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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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Coiled


Thanks for reading! 🙂

Audiobook Review: The Road to Bremen by Kelsey Bryant

A little something different today — I’m reviewing a fun audiobook!

Title: The Road to Bremen

Author: Kelsey Bryant

  • Date read: October 23, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Retelling
  • Age: Anyone
  • Year pub: 2019 (book), 2020 (audiobook)
  • Length: 2 hours, 27 minutes (122 pages)
  • Source: the author
  • Notes: I received a code for a free Audible download from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: AudibleAmazon (book format)GoodreadsAuthor’s Website

Listening to this audiobook was delightful! The narrator, B. E. Berhow, brought the characters to life—I particularly loved his voices for Rudiger the rooster (my favorite!), and Katarina the cat (she felt so marvelously cat-like!).

All of the voices he did were splendid (solid, clever Etzel the donkey, and loyal, mournful dog Jager), and I love how the characters leapt from the page—er, headphones?

I had read the book before, so it was wonderful to re-discover in this audio form, especially with the foreshadowing that came with knowing what was in store. 😀 I can only imagine that discovering it the first time would be fun as well!

It was such a fun and soothing listen! ^_^ Highly recommend!

***

(As for the story itself, here are my — slightly updated — thoughts I’d shared in my previous review when the book first released.)

I’ve always loved the folktale of the Bremen Town Musicians, the old donkey, dog, cat, and rooster on the road to become musicians in Bremen. Kelsey Bryant skillfully retold this fun tale and the audio version brings a whole new charm to it!

I loved how the retelling 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!

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 feel at home. 🙂

I totally recommend this if you enjoy retellings and need a quick listen, or if you have children in your life. It’s a wonderful listen (or read, if you get the illustrated version!) and made folding laundry and so on much more enjoyable. Just— *hugs book* It feels totally classic and makes me happy! ^_^

Utterly charming! A tale full of heart. ❤


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Any audiobook fans out there? Thanks for reading! 🙂

The Midnight Show by Sarah Pennington (Review)

Where are my fellow fans of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale? I’m here today with a review for a delightful retelling of that story, with a jazz-age twist, by one of my favorite up-and-coming fairytale authors!

Title: The Midnight Show

Author: Sarah Pennington

  • Date read: September 27, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairy Tale Retelling / Twelve Dancing Princesses
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 152 (paperback)
  • Fave character: Bastian
  • Source: Amazon
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book but ended up purchasing a paperback and reading that instead. XD All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Sinister fey plots. The stage. Dreams. A clever detective. An exasperated singer. And a fabulous twist on my favorite fairytale.

I’ve loved this author’s previous fairytale retellings, so I was ecstatic to hear of a Twelve Dancing Princesses one! I loved this retelling! I love how it keeps to so many of the original tale’s features, but also makes it entirely its own thing. Making it a fantasy mystery was brilliant and I loved that take on it, with the detective and everything, so very much! It makes perfect sense. That was one of the neatest things about this story—how everything just made sense and fit so well together! (Always a fun thing when retellings do that.) Also, now I need more magical mysteries.

Set in a jazz-age setting, THE MIDNIGHT SHOW feels like the 1920s but in an invented world, which was so unique! I loved the “feel” so much. (There were also so many delicious foods and it made me hungry, so thanks for that. XD) I loved the mix of a ’20s-ish feel but also adding in magicalness and fey, all taken for granted as part of the world. So, so cool! I love somewhat-more-modern books where the magical part is just a part of the world.

No spoilers, but I also really loved the twist on the old woman and the invisibility cloak—Bastian’s helpfully magical items were awesome!

The mystery was deliciously creepy—again, hard to talk about without spoilers, but . . . *shivers* I almost didn’t want the book to end because I was afraid for my character friends and what might happen to them. XD Meep. The ending was fabulous, though! So many threads wrapping around to meet up and finish it off. Yesss. It was also sooo neat how dreams factored into the story! That was another thing, which I can’t get into much, that was super cool.

Dayo was a bit snappish (understandably) but she grew on me—one of my favorite scenes was her umbrella poking bit. XD (And I totally relate to her feeling of being at odds with Bastian’s morning self. XD) Bastian was fabulous and I loved his character. A great detective and a great guy, I loved his stick-to-it-ness (probably a real word for that, but anyhoo) and his ingenuity, and the occasional banter! They were both great leads.

I imagine people who are more into music, theater, jazz, etc., than I am, would probably enjoy it even more. ^_^

Since it was a short read, I almost wish there was more to this ’20s-ish world with its clubs and dashes of fey and barest hint of gangster-like stuff (and I would totally read more), but at the same time, this short book was like a perfect bite-sized window onto a rich world and it felt just right.

I totally recommend this as a quick, fun, intriguing read, with relatable characters and a delicious mystery, especially for anyone who loves the ’20s or the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Go read it! Go read it now!


More fairytale retellings by this author . . .

You may also like . . . (Fantasy Mysteries or Twelve Dancing Princesses)

lostlakehouse jackabycover


Have you read any fantasy mysteries or Twelve Dancing Princesses retellings? Doesn’t this one sound intriguing? Let me know in a comment! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Fairest Son by H.S.J. Williams: Review

(LOOK AT THAT ADORABLE CHIBI ART STICKER BY THE AUTHOR! IS IT NOT THE MOST PRECIOUS THING OF ALL TIME??)

Title: Fairest Son

Author: H.S.J. Williams

GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

I just read this delightful reverse retelling and I loved it! A retelling where “Snow White” is a fae prince and there’s a huntress instead of a huntsman? Sign me up!

I was so intrigued by the idea of the roles being reversed and having a hero as the Snow White character and a fairy, and I was not disappointed!

I looooved the faerie elements and how they fit into the story. The nods to folklore and traditional faeries (changelings, iron, etc.) PLEASED ME SO MUCH. It felt a smidge Celtic in some bits, which also made me happy.

The retelling parts were sooo intriguing and well done and unexpected but totally worked! I don’t want to spoil any of it, because part of the fun is discovering it yourself, but wow.

Prince Idris is A PRECIOUS CINNAMON ROLL WHO MUST BE PROTECTED. He is just the absolute nicest person to ever live, despite all he’s been through. *sobs and protects him from evil villains and authors* Although he is also epic from time to time, so there’s that. IDRIS IS FABULOUS.

I loved Keeva and was verrry intrigued by her storyline.

The writing was gorgeous and reminds me of Goldstone Wood and I’m super impressed with how well the point of view of a blind character was written, because skills!

There were several twists that took me by surprise and made me go OH! (No spoilers, but hoo boy. *rubs hands together gleefully*)

ALSO. THE CROWN BIT AT THE END! :O *chills* So. Epic. And the fox and animals! So precious!

All of that and more, packed into a mere novella which I was able to devour in a couple of hours. Such a delightful read! Perfect for those looking for a quick read with fabulous twists on Snow White.

(Warning: there are definitely gruesome parts involving a character being severely maimed, and other creepy parts, so if you’re squeamish, beware. That and hanging out in the villain’s point of view at times were the only things I didn’t love about this. XD)


Have you read this one? Do you love retellings?

I’m so excited to read this author’s upcoming novel Moonscript!

Also, February is Fantasy Month so be sure to check out more fantasy fun at Jenelle Leanne Schmidt’s blog!

Thank for reading!

Hollow by Kyle Robert Shultz!

There’s a new Afterverse book (novella) out today, guys! *cue muffled screaming*

Hollow by Kyle Robert Shultz

(Crockett & Crane, #2.5)

Sleepy Hollow meets Wonderland with dashes of time travel!

Featuring Ichabod Crane (ancestor of Todd Crane) and intriguing cameos from various Crockett & Crane and Beaumont & Beasley characters (aaaahh!).

HOLLOW is a novella about half the length of a usual Afterverse novel. It’s set after Horseman and Deadwood (so it’s Crockett & Crane 2.5), but also technically set a hundred years before, in the 1790s (and also in the future . . . and various other times . . . because TIME TRAVEL), and it has extremely important ties to the Beaumont and Beasley books!

It’s SUPER EXCITING and epic and edge-of-your-seat, and a bit more somber than the other Afterverse tales, so hold on to your feels and brace yourselves. 😉 (SO. MANY. FEELS.) But there are still a few funny parts (if fewer than in previous installments), and it’s all TOTALLY worth it because it connects some things and just — AAHH! *muffled screaming* IT’S. SO. EPIC.

There are mind-blowing reveals and further hints, and it deals with important questions touched on at the end of DEADWOOD and in other Afterverse books. You’re not going to want to miss this one! (Especially if you just finished reading DEADWOOD and need to know Things in answer to that explosive final line!)

But I don’t want to give anything away, because spoilers, sweetie. So I’m going to stop talking. Just go read it! 😀

(Disclaimer: I copyedited this book, but the above review is unbiased and written merely as an avid fan of the Afterverse. I was in no way required to write a review, and these are my FEELS-INDUCED but honest opinions. XD)


About Hollow

It’s time for answers.

Ichabod Crane made a sacrifice to save the future.

Now the future has come to Sleepy Hollow, and it threatens to take even more from him.

Ichabod must embark on a dangerous journey to save his family and his legacy…

…but he’s not prepared for the nightmares that await him.

The Queen of Hearts reigns supreme. The Horseman rides again.

And in the shadows, the Hollow Ones are waiting.

Only Ichabod can stop the gathering darkness…

…but sometimes, darkness wins.

A Crockett and Crane novella, set between Book 2: Deadwood, and Book 3: Westenra. The series begins with Book 1: Horseman, available in Kindle Unlimited and on Audible. This story also ties into the Beaumont and Beasley series by Kyle Robert Shultz.

Available on Amazon in ebook (paperback coming soon!)

Also, here on Goodreads.


You can also read Kyle’s latest post, about Hollow and its release, an exciting Phoenix Fiction Black Friday sale (which features many of the Afterverse books, and which I’ll be sharing about in more depth later), and some updates about book covers and other things!

But aaahh! GUYS! THIS BOOK. It has so much going on, despite being a novella, and just. *muffled screaming* I need you guys to read it so I have people to talk to about iiiit! XD

Thanks for reading and I hope you all (er, Americans anyway?) have a good Thanksgiving! 🙂

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! 🙂