them!

Baili was a good heroine and I enjoyed seeing her grow through the story and find herself. ^_^ I also really liked the prince character, Xiang! He was great, especially his willingness to help people. 🙂 I absolutely loved the scenes where they interacted. Other favorites were definitely two or three of the “seven dwarves” characters—who were not dwarves at all in this, but animal keepers. I loved meeting them and hearing about their different peoples and backgrounds, and the banter and dialog was so much fun. 😀

Gan was probably my absolute favorite character in the book! He was fantastic, and I also loved his exchanges with fiery goose girl Chouko, another of the seven. Their dynamic was the best. 😀 I wasn’t sure if I’d like Chouko at first, but I really grew to, which surprised me and was awesome! And the quieter, mysterious Nianzu. I’d almost love to read a whole other book about him and Gan and maybe Chouko—they’re that cool. 🙂 The characters were an absolute hit with me!

The worldbuilding was incredible—I could hardly believe so much was packed into this little novella! A whole broad-reaching world of many peoples, cultures, histories, and some surprising deeper themes. The magical bits were interesting too, with the bloodgift element and the Dragonglass, and I particularly loved the use of air and water; now THAT was neat. 🙂 But you’ll have to read it to see what I mean. 😉

I feel like this is a good moment for me to mention that I was reminded of Lloyd Alexander, one of my top three favorite authors, so that’s… well… that’s high praise. This tale just felt GOOD and made me feel at home and I want to hug it. ^_^

Sometimes it was a little difficult for me to keep track of the names (my own fault, I’m sure), and as with most novellas, I wished that it could have been longer (because I want MORE!), yet it made remarkable use of the space there was, so that it didn’t seem rushed, but felt like a complete story. And I always have a hard time reading Goose Girl retellings because ugh, people are so mean to the heroine! It makes me mad (at said characters… which is probably the correct feeling for the reader anyway. :P). But those are small personal things and as close to issues with the story as I can get—it was really fantastic and I loved it!

This novella was a Special Unicorn honorable mention in the final Rooglewood Press fairytale retelling contest, receiving a perfect score, and now that I’ve read it, I can see that there was absolutely a reason for that!

It left me spellbound and with a happy smile as I finished. The story is every bit as gorgeous inside as the breathtaking cover on the outside. I will eagerly await more tales from this author’s pen, and I highly recommend checking this one out!


About Blood in the Snow

Her destiny is decided — but betrayal breaks even the best-laid plans.

Baili, the princess of the Kingdom of Seven Rivers, has always known what her future holds. Declared the fairest of all by the fabled Dragonglass, she is destined to fulfill an ancient prophecy and unite her homeland with its long-time enemy, the Kingdom of Three Peaks. And in doing so, she may save her country from death and ruin.

In order to fulfill her destiny, Baili must travel to the Kingdom of Three Peaks and marry its prince, Liu Xiang. But all Baili’s plans and expectations are turned upside-down when her servants and soldiers, acting on her stepmother’s orders, turn against her on the road. Baili narrowly escapes with her life, but she’s left alone and adrift among strangers.

Fortunately, Baili finds refuge in the home of seven animal keepers: servants and slaves to the emperor of Three Peaks. Yet time is running out. Her servants’ rebellion was only a small part of a much larger plot. Within weeks, her stepmother plans to unite the two kingdoms, not by contract, but by conquest. Baili must reclaim her rightful place and unite not just two kingdoms but many peoples in order to stop the plan. And if she fails, two kingdoms will be plunged into ruin.

Sure to delight lovers of fantasy and fairy tales, this rich and magical Asian-inspired adventure combines Snow White and The Goose Girl in a way you’ve never seen before.


Links


About the Author

Sarah Pennington has been writing stories since before she actually knew how to write, and she has no intention of stopping anytime soon. She is perpetually in the middle of writing at least one or two novels, most of which are in the fantasy and fairy tale retelling genres. Sarah’s first published work, Blood in the Snow, received a perfect score and Special Unicorn status in Rooglewood Press’s Five Poisoned Apples contest. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys knitting, photography, and trying to conquer her massive to-be-read list.

Find her online at: Website || Blog || Second Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Amazon


Seven Magic Mirrors

What are the Magic Mirrors?

The Magic Mirrors are seven retellings of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by six different authors, each unique in tone, setting, and moral. From the light hearted and twisted to dark reimagining to futuristic mashups to non-magical historical fiction, this collection has something in it for every reader.

Again, be sure to drop by to see the whole blog tour, check out the other posts, and enter the giveaway!


Well, what do you think?

Sound like a tale you need in on? Because it is! And how about that INCREDIBLE cover by Anne Elisabeth Stengl? *collapses because it’s so gorgeous* I hope you’ll check out Sarah Pennington’s stunning debut, and that you’re looking forward to the other Magic Mirrors books as much as I am! 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Cinders by Kendra E. Ardnek (Mini Review & Giveaway)

Hi everyone! I’m back on the Tales of Ever After blog tour with a mini review for another short story from this collection! (And there’s still a giveaway at the end if you haven’t entered yet. ;))


Cinders

by Kendra E. Ardnek

 

Okay, that was adorable and enchanting! I have a new story to put on my growing list of top-favorite Cinderella retellings. 😀 I LOVED this one!

The thing about retellings is that you can’t usually say much about the twists/plots/bits that make you really like them, without spoiling the story. XD So I won’t. But I did LOVE the twists a ton. Some I suspected, others were a delightful surprise, and a few times I got worried about how it would turn out and then things worked PERFECTLY and made me absurdly happy.

There’s also a cute kitten. And humor. And loveable characters! And… well… what more can be said? It’s a classic Cinderella story flipped on its head and made fabulous all over again. I loved it so much! The perfect story to start out this collection. 🙂

So what are you waiting for? Go pick up this free collection and read Cinders! I’ll be over here contemplating rereading it, and hugging it because I adored it. ^_^


If you missed it, you can read my review for another short story in this collection, here.

Check out the rest of the stories in this anthology! It’s free on all ebook platforms! (See links below.)

Tales of Ever After

Rescue a princess, meet a mermaid, win your reward.

The authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy tackle fairy tales from once upon a time to happily ever after. Explore twists on old tales and brand new magical stories. Meet feisty mermaids, friendly lampposts, and heroes who just might be monsters themselves.

This fourth anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy will lead you on a quest for entertainment and storm the castle of your imagination. So make a wish and enter the deep dark woods to find stories that will make you laugh, shiver, and maybe even fall in love.

LINKS

Amazon • Books2Read Universal Link • Goodreads


Tour Schedule

Check out the blog tour schedule HERE.


GIVEAWAY!

And now it’s time to enter a delightful giveaway the Fellowship of Fantasy authors are hosting — there are 3 giveaways! (Rafflecopter hates me so you’ll just have to click the links. XD)

U.S. Only Giveaway:

(All books are paperback, and possibly signed)

***LINK***

International Giveaway:

(All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice)

***LINK***

Comment Giveaway:

The person who leaves the most comments across the blog tour will receive the chance to read special sneak peaks from several of the authors’ upcoming works!


What do you think? Doesn’t this one sound charming? Do you have a favorite Cinderella retelling? And have you picked up Tales of Ever After for free yet? Thanks for reading! 🙂

The Stealthmaster’s Shadow by Hope Ann

The Stealthmaster’s Shadow is finally here!

Yep, it’s release day and I’m excited to share my review with you! 😀

It’s been ten confounded years since the war ended.

Verus, a retired soldier, determines to enforce the peace the victory ought to have brought. His wanderings bring him to the city of Nerva, a sprawling riverside chaos no other Stealthmaster will touch.

Commandeering the task of a former comrade, Verus presents himself to the governor and promises to search out hidden Subverters. The true reason for his actions he keeps to himself. After all, the tyrannical governor will hardly approve of lending aid to those pitted against him, but the Subverters need information. Maybe even weapons.

The wishes of the Subverters themselves are immaterial. They weren’t there during the war. They didn’t see the horrors Tauscher spread.

Verus has.

So has the new ambassador from Zahavia who strides through the great doors of the feasting hall, bringing Verus face to face with nightmares from his past.

As the simple mission dissolves into confusion, Verus struggles to help those he’s plunged into danger, from a serving lad to the infuriating woman he’s taken to calling “Princess.” Fleeing will only make the enemy stronger. But staying…

Staying could doom them all.

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Title: The Stealthmaster’s Shadow

Author: Hope Ann

  • Date read: May 27, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Retelling / Christian Fantasy / Twelve Dancing Princesses / Novella
  • Age: New Adult
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 129 (Kindle)
  • Series: Legends of Light, #4
  • Fave character: Verus
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author (thanks!) and these opinions are entirely my own.

Well, that was great!

Meet Verus. Verus is without a doubt my favorite thing about this novella. 😀 He is SO epic! A retired soldier (at… like… in his twenties; what can we say—the war’s over), he’s a Stealthmaster (something which is never fully explained but we basically get the idea) and totally lives up to such a name. He’s constantly sneaking around, lurking in shadows and picking locks and jumping off balconies and being snarky to everybody, and… he’s just epic and so, so much fun! I don’t know how he manages to be kind of grumpy AND all dramatic and sassy, but he is. Everyone’s kind of afraid of Stealthmasters with their mysterious ways (and his awesome cloak! Want.) but Verus at least has a heart of gold, and I loved reading about him, even as he wrestles with his past and learns through mistakes. Anyway, he’s my favorite and so much fun to read. 😀 WHAT a character. ❤

Essentially, reading this is worth it just for Verus. 😉 But it’s an intriguing tale, too, AND (wait for it) it’s a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses! Kinda. There aren’t twelve, and it’s not so much a retelling as an “inspired by,” but the hints and nods to the original were so fun and some were brilliant. It was like picking up clues! And they all made total sense, too. I loved how it was totally different and yet you could recognize bits and pieces of the fairytale, which also mixed well with the Christian allegory parts, largely involved with parallels of the early persecuted Church.

I’m pretty sure there’s a law somewhere that says all Twelve Dancing Princesses retellings must be dark. XD There wasn’t a bunch of scary magic or anything for this one, but some of it was kinda brutal… so be aware of that, if that sort of thing bothers you. Despite the snark and humor, a lot of it’s very intense and deals with some tough themes. It was also interesting how some of the story was told in flashbacks about Verus in the war.

The story is set about a decade after the other three Legends of Light novellas. I think one could read this one and enjoy it without having read those, but I did enjoy it extra since I had. There was a cameo appearance from one of my favorites! 😀 (Hi, Evrard! *waves enthusiastically*) So that was awesome. Most of the characters (like the “princess” character, who’s pretty stealthy in her own right, and a cute little boy, etc.) are new, and even if you haven’t read the first three, this one pretty much stands alone. 🙂

A few times I felt like things could have been explained better than they were and I kind of tripped up and didn’t have a clue what was going on (possibly due to the short length; it is a novella, after all), but I figured things out eventually and I just wish it could have been longer! I’d love to explore this neat palace setting and hang out with Verus and Adreana longer, but I was just relieved things turned out better than it looked like it would for a bit. XD Whew! Quite intense and exciting! With all kinds of mysteries and sneaking about.

Overall, aside from a couple minor things, it’s a fantastic read. And really, with a snarky hero who is incredibly epic (like, how often are people TRULY epic, I ask you?), a lot of witty dialog (I love funny things, okay?), and a Twelve Dancing Princesses theme (my favorite!), what is not to love? You’re definitely going to want to check this one out—I know I’m glad I did! 🙂 (But Verus though. This guy!) A great tale! ^_^

Some Favorite Quotes

Verus flung himself over the banister in one easy motion and landed in a crouch in the gloom of the stairs. The shadows flickered rapid greetings, but no soldier appeared to challenge him.

***

“If you can’t read the meaning of a locked door—”

“It wasn’t locked,” Verus said. “There was merely an obstruction to opening it. A fault I fixed. Without charge, I might add.”

***

“He does have a chimney.” Her eyes twinkled. “Of course, it might smudge your cloak—the latest fashion from Zahavia, I believe? I’d have mentioned it before now, but—”

“Oh, shut up.” Verus stalked back onto the balcony. “Which way?”

“Left. The balcony there.” Adreana pointed to a wide slab of rock several dozen paces away. “I assume you can do it?”

Verus tucked his cloak into his belt. “I hope that’s not an honest question.”

She smirked. “I’ll be waiting.” She paused at the door. “And thanks.”

Verus smiled faintly, then shook his head and forced his face back into grim lines. Botheration take the girl and all the rest. They were more trouble than they were worth. Most people were, in the end.

***

“Did you have to kill the armor?”

“Do you have to make such a racket?” Verus shut the door hastily and glanced to where the helmet hung askew on the frame. “Besides, it’s just a concussion.” He strode over and spun it back in place. “See? He’s looking better already.”

“Still a nasty dent.” Adreana turned up the lamps. “How hard did you hit the poor thing?”

***

“Escape plan?”

“You /did/ have one in place in case the rebellion of yours failed?”

“Why would I ever,” Verus spluttered. “That is what you are counting on?”

“Well, do you have one or don’t you?”

Verus scowled, then hesitated. “Of course I have an escape plan.” Of a sort.

***

“Let’s find your lady.”

“We can probably slip around by—she’s not my lady.” Verus cut himself off.

Diomed smirked.

Verus scowled. “I can maim you and leave you behind.”


About the author of the Legends of Light Series

Hope Ann uses chocolate to bribe a wide ring of spies, from the realm leapers of Aslaria to the double agents of Elkbend, for their stories. Based in Indiana, she is the self-published author of the Legends of Light series, personal writing coach, and the Communications Coordinator for Story Embers. You can find out more about her at authorhopeann.com


Check out my review for the previous novellas in the Legends of Light series, collected in the single volume Burning Rose:


Well? Are you intrigued? Doesn’t it sound funnn? 😉 Let me know what you think in the comments!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

The Stroke of Eleven (by Kyle Robert Shultz) – Beaumont & Beasley, #3

(Pretty cover is pretty…)

Title: The Stroke of Eleven

Author: Kyle Robert Shultz

  • Date read: December 3, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fairytale retelling (Cinderella / Beauty and the Beast / Alice in Wonderland / etc.)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 255 (Kindle)
  • Series: Beaumont & Beasley, #3
  • Fave character: DON’T MAKE ME PICK. (*ignores fact that I’m the one who asks myself these questions*)
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-copy of this book from the author (thanks!); these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO REVIEW THIS, HALP.

So much of this story is mind-boggling twists, and it’s basically a walking spoiler, so HOW I am even going to BEGIN to talk about this is just…

*takes deep breath*

This will be a spoiler-free review, and I will attempt coherency, but basically: everyone needs to read this so that I can talk about it, because if the whole world has read it, then nothing will be a spoiler anymore, right? Right. Problem solved!

Anyway. Reviewing.

MEEP. <—[My entire reaction to the entire book.]

I HAVE FEELS, OKAY. I HAVE MANY FEELS.

NO I WILL NOT BE CALM.

*calms self*

I haven’t quite figured out how I feel about a few of the things. Because wow, things GO DOWN in this and nothing will be the same. O_o It was honestly exhausting to read. So, good news for all you people who love feelsy books: this one is for you. XD

I… ahem… do NOT always love feelsy books, so like I said, I’m kind of on the fence on some things… BUT once I got over it, I think I figured out that I’m mostly worried about what will happen in future books, and not AS much about what actually happened in this one (or did it?), so since that’s kind of a silly thing to worry about, I’ll just say: this was a good book. An excellently written one, in fact. And it’s brilliant/genius/mindboggling, and as long as I don’t worry about what future books will hold for my precious character friends, or about some of the sort-of things that kind of maybe happened (or not? Time travel is confusing, guys.), I can say: I LOVED IT! 😀

It’s a fairytale retelling/reworking/mashup/THING, featuring Cinderella, dashes of Alice in Wonderland, continuations of Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid (because of the first two books) and TIMEY-WIMEY STUFF. How cool is that? VERY cool.

And I can’t say much about the plot because SPOILERS. (So. many.) But I’ll do what I can.

Nick and Cordelia continue to be one of my favorite things—seriously, I love their relationship and banter SO MUCH. And just them as characters. THEY ARE THE BEST. ❤ Crispin kind of isn’t in it as much, since he and Molly are kind of… out of the way near the beginning, but I didn’t actually mind as much as I thought I might. Because the explosion of plot twists, and Nick and Cordelia being adorable, kind of distracted me. XD (ButIloveCrispinokayarewegoodyesCrispinCrispinCrispin.) The Mythfits are back, being quirky as ever. 😉 MALCOLM returns—I was kind of unsure about him in Tomb of the Sea Witch, but gaaahh, I love him now. So much. We also meet exciting NEW characters!

And I quite liked the Cinderella and prince characters. They were great! 🙂 The Cinderella story was fascinating in this! (Any story that is very involved with a clock/midnight is a prime candidate for a time-travel story. ;)) And yay for dashes of steampunk!

There are SO many new developments, and time-travel-y thiiings (some of which are frankly terrifying, but you know). And DID I MENTION TWISTS? There are twists, people. o.o TWIIISTS. O____O And I guessed a couple of them and they happened and I’m in shock but wow, and I don’t know how I feel, but ALL THE THINGS. Also the White Rabbit. Yes. Wow.

AND THERE WERE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST THINGS. I know it’s silly, because the Disney cartoon isn’t even an original thing, and I only saw it once, but I was ridiculously happy about a little moment or two in this that was B&B-ish. XD (And there was a thrown roll. Just sayin’.)

Anyway, Nick and Cordelia and Crispin are some of my favorite EVER characters. I’m immensely attached to them. Plus I adore the Afterverse, and fairytales in general, and time travel hurts my brain, and what I mean to say is this book was excellent. Exhausting and hard for me to decide if I’m okay with a thing or two, but excellent. XD

And did I mention it’s still hilarious? No? Because IT’S STILL HILARIOUS. I don’t know HOW Kyle Shultz does all of this—hilarious, fairytale, timey-wimey, plot twist, epic, fun adventure, with all the feels, and my favorite characters. I’M KIND OF EMOTIONALLY INVESTED. If you can’t tell. Ahem.

SO, I LIED. This wasn’t a coherent review. Oh well.

Now you know what I think (kind of… as much as I know… which isn’t very much…), so you can dash off and read the book yourself so that we can discuss spoilery things… And if you can’t yet, because you haven’t read The Beast of Talesend, well WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, YOU POOR SOUL. *shoos you off to go read that one because you’re missing out*

If you need me, I’ll just be over here in the corner, emotionally worn out and confused and waiting for another Beaumont and Beasley adventure. Send help. Or, no, send tea and cakes and the next book, and a safe where I can keep the characters protected from all the MEEPery. (It’s a word, shush.)

(This is why I don’t write reviews at one a.m.)

Some Favorite Quotes

So… parachutes. Not fun. I’ve never liked heights. I like them even less when I’m falling from them.

***

“Look… we come in peace.”

“No, we don’t!” cried Cordelia. “We don’t come in peace! We go in abject terror!”

***

Getting eaten by evil pumpkins was very low on my list of preferred ways to die.

***

“My name is Gervase,” he informed us.

“My condolences.”

***

Malcolm stopped me with a gesture before I could speak to him. “Please, don’t say anything. Whatever it is, I’ve already heard it.” He started doing a very poor imitation of my voice and accent. “Malcolm! Crikey! You’re so young! What’s going on here? Who’s that girl? I’m so confused! Oi!”

“I do /not/ sound like that,” I growled.

Melody smacked him on the back of the head. “Don’t be rude, grumpy-scales.”

***

“The White Rabbit Society is now assembled.” Kanin’s tone was solemn and ceremonial. “May the clock strike twelve.”

“May the clock strike twelve,” echoed everyone, including Cordelia.

I looked from one to the other in bewilderment. “Right. That wasn’t weird at all.”

***

“…but a scheme this brazen could get us all killed. Repeatedly.”

***

Melody moved over to a table laden with refreshments. She picked up some sandwiches and began gleefully throwing them at random people.

“She reminds me of you,” I said to Cordelia.

“Oh, really? I can’t imagine why.”

***

“Shut up and be magical.”

***

That was cheating, of course. But I was perfectly willing to cheat time, death, and any other inexorable force of nature for Crispin’s sake… regardless of what the consequences might be.

***

“Cinderella and Prince Charming.”

They both gave me displeased looks.

“What?” I shrugged. “That’s who you are, isn’t it?”

Cinderella rubbed her eyes. “I do wish people didn’t remember me by that ridiculous nickname my stepsisters made up.”

“And I have an actual name,” said Matteo. “Why do they never remember the princes’ actual names? Plus the fact that they made me out to be a complete idiot. How insane would you have to be to try finding a girl based on her shoe size?”

***

“Chin up, Gareth!” said Malcolm, with a sort of crazed cheerfulness. “Why worry? We’re Beaumont and Beasley! We live for danger!”

“Technically, only Cordelia, Crispin, Molly, and I are Beaumont and Beasley,” I reminded him.

“At this point, I’d say we’re all honorary members by virtue of shared insanity.”

~ ~ ~

Click covers for other related reviews:

  

~ ~ ~

Talk to me, fellow page dreamers! Have you read The Stroke of Eleven, or either of the first two Beaumont and Beasley books?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll