Tag Archive | Fairytale Retelling

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! 🙂

Advertisements

A Royal Masquerade (by Allison Tebo) Review + Giveaway!

Good morning, Pagelings!

Today I’m joining in on the blog tour for A Royal Masquerade, the new Goose Girl retelling by Allison Tebo that released this week! There’s a giveaway and other fun stuff so make sure you scroll to the end! 😉


About the Book

Burndee can barely tolerate the mischievous Prince Colin, but the two of them are invariably thrown together in a way that keeps them at one another’s throats.

While attending a noblewoman’s wedding, Burndee and Colin’s private feud comes to a climax when Burndee loses his temper and does the unthinkable.  With Prince Colin unable to attend to his royal duties and Burndee bound by an inconvenient spell, can the two of them work together long enough to unsnarl the mysterious goings-on around them?

A madcap and magical retelling of The Goose Girl from a unique perspective.

Find the Book

GoodreadsAmazon


About the Author

Allison Tebo is a Christian author in her mid-twenties. A sales associate for a major transportation company, she writes books in her spare time. A graduate of London Art College, Allison also pursues children’s illustration and cartooning. When she is not creating art with words or paint, she enjoys narration, singing, quilting, and, naturally, baking. Allison blogs at www.allisonswell.com about the love of Christ, the joys of living, occasionally, all about the wonder of gifs.

Find her online

WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads


Title: A Royal Masquerade

Author: Allison Tebo

  • Date read: October 17, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale / Retelling / The Goose Girl / Humor / Novella
  • Age: Any
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 129 (ebook)
  • Series: Tales of Ambia, #3 (Can stand alone. Best read after Tales of Ambia, #1, The Reluctant Godfather)
  • Fave character: Burndee (and Colin. And both of them together. :D)
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this story from the author. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions are my own.

This book was absolutely SO MUCH FUN! Anyone who knows my reading taste probably knows that I ADORE humorous books, that I’m far more likely to fall in love with a story if there’s a favorite character (or two), and that I love retellings and fairytales. Put all three of those into a novella-sized package, and you have A ROYAL MASQUERADE.

I loved this book! As a sequel to The Reluctant Godfather, it follows the continuing adventures of Fairy Godfather Burndee, which made me super excited because I love that young, grouchy, cake-baking fairy godfather! He’s the best, and so is funloving Prince Colin—one of his wards—who are thrown into each other’s company at a wedding where there are mysterious goings-on and magical mishaps which had me laughing.

One hilarious misfortune after another pile on top of Burndee and Prince Colin, with hilarious results! I love both of them, but put them together and wow, it’s just SO MUCH FUN, because Colin is such a prankster and Burndee is so grouchy, and they have to learn to work together in the best possible buddy-movie kind of way. IT’S MY FAVE. XD (And there’s a hilarious, awesome twist fairly early on that I don’t want to spoil but let’s just say Colin may not look like Colin for the whole story and it’s SO PERFECT. XDDD)

The plot is a lot of fun because the Goose Girl plot is going on kind of in the background and WE can see it but the main characters don’t catch on as quickly because they have their own problems. It was sooo funny. XD As a retelling, the Goose Girl part was solid, and I liked the twist of the traveling troupe of actors (gotta have some theatricality!) and the little Dumovai creature. 🙂 I still enjoyed The Reluctant Godfather more, particularly since The Goose Girl isn’t my favorite fairytale, but at the same time, all the Burndee and Colin antics were perfect, so this one was still super enjoyable. 😀

Also, the fact that Burndee is so absolutely introverted and grumpy, and yet has to deal with all the nobles and people involved, makes it extra funny. Throw in some falling in the fountain, some cake mishaps and a skunk (the SKUNK!!! XD), and a colorful troupe of characters, and you have a recipe for absolute fun! Burndee and Prince Colin are MY FAVORITE and any story involving them is automatically going to be a new favorite, I think. (I also loved the brief appearance of a couple other characters at the end from the first book.) And I need to eat one of Burndee’s cakes!

If you like humor and comedy-of-errors type stories, and a sort of buddy-story, with loads of laughs and a fairytale retelling into the bargain, you definitely need to check this one out. 😀 As a novella, it’s a quick read and you won’t be able to put it down, or stop giggling—I know I wasn’t!

An absolute delight! ^_^


Blog Tour

Today is day 5 of the blog tour! Here are the posts before and after mine:

Eva: Author Interview

Jessica: An Interview With Burndee


Giveaway!

Check out these fabulous prizes Allison Tebo is offering as part of the blog tour! 🙂 A paperback of the book, candle, miniature glass goose, and chocolate. And second prize, a paperback and giftcard!

You can enter via the Rafflecopter HERE or click one of the images above.


Doesn’t it sound like SO much fun? If you’re a Reluctant Godfather fan you absolutely HAVE to read this, and if you’re not yet . . . well you must remedy that at once and read The Reluctant Godfather! 😉

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Cinders by Kendra E. Ardnek (Mini Review & Giveaway)

Hi everyone! I’m back on the Tales of Ever After blog tour with a mini review for another short story from this collection! (And there’s still a giveaway at the end if you haven’t entered yet. ;))


Cinders

by Kendra E. Ardnek

 

Okay, that was adorable and enchanting! I have a new story to put on my growing list of top-favorite Cinderella retellings. 😀 I LOVED this one!

The thing about retellings is that you can’t usually say much about the twists/plots/bits that make you really like them, without spoiling the story. XD So I won’t. But I did LOVE the twists a ton. Some I suspected, others were a delightful surprise, and a few times I got worried about how it would turn out and then things worked PERFECTLY and made me absurdly happy.

There’s also a cute kitten. And humor. And loveable characters! And… well… what more can be said? It’s a classic Cinderella story flipped on its head and made fabulous all over again. I loved it so much! The perfect story to start out this collection. 🙂

So what are you waiting for? Go pick up this free collection and read Cinders! I’ll be over here contemplating rereading it, and hugging it because I adored it. ^_^


If you missed it, you can read my review for another short story in this collection, here.

Check out the rest of the stories in this anthology! It’s free on all ebook platforms! (See links below.)

Tales of Ever After

Rescue a princess, meet a mermaid, win your reward.

The authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy tackle fairy tales from once upon a time to happily ever after. Explore twists on old tales and brand new magical stories. Meet feisty mermaids, friendly lampposts, and heroes who just might be monsters themselves.

This fourth anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy will lead you on a quest for entertainment and storm the castle of your imagination. So make a wish and enter the deep dark woods to find stories that will make you laugh, shiver, and maybe even fall in love.

LINKS

Amazon • Books2Read Universal Link • Goodreads


Tour Schedule

Check out the blog tour schedule HERE.


GIVEAWAY!

And now it’s time to enter a delightful giveaway the Fellowship of Fantasy authors are hosting — there are 3 giveaways! (Rafflecopter hates me so you’ll just have to click the links. XD)

U.S. Only Giveaway:

(All books are paperback, and possibly signed)

***LINK***

International Giveaway:

(All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice)

***LINK***

Comment Giveaway:

The person who leaves the most comments across the blog tour will receive the chance to read special sneak peaks from several of the authors’ upcoming works!


What do you think? Doesn’t this one sound charming? Do you have a favorite Cinderella retelling? And have you picked up Tales of Ever After for free yet? Thanks for reading! 🙂

The Stealthmaster’s Shadow: Cover Reveal! (A Twelve Dancing Princesses Retelling by Hope Ann)

Hey everyone! I’m delighted today to be helping to share the exciting COVER REVEAL for the next book in the Legends of Light series by Hope Ann!

You may remember me reviewing Burning Rose, which was a collection of the first three novellas in this fairytale retelling series with a dash of Christian allegory.

Well, now the 4th one is coming out soon, and I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED, because it’s a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling! And… I mean… hello, this is me we’re talking about, and in case you didn’t know, this is my FAVORITE fairytale and I’m obsessed with retellings of it. XD

SO YEAH.

This novella is titled The Stealthmaster’s Shadow (*cue shrieking because I love this title*) and now it’s time to reveal the gorgeous cover designed by Kate Flournoy!

Oh, whoops, just another snarky quote.

NOT SORRY.

Ahem.

Okay, okay, you’re here to see the cover, so I will finally share it. 😉

Now for the actual cover.

*drumroll*

.

.

.

.

.

It’s ten confounded years since the war ended.

Ten years since the Prince won the war and pardoned the rebels.

And left.

The Prince left, but lasting peace never had a chance to begin.

As a Stealthmaster, Verus is determined to complete the task the Prince left, whatever the cost. Traitors, needlessly vague governors, and threatening rumors are all part of a standard mission. Verus will bring peace to what is left of the world, one city and village at a time. According to the governor’s daughter, the war was never about a physical peace in the first place, but what does she or any of the other Followers know? They weren’t there during the war.

They didn’t see the horrors Tauscher spread over the land or the scars that will never fade.

Commandeering the task of a former soldier, Verus presents himself to the governor of Nerva. Eventually he’ll need to undermine the man, but even Stealthmasters need money, and a mission to discover the owner of a misshapen slipper shouldn’t be difficult.

Until the ambassador from Zahavia appears.

Suddenly face to face with nightmares from the past, Verus struggles to help those plunged into danger, from the governor’s newest prisoner to a serving lad to an infuriating woman he’s taken to calling princess. Fleeing will only make the enemy stronger. But staying…

Staying could doom them all.

Coming June 1, 2018

Click here to preorder now!

Add to Goodreads!

EEP. I LOVE THE COVER. I’m really, really excited for this book. 😀

In the words of Hope Ann herself: “Seriously. Go preorder it before you forget. Unless you have doubts about sarcasm, danger, and a cover that cool. Or if you don’t have money. That might make preordering it a little difficult too.”

Hope Ann uses chocolate to bribe a wide ring of spies, from the realm leapers of Aslaria to the double agents of Elkbend, for their stories. Based in Indiana, she is the self-published author of the Legends of Light series, personal writing coach, and the Communications Coordinator for Story Embers. You can find out more about her at authorhopeann.com

So, what do you think? Thoughts on the cover, the TITLE, the blurb? The fact that it’s coming out sooon (*grabby hands*)? …The fact that it’s a TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES RETELLING?? HALP I’M SO EXCITED.

Talk to me in the comments! 😀

Thanks for reading! ^_^

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

The Stroke of Eleven (by Kyle Robert Shultz) – Beaumont & Beasley, #3

(Pretty cover is pretty…)

Title: The Stroke of Eleven

Author: Kyle Robert Shultz

  • Date read: December 3, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fairytale retelling (Cinderella / Beauty and the Beast / Alice in Wonderland / etc.)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 255 (Kindle)
  • Series: Beaumont & Beasley, #3
  • Fave character: DON’T MAKE ME PICK. (*ignores fact that I’m the one who asks myself these questions*)
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-copy of this book from the author (thanks!); these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO REVIEW THIS, HALP.

So much of this story is mind-boggling twists, and it’s basically a walking spoiler, so HOW I am even going to BEGIN to talk about this is just…

*takes deep breath*

This will be a spoiler-free review, and I will attempt coherency, but basically: everyone needs to read this so that I can talk about it, because if the whole world has read it, then nothing will be a spoiler anymore, right? Right. Problem solved!

Anyway. Reviewing.

MEEP. <—[My entire reaction to the entire book.]

I HAVE FEELS, OKAY. I HAVE MANY FEELS.

NO I WILL NOT BE CALM.

*calms self*

I haven’t quite figured out how I feel about a few of the things. Because wow, things GO DOWN in this and nothing will be the same. O_o It was honestly exhausting to read. So, good news for all you people who love feelsy books: this one is for you. XD

I… ahem… do NOT always love feelsy books, so like I said, I’m kind of on the fence on some things… BUT once I got over it, I think I figured out that I’m mostly worried about what will happen in future books, and not AS much about what actually happened in this one (or did it?), so since that’s kind of a silly thing to worry about, I’ll just say: this was a good book. An excellently written one, in fact. And it’s brilliant/genius/mindboggling, and as long as I don’t worry about what future books will hold for my precious character friends, or about some of the sort-of things that kind of maybe happened (or not? Time travel is confusing, guys.), I can say: I LOVED IT! 😀

It’s a fairytale retelling/reworking/mashup/THING, featuring Cinderella, dashes of Alice in Wonderland, continuations of Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid (because of the first two books) and TIMEY-WIMEY STUFF. How cool is that? VERY cool.

And I can’t say much about the plot because SPOILERS. (So. many.) But I’ll do what I can.

Nick and Cordelia continue to be one of my favorite things—seriously, I love their relationship and banter SO MUCH. And just them as characters. THEY ARE THE BEST. ❤ Crispin kind of isn’t in it as much, since he and Molly are kind of… out of the way near the beginning, but I didn’t actually mind as much as I thought I might. Because the explosion of plot twists, and Nick and Cordelia being adorable, kind of distracted me. XD (ButIloveCrispinokayarewegoodyesCrispinCrispinCrispin.) The Mythfits are back, being quirky as ever. 😉 MALCOLM returns—I was kind of unsure about him in Tomb of the Sea Witch, but gaaahh, I love him now. So much. We also meet exciting NEW characters!

And I quite liked the Cinderella and prince characters. They were great! 🙂 The Cinderella story was fascinating in this! (Any story that is very involved with a clock/midnight is a prime candidate for a time-travel story. ;)) And yay for dashes of steampunk!

There are SO many new developments, and time-travel-y thiiings (some of which are frankly terrifying, but you know). And DID I MENTION TWISTS? There are twists, people. o.o TWIIISTS. O____O And I guessed a couple of them and they happened and I’m in shock but wow, and I don’t know how I feel, but ALL THE THINGS. Also the White Rabbit. Yes. Wow.

AND THERE WERE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST THINGS. I know it’s silly, because the Disney cartoon isn’t even an original thing, and I only saw it once, but I was ridiculously happy about a little moment or two in this that was B&B-ish. XD (And there was a thrown roll. Just sayin’.)

Anyway, Nick and Cordelia and Crispin are some of my favorite EVER characters. I’m immensely attached to them. Plus I adore the Afterverse, and fairytales in general, and time travel hurts my brain, and what I mean to say is this book was excellent. Exhausting and hard for me to decide if I’m okay with a thing or two, but excellent. XD

And did I mention it’s still hilarious? No? Because IT’S STILL HILARIOUS. I don’t know HOW Kyle Shultz does all of this—hilarious, fairytale, timey-wimey, plot twist, epic, fun adventure, with all the feels, and my favorite characters. I’M KIND OF EMOTIONALLY INVESTED. If you can’t tell. Ahem.

SO, I LIED. This wasn’t a coherent review. Oh well.

Now you know what I think (kind of… as much as I know… which isn’t very much…), so you can dash off and read the book yourself so that we can discuss spoilery things… And if you can’t yet, because you haven’t read The Beast of Talesend, well WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, YOU POOR SOUL. *shoos you off to go read that one because you’re missing out*

If you need me, I’ll just be over here in the corner, emotionally worn out and confused and waiting for another Beaumont and Beasley adventure. Send help. Or, no, send tea and cakes and the next book, and a safe where I can keep the characters protected from all the MEEPery. (It’s a word, shush.)

(This is why I don’t write reviews at one a.m.)

Some Favorite Quotes

So… parachutes. Not fun. I’ve never liked heights. I like them even less when I’m falling from them.

***

“Look… we come in peace.”

“No, we don’t!” cried Cordelia. “We don’t come in peace! We go in abject terror!”

***

Getting eaten by evil pumpkins was very low on my list of preferred ways to die.

***

“My name is Gervase,” he informed us.

“My condolences.”

***

Malcolm stopped me with a gesture before I could speak to him. “Please, don’t say anything. Whatever it is, I’ve already heard it.” He started doing a very poor imitation of my voice and accent. “Malcolm! Crikey! You’re so young! What’s going on here? Who’s that girl? I’m so confused! Oi!”

“I do /not/ sound like that,” I growled.

Melody smacked him on the back of the head. “Don’t be rude, grumpy-scales.”

***

“The White Rabbit Society is now assembled.” Kanin’s tone was solemn and ceremonial. “May the clock strike twelve.”

“May the clock strike twelve,” echoed everyone, including Cordelia.

I looked from one to the other in bewilderment. “Right. That wasn’t weird at all.”

***

“…but a scheme this brazen could get us all killed. Repeatedly.”

***

Melody moved over to a table laden with refreshments. She picked up some sandwiches and began gleefully throwing them at random people.

“She reminds me of you,” I said to Cordelia.

“Oh, really? I can’t imagine why.”

***

“Shut up and be magical.”

***

That was cheating, of course. But I was perfectly willing to cheat time, death, and any other inexorable force of nature for Crispin’s sake… regardless of what the consequences might be.

***

“Cinderella and Prince Charming.”

They both gave me displeased looks.

“What?” I shrugged. “That’s who you are, isn’t it?”

Cinderella rubbed her eyes. “I do wish people didn’t remember me by that ridiculous nickname my stepsisters made up.”

“And I have an actual name,” said Matteo. “Why do they never remember the princes’ actual names? Plus the fact that they made me out to be a complete idiot. How insane would you have to be to try finding a girl based on her shoe size?”

***

“Chin up, Gareth!” said Malcolm, with a sort of crazed cheerfulness. “Why worry? We’re Beaumont and Beasley! We live for danger!”

“Technically, only Cordelia, Crispin, Molly, and I are Beaumont and Beasley,” I reminded him.

“At this point, I’d say we’re all honorary members by virtue of shared insanity.”

~ ~ ~

Click covers for other related reviews:

  

~ ~ ~

Talk to me, fellow page dreamers! Have you read The Stroke of Eleven, or either of the first two Beaumont and Beasley books?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

Burning Rose Review + 3 Steps To Rewriting Fairytales Guest Post

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

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

Enjoy!


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


Guest Post from Author Hope Ann

Burning Rose and My Three Steps to Rewriting Fairy Tales

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

Research the basics

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

Ask why

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

Twist familiar aspects of the story

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

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

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

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

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

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

BONUS

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

Fairy tales retold as you have never heard them before.

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

Order Burning Rose now!


Title: Burning Rose
Author: Hope Ann

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

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

Rose of the Night

3 stars

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

Rose of the Oath

4 stars

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

Song of the Sword

4 stars

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

Shadows of the Hersweald

4 stars

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

Overall Thoughts About the Burning Rose Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

The Beast of Talesend AUDIOBOOK Review

Title: The Beast of Talesend
Author: Kyle Robert Shultz
Narrator: Richard “Spanners” Ready

  • Date finished reading (erm… listening to?): September 1, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Age: Anyone, really
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Hours: 4 hours, 13 minutes
  • Series: Beaumont & Beasley, #1
  • Fave character: Nick and Crispin
  • Source: Audible code from author for review
  • Notes: Audio version. Re-reading. Read my original review HERE.
  • Links: AudibleAmazonGoodreads • Author’s Website

I have flailed elsewhere about how much I love this book, and this time I’m here to talk about the absolutely delightful audiobook version.

I remember thinking, when I heard about the audio version, that The Beast of Talesend would make a positively fantastic audiobook. Add to that a British narrator and the levels of fantastic go through the roof. Fast-forward to my ecstatic reaction when the author offered me a chance to listen to the audiobook and review it. I gladly accepted, started listening to it right away, and . . . Oh, was I ever NOT disappointed!

The light, fun, humorous, fairytale quality of this book, makes it the perfect audiobook, and the Britishness reminded me of my favorite audiobooks from when I was younger. The Beast of Talesend audiobook is perfection. 😀

I don’t listen to audiobooks often these days (though I used to). They’re not always convenient for me, and these days I generally prefer to absorb stories through physically reading printed words with my eyes, you know? Otherwise my mind can wander and I miss important details, which drives me up the wall. (Not through the roof. Through the roof is a good thing in this case; up the wall isn’t.) I have listened to many audiobooks over time, but don’t as much anymore, except in extreme cases of really, really wanting to listen to one for some reason. Like this one.

In this case, the reasons were twofold: 1) I already had read The Beast of Talesend and loved it and wanted to re-read it anyway (never mind that it was only three months since I read it the first time), and 2) I listened to a sample and the narrator has a fabulous British accent.

I’m one of those shallow (erm, that is, blessed with good taste. *cough*) people who absolutely loves accents, and as an American who primarily lives in fictional worlds created by authors from the British Isles, accents which are English, Irish, Scottish, etc., are my favorites. Mr. Richard “Spanners” Ready has a fabulous British accent which was so fun to listen to, and that alone would have made this audiobook splendid.

HOWEVER, he’s also an amazing narrator, and the book was a delight to hear read by this fellow. He does different voices for all the characters, which was SO fun, and some with different accents as well. His narration as Nick Beasley (the main character who tells the story in a somewhat dry and totally funny way) was brilliant, and for some reason I particularly liked his depiction of Cordelia—she was spot-on! Actually, all the characters were. THEY WERE AMAZING! The acting/performance brought the story and characters to vivid life, and I simply LOVED that! It was like watching a movie… just… you know… listening to it instead. In a way, this is better, because you get the audio-drama quality BUT can still imagine everything appearing the way your imagination wants to paint it. And this narrator’s way of bringing the characters to life only adds to that. 🙂 He drew out so much of the character interactions, drama, excitement, and humor in the BEST way. It was fantastic and so fun!

Narrator quality varies in audiobooks, and I would say there are lots who are okay or even good, but not so many who are the best of the best. Out of the many narrators I’ve heard over time, I’d put Richard Ready in my top five with a very select few who are outstanding. He’s delightful to hear, and a narrator of true quality. 🙂

One or two characters sounded a little different than I, personally, had imagined (I think of Crispin with a higher voice and Whitlock with a lower voice; though both were great in the audio), and one area in the beginning was slightly rushed-feeling to listen to. But those are literally my only “complaints” (and very unimportant ones at that), because overall this audiobook was PERFECT and an absolute delight. I LOVED IT!

Some of my family was listening in while I listened to this, and we all had the best time. 😀 It’s also handy that it’s a shorter book—only a little over 4 hours long, so it was just right to listen to without feeling like it was going to take an age. I’ll probably even listen to it again sometime (What? The shock! Unheard of!) because it’s THAT fun.

Overall, my reaction: read this book, people! Better yet, have Richard Ready read it to you, because he’s fantastic. 😀 (And, great—now I want an audiobook of book 2, The Tomb of the Sea Witch…)

(I was given an Audible.com code for a free download of this audiobook from the author. I was not required to write a positive review, and these opinions are entirely my own.)

Story: 5/5
Narrator: 5/5
Performance: 5/5

~ ~ ~

Have you read this yet? BECAUSE YOU NEED TO! (And the audio version is a fun way to try it; just sayin’. ;))

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer