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

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

Title: In the Shadow of Croft Towers

Author: Abigail Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Book

The Secret of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson

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

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

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

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

You May Also Enjoy

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

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Valentine Giveaway! Common by Laurie Lucking

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m celebrating by offering a giveaway for a copy of COMMON by Laurie Lucking!

I ended up with an extra copy signed by the author, and I want to share the love! I read it as the Fellowship of Fantasy book of the month for May last year. It was a runner-up for my favorite reads of 2018, and it just makes me happy. ^_^ Plus it has an adorbz romance, so it seemed like just the right book to give away today. ❤

Scroll to the end for the giveaway, and for a Jane-Austen-inspired sale and an Amazon gift-card giveaway the Vintage Jane Austen authors and some others are offering!

First, here are five thoughts on Common and why should read it!


5 Thoughts on Common

1. The world/setting: You feel like you’re home. At first I thought it might be a Kingdom Adventure book until fantasy elements showed up later in the story. But I just loved the cozy fantasy kingdom setting and it felt so — I don’t know! I felt so at home and I just want to hug this book. ❤ (It made me think a little of books by Gail Carson Levine.)

2. Leah — She tells the story, which is a fact I keep forgetting (I don’t always love first-person, but the ones I most enjoy are the ones where I’m so sucked in that I forget!), and I just loved this red-haired servant girl. She has this sort of . . . I don’t know . . . quiet strength. She’s lovely.

3. Rafe — You have to love the prince character! Rafe is so absolutely sweet and I love him. He also feels sort of stuck in all these political schemes, and wishes he could just stay in the closet he and Leah meet in and just read with her forever. Rafe is just SO PRECIOUS. And kind of epic too.

4. The nuns — They’re quite unexpected but such neat characters! I loved how distinct they all were, each with their own personalities and temperaments, and they were unexpectedly lovable side characters. You’ll have to read it to see how they join in on the plot, but it’s really cool. 😉

5. The plot: a mix of secrets and court intrigue and politics and plots, mixed with quiet character moments and journeys, with a smidge of magic and the barest hint of an almost-Cinderella tale, and all wrapped up in an absolutely precious romance thread. Leah and Rafe are just SO ADORABLE, okay? I adore them. But I also loved reading about Leah’s adventures. 😀 This book stands alone, but I’m still so looking forward to the sequel!


Add to Goodreads • Find on Amazon • Visit the Author


GIVEAWAY

To win this gorgeous paperback copy of Common, signed by the author, enter via the Rafflecopter form HERE! (Open to US residents only, due to shipping costs. Begins Feb. 14, 2019, and ends Feb. 20, 2019, at midnight Central Time.)

EDIT: The giveaway is now CLOSED. The winner has been contacted. Thanks for entering, everyone!


A Sale + Another Giveaway

P.S. Check out this Jane-Austen-Inspired Valentine  ebook sale and $45 Amazon gift-card giveaway! Check out the details HERE or click the image below!


If you want to read my reviews of some of the Vintage Jane Austen books, you can see those here:

 

If you like Common, you may also enjoy:

 Beggar Magic  


Now let me know in the comments: Do you have a favorite fictional couple?

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! 🙂

Ten Thoughts on Dissemble by Sarah Addison-Fox (Allegiance Series, #2)

Title: Dissemble
Author: Sarah Addison-Fox

  • Date read: February 20, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Christian / Kingdom Adventure
  • Age: YA/NA
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 305 (ebook)
  • Series: The Allegiance Series, #2
  • Fave character: Torrance (and Mick)
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author (thanks!) and voluntarily reviewed it. These opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Ten Thoughts on Dissemble

1. Well, well! That was intense! O_O I enjoyed book one (Disowned), but this sequel takes things to a totally new level. While the first one was a bit more of a quiet adventure (though still with its spots of action/peril) and I really liked that, book two has a whole other feel to it, with stakes raised, and gets more serious with lots of stuff going on. Meep! I was flipping pages there, let me tell you…

2. Dissemble is much grittier, and deals with tougher subjects. We’re also now in the thick of things, behind enemy lines in Kyraenea, with spying and intelligence agencies and double-crossing, and all that exciting stuff. XD Much action and suspense, with a thriller-like dash of agents, etc. Also, while it’s “Kingdom Adventure” in a made-up world (with no fantasy elements), it’s getting a more modern “feel” due to some more sophisticated weapons etc. because of the war, so that made an interesting upgrade.

3. CHARACTERS! I’m almost annoyed at Torrance for stealing top-favorite spot from Mick. Because I still love Mick! They’re both great (and especially fun when they interact. *grin, grin*). But Torrance, yes, is kind of fabulous eventually. *cough* I still like Celeste—she goes through a lot in this book, poor thing! (I was really surprised by liking Amaya too!) I really, really like our main characters, and I’m so attached to them and their journeys! I can’t wait to read more. I especially loved when they all interact—some great dynamics there, which were the best-written parts, in my opinion, and really leapt off the page. 🙂 BUT MICK AND TORRANCE AND EVERYBODY. MY PRECIOUS FRIENDS. *hugs them*

4. There are two EXTREMELY ADORABLE romances in this book. No names, but let’s just say that the continuing one from book one is so sweet (but just talk to each other, already, you two!), and the unexpected other one is UTTERLY PRECIOUS. Awk. There is so much cuteness going on in between the action and peril. XD

5. There were Twists. *evil cackle* Two in particular, which I sort of saw coming but really liked. And I was just really surprised at some of the characters and how they turned out, and I love it! It kept me guessing, but also turned out way better than I thought, especially one or two things I was very much on the edge of my seat about. I was nearly cheering “YESSSS!” near the end a couple times. 😀 I’m just sitting here feeling happy. ^_^ (I do need the next book though. AHEM.) Basically, the plot is exciting and keeps you on your toes!

6. Not sure how realistic it was or not, but some of the characters who’ve spent all their lives being suspicious of other people, when confronted with the Haynes family, realize “Oh, these are good people!” with such surprise, and it’s kind of precious. XD It was neat getting scenes about them and other characters back home in Etraea, while Celeste and co. were off having adventures.

7. I was so sucked in to the setting/world. It was incredibly vivid, and I saw everything so clearly as I read. What a talent! Oh, and I loved the scene on the beach! So beautiful and sweet! 🙂 (How about that AWESOME, GORGEOUS cover? I love it! ^_^) And for some reason I really loved the bits at the safe-house place hidden in the trees. 🙂

8. (TORRANCE THOUGH)

9. Content: While this is a Young Adult, Christian book, some readers might like to be aware that if it was a movie it would probably be rated PG-13 for a little mild language/drinking, some inappropriate implications, and action-thriller-type violence. Despite this, and dealing with some other darker themes, the book did have an overall uplifting sort of feel to it, and there was goodness to counteract the villains, as well as the last chapter ending on a quite hopeful note.

10. Overall, mostly, I loved it! I’ve really enjoyed both books in these series so far, and I’ve gotten incredibly fond/attached to CERTAIN PEOPLE, and just give me book three already, please and thank you. *grabby hands*

~ ~ ~

You can read my review for book one: Dissemble by clicking the cover below…

What do you think? Have you checked out this series yet?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

Persuasion Retelling: Perception by Emily Ann Benedict

Title: Perception
Author: Emily Ann Benedict

  • Date read: August 3, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction (1930s) / Christian Fiction / Retelling (Jane Austen’s Persuasion)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 198 (ebook)
  • Series: Book 4 in the multi-author Vintage Jane Austen series (but stands alone!)
  • Fave character: Freddy
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free advance reader copy of this book from the author (thank you!); these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s WebsiteSeries Website

Another excellent addition to the Vintage Jane Austen series! I’ve quite enjoyed reading each of these standalone retellings by different authors—all so different, yet similar too, and delightful one and all thus far! 🙂

This one is a sweet retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, except it’s set in 1930s America during the Great Depression.

Perception is a lovely tale, in its own right, and also as a retelling. I so enjoyed all the parallels to Persuasion—which is one of my favorite of Austen’s novels—and also the twists and how it fit into a new era. It was fascinating how well this story translated to the ’30s, featuring Captain Wentworth’s character (Freddy, in this one) as a post-WWI soldier, and Anne Elliot (Abbey, in this) as part of a once-rich family which has to rent out their home due to financial troubles of the Great Depression. It all fit SO. WELL. I loved that. 🙂

I loved the characters! Abbey was a relatable heroine (quite liked her!) and Freddy was fabulous and unexpectedly fun sometimes. XD I quite liked some of the other characters too, like Freddy’s sister and her husband, and Sam. Many fun characters! I was impressed with how well-drawn the characters were, how some of them who in the original version I disliked, Miss Benedict’s writing managed to turn into characters that I either liked, or at least understood more and saw their side of things. Excellent character building!

The settings—both geographical and time-related—were quite well done too! It was interesting visiting Boston and Cape Cod and other places filling in for the old locations in Persuasion, and the 1930s feel felt very real—and I liked the old cars and such as a great touch. 🙂

Mostly, the plot and characters line up very well with the story it is retelling, but there were also a few surprising additions and twists which were super interesting! Like Abbey’s unexpected business venture, and other developments and surprises which were neat, and which I will not spoil. 😉

I also loved the Jane Watson cameo (so fun finding them in each of the books!!), and the few dashes of excitement and a snatch or two of unexpected peril, as well as the humorous bits of dialog from time to time. It was also kind of beautiful at times. ^_^

This author’s writing is lovely! It has a sort of quality to it that I can’t quite pinpoint, but was perfect for this story. I’m looking forward to trying more of her work. 🙂

Overall, this is a quite fun retelling of Persuasion, and a lovely clean romance of almost-lost-love, with a few surprises and even a dash of murder-mystery lurking in the background, all set in a well-drawn ’30s atmosphere, and skillfully penned. I quite enjoyed myself reading this, and definitely recommend! ^_^

Favorite Quotes

“So am I engaged to both of them now?” Freddy asked, smiling.

“I don’t think that’s legal, Freddy,” Bonnie replied drolly.

***

Abbey relaxed, grateful not only that someone had thought to throw a party for her, but that she had been able to escape attending.

***

Abbey could have laughed at Freddy’s appearance. He was clearly not yet sufficiently awake for this sort of conversation.

***

“You’re my guardian angel, Abbey,” she said as she climbed into the car.

“No, not really, Sam. I’m just a messenger.”

“But that’s what angels are. That’s how God says, ‘I’m here, and it’s going to be all right.”

***

“Tired physically, or tired of someone?”

Abbey couldn’t help smiling. “Tired of many someones, to be honest.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“I want to eat pasta.”

***

“I can’t settle for merely liking a man when I’ve known what it’s like to love one.”

~ ~ ~

Read my reviews for others in the series so far:

Have you read any retellings of Persuasion, or other Jane Austen books?

(Note to any potential reviewers: For a limited time, Emily Ann Benedict is currently looking for a few people to review this book on Goodreads and Amazon in exchange for a free download of it, so if you’re interested, do let me or her know! Thanks! You can also find the book at the links above.)

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Coiled by H. L. Burke

Title: Coiled
Author: H. L. Burke

I love H.L. Burke’s books, so I was absolutely delighted when I won this in a giveaway! (I loathe snakes, but her funny snek memes make me laugh, and I ended up really enjoying this book despite the scary snakes. XD)

I was only vaguely familiar with the Eros and Psyche myth this retells, but it did feel familiar enough (and kind of Beauty-and-the-Beast-ish too), that I quite enjoyed the retelling aspect! 🙂

The mirror curses were fascinating and that whole fairytale-ish element was well done!

It had a rather “Greek myth” feel to it, even though it’s clearly supposed to be a bit different, which was interesting because I haven’t read much like that. It felt fresh and different for a fantasy novel. The mix of “gods” with a Christian theme was surprisingly well done!

I loved the sweet true-love romance and these lovable characters and their great dialog. 😀 Quite fun! ^_^

Laidra was such a good soul, and Calen was super nice and awesome. 🙂 Also, Zephia was really cool. :O I loved the parts with her and Laidra as well, even if I missed Calen for those bits.

The villainous characters were chilling and creepy, but also oddly human, so that you get the feeling they’re just hardened from their lives and more “real” and sometimes almost feel bad for a couple of them—almost. 😛 Not quite. XD

Some of it was grittier than I would have liked and I could have done without a few of the references, but mostly it was just very well written and gripping. 🙂

Overall, it’s not my favorite but I still really liked it! It’s a great fairytale romance tale, fresh, engaging—sometimes fun or heartbreaking or sweet by turns. I quite enjoyed it! ^_^ Looking forward to more great novels by this author! 🙂

(Note: I won a copy of this book in a giveaway and was not required to write a review; these opinions are my own.)

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

10 Thoughts on Halayda by Sarah Delena White

Title: Halayda
Author: Sarah Delena White

  • Date read: June 30, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy / Steampunk
  • Age: New Adult?
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 439 pages (Kindle)
  • Series: Star-Fae Trilogy, #1
  • Fave character: Taylan! (and Zad)
  • Source: I got a free e-copy of this book through the Fellowship of Fantasy bookclub
  • Notes: Read for the Fellowship of Fantasy bookclub’s May 2017 book. Also I LOVE THAT COVER SO MUCH AND I NEED A PAPERBACK SOMEDAY. ❤
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NoblePublisherAuthor’s Website

Ten Thoughts on Halayda

1. TAYLAN. He’s the best. 😀 He’s the Faerie King and he’s epic and also caring and I love him to absolute bits. I love Zad too. ZAD IS ABSOLUTELY AWESOME. And snarky. XD

2. It takes place in a steampunk fantasy world and an attached Faerie world. I LOVED THIS. The Faerie world was very messed up for pretty much the entire story, but it was still kind of amazing and epic and just WOW too, and I loved the creatures, Fae, and fantasy-ness of it. Also it’s VERY LONG. (It also took me 2 months to read because I was busy with other books.) So I kind of lived in this book for a very long time, and it’s kind of hard to leave…

3. The dynamics between the four main characters are FABULOUS. Sylvie, Taylan, Zad, and Diza. I particularly loved how Zad and Diza are married, and Sylvie and Taylan kind of like each other (like a lot but don’t always admit it… *is quietly in the background aggressively shipping them because their romance is so cute*) but they have great dynamics with each other, and also since Zad and Diza are married, I didn’t have to worry about any tedious love-triangles. Silvie and Zad can be friends and work together, without her having a stupid love-triangle, and same with Diza and Taylan. They’re all super-connected to each other, and Diza and Sylvie are besties, and Zad and Taylan are kind of friends, in the best buddy-story-where-they-snark-at-each-other kind of way. XD And just… I really really loved these four characters and how they interacted and it was fresh and awesome. LOVE.

4. IT’S FUN TOO. I mean, sometimes it’s hard to find things this epic that can still be funny at times. It’s a sweeping fantasy epic with snark and hilarity and great banter. I love the snark and dialog! ^_^ Sooo much Kindle-highlighting going on. XD

5. Points for awesome Faerie references and things: like iron, and the Wild Hunt, and Banshees, and so many things. I love that it’s in a fantasy world so it can have different rules, so not ALL the old faerie lore applies, and much of it was flipped around, but it was so neat to have many of them woven in all the same. 😀

6. It’s rather dark at times, and it’s probably more New Adult than Young Adult, not to mention that naturally it’s verrry violent and there’s a bit of language for those who worry about such things, but despite the darkness and stuff, it was still mostly clean, and I still loved it!

7. It’s utterly epic and gorgeous and Fae, all in the best possible way. It felt… well, this may sound silly, but it felt like all those gorgeous fantasy/faerie pictures on Pinterest… Like… sort of shadowy but colorful and vivid and so FAERIE AND FANTASY-ISH. I can’t describe it any better way.

8. I will say that I’m a liiiittle worried/hesitant about the future sequels. Because it ended just well enough that I’m happy with it, but just not-well-enough that I can easily see it breaking some of my happilies in sequels and I don’t know if I can go through that kind of trauma. O.o So at the moment, I love it as a standalone (just figuring that there’s naturally a few very very loose threads left hanging for the sequels) and will just pretend that everything’s okay. *coughcough* I kind of need the sequels but I also don’t because I’m happy with where things are and can’t bear the thought of anything happening to my precious characters. <333 Buuut more stuff needs wrapping up because CERTAIN THINGS are kind of left hanging, a bit. But at the same time it ended perfectly. ❤ SO I’M TORN. IN A MAJOR WAY. I don’t even know, somebody save me from these feels.

9. Also, I love the word Halayda and what it means and just yes. ❤

10. BUT THE EPIC. AND THE FANTASY. AND THE CHARACTERSSSS. I… I… I… Words fail me. Easily one of the most epic, sweeping, mythic, dark, gorgeous, Fae things I’ve ever read. Definitely a favorite this year.

Favorite Quotes

“There have to be a few perks to being king of Faerie or no one would want the job.”

***

It’s sad when one’s highest priority is to not get captured by a tree.

***

“Say it, Your Loftiness.”

“Fine; you’re actually good for more than making smart remarks and eating other people’s food.”

***

“but I know you. And no matter what happens, no matter what you do or what you become, you’ll always be my Taylan.”

***

“Hey, your majesty!” Zad’s voice cut through the haze of her thoughts. “Are you coming back, or are you planning to leave all the packing to your peons?”

Taylan pulled away, scowling. “I’m coming.”

***

“I’m putting all the heavy things in the royal pack,” Zad called.

***

Zad gave a loud snort. “That’s it. Next time, I’m choosing the quest.”

Taylan rolled his eyes. “You did volunteer for this.”

“It serves me right for being noble and selfless.”

“You know you love being the hero, Zad.” Diza laughed.

***

“I’d rather walk through the darkness with you than have the most privileged life with anyone else.”

***

“I vow with all my heart to love you with the constancy of the sun, to protect you as the thorn protects the rose, to sustain you as a river in the wilderness, to stand beside you when all others desert. This is my promise to you, my halayda, until the world fades to nothing.”

***

“You’re an idiot.” Zad walked with plodding steps, his hooves thudding on the rocky ground.

“Thank you so much Zad, but I already knew that.” Taylan gripped the pooka’s mane, trying to stay upright.

***

“You haven’t eaten in two days.” Zad stopped to nuzzle a clump of dying leaves that clung to a gnarled branch. A shriveled brown fruit was buried in the middle. He snorted. “I haven’t eaten in two days.”

“If you rescued people faster, we wouldn’t be having this problem.”

***

“Why does a horse need to steal a horse?” Taylan held the reins of the bay stallion while Zad swung into the saddle of his new acquisition— a dapple gray that threatened to bite anyone who came within easy reach.

“Why would I run the whole way when someone else can do the work?” Zad settled onto the gray stallion’s back and smacked the horse’s nose as it nipped at his leg.

“It looks like you two will get along perfectly.”

“Shut up and start destroying things so we can get out of here.” Zad urged the scowling horse into the cover of the trees.

~ ~ ~

What do you think, my pagelings? Catch your interest? And what are some epic Faerie tales you’ve read and loved?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer