Tag Archive | Book Review

Stephen R. Lawhead’s Eirlandia Trilogy (Review of In the Land of the Everliving + In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows)

Today, I’m sharing a sort of merged-double-review with my thoughts on the last two books in the Eirlandia trilogy, also known as one of my favorite series in a long time.

GIVEAWAY

ALSO! If you’re reading this before 9/15/22 and have a US address, you can enter a GIVEAWAY for book one in this series! Drop by my other blog where I’m celebrating my nine-year blogiversary (as of 9/9/22) with a giveaway of a hardcover copy of In the Region of the Summer Stars!

And now, read on for my thoughts on book two and three!

Title: In the Land of the Everliving + In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

Series: Eirlandia trilogy, book 2 and 3 (Book 1: In the Region of the Summer Stars; read my review here.)

Fantasy / Celtic Fantasy • Adult (but teens would enjoy too) • published 2019 and 2020 by Tor Books • 316 pages and 286 pages (hardcovers)

Date read: 2021 and 2022 • 5 stars (would give 6 stars if I could!) • Favorite character: Conor mac Ardan • Source: Barnes & Noble

GoodreadsBarnes & NobleAmazonAuthor Website

Note: This is a review for the second and third Eirlandia novels.

This series set in ancient Ireland has been a massive homecoming for me, and when I say these books mean a lot to me, that’s quite an understatement. Mr. Lawhead’s writing, characters, and world together form a magnificent tale across three novels, and I wanted to LIVE in these books. After reading each one, and ever since, they echo in my mind—“We’re your home,” they say. Each of these wondrous Celtic fantasy books has made it onto my top-favorite-books-of-the-year lists for the last few years. I simply adore Conor mac Ardan’s adventures in this green and magical land my heart aches for.

The setting of Eirlandia made me feel SO AT HOME. I want to live there. The green hills, the raths, the noble characters… The Irish language, the names, the words… The writing sings across the page and drew me fully into this land of wonders and that indescribable feeling of being home at last. *hugs it*

And then the people who inhabit Eirlandia and nearby shores! I love their hospitality and how there are good-hearted people—a breath of fresh air in fiction these days. (And the comeuppance of certain devious characters… OH YES.) The De Danann—just loved them. I loved the bards and druids and wise councilors. So much. I loved the faery people and their mysterious feel—perfectly Fae and Elven (in a Tolkien way) and Welsh and I loved how they feel a perfect part of the land.

I adore Conor mac Ardan and his friends so much! I also love how noble and heroic they are, despite their struggles and the war they find themselves entangled in. Conor is a hero I’d follow to the end and I love how much he’s grown from the first book, all the way to…well, no spoilers. 😉 But he’s magnificent! Also, the dialogue and the HUMOR of the banter between certain characters—it makes me so happy! It’s dry and Irish humor and I’m HERE for it. *grin* I have to mention Fergal, Donal, and Aoife specifically, because they’re all fabulous.

This is mostly a general review of the last two books as a whole, but I have a couple of specific things to mention for each of them.

  • BOOK 2: IN THE LAND OF THE EVERLIVING — I loved seeing more of the faery people! They were fabulous. I already touched on that, but had to mention it again. The other most favorite thing in book two…has to be the lightning scene. OH MY WORD. It was the most epic thing. 😀 *beaming* I won’t say more because spoilers, but I just had to comment on it because it was absolutely awesome.
  • BOOK 3: IN THE KINGDOM OF ALL TOMORROWS — Firstly, there are a couple of ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT legal proceedings which . . . sounds boring . . . but Y’ALL. It was so good! So, so good. Especially the second one which absolutely made my day. *grinning so hard* The other thing that especially stood out to me about book three was the ending. The epilogue, the final chapter before that, and the last couple of paragraphs of the chapter before that…they were incredible, and gave me feels (in the case of the final chapter, which I don’t want to say much about for fear of spoilers but it was a timely chapter for me when I read it), and there’s so much intriguing about especially the epilogue that I probably need to re-read to unpack properly, but…anyway, I loved all of it so much. I’m not saying all readers will feel the same way I did, but those last few chapters meant a lot to me. I absolutely adored them.

Overall, these books meant so much to me, and the writing, Irishness, epicness, and characters all combined to absolutely steal my heart and make me feel completely at home. I felt seen. It’s a very “me” series. I connected with it so hard. I will love it forever! I, for one, found it to be incredibly enjoyable and meaningful all at once.

I 100% recommend this series! It’s just really good! Go read it!

(I also highly recommend the audiobooks.)

Don’t forget to drop by my other blog to enter the giveaway for the first book!

Leave a comment and make my day! I love chatting books with y’all!

You may also enjoy my reviews for other Celtic fantasy . . .

My reviews for Lawhead’s Bright Empires series . . .

Looking for more of my book reviews? Check them out here!

Dana Illwind and War’s Shadow by Arthur Daigle (Review)

Today’s review is for one of my top-favorite books of all time! I’m so excited to finally get to review this book, which was my most-anticipated release of 2022!

Yes, indeed, Jayden and Dana are back and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

(Or, you know, you can skip ahead to the links section and just buy yourself a copy — or a copy of book one if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading that one yet. You need this series in your life!)

Title: Dana Illwind and War’s Shadow

Author: Arthur Daigle

Series: Dana Illwind, #2 (Book 1: Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows. Read my review here!)

Fantasy • YA and up • 2022 • 308 pages (paperback)

Read August 21, 2022 • 5 stars (I’d give it 6 stars if I could!) • Fave character: Jayden! • Source: Amazon (Note: I also beta-read this before publication, and read the chapters as they released on Booksie before that. So this is my 4th read and I still want to read it again!)

GoodreadsBarnes & NobleAmazonAuthor’s Booksie AccountAuthor’s Facebook

I ADORE THIS BOOK AND CAN’T RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH! GO READ IT! That’s the short version. 😉

You know those books, series, and characters that you love SO much that you can’t properly express it in words? Well, this book, series, and Jayden and Dana are that for me. I seriously just love these characters SO MUCH and will follow them anywhere, and this series is up there with a select few on my list of very-top-favorite books! (Tolkien’s, Howl’s Moving Castle, Paper Crowns, and these two books. That’s the list.)

Dana Illwind and War’s Shadow is just SO GOOD! I feel like it’s a bit like Diana Wynne Jones meets Lord of the Rings, because it’s hilarious AND epic, and there are only so many books that can pull that off. Plus it has a distinctive FEEL that I can’t really explain but makes it a favorite of mine. It’s such a unique, fun book. I adore the cleverness of the plot, writing, and dialogue (so quotable!), and how we’re getting deeper into this world and all its kingdoms and monsters and intrigue (with doses of humor and epic characters, of course!). Everything’s building into a crescendo and I’m very much looking forward to the final book one of these days!

Jayden and Dana have gone from smaller, more disconnected adventures fighting monsters and lower-level villains, to being pulled directly into the center of an intricate web of war and magic and nefarious plots. Seeing them hold their own against all of that, while each growing in their own ways, had me glued to the page in breath-holding delight.

Plus, they’re just the best characters! Jayden and Dana make the BEST pair, like Holmes and Watson or something. So classic and perfect!

Jayden is snarky, courtly, and dangerous at turns, and woe to any wrongdoers (human or otherwise) who draw his attention—especially if Dana doesn’t redirect his rage to keep the destruction to a minimum! XD Jayden is simply one of my top-favorite characters of all time, and I have the HARDEST time describing this unpigeonholeable character, but he’s superb and always has the BEST comebacks in witty dialogue, and having another whole book with him was a TREAT. He has a haunted past and a bit of an anger management problem when he sees injustice (don’t worry, Dana’s helping with that—when SHE isn’t as angered by the injustice as he is…), but he’s on the side of right and is a force to be reckoned with. There’s a wonderful quote in this book, by a very wise character: “I see a heart of gold wrapped in rusty chains. Break them off for yourself and those who need you.” Probably one of my favorite lines about Jayden! It’s perfect for the journey he’s going on. I just love him so much.

I mentioned Dana a few times in there because they’re so tied together in the story, and I love how they help each other see each other’s weaknesses and help overcome them, but also show each other their strengths and encourage that. It makes me happy! They’re an excellent pair of friends and Dana is just the sort of person one wants at one’s side. It was fascinating how things become sort of personal for her by the end (not to be spoilery…), and how it shows how far she’s come in these two books. She’s got to be one of my favorite female characters of all time. I love how she’s full of the BEST common sense and is much more down-to-earth, while Jayden and others around her are being dramatic. The interplay there is SO much fun. XD She’s sturdy and no-nonsense and is becoming quite the swordswoman, but I love that it’s simply her good-hearted way of doing the best she can and helping others.

