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

100th Post! + July Nightstand Books {2017}

100th Post!

This is my 100th post on The Page Dreamer! Happy hundredth post to meee!

*confetti and leftover-Independence-Day-fireworks*

*passes cookies around*

I’m very excited! ^_^ I started this little book-blog a bit over a year and a half ago, on the first day of 2016, and I’m so pleased to have come this far!

Thank you SO much, all you lovely readers, for putting up with my bookish babblings and reading and commenting! Y’all are the best! ❤

Nightstand Books

What with the Silmarillion Awards (Award Presentations begin today! :O) and reviews and such, I’ve been too busy blogging about other things to get around to a nightstand books post until now!

But here I am, halfway through the month, to share my July books, that I’ve either read this month, am currently reading, or hope to read soon. 🙂

(Nightstand Books is a blogging meme created by Jenelle and DJ to share our currently-reading books each month and be excited about them. …With me it’s more like my-bookish-plans-for-the-month, but still. Join the fun if you like!)

July Nightstand

  • The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead — Still working on re-reading through this aloud, so the amount of time I spend reading it is kind of out of my control… But hopefully we’ll get through it this month.
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien — Re-reading this for the third/fourth/whatever time, because the Silmarillion Awards is an awesome excuse and it was just way overdue for a re-read. (I think last time was 2010? Yeah… But I’d read it a few times before that, so anyway. ;)) I’m reading a chapter every day and enjoying it SO MUCH. It’s like coming home. ❤
  • Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl — For another Goldstone Wood readalong. 😀 Haven’t started yet but I’m SO excited to!
  • The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman — I got this from the library; how appropriate. (It was a visible one though. *cough*) I’ve heard great things so I’m excited. 🙂
  • The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron — This caught my eye when it was up for review one time when I was too busy to read; so I was excited to find it at the library. Let’s be honest: I’m here for the character names (Wren and Elliot), Houdini + murder mystery, and that pretty cover.
  • Heartstone by Elle Katharine White — Found at the library — yay! Pride and Prejudice retelling with dragons? Yes please and thank you.
  • Intermission by Serena Chase — Also libraried (totally a word, hush). I honestly don’t think this is going to be a “for me” book, but I’m curious about it anyway. XD Disclaimer: I miiiight not get around to finishing the library books before they need to head back. >.> We shall see! *must read faster*
  • Coiled by H.L. Burke — I won this gorgeous book in a giveaway, and I hate snakes but… this author got me addicted to cute snek memes and I love her writing, so. XD And mythology YA romance thingy with a prettiful cover… yes. I just read it this weekend and it was fantastic! ^_^ This author is awesome. ❤

Other Books Not In Above Picture

  • Kate’s Capitol by Sarah Holman — I breezed through this on Independence Day and quite enjoyed it. 🙂 [REVIEW]
  • The Reluctant Godfather by Allison Tebo — Quite a funny and enjoyable novella I accidentally read one evening. XD Aside from punctuation errors driving my editor self somewhat batty, it was super fun and hilarious! XD Plus Burndee. 😀
  • Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith by Shaun Hume — Currently reading this review book and it’s been very intriguing so far!
  • An Earthly King by Hazel B. West — A readalong book, this is a re-read for me. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUUUCH! ❤ Re-reading this series is absolutely delightful! ^_^ *flails* (There’s still time to join the readalong, which is HERE!)

  • Perception by Emily Ann Benedict — The next in the Vintage Jane Austen series, this one is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, set in the 1930s; it’s releasing this month and I can’t WAIT. 😀 (Plus THAT COVER!!!! :O)

  • The Tomb of the Sea Witch by Kyle Robert Shultz — This is the much-anticipated sequel to The Beast of Talesend (which I flailed about earlier), and it’s releasing NEXT MONDAY! I’m so so stoked! 😀 I can’t wait to read more hilarious Nick and Crispin and Cordelia adventures!! ^_^

As far as how my reading in the last month went: I read 12 books in June, so I got through almost all my reads from the last post like this I did! Leftover from my June nightstand post is only my re-read aloud of The Skin Map, and Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith. Not bad… (There’s also a beta-read that I didn’t get around to, and I dropped The Tempest for now, just ’til I have time.) But I did also read a book (For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund) in June that wasn’t on my June list. So things more or less even out. XD

As usual, some of these may migrate to August, especially as I seem to accidentally be doing Camp NaNo…? Ahem. So that’s kind of eating into my reading time and I’m not reading as fast as I had been, between that and the Silmarillion Awards and general life insanity. But in any case, there’s a glimpse at what I’m reading these days. 🙂

What’s on your nightstand? Read any good books lately? Or any of these?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer a.k.a. Deborah O’Carroll

Blog Tour, Giveaway, + Review: “Dreams and Devotion” by Sarah Holman

Welcome to the blog tour for the release of Sarah Holman’s latest book in the Tales of Taelis series: Dreams and Devotion!

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been reading through the series up to this point, and enjoying it greatly, so I’m excited to share it with you! 🙂

Here’s a bit about the book, as well as a GIVEAWAY and other tour stops, and then below is my review. 🙂

Dreams and Devotion

Some dreams will be dashed, and their devotion will be tested.

Dara’s life is full of farm work and worries, especially now that her older brother is a priest in a far off city. Yet she still has time to dream of the life she hopes will someday be. She dreams of marrying her dear friend and the worries of her family ending. Now, the selfishness of one person threatens her very way of life.

Dresden’s initial excitement about living a life devoted to the service of God quickly is dashed on the rocks of reality. The life of a priest is nothing like what he imagined. To make matters worse, he finds out his family back in his home village is on the brink of disaster. Torn between his vows and his love for his family, what will he choose?

Dreams and Devotion releases July 15, 2017

Buy the book for the special preorder price, here.


Giveaway

*****ENTER GIVEAWAY VIA RAFFLECOPTER HERE*****


About the Author

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of many published books and short stories. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Find her at www.thedestinyofone.com


Stops on the blog tour:

July 8

Bookish Orchestrations ~ Faith Blum

July 9

His Princess Warrior ~ Katie Hamilton

July 10

In the Book Case ~ Tarissa Graves

Jessica Greyson ~ Jessica Greyson

July 11

Gods Peculiar Treasure Rae ~ Raechel

Read Another Page ~ Rebekah Morris

July 12

Whimsical Writings For His Glory ~ Jesseca Dawn

Shannon McDermott ~ Shannon McDermott

July 13

The Page Dreamer ~ Deborah O’Carroll
(You are here! ^_^ Thanks for dropping by! <3)

July 14

Knitted by God’s Plans ~ Kendra E. Ardnek

With a Joyful Noise ~ Amanda Tero

Once Upon an Ordinary ~ Kate Willis

July 15

Jaye L. Knight ~ Jaye L. Knight


Title: Dreams and Devotion
Author: Sarah Holman

  • Date read: June 17, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Christian / Adventure / Historical Fiction (in fictional country, medieval times)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 137 (Kindle)
  • Series: Tales of Taelis, #4
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC from the author for review purposes (many thanks!); these opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Dreams and Devotions is a well-written medieval tale about a brother and sister, Dara and Dresden (love their names!): a peasant girl’s life at her farm and home village, and her brother’s life as a new priest, separately facing adversity and growing stronger in their faith. It’s an extremely emotional and rather bitter-sweet book, focusing on the little things, but it kept me so absorbed and it was overall quite good.

My favorite part was the moonlit harvest scene—I loved it! ❤ There’s a scene that’s staying in my memory for a long time. ^_^

Even though it was not an “exciting” story, and focused mainly on the day-to-day life of farming in medieval times and other struggles, it was so well-written and had me absolutely hooked. I could NOT stop reading! I was super caught up in it. 🙂 It’s definitely an unusual and unique tale, more somber and thoughtful than fun or adventurous, but keeping the reader’s attention all the same.

There were many heart-touching or heartbreaking moments, both good and sad, which made me tear up a few times. I don’t always like when books do that but it definitely made me feel strongly. 😉 Sometimes there seemed to be no hope for awhile, but it did sometimes bring goodness out of the darkness and show God using some things for good. There were a lot of good messages throughout the story, many of which I liked. 🙂

I’m continuing to love visiting this land of Taelis! 🙂 Delmore Castle and various characters from Courage and Corruption feature in this book, which was super neat! The harvest song even came back! I’m curious to see where the rest of the stories will take us, so I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series! ^_^ In the meantime, this is the fourth and latest Taelis book (though they can all stand alone!), and I’ve enjoyed the whole series so far. 🙂

It was a lot sadder than books that I normally like to read, feeling more like real-life sometimes than a work of fiction, leaving a few threads not wrapped up in a (to me!) satisfactory way (I wanted one character’s story to end up differently, but all we got was a note in the epilogue that unfortunately left it hanging, and I also expected a romance but didn’t find one; both were sad parts), but despite all that I’d still say it’s a good book, even if not my usual cup of tea. It was very well written, and I’m so impressed with the fact that, despite any quibbles or sadness (and these are my own, personal opinions!), it was still a very good book and had me extremely absorbed. Overall, quite good. 🙂

If you like Christian fiction and medieval times, a well-written book with heart, some bittersweetness, and people overcoming daily struggles and growing closer to God, you will love Dreams and Devotion. ^_^

Favorite Quotes

It was a stick he had fashioned into a crude bow. He had made it in their younger days when he and Geoffrey would play The Archer in the forest. She had been allowed to play with them at times, sometimes playing the part of the brave princess Brianna, sometimes playing a maiden in need of rescue.

***

“Dara, the greatest gift that we can ever offer anyone is ourselves. You have been a friend to me and so many others. You have not let the disappointments of this year keep you from being someone who dares to dream, hopes for the best, trusts God, and loves without holding back.”

***

~ ~ ~

Read my other reviews for the series:

  

~ ~ ~

Have you tried the Tales of Taelis series yet? Thanks so much for dropping by, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! ^_^

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Kate’s Capitol (Kate’s Case Files #2) by Sarah Holman

Title: Kate’s Capitol
Author: Sarah Holman

  • Date read: July 4, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Christian / Contemporary / Mystery / FBI
  • Age: YA? (The characters are technically adults, but I feel like teen readers would love it too, and it’s entirely clean. :))
  • Year pub: 2016
  • Pages: 175 (Kindle)
  • Series: Kate’s Case Files, #2 (I also reviewed book 1, Kate’s Innocence, awhile back.)
  • Fave character: Patrick
  • Source: Amazon
  • Notes: Read for 10/10/10 challenge
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Blog

Another thoroughly enjoyable mystery story from Sarah Holman!

In a way, Kate’s Capitol was quite different than the first one. Kate’s Innocence (book 1) had a lot of action and peril; this one has more of a political/office/spy sort of feel, so there was still tension, just of a slightly less life-threatening sort for most of the book. It was interesting watching the FBI team tracking trails of paperwork etc. This one is somewhat tense but not as high-stakes as the first book, so they feel rather different, although it got exciting and perilous at the end there for a bit—eep!

Overall it was a good modern mystery/thriller. Even the office parts, of which there were many, kept me absorbed, even if you’d think they wouldn’t be as interesting. But it seemed very authentic and well-researched; I felt like I was in the Austin capitol building and other settings. The attention to detail was fabulous! (I know the author worked there for awhile, and it shows; I was totally pulled into the place!)

This novel was a quick read, which I absorbed in an afternoon, and was fast-paced and enjoyable. I felt like I was watching a TV show, actually. 😀 As if each book is like an episode (or maybe a pair of episodes), self-contained with full storylines, but with a few ongoing threads continuing from book to book—what’s in Kate’s past that she doesn’t like to think about? Are Kate and Patrick ever going to realize they’re perfect for each other? Is Thomas going to have a character arc? Etc. I really liked this feeling. 😀

I love this cast of characters, this close-knit team of FBI agents who are friends, and have enjoyed getting to know them. 🙂 Brian, Logan, and Kim seem more side-character-ish, with not as much focus on them, though they are still lovable, while it’s mostly about Kate and Patrick (I really like him!) and maybe a bit about Thomas sometimes—perhaps because he’s the superior who’s kind of in the shadows and not around as much; I’m curious to learn more about him. They all have a very well-drawn individual “feel” to their characters, like people I know, and I’m extremely fond of them. ^_^

I thought I was going to be sad that Kate and Patrick were working separately for a lot of the story, but I actually ended up loving it! It was super fun to go back and forth in their POVs and see them working separate angles of the case, and talking through email or phone calls—it was unique and fun and upped the tension sometimes. 🙂 I love their story and so enjoy reading about them.

At first I was disappointed in some of the ending, until I recognized the point of it ending that way, realizing it illustrated a moral point, so I decided I was okay with it. It had some good Christian themes and thoughts as well. 🙂

For readers who enjoy clean Christian fiction with an FBI twist and a light dash of possible-romance—or even just an enjoyable mystery-type read, well-written and with a fun cast of characters—I highly recommend these books!

I’ve so enjoyed these first two books in the Kate’s Case Files series, and I look forward to more adventures with this team! 🙂

Favorite Quotes

It was much easier to snoop when you weren’t trying to look like you weren’t snooping.

***

“Like there is more to life then solving crimes and catching the bad guy.”

Patrick lifted his head. “Such as?”

“Tsk, tsk, you are a sad man, Patrick Connor.”

***

“One day, we are sitting in the office, getting ready for the work day.”

“I think you were making paper airplanes out of your reports,” Brian interjected.

***

Thomas tried to push in after her, but Patrick held him back. “You flashed your badge at that poor nurse, didn’t you?”

Thomas grinned. “It saves a lot of time and paperwork.”

Patrick shook his head. “I think that you could charm your way into the White House without an ID.”

“Why do you think they made me boss?” Thomas said, entering the room.

~ ~ ~

Do you enjoy mysteries? Have you read any agent-y FBI-ish stories? Do you have a favorite agent-y book (or film/show) that you could recommend to me?? 😀

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

5 Thoughts on “Father, Forgive Them” (Short Story) by Sarah Holman

Title: Father, Forgive Them
Author: Sarah Holman

  • Date read: July 4, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Short Story / Christian / Biblical-Era Fiction
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 30 (Kindle)
  • Source: Amazon
  • Notes: Short Story; read for the 10/10/10 challenge (reading/reviewing 10 of Sarah Holman’s books/stories in 10 weeks)
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Blog

1. There’s not really a lot to say about this without giving it away, since it’s such a brief glimpse, like a window looking at a few scenes, but I enjoyed it. 🙂

2. This is an interesting short story focusing on the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and specifically on a few words Jesus spoke which the hero of the story, Jonathan, can’t get out of his head.

3. The setting was vividly painted—I could see the olive trees and hill in one scene. There were also some poetic turns of phrase and imagery which I quite liked.

4. Jonathan and his encounter with the stranger at the end was my favorite part. 🙂 Beautiful. ^_^

5. I don’t usually read Biblical-setting fiction, so I don’t know how this compares, but if you want a quick read with a different look at the Resurrection story, you’ll enjoy this touching short story. 🙂

(Listening to the song “Stronger” by the Newsboys while I write this review—fits together, somehow!)

~ ~ ~

Do you ever read short stories? Have you tried Sarah Holman’s fiction yet — she’s great! And, randomly, do you like listening to the Newsboys band? Thanks for reading! ^_^

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Mid-Year Top Reads + Roundup {2017}

Hi everyone!

We seem, impossibly, SOMEHOW, to be halfway through 2017? I… I don’t know quite what to do with this information. I’ll just be over here in a shock blanket next to Sherlock. Ahem.

MEANWHILE, this means I get to recap my top favorite reads of the year and… generally just list all the books I’ve read so far, because I want to, and in case you’re curious. XD

Favorite Books So Far This Year (More or Less)

Here’s a glimpse at my top-favorite most-wow books this year, although there have been many other AWESOME reads. It’s been a good half-year for reading. 😀

  • Magician’s Ward was Regency Fantasy and the first awesome book I read this year.
  • Hexwood blew my mind.
  • Sentinel (and technically Arbiter too…) are awesome because JET.
  • The Beast of Talesend is hilarious and perfect.
  • The Fatal Tree concludes one of my new all-time favorite series.
  • Moonblood was absolutely gorgeous fantasy.
  • Where the Woods Grow Wild was excellent fantasy plus hilarious.
  • Halayda‘s the last book I read and… I haven’t sorted all my thoughts on it because, like I said, it’s recent, so I dunno if it will stay on my top-list or not, but initial reaction was Fae and characters and snark = I loved.

Some runners-up are mooore awesome fantasy, namely:

  • Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians’ Rivalry (buddy-story in Faerie, plus banter!)
  • Masters and Beginners (so much awesome Faerie things and refreshing YA!)
  • King’s Warrior and Second Son (feels-like-home epic fantasy, plus Brant!)

More on all these books below!

Stats

According to my Goodreads Reading Challenge, I’ve read 50 books out of my… 50 book goal! (So maybe I’ll be an overachiever this year. Maybe. Just a smidge.)

(And yes, some of these are re-reads, short stories, or an unpublished beta-read and a picture book, sooo… it’s not as much as it looks like, I promise. XD I think I read 35 new books?)

ALL THE BOOKS

And now, a liiiist of all the bookses, with quicky thoughts on them, ratings, and linkses to reviewses.

(I’m leaving out the short stories and putting the re-reads at the end, even though the pictures are just screenshots of my Goodreads Reading Challenge, which have all of those on, AND are in reverse-chronological order due to it showing up that way, because I’m lazy and consequently confusing. OH WELL! You’ll figure it out. XD)

If you’re curious about any of these, or want to add them to your to-read list, you can find them all listed on my Goodreads challenge, HERE. (So I don’t have to link to all of them, which would be exhausting. o.o)

  • Magician’s Ward – Patricia C. Wrede — 5 stars — Regency Fantasy is a genre I must inhale more. This was hilarious/epic, like Georgette Heyer meets Diana Wynne Jones. Also, Mairelon the Magician! ❤ [REVIEW]
  • Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors – H.L. Burke — 4 stars — Steampunk novella with great banter and lovable talking computer. Slightly scary but totally awesome. Must read rest of series soon! [Mini Review on Goodreads]
  • The Faerie Ring – Kiki Hamilton — 3 stars — Annoyed me slightly, BUT scary fairies in alternate 1800s London, plus Rieker was awesome. [Mini Review on Goodreads]
  • King’s Warrior – Jenelle Leanne Schmidt — 5 stars — Awesome medieval fantasy with dragons and great characters, including Brant and Kiernan Kane, two of my favorites ever! [REVIEW]
  • The Firethorn Crown – Lea Doué — 4 stars — Twelve Dancing Princesses and dragons and great characters; torn about the villain; overall enjoyed. 🙂 [REVIEW]
  • Suit and Suitability – Kelsey Bryant — 5 stars — Absolutely delightful retelling of Sense and Sensibility set in the 1930s; so historical-feeling but YA and sweet. ^_^ [REVIEW]
  • Wild Robert – Diana Wynne Jones — 5 stars — Short but delightful, and stopped right where I wanted to learn more! XD But super enjoyable. [REVIEW]
  • Aunt Maria – Diana Wynne Jones — 5 stars — Mind-blowing DWJ fantasy, which I loved. So, so good. [REVIEW]

  • Mort – Terry Pratchett — 4 stars — This and Guards! Guards! are my favorite Discworld books so far. 😀 Dark humor (not for everyone. XD) but overall I quite enjoyed. [Mini review on Goodreads]
  • Mansfield Park – Jane Austen — 3 stars — Actually a really good book, trying to do really interesting things; I just couldn’t enjoy it because it was depressing. o.o But still good! [REVIEW]
  • Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett — 3 stars — Tricky because I LOVED the Bill Door plot, but didn’t care for the other main plot, so half I disliked, and the other half were some favorite Discworld times. [Mini review on Goodreads]
  • Soul Music – Terry Pratchett — 2 stars — I was sad about things, okay. Plus the rock references went over my head and didn’t do much for me. (Loved the motorcycle and the rat though; and some parts I quite enjoyed.) [Mini review on Goodreads]
  • Hexwood – Diana Wynne Jones — 5 stars — MIND BLOWN. SO MANY THINGS. ALSO MORDION IS MY FAVE. ❤ AND IT’S FANTASY/SCI-FI/ARTHURIAN/MODERN/TIMEY-WIMEY. Just imagine if Aragorn was turned into the Winter Soldier and then thrown into a genre-defying time-travel thing that breaks your brain and is mindbogglingly plot-twisty, with ALL THE FEELS. Basically. Anyways, one of my fave DWJ books, just dark and might not be for everyone. XD [REVIEW]
  • Viper – Jamie Foley — 4 stars — Thrilling novella mixing military thriller/fantasy, with characters I love. Great backstory! I want to re-read this for Jet… [REVIEW]
  • Second Son – Jenelle Leanne Schmidt — 5 stars — Awesome epic fantasy, backstory for Brant from King’s Warrior, who’s one of my favorite characters. ❤ [REVIEW]
  • Beggar Magic – H.L. Burke — 5 stars — Steampunk-feeling original fantasy with a twist of murder mystery and friendship and cute romance. So fun! [REVIEW]
  • King’s Blood – Jill Williamson — 2 stars — Excellent author, I was just too devastated about a certain character death to look at this objectively; I’m sorry! D: (*goes quietly away to sob in a corner*) [REVIEW]
  • Sentinel – Jamie Foley — 5 stars — Genre-defying fantasy/modern/apocalyptic/in-another-world/superpowers, with snark and humor and great dialog and characters, this was SO ORIGINAL and I loved it; plus Jet is one of my top-fave characters of ALL TIME. ❤ [REVIEW]

  • Masters and Beginners – Daley Downing — 5 stars — Such an extremely enjoyable and refreshing contemporary YA fantasy, with SO many cool faerie-ish things; can’t wait for book two! [REVIEW]
  • Puss in Boots – Diana Wynne Jones — 5 stars — Very brief retelling, which was interesting since I’d never read anything retold by DWJ! Mostly very like the original, but with enough humor and good explanations to make it super fun. Puss in Boots now makes sense to me and this is the definitive version for me. XD
  • The Beast of Talesend – Kyle Robert Schultz — 5 stars — Hilarious and awesome fairytale-ish shenanigans and one of my top faves. JUST READ IT. [REVIEW]
  • The Fatal Tree – Stephen R. Lawhead — 5 stars — An excellent conclusion to the Bright Empires series, I am STILL attempting to wrap my brain around it so I can review it. All I know is that even if I don’t understand everything and might still have some questions (be right back, must re-read series to find answers…), I love this series and these characters fiercely, and this was an tremendous final book. ❤ Just go read The Skin Map, people. Just do it. [REVIEW TO COME]
  • Arbiter – Jamie Foley — 5 stars — SO INTENSE, plus more of Jet, plus hilarious memory loss and basically all the things. ❤ [REVIEW]
  • Moonblood – Anne Elisabeth Stengl — 5 stars — Absolutely GORGEOUS and fabulous fantasy, so perilous and Fae and just so good. *collapses* Plus, Eanrin and Beana and Oeric. ❤ [Review-of-sorts on Goodreads]
  • Adventures and Adversities – Sarah Holman — 4 stars — A super sweet medieval story with a Christian message; quite enjoyed. 🙂 [REVIEW]
  • Where the Woods Grow Wild – Nate Philbrick — 5 stars — Classic-feeling yet utterly original fantasy, HILARIOUS, excellently-written, plus lovable characters. Instant classic! [REVIEW]
  • Dogsbody – Diana Wynne Jones — 5 stars — Brilliant mind-blowing DWJ as usual, fantasy/sci-fi/modern/mythology. It’s bittersweet (she might not have figured out how to do happy endings yet…) but overall super good. Plus the main character is a former-star-being-turned-dog, and now I know ALL about dogs, which made it hilarious. XD
  • Mythic Orbits 2016 (short story anthology) – edited by Travis Perry — 2 stars — Not totally fair, since there were 4-star, 3-star, 1-star, AND 2-star stories in this collection, but overall they were too weird or disturbing for me, and I just don’t usually get along with short stories. XD But others might enjoy more. [REVIEW TO COME]
  • Brothers and Betrayal – Sarah Holman — 4 stars — Robin-Hood-ish and I really liked the story of John (the Robin Hood character) and Princess Brianna; also great Christian theme of forgiveness. [REVIEW]
  • The Noble Servant – Melanie Dickerson — 5 stars — Extremely enjoyable Christian romantic Goose-Girl retelling, with a great hero and great wrapup to the Thornbeck Forest series. 🙂 [REVIEW]
  • Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians’ Rivalry – H.L. Burke — 5 stars — Absolutely fabulous “buddy story” about rival magicians and magic and a scary Faerie realm, with a touch of Steampunk feel. I LOVED Jericho and Auric and their banter! ❤ So good. [REVIEW TO COME]
  • Bellevere House – Sarah Scheele — 5 stars — Extremely enjoyable retelling of Mansfield Park, quite different than the original, but excellently written and funny, set in the 1930s with a Christian spin; sort of romantic-comedy-ish and so fun! 🙂 [REVIEW]
  • Courage and Corruption – Sarah Holman — 4 stars — A strong character-growth novel about twin brother and sister and a kingdom teetering on the brink of war, looking for its rightful king. Enjoyable medieval Christian fiction in the fictional country of Taelis. 🙂 [REVIEW]

  • Dreams and Devotion – Sarah Holman — 4 stars — Well-written medieval tale of a peasant girl and her brother as a new priest, separately facing adversity and growing stronger in their faith. It’s an extremely emotional and bitter-sweet book, focusing on the little things, but it kept me so absorbed and it was overall quite good. 🙂 [REVIEW TO COME NEXT WEEK, with blog tour and giveaway]
  • For Love and Honor – Jody Hedlund — 3 stars — Mostly a just-okay read for me, but overall enjoyable medieval romance; I loved the bantering of the hero and heroine. 🙂 [Mini-review on Goodreads]
  • Halayda – Sarah Delena White — 5 stars — This is truly EPIC fantasy, with a dash of steampunk, set mostly in Faerie in another world, with dashes of tweaked mythology, SO much great imagery and fantasy, characters I absolutely adored, breathtaking writing, and a dash of humor and hilarious snark and banter, with some great character dynamics and a side of sweet romance. It’s a little darker than some, but so epic. Faerie King Taylan and snarky shape-shifting Zad are definitely new favorites! ❤ [Review to come at some point, perhaps?]

RE-READS

Note: All re-reads are, nearly always, 5 stars. Why else would I re-read them? XD

  • Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen — Re-reading so I could read the retelling; enjoyable. 🙂
  • The Magicians of Caprona – Diana Wynne Jones — SO FUN.
  • The Dark Hills Divide – Patrick Carman — MY CHILDHOOD.
  • Witch Week – Diana Wynne Jones — CHRESTOMANCIIII. ❤
  • Mixed Magics – Diana Wynne Jones — And Chrestomanci short stories are so fun. XD
  • The Pinhoe Egg – Diana Wynne Jones — MY FAVORITE CHRESTOMANCI BOOOOK. ❤ [REVIEW]
  • Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones — Yes, I read this for the 5th time. I REGRET NOTHING. ❤ Still my top-favorite-book-of-all-time-tied-with-The-Lord-of-the-Rings. 😀
  • Year of the Griffin – Diana Wynne Jones — I loved this SO MUCH MORE on this re-read! :O So enjoyable, and griffiiiiins! ❤
  • Blood Ties – Hazel B. West — Jumped on the chance to re-read this for a readalong! We’re about to start reading An Earthly King next, and I. can’t. wait. 😀 (But alternate-history modern Ireland with cars and swords and Faeries, though. <3) [REVIEW of Blood Ties from Last Year]

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So there you are! I hope you enjoyed this glance at my reading year so far! What’s your favorite book you’ve read in 2017?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer