Tag Archive | #AmReading

Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2018!

It’s time for the top reads of 2018! My favorite books I read, plus some runners-up, and for fun, my top couple of nonfiction and re-reads. So let’s get to it!

But first, a few stats, because stats are fun. 😉

Goodreads claims that I read 123 books in 2018.

“Panic ye not, Grant,” in the words of my favorite Chrestomanci; many of those were short. 😉

(Brought to you by my love of spreadsheets) I read:

  • 42 new-to-me novels
  • 12 new novellas/novelettes
  • 14 re-reads
  • 30+ individual short stories
  • 4 anthologies
  • 10 nonfiction books
  • 11 picture books
  • 3 beta-reads (which don’t count on the Goodreads total . . .)

If you’re curious to see them all, you can find them here on Goodreads.

Oh, and . . . visual representation of lots of the books I read last year. 😉

Books I read in 2018 (exactly 52 physical books! Perfect) which aren’t ebooks or borrowed from libraries/friends.

TOP 15 BOOKS OF 2018

I’m terribly indecisive about actually listing favorite books in order of favorite-ness, so these are not precisely in order, although the top-ish ones are slightly more beloved. But all of these top-15 are the most splendid books I read all year and they’re all delightful. (The top 4-ish kept wanting to trade places so . . . they’re probably my favorites overall?)

1. The Electrical Menagerie (Mollie E. Reeder)

Carthage and Huxley! ❤ An introverted illusionist and his smooth-talking young manager. Floating Isles and trains run by stardust. A murder mystery, sabotage, and a plot against the throne. An electrical butler. And most of all, some of the best banter and writing I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading! It’s so absolutely magnificent and Carthage and Huxley are my favorites! ❤ ACK. I JUST LOVE IT.

[Review]

2. Echo North (Joanna Ruth Meyer)

East of the Sun, West of the Moon. A white wolf. A scarred girl. An exuberant young man. A house with mirrors which are like books that you can step into and live their stories. Hal and the Wolf and Echo are such delightful characters and the imagination and writing left me positively pen-slain. A dash of Beauty and the Beast and Tam Lin only made it more perfect. ❤ I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

[Review]

3. Lady Moon (Rachel Starr Thomson)

I loved Lady Moon so much that I immediately re-read it aloud to my siblings. A whimsical original fairytale. A princess who we first meet languishing beautifully on the moon. A nefarious uncle. An absolutely un-pigeon-hole-able Immortal by the name of Tomas who is procrastinating his destiny (I need his clocktower to live in). And other delightful characters such as the Revolution (XD) and Winnie the wombat. I JUST CAN’T. This book is so, so fantastic and I adore it. ❤

4. Masque (W.R. Gingell)

Beauty and the Beast. A murder mystery. A delightful, funny style perfect for fans of Wodehouse, Heyer, or Diana Wynne Jones. I loved Isabella — she had such spirit! — and of course mysterous Lord Pecus. And I also loved the Horse Lords. XD Also, the book that answered questions was like a character itself, and the magical communication and hand-mirror and so on were so cool. And it was just so GORGEOUS. So many shenanigans and such humor and fun! ❤ (There’s a bit of gore due to the murders so it’s not for the squeamish but otherwise it’s perfectly delightful!)

5. Falling Snow (Skye Hoffert) — in Five Poisoned Apples

Snow White. A twist on the Huntsman and Prince characters that you’ll never see coming. A dark Faerie circus. Peril and darkness and beauty. Fire and snow. Deception and innocence. Chayse was such an awesome character and I loved him! Cynfael was so fascinating. And the writing is incredible. ❤

[Review]

6. Minstrel’s Call (Jenelle Leanne Schmidt)

The epic conclusion to the Minstrel’s Song series that began with King’s Warrior! Quests and favorite characters galore, twists and adventure, dragons, prophecies . . . It has everything. Brant and Kiernan Kane are the absolute BEST. I JUST LOVE THEM SO MUCH. And there were some twists and just — my mind was blown by all the epicness and it was a perfectly satisfactory conclusion. ❤

[Review]

7. Sage (Jamie Foley)

HELP. I can’t talk much about this because of the absolute stacks of spoilers involved . . . But there’s arena fights and characters on wings, fantastical super-powers and futuristic technology in a fantasy world, and it’s all so absolutely INTENSE. Jet is my favorite. So is another character who shall remain nameless but WOW. I was so impressed by said character’s story-arc! Just so, so good. It’s like a fantasy thriller and I probably didn’t breathe for all 300+ pages. XD

[Review]

8. Song of Leira (Gillian Bronte Adams)

Wow. Just — wow. A griffin. A small girl with a big Song. The saif which is on the cover (I need one to ride!). Beloved characters including plucky Ky, gruff Amos, and Cade who I particularly like. All the characters come SO far and go through SO much but there’s beauty too. The ending stuff was so absolutely epic that I simply can’t even. ❤

[Review]

9. The Return of Beaumont and Beasley (Kyle Robert Shultz)

Two novellas. Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dragon archaelogist Malcolm Blackfire and reformed jewel-thief Melody Nightingale make a perfect (and hilarious) pair! (But seriously though, Malcolm!) A canine curse. Beast-ly Nick Beasley and our favorite Crispin Beasley pair up as detectives in alternate 1920s London, and their banter and brotherly interactions and all the humor and shenanigans make my day! Absolutely hilarious. XD (Crispiiiin!)

(Originally published as The Janus Elixir and The Hound of Duville. They were then bundled together and now make Beaumont and Beasley book 4, right after The Stroke of Eleven.)

10. Horseman (Kyle Robert Shultz)

Yes, I’m putting both of these on the list because I wanted to put one on and then couldn’t pick which. *cough*

The magical wild west. Part-time centaur con-man, Todd Crane. The Legend of Sleepy-Hollow like you’ve never seen it before. No-nonsense Marshall Amy Crocket. Plus Julio the Spanish dragon and Meg the sweet Gorgon teenager. And a dash of time-travel. So many shenanigans and adventures! It’s hilarious, and Todd is my favorite.

(Also, I edited this book, which means I read it . . . three times . . . so I got rather fond of it. Plus it’s sort of dedicated to me, so it’s kinda special.)

11. Blood in the Snow (Sarah Pennington)

Snow White. The Goose Girl. Asian-inspired fantasy. Gorgeously told. Awesome and super-fascinating magical system featuring wind and water. A great heroine and prince, and fantastic side-characters who I simply loved! (Like, talk about great “seven dwarves.”) Because Gan and Chouko are fabulous. And so are Baili and Xiang. SO complex and well-written, and fits everything together so well. I just love it! ❤

[Review]

12. The Last Motley (DJ Edwardson)

A simple tailor. A many-colored boy. Mysterious magic. Sinister shadows. A quest to a far-off island. I LOVED how this felt like an instant fantasy classic. It reminded me of Lloyd Alexander or Tolkien. Roderick the tailor is such a simply good hero, Jacob the Motley is precious, and Nagan is absolutely hilarious and my favorite. XD The Gitanos are so intriguing too, and we can’t forget Portia. I loved this colorful, rich fantasy. ❤

[Review]

13. Mark of the Raven (Morgan L. Busse)

A dreamwalking heroine. Assassins. Fantastic abilities like manipulating water. Wyverns. A young woman trapped by the darkness of her mother and her people’s past. A young visiting nobleman — who she’s supposed to kill. It’s all VERY EXCITING. Selene and especially Damien make great characters. ❤ (And Lady Bryren and the wyvern riders!) It was really gorgeous and gripping and just a solid epic fantasy.

[Review]

14. A Matter of Magic (Patricia C. Wrede)

This is ever-so-slightly cheating . . . because it’s actually two books in one and I’m kind of taking them as a whole, even though I read the second one first, and that was on my favorite list last year, but I’m sort of using it again? The first one was fun but I loved the second one more and . . . anyway, I’m mostly just calling the whole collection my “favorite” of this year. Regency fantasy. A young magician gentleman. A street thief girl who becomes his ward. Shenanigans and humor and magical adventures. I just really enjoyed it. 🙂 And it works best as one book.

[Review of the second half, which I read first.]

15. The Ruins of Gorlan (John Flanagan)

The first Ranger’s Apprentice book unexpectedly stole my heart. Total classic fantasy but fresh, too. Halt the Ranger is my FAVE. He’s the best and I love his dry humor. XD And of course we like Will. I just really identified with this book and Will’s journey and wanted to be a Ranger, naturally. 😉 It was just really refreshing and plain fun! (And Halt!)

[Review]


9 RUNNERS UP THAT MAKE ME HAPPY

The above list was SO hard to make because I read so many spectacular books this year! But those were the most absolutely spectacular ones.

But I still wanted to talk about some others! So off the top of my head I’m tossing in a runner-up list of a few that were just so much fun — even if they don’t quite fit on the list, or there was something about them that made them not quite a favorite, I still really loved some element of them, so I have to mention them too. 😉

I know there’s only 5 in this picture. I can count, I promise . . .

  1. Common by Laurie Lucking — I loved the FEEL of this one and just . . . it’s so absolutely sweet (but also exciting at times) and it makes me so happy! ❤
  2. Healers and Warriors by Daley Downing — This modern fantasy series just kinda makes me happy and there was a lot of epicness and fun and fabulous characters and so many thiiings going down.
  3. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen — I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading this. All the snark that is Sage. XD I did guess the twist but I don’t mind because it’s awesome.
  4. Lightporter by C.B. Cook — Because BLAZE. He’s my fave. Anvil, too. 😉 It’s just such a fun YA superhero book and I adored it.
  5. Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn — Sci-fi isn’t usually my genre, but this was such a fun book! It’s a heist story featuring Han Solo, Chewie, Lando, and others, by the best Star Wars author, and I just loved it. XD

Not pictured above because I don’t own physical copies but still make me happy:

  1. A Royal Masquerade by Allison Tebo — Because Burndee and Prince Colin bickering are HILARIOUS and the absolute best. (And the skunk. XD)
  2. The Worth of a King by Kendra E. Ardnek — Because Delaney and Granite and the winged horses and the Zovordians.
  3. The Game by Diana Wynne Jones — The whole idea and the mythosphere and all the story bits were brilliant. I wish it had been longer than a novella because it was so fascinating.
  4. The Stealthmaster’s Shadow by Hope Ann — Just because I can’t stop thinking about how fabulous Verus and his snark is. XD

(So . . . that’s sort of 24 books? I REGRET NOTHING.)


OTHER STUFF: Non-Fiction + Re-Reads

Top 2 Non-Fiction Reads

  • Tolkien: A Celebration — This one is here because of a stellar essay by Stephen R. Lawhead. I read the entire collection this year, but this essay is still one of my favorites of all time, and anyone who is a writer (particularly of fantasy) needs to read it!
  • Punctuation 101 by Jill Williamson — Speaking of writers . . . Everyone needs this one, too! 😉 I had the chance to help beta-read/proofread this little book and I absolutely loved it! PUNCTUATION 101 is practical, succinct, fun, and easy to read. I zoomed right through it! I learned a few things, and I think it will be a very helpful book to refer to in the future. 🙂

Top 2 Re-Reads

  • The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz — I’ve now read this four times and I still absolutely adore it and want to re-read it again. XD It’s hilarious and brilliant, and the characters, fairytale things, and humor, just . . . they get me every time! (Nick and Crispin and Cordelia are the absolute best!) You can read my original review here.
  • The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones — The absolute brilliance of time-travel in a fantasy world and all the characters I love and the twists and EVERYTHING. (Mitt and Navis, though!) I even forgot some of the twists from the first time I read it, so I got to re-experience some of them, which was awesome. DWJ is the only author who can do this to me. XD SO glad I finally re-read this series! (This is book 4, and it’s totally worth making it through the first three for this one. ❤ )

(Missing Masque and Five Poisoned Apples for Falling Snow in this pic because I tragically don’t own paperbacks of those two.)

So there you are! Various of the best books I read in 2018! (You can also check out my top 15 (ish) short stories of last year if you missed that, and my 2018 End-of-Year Book-Freakout Tag.)

What was your favorite book (or several) you read last year? And have you read any of these? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Also! Expect an epic recap of my writing news of 2018 along with goals ‘n’ stuff, over on my other blog, very soon!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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2019 Bookish Resolutions + January Nightstand/News!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Today I’ve got a list of 10 of my bookish goals for the new year, plus new books releasing this month, what I’m reading, and other bookish news like free books! Shall we dive in?

Tolkien’s Birthday!

First order of business! Today (January 3) is J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday, so I simply have to say: happy birthday to the Professor! He was born 127 years ago and changed the world of fantasy fiction forever. ❤

I’m hoping to dive into starting The Fall of Gondolin (Christmas present!) and The Book of Lost Tales today to celebrate. 😀

10(ish) Bookish Resolutions/Goals/Dreams

No idea how these will go (last year’s were . . . something of a hit-or-miss), but at least I’ll have something to try, yes?

  1. Catch up on review books and reviews and then stay on top of them (hehehe).
  2. Work through the History of Middle-earth series (and some other Tolkien).
  3. Catch up on a couple of other series (like the Ilyon Chronicles) which I hope to do by reading one per month.
  4. Read the books I’ve won in giveaways.
  5. Read more by Diana Wynne Jones, Lawhead, and Heyer.
  6. Read more Steampunk (research!).
  7. Some non-fiction (mostly writing-related).
  8. Try audiobooks more often! Incorporating it with my exercise plan. (I may talk about that another day.)
  9. Read more things I really want to read, not just that I “should.” (This is harder than you might think for me. *cough*)
  10. Remember that reading is fun and try not to stress about it. (Which should go without saying, but it doesn’t. :P)

JANUARY RELEASES

  • In the Shadow of Croft Towers – Abigail Wilson (Jan. 15, Thomas Nelson) — I just stumbled across this one and it’s a regency mystery that sounds super exciting. I need it in my life.
  • Echo North – Joanna Ruth Meyer (Jan. 15, Page Street) — If you missed it, I just reviewed this and am offering a giveaway for an ARC paperback copy (open through Jan. 6) so check that out! You absolutely MUST READ THIS BOOK! It’s one of my top favorites in a looong time and I adore it. ❤
  • Black Blood – S.D. Grimm (Jan. 29, Enclave) — I haven’t read the first two books in this series (I know! I’m behind!) but I have it on good authority there are cliffhangers, so obviously it’s actually a good plan of mine to wait until this releases. 😉 *cough*
  • Shadowkeeper – Hope Ann (Jan. 25, Writing in the Light Publishing) — This is a Hades and Persephone, Castor and Pollux novella retelling and sounds intriguing.
  • Retreat – Sarah Addison-Fox (Jan. 26, Double Edged Sword Publishing) — This is the second Stormers book (I reviewed book 1, Retrieve), and I need this one because cliffhangers! :O
  • Illuminate – Sarah Addison-Fox (Jan. 9, Double Edged Sword Publishing) — And a magical NA fantasy from this prolific author!

Not Pictured

  • The Road to Bremen – Kelsey Bryant — I beta-read this one and IT’S PRECIOUS. It should be coming out in the next month or so. 🙂 I’ll be sharing more about it, so stay tuned!
  • I hear that W.R. Gingell has a third City Between book, which obviously means I must get on reading the first two books ASAP. XD (I loved Masque, so I’m determined to read more from this author!)

FREE STUFF/OTHER JANUARY NEWS

Mirrors and Pearls — Free!

Mirrors and Pearls by Lea Doue is free on Amazon through today only (Jan 3) and is the Fellowship of Fantasy book of the month for January! (For those who don’t know, that’s my favorite bookclub and you should totally join if you’re on Facebook and like fantasy.)

This is actually my first read of 2019! (The only one I’ve finished so far. XD) I read it on New Year’s Day and it’s a charming novella-length retelling of Snow White — with dragons! Check out my mini-review on Goodreads.

Second Son — Free! + Readalong

Jenelle Schmidt is hosting a readalong of her awesome fantasy book Second Son, and it’s free on Amazon through January 5, so grab yourself a copy!

I read this one a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it, so I’m excited to join in on the readalong. I plan to read it aloud to my younger siblings. It’s going to be epic. 😀

(Also, some might think it’s the second book in the series, but it’s a prequel so chronologically it’s FIRST. So you can read it first without having read King’s Warrior. If you’re curious about them, you can read my reviews for both.)

Check out the readalong info HERE!

February Fantasy Month

Speaking of fantasy awesomeness and Jenelle . . . She’s once again heading up February Fantasy month, so if you want in on this awesome bloggish event, she has a sign-up form on her blog if you’d like to join!

Giveaway + Blogiversary

I’ve mentioned it already but I’m going to again! 😉 I just celebrated my third blogiversary on this blog (yay!) and I’m kind of excited so I’m giving away an ARC of Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer, one of my top 15 reads of 2019! (I’ll share all of them soon.) So go enter that! (Open through Jan. 6.)

MY JANUARY NIGHTSTAND

There are quite a few other books I’d like to read this month (aahh! So much to read! So little time!) but we’ll see how much my over-ambitious reader self can tackle. 😉 Anyway! Here are some I’m reading/hope to read this month! And I also have a handful of ebooks for review that I’m working through. And I’ll probably read some other random things because I’m terrible at predicting my reading. XD

(If you’d like to join in on Nightstand Books, you can do so here.)

MY READING NEWS

December Reads

  • When Santa Fell to Earth — Adorable!
  • The Spellcoats & The Crown of Dalemark — Rereads. ❤
  • Once Upon a December & Someday at Christmas — Fantastic short stories from Kyle Robert Shultz.
  • Dragon Lyric and Threadbare — Intriguing short stories; the former was too dark for me and the second wasn’t my usual genre, so neither were my favorite, but they were well-written/thrilling.
  • Kate’s Conundrum — Another fun FBI mystery with some fave characters! ❤ (Mini review on Goodreads.)
  • The Villain Who Saved Christmas — PRECIOUS. (My review.)
  • Retrieve — So exciting! (My review.)
  • Fawkes — Kinda disappointed me; not my thing. *cough* Review to come.
  • Echo North — THE BEST EVER. ❤ ❤ ❤ (My Review.)

For more info on these, you can find them at the top of my 2018 Reading Challenge on Goodreads!

December book haul

I got a lot of books last month. XD

  • Got for myself: A new Chicago Manual of Style, because editing, and The Seven Drawers by Kendra E. Ardnek.
  • GIVEN: Afterverse books I edited, & Emmeline for helping with the Vintage Jane Austen website. (Thanks to Kyle Shultz and Sarah Holman!)
  • WON: Fellowship of Fantasy anthology I can’t wait to finish and A Touch of Gold. (Thanks to H.L. Burke and Michele Israel Harper.)
  • ARC: Echo North (with thanks to the publisher).
  • CHRISTMAS: The Fall of Gondolin by Tolkien (yessss), C.S. Lewis On Stories, A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones, and one I already read and loved: Blood in the Snow by Sarah Pennington! ❤

I talk a lot about my bookish shenanigans over on my Instagram, so if you’re not following me on there you can check it out. 🙂

Okay! There’s the bookish news of the month. I hope it was enjoyable and/or helpful! Do you have any bookish resolutions or books you’re excited about? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading! 🙂

End-of-Year Book Freakout Tag 2018! (fave characters and other bookish madness)

I’m stealing this from the ever-fabulous Sarah @ Dreams and Dragons, and I’m tweaking some of the questions from “in the second half of the year” to just the year in general, given that I didn’t do one of these for the first half. XD

(Also, I was going to link to the books, but given how many of them I reference in this post, that sounds exhausting. So I will point you in the direction of this list of things I read in 2018, where you can find most of the books. And if I do links to books in the post, it will be to reviews I wrote. :))

1. Best book you’ve read in 2018

I will be doing a top 15 reads of 2018 post soon! (Once I put together my reading lists and make difficult life decisions like what I loved most. Being a bookworm is haaard.)

But off the top of my head I’m going to say . . . Echo North (which I JUST finished!) and The Electrical Menagerie and Lady Moon. ALL SO GOOD. ❤ ❤ ❤ There will be others in my upcoming post!

2. Best sequel you’ve read in 2018

Minstrel’s Call, Sage, and Song of Leira. I HAVE SO MANY FEELS. I LOVE THEM ALL. They were all actually CONCLUSIONS to series and absoluly blew me away and just… my heart! ❤

3. New release you haven’t read yet but want to

So many! But I think I’ll go with the first Green Princess book which I STILL haven’t read. And Rothana (because Halayda was amazing) and I’m sooo excited to get my copy in the mail sometime. 😀 *curls up on mailbox in the form of a small dragon and waits*

4. Most anticipated release for next year

I have a few, but Flight of the Raven is up there on the list!

Also The Mountain Baron because I beta-read it and it’s awesome!

5. Biggest disappointment

Maybe Fawkes? It just wasn’t my favorite and now I feel bad and have no idea how to review it but it’s a review book and this is all really awkward… (Or should I say fawkward?)

6. Biggest surprise

Hmm. I don’t know if there were any huge surprises? I guess I’ll just go with how surprised I was at how much I adored the first Ranger’s Apprentice, which I talked all about here.

7. Favorite new-to-you author

So many, but I’ll pick three: W.R. Gingell, Mollie E. Reeder, and Joanna Ruth Meyer! I’m going to read all of their things. ❤ (People, go add Masque, The Electrical Menagerie, and Echo North to your TBR right now.)

8. Newest fictional crush/ship

Let’s go with ships, shall we? *cough*

SO MANY. In no particular order:

  • Malcolm and Melody (The Return of Beaumont and Beasley)
  • SPOILERS from Sage
  • Kate and Patrick from the Kate’s Case Files books (I read Kate’s Dilemma and Kate’s Conundrum this year)
  • Gan and Chouko (Blood in the Snow)
  • Tomas and Celine (Lady Moon)
  • Damien and Selena (Mark of the Raven)
  • Isabella and Lord Pecus (Masque)
  • Hal and Echo (Echo North)

9. Newest favorite character(s)

DO YOU WANT TO BE HERE ALL DAY? *cough* For a start:

  • Jayden and Dana (various short stories by Arthur Daigle! I NEED these to be a novel so I can share about them to EVERYONE. BECAUSE THEY’RE MY FAVORITE THING.)
  • Halt (Ranger’s Apprentice)
  • Tomas (Lady Moon)
  • The Horse Lords (Masque)
  • Todd Crane (Horseman)
  • Carthage and Huxley and Dominic (The Electrical Menagerie)
  • Damien (Mark of the Raven)
  • Chayse (Falling Snow)
  • and last but far from least, Hal (Echo North)

And characters who aren’t exactly NEW, since I’ve met them before, but I want to include anyway:

I HAVE A LOT OF FAVORITE CHARACTERS, OKAY. ❤

10. A book that made you cry

Song of Leira! You KNOW what part it was if you’ve read it. My feeeeels.

11. A book that made you happy

Oh, so many! But since I’ve already mentioned some in my “favorites” I’ll avoid repeating myself, and I’ll say Common. It just . . . made me happy. ^_^

12. Favorite book to film adaptation you’ve seen this year

I suddenly can’t remember the movies I watched this year. XD I did just see Mortal Engines at the theater and thought it was LOADS OF FUN (go see it) but I haven’t read the book . . . *shame*

I was just watching some episodes of The Return of Sherlock Holmes featuring Jeremy Brett, who I hadn’t watched before, and a couple of those were good adaptions.

We’ll go with those two because they were this month and who even remembers the rest of the year? 😛 (Hint: Not me.)

13. Favorite post(s) you’ve done this year

These are just a few, for this blog… I haven’t checked my other blog for favorites yet. XD

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought/received this year

Oh, man. I feel like there have been so many gorgeous ones! For now I think I’ll go with two I got for Christmas: Blood in the Snow and The Fall of Gondolin (with epic illustrations!!).

15. Any other books you want to babble about for any other reason?

Ohhh, yes. *rubs hands gleefully together* How about a random collection of books that I enjoyed for various reasons (some of which are different than my usual genres so might not make it to my top-books post but we’ll see). And some re-reads and beta-reads.

  • Scoundrels was a super-fun sci-fi heist featuring Han Solo (set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back), and it’s by Timothy Zahn so I knew I’d like it, but it was just totally awesome! (They should have made it a movie instead of Solo. XD)
  • Dear Mr. Knightley is a contemporary and I had no idea I’d like it as much as I did because it’s totally not my thing, but I loved it.
  • Trial by Song was a modern scary-fairy Jack and the Beanstalk retelling with a smidge of Snow White set in winter and was SO INTENSE. O_O
  • Healers and Warriors was an awesome continuation of a modern fantasy series that makes me happy, and I loved the twists and characters and… I gotta say, the villain was so creepy and well-written!
  • The False Prince and The Stealthmaster’s Shadow had really snarky main characters who told the stories, which gave me life!
  • Lightporter and RotoVegas are both really fun YA superhero novels, and just… can we talk about how it’s cool that this is a thing?

I also re-read all the Beaumont and Beasley books that came out last year (because I’m now the Editor of the Afterverse), which was LOADS of fun. (The Return of Beaumont and Beasle and Horseman came out this year, so those were new reads.)

I re-read the Dalemark Quartet by Diana Wynne Jones, which was a highlight because I’ve been meaning to do that for ages, and The Crown of Dalemark is still one of my top fave DWJ books.

I beta-read three INCREDIBLE books which have yet to be published:

  • The Road to Bremen by Kelsey Bryant (releasing in January! I can’t wait to see the cover and illustrations!)
  • The Brightest Thread by Tracey Dyck (which I hope will be published someday sooon because it was a stellar Sleeping Beauty novel featuring dreams and Prince Hadrian who is My Fave)
  • The Mountain Baron by C. M. Banschbach (releasing summer 2019 and featuring Rhys, my smol floof of anger management issues, and lots of clannishness and outlaws and feels).

I just had to give a shout-out about these!

Okay! I will stop babbling before I end up talking about every book I read this year. XD

What’s your favorite book you read in 2018? Did you have a good reading year? (Mine was fabulous!) And do you have any bookish resolutions for 2019?

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for more bookish posts in the new year. 🙂

Happy New Year, my pagelings!

Retrieve by Sarah Addison-Fox

I’m joining in on the blog-tour for Sarah Addison-Fox’s latest book, the first in her new Stormers series!

Title: Retrieve (The Stormers Trilogy, #1)

Author: Sarah Addison-Fox

  • Date read: December 23, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Kingdom Adventure?
  • Age: YA (slightly gritty)
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 170 (Kindle)
  • Series: The Stormers Trilogy, #1
  • Fave character: Kade!
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received an e-ARC from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

WHAT. AAHH. There was a HUGE plot-twist near the end that had me gobsmacked, staring at my screen, and then that cliffhanger! I need to know what’s going oooon! Book 2, I need you ASAP. *collapses*

Ahem. I’m getting ahead of myself. 😛

This is a super enjoyable fantasy/kingdom-adventure type story, with a hint of Mulan and just a smidge of Prince of Persia. Our heroine, Hadley, pretends to be a boy and joins up with our hero, Kade, who has been sent as one of the Stormers—a sort of secret special missions group—to rescue a princess from a hostile nation.

I liked Hadley and how the POV switched back and forth between her and Kade so we could see how they were reacting all the time. She’s tough and determined at times, which I loved, but I also appreciated how she was still very much a young woman lost in this rough world, and how it’s okay if she needs to cry or wish for a bath or want to wear a dress and be feminine, without in any way detracting from her grit and determination. It was just cool, okay?

Kade was pretty awesome and you can’t help but like his stubbornness and how he just keeps going, and how he doesn’t let anything stop him—and sometimes his thick shell cracks a little and he’s nice to Hadley in his brusque way and she doesn’t realize it. XD He’s so dedicated to his mission and always looking out for those he loves, in his own way. Kade’s the best!

These two were so fun to read about on their journey together, and their relationship from not trusting each other and arguing all the time turns into something more and they learn to work with each other—ish. I love them and totally ship them and need to see where their story goes. 😀

It’s very exciting and there’s a lot of traveling in deserts and through either ghost-towns (plague, yay) or a colorful market town in enemy territory, with ambushes and fights and arrows and knives and sneaking around and climbing walls and ALL the survival. The writing sometimes made me wish it had been edited one more time (though I did read an ARC, which means it wasn’t the final version) but it’s very punchy writing and could just be the style—and like I said, was very exciting!

The world was cool and I’m curious to learn more about the countries and what’s going on. The semi-desert-y setting for a lot of it was unique and neat, and I loved how the mysterious Numachi people and their culture kept us on our toes. So intense!

It could get a little brutal sometimes and there’s a little language and the usual awkwardness connected with a gal trying to pretend to be a boy for part of the book. So if any of that bothers you, it might not be your cup of tea. But it’s much tamer than, say, Six of Crows, and it’s a really good book and so exciting and I enjoyed it a ton! ^_^

And like I said, there was this enormous plot twist that I totally didn’t see coming and turned everything on its head and just alkdljk! That was pretty awesome. 😀 It was a solid four-star read but that twist totally made me bump it up to a five-star because I was impressed. XD (Plus I just love Kade and Hadley. *cough*)

Butbutbut I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. It’s not, like, a horrible cliffhanger, but it definitely left me wondering what on earth is going on and where things are going to go next! :O

If you need me I’ll just be over here watching the calendar until the release date of the sequel, because I love these characters and need to know what happenssss. O_O


About Retrieve

Retrieve (The Stormers Trilogy #1)

By Sarah Addison-Fox

What if the job you took to stay alive might be what kills you?

Kade knows what it is to suffer. He knows what it’s like to lose everything and everyone around him.

His job in a Stormer Unit guarantees not just his survival in the decimated country of Azetaria, but his sister Meg’s. Even if it means facing the Numachi warriors baying for his blood, he’ll do what it takes to keep her safe.

Hadley is alone and surviving the only way she knows how. By hiding where predators won’t find her and scavenging enough just to keep her alive.

When desperation drives Hadley to search for her missing brother, she mistakenly accepts the offer of recruitment into the Stormer’s camp, only to be partnered with Kade and sent as a scout into Numachi territory.

The intimidating young Stormer may just know where her brother has gone. But can they stay alive long enough to find him?


Find the book:

Goodreads

Amazon


Find the Author Online:

Facebook

Instagram

Website

Twitter: @saddisonfox

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Blog:


Blog Tour

You can check out all the stops on the blog tour HERE!


GIVEAWAY

The author is giving away this FANTASTIC pack of epic things, so make sure you go enter HERE!


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Thanks for reading! 🙂

The Villain Who Saved Christmas by C.B. Cook (Short Story Review)

Merry Christmas Eve, my pagelings!

I’m so excited to share about a short story releasing TODAY about a supervillain and Christmas. What is not to love? (It’s also only 99 cents, so. ;))

Review below!

FREE BOOK: Also, Twinepathy, the first book in C.B.’s superhero series, is free on Kindle December 24-28, so make sure to get yourself a copy if you haven’t yet! (It’s super fun, no pun intended — you can read my review here.)


Title: The Villain Who Saved Christmas

Author: C.B. Cook

  • Date read: December 19, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Superhero / Short Story / Christmas
  • Age: Any
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 15 (ebook)
  • Series: No
  • Fave character: Scott
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I was given a free e-ARC of this short story by the author and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Aww! That was so much fun! ^_^ The Villain Who Saved Christmas is an utterly charming Christmas short story featuring superheroes. IT’S PRECIOUS AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH. ❤ *hugs story forever*

Two children hoping for a white Christmas for their little sister who thinks it will be her last Christmas decide to track down a supervillain with ice powers to see if he can help.

I loved the Christmas setting and the superhero, Reflex, and supervillain, Hypothermia—and how they have their own histories and stories going on that we get a glimpse of in this little tale. I liked both of them a lot, which made it interesting to read because you’re kind of rooting for both sides. 😀

My favorite character was Scott—what a great name for a supervillain. XD His parts were so fun and cool—no pun intended. Okay, fine, pun intended. 😛 (The ice cream!) You’ll just have to read it to find out if an (admittedly minor) supervillain’s heart can melt enough to help some kids. 😉

It’s really hard to talk much about such a short story without giving anything away, but it was well-written and funny and there were also feels. I loved the conclusion and the unexpected wrapup bit at the end!

It’s an adorable, super quick read, and just the thing for superhero fans to read for Christmas!


About

This may be Becca’s last Christmas, and all she wants is a white Christmas. But with no snow in the forecast, her brother and sister know that might not happen… until they get the idea to track down supervillain Hypothermia for help. With his ice powers, he could create a white Christmas for their sister. There’s only one problem—they have to find him first. Can they discover where Hypothermia is hiding and convince him to make it snow?


Thanks for reading! 🙂 MERRY CHRISTMAS! ❤


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In Bookish News! (December 2018)

I can’t believe it’s December already! Where does time go, my dear pagelings?? (And, more importantly, where did NaNo go? o.o)

But here we are and it’s time for another roundup of new and exciting bookish releases and news!

DECEMBER RELEASES

(All titles link to Goodreads.)

  • Five Poisoned Apples – various authors — I shared my review for the first novella in this collection, Falling Snow by Skye Hoffert. I LOVED IT SO MUCH. Pretty sure I need to re-read it soon. I look forward to reading the others in the collection as well but haven’t had time yet.
  • Pirate’s Wager (Mardan’s Mark, #0.5) – Kathrese McKee — A super intriguing fantasy (bordering on Kingdom Adventure?) piratey novella! This one just came out, and I really enjoyed it! I need to catch up on the rest of the Mardan’s Mark series. 🙂
  • Bitter Winter (Ilyon Chronicles, #5) and Lacy (Ilyon Chronicles, #5.5) – Jaye L. Knight — I seriously need to catch up on this series, but of course I HAD to mention them! 😀 Jaye (who’s a fabulous human I met at Realm Makers! ❤ ) is coming out with the penultimate installment of her Ilyon Chronicles series, and also a companion novella. It’s exciting, y’all!
  • Decree (Blades of Acktar, #5) – Tricia Mingerink — Another series I must definitely get into soon, this is a short story collection for Blades of Acktar and sounds super cool! 🙂
  • The Villain Who Saved Christmas – C.B. Cook — The author who brought us Twinepathy and Lightporter is coming out with a Christmas short story, featuring a supervillain, and it sounds so cute! I can’t wait. 😀
  • Retrieve (Stormers, #1) – Sarah Addison-Fox — I’ve heard this one described as Mulan meets Prince of Persia and I’m really looking forward to reading it. 😀 I’ll be sharing my review during the blogtour sometime in the next month or so. It’s releasing the day after Christmas!
  • Liberation of Sephiera (Varsian Kingdom, #3) – Jason P. Hein — This one actually released at the end of last month. I haven’t started this epic fantasy series yet but I won the first two books and my sister’s been reading and enjoying them. Plus, this cover’s really cool! 😀

MY READING NEWS

I… er… didn’t have much time to read during November. I was writing a novel (or two…) of my own, after all, and since I did after all write 58,000 words and was insanely busy besides, I’m going to excuse myself from reading expectations. XD

BUT! I did manage to read one novel and a couple of novellas and some short stories and picture books. (Because small things. I think I did this last year too. :P)

If you’d like to read more about these, you can find them near the top of my Reading Challenge on Goodreads and click on them to learn more. 🙂

  • Not pictured, an awesome novella/children’s book coming soon from Kelsey Bryant, called The Road to Bremen. I beta-read it and IT’S SO PRECIOUS. It’s so fun and I love it so much and can’t wait for it to release in January! ^_^
  • Falling Snow by Skye Hoffert, which, in case you haven’t realized yet, WAS AMAZING.
  • Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse, which I loved too! A really neat epic fantasy novel — check out my full review on my other blog, if you missed it!
  • The Sixth Christmas, a short story by Mollie E. Reeder (yes, THE Mollie E. Reeder who wrote The Electrical Menagerie!!), which was a Christmas story and I adored so muuuch. I have many feelz. ❤
  • My Man Beasley by Kyle Robert Shultz. This was a short story on the author’s Patreon. It’s Beaumont and Beasley meets Tam Lin meets Wodehouse. HELLO. THESE ARE LIKE THREE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS. *dies* There were SOOO many awesome Afterverse/Tam Lin/Bertie Wooster references and retelling bits and crossovers, plus it was absolutely hilarious! I loved it so much. XD
  • Some totally random picture books, which were… okay. I did enjoy The Naming illustrated by Pauline Baynes! So many animals! The Stone Fey by Robin McKinley was honestly kind of disturbing and I wasn’t a fan. The other ones pictured were okay but eh.

Now that NaNo’s over, I’m hoping to read a fair amount more than I have been, but we’ll see if Christmas busyness cuts into that. XD

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been reading and the books coming out this month!

Have you read anything good lately? And are you excited for any of these?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Five Poisoned Apples: Falling Snow by Skye Hoffert (Review!)

*emerges from my post-NaNo coma to bring you a review for an INCREDIBLE book which YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST READ*

It’s here, guys! Five Poisoned Apples released December 1st, and I’m incredibly excited about it — particularly because of one specific story that I just read and is by my talented friend Skye Hoffert.

Y’ALL. I’M SO EXCITED. I’m excited for her debut novella, Falling Snow, being out now — go Skye!

I’m also excited because this story was genuinely amazing. I expected to enjoy it but I was not prepared AT ALL for how much it blew me away!

I can’t wait to tell you about. 😀

Title: Falling Snow (in Five Poisoned Apples)

Author: Skye Hoffert

  • Date read: November 29, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale / Retelling / Novella
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Fave character: Chayse
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this anthology from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonSkye Hoffert’s Blog

Gorgeous interior cover artwork by Hannah S. J. Williams which totally captures it!

FALLING SNOW is a truly spectacular read. I’m utterly enchanted!

This review is going to be difficult to write, because how do I recover from something so amazing? MY FEELS. WHAT ARE WORDS. I’M PEN-SLAIN. I don’t know how to express how much I absolutely adored this story and how striking and thrilling it was and how it blew me away. But I’m going to give it a shot.

This tale is both mesmerizing and perilous, as a story about a circus run by fae should be. A deadly dance of deception and illusion and shadows. The first thing that comes to mind about this story is the feel, the atmosphere, the colors of it—the stark whites and blacks and reds and golds. It’s so vivid! There are so many contrasts—the grungy half of the circus performers versus the opulence of the queen’s side of things; the fire versus the cold (my favorite!); the calculated deception of the fae characters versus the pure innocence of Snow herself.

I love how you get this feeling where you hardly know where the magic ends and begins. I loved the fire-manipulating (and the character who does it!) but that’s the most obvious fantastical part—at least at first—and you’re sometimes left wondering about what is mere illusion and what is actual fantasy, which is just how a fae circus should be.

I really appreciated how perilous the fae characters were! Obviously, the evil queen character (this is, after all, a Snow White tale) who runs the circus was chilling and creepy. But the fae characters we like also had their edge of danger, which was fascinating, and I felt was totally true, somehow, to what a fae story should be. It was a natural part of what they’re like, but we, and Snow (the one human character), can see that it’s off a bit. But for the fae characters it’s part of their lives, a ruthless, deadly dance they live in—even if some of them wish for a way out.

The complete originality of a Snow White story set in a circus, and then the brilliant way that it wove in the different Snow White elements in unexpected ways, was so awesome! I can’t talk much about that here because of spoilers, but guys, it was genius. I love it so much. 😀

The writing was also incredible. Aaahh! I kept wanting to quote things and hoping to one day be able to write like that. Every word is sharp and in just the right place to absolutely drag you completely into the story and into the minds and lives of these characters I fell in love with. It immerses the reader completely into this circus world. I’m pretty sure I forgot to breathe for the last half of the story. O_O It’s super intense, and a bit bloody at times, so younger readers might find it a bit dark, but I absolutely loved it and couldn’t stop reading—the story was so thrilling and I had no idea how things were going to turn out!

Speaking of writing, I loved the alternating viewpoints of our main characters, Snow and Chayse, and getting to see everything (including each other) from different perspectives, and all the raw emotion from both, tucked down under the illusions. Which brings me to the last but opposite of least aspect: the characters!

I loved Snow and how precious she was, and how as the only human she was something kind of nice in the middle of the scary deceptions. But she wasn’t helpless either, and her goals and dreams and determination—not to mention her stubbornness and commitment to learning to walk the wire—really had me rooting for her, and sometimes breathless on the edge of my seat.

Chayse was my favorite, and part of that was learning about him throughout the story bit by bit, so I almost don’t want to say much about him! But he’s got a couple of unexpected roles thrown together, which was great, and his interactions with Snow are my favorite. ^_^ His interactions with the queen… O_O I felt really bad for this guy—my poor precious Chayse! He’s super dangerous but he also wants out. I loved him so much. And the fire… Needless to say, Chayse is absolutely awesome. 😀

And I can’t quite finish without mentioning Cynfael. This guy. O_O One of the most truly enigmatic characters I’ve read, ever. I kept changing my mind about his roles in the story, changing my feelings about him, and he kept me guessing. I can usually guess a character’s role but Cynfael defied conventions—the sneaky fae!—and I was genuinely blown away. (This writing, guys!) I’ll let you discover him yourself, because spoilers, but wow. Chayse and Cynfael also had some excellent scenes which I loved.

Oh, and (talking of Chayse and Cynfael) one final thing is the dialog. I LOVED IT SO MUCH. It’s so sharp. These characters are almost constantly exchanging either verbal duels or loads of snark or hidden meanings, and sometimes all three at once. It was absolutely fantastic. 😀

If I keep writing, my review will get as long as this novella, but FALLING SNOW is an absolutely stunning, breath-taking, edge-of-your-seat read. I positively adored it and plan to re-read it sometime!

I have yet to read the other tales in the FIVE POISONED APPLES collection because this one left me with a major book-hangover. I do look forward to trying them out, but even if you only get it for FALLING SNOW, it’s totally worth it.

You need Snow and Chayse and Cynfael and this gorgeous writing and super-aesthetic black-white-red-gold perilous-fae Snow White circus story in your life. YOU JUST DO. ❤

~ ~ ~

Whew. Sound like something you need? Because… GUYS. You do!

Also, do you have any favorite fae stories you can recommend to me??

How about circuses? (Thinking of The Electrical Menagerie, The Greatest Showman, and The Night Circus…)

*pretends I’m totally not eating a (totally-not-poisoned) apple while I write this post*

Talk to me! Thanks for reading! 🙂