It was intriguing to have “interlude” chapters seeing what the villains think of what Jayden and Dana are up to (even when they don’t always know it was Jayden’s fault. XD), plus there’s a new character who is verrry interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him…

Some other random thoughts: The whole section set in the kingdom of Bascal was one of my favorites! It was such fun! The ball scene and a certain sword-update were fabulous. There’s the return of some fan-favorite characters from the first book (Lootmore, Suzy, Prince Onus!), and new, intriguing ones I’m very curious about (Cassandra, Malcolm, Palan…)! And not to get into spoilers but there mayyy have been a dragon involved at some point… I loved the Brotherhood of the Righteous and Father Firepower. I also found the shadow magic to be pretty neat—just a really cool magic system that Jayden is VERY good at. The fluffy fox!! Plus goblins being mischievous and also more organized than expected… The goblin-gate was hilarious. XD

I’d be here all day if I mentioned all my favorite things, but that’s a few of them, and particularly Jayden and Dana’s banter and dialogue, which is 100% pure GOLD! *grinning*

DANA ILLWIND AND WAR’S SHADOW is book 2 (book 1 is DANA ILLWIND AND GROWING SHADOWS) and I think I liked this one even MORE than the first one, if that’s possible. It was amazing to come back in this second book and be immersed once again in more Jayden and Dana goodness. ^_^ I’ve been following Jayden and Dana on their adventures for some time now and these stories never cease to make me happy!

I’ve read both books four times each (once you count reading them in serial format, then twice-through beta-reading, and then reading the final published version aloud—because I have such a fun time doing all the voices and sharing the stories with my siblings, which is the highest honor a book can get from me, that I have to give it a dramatic reading to my family) and I never get tired of these adventures. I anticipate re-reading both books soon, just like I read and re-read Howl’s Moving Castle. Some books are just so delightful to revisit, and this is definitely one of them!

In short, this book is funny, clever, and deep in unexpected ways, with a dash of spooky, and inhabited by two of my favorite characters ever. It’s just SO good and I adore it to Other Place and back! Seriously, just go read this.

If you love epic fantasy with well-built worlds, whimsical/humorous fantasy that’s a little tongue-in-cheek satire (think Discworld, Magic Kingdom for Sale, or some of Diana Wynne Jones’s books), and unique characters who will steal your heart, you absolutely MUST check out the Dana Illwind series! 10/10 recommend!

Leave a comment and make my day! I love chatting books with y’all!

Looking for more of my book reviews? Check them out here!

Kate’s Informant by Sarah Holman (Review)

I don’t read many mystery novels, but I’m addicted to this series, so here’s a review for the latest one! There were some unexpected feels but otherwise I loved most of it!

Title: Kate’s Informant

Author: Sarah Holman

Series: Kate’s Case Files, #6 (Read my reviews for book 1, book 2, and book 3)

Thriller / Contemporary / Mystery / Christian Fiction • NA • 2022 • 160 pages (Kindle)

Read June 4, 2022 • 4 stars • Favorite characters: Patrick and Thomas • Source: Amazon

GoodreadsAmazonAuthor Website

The first three-quarters of this book I absolutely ADORED! I think it was the funnest Kate’s Case Files book yet. The bantering dialogue was delightful and spot-on, which is always my FAVORITE about these books, along with the fun team of characters! I love all of them, and the character interactions are the best—and like I said, I think all of that was the best so far in this one!

So yes, I really, really enjoyed most of the book! It made me SO happy to be back in this series, which I like to think of as a crime show, just clean and in book series format; what’s not to love? The mysteries and characters and dialogue are the best and keep me flipping the pages in each book, especially this one!

I highlighted so many hilarious moments in my Kindle copy. XD SO. MANY! This cast is just gold! XD I stayed up late to finish reading it, and I had only meant to read the first few chapters that night, but I couldn’t stop and next thing I knew, the book was over!

I…will say that I was super upset about something that happened near the end. I literally spent the last quarter of the book in denial and it was only in the last few pages I realized it was real and I could hardly read I was crying so hard. It hit especially hard due to some stuff in my life this last year and the aftermath of the book was that I was so sad I couldn’t sleep and just listened to music in the dark for hours instead. So yeah, not gonna lie, it was devastating. I was shocked.

So, personally, I knocked a star off for that—even though the rest of the book was probably my favorite so far (so many good character moments!)—but that’s not to say others won’t enjoy the book! Because, yeah, it may just be a me-thing. I personally read for enjoyment, not for feels, and the first three-quarters of the book was definitely enjoyable! ^_^ But the last quarter just hit me so hard (and I haven’t been able to read new books since, except for work, so I’ve been re-reading comfort reads so I know what’s going to happen, haha). It made me feel deeply, because it got me SO invested in these characters. Which is clearly a testament to the author’s skills.

I definitely had to wait a few months to recover from these feelings (which I have mostly done) before I could write a fair review. XD Because…yes, in fairness, I LOVED the rest of the book, and I actually super suspect good things will come out of this tragic happenstance, so I’m definitely looking forward to future books in the series! I think they’re going to be amazing and I can’t wait to come back to hang out with (most of… *sobs*) these characters again. ^_^

Leave a comment and make my day! I love chatting books with y’all!

Looking for more of my book reviews? Check them out here!

Review: Truesilver by DJ Edwardson

I have returned from a too-long blogging hiatus with a bit of an updated look to my review posts (shiny new things!) and a review for a delightful YA fantasy novel, Truesilver!

(And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a hardcover copy of this book!)

Title: Truesilver

Author: DJ Edwardson

Series: Swordspeaker Saga, #1 (Book 2, Rimewinter, coming spring 2022!)

Epic Fantasy • YA (enjoyable by anyone) • 2021 • 318 pages

Read August 2020 • 5 stars • Fave character: Kithian • I copyedited this but loved it enough to buy the hardcover

GoodreadsBarnes & NobleAmazonAuthor Website

Ranger’s Apprentice meets the Wingfeather Saga, with a dash of Prydain, in this delightful saga of a one-time shepherd boy who becomes bearer of a sentient sword.

In this masterfully woven tale, the bright threads of a lush and original world and generous doses of both whimsy and peril twine together to tell the story of a cast of colorful characters who stole my heart.

Seventeen-year-old Kion came from the lowliest roots and was pulled into a journey of action-y adventure, deadly danger, and a high calling awaiting him. With his trusty friend the smith Zinder — a loyal sidekick if ever there was one, who makes up with wit and quickness (and fabulous hats and lock-picking skills) what he lacks in size — at his side, Kion is a hero I’d follow through perils thick and thin.

And this book and its soon-to-release sequel, Rimewinter, abounds with just the sort of adventure that keeps you flipping pages, all while soaking in the rich tapestried detail of the writing and world.

Hint: the sword is my favorite! It’s worth reading the book just to meet the sword! Not even kidding. But I don’t want to give any more away. You’ll just have to discover it for yourself!

(Some action/violence/war. Otherwise clean. Teens of any age would love the book, methinks!) If you’re tired of endless romance in the YA section, this is a fun one to pick up. 😉

Truesilver is the first book in a Noblebright fantasy adventure series. I recommend this one to any reader looking for a rousing good tale full of heart!


Giveaway

If you missed it, check out my giveaway for a hardcover copy of Truesilver! (Giveaway open through February 28, 2022.) And said post also features the cover reveal for the sequel, Rimewinter!

Also! Let me know what you think of the new look for my review posts!

Looking for more of my book reviews? Check them out here!

The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White (Book Review)

SmartSelect_20210515-195603_Instagram

I have a new review today, this time for a historical fiction mystery set in 1906 in the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall!

Title: The Nature of a Lady

Author: Roseanna M. White

  • Date read: May 27, 2021
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Christian Fiction
  • Age: Adult, clean
  • Year pub: 2021
  • Pages: 374 (paperback)
  • Series: The Secrets of the Isles, #1
  • Fave character: Oliver Tremayne and Mabena Moon
  • Source: Bethany House reviewer program
  • Notes: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This is my honest review and all opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsBarnes & NobleAmazonChristianBook.comAuthor’s WebsitePublisher

Set in the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall, this book was a gorgeous treat to read!

The 1906 setting was interesting, and the islands themselves were drop-dead stunning and made me want to visit them! They sprang to life so well, considering I’d never read about this particular setting before, and were probably my favorite thing about the book! So unique and delightful, and I do love a good “island story.” I loved how it also felt somewhat Cornish but with its own twist, and the villagers, cottages, boats, flowers, sea, rocks, etc. were all wonderful!

I loved the writing! The story itself was super engaging and kept me intrigued throughout, and I loved seeing the intertwining threads of characters’ lives and secrets unfold, along with an exciting mystery/treasure hunt with lots of clues, and some super-cute romances thrown in there. Some of the twists surprised me in a good way (particularly a certain rivalry).

The characters all came to life and many of them were fabulous. I particularly loved mysterious lady’s-maid-turned-untameable-island-girl Mabenna Moon — she was marvelous! — and of course Oliver Tremayne, vicar and overall amazing fellow. And Mamm-wynn! Delightful mysterious, pixie-ish grandmother.

There were a couple things that weren’t my favorite: I sometimes felt the heroine had a sort of scientific arrogance; a few things rubbed me the wrong way; and I wished for more time for a certain side romance, so it would seem less sudden. But these are personal preferences!

On the whole, I very much enjoyed reading it and being swept off to these enchanting islands on an adventure. There are a couple of unresolved threads and I hope to return to the Isles of Scilly with these lovely characters for more tales in future books! Do check this one out!

I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher. This is my honest review and all opinions are my own.


You may also like . . .

spysdevotion  


Thanks for reading! 🙂

Sing To Me of Rain by E.B. Dawson (Book Review)

Aaaaahhh! You guys! I read the MOST DELIGHTFUL BOOK recently and I’m so excited to share about it!

It’s releasing TOMORROW (May 22) and the paperback and e-book versions are both up for pre-order, and it’s DEFINITELY one you’re not going to want to miss! One of my favorite books I’ve read this year, for sure!

Title: Sing To Me of Rain

Author: E.B. Dawson

  • Date read: May 10, 2021
  • Rating: 5 stars, 6 stars if I could
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: Middle Grade or anyone, really (teens and adults will also love it)
  • Year pub: 2021
  • Pages: 205 (e-book)
  • Series: Standalone
  • Fave character: Ujio but really all of them
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my honest thoughts.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

I CAN’T ADEQUATELY EXPRESS MY LOVE FOR THIS BOOK. 😍😍😍 Studio Ghibli meets George MacDonald and Lloyd Alexander in this utterly enchanting Asian-inspired Middle Grade Fantasy novel from E.B. Dawson!

This book has everything: a tiny mermaid naiad, a fox, pangolins, hidden motives warring against innocence, ever-changing quests for truth, redemption AND heroism, a broad range of exotic locales from jungle to desert to mountain, a story through seasons and elements, and neat cultures and delightful fantasy worldbuilding that swept me off my feet. And so much more!

I loved Plip the little naiad and Akino the boy SO MUCH, and a certain other character who I won’t give away but his story was SO unexpected and I adored it! Part hero, part antihero, part mentor . . . let’s just say I have a new favorite unpigeonholeable character. (Watch for a certain fox is all I’m saying. ;))

I adored every second of this book! It’s full of twists and turns and I could never predict what was going to happen next, which made it exciting, but despite the suspense it was also a COZY story that I simply enjoyed the act of reading.

The settings remind me so much of a Studio Ghibli film, soft and peaceful and detailed, from river to mountain forest, rice fields, desert, waterfall . . . all of it! And the feeling we get that we’re passing through this vast world full of people living their lives which we only glimpse on our way through. I loved that. It’s just so RICH and like one thread winding through a tapestry, and fills me with a marvelous childlike wonder and joy and delight.

I loved how, with the perspectives of Plip and Akino, we saw the world through their eyes and the schemes of humans or grownups seemed outside and unnoticed, like levels of innocence and sneakiness. Felt true to life.

The depth and truths and levels of everything in this book were fascinating and one of the things I think older readers will like too. It asks hard questions and doesn’t talk down at all, which is something I dislike about some middle grade books these days — it’s just a book that happens to be about young characters, which young readers and teens and adults alike will find delight in.

It feels Deep and made me think and showed me things, and I highlighted sooo many quotes in my ebook copy, but it’s also very fun and I just ENJOYED it. It makes me so happy! *hugs book*

This is definitely going on my favorites list and is one of the top five books I’ve read so far this year. I’m going to need to add the paperback to my wishlist because I need SING TO ME OF RAIN on my shelf to read and reread forever. I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH. (I know the answer next time someone asks what my favorite middle grade book is.)

I can’t recommend this book enough! Just go read it! You need it in your life! (And you will never look at raindrops the same again. :D)

I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author and voluntarily wrote a review. All opinions are entirely my own.


You may also like . . . / For fans of . . .

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender show
  • Studio Ghibli films in general
  • The Day Boy and the Night Girl by George MacDonald (original fairy tale)
  • The Golden Key by George MacDonald (original fairy tale)
  • The Remarkable Journeys of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander (Asian-inspired fantasy)
  • The Iron Ring by Lloyd Alexander (India-inspired fantasy, YA)
  • The Sentinel Trilogy or Emberhawk by Jamie Foley (for your talking fox fix, YA)
  • Plenilune by Jennifer Frietag (historical planetary fantasy, for your talking fox fix, Adult)

Does this sound like it’s up your alley? Let me know if it intrigues you! I simply adore it! Thanks for reading! 🙂