Five Thoughts on Mardan’s Anointed by Kathrese McKee (Review)

Hey, my fellow pagelings! At long last I return to this little blog to attempt to catch up on some reviews I’m wayyy behind on—so let’s dive right in with a review of a fantasy novel I really enjoyed!

Title: Mardan’s Anointed (Mardan’s Mark, #3)

Author: Kathrese McKee

  • Date read: September 25, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Christian Fantasy / Kingdom Adventure
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 287 (paperback)
  • Series: Mardan’s Mark, #3 (Read my reviews of the other books in the series here.)
  • Fave character: Aldan
  • Source: the author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book as part of the street team, and later won a paperback copy. I was under no obligation to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

 Five thoughts on Mardan’s Anointed

1. Another fabulous book in the Mardan’s Mark series! Book one (Mardan’s Mark) was an adventure quest/survival story, while book two (Mardan’s Heir) was much more of a political-intrigue-around-the-palace sort of story. Mardan’s Anointed (book three) skillfully blends the feel of both books, picking up directly where Mardan’s Heir left off and following the separate paths of Princess Srilani and Aldan. Although I missed having them together, I so enjoyed reading their alternating chapters as they both face challenges in who they’re meant to be, and I loved-loved-loved how it ended up for both of them! (The parallels near the end particularly were stunning.)

2. I’m going to try to talk about this without sharing spoilers if you haven’t read the first two. XD Aldan’s quest in the southern kingdom was epic, and there were some unexpected happenings that left me on the edge of my seat! Exciting quests (for thrones and other things), castle infiltrating, woodland ambushes . . . So much awesomeness going down in this book! Aldan is growing SO much in trying to be worthy, and he’s already awesome, so. 😀 (Also, I remember loving his speech on the beach.) Also, all his loyal guys just make my heart happy.

3. Princess Srilani is stuck kind of trying to temporarily run the northern kingdom and being met with all kinds of opposition, but I love that she keeps going despite all that. I enjoyed reading about her (figurative) journey as she navigates politics etc. And where her story goes at the end! Wow, wow! So cool, though I’m looking forward to where it goes after her, too. (Trying to talk about this without spoilers is so hard. XD) Also, I loved how there were some parallels to certain biblical stories, and that whole mountain bit at the end! Yessss. So very cool!

4. I also liked the other side characters and how their stories are developing—like Prince Jamson coming so far, Princess Maelan getting to do stuff, Aldan’s brothers being epic as per usual, etc. I also have Feelings about Judge Elison. And I kinda feel bad for Greyson so I want more of him in the next book, haha! Plus, Raymon is super awesome, and I love him and Lady Elilan together! And I’m totally still shipping Srilani and Aldan and need book four because of it. XD

5. Like I said, there were some fabulous unexpected twists that are leaving me grinning, and I can’t wait for the fourth (and I believe final) book! (Fortunately, this one didn’t cliffhanger like book two did. Still with things awaiting in the fourth book, though! Eep!) It also reminded me a little of Jill Williamson’s excellent Blood of Kings Trilogy . . . So if you enjoy those or are a fan of Christian Fantasy, you’ll enjoy these! (Essentially Kingdom Adventure since there isn’t really anything magical or fantastical aside from one or two miraculous things?) Overall, I had a marvelous time reading this and just felt happy to be back in this world in the Marst kingdoms with Aldan and Srilani and everyone! So enjoyable!


Read my reviews for the other books in the series so far . . .

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Does this series sound intriguing? And let me know what you’re reading lately in a comment. Thanks for reading! 🙂

Happy Release Day! (Ahab & The Midnight Show)

Just want to give a quick shout-out to two books releasing today which I’m SUPER excited about!

Happy release day to AHAB (a Moby Dick retelling in space) by E.B. Dawson, and THE MIDNIGHT SHOW (a jazz-age Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling) by Sarah Pennington! ❤

I’ve been dying to read a novel-length version of E.B. Dawson’s space Moby Dick story ever since adoring The Voyage of Pequod and other sci-fi stories, and it’s finally here!

And I adore Sarah Pennington’s retellings, plus Twelve Dancing Princesses is my favorite fairy tale, so when I heard about this epic-sounding novella with mystery and fae and the jazz age, I got super excited!

I will hopefully be reviewing both of these books here when I get the chance, but I simply HAD to shriek about them and tell you all to go check them out! 😀

Ahab by E.B. Dawson

After a devastating interstellar war against the machines known as Mechanized Intelligence Cruisers, the Commonwealth is ready to return to normal life.

Captain Ahab is not.

Tired of being paraded around the capital as a war hero, Ahab finally secures a commission to hunt down the last remaining MICs in the outer planets.

He gets more than he bargained for with Moby Dick.

Ahab’s first encounter with the massive white MIC leaves Ahab without a ship and without a leg. Plagued by fever during his recuperation, Ahab becomes convinced that Moby Dick is a threat to the Commonwealth’s newfound peace. But his willingness to do whatever it takes to destroy the MIC leads his best friend and first mate Starbuck to wonder if their captain is in his right mind.

Amazon | Goodreads | Author Website


The Midnight Show by Sarah Pennington

This mystery is the case of his dreams — and her nightmares.

By day, Dayo Temitrope is a swinging singer, an up-and-coming star with a shining career ahead of her. By night, she’s . . . well, she’s not sure, but whatever she does leaves her every morning with sore feet and worn-out shoes. And after six months, she’s had enough.

Enter Bastian Dennell, a private investigator just trying to get by. When Dayo hires him to find out where she goes at night, he’s sure it’s his big break: his chance to establish himself and get the funds to pay off his family’s debt. Plus, he gets to work with his favorite singer, even if she isn’t exactly what he expected. What could be better?

But first he has to solve the case — which means navigating a tangled web of strange dreams, fair folk schemes, and show business. It will take all Bastian’s wits, along with the shining talents of Dayo herself, to figure out the truth before the curtains close for good on Dayo’s career.

A jazz-age-inspired twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses from the author of Blood in the Snow.

Amazon | Goodreads | Author Website


Guys, be sure to check these out! Thanks for reading. ^_^

Songflight Blog Tour!

Greetings, friends of the page!

Work and lack of internet have kept me absent from blogging (and reading) for too long, but today I’m really excited to be spotlighting this book as part of the blogtour!

Songflight by Michelle M. Bruhn is releasing this Friday (August 21) and it sounds amazing!

I’m hoping to post a review here after I read the book — I can’t wait! — but for now, read all about it and check out the other tour stops! ^_^ And how about this cover! :O

About the Book

Songflight (The Dragon Singer Chronicles, book 1)

To end an unjust war, a slayer’s daughter must learn the ways of the dragons and find the confidence to lead despite her speech impediment.

Alísa is the daughter of a slayer chief, born into war against the evil of the dragons. Her speech impediment stole her confidence, and her empathic connection to dragons stole the respect of her clan. But when her growing psychic connection reveals one dragon’s capacity for good, she must choose: stay with her family in comfortable but condemning silence, or follow the dragon claiming to know her true purpose.

Preorder

Preorder Goodies


About the Author

Michelle M. Bruhn is a YA fantasy author whose stories focus on outcasts, hard questions, and hope. She is passionate about seeing through others’ eyes and helping others to do the same, especially through characters with diverse life experiences. She finds joy in understanding others, knows far too much about personality theories, and binge-watches TED Talks on a regular basis. She spends the rest of her free time making and listening to music, walking, reading, and snuggling with her cats.

Links


August 15: 

M.H. Elrich—Author Interview

August 16: 

Rachel A. Greco—Author Interview

Laura A. Grace—Character Interview (Alísa)

August 17: 

H.S.J. Williams—Author Interview

August 18: 

Deborah O’Carroll—Spotlight (you are here!)

August 19 (20 AU): 

Jane Maree—Character Interview (Graydonn)

August 20: 

Olivia Neale—Review

August 21 (RELEASE DAY!):

Claire M. Banschbach—Author Interview


Aaahh, how cool does this book sound? It’s been on my want-to-read list for way too long and I can’t wait to dive in when life slows down a bit! I’m always up for a dragon story — how about you? (Now excuse me while I stare at that cover for the next five hundred years.) Thanks for reading! 🙂

An Echo of the Fae by Jenelle Schmidt (Blog Tour + Review)

Hey everyone! I’m thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for this fabulous new novel by one of my favorite authors! Read on for my review!

Title: An Echo of the Fae

Author: Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

  • Date read: March 27, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: Anyone / Children’s to YA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 262
  • Series: Stands alone
  • Notes: I was a copyeditor for this, but as an unbiased reader I genuinely loved this book and all opinions are completely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsBarnes & NobleAmazonAuthor’s Website

An Echo of the Fae is a stunning new fantasy adventure, featuring selkie and fae mythology deliciously woven together, with a dash of Rapunzel!

I LOVED how this book was full of familiar folklore and fairytale goodness, but with its own twist on all of it. I’ve always felt that selkies should feature in more books, and I loved how that element showed up in this, in surprising ways. Fae stories are also some of my favorites, and the way that features in the book was also delightful — with a dash of the Summer and Winter Courts and all of it! And then we have just a hint of a Rapunzel thread near the middle, which I loved. This mingling of familiar things with new twists made me SO happy!

The characters. THE CHARACTERS! We have a splendid cast in this adventure, all of them so vividly real! I love how nobility still shines through despite their struggles — and I love how they are all true to how they should be, like the array of fae characters are unpredictable and sometimes capricious or terrifying. Just. I can’t describe it but they were all exactly right! Echo is a fabulous heroine, this twelve-year-old girl who’s introverted but has such a steady courageous determination. Malilia the elf is sooo intriguing. Echo’s parents, Gareth and Runa, are fabulous and I adored how they were a big part of the story. And we meet so many others along the way, who I will let you meet yourself, but . . . Eirloch (one of my faves)! Princess Jana! Little Drayeth! The Winter King! (Whoa. He was one of THE most fascinating characters! :O I CAN’T!)

The setting was another favorite thing. I adore this world and I want to go live there! I felt like I walked right through the pages, and I simply loved the gorgeous descriptions — you can FEEL the sea and the mysterious woods and enchanted paths and towers and magical lanterns etc. And delightful fantasy elements, like fae and selkies and dragons and other really cool creatures and characters! The feeling and atmosphere of this book (almost a Celtic feel) and the different lands and the feel of different seasons throughout was just perfect!

The story itself felt like a solid adventurous quest, with a coziness alternating with peril that felt simply perfect for the book — and a smidge of fae court intrigue lurking at the edges. I LOVED the writing, which had this fairytale quality to it and pulled me right into the story. The book stands alone well — though I almost want a sequel simply because there were one or two threads I’d LOVE to follow more, and I want to go back to this world again for more fae and selkie goodness and Eirloch and the owl and the Winter King and all of it!

Overall, An Echo of the Fae captivated me and is definitely a new favorite! I loved being pulled into this enchanting world full of such a striking cast of delightful characters, fantastic beings, heroism, finding light and courage in the darkness, sisters and family and friendship, and dashes of folklore and fairytale that absolutely made my day. It’s a perfectly magnificent new adventure for readers of any age. Don’t miss it!


Some Favorite Quotes

“But I’m not a heroine,” Echo muttered. “I’m just… me.”

***

If the past few days had taught her anything, it was that she much preferred going on adventures when they were contained within the pages of a book.


Tour Schedule

June 21

When the Story Chooses the Author @James Quinlan Meservy

Character Interview with Echo and Jana @Live.Love.Read

June 22

Author interview @Dreams and Dragons

Myths and Folklore that Inspired An Echo of the Fae @Author E.E. Rawls

June 23

How I’ve Been Influenced by Fairy Tales @DJ Edwardson

Review and Author Interview @Smudged Thoughts

June 24

Author Interview @An Independent Will

Book Spotlight @Kyle Robert Shultz

Book Review @Live.Love.Read

Building the Fae Realm @JL Mbewe

June 25

A Peek Into My Writing Process @Lands Uncharted

Book Review/Spotlight @Cathrin Bonham

June 26

Friday 5s @Light and Shadows

Book Spotlight @Caroline Puerto

June 27

Character Interview with Jana @AMReynwood

Book Spotlight @NJWalker

Author Interview @Adventure Awaits

June 28

The Building of Ennis Rosliath @Live.Love.Read

Does the Author Matter? @An Independent Will

June 29

Book Review @ThePageDreamer

Interview with Jana @Dreams and Dragons

Book Review @Christine Smith Author

June 30

Character Interview with the Winter King @Beka Gremikova

Author Interview @Live.Love.Read.


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Well? Does it intrigue you? 😀 Thanks for reading! 🙂

Beast of the Night by E.E. Rawls (Blog Tour + Review)

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to be spotlighting this fairy tale retelling I had the joy of beta-reading — and I’m sharing my mini review for it!

Read on for all the info! 🙂

Also, drop by the author’s blog post that kicked off the tour, to check out an excerpt of the book and the other stops/tour schedule!

About the Book

A one-armed, practical girl. A rude lord hiding a curse. A dark secret with the town’s fate hanging in the balance.

A Beauty and the Beast retelling with an Austrian twist and a new breed of curse.

When Rosen moves to Freudendorf—a secluded town in the Alps—with her dad, he vanishes on her and the debt collectors come to call: taking her into slave labor. As if that wasn’t bad enough, just when all her hopes and dreams for a normal life are ruined, a frail zombie-like butler purchases her: taking her to serve Lord Varick, who currently resides in the forbidden castle near the salt mines, where the Beast of the Night is said to roam.

Varick is handsome, with an attitude that’s the exact opposite. The servants aren’t human, and the castle itself is an ugly wreck. But if Rosen cannot solve the dark secret spreading beneath Freudendorf, and the curse holding Varick’s cold heart, then both they and the town will fall prey to a waiting evil—and worse, even lose their memory of it.

Book Purchase Links

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | GOODREADS

Author Bio

E.E. Rawls is the product of a traveling family, who even lived in Italy for 6 years. She loves exploring the unknown, whether it be in a forest, inside a forgotten castle, or within the pages of a book.

She runs on coffee, cuddly cats and the beauty of nature to keep the story wheels of her mind running, as she writes tales that will both entertain and inspire others, giving them worlds they can explore and become lost within.

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM


Title: Beast of the Night

Author: E.E. Rawls

  • Date read: March 28, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairy Tale Retelling
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 138 (ebook)
  • Source: the author
  • Notes: I beta-read this novella and then received a free e-ARC as part of the blog tour. All opinions are my own.

Beauty and the Beast being one of my favorite fairy tales, I quite enjoyed this unique retelling!

I adored the setting and feeling of this one! It was delightfully autumnal and atmospheric and a smidge gothic/spooky but not in a bad way. The Austrian/Alps (but fantasy!) feeling was delicious, as was the old castle.

I loved the characters! Rosenrot and Lord Varick were wonderful, and the side characters were also intriguing and grew on me throughout the story.

Rosen is a fabulous heroine — I loved her spunk and her lavender hair and how she doesn’t let having only one hand get in the way of her go-get-’em lookout on life.

Lord Varick is the best — so dramatic and sniffy and self-centered at times, but with a great character arc. I loved how he grew in the story — and the twists on the curse and him himself. He was such a different “Beast” character, but I loved that!

I also like that, being a novella, it was a very quick read. Perfect for devouring all at once, as you’ll want to in order to discover the secrets behind the mysteries in this! So many plot twists! :O

I loved the humorous bits and banter (which sometimes made me laugh) and budding romance (awk!). And, again, Varick’s drama was hilarious. XD

It’s a delightful, fun, quirky, quick read. If a twist on Beauty and the Beast and a deliciously autumnal Austrian fairy tale story sounds up your alley, definitely give this one a try!


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Any Beauty and the Beast fans out there? Thanks for reading! 🙂

The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin (Book Review)

(Whoops, had a glitch there when I tried to post this at first. Hopefully this works better!)

Hey! I have a review to share today! (I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post, due to not having internet at home right now, but I’m excited to be able to get a post up for this series finale which I just finished last night!)

Title: The Story Hunter

Author: Lindsay A. Franklin

  • Date read: June 4, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: older YA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 368
  • Series: The Weaver Trilogy, #3 (Book 1: The Story Peddler — my review. Book 2: The Story Raider — my review.)
  • Fave character: Kharn
  • Source: Amazon
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

What a majestic conclusion to this fantasy trilogy! I’m not sure quite what I expected, but I quite enjoyed THE STORY HUNTER, for the most part!

It was somehow cozy and familiar to be back in this world for the finale of this series, even with my near-panicked uncertainty of AAHH WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN? (You know, like coming into watching Endgame for the first time. XD) I was so curious to find out what was going to happen to these characters — after waiting all this time for the last book to release — and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would!

Which . . . sounds wrong, when I put it that way. But I was bracing myself for a lot more darkness and sadness, on par with the second book, and was pleasantly surprised with how things wrapped up. Don’t get me wrong — this book is definitely somewhat dark and grim, in some ways more than book two (although book two had all the middle-book-darkness-without-any-victory-to-offset-it feel which is, I suppose, why I enjoyed this one more). The stakes also ramped up a bit for the finale, and there were one or two darker parts that weren’t my favorite. But there was also much hope and light sprinkled in, a lot of triumph and unexpected twists, and even a proper eucatastrophe moment, to use Tolkien’s word. So I guess I would say it balanced itself out.

There’s heartache and loss but also love and light, and it wrapped up everything in a mostly-satisfying way and made me pretty happy. ^_^ It did give me all the feels (laughing at banter, shedding a tear or two but in a good way at the beautiful legacies left behind) but it didn’t tear my heart out like I was afraid it would, and overall, by the end, it left me . . . uplifted. Which is something that’s good to feel at the end of a series. 🙂

I quite enjoy the unique world and it just felt cozy to be back in it, like I said. It’s colorful and unique, even shrouded in the darkness that’s fallen across it as of book two. All the caverns and strands were particularly cool! And I loved following the large cast of characters — all well juggled, although I wanted more of Kharn but I suppose under the circumstances that wouldn’t have worked out so well. XD

I’m not mentioning everyone by name because I don’t want to give anything away (awk, trying to write book three reviews without spoilers is hard!) but I will say I was glad to see how several of the characters’ arcs ended, and some of them make me smile. I also loved the beautiful tribute near the end to those lost along their journey, which made those sad parts a little more worth it, somehow.

There were one or two things and/or character actions that seemed to come totally out of the blue and left me kind of bewildered and going “wait, what?”, but I rolled with it and things turned out better than I expected in some cases, so I’m cool with it, mostly. XD (And to be fair, it could just be the fact that I read the previous book a year ago, and the first book two years ago, and I may have just missed certain connections or not remembered seeing things before — like Celyn, who I’m not complaining about AT ALL but had no memory of meeting before.) And, again, a couple of the darker parts I wasn’t fond of, but there you are.

Still, on the whole, I absolutely LOVED how it drew so many elements from the previous two books and wove them together, all the strands weaving into a beautiful, if sometimes scary, tapestry. Everything connected for the finale, in a swirling crescendo of color and characters — I absolutely loved how everything came together for the end! It made me so happy. The adventure definitely kept me on the edge of my seat, worried for everyone at every step, not able to put the book down and reading until midnight to finish.

Overall, I’m so glad I finally got to read the end of this saga, and while there were a few stumbles along the way (and I don’t really recommend the second and third books to younger or sensitive readers), it’s still been quite a journey — an often-fun one, with laughter and tears and a reminder of the good and the light in the world, even amidst the darkness.

Because the light wins and “winter will not last forever.” A magnificent, fitting end to the Weaver Trilogy. ^_^


More reviews!

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Have you read any in this series? Thanks for reading! 🙂