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Burning Rose Review + 3 Steps To Rewriting Fairytales Guest Post

Hi everyone! I’m excited to be a part of the release of Hope Ann’s paperback collection, Burning Rose!

In this post, I’ve got a review for the book, below, and an awesome guest post from Hope Ann about writing fairytales! 🙂 Thanks for coming over to my blog today, Hope! ^_^

Enjoy!


Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated author. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, playing with inspirational photos, blogging, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She is the author of Legends of Light is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about her at authorhopeann.com


Guest Post from Author Hope Ann

Burning Rose and My Three Steps to Rewriting Fairy Tales

There are three steps I follow when I settle down to rewrite a fairy tale.

Research the basics

I go back and read the original fairy tale before I do anything else. The popular version of some stories, like Beauty and the Beast, are much different from the fairy tales themselves. This isn’t to say you can’t use aspects of popular retellings, such as having a Gaston character in a Beauty and the Beast story, but brush up on the original story first and write out the basics you want to keep. For Beauty and the Beast, this would include a beast who is overly protective of a rose, a girl who gives herself for her father and lives at the beast’s place for a number of months, and ends with a week where she leaves and comes back late. Many fairy tales are very basic with a simple plot that can be treated almost like an outline

Ask why

Why does the beast care about the rose so much? Why does the father let his daughter give herself up, or does he allow it at all? Why is Beauty late in returning home? Many fairy tales abound with many questions that are never explained. Answering these can create fascinating backstories and subplots.

Twist familiar aspects of the story

Maybe the beast doesn’t want Beauty in his castle anymore than she wants to be there. Maybe the witch in Rapunzel is actually saving the child from her parents. Maybe a brother eats the apple in Snow White to protect his sister and ends up asleep. Have fun. Switch good or bad characters. Switch the roles of a character or combine them. Most readers know how a given fairy tale ends. Twist the story enough so they don’t know if the characters will get their happy ending, or twist it again to completely turn the fairy tale on its head. The important thing to remember is to treat the original fairy tale like an outline and move out from there.

I’ve enjoyed changing fairy tales, even ones I don’t care for, into exciting stories. And now, for the first time, you can read my first three retellings in one paperback book!

A war, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.

Elissa, a villager from the northern mountains, attempts to save her brother and ends up trapped in a hidden valley with a strange host and a treacherous enemy.

Evrard, the Wingmaster of the Prince’s army, races against his own weakening powers to discover the location of his twin and save her from deadly mistbenders.

Haydn, a pardoned rebel from Tauscher’s army, confronts shadows of myth and former comrades in his struggle to keep his sister safe and find the stolen Stormestone.

BONUS

Before the war, before the legends, before the Separation, there was a man who started it all. There was a curse, a promise, and a sacrifice. There was the Oathkeeper.

Fairy tales retold as you have never heard them before.

ROSE OF THE OATH: Beauty and the Beast
SONG OF THE SWORD: Rapunzel
SHADOWS OF THE HERSWEALD: Hansel and Gretel
and
ROSE OF THE NIGHT: a Rose of the Oath prequel

Order Burning Rose now!


Title: Burning Rose
Author: Hope Ann

  • Date read: September 30, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling (Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 452 pages (paperback; though I read an ebook version)
  • Series: Legends of Light, 1-3
  • Fave character: Haydn, Evrard, Adrian
  • Source: The author (thank you!)
  • Notes: This is a collection of 3 novellas and a novelette prequel.
  • Links: Add on GoodreadsPurchase

I very much enjoyed this collection! 🙂 Here are some individual thoughts about each story, and then some thoughts at the end about all of them in general.

Rose of the Night

3 stars

This is a prequel novelette set before the three novellas. It’s not a fairytale retelling, but is an allegory of the Fall of Man and has a few other Christian elements. It was actually super depressing and dark—as might be expected from that kind of thing. XD But wow. O_O So I didn’t care for it as much, BUT I liked it better once I had read the next story and could just view it as the backstory of the Beast character from the Beauty and the Beast story. XD Overall, a little depressing for me (others might enjoy it more!) but definitely gripping, interesting, vivid, and very atmospheric! 🙂

Rose of the Oath

4 stars

A Beauty and the Beast retelling! I enjoy those, and this was original and intriguing! It has some unique things like the heroine’s brother, instead of dad, picking the rose, and the rose itself is VERY connected to things… 😉 It was so fascinating seeing the “Beauty” character (Elissa) communicate with the “Beast” character (Oathkeeper Adrian) because he couldn’t really speak because of a curse. I didn’t love Elissa but she was all right, and Adrian was pretty awesome, so. 😀 I liked Eldric (her brother) too! I’m trying to think what else I can say without spoiling things! It’s classic and new all at once. I kind of want to live in that castle. The writing was vivid, and there’s a lot of scary wolves and gorgeous roses. What’s not to like? 🙂 It’s not quite a top-favorite for some reason, but overall it was intriguing and exciting, and I really enjoyed it! A good B&B retelling, and a good story in its own right, too. 🙂 *hugs story*

Song of the Sword

4 stars

This one was so unique and fascinating! The two different planes of existence, the “Tangible” and the “Melody” or spiritual realm. It was so cool reading about Evrard, who has the ability to slip back and forth between the two. (Think, like… Inception, or Jill Williamson’s the Veil, but different.) I really liked Evrard. Andrinion the falcon was kind of a know-it-all, but fun too. XD Roinette is the heroine, who is the Rapunzel character, and I liked her too. (Though, in a fun twist, she has a “pet”/friend, a white cat with wings, who is named Punzel. :P) It’s kind of a VERY loose Rapunzel retelling… there’s a tower and Roinette has long hair, but that’s mostly it… But it was still fun. 🙂 There were a few times when the stuff about which “Realm” the characters were in got confusing or didn’t quite line up, but I still liked the idea a lot! I was a little sad that there wasn’t any romance, because I kind of suspected there would be (because… um… Rapunzel?), but I might be a minority. XD There were a couple of twists—both of which I partially guessed—and I really liked one and the other really disappointed me because sometimes you WANT to like a character but then they’re evil and yeah. >.> Ahem. But the other character twist was awesome. XD Anyway, I’m a little mixed about a couple of things, but on the whole it was just so original and neat. Exciting and fun! 🙂

Shadows of the Hersweald

4 stars

The first half of this one drove me rather batty with only hinting at things with NO explanation, even though the hero would have known; a classic example of hiding information from the reader, which is a personal annoyance of mine. Ahem. Could just be me, though. XD (And I fully admit I had a headache when I read this one, so it’s possible my brain functions didn’t pick up on things I should have, but still.) That frustrated me, especially when a few things just didn’t make sense. BUT by the end, once everything came together and I finally figured out what was going on, it turned out to be one of my favorites in the collection! 🙂 So that was impressive. ^_^ I keep thinking about it and I almost want to go back and re-read it now that I know what was going on. XD It’s a loose but original retelling of Hansel and Gretel—I liked how a few elements from the original made it into this one in unexpected ways. 🙂 I really, really liked Haydn. The story was vivid when it wasn’t being vague, and the setting was neat, and the other characters were cool too. Sometimes I wasn’t sure who I should like because I kept being afraid all of them would turn out evil. XD So that kept me on my toes. 😛 Overall, although the first part annoyed me, I ended up loving it muchly! 🙂

Overall Thoughts About the Burning Rose Collection

The three novellas had strong sibling themes going on, which was nice. You don’t always see a lot of that. ^_^

There is one particular plot-twist that ALL four stories had, which started to get tedious… I won’t say what it was, because spoilers, but things do kind of stop being plot twists and start being repeating plots eventually… But I might not have noticed if I’d read them all separately? And I kept predicting them… whoops. (#curseofbeingawriter)

However, one good thing about having them all in one collection: I did love how, even though the stories all follow totally different characters (except Adrian in the prequel and Rose of the Oath), there was still an overarching thread to follow through. It was kind of like it might be if episodes of a TV show followed different storylines but had an overall plot in the background?

I sometimes felt like since I was expected to already know the allegorical elements from Christianity, they weren’t explained IN the stories very well? Which was a little odd. And it also often happened off-screen. But what there was I did like. 🙂 (Other than the prequel being depressing. XD)

The writing was distinctive, and, while sometimes (due to the short nature of the stories) I was a little confused about what was going on, mostly these novellas were vivid, gripping, thrilling, and unique, while spinning threads of familiar stories into a tapestry of new, colorful tales. On the whole, I quite enjoyed them, and recommend them to anyone who likes a good fairytale! ^_^

(I also noticed that the next one that’s supposed to come out in this Legends of Light series is a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling! Excuse me while I search for a time-machine so I can go read it. 😀 *bouncing in excitement*)

(I received a free e-ARC of this collection from the author—many thanks! These opinions are entirely my own.)


Have you read any of Hope Ann’s novellas? (You can find Rose of the Oath for free, by the way!) And have you ever read any retellings of Hansel and Gretel? Or do you have some favorite retellings of B&B or Rapunzel? Let’s talk about aaall things retellings! Let me know in the comments! ^_^

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

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The Tomb of the Sea Witch by Kyle Robert Shultz

Today I’m reviewing the sequel to The Beast of Talesend, AND I’M SO EXCITED!

Title: The Tomb of the Sea Witch
Author: Kyle Robert Shultz

  • Date read: July 23, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale retelling (Little Mermaid, bits of Beauty and the Beast, etc.)
  • Age: YA — or, well, anyone really
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 209 (paperback)
  • Series: Beaumont and Beasley, #2 (read my review for Book 1, The Beast of Talesend)
  • Fave character: Crispin and Nick
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free Advance Review Copy of this book from the author (many thanks!). I was not required to write a positive review and these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Blog

I don’t know how to review this book! I JUST LOVED IT A LOT, OKAY?

There are SO many amazing twists, and spoilers that I have to avoid talking about because I don’t want to spoil it… I also kind of want to keyboard-smash and flail in all-caps that everyone should read this… I will attempt to be coherent, but MAN, this might be hard. *twitch* Ahem. *gathers self*

This is an utterly fun adventure! From the moment I read the prologue (in Nick’s delightful dry narrator tone, of course) I knew I was going to adore this book—and was I ever right! (The answer is yes; yes, I was right.)

I loved The Tomb of the Sea Witch just as much as book 1, The Beast of Talesend—possibly more, if that’s possible. O_O I… I don’t even know; I loved them both a LOT. But this one has potential to be my favorite so far, if only because of a few awesome things which were even more prevalent than before.

LIKE THE CHARACTERS.
AND THEIR BICKERING.
AND THE HUMOR.
AND THE FAIRYTALE TWISTS.
AND ALL THE PLOT TWISTS.
AND MAGICAL CREATURES.
(And I will try to be coherent, promise. *cough*)

More fascinating fairytale bits feature in this! Book 1 was largely Beauty and the Beast, and this one has remainders of that, but is mostly The Little Mermaid… ish… but different. (I will say no more. XD) Other THINGS are also referenced. O_O Needless to say, this post-fairytale world of the Afterlands is still FASCINATING, and totally unpredictable, and I can’t wait to see what other fairytale things get woven in later on!

THERE ARE TWISTS GALORE. The adventure got pretty intense in the midst of all the humor and character interactions! Eep! *collapses* EXCITEMENT. And so much trouble for our heroes. XD I couldn’t put it down and had to keep flipping those pages. It kills me that I can’t say much about the plot because I LOVE so many of the plot twists, but I will not spoil them—just go read the book yourself! (But these plot twists though. So many amazing and/or ominous developments! :O)

Nick is still an AWESOME narrator—seriously, he’s a favorite! ^_^ I just love his loyalty and grouchiness and he’s fabulous. ❤ Cordelia is taking a turn for the mysterious (I mean, she had a dash of that to start with) and—gah, I need to know more about her. O.o She’s great too. 😀 CRISPIN IS IN THIS ONE MORE. *does a dance of happiness* I absolutely loved Crispin in book 1, although he wasn’t in it very much, so I was ecstatic to find that he has more of a central role in this one. SO MUCH CRISPIN. ❤ It’s still mostly about Nick, but more Crispin “screen-time” this time around was great, and all the shenanigans he got up to were hilarious. XD He also went through a lot… *cough* *hugs Crispin and adopts him*

But even better than each individual character on their own? ALL THE CHARACTERS TOGETHER. I absolutely LOVE this trio! THEY ARE THE BEST!!! *hugs them* Nick and Cordelia are so great; I love their banter. I love Crispin and Nick’s brotherly shenanigans and interactions. I love how Nick and Cordelia try to keep Crispin in line and he tries to keep THEM in line and—laksjdlfkj SO MUCH ADORABLE. All three of them just make the greatest trio! There are some fabulous character arcs going on here during the continuing quest to de-Beast-ify Nick, and more questions raised about all the characters… ACK, I can’t wait to read more about these three! Anyhow, the Beasley brothers are fantastic together! I love themmm! ❤

There are other fun characters introduced, too. 🙂 Molly, for instance. *grins* I really like her. 😀 She and a certain character were so adorable together. XD And we have an ominous dragon with SUCH a presence… o.o And since it takes place largely at a magical “anti-hero” type school (*laughs so hard over this*), we have a small group of students dubbed “the Mythfits” by Nick—and they were so fun. XD And Kiran (a certain descendant of a certain character…) was verrry interesting and I’m curious about him. Mer-people also feature—yay!—as well as mythical creatures galore—many of which Crispin “adopts” in this, which was beyond adorable. 😛 (The little dragon/salamander though!! “Zup-zup!” <3)

I must confess, the very ominous epilogues got me extremely nervous for what will become of these characters in the upcoming sequels—eep! O_O (NEED. MORE. BOOKS. NOW.) So as far as any “downsides,” that’s literally all I can think of: that I’m VERY worried for my character friends, and there’s a bit of intense, dark scariness throughout the book, mostly in the second half. (But all mixed in with hilariousness, so it still felt pretty lighthearted overall. Of course, it being intense only means it’s VERY EXCITING and only makes me want to read them more, sooo…)

Short version: This book is one of the funniest I’ve read, with the BEST dialog, and is an utterly original twist on fairytales, with some of my favorite characters ever; I totally recommend it. JUST READ IT ALREADY, EVERYONE. Or, well, maybe read The Beast of Talesend first. BUT READ THIS BECAUSE IT’S FABULOUS.

Now I’ll just be over here flipping through both books and reading amusing quotes from Nick and Crispin and co., while waiting impatiently for the sequel, because I NEEDS MORE OF THESE, PRECIOUSSS.

(P.S. This was the perfect thing to read over a weekend when I was kayaking—all the water!—and my family also benefited from it because I couldn’t resist quoting aloud parts of it as I read; there were lots of laughs. The book photography opportunities were also perfectly timed. <3)

(This quote was so appropriate for being at the beach, I had to snap a picture of it. XD It will stand in for quotes, because if I were to share my “favorite quotes” like I do sometimes, I would literally quote the whole book…)

~ ~ ~

So there you are! Do you have this or The Beast of Talesend on your To-Read list? BECAUSE YOU SHOULD. XD And what’s the best fairytale retelling, or funniest book, you’ve read lately?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

5 Thoughts on Quest for a Beast (Short Story) by Sarah Holman

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been catching up on Sarah Holman’s novels and short stories, in a challenge to read and review 10 of them in 10 weeks, and this is the last one! I’ve so enjoyed finally reading some of these tales I’ve been meaning to read for so long, from this prolific author. 🙂

Here’s a quick review for a short story today.

Title: Quest for a Beast: A Beauty and the Beast Story
Author: Sarah Holman

  • Date read: May 28, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Christian / Contemporary / Short Story / Fairytale Retelling (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2015
  • Pages: 41 (Kindle)
  • Fave character: Nelson
  • Source: Amazon
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazon • Author Website

5 Thoughts on Quest for a Beast

1. A quick and intriguing short story. Some parts I wasn’t sure if I cared for, and/or might have disagreed with, but overall I was impressed with the writing of this story and it kept me very engaged, so I’m giving it a 4-star rating. 🙂 It’s loosely based on the Beauty and the Beast story, which was fun to pick out, as well!

2. Quest for a Beast is a modern tale about a girl and her brother and some other teens who go on a slightly perilous trek through some woods (most of the story) to find a criminal (known as the Beast) and bring him in for the reward. Whether or not they succeed… well, you’ll just have to read it to find out. 😉 I don’t read a lot of straight-up modern fiction, so it was a little different for me, but I was super absorbed as I read, and curious how it would turn out and what would happen. I did guess a couple of things (and kind of hoped for them) which made me super happy! 😀

3. There were a couple different Christian messages in here and I really liked the redemption one, being a common Beauty and the Beast theme. 🙂

4. The characters were all individual, and I liked Adara okay and Nelson definitely grew on me. 🙂 I was a little disappointed that Adara’s brother, Jasper’s, story-arc wasn’t addressed, even when another character’s was. I guess it’s a short story so there wasn’t room, but I still would have liked some sort of improvement from him. 😦 So that was a little sad. There’s still time, but still.

5. Ooh! I loved a certain reference at the beginning! 😀 I think Adara was reading a Cindrella retelling, also by this author (Waltz into the Waves) and that bit of meta-ness made me super happy as well! 😀 Overall, it was an original and interesting short story, which, aside from a couple quibbles, I really enjoyed! ^_^

Favorite Quote

“You stay here while I go turn off the alarm.”

“How will you do that?” Philip asked.

“I have done my research,” Nelson replied nebulously.

~ ~ ~

What’s your favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling? 😀

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

Ten Things I Love About The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz

Title: The Beast of Talesend
Author: Kyle Robert Shultz

  • Date read: May 17, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling / Mystery / Alt-20s Fairytale history
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 128 (paperback)
  • Series: Beaumont & Beasley, #1 (Sequel, NOW, please? *holds hand out imperiously*)
  • Fave character: Nick and Crispin!
  • Source: Amazon

Beauty and the Beast + 1920s detective story + alternate history where all the fairytales were, well… actual history + snark + humor + lovable and entirely unconventional characters = The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz, a.k.a. The Book You Need To Read Right Now.

Not convinced? LET ME CONVINCE YOU. Ahem. (Fangirling may ensue. You have been warned.)

10 Things I love about this book:

1. IT’S SO FUNNY. OH MY GOODNESS. I love books that make me laugh and make me want to quote them to the world, and if there’s one thing this book did extremely well, it was that. It did other things extremely well too, which I will get to, but MY GOODNESS, THE HUMOR. XD (Even the chapter titles are funny.)

2. NICK. It’s told in first-person by Nick Beasley, private detective, whose self-appointed goal in life/job is debunking magical cases and proving that magic doesn’t exist. (Which… is kind of awkward when he gets turned into a beast. …Not a spoiler, it’s in the blurb, and mentioned on the first page. XD) NICK IS THE BEST. I don’t often care for first-person, but his narration absolutely made the book. IT WAS PERFECT. And he has such a dry-humor, kind of grumpy personality, and is the last sort of person you’d think of as a hero, but he’s actually super noble underneath, despite his grouchiness, and overprotective of his younger brother, Crispin, and just—NICK IS GREAT, OKAY. I love him and he’s awesome. 😀

3. CRISPIN. Oh my goodness, CRISPIN. He is definitely one of my top fave things. 😀 He and Nick have this great brother dynamic where Nick won’t let Crispin do anything and acts like he’s super young (they’re both in their twenties. XD) but Crispin has more going than Nick thinks, and they banter sometimes and Crispin is just absolutely funny and adorable and the best. 😀 (The part about the feet on the desk! XD *dies laughing*) Just just just CRISPIIIIIIN! ❤ All that needs to be said on the subject. I just loved this character! ^_^ (And I’m beyond ecstatic that he will be in the sequel more. YES. These brothers! <3)

4. Setting + Alternate + Fairytales. THIS WAS WONDERFUL. It’s set in an alternate world, very much like ours in London (their version of London is called Talesend) in the 1920s buuuut… different. Like, where our fairytales are their actual history, and the story is set in the 20th Century E.A. (Ever After), give-or-take 1900 years after the end of the last fairytale… (or is it??). There are so many references to these fairytales, just woven casually into historical references and conversation, which was BRILLIANT and so so much fun, and that on top of it being a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast absolutely made my day. 😀 I LOVE alternate history, and fairytales, and old-detective-stories and just… THIS MIXED THEM SO WELL. ❤ (Plus, any story with a shady possible-gangster-crime-boss-who-deals-in-magical-artifacts has got to be good. I mean really. Let’s mix all the genre things and make it glorious. :D)

5. Lady Cordelia, a magical but also magical-accident-prone and eccentric (putting it too lightly; she’s nutty, but delightfully so) but capable woman, was a fairly fun character as well, especially when paired off against Nick, since they don’t always see eye-to-eye. 😛 (I mean… that would be difficult in any case, seeing as he’s a seven-foot monster and she’s just a presumably-normal-sized young lady, but still.)

6. THE BANTER AND CHARACTER DYNAMICS AND THE HUMOR. I know I mentioned humor before, BUT IT’S IMPORTANT OKAY. I can’t say enough about books that are this funny, because humor just makes me happy, and life is too short not to laugh copiously. Which is why books like this exist to help us with that. I love the dialog and interactions and narration and just aaaall the funny things! But it’s got intense bits and action and danger and twisty plot things all mixed in with the hilarity, which makes it even more impressive.

7. Can I just say how awesome this author’s writing is? LIKE SERIOUSLY. If all the above is not enough to convince you, just consider that all this wackiness is utterly seamlessly thrown together and well-written and just please can I be this good of an author when I grow up. The writing is gold! Actually this whole book is gold. Just— So so good.

8. Not to mention, this is a super fun, clean, family-friendly read. So awesome, am I right? Other than some scary Beasts (comes with it being a retelling of… well… Beauty and the Beast…) and slight scariness/intense wrapup, I don’t recall anything that younger readers should steer clear of. It was just delightful all-around! 🙂

9. I’m pretty sure… yep, I can’t think of anything, so I will say: There is nothing I don’t like about this book! Yes, that can be one of the things I like about it, that there’s nothing I dislike. This is my review, so my rules, so I will write it how I want. XD

10. It’s fairly short, which means that I read it in an afternoon, so that was nice—even if I would have wanted it to go FOREVER because I want to keep reading this glorious hilarity! But that’s not actually a con, because fortunately this is only the first in a series, so I’m going to get to read more adventures of the Brothers Beasley and Lady Cordelia and this hilarious fairytale-mashup world AND I CAN’T WAIT AAAAHHH! (No seriously, I can’t wait. Where is the next book? I NEED IT NOW. *flails* *pouts because I have to wait till it comes out*)

Conclusion:

READ THIS BOOK.

(I will say nothing more about it because I do not want to spoil its amazingness. But go read it. Honestly. It’s that good. In fact, it’s better.)

About the Book

Private eye Nick Beasley lives in a world where fairy tales ended a long time ago – where zeppelins now soar the skies instead of dragons, and where the first automobiles have taken the place of flying carpets. He’s made a name for himself across the Afterlands by debunking fake magicians and exposing fraudulent monsters. This is the modern age, after all. Magic and monsters are long gone.

At least, that’s what Nick believes. Until he gets magically transformed into a monster, that is.

The only person who may be able to help Nick is Lady Cordelia Beaumont, one of the last enchantresses in the Afterlands. But in order for her to cure him, they’ll have to retrieve a powerful artifact from a ruthless crime lord – who is also Cordelia’s father.

The fate of the Afterlands lies in the hands of a runaway enchantress and a monstrous ex-detective. What could possibly go wrong?

Links: AmazonGoodreads • Author’s Blog

~ ~ ~

What do you think? Sound intriguing? IT’S AWESOME. Have you ever read an alternate-history book?

Also, don’t forget to drop by Kyle’s blog where he’s giving away a signed copy of The Beast of Talesend this week as part of the Silmarillion Awards celebration! (The ebook is also reduced to 99 cents on Amazon until July 30th.)

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

King’s Warrior + Second Son by Jenelle Schmidt

Double-review today, for two awesome fantasy novels by Jenelle Schmidt, in the Minstrel’s Song series! 🙂

Title: King’s Warrior
Author: Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

  • Date read: January 29, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2011
  • Pages: 411 (paperback)
  • Series: The Minstrel’s Song, #1
  • Fave character: Brant and Kiernan Kane
  • Source: Won in a giveaway from author — thanks! (I mean, I also bought an e-copy, but still. XD)
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

What an enjoyable fantasy adventure novel! I really, really liked this book. 😀 There’s a lot of the classic quest-and-journey stuff going on, but in new ways too, and I loved the world and characters, and just overall had a great time reading it! 🙂

I confess that I actually read a sequel to this book, Yorien’s Hand, before reading this one (which is book one in the series), so that was interesting. XD That meant it read more like a prequel for me, and I already knew how a lot of it would turn out. But this in no way reduced my enjoyment of the story—not at all! And I was impressed and pleased that there were a couple of things that were still surprise twists! 😀

There may have been a few times (especially nearer the beginning of the book) when the early-days-of-this-author might have shown, or when there were plot holes or typos and what-have-you, or when the classic fantasy things which some might consider cliche or something popped up, but I elected to ignore those points in favor of simply enjoying the book as what it is: an extremely enjoyable fantasy novel, with a great adventure, an intriguing world, and a cast of lovable characters. 🙂 So good! ^_^

Speaking of characters—I loved them! So many great ones. Brant, the warrior, who’s my favorite—he’s just epic. ^_^ Kiernan Kane, the amusing minstrel (but with more to him than he seems), who actually shares top-spot for favorite. 😉 They are both so awesome!! ❤ Then Princess Kamarie is a good heroine, Oraeyn the squire is a FABULOUS hero, and other characters like young Yole, who was great, and various people they meet along the way such as the daughters of the Wizard Scelwhyn. I really liked Dylanna, for instance. 😀 And oodles of great side-characters too, who are sometimes a little hard to keep straight (might be my fault for reading the whole series out of order… *cough*), but still fabulous. And dragons, of course. 😀 It’s a well-populated fantasy world, and I loved the characters. ^_^

I loved this fantasy world, as well! It was just so neat to wander through it with these friends of mine, and I’m very attached to it. 🙂 I liked the dragons and other myth-folk, and the forests and mountains and bay and castle and cliffs, and all the different fascinating characters and happenings.

There’s a tragic scenario in the first few chapters where a man’s young family was killed, so that might be a little dark/rough emotionally, and of course there’s some action/battles throughout, but otherwise it was delightful and family-friendly, and I can imagine it being a fun book to read aloud, or for readers of all ages. 🙂 There’s something for everyone in it. 😀

The book had me laughing hysterically a few times, like when Leila and Kiernan Kane were up to their antics (especially when he came knocking. XD) and when Oraeyn talked with the tree sprite person (I absolutely loved that bit. XD) and surely several times when Kiernan was doing his silly minstrel things. 😀

In a sense, I ended up liking Second Son more than this one, just for its originality and Brant-ness and writing quality, but this one is definitely more fun overall, and I especially loved Brant’s mysterious self in this and the companions on their quest together, and just the classic feel of it, so… I can’t decided which of the three book out so far in the series is my favorite. I just love them all! ^_^ *hugs King’s Warrior and my favorite characters*

Overall, I just loved this book and this series and can’t wait to finish reading it! ^_^ Definitely recommend for fantasy lovers! ❤

~ ~ ~

Title: Second Son
Author: Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

  • Date read: April 17, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2013
  • Pages: 445 (paperback)
  • Series: Book 2 in The Minstrel’s Song (though chronologically a prequel to Book 1: King’s Warrior)
  • Fave character: Brant and Kiernan Kane
  • Source: Won in a giveaway from author — thank you! (And had also bought an e-copy on Amazon, but paperbacks are the best, so. ;))
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

I loved this book! *hugs it*

It’s somehow a very unique fantasy novel! I mean, it’s like a classic fantasy quest type of thing, and there’s dragons and other wonders and so on, but something about it felt… new. And different. And there’s not one particular quest, it’s more following Brant through his life and a series of quests and adventures, which gave it an interesting and unique overall arc to the story. And it’s quite well written, too! I was super impressed with how the author’s writing improved from book one (which I also enjoyed immensely! But the writing in this one is noticeably better, in the best way. :D) and just very easy to read. 🙂

Brant himself is my favorite for the most part—he’s just a great hero! 🙂 I love the interesting things that come of comparing his home country and training with other places, and adding to his mysterious and generally epic air. 😀 He was a wonderful character in King’s Warrior and Yorien’s Hand, and just… I love getting his story! ^_^ I so enjoyed reading about his childhood up to being the King’s Warrior. Fabulous.

Plus, in the second half, Brant and Arnaud being friends when they were younger IS THE ABSOLUTE BEST! ^_^ I also loved getting to see things about the past of some of the other King’s Warrior characters, like how Princess Kamarie’s mother and father met! SO GREAT! 😀 And, of course, the minstrel Kiernan Kane makes a fabulous cameo! Love that minstrel fellow! ^_^

This is kind of like if Aragorn had a prequel about his youth, or if we saw Gwydion (from Prydain) out learning things when he was young. And I absolutely love that! 😀 Getting to see Brant wander across all of the various lands in this delightful fantasy world, learning things and meeting friends old and new, and generally becoming the wise, epic warrior we know from King’s Warrior. He’s one of my favorite characters of all time, and I just loved seeing his backstory! ^_^

Oh, oh! And when Brant talks with the Forest! I loved that part! 😀 One of my faves! ^_^

I find it amusing how I actually read these in reverse chronological order. XD I started with Yorien’s Hand, which takes place after King’s Warrior; then I read King’s Warrior; then I read Second Son, which is chronologically before King’s Warrior. XD …Now I kind of want to read the other two again! :O

A funny thing about prequels… I can never decide if they’re best read before or after the main Book One… because both ways are so enjoyable! I’m definitely glad that I read King’s Warrior before this, since a lot of the sad things in Second Son I wasn’t AS sad about as I would have been if I hadn’t already known how certain things end up in Brant’s life. Somehow, a lot of the sadness in this book is okay, simply because it IS a prequel and I know that a lot of the characters in it aren’t in later ones and therefore are probably dead later so I try not to get TOO attached to them… And so on. And something about it being the sad backstory of a hero, makes it easier to bear because it’s PAST and not currently happening. (Kind of like the older myths of The Silmarillion are easier to bear because they’re not NOW in the time of LOTR and The Hobbit.) If that makes any sense at all to anyone other than me. XD Some of it WAS sad, by its nature, but I didn’t actually mind. (The most heartbreaking thing of all, of course, was Brant and his brother. Which of course I knew about due to King’s Warrior, but… yeah, I’ll just go over here and cry for a bit. Ahem.)

There’s joy and heartbreak, humor and epic quests, and just everything a fantasy novel needs! 🙂 Overall, I just really, really, really enjoyed this book! ^_^ I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves epic fantasy or just a good adventure, because it’s fabulous. 😀

(I love the backs of these covers. So epic and gorgeous. ❤ )

Have you read either of these? You should, because they’re awesome! 😀 Have you read any good epic fantasies lately that you can recommend? I’m always on the lookout for those!

Also, the author is giving away a paperback of King’s Warrior on her blog this week, during fun Silmarillion Awards things going on currently, so be sure to check it out and enter!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Arbiter by Jamie Foley

Title: Arbiter

Author: Jamie Foley

  • Date read: May 20, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Suspense / Post-Apocalyptic (other world) / Christian
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 282 (paperback)
  • Series: Sentinel Trilogy, #2 (see my Double Review for Sentinel and Viper)
  • Fave character: Jet!
  • Source: From the author
  • Notes: I received a free copy of this book from the author for review purposes (many thanks! :)). I was not required to write a positive review; these opinions are my own
  • Links: Amazon (Kindle/Paperback)Signed PaperbackGoodreadsAuthor’s Website

How do I even review this? Nearly everything that happens are spoilers of awesomesauce levels for anyone who’s read Sentinel, so it’s extremely hard to review this book. XD I will do my best to do so without spoilers, however! *tries to be vague*

Darien, Sorvashti, Aleah, and of course Jet are back for more epic shenanigans. *hugs them all* Jet is my FAVE as usual! 😀 He’s awesome. ❤ I’d say this book is primarily about Jet. We still get a LOT about Darien, since Darien’s the hero of course, but we get a lot of Jet’s POV and story, which I loved!! 😀 Darien is actually coming a long ways from where he was in book one. I was super impressed that he’s learning things and just coming further in general! *hugs Darien* I mean, he still has a lot to learn. >.> Ahem. But still.

IT’S SO INTENSE. *collapses* If book one seemed intense, this one was as much or more so. O_O I’m pretty sure I read this thing faster than I should have and consequently hardly remember bits of it, because I just could NOT stop zipping through those pages I was glued to! (Don’t ask about the logistics of this sentence. Just—don’t. Ahem.)

Other interesting thiiiings:

  • There’s a new villain who, can I just say, is very interesting. O.o
  • The settings range from snowy forested mountainsides to a tropical jungle island, so that was super cool!
  • Somebody loses their memory AND IT’S AWESOME AND HILARIOUS. XD That’s one of those “tropes” that can be hard to do well but I LOVE it and it was particularly awesome in this. 😀 This book is worth it just for that. XD *zips lips and says no more*
  • THE FRUIT. *dies of laughter* Nobody will understand this until reading chapter 14, but I thought it was epic. XD Ahhh, Jet is awesome. 😀

Downsides?

  • It might be a little scarier than the first book… Maybe? So, kind of violent and intense, so if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing, I’d recommend caution.
  • I did miss some of the extra humorous banter of Sentinel. There’s tons of funny lines in this one too, especially regarding the memory-loss thing, but overall this one seemed a little more serious? Could be my imagination. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot to laugh at in this one, which I loved! But things are getting more serious in the world as well, so… anyway. I don’t think that’s particularly a downside, necessarily, just saying the books are different. XD

I’m going to confess that I did the unthinkable… I actually peeked at the end. >.> I KNOW. So awful of me. But I was SO worried I just had to peek and make sure a certain something would be okay at the end before I could settle back down and enjoy it. Ahem. Don’t be like me, but I thought I would confess. XD After that I was able to enjoy it, and WOW did I enjoy it! 😀 It’s just a blast. Some of it was just a wee bit intense for me until I made sure some of it would be mostly okay, is all. But I’m a wimpier reader than some, so. 😉

I still love this fantasy world! It’s more on the dystopian/post-apocalyptic side, with remnants of technology, fantasy things going on (so many!) and an emerging spiritual world and so on. I’m enjoying learning more about this world and history and the different races, and the different Aether powers—including a couple new ones we didn’t run into in the first book! I love these Aether “superpowers”/“gifts” and how they tie into the story. 😀 Especially the mind-y things, since those are the “Arbiter” gift, which is what this book is named after… largely because that’s what Jet is and as I said, this book is somewhat about him. Also, I was very glad I’d read Viper (the prequel novella) because there’s a bit of harking back to that… and I will say no more because spoilers. 😉

But but FANTASY THINGS. Which I can’t say anything about, either… I will merely say that the Serran idea is fascinating, and a certain re-appearance of a character near the end (watch for a fox) seems to usher in a whole new look at fantasy things which has me very excited! 😀 (WINGS THOUGH. Ahem.)

SO MANY FEELS TOO. *collapses* Let’s just say I’m super worried/stressed at CERTAIN CHARACTERS’ life decisions near the end there. *cough* NO. STAHP. DON’T DO THIS!! D: I hope they will turn out okay in the next one. *squirming* I’m positively dying to read the final book, Sage, especially with that last chapter! Similar to book one (Sentinel), this ended not exactly on a cliff-hanger, but more on a “wait, that’s it? I NEED THE NEXT SCENE!” sort of place. Verrrry much looking forward to the final book and how all of this is going to turn out! O_O Just so much HAPPENED in this book! *flails* I need to know how this all turns out! (I also want more of Thracian. Because he’s cool.)

Anyway, definitely start with Sentinel, but I totally recommend this book as well, and it’s just as good as Sentinel, and in some ways better! 🙂 If you like suspenseful fantasy with a touch of technology and lovable characters and humor, that’s just super well written and generally AWESOME, definitely give this series a try! 🙂

Have you read any of these yet? Do they intrigue you? (I hope so, because they’re so unique and cool! XD)

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer