Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones

Here, have a review from a couple of March Magics ago, which I never got around to posting. 😛 (This is making me want to get it out of the library again and re-read it!)


5starratingTitle: Deep Secret

Author: Diana Wynne Jones


I’ve discovered that I’m downright horrendous at writing reviews for books by Diana Wynne Jones. I plan to write one, then I put it off, and put it off, because I know that it’s far too complex to do justice to in a review — and how even do I wrap my head around it all, exactly?? So once again, as I did with Fire and Hemlock, I’m going to need to just start typing and hope something semi-coherent and possibly slightly resembling a review will come out of it…

This story is a mix of fantasy/sci-fi/modern, with some other worlds thrown in for good measure. Most of it takes place at a sci-fi/fantasy convention of all places. Talk about an original setting! It’s in first person but you totally forget this fact as the story draws you in.

I found this one in the adult section of the library (I usually frequent the YA room… sorry-not-sorry, but all the good stuff’s there!). I suppose it’s a bit more Adult than most of DWJ’s books (more language/dark/gruesome/disturbing/implied stuff) so be aware of that. I don’t really recommend it to teens because it’s kinda dark… But it’s so absorbing!

I LOVED the multiple-worlds stuff. Absolutely fascinating.

There are centaurs! YES.

I also loved the idea of “deep secrets” which Magids (the magic users) thread into the world through stories and art and such. Absolutely brilliant.

There were also a few things about writing and I think some jibes at publishers, etc., which I found hilarious. XD


The DWJ library book visiting some of its cousins who live on my shelf

I think it’s possible DWJ put herself in it. There was a lecture on A Sense of Humour in Fantasy. “Some woman beside him wrote funny stuff too” and said that in her own writing, sometimes her jokes made her laugh. (And I remember in some interview or essay or somewhere, DWJ said that about herself.) So I think she put herself into this book and I LOVE IT.

She definitely put in a fan of her book “Archer’s Goon”, as somebody at the convention wore a badge that said “All power corrupts, but we need electricity.” I was just sitting there grinning absurdly as I read that. XD

There are other references too, which made me happy, like to LOTR (somebody had a T-shirt that he said read: “I am a Hobbit.” In Elvish. I think she was making fun of these people, but it was funny. XD), and The Princess Bride. And at one point there was something about being rather like “a magical Bertie Wooster with an invisible butler”. I totally lost it there. It was the BEST.

As usual with DWJ books, there’s a fabulous cast of characters that I love. There’s Maree and Rupert (who tell the story in turns) and they’re so… well… THEM. It’s hard to explain. But I love ’em! Then there are other characters like Will (he’s great!) and Rob the centaur (!!). And one of my absolute favorites is Maree’s cousin Nick—who is, I hear, based on a teenaged Neil Gaiman, who Diana Wynne Jones knew. She based Nick off him, and he’s so incoherent in the morning before he’s eaten breakfast and IT MADE MY DAY. So very hilarious. And one can’t forget neighbor Andrew, the “fabulous Nordic type”! But no more, lest there be spoilers. (Oh! And the quacks! A sort of otherworldly duck. 😀 Loved them!)

I’m absurdly proud of myself for only staying up until 2-something a.m. and having the willpower to go to bed without finishing the last 70 pages. I got to the part where it said: “And, I see in retrospect, that was the last moment when events were in any way within my control.” And I thought: “Welp, I’d better go to bed before things get worse.” 😛

Anyway, DWJ is brilliant and I love her books so much, and this one was no exception! It was longer than many of them. I get addicted to her longer books and LIVE in them, and then have a tendency to accidentally go around in a haze for the next few days, vaguely living in the story again in the back of my mind after spending 414 pages in it…


“Where is the road to Babylon? / Right beside your door.”

The road I’m looking for is the road to the library to get the sequel, thank you very much.

The story doesn’t need it, but I do.


From Goodreads:

deepsecretAll over the multiverse the Magids, powerful magicians, are at work to maintain the balance between positive and negative magic, for the good of all.

Rupert Venables is the junior Magid assigned to Earth and to the troublesome planets of the Koyrfonic Empire. When the Emperor dies without a known heir, Rupert is called into service to help prevent the descent of the Empire into chaos. At the same time, the senior Magid on Earth dies, making Rupert a new senior desperately in need of a junior. Rupert thinks his problems are partially solved when he discovers he can meet all five of the potential Magids on Earth by attending one SF convention in England. However, the convention hotel sits on a node, a nexus of the universes. Rupert soon finds that other forces, some of them completely out of control, are there too…


Genre/Category: Contemporary Fantasy / Sci-fi / Inter-world Fantasy / ??? / DIANA WYNNE JONES (which is a category of its own, or should be, because it’s really hard to fit her books into pigeonholes…)

Age Group: Adult

Published: 1997

Pages: 414

Series?: Book 1 of Magids; followed by The Merlin Conspiracy

When Read: March 22 – 23, 2016

Favorite Character: Oh my GOODNESS, don’t ask me this! O_O (Er… I know I’m asking myself; shush.) Rupert or Rob or Nick or Will or Andrew or somebody. Probably most of the cast because you just get so attached to DWJ characters…

Source: Library

Other Notes: Read for March Magics, hosted by Kristen @ We Be Reading

Have you read this one? I feel this NEED to talk to people who have. XD (And I also want to re-read it either before or after Realm Makers, because Sci-fi/Fantasy Conference…)

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer


5 Thoughts on Mind Writer by Mike Lynch & Lisa Godfrees

Title: Mind Writer
Authors: Mike Lynch & Lisa Godfrees

  • Date read: January 24, 2018
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Futuristic Thriller / Sci-fi / Dystopia / Christian Fiction
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2016
  • Pages: 360
  • Fave character: Clixon
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I was given a copy of this book when I met the author at a writing workshop. (Thanks, Lisa!) I voluntarily reviewed this; my opinions are my own.
  • Links: Goodreads • AmazonLisa’s Website • Mike’s Website

5 Thoughts on Mind Writer

1. I don’t usually read sci-fi, thrillers, futuristic novels, or dystopia—and this is all of those in one! So I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. 🙂 I do make exceptions in my usual reading genres to try different things sometimes, though, and when I was given a copy of this book and thought the premise sounded intriguing, I decided to dive in. I’m glad I did!

2. Mind Writer is a thrilling, engaging read, very well written and exciting. There are many twists and surprises, and each time the characters have a plan and it’s thwarted, they have to dash right into a new one… Governmental plots, a hired assassin, a heroine on the run with a special ability, crime bosses, and an underground Christian movement. The plot was fascinating to follow, with all its twists and turns, and all the little sub-plots and motives of the different characters! It felt like a movie. 🙂

3. The concept of people who have the ability to transfer someone’s mind/memories/soul to another body was interesting (though it seemed more fantasy-like than scientific to me, personally, which was fine). It was unique, and intriguing how that came into play in the story, particularly the memory aspect, and how the “colors” of people’s souls reflected on their level of goodness… I don’t want to spoil anything, though. 😉

4. I liked the heroine, Rinee, as well as anti-hero Clixon who has secrets of his own and something of a character arc, and other characters like Saminy with her accent and sweet family, and another unexpected ally or two… I particularly loved the parts with Rinee and Clixon—they make a great pair, and I loved their talks; they often made me smile or laugh. 🙂

5. Some of it was a bit scary for me (I just… don’t usually prefer dystopia! Just a me-thing. I know I’m in the minority. XD) and it was a bit gruesome occasionally, but otherwise as far as I remember it’s a clean read, and I believe young adults and adults alike would enjoy it. If you’re looking for a YA futuristic thriller with a Christian theme and a dash of sci-fi and dystopia, this is the book for you! ^_^

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Let me know what you think, and if it sounds intriguing to you!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

Dreamings and Muses (by Daley Downing)


Title: Dreamings and Muses
Author: Daley Downing

  • Date read: December 5, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Short Stories / Contemporary / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 76 (ebook)
  • Fave character: Desmond
  • Source: I received a free ecopy of this book from the author (many thanks!) for purposes of writing an honest review; these opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsBarnes & NobleAuthor’s Blog

This is a small collection with unique, interesting, well-written stories. Not the sort of thing I read often, but they were definitely gripping! 🙂 Contains a short story, a novelette, and two pieces of flash fiction—one is sci-fi, two are contemporary with connections to fantasy, and one is… hard to define, but I suppose it’s contemporary fantasy.

The first one, “Just Pretend”, might be my favorite—I quite enjoyed the feel and setting, following a writer named Siobhan (love the name!) as she’s visiting England, semi-researching her book on the history of folklore, and gets dragged into a family party. I really liked Desmond too. He was great! And they were cute. 😉 I can’t really say much else because spoilers, but the connection to fairytales (sort of) was neat, and I really liked the writing too. 🙂 Haven’t quite decided how I feel about how it ended, and I definitely wanted there to be MORE, because I didn’t want it to end, but on the whole it was enjoyable, and I loved the details. It also felt British which was delightful. ^_^ 4 stars.

The second one, “Me and You”, was… interesting. I don’t really know what I think about it? It kept me reading and felt very real and vivid, especially the characters! I just don’t click well with some of the elements—which is just me. Contemporary isn’t my favorite for some reason, and a lot of the issues the heroine deals with just… weren’t my favorite. Entirely me, though! She’s going through an almost-breakup with her husband (which was well-resolved though!) and there’s backstory about a tragic car accident, and a character who might be her imagination… (Or a ghost… or an angel…) The main character’s a writer too, and it was in first-person-present-tense. It was very well written, which I really have to give it points for, and I liked parts of it, just not entirely my thing. 🙂 I’d call this one a novelette, as it was a longer short story. 3.5 stars.

Primitive” was more like flash-fiction, a very brief one-off sort of thing, sci-fi, mostly looking back at a previous backstory. It was interesting, I just don’t really care for sci-fi much. XD Which, again, is entirely me! It felt a little like a single scene, a window looking into a larger story, if that makes sense; it wasn’t quite a complete story, but intriguing. 3 stars.

Tad Fallows and the Quarter Pints” is another favorite, which I found intriguing and fun! I really need to re-read Masters and Beginners to remember what the entire links were, but it was neat, and I loved the humorous sort of style it started out with. 🙂 Again, very vivid, and great writing. And anything with a bookshop is bound to be fun. 😉 It was also more like flash-fiction, quite short, which made it more impressive to me that all the characters had such distinct personalities and everything! Loved the feel. 🙂 4 stars.

Overall, a couple of these weren’t really my thing, although one of those WAS extremely well written, and I enjoyed the whole collection in its way. 🙂 Recommend for those who enjoy mostly-contemporary with a dash of fantasy or sci-fi to their short stories, and just well-written, vivid tales with very real characters and the occasional dash of humor. I really like this author’s style, and so much of it was beautiful and imaginative, even in mostly-contemporary settings, and on the whole I had a good time immersing myself in these short stories for something different! 🙂

Favorite Quote

If we believe faeries are real, it brings a sense of magic to our very boring, difficult, everyday lives. It gives us a glimpse into a world of adventure, heroism, true love, and happy endings. It inspires us to pull a little magic out of ourselves, and bestow it on others.

(from Just Pretend in Dreamings and Muses by Daley Downing)

~ ~ ~

Do you like contemporary fantasy? And do you read short stories much? I don’t, but it can be fun at times! Lemme know in the comments — and isn’t the cover by Alea Harper so cute/pretty? 🙂 *has a thing for blue covers and stars*

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Mythic Orbits 2016 (Anthology Review)

Title: Mythic Orbits 2016: Best Speculative Fiction By Christian Authors
Editor: Travis Perry

Date read: June 4, 2017
Rating: 2.5 stars overall — individual ratings later
Genre: Short Stories / Christian / Fantasy / Sci-fi / Paranormal / Horror / Time Travel
Age: YA or up, but kind of dark
Year pub: 2016
Pages: 342 (paperback)
Source: Was given a copy by Lisa Godfrees at a writing event (thanks, Lisa! :))
Notes: Short story anthology
Links: AmazonGoodreads

I don’t think this is a collection I would have picked up on my own, but I met a wonderful author, Lisa Godfrees, who has a story in this collection, at a writer workshop event, and she was kind enough to give me a copy. It looked like something very different from my previous experience, so I curiously dived in. (I WAS warned that they were dark stories, but I pressed on all the same. :P)

This anthology contains 14 short stories by various authors, as well as an excellent Editor’s Introduction by Travis Perry. The stories were nearly all well-written, gripping, and fascinating—I breezed quickly through them and couldn’t stop. They were also mostly dark, disturbing, or creepy as well—or at least in genres I don’t usually read—which is not my usual cup of tea. XD

I don’t read many short stories, and I also don’t usually read Sci-fi, Paranormal, or Horror, which is where some of the stories in this collection fall, so I don’t think I’m exactly the proper audience to review this? Though some are also Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Time Travel, or have Christian or allegorical elements. The point of the collection was to have varying stories that fall broadly under the Speculative Fiction label, written by various skilled Christian authors, published in 2016. You won’t happen to find language or inappropriate situations in here, but most of the stories happened to be pretty dark and creepy, as it turned out. 😛

It was definitely an interesting read, and I liked some of the stories, but most of them were not, overall, for me. I’m rounding the total collection rating to 2.5 stars… some were more or less. Below is a rundown of the contents of this anthology, with my brief thoughts on each.

Please keep in mind, these are only my PERSONAL thoughts/ratings/opinions, and others might like them more. 🙂


FAVORITE OF COLLECTION (5 stars; 1 story)


Cameo – by Linda Burklin

  • Time Travel
  • 39 pages
  • 5 stars

A young woman in our time finds a cameo necklace, and when she dreams, she seems to—impossibly—go back in time and visit the girl the necklace belonged to, who needs help… This one was super fascinating and I was SO WORRIED about what would happen, but it turned out to be my absolute favorite in the collection. 🙂 The time-travel was really well done and I really liked the characters and the mystery and just… yes. I really, really enjoyed it. 🙂 Some of it was still very creepy, but not as much as it looked like at first. Anyways, I liked. ^_^


MOSTLY LIKED (4 stars; 3 stories)

Dental Troll – by Lisa Godfrees

  • Contemporary Fantasy (/Horror?)
  • 5 pages
  • 4 stars

So, I LOVED this one for most of it. 😀 It’s well-written, humorous, and fascinating. What if tooth-fairies are made up but there are actually creatures like them, just… different—namely Dental Trolls? A little girl meets one. I thought I was going to love it, but the ending took a turn for the creepy/dark/horrifying and just… no. o.o So I’m taking a star off for that. I mostly loved it, especially the writing and humor and idea, but I didn’t care for this ending, personally. XD

HMS Mangled Treasure – by L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright

  • Contemporary Fantasy
  • 51 pages
  • 4 stars

Okay, so this one was definitely unique. 😀 A pirate ship with scary fairy-ish beings is stealing cars in a modern-day city, and a no-nonsense mother decides to get her car back (because it has her son’s doll in it), researching how to deal with fairies, and meeting a strange guy in a trench-coat who I quite liked. It gets points for all the fairy-lore references, in a modern-day setting, with creepy fairy-pirates etc. Some of it was weird, especially the ending, so I’m not totally sure how I feel about it, but it was definitely mostly fun to read about—extra points because of The Tempest reference. XD

A Model of Decorum – by Cindy Emmet Smith

  • Paranormal
  • 20 pages
  • 4 stars

So… this one was kind of… werewolf-ish. *twitch* Which I don’t usually care for. But it was also kind of a Little-Red-Riding-Hood retelling, and was well-written and interesting and I couldn’t help liking most of it, for some reason. XD But it’s still werewolves, which is kind of creepy for me… but I liked it more than some. 🙂 And it just takes a lot for me to like something I normally wouldn’t, so I’m impressed. XD


GOOD BUT NOT FOR ME (3 stars; 5 stories)

Ghost Roommate – by Matthew Sketchley

  • Paranormal/Horror?
  • 20 pages
  • 3 stars

Even though I don’t really care for stories featuring ghosts, I was super surprised by really enjoying a lot of this. XD It was FUNNY, and I dearly like funny things. It started getting a little weird and then ended at a quite dark/creepy (but also vague?) point, so… it’s probably 3.5, rounding to 3, because I quite liked some of it, but the ending was… um… yeah, no. >.>

The Bones Don’t Lie – by Mark Venturini

  • Fantasy
  • 27 pages
  • 3 stars

WELL. That was fascinating and rather eerie and also confusing. It’s in a fantasy-world and it kept me interested but I was also confused about the different groups and couldn’t figure out what happened at the end and if it was happy or not. So. That makes me a little twitchy. I don’t know what I thought! o.o

Domo – by Joshua M. Young

  • Sci-fi
  • 17 pages
  • 3 stars

I don’t do well with sci-fi? Sorry, but it’s true. XD This was about an intelligent robot, featured some chess-games with an old priest, a dog, and some questions of robots and God. It was interesting for sure, but again, just… I’m not totally into sci-fi. 😛

The Water Man – by Sherry Rossman

  • Christian Paranormal?
  • 17 pages
  • 3 stars

This was almost written in a sort of code, which I didn’t totally get till the end. It was interesting, set in an old-folks home, from the point of view of an old man; it’s kind of dark, with a murder mystery sort of thing, and I’m torn on what to think of the ending. Dunno. I think I liked some of it and it was well-written and interesting, just it was super creepy and not… totally… for me.

Graxin – by Kerry Nietz

  • Sci-fi
  • 28 pages
  • 3 stars

This one was actually super-well written and fascinating—set on some planet’s moon, about a robot searching for a kind of ore, and finding… something mysterious instead. It was intriguing and I felt like it was trying to say some interesting stuff, but I just don’t connect well with sci-fi and the ending was… kinda strange. I think I was rooting for him, but… still… ACK, I don’t know. I can’t decide what I thought about this one.


NOT QUITE (2 stars; 2 stories)

The Disembodied Hand – by Jill Domschot

  • (Uncertain of genre; Christian Paranormal?)
  • 6 pages
  • 2 stars

This one had some interesting bits (maybe an angel?) and was intriguing but kind of confusingly written. I don’t know. It was fine but not my thing.

Nether Ore – by Kirk Outerbridge

  • Sci-fi
  • 77 pages
  • 2 stars

Okay, so I’m torn. This was the longest story in the collection, and it had me positively hooked. It was super fascinating, original, and unique. It’s kind of like a post-apocalyptic sci-fi place with squids and mines and scientists with creepy-creepy secrets, and elements of a mystery and of residual Christian stuff. It was well-written and I couldn’t stop reading but it was just super-super creepy and just… Nope. Not my thing at all. So I’m torn because in a sense it was really good, and it even had a fairly-good ending, but for me personally, it was too horrifying. O.o Meep. Others might enjoy it, though.


ABSOLUTELY NOPE (1 star; 3 stories)

Baby, Don’t Cry – by R V Saunders

  • Sci-fi?
  • 8 pages
  • 1 star

This is more a “what?” than an “absolutely nope,” but still. I had no idea what the point of this story was, and I think it turned out to be sci-fi but… I’m not even sure. It was weird and confusing and I didn’t understand it until the end (so I’m not going to say because it might be a spoiler but I don’t know) and then I wondered what the point was? Perhaps I’m missing something. Just kind of disturbing and not that interesting for me.

Escapee – by Richard New

  • Sci-fi/Paranormal
  • 9 pages
  • 1 star

On a space-ship (or two), following a criminal who is more than he seems at first, with a couple of alien creatures. Mixing sci-fi and paranormal, this just… was not my thing. It was okay but kind of creepy. I was intrigued but I don’t care about sci-fi and I’m not a super fan of following the point-of-view of such a creepy person? Other people might like it, but… not me.

Clay’s Fire – by Kat Heckenbach

  • Horror/Paranormal
  • 8 pages
  • 1 star

Absolutely least-favorite in the collection, this was positively horrifying and I wish I hadn’t read it. I simply don’t do horror like this. Just. No. WHY. Far too creepy for me.


Overall, an interesting experience! I think it’s just me personally who didn’t like some of these, or “get” them. If they intrigue you at all, and if you don’t mind a bit of darkness/weirdness, you might find a story or several to enjoy in this collection. And I did enjoy a few. 🙂

(I was given a free copy of this book by one of the authors, and was not required to write a review. These are, naturally, my own opinions.)

~ ~ ~

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

The Shadow Lamp by Stephen R. Lawhead



Title: The Shadow Lamp (Bright Empires, #4)

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead


Firstly, THIS MAY BE MY FAVORITE BOOK OF THE SERIES YET. Hard to say, because they’re so good, but you know. Just so much is HAPPENING in this! (Speaking of which, it’s increasingly difficult to review these books as the series goes on, without spoilers, but I’m continuing to do my best.)

Questing, beloved characters who are so fun to read about, adventures on the high seas and across many times and places, and something about the end of the world… all make an excellent, gripping adventure. Like I said, possibly my favorite in the series yet!

THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON AND IT’S SO EXCITING. Things have been happening through the entire series, of course, but I feel somehow that there was MORE, and there’s a lot coming to a head in this one. It’s positively thrilling. 😀

One of the things I was very excited about, was various of the characters finally meeting up! I simply love it when a story follows several people on their own journeys and then they start meeting and… it’s the best. I’m not going to say WHO is meeting up, because that may range into spoiler territory? BUT IT’S FABULOUS.

Speaking of characters, I’m so attached to these! Even the ones I started out disliking, or being wary of, I like now. (Villains aside. *cough*) Kit (so funny and British and… and… KIT-like!), Mina (I want to be her), Etzel (his food, though!), Giles (his new part in the story—HE IS THE BEST), Cass (new heroine, who’s growing on me), Haven (wow. So hard to figure out), Gianni (Italian hand-gestures when he talks!), and all the rest of the cast, old friends and new. One of my favorite things is seeing these characters interact. ❤ Especially in CERTAIN PAIRS. *cough*spoilers*cough* Anyways, they’re all great and I love them. 😀

The dialog in this book. Gold. GOLD. It’s clever, funny, or thoughtful in turn. And the writing as a whole is so enjoyable to read. (I still love the chapter and part titles too. “In Which Tomb Robbing Is Encouraged.” “Many Unhappy Returns.” “The End of Everything” [okay then]. “In Which Time Is of the Essence.”)

Two random fun moments I loved: When Kit eats so much he vows he’ll never eat again—until smelling Etzel’s honey-and-walnut rolls. XD And when Kit is teasing Cass about the Brothers Grimm living around the corner and she almost falls for it—priceless. 😀 There are so many fun incidents.

What the villains are up to, as well . . . So much going on and all quite fascinating. O_O Not saying anything about them but EEK. THINGS.

Also: nautical adventures and pirate attacks and THINGS. Whenever Captain Farrell is mentioned, I can’t help thinking of a certain song. (And, for the matter of that, I love names like Smollet and the Black Spot sneaking in and reminding me of other beloved high-seas adventures…) It just makes the book feel like an even richer tapestry, filled with all manner of references for the attentive eye to pick out. It was so rewarding to read closely.

England, Prague, Egypt, and other fascinating places are back in this one, the Zetetic society is working to figure things out, and the plot is slowly but surely making new twists and turns and taking new shapes. I really wonder how they’re going to get out of this one!

I want to go to Prague and eat pastries at Mina and Etzel’s Kaffeehaus, and to have tea with the Zetetic society, please and thank you.

This book used the word “eucatastrophe.” It made me very happy.

The final scene before the epilogue. SLOW MOTION. That scene is sticking with me. These books have a way of ending at these amazing, chill-inducing, vivid scenes. I love it.


I’m finally reviewing this book because I’m about to start the final book and I’m so. excited. And have some slight trepidation. (How can this finish?? What’s going to happen??) But mostly excited. I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS. I can’t wait to see how the series wraps up!

Some favorite quotes

“Good afternoon,” she said, pausing to cast a critical eye over him. “Are you among the living at last?”

“Hi, yourself,” replied Kit.

“Ley leaping?”

“The man who showed me called it ‘crossing the Coyote Bridge.’”

“That’s a new one.”

“He’s the Lord High Alchemist and, just so you know, he takes his position very seriously. If we see him, a bow and curtsey are in order. And whatever you do, do not mention the Turks. Oh, and be sure to call him Herr Docktor. He insists.”

Cass gave Kit a look that said, Pinch me, I’m in a dream, and Kit returned it with a glance that said, You cannot make this stuff up.

“Then, by all means, tell me about the Zetetic Society—if that is allowed.”

“No need to be snarky, Mr. Clarke,” chided the woman.

“Forgive me for being—what was it?”


Gianni paced to the other side of the room, hitting his stride as he warmed to his thesis, his hands describing complex Italianate gestures in the air.

[Page 283 (hardcover edition), last six lines, end of chapter 27. I’m not typing it here for reasons of semi-spoilers, BUT SO CUTE.]

“Cassandra, my dear,” said Kit, mimicking the old-fashioned, elevated tone of his late great-grandfather, “we should all very well know by now that there is no such thing as coincidence.”


From Goodreads:


The quest for answers—and ultimate survival—hinges on finding the cosmic link between the Skin Map, the Shadow Lamp, and the Spirit Well.

The search for the map of blue symbols began in a rainy alley in London but has since expanded through space and time and includes more seekers.

Kit, Mina, Gianni, Cass, Haven, and Giles have gathered in Mina’s 16th-century coffee house and are united in their determination to find a path back to the Spirit Well. Yet, with their shadow lamps destroyed and key pieces of the map still missing, the journey will be far more difficult than they imagine. And when one of their own disappears with Sir Henry’s cryptic Green Book, they no longer know who to trust.

At the same time, the Zetetic Society has uncovered a terrifying secret which, if proven, will rock the very foundations of Creation. The quest for answers is no longer limited to recovering an unknown treasure. The fate of the universe depends on unraveling the riddle of the Skin Map.


Date read: October 25, 2016

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: (Oh boy, let’s see if I can pigeonhole it at all…) Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Sci-fi / Christian / Time

Age Group: Young Adult. Adults will enjoy too!

Published: 2013

Pages: 378 (hardcover)

Series?: Book 4 in the Bright Empires series. (Book 1: The Skin Map — read my review here. Book 2: The Bone House — read my review here. Book 3: The Spirit Well — read my review here.) Followed by Book 5: The Fatal Tree.


Favorite Character: ALL OF THEM. (Also known as Kit, Mina, Giles, etc.)

Source: Read from the library; have since acquired a copy because I needed to own this series.

Other Notes: Make sure to start the series properly with The Skin Map!


{Goodreads} • {Amazon} • {Barnes & Noble} • {Author’s Website}

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: Hexwood

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

Date read: April 6, 2017

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi/Contemporary/Time/Arthurian

Age: Toeing the line between YA and Adult? New Adult? Anyways, slightly darker.

Year pub: 1992

Pages: 449 (paperback)

Fave character: MORDION. Mordion Mordion Mordion

Source: Birthday present, preciousss

Find: On Goodreads here

Favorite quote:

“Can’t you treat yourself with a bit more consideration?”

“Why should I?” Mordion said, hugging the duvet round himself.

“Because you’re a person, of course!” Ann snapped at him. “One person ought to treat another person properly even if the person’s himself!”

“What a strange idea!” Mordion said.

An ordinary modern-day British girl (kind of), named Ann, stumbles into an epic fantasy world (…sort of), and meets a pigeon-hole-defying, spoiler-drenched man named Mordion, and a boy named Hume (maybe).

There are also robots. And dragons.

There’s also an inter-galactic sci-fi mess going on, some Arthurian legends sprinkled around the edges in totally unexpected ways, and oh, yeah, the entire thing is out of order in a time-bending confusing labyrinth of plot-twists.

Nobody is who they seem (or rather, they may be somebody else… or several somebody elses. I literally kept a list/diagram while I was reading).


  • Dragons
  • Robots
  • King Arthur and Merlin (sort of)
  • Time which is… fluid, shall we say, and more complicated than Doctor Who
  • A tragic brainwashed assassin to rival Bucky Barnes (he’s got nothing on this guy)
  • A complex plot-within-plot that makes my head hurt and kind of makes Inception’s layers look like a children’s cartoon
  • Several hundred plot twists
  • An unexpected romance
  • One of my new favorite characters of ever (not sure how I feel about this)
  • Weirdest book I’ve ever read
  • Has more genres mashed in it than I’ve ever seen in a single book (Contemporary/Fantasy/Sci-fi/Time/Arthurian/Romance/YA/Adult/DWJ)
  • Darker than most DWJ books (except Deep Secret)
  • One of my top five-or-ten DWJ books (despite the darkness/weirdness… don’t hold it against me; I’m surprised at me too)
  • First new-to-me DWJ book since my How to Read Diana Wynne Jones blog posts (part 1) (part 2); it lined up with pretty much everything, x100000
  • I need to reread it now, please and thank you

Don’t read this as your first DWJ, and if you do read it, know you’re getting into an insanely complex, inter-genre, rather dark story, for which reason I only recommend it to older teens/adults. If I recommend it at all. I loved it to bits but have a feeling that it’s far too weird to recommend to anyone at all. I literally can’t predict who would/wouldn’t like this. You’ll either a) love it a ridiculous amount (*raises hand*), b) hate it, or c) not understand it at all. I have a feeling there’s no middle ground.

Anyone who has read it: TALK TO ME! I need somebody who understands my confused feels about this book.

If you need me, I’ll be in a corner with my mind blown, contemplating re-reading this book so that I can understand it, and generally having a massive book hangover. Because how am I going to find anything to read, after this mindbending confusing thing, that will not feel like bland cardboard? HELP. *collapses* (I’m hoping Stephen Lawhead’s The Fatal Tree might help me with this… *reaches for bookshelf*)

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

The Spirit Well by Stephen R. Lawhead



Title: The Spirit Well (Bright Empires, #3)

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead


The middle book in this 5-book series, The Spirit Well was another great addition to the Bright Empires novels. Enthralled, I sped through it in just a few days and can’t wait to continue the saga. Once again, I’m in a hurry to review this one, in effect capturing my thoughts at this point, so I can scurry along to read book 4, The Shadow Lamp… I must find out what happens next!

Again, the character list, “previously”, and ending essay were amusing and enlightening — I just love how even the extra beginning and ending matter are interesting. In short, I love basically every word of these books — literally.

The story itself is progressing in quite a fascinating manner, branching out in all directions (past/present/etc.). There were many new revelations! Some of a tragic or scary nature… and others verrrry intriguing… Let’s just say there’s a lot going on (and as the series progresses, it’s increasingly difficult to write spoiler-free reviews, but I shall do my best). The writing continues to be phenomenal as well and it’s just a pleasure to read. 🙂

There’s quite a collection of characters by now, but I never got them mixed up, and they were one and all delightful to read about. There were several point-of-view characters, both familiar and new; most notably Cassandra Clarke. I think I like Cass. *nod* Kit and Wilhelmina continue to be my favorite people to read about, on their separate journeys. I JUST LOVE THEM SO MUCH. ❤ I always love reading about them. It’s also always interesting to get glimpses at the lives of the generations of the Flinders-Petrie family: Arthur, Benedict, Charles, and Douglas, piecing things together. (And I’m also beginning to know what to think about them… hmm…) I still loathe Burleigh and Snipe, for the record. (But what’s a book without some well-placed loathing for the villains, I ask you.) Still on the fence about Lady Fayth… I love Etzel and Giles, and En-Ul and his River City Clan. We can add the Zetetic Society (mostly Brendan [Irish accent!], Rosemary [tea!], Tess [oh goodness, this lady! XD]) to our list of new acquaintances — still working on what I think about the society as a whole since I feel only recently acquainted with it, but methinks I like these people — as well as Brother Lazarus, who’s a definite new favorite. He’s an extremely quotable chap. 🙂 The people in these books are so well written!

Once again, we’re all over the map and time-periods, and I absolutely love it. Modern-day Arizona (that’s new! We hadn’t been to America yet…), the Stone Age, Egypt, China, 1600s Prague, 1800s Italy, 1970s Spain, 1930s Damascus, present-day London, 1800s England, medieval Oxford… (And of course Black Mixen Tump. I love saying that name — dunno why — even though it’s a scary place.) What a delightful tapestry of time and locality! Not to mention sprinklings of different languages (German, Spanish, Italian, French, Latin) for an extra immersive, authentic flavor. These books positively ooze rich multi-cultural feelings and it’s glorious.

I’m not sure exactly why I felt this way (maybe because we didn’t in book 2?) but it was neat to pop back into modern-day London again! That part, and the contrast with the older time periods, was great. Love love love! (Sale! Everything must go! XD Goodness, how awful. :P) And ah, good old Grafton Street, bringing back memories of the opening of book 1… It makes me all nostalgic. (I still can’t help but feel that the opening chapter of The Skin Map, “In Which Old Ghosts Meet”, when paired with the presence of a “Grafton Street” in London, is suspiciously like a reference to a certain old song I know… Especially when so many characters in these books are so fond of repeating that there’s no such thing as coincidence…)

Some of the interlacing storylines, especially Mina’s, make my head hurt, and I love it. Time travel-y stories are delightful to read about. She hadn’t… done something important yet that we saw happen in book 1 — MIND. BLOWN. I was even trying to make a time/character thread diagram, which… didn’t go so well. XD I’m still trying to wrap my head around some of the time-y things.

Did I have quibbles or uncertainties? Maybe a couple. One part was very sad… even though I should have expected it. But still. Sadness. 😦 There were a couple things that had me pausing to reflect, leading to some interesting ponderings, so even if I wasn’t sure how I felt about them, they at least served the purpose of making me think. I’ll have to see how things pan out in the rest of the series, but they didn’t make me dislike it, per se, just… unsure. So my quibbles aren’t really quibbles, and I don’t have any concrete complaints.

A few more brief thoughts/reactions:

  • I love how the experiences of Kit and Wilhelmina in the times/places they “adopt” (or… perhaps adopt them?) are so good for them. ❤ They really benefit from their adventures, which is fabulous.
  • There is much tea and yummy foods. (In the words of Brendan: “That will be Mrs. Peelstick making tea. We live on tea, it seems.” …I love this book.)
  • It’s still perfectly enjoyable/appropriate for Young Adult readers, as well as for older adults, I would say — basically, everyone should read it.
  • Some more tendrils of Christianity creep into this book than in the previous two — the tapestry is widening out.
  • The language barrier/misunderstanding about the map was very well done.
  • The new ley lamp is absolutely fascinating.
  • The moment when a certain… erm… cat shows up by a certain… erm… road — that was one of those priceless moments of AAHH which I loved. No idea why, I just did.
  • I found the Spanish peoples’ reactions to Kit to be hilarious — nobody wanted to deal with him, and they kept shuffling him off to somebody else. XD
  • That ending! How can it stop there? *flailing around* These books do have a tendency to simply stop and leave one squirming for the next one. 😉 I must read book 4 ASAP.

Overall? I greatly enjoyed this one and can safely say that it has joined the ranks along with The Skin Map (book 1) and The Bone House (book 2) as excellent specimens of books in a series I’m enjoying more and more.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I have a large book titled The Shadow Lamp (Quest the Fourth) calling my name, which I intend to devour at once. Toodle-pip and all that.

I will leave you with some quotes from The Spirit Well to help convince you that you need this series in your life (because you do, you know).


“I insist you go away before we both say something we will have need of confessing.”

“Dear lady,” offered the priest with a smile, “there are no accidents.”

Kit spent the next few hours idling in the gate-keeper’s lodge as a sort of quasi-captive — he was not locked up, nor was he free to go, for every time he got up and tried to leave, the porter came running after him, scolding in Spanish, and he was pushed back into the lodge. [I have no idea why I laughed so hard at this, but there you go.]

The old lady regarded her with a sudden intensity, then announced, “I’m going to adopt you, dear heart. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not at all,” Cass replied. “But do I look like I need adopting?”
“Not in the least,” Tess answered.

Probably, I should have locked Kit in the strongbox as well, she thought sulkily. [Wilhelmina, of course.]

“I am gobsmacked. … You clever little thing.” [Mina again. I love her dialog.]

“Don’t you know?”
He shook his head. “Nobody tells me anything.” [<– The story of Kit’s life, right there.]

“It does not matter where one starts; it is where one finishes that makes all the difference.”


From Goodreads:


The search for the map — and the secret behind its cryptic code — intensifies in a quest across time, space, and multiple realities.

But what if the true treasure isn’t the map at all . . . what if the map marks something far greater? Something one world cannot contain? Those who desire to unlock that mystery are in a race to possess the secret — for good or evil.

Kit Livingstone is mastering the ability to travel across realities using ley lines and has forged a link from the Bone House, a sacred lodge made of animal bones, to the fabled Spirit Well, a place of profound power.

His friend Mina is undercover in a Spanish monastery high in the Pyrenees, learning all she can from a monk named Brother Lazarus. Still determined to find Kit, she is beginning to experience a greater destiny than she can fathom.

Cassandra Clarke is overseeing an archaeological dig in Arizona when a chance encounter transports her to 1950s Damascus. There, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to the Seekers — the last living remnants of the Zetetic Society who need her help to track down the missing Cosimo Livingstone and his grandson Kit.

But there are darker forces at work in the universe whose agents always seem to be one step ahead of the rest–and they’re all desperate to gain the ultimate prize in this treasure hunt where the stakes increase at every turn. At the heart of the mystery lies the Spirit Well.


Genre/Category: Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Sci-fi / Time Travel / Christian / Contemporary

Age Group: Young Adult. Adults will enjoy too.

Published: 2012

Pages: 375 hardcover

Series?: Book 3 in the Bright Empires series. (Book 1: The Skin Map — read my review here. Book 2: The Bone House — read my review here.) Followed by The Shadow Lamp, and The Fatal Tree.


When Read: October 5-7, 2016

Favorite Character: Wilhelmina and Kit.

Source: Library

Other Notes: Be sure to pick up the first two books first! 🙂


{Goodreads} • {Amazon} • {Barnes & Noble} • {Author’s Website}

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer