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Magicians’ Trial (Spellsmith & Carver #2) by H.L. Burke

Title: Magicians’ Trial
Author: H. L. Burke

  • Date read: August 4, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Steampunk
  • Age: New Adult?
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 203 (Kindle)
  • Series: Spellsmith and Carver, #2 (see my review for book one!)
  • Fave character: Jericho and Auric
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author (thank you!) and these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Another fabulous Burke book! Due to the amount that I loved the first Spellsmith and Carver book, and the fact that I was expecting something more like the first one, I didn’t enjoy this one quiiiite as much as I hoped to, but it was still an excellent book! I just wasn’t expecting it to be so different. XD

Book 1 (Magicians’ Rivalry) featured the buddy-story-type beginning friendship of Jericho and Auric, and shenanigans in Faerie, with a dash of cute romance. It’s very fantasy-esque, features SO MUCH snark, and I adored it so much! (I guess I thought the next one would be more of the same. :P)

Book 2 (Magicians’ Trial) was completely unexpected, which now that I’m over that, is likely a good thing, because NEW. Even if the other kind is more my favorite. XD I’d call this one more of a steampunk story with dashes of magic and yes some of that famed snark still. 😉 It’s mostly set in their capitol city, instead of in Faerie, and there’s not as much magical happenings because MAGIC DROUGHT which is kind of our heroes’ fault… XD

I loved Auric and Jericho’s continuing friendship (with bouts of bickering, naturally) even if I miss the early days of it; and two certain characters are MARRIED now (*gasp*) which made for a different angle to the story than what I’m used to… You don’t see a lot of the continued adventures of married couples once the beginning romance has led to a wedding. XD I still prefer the first-romance part buuut at least it was new. So there were different dynamics in this one (married couple, friends who are actually friends now and not just by necessity, and a lot more of Rill than last time) which was definitely unique, even if different than I hoped/expected. XD

It was super exciting, well-written, and awesome though! I did really enjoy it. 🙂 It’s a thrilling, unique tale, more like a mystery and a steampunk city type of thing, with dashes of fantasy and snark and beloved characters, romance, humor, peril, betrayal, and so many things! I think it felt a little more like Beggar Magic than Magicians’ Rivalry, if that makes sense, but it was fascinating to see these new places and characters, and lovely to read more about Jericho, Auric, and Rill. 🙂

There’s also a new character, Lotta, who is very different, but neat—and she’s super shy and paranoid and mechanic-y, which was adorable—as was a certain new blooming romance. 😉 And I liked her uncle. XD Also there is more of Jaspyr, the mechanical fox—yay!—and I absolutely loved a certain part where he proved himself! *bouncing up and down and cheering* And a scary magical assassin lady with a totally creepy mechanical monkey. O_O EEP. And all sorts of mysterious characters doing mysterious things and popping in and out, and an austere inspector, and various plots—basically very mystery-vibed! WHO DO YOU TRUST. Ahem.

It was super interesting to see them having to use their wits to get them out of things sometimes when magical things wouldn’t work. XD Clever and fun! And of course the highlight is still Auric and Jericho’s great buddy relationship, on top of the snarkiness and humor and adventure. ^_^ AURIC AND JERICHO! ❤

All in all, I still loved book 1 the most, but this one was totally different and fascinating, thrilling and unputdownable (it’s a word, hush), and another worthy addition to the Spellsmith and Carver trilogy! (Now I’m anxiously awaiting book 3, terrified for what will happen to my precious character friends in the final installment, but so looking forward to more of these awesome characters in this fascinating fantasy/steampunk world!)

If you haven’t gotten a bit of Spellsmith and Carver in your life yet, you need to—so hasten to it, book friends! You need them in your life. ^_^

Favorite Quotes

“Technically, Auric could go alone,” Jericho said. “However, I don’t trust him to. Not that he wouldn’t represent us well, but he already hinted that he’d take the fall for this, and I want to be sure he doesn’t confess to something to spare the rest of us and end up in jail or worse.”

Her mouth tightened. “Yes, because Auric is the one who has a history of making stupid sacrificial gestures to protect the people he loves with no regard for his own well-being. That’s definitely only Auric. No one else we know has ever done anything foolish like that.”

***

“Are you sure you don’t wish me to accompany you?”

Auric rolled his eyes. “You, too? What, do I have ‘incapable of speaking for myself’ written on my forehead this morning?”

***

“I’m sorry. I should go. You’re obviously busy setting booby traps and—”

***

“Just a fox sniffing about the hen house for an opportunity.” Jericho snorted.

Jaspyr yipped.

“No offense, buddy.” Jericho rubbed the fox’s ears.

***

Auric gasped. “The water is rising.”

“How can you tell? Is it the fact that the stream is blocked by a cartload of rubble and it’s swirling about our ankles?” Jericho indulged in an eye-roll. Sarcasm wouldn’t help anything, but it soothed him.

***

“I can’t swim, remember?”

Auric gaped. “Still? After everything that happened last time, you never bothered to learn?”

“I’ve been busy!” Jericho snapped.

***

“Trust me, he’s going to regret that. After all, it is foolish to get on the bad side of either Spellsmith or Carver … and I just happen to be both.”

***

He entered and found Auric lying on the floor surrounded by a sea of papers, a thick, leather-bound book over his face.

“Death by bureaucracy?” Jericho chuckled.

Auric pushed aside the book and squinted at him. “Just resting my eyes.”

***

No, Jericho told himself. This is not how I die. I’ve faced dragons and vengeful Fey. I’m not going to be killed by a ridiculous monkey.

***

“Uh-huh. Auric, do you know what I thought of you when we first met?”

“Not really, I guess.” Auric strode over to an upholstered bench against the far wall and sat down.

Jericho stood over him. “I thought you were a spoiled brat who only cared about himself,” he said.

Auric raised an eyebrow. “Thought as in past tense, right?”

~ ~ ~

Other similar reviews:

  

So, are you a steampunk fan? And have you tried Spellsmith and Carver yet? 😀

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

(I just like this, okay. ^_^)

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

Magicians’ Rivalry (Spellsmith & Carver, #1) by H. L. Burke

Title: Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians’ Rivalry
Author: H. L. Burke

  • Date read: June 8, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Steampunk
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 207 (Kindle)
  • Series: Book 1 in the Spellsmith and Carver series. (Book 2, Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians’ Trial, is coming out July 31! I’m so excited!)
  • Fave character: Jericho (…And Auric. …And both of them as a team. :D)
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC copy from the author (thank you!). I was not required to write a positive review; these opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s BlogAuthor’s Website

I only this year discovered H. L. Burke’s books, and quickly became addicted to them—this one is my favorite yet! In fact, it’s one of my favorites I’ve read this year. ❤ (It’s taken me awhile to review it because HOW do I sum up my love for this thing?)

This book has everything you need for a book to be an awesome favorite! It’s a buddy story (more on that in a minute), and to add on top of that, not only is it a buddy story, but it’s a MAGICAL buddy story, in a Faerie world, with a dash of steampunk, loads of snark, and basically WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE? This book had Deborah-Will-Love-It written all over it, so I was extremely excited to read it. I’m glad to report that my initial suspicion was absolutely correct—it did not disappoint!

First and foremost, as mentioned, it’s a buddy story. I absolutely LOVE these kinds of stories—you know, the ones where there are two fellows who are at odds with one another and REALLY don’t get along, but are forced to work together with much snarky banter and possibly-perhaps-but-not-to-give-anything-away might end up the best of friends in the process, even if they might not admit it and STILL banter with each other, of course. 😉 Those books/films are some of my favorite plots, and this one lived up to that SO well! Definitely one of my favorite buddy stories! Auric and Jericho are just the best and I so enjoyed watching them having to put up with each other. XD

Continuing the list of awesome: Lovable characters! Meet Auric Spellsmith, Jericho Carver, and Rill Spellsmith. Auric and Jericho are rivals—Jericho is Auric’s father’s new apprentice, and is also in love with Auric’s sister, Rill. Auric is Very Not Pleased with both these things, and Jericho is not about to be kicked out, either. Tensions run high and it’s glorious. XD Then disaster strikes and they’re forced to work together, which is the best part of the book. 😉 They’re both very different and Jericho maaayyy or may not be my favorite, but I love Auric too and I especially love them having to be a team together. 😛

Rill is awesome too—she’s definitely a likable character, and the side-plot of her and Jericho’s romance was AWESOME. I love them so so much. ❤ There’s also an intriguing villain—I will not spoil things, but I thought the way the villain was written was utterly unique and original and I absolutely loved it. O_O And there’s an awesome clockwork fox named Jaspyr, who had a few cameos and hopefully will appear more in the sequel…

The world is so neat! The magical system was interesting, and I loved their journey in the perilous Faerie world, all the creatures they met (unicorns! Dragon! Other scary things!), and how there was a slight steampunkish feel to their own world. Just—just—Faerie-ish books make me happy! I looooved the worlds and “feel” of this book.

There’s a touch of Christianity as well, which I loved—it wasn’t a big part of the story, but a natural part of their world, and I liked that feel. 🙂

Snark. Did I mention snark? Because the snark levels are strong with this one, and their dialog is a joy to read. XD

It’s SO fun, with the characters and bantering and buddy-story, but it’s also heart-pounding and thrilling and scary sometimes, and so well-written that it effortlessly tugged me along on this fast-paced adventure. It’s only just a rollicking adventure; it felt like there was a layer of deeper emotion and truth there too, and just—it was so so good!

Overall, this is a fun, exciting fantasy novel, with some of my favorite characters (*hugs them all*) it had me constantly wanting to quote it… I simply enjoyed it SO VERY MUCH! I’ve heard there’s to be a sequel releasing very soon, and I could not be more ecstatic. I need more Spellsmith and Carver in my life! I definitely, DEFINITELY, recommend this book! Just read it! ❤

Favorite Quotes

(I want to quote THE WHOLE BOOK. AWK. And some of my faves are spoilers anyway… So these are just a few gems…)

***

“It takes more than time to change people, Rill,” he said. “They actually have to want to change.”

***

“You can’t skip the journey. The way you get to things is just as essential as the end results.”

***

“My head is pounding, but I’d thought it was just the stress of putting up with you.”

***

“From everything we’ve encountered so far, I think we can safely assume that anything we meet in this world is going to try and kill us.”

***

Broad-shouldered and tall, Jericho stooped to avoid hitting his head on low beams, grumbling with every step. “Seriously, whoever built this place didn’t have grown men in mind.”

“I’m doing fine.” Auric scoffed.

Jericho glanced over his shoulder and smirked. “I said grown men.”

“Push me a little farther, Jerry, and you’ll get to the bottom of the stairs a lot faster.”

“Quiet, boys!”

***

Jericho slipped his penknife under the wax seal and popped it open.

“Jerry!” Rill gasped. “That’s not yours.”

“Your father has disappeared, Rill. We can apologize for reading Auric’s mail later.”

She crossed her arms. “Well, at least read it out loud.”

***

“Are you all right?”

“No.” Jericho scowled. “I thought we’d established that a while ago.”

Janus frowned. “Sarcasm, one of my least favorite aspects of the human race.”

***

Jericho and Auric will find out I was taken soon enough. Either one of them would be a force to be reckoned with. Together? God help this idiot.

***

The muscles in Jericho’s jaw clenched and unclenched as if he were trying to rip his way through a sinewy chunk of meat. Auric suspected if they didn’t see some sign of progress soon, Jericho might begin gnawing on trees.

***

Auric scowled. “No. We’re in this together.”

“I can’t swim!” Jericho waved at the river. “I won’t get you both eaten because I was too shortsighted to learn a basic skill.”

~ ~ ~

Doesn’t this sound FUN? And do you like buddy stories? I’m always on the lookout for great ones, so if you have any favorite books/shows/films that feature a great buddy duo, I’d love to hear about it!! 😀

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

10 Thoughts on Beggar Magic by H.L. Burke

Title: Beggar Magic
Author: H. L. Burke

Date read: April 25, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy / Steampunk
Age: YA
Year pub: 2014
Pages: (Kindle copy doesn’t have page numbers… Amazon claims paperback version would be 208 pages)
Fave character: Brick (also Vickers, near the end)
Source: Either got it free on Amazon one time, or free for signing up for H.L. Burke’s newsletter; don’t remember which.
Notes: I read this book for the Fellowship of Fantasy book club April 2017
Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor Website • Author Blog

Ten Thoughts on Beggar Magic:

  1. Another fun yet genre-defying read! (Apparently I really love those. XD) It started out like a mild Steampunk story with elements of very original fantasy, and then turned into a sort of academy-story, which turned into a murder mystery, and all with a strong thread of friendship and a dash of romance. Basically it was great. 😀
  2. The world was super interesting! It’s a psuedo-19th-century kind of feel, with a Steampunk flavor, but some other parts of it seem kind of more old-fashioned. I loved the fantasy element of the “Strains” which are musical wisps of something like magic/sprites. There are class-distinctions based on how well you can hear/use the Strains. And much of the story takes place in a sort of academy thing in an intriguingly-arranged city with different sections specializing in different things. Anyway, for some reason I found the whole world and setup super fascinating. I could also see everything SO clearly. And the “costumes” and rifles and just—LOVE!
  3. There were several directions I would think the story was going, but it kept doing something totally different and unexpected. I don’t know if that means I’m disappointed, or if it means it was awesome because it was so surprising and original and kept me on my toes! I guess I’m not actually disappointed, just… mentioning it was different than I thought. It also got QUITE intense near the end there! I kept forgetting to breathe. o.o
  4. Brick! I really liked Brick. 😀 Brick is a deaf guard who is absolutely epic but also kindhearted and sweet—basically Brick is awesome and he was my favorite. 🙂 All the parts with him were the best. ❤
  5. Leilani, our heroine, was all right—for some reason I felt a little detached from her? But I liked her okay. I thought it was neat how in most books she’d be considered the “side-kick” and Zebedy would be the hero, but Leilani got to be the heroine of this. 😀 Leilani only has “beggar magic” which means she isn’t particularly gifted or special, like Zebedy is… so normally, Zebedy would be the heroine and main character, and I thought it was neat how it’s basically a story from the POV of the “chosen one’s” side-kick. So cool!
  6. Zebedy was spoiled and I didn’t usually like her too much, but I didn’t always dislike her either… and sometimes I felt sorry for her… Eh, I don’t know. I might have liked her more if the story was from her perspective, but like I said above, I did like how it was told from Leilani’s POV.
  7. Leilani’s and Zebedy’s friendship was really cute (if occasionally rather trying, as many besties-stories can be…). 🙂 As were… other relationships which are spoilers. Much cuteness all-around! ❤ EEP. My little adorableness-loving heart is VERY happy. ^_^ (Especially with how everything turned out at the end. :))
  8. I was really surprised by Vickers’ character—at first I SUPER disliked him (and for some reason thought he was way younger than he was), but somewhere along the way I realized I’d actually… grown to like him. o.o Rather a lot, actually! I wished we could have seen more of Vickers. But this hardly ever happens where I dislike a character but then end up absolutely loving them! So kudos on that.
  9. THERE WAS A PLOT TWIST. WHICH I SUDDENLY GUESSED DUE TO A SUBTLE HINT. AND I WANTED IT TO BE TRUE. AND THEN IT WAS. AND IT MADE ME HAPPY. 😀
  10. Overall, there were a couple things—hard to pinpoint—which kept this from becoming a top-favorite-of-all-time, but it still seems to deserve a spot on the 5-star list, and on the whole it was a super fascinating, suspenseful, original read, and funny with great dialog too! I’m actually super fond of this story and really enjoyed it! 🙂

Favorite Quotes

“Jess and I do not flirt. We converse.”

“I didn’t know conversing involved so much eye-batting.”

***

“Walk like a lady.”

Like a quick lady, Leilani decided.

***

“It’s a long story, but Vicky is my nemesis.”

Leilani mulled over this as the girls took the path back to the maze entrance. She had never known anyone with a nemesis before.

***

Leilani hoped she wouldn’t lose her ability to think if she ever fell in love.

***

“I don’t understand it either, but Art fellows like things that don’t make sense.”

***

“That’s Art. They get all the odd ones.”

***

“Vickers Buffet, eighteen.”

“That is Buffet as in to hit someone repeatedly with a blunt object? Correct?” A smile played about Zeb’s mouth.

Vickers smirked at her. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“Not really. Did you get that, Leilani?”

Leilani quickly scratched out the information. “Vickers Buffet, eighteen, likes to hit things repeatedly with blunt objects. Check.”

***

[Leilani reading a book:] It was a romance, the dry kind where the boy and girl fought for foolish reasons, and she kind of hoped one or both would die before the end.

***

“Did you come here just to insult my office?” [Vickers, of course. He is awesome. XD]

~ ~ ~

What do you think? Intriguing? Do you have any favorite steampunk-esque, or academy-type, or unique fantasy-world books?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

The Rose and the Balloon – Cover Reveal!

Today I’m VERY excited to take part in revealing the cover of a book I’m currently reading, The Rose and the Balloon by Kirsten Fichter, which is a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a steampunk twist! (What is not to love?? Answer: nothing at all, naturally!)

The book is coming out on August 1st, which is sooooon, and I’ll be reviewing it sometime thereafter (so far I’m quite enjoying it!).

Meanwhile!

Cover reveal coming iiiin . . .

3 . . .

2 . . .

1 . . .

*drumroll*

. . . LAUNCH AIR-BALLOON!

(Wait, what? Where did that come from? O_O Go away, Crazy Maeva! *cough*)

Er, that is…

BEHOLD!

ITS!

BEAUTEOUSNESS!

(But not beastness? AHEM.)

Cover5_story

Summary:

Cover5_storyIn a kingdom where fauna and flora are held in higher esteem than breakfast, Dmitri is a prince who yearns for change and plans it in a single daring act that will alter his life forever. However, when his demented mother accidentally causes the destruction of a prized garden of roses, Dmitri is horrified when she proposes his hand in marriage to make up for it. Not only will a wife hamper his glorious plans, he doesn’t even want one.

Janelle has spent her whole life on her father’s rose farm, tending the roses and staying simple. But she really yearns for something greater than the flower beds. But now there’s a wrench thrown in the works – the crazy Queen Maeva wants her to marry the prince, and all for ruining her father’s beloved roses.

This is Beauty and the Beast with a twist like you’ve never seen it before.

Find the book on: Goodreads | Pinterest Board

About the author:

AuthorPic1Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who is trying to find the balance between being one of six kids, a church pianist, a college student, a movie buff, a disaster in the kitchen, and a writing INFP. If you know what the secret is to balancing all of that, she’d be grateful to hear from you. Otherwise, don’t contact her unless you want to send her homemade gingerbread. Or a new piano book. Or an autographed Charles Dickens novel. In the meantime, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

Find her here: Blog (Lianne Taimenlore) | Twitter (@KiriLiz) | Goodreads

So! What do you think? Isn’t it GORGEOUS??? *flails around and collapses* (Yes, I posted it in two sizes because I couldn’t decide which one to do. So you got to look at it twice. YOU’RE WELCOME.) I have a thing for roses, myself, as well as for Beauty and the Beast, so I obviously am absolutely swooning over this cover and this book. 😀 I hope it makes you want to read it, because it does me! ❤

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Wolf Tower by Tanith Lee

WolfTower

4starrating

Title: Wolf Tower

Author: Tanith Lee

review

I’m a trifle mixed on this book… But on the whole, it was an enjoyable, unique fantasy adventure.

It’s the journal of the heroine, Claidi, and one of its high points is the conversational and often quite funny tone of the narrative. I really loved that!

Because of the journal setup, we get a very limited outlook on what’s going on, which makes for an interesting read. Claidi herself was an odd combination of feisty/daring and yet oddly naive about a lot of things. She starts out as a servant at a very proper House, which seems reminiscent of somewhere in Asia or India, perhaps?

This whole story, which takes place in a variety of places all different than each other, has none of the usual pseudo-English/European fantasy setting about it (which I love, incidentally, but this IS a change, I suppose). It’s very diverse in its settings/lands and peoples and cultures, so for anyone looking for a different sort of fantasy, this is definitely that!

The general feeling is like a usual semi-medieval fantasy tale, and yet it’s at times more advanced, more like Victorian? There are clocks and things, and a general touch of something almost steampunk, what with the hot air balloon near the start, and the city with clockwork soldiers later on, and some sort of surveillance thing mixed in, almost sci-fi? Near the end it even felt like a touch of dystopian. o.o Anyways, it was definitely an intriguing mix! I enjoyed the fresh, different feel of it. 🙂

Okay, so now we get to what I didn’t like as much, which… um… I really can’t talk about BECAUSE SPOILERS. But let’s just say that there was a character who I wanted to like and wished something had turned out differently and it DIDN’T but it’s probably all for the best (there was a sort of almost love triangle involved; cue more squirming) and it turned out as well as could be expected I suppose. BUT GAAHH I STILL WANTED SOMETHING DIFFERENT MAYBE? I don’t even know. All of this made me drop it from a potential five-star to 4 stars, because I really DID enjoy the book and liked it, but it just… gaahh, the stress. *flails*

For those who are wondering, a certain person named Argul is fantastic, and the-other-person-we-don’t-talk-about was sometimes and I wanted said person to be… um… something else, but then… THAT HAPPENED. *pouts* …But I was suspecting it early on and worried about it and then it WAS and just sllsjkdflj. Sorry, I’m a mite bit incoherent about this whole thing. BUT SPOILERS. (It might just be me, though. Don’t mind me all curled up in a corner rocking back and forth and babbling incoherent “BUT ALKSDJLK WHAT EVEN JUST WHY” sounds.)

I’ve heard that there are three books after this one, but I don’t think I’ll read them…? I really liked the ending of this one (for the most part), and I don’t really want to go through all of that again. -_-

Not a ginormously fabulous book, but by no means a bad one, either! Definitely fun and worth a read if it sounds interesting. And I’m very much looking forward to reading more by the author (since I happen to have “Piratica” on my shelf, watching me, waiting…).

All in all, Wolf Tower was an at times quite funny (I LOVE HUMOR!), unique fantasy read, which I enjoyed a good deal, except for that-thing-about-said-person-we-don’t-talk-about. AHEM.

summary

From Goodreads:

All her life, Claidi has endured hardship in the House, where she must obey a spoiled princess. Then a golden stranger arrives, living proof of a world beyond the House walls. Claidi risks all to free the charming prisoner and accompanies him across the Waste toward his faraway home. It is a difficult yet marvelous journey, and all the while Claidi is at the side of a man she could come to love. That is, until they reach his home . . . and the Wolf Tower.

factoids

Genre/Category: Fantasy, with a touch of Steampunk?

Age Group: Young Adult

Published: 1998

Pages: 223 paperback

Series?: Book 1 of the Claidi Journals (followed by Wolf Star, Wolf Queen, Wolf Wing)

When Read: February 19, 2016

Favorite Character: Argul. And Nemian (sometimes. *squirms*)

Other Notes: Read for the Fantasy Love February Reading Challenge hosted by Grace @ Fictionally.


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

 

Series Review: Jackaby, Beastly Bones, The Map, by William Ritter

jackaby1and2

Series: Jackaby

Titles: Jackaby (#1), Beastly Bones (#2), The Map (#1.5)

Author: William Ritter

review

Overall Thoughts

jkbybb

Okay, where do I even start? I’m addicted? I think I did overhype it to myself, so I didn’t love it as much as I hoped I would? But I still enjoyed it a ton.

This is basically what would happen if a Sherlock Holmes type person could see supernatural/fantastical things and had a female assistant instead of Watson, and was in late 1800s America instead of England. I’ll admit that I’m addicted primarily because of Jackaby himself, since he’s the sort of character that I like to read, especially the bickerings between him and the heroine, Abigail, through whose eyes the story is told.

I’m also torn on the fact that Jackaby and Abigail aren’t a romantic item. There’s… ahem… someone else for Abigail. And while she and said person are admittedly adorable together, some little part of me still kind of almost wants her and Jackaby to be a thing, especially with the other little part of me that wonders if Jackaby kinda-sorta-likes-her even if he would obviously never notice/admit it. But that’s not a big deal. Their friendship/partnership is still great as-is, and in a way it makes it better, I suppose, since romance isn’t tangled in between. So I can get on board with that, I guess. And the vague romance bits are a very minor sideplot — these are mostly about the mysteries, which was kind of refreshing in a sense. 🙂

Thoughts by Book

jackaby

Jackaby (#1)

5starrating

I loved the “feel” of this one. Despite the touch of American stuff, which gives it just enough of a different kind of flavor, it feels almost like Holmesian London, which was fantastic. You get a sort of dark, shadowy, cobblestone street at night under a moon and gas streetlamps sort of feeling, where there could be a murderer or a creature from fantasy legend (or both) lurking in every shadow or towering building, and it’s fantastic.

The mystery is intriguing, with just the right amount of hints and evidence and mystery, with the ordinary police force thinking it’s ordinary, and Jackaby insisting it was unnatural. I just loved it! It’s kind of creepy, but in that way that I like (normally I don’t like creepy stuff, but this felt just right, somehow, so I didn’t mind; it wasn’t terrifying, just eerie).

I guessed the main parts of the mystery. Which was fantastic. One likes to feel smart, you know? Though there were, of course, a couple things that made me go “OH, of course I should have gotten that!” But the main things… totally had it. (Or at least variations. Which is fun too, because there’s so many things it COULD be, all your various guesses, and then you’re like “ohhhh, it was THAT one!”) I’m kind of addicted to mysteries, suddenly… I must read more!

Also, can I just say, the supernatural/fantasy aspect with the legendary creatures bits and so on, was a lot of fun. Especially with a banshee and… well… the other certain creatures of Celtic and other folklore, which I will not give away in this review. 😉 But suffice it to say, it was really cool reading about it and going “oh, yes, I know about those legends!” It makes one feel connected.

jkbybb2The dialog was fabulous, of course. Jackaby and Abigail and their interactions are just my favorite thing about it. And Jackaby’s weird house/office and his laboratory and weird mix of science and fantasy, and the duck, and the pond on the third floor, and Jenny is interesting, and I love how Jackaby accidentally blows things up and stuff when he’s trying to cook. (Paprika, not gunpowder, Jackaby!) It’s just kind of a glorious mess and I love it. ❤ So that part, with all the quirkiness of him and his life, was definitely far from a disappointment! I think Abigail handles it all rather well. XD

It’s also pretty hilarious/awesome his interactions with the actual police/detectives. They’re kind of wary and weary of him, and he’s just all chipper and “yep, let me just wander into the crime scene and poke around and it’s obviously a sinister creature who did this, by the way.” And the Inspector fellow is just like ready to strangle him. It’s awesome. Oh, and Charlie was a great character too! I guessed his twist too (or most of it) and… yes. Bwahaha. I really like his character. 🙂 All the great characters!

Though I do wish we’d learn more about Jackaby himself! Since it’s all from Abigail’s point of view, we get little hints about him and his past and various things, but not nearly enough! I want backstory and reasons and his NAME and all the things about him being a seer and his history and everything and slkjdlkjdlkjl I just want to know about all the Jackaby things, please! *waits on the edge of my seat for book 3*

All in all, really enjoyed “Jackaby”!

beastlybones

Beastly Bones (#2)

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So even though this sequel kept me more hooked and turning pages faster than even the first one, I didn’t enjoy it as much as “Jackaby.” Possibly partly because of that… I don’t like being really stressed out by books? It went into a more creepy feeling than the first one, maybe? Other people might like this one even better, because it’s more “original” than the first book, but sometimes I prefer familiar to “original.”

It’s kind of hard to explain my thoughts on the book without giving major spoilers about the plot… but I’ll try.

I’m giving this one 4 stars primarily for Jackaby himself, of course, and how much I in general enjoyed his and Abigail’s and Charlie’s interactions with each other. As a sequel, I’m already immensely attached to this trio, so it was great to see them again and that’s the main reason. Part of the 4 stars is also, yes, for a couple of brilliant things in the plot, and for the fact that I couldn’t put it down, and for the humor/awesome dialog.

So if it had just been those things? Instant 5 star. As it was, I had complaints about this one, which might otherwise have dipped it into the three-star territory; and they’re probably all petty and inconsequential, but oh well. Also, I think that most of my complaints will be things in its favor from others’ points of view, because I’m an odd duck. 😛 (My name is not Douglas, though. …Yes, I went there.)

For one thing, the setting was totally different than the first. I really enjoyed the London-esque feeling in the first, whereas this one was out in the American countryside and felt like it was trying and failing a bit, to be more like a western or… something? That was odd to me, and didn’t seem to fit the feel of the first one. (Like I said, others might find this cool/original.)

jkbybb3Then there was the fantastical/supernatural/fantasy element. In the first one, I really enjoyed the mentioned creatures/legends, because I felt like I knew them, and they were familiar. In this one, though, there were a bunch of weird random things, clever, yes, but some of them kind of creeped me out. So except for an eventual twist which did bring a fantasy creature I’m used to (and is a total spoiler but was kind of awesome and also terrible at the same time), I just felt… disconnected from the fantasy elements.

Also, in the first one, I could relate to Abigail pretty well most of the time, trying to find her way in a new place and deal with Jackaby. But in this one, it was all about her obsession with dinosaur bones and her wondering about being an independent woman. Now, no offense to anyone, but dinosaur bones bore me to death. I was just like can we please have something interesting now, please? And I think she was doing an okay job at being “independent” as a woman in the first one, without being stuck-up about it like these kinds of “strong women” do in books. In this one, there was this reporter lady who was feeding Abigail all these lines about such things, and I think Abigail did fine on her own before this lady came along. Ugh. So anyway, no to the dinosaur bones, until the twist in the plot (which I’d begun to predict–points for me! Though they really should have figured it out way earlier. EVIDENCE, peoples!) later in the story, which made it become interesting again. So that was kind of awesome. 😀 I won’t say anything more about it, but you’ll know when you read it. Fabulous. ❤

And then the characters. I didn’t like any of them.

…Okay, that may be harsh.

Obviously I still adore Jackaby, and also Charlie, and Abigail SOMETIMES… (we’ll get into that), and I have nothing against the old farmer, poor fellow. But everyone else I pretty much disliked, felt “meh” about, or loathed. Which is not good when I think you’re not supposed to? I’m sorry! I don’t usually rant, but pardon me for a moment while I rant about some characters, and I apologize to anyone who liked them.

Both the excavating fellows (forgot their names, sorry; I read this from the library and sent it back, so I don’t have the references for names or quotes — which is killing me because ALL THE AWESOME QUOTES WHICH I DON’T OWN) were awful — the younger one because I kept suspecting him of things because he was young/handsome/slightly slimy and very goodmannered, and the other because he was a total JERK who is simply painful to read about because he’s going around being grouchy and bullying everyone through contracts. I’ll admit he wasn’t so bad eventually, simply because the other characters wouldn’t play his game, but still. Bleh. It was awful with these dinosaur bone people treading all over this poor farmer guy’s rights and acting like they’re in charge. I hated that. They made me want to throw the book. Sometimes it’s just really hard to read things like that, for me at least.

The trapper fellow who was Jackaby’s friend was okay, but I never got into him. His accent was supposed to be some sort of mountain-man/western/southern/rural drawl thing, I think? Which I’ve never been into in print — it comes across as annoying to me, all the “ya’s” and… I don’t know, it doesn’t read well, somehow, and almost is demeaning because it’s almost like it’s being made fun of. I LIKE trappers/mountainmen/western/southern/rural people/places, but I don’t like when they seem backward. I don’t have anything against him, per se, I just didn’t click with him and thought it was weird that he and Jackaby were friends. The twist about HIM, I felt should have been all… “wow”? But I was just kind of “…um, okay then.” about it.

And then the reporter lady. UGH. I simply loathed her. And she’s supposed to be a likeable character, I think! But she just had this annoying “I do whatever I want” thing going and was always quipping things (kind of like Irene Adler in the Robert Downey Jr. movies, but without anything likeable about her) and annoying me over being a “strong heroine” sort of person who despises men and kept getting in the way and leading Abigail astray about poor Charlie (gaaahh.) and just… I loathed her. (And I don’t CARE what happened at the end, I still don’t like her and it can’t make me, and I suppose I should feel bad but I don’t.) She made me want to throw the book again. (I didn’t. It’s a library book. And I wouldn’t actually throw books because that would be wrong because books are still precious things even when one does loathe characters in them. But still.)

And I was annoyed at Abigail a good bit in this one. I liked her fine in the first book, and occasionally in this, but sometimes I just wanted to smack her in the back of the head with a noodle and go ABIGAIL COME ON. It’s petty, I suppose, but I wanted her to dislike the nasty characters as much as I did, but she was too patient with them. Okay, so that’s not good reason; I must be a horrible person. But really, did she have to put up with them?? And the bone obsession, which like I said, I just couldn’t understand. Mostly, though, her pigheadedness about Charlie through most of it. JUST MARRY HIM ALREADY, WOMAN. (Okay, so I have a slight uncertainty about that too because I kind of like the idea of her and Jackaby, too. Oh well. I apparently can’t decide. But still.) Though I must admit that a lot of this made for some really excellent scenes, where she was half getting romantic advice from Jackaby on the subject and he was just like “oh my goodness please no do not involve me seriously why are you doing this to me just stop” but at the same time giving her almost advice and it was hilarious and awesome. XD And then the ending… yes. All of the yes. With the train and all. 😀 *cackles*

But my goodness, I didn’t mean to turn this into a bashing party. I’m sorry! The book is actually quite good, I couldn’t stop reading it, it was very absorbing, and I really loved lots of it! It just wasn’t quite as amazing as the first one, to me. Like I said, though, I bet that all of the things I disliked about it, will probably not be a problem to other readers, so don’t let me stop you from reading/loving this book. It’s definitely an intriguing book, and I’m not going to stop reading Jackaby things because like I said, I’m addicted… I guess I just feel strongly about this book in many ways, which is actually a good thing!

And I can’t really be too mad at any of the problems, because then along comes Jackaby and some of the banter and I’m just “yep, I love this so much.” So.

BOOK THREE RIGHT NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

themap

The Map: A Jackaby Story (#1.5)

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Oh my word, this story! GAH. *huggles it* Okay, so it’s a short story/novella type thing, which is free on Kindle, set between Jackaby and Beastly Bones. It’s a short, fun read, and has an even different feel than the other two, but I simply LOVED it.

It’s Abigail’s birthday, and Jackaby takes her on a treasure hunt with an old map and fantastical things ensue. But get this: it’s entirely based around trying to find the treasure from the Irish song “Whiskey in the Jar.” This kind of totally made my day!!! Just… the idea of it. I suppose for anyone who reads it who’s not familiar with the song, they’d just be like “whaaat?” but since I grew up on old Irish songs and always loved that one, it was simply fabulous.

I hardly have anything to say on this one because I don’t want to ruin any of the plot, but it was just a rollick and I loved it. It had its share of perils and such, but mostly it was just an excuse for Jackaby and Abigail to go on an adventure together and interact, which was just so much FUN! I think sometimes, some of my favorite character pairings/groups could just do NOTHING plot-wise and I’d still enjoy it. In a way, big scary mysteries/adventures/problems which constitute “plot” can even take away from the fun of simple character interaction which is my favorite part of some things.

(Like in Avengers 2, my favorite part is when they’re hanging out together trying to pick up Thor’s hammer, just bickering and having fun. It’s the BEST! I’d watch a whole movie about them hanging out; it’s almost not as fun when they have to go do PLOT things… So, just an example.)

Anyways, it’s so worth it just to see them interact, but the rest of the plot is fun too, and the hints from the song (some of which I guessed), and the touch of almost-steampunk with an airship and all, and the goblins with their semi-Scottish accents which was so fun to read, and THAT ENDING. So much. ❤

Basically, READ IT. It’s just fabulous and I adore it to bits.

summary

From Goodreads:

Jackaby (#1)

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

Beastly Bones (#2)

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer R. F. Jackaby are called upon to investigate the supernatural.

First, a vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens, and a day later, their owner is found murdered with a single mysterious puncture wound. Then in nearby Gad’s Valley, now home to the exiled New Fiddleham police detective Charlie Cane, dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Charlie calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

The Map: A Jackaby Story (#1.5)

Abigail hopes that her birthday will slip by unnoticed and uncelebrated, but her employer, detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby, has other plans. Using magical party crackers that teleport the pair to unknown destinations in time and space and a cryptic map that may lead to a forgotten treasure, Jackaby intends to give Abigail what he considers to be the best gift of all–adventure.

Abigail and Jackaby must tame an enormous (and carnivorous) rabbit, defend a castle, and master a dirigible if they want to find the treasure and get back to New Fiddleham alive.

factoids

Genre/Category: Mystery, Fantasy, Historical Fantasy (also The Map had a touch of possibly Steampunk?)

Age Group: Young Adult (From my memory, they’re quite clean, which made me happy!)

Published: 2014, 2015, 2015, respectively

Pages: 299 hardcover (Jackaby), 295 hardcover (Beastly Bones), 57 kindle (The Map) (651 pages total, so far)

Series: Jackaby series list on Goodreads. These 2 and a half will be followed by a 3rd novel, Ghostly Echoes, releasing August 23, 2016 (I NEED IT YESTERDAY OH MY GOODNESS)

When Read: February 7-8, February 10, and February 12, respectively

Favorite Character: JACKABY (I’ll be honest, Charlie is also awesome)

Other Notes: Got the novels from the library, and the novella free on Kindle!

Cupcake awards to anyone who made it through reading this whole post.

(I should probably rethink my idea of doing a “series review” when I actually have a lot to say about each of the books… But I just like this idea of doing it all at once, so I did it anyway. :P)


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer