Tag Archive | Fantasy

An Echo of the Fae: Cover Reveal!

Hello, my fellow page dreamers! I’m back from hiatus — and a lovely hiatus it was — to share the GORGEOUS cover for AN ECHO OF THE FAE by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt, one of my favorite authors!

This is a book I’m very excited indeed to share about (I have, in fact, read it, since I was privileged to copyedit it — and I hope to review it for the blog tour later this month), and the cover is STUNNING! I can’t WAIT for it to release! ❤

So scroll down to check out the cover, a bit about the book, and an excerpt!

(FYI, I do have some internet difficulties, so . . . how “back from hiatus” I am remains to be seen. Carry on. XD)

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And now! LOOK HOW GORGEOUS! ❤

An Echo of the Fae

Echo enjoys the peace and solitude of the Faeorn forest, regardless of how strange spending time in the “haunted” wood seems to others.

But on the cusp of her thirteenth birthday, the discovery of a family secret reveals why Echo has never been drawn to the sea like her mother. This discovery shakes the foundations of her world and sends Echo on a quest, not merely into the forest, but into the heart of the fae-lands themselves, to rescue the sister she didn’t know existed.

Elves, dragons, and fairy courts will put Echo’s wit and resolve to the test. But with time running out for her sister, will Echo even be able to save herself?

A fairytale adventure perfect for fans of The Secret of Roan Innish and The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

Drop by Jenelle’s website for preorder links etc.!


Endorsements:

Enthralled by the terror, charm, riddles, and beauty of a richly depicted fae world, I devoured this marvelous book in two sittings! Readers of all ages will love Echo, a heroine strong in her weakness, clever and resolute amid her doubt and fear. An Echo of the Fae is sure to satisfy lovers of adventure and faery!” — J.M. Stengl, author of The Faraway Castle Series


Author Bio:

Jenelle first fell in love with stories through her father’s voice reading books aloud each night. A relentless opener-of-doors in hopes of someday finding a passage to Narnia, it was only natural that she soon began making up fantastical realms of her own. Jenelle currently resides in the wintry tundra of Wisconsin—which she maintains is almost as good as Narnia—with her knight-in-shining armor and their four adorable hobbits. When she is not writing, she homeschools said hobbits and helps them along on their daily adventures… which she says makes her a wizard.

Follow Jenelle around the interwebs to get news about latest releases and her writing adventures:


And now, a snippet from the book!

An excerpt from An Echo of the Fae by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

You dare steal from the King of the Winter Court?” The voice reverberated through the air, its sheer, palpable power pushing Echo to her knees. The lantern dropped from her nerveless hand and clattered on the ground.

Echo bowed her head respectfully, racking her memory for every snatch of folk-tale she had ever heard about the Winter Fae or the Dark Host. “Forgive me, my lord,” she whispered. “I did not intend to steal from you. I merely seek to save the life of my sister.”

She heard soft footfalls approach across the sable ground but she did not dare raise her eyes, not even when she felt the touch of hot breath on the back of her head.

You smell of truth.” The voice sounded puzzled. “Rise, seeker.”

Echo stood, wincing at the pain in her feet. But that thought fled with the rest as she came face to face with the largest tiger she had ever seen.

Upon reflection, it was the only tiger she had ever seen. But she was reasonably certain that, should she ever see another, it would be quite different from the monstrous beast that confronted her now.

Her eyes were even with his shoulders, and he stared down at her from his impressive height, his long whiskers twitching inches above her face. His fur was utterly black, the color of coal. Instead of stripes, Ritioghra’s—for it could only be Ritioghra—body was covered in swirls and whorls of gleaming blue, the same color as the Everflame. His eyes gleamed like two massive stars of an identical shade, and he gazed down at her with an expression of ferocious curiosity. He was utterly terrifying and utterly beautiful.

Terror coursed through her veins like ice, but the light of intelligence in his eyes gave her courage. “For-forgive me, my lord.” Echo gave a wobbly curtsy.

The tiger stretched with a lazy nonchalance. Every line of his long body rippled with power and strength, like the unstoppable force of a river about to burst its banks.


So there you are!

Isn’t it gorgeous? Savannah Jezowksi at Dragonpen Designs did an amazing job on the cover! And doesn’t the book sound absolutely lovely? Because it absolutely is!

Let me know what you think in a comment! Thanks for reading. ^_^

Winter Spell #CoverReveal!

GUYS! I’m so very excited to share the cover reveal for Winter Spell by Claire M. Banschbach today!

Okay, so I read this back in January (copyeditor perks!) and I loved it SO. MUCH. One of my favorite books this year!

Read on for all the info about the book, the GORGEOUS COVER, and some exciting preorder goodies (including me shrieking incoherently over some ADORABLE ART), and an Instagram challenge!

Aaahh! I’m so excited!

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Winter Spell

by Claire M. Banschbach

A half-breed faery. A war-weary princess. A quest to free three kingdoms from the deadly winter spell.

Constantly doubted by her ocean faery kindred, Tonya Freyr-dottir only wants to untangle the dormant ice and water magic within her. Then a strange attack makes her unleash a fierce winter on the land and sea. And she has no idea how to stop it.

Princess Diane serves faithfully at her brother’s side, trying to restore their kingdom of Myrnius after the devastating Dark War. Now with brutal winter wreaking havoc, everything they have worked for might be lost to famine and destruction.

Desperate to help, Tonya travels to the far north to unlock her magic, aided by Diane, as well as two land faeries: Dorian, a reckless healer and August, a mischievous warrior. But the north brings fresh dangers, unearths old wounds, and offers more questions than answers.

With doom threatening human and faery alike, Tonya must find a way to trust her new friends and release her magic before all fall to the fury of winter’s spell.

Available for pre-order now! Releases on 4/23!

Add to Goodreads


Note

Aren’t they gorgeous together? *DYING*

Winter Spell is book 3 in the Faeries of Myrnius series, but can be read as a standalone. (So if you haven’t read the first two and just need this one in your life, you can totally go ahead and read Winter Spell by itself!) However, series is best enjoyed in chronological order.


Preorder Info!

*cue screaming* LOOOOK AT THE ADORABLE CHIBI ART H.S.J. WILLIAMS MADE FOR CLAIRE’S PRECIOUS WINTER SPELL CHARACTERS!!! ❤ My character frens! They are so cute and it’s just PERFECT for their personalities and alkdsjflksjdlkf I CAN’T! ❤ ❤ ❤

August is busy being snarky and totally getting in Dorian’s personal space. XD Dorian is so done with him and looking FABULOUS. (Dorian’s my favorite, y’all!) Princess Diane is not taking nonsense from anybody (and looook, her notebook and braid crown!). And Tonya, my precious winter child!

Eep! I adore them all SO MUCH. I’m so excited for y’all to get to meet them in this book!

Amazing photo by @cmbanschbach / Adorable character art by @h.s.j._williams

Pre-order goodies include a character art postcard of four characters from Winter Spell done by H.S.J. Williams, and a series bookmark! Submit receipt to campitorpress@gmail.com

Pre-order packets will also be available to those who buy the book in ebook or paperback up to 5/7 and submit receipt to campitorpress@gmail.com

Pre-order!


IG photo challenge

Claire is also running her first Instagram challenge! It will be for the week of the release, 4/20-4/24, and will have prizes attached for those who participate!


Author Bio

Claire M. Banschbach is a native Texan and would make an excellent hobbit if she wasn’t so tall. She’s an overall dork, pizza addict, and fangirl. When not writing fantasy stories packed full of adventure and snark, she works as a pediatric Physical Therapist where she happily embraces the fact that she never actually has to grow up.

She writes New Adult/Adult fantasy as C.M. Banschbach.

Facebook  Instagram Website


What do you think? Doesn’t it sound AMAZING? (It is. I’ll be joining in the blog tour during release date to review it, hopefully!) And have you read any of Claire’s books? Who’s excited for this one? 😀

Emberhawk by Jamie Foley: Review!

Happy release day to this incredible adventuresome fantasy that I adored! Read on for my review, A.K.A. why you need to read this book at once. 😉

Title: Emberhawk

Author: Jamie Foley

  • Series: The Katrosi Revolution, #1
  • Date read: March 6-10, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 337 (paperback)
  • Fave character: Ryon, Felix, and two slightly-spoiler-ish characters. 😀
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free ARC from the author and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleSigned CopiesOther BookstoresAuthor’s Website

Emberhawk is an absolutely delicious book, with swashbuckling adventure, a richly detailed world, and snarky characters I had a total blast reading about! I loved it so much!

I’m a huge fan of Jamie Foley’s Sentinel Trilogy, so I was thrilled to get to dive into the first book in a new series set in the same world! Emberhawk takes place over a thousand years before Sentinel and has a different feel but is an equally fabulous read. Sentinel fans, you’re going to love this book—and if you’re new to Jamie’s works, Emberhawk is the perfect book to start with! IT’S. SO. GOOD.

THE ADVENTURE

I was totally absorbed in this fresh take on a fantasy story, and just wanted to hang out with these characters forever. The plot kept me enthralled, following our main characters, and I love how there’s an exciting story on the surface that at first seems like a straight-up adventure, but also extra depth and schemes hidden beneath the surface that slowly comes to light, masterfully woven in.

There are secrets, spies, shifting alliances . . . tribes and settlers, a tyrannical empire . . . It was SO intriguing to follow the different political schemes threaded through the adventure and find out who’s working for who. All the characters were so multi-faceted. Nothing’s as it seems! There were some really thrilling twists, especially near the end, that had me shrieking. Eep! (Also, aaahhh! I need to find out what happened to a certain character! Where’s book two? *grabby hands*)

Snarky banter and humor, a bit of star-crossed lovers tossed in, a rich and layered world (I love the world-building so much!), and all of that on TOP of a super thrilling, adventurous tale . . . and all tied together with the fabulous writing I’ve come to expect of this author. It doesn’t get better than this! 😀

THE CHARACTERS

Our main characters Kira and Ryon make a fabulous pair. I loved them so much! Ryon is awesome and epic, and I love his heart of gold character. He’s just the best! Kira is a bit of a trapper/inventor and a spitfire. Their banter gives me life. XD I adored reading their story and I love them so much!

Not to mention the other fabulous characters! Some of them I feel like it would kiiind of be a spoiler if I mentioned their names? Especially with certain loyalties being up in the air for a lot of the book. XD But there were some EPIC side characters who really grew on me and I’m so excited to read more about them! A certain under-cover guy (you’ll know who it is by the end!) who’s one of my favorites, and a certain antihero assassin-type character who is verrry intriguing and I so hope there is more to his story!

Felix gets his own paragraph because Feliiiiix! XD Snarky fox elemental—what is not to love? He’s in the Sentinel Trilogy a bit and I was delighted to find him in this book as well! The snark, his way of dashing about on side-quests and sassing everyone and being absolutely epic, and turning into other cute or epic animals—aaahh! Just. This fox! He’s sooo much fun!

IN SUMMARY

Elementals, forest adventures, elemental fire and water magic, creepy d’hakka (huge tree-spider-scorpions! :O), different cultures and alliances, true love and friendship and siblings, arrows and fire and disrupted ordinary lives, a princess, an assassin, nefarious plots, lovable characters and snark and romance . . . There is SO much excitement and awesomeness in this book! *hugs Emberhawk forever*

I just adore it and I NEED book two! Fantasy lovers, here’s another book that needs to go on your to-read list ASAP. A complete delight! ❤


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Facebook Live (March 10, 2020)

Also, if you see this before 8pm Central on release day (March 10), be sure to drop by at that time for a Facebook Live party on Jamie Foley’s Facebook page with Q&A, giveaways, and the cover-reveal for book 2, Silverblood! 😀

Have you read any of Jamie Foley’s books? What do you think of this one? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Stephen R. Lawhead: In the Region of the Summer Stars (Review)

I have a new favorite book and today I get to shriek about it to you guys to tide me over until I get my hands on the next book in the series! *grins*

Title: In the Region of the Summer Stars

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

  • Series: Eirlandia, #1
  • Date read: February 29, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars! (Summer ones. ;))
  • Genre: Celtic Fantasy
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 333 (hardcover)
  • Fave character: Conor
  • Source: Library
  • Links: GoodreadsBarnes & NobleAmazonAuthor’s Website
  • Quotes: “I sing because I have no more tears,” the bard replied.

Another deftly woven tale by master storyteller Stephen R. Lawhead, this book is sure to enchant fans new and old alike. It certainly delighted me! It felt like coming home. A new favorite! There are usually a handful of books each year that I want to award six out of five stars, and this is one of them.

Lawhead’s Bright Empires books are some of my favorites ever, so I was extremely excited to finally dive into Eirlandia. And book one has so lived up to my hopes! I love it so much and I can’t wait to read the second one soon to prep for the final book in the trilogy, releasing this summer. (Aaahh!)

I loved disappearing between the pages in this utterly absorbing tale, full of adventure and rich detail and characters who spring to life in this green land of wonders and warriors and words. I lived and breathed it, completely captivated. I love Celtic things, and this is a splendid Celtic Fantasy. I need more books like this!

A few things I loved:

THE SETTING + FEEL

From the first page I just felt so at home reading In the Region of the Summer Stars. The feel of this book touched my Irish soul and makes me think back on memories of the tales of old Ireland that I grew up listening to and reading about. Stepping through the page into Eirlandia made me so happy to just be there.

Welcome to a skillfully woven tale of warriors and druids and faery. Travel the rolling hills and secret forests and cliffs by the sea. Join these various clans and feel the strong themes of brothers-in-arms, honor, loyalty, and fierce bravery, but with dashes of good-natured humor. I didn’t know quite what I expected, but it was everything I wanted. ^_^

The way the characters talk is also great—I love how it has an Irish lilt to it just with the way they say things. It makes me happy. (And their lighthearted Irish sense of humor which is the best.) I also loved the familiar words and names, the rich history and lore they’re drawn from, and even the sounds of them. Brehons, Tuatha de Danann, Lughnasadh, Tylwyth Teg, Tir nan Og. Oenach, Aoife, Eamon, Brigantes. Harps and pipes and bodhran drums, checked cloaks and spears and brooches and torcs. Just all of it. ^_^ The sound and feel of it makes me happy like nothing else does aside from J. R. R. Tolkien’s world of The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings. (And yes, I do have an idea of how to pronounce most of those, I promise. XD)

THE PLAYERS

Then there’s Conor. Conor mac Ardan has this marvelous way of being clever and stubborn and loyal and thick-headed and chaotically reckless all in turn. He’s my favorite! I loved following him through the book on his journey. The way he comes up with the most outlandish plans that are sheer crazy and yet somehow he charges in and pulls them off—mostly. It’s the best! And yet he’s super smart, too, sometimes, and a really skilled warrior (honestly, though. So. Epic.), and you won’t meet a more loyal or honorable friend, either. Occasionally Madoc or Donal and Fergal have to smack some sense into him, but that just makes him all the more human. 😉 Conor is the best, okay! My new favorite hero.

I love the other inhabitants of this tale as well! Conor’s brothers-in-arms Donal and Fergal are fabulous. I love their camaraderie with Conor and each other, and their loyalty and joking around! It’s like the best kind of brother/buddy tale and I love it. Madoc is a marvelous mentor-type character—I loved him and his dryness and wisdom, and how he makes Conor work at figuring things out instead of just telling him things. 😛 Rhiannon is fascinating but I won’t spoil info about her. And so many other people. They’re all so real and I just loved reading about them! Oh, and the bits between some of the chapters, from the points of view of other characters than Conor, were fabulous and enlightening. So neat.

I loved seeing some good and wise druids (yesss) and bards, and the faery were magnificent. I was quite pleased with how they were written and hope to see more of them! They felt just right. Another thing I appreciated was the horses and how central they were to the story, and how the warriors cared for them. They were like characters themselves instead of just transportation that gets forgotten about like in some fantasy books. XD The attention to details like that was delightful.

THE STORY + ENDING

While it’s not non-stop action (though there is a bunch of that!), the story definitely kept me absorbed and on the edge of my seat the entire time, full of devious plots and intrigue and mysteries, which were fascinating to follow along as Conor and company attempted to untangle the threads to see the pattern lurking behind all the guile. Threats and invaders, cunning kings and betrayal, secrets and hidden schemes . . . it was all there!

(Just a heads-up that there were one or two scenes that were a tad dark or gruesome etc., so a brief caution to younger readers or those who prefer to avoid it. Other than a couple of parts, though, I wouldn’t have minded reading it in my teen years in the not-so-distant-past.)

There were some marvelous twists at the end that had me going WHAAAAT! :O That ending, though! It was sooo good. So many things going down. O_O I stayed up late and finished around midnight and WOW. It ended on a wee bit of a cliffhanger, so it did. 😉 I need to get my hands on a copy of In the Land of the Everliving as soon as I can, or sooner!

CONCLUSION

Ancient Ireland + warrior brothers-in-arms + mystery/adventure + faery + druids + delightful characters + masterful writing = what’s not to love? IT’S JUST SO GOOD. I love it so much!

In the Region of the Summer Stars was magnificent and blew me away. I’m thrilled to have stepped into Eirlandia in this tale, and I can’t wait to go back. ❤


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Any Lawhead fans out there? Have you read this one? What do you think? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Beyond the Shadowed Earth by Joanna Ruth Meyer (Review)

I’ve got a review for you today! A review for a book by one of my favorite authors — and I can definitely say the book wasn’t quite like anything I’ve read before!

Title: Beyond the Shadowed Earth

Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer

  • Date read: January 31, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Epic Fantasy
  • Age: YA/NA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 400
  • Series: Companion novel to Beneath the Haunting Sea, but stands alone
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s WebsiteBarnes & Noble

About Beyond the Shadowed Earth

It has always been Eda’s dream to become empress, no matter the cost. Haunted by her ambition and selfishness, she’s convinced that the only way to achieve her goal is to barter with the gods. But all requests come with a price and Eda bargains away the soul of her best friend in exchange for the crown.

Years later, her hold on the empire begins to crumble and her best friend unexpectedly grows sick and dies. Gnawed by guilt and betrayal, Eda embarks on a harrowing journey to confront the very god who gave her the kingdom in the first place. However, she soon discovers that he’s trapped at the center of an otherworldly labyrinth and that her bargain with him is more complex than she ever could have imagined.

Set in the same universe as Joanna’s debut, Beneath the Haunting Sea, Beyond the Shadowed Earth combines her incredible world building and lush prose with a new, villainous lead.


What a stunning, mythic, gripping fantasy tale! This again affirms that I want to read everything this author writes. AWK! There are so many twists and it was so unique that it’s going to be hard to write a spoiler-free review, but I’ll give it a shot. I had SO MANY FEELS after reading it that it took me awhile to sort them out enough to write this review. I’m not sure I’ve quite recovered, even now. XD

Beyond the Shadowed Earth was rich and vivid, gritty, raw, but also gorgeous. It’s darker than I usually like but I still loved it! The writing utterly captivated me, completely reeling me in to this world. Golden deserts and lush palaces (perfect for climbing on the roofs! ;)), rugged mountains and sea and travel, and so much imaginative fantasy effortlessly threaded through the whole.

I was a little nervous about the main character, Eda, having been a villain in the companion book. I loathed her in that. XD But, as I should have guessed (given this author’s talent), Eda totally grew on me and had a fascinating journey in this book. No spoilers but I’m extremely impressed with the writing and her story and have a lot feels! What a spitfire. It’s been quite a journey, that’s for sure!

The characters were all very well drawn and intriguing, and it’s fitting that you could never be quite sure where their schemes lay, given that Eda herself is somewhat of a scheming character—eheheh. I was kept very much on my toes with all the deceptions and twists! The characters were all very real, and I don’t want to give any spoilers but their stories were fascinating. I particularly loved the mapmaker, Morin! Also his sister. Actually, sisters in general played a big part and seemed like a theme in the book, which I loved!

I will mention that it’s very dark. There’s a looot of blood and death and betrayal, and mild swearing, and some quite creepy, disturbing parts—which comes with the territory, I suppose. XD I’d recommend it for more mature teens and up.

Moving back to more things I loved! One of my favorite things about this world is their mythology and how we get bits of stories within this story. I absolutely loved that! It gave it so much depth and richness and was just so interesting. Also, the eagles!! I loved them so much! (You’ll see what I mean when you read it. ;)) One of my favorite parts was the second half, with the mountains and the journeying. (Also! Snow leopard!! *squeaking*)

This book is a companion novel to Beneath the Haunting Sea, which I also loved. Both can stand alone, and are very different, but I loved the nods, references, and parallels between the two!

It’s like nothing I’ve read before! Although, having said that, I suppose it does remind me some of The Silmarillion, for the scope and the “gods” in this (who seem to be spirits much like the Valar in The Silmarillion), though created by the One. And I hear that it’s rather like Megan Whalen Turner’s books too, which makes me curious to try those! And the deserty bits reminded me a little of King’s Folly by Jill Williamson. Okay, so it did remind me of other things, but still felt utterly unique and new. If you enjoyed any of those three, or are already a Joanna Ruth Meyer fan, you need to give this a shot.

The themes were really interesting and left me thinking about this story for days afterward—as did all of my poor tangled feels which took me awhile to untangle enough to write this review! XD So many feels! I just—awk! How do I even explain this book and all the thiiings and feels! *collapses* It was just really good, and in a sense I’m surprised at myself for liking it as much as I did, because some of it just isn’t my cup of tea, but I still just . . . really enjoyed it!

Overall, it’s darker than I usually enjoy reading, but it was so breathtaking I didn’t mind as much, and despite the shadows and death and rawness, there’s a beautiful tale of redemption here, with excellent twists and gorgeous writing. If you love fantasy and can handle a darker tale, this one is well worth checking out!


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Have you read any of this author’s books? I totally recommend them! Echo North and Beneath the Haunting Sea are both lovely as well! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2019!

Yes, I’m finally here with my favorite books I read last year! (A wizard is never late. *cough*)

Out of all the 140 books (yes, many of those were short stories or novellas) that I read in 2019 (according to my Goodreads list if you’d like to see all of them! My personal spreadsheet has 175, but anyway. XD), there were MANY amazing stories, but here are some of the ones that stood out!

But first, stats! Because stats are fun.

  • 37 new-to-me novels
  • 48 smaller reads (short stories or novellas etc.)
  • 28 rereads (some were short stories)
  • 6 anthologies
  • 9 nonfiction
  • 13 picture books
  • 10 beta-reads
  • 2 graphic novels
  • 3 misc.
  • 4 audiobook
  • 14 libraried

Oh, and here is a picture of the books I read in 2019 of which I have physical copies. 😀 (54. Last year there were 52. XD)

The pretties! Top: New reads. Middle left: Nonfiction, children’s, anthologies. Middle right: Re-reads (yes, half of it IS by Diana Wynne Jones; why do you ask?). Bottom: bookmarks to represent some books that I don’t own or read in ebook form. Plus a picture book and novella.

Now on with the main post!

In no particular order, other than that the top few are my top favorites, I present…

My Top 15 Favorite Books I Read In 2019

1. Oath of the Outcast (C.M. Banschbach)

Hands-down my favorite book of the year! I had a massive book hangover after reading this and I’m not sure I’ve recovered. It’s just so good! You’ve got a Celtic flavor, epic brothers-by-blood-and-by-bond, much stabbiness, rivers of snark (oh, man, the snark. XD), and of course my smol floof of anger management issues, the Mountain Baron a.k.a. Rhys, outcast and leader of the outlaw Cairns, most epic character of ever, who’s just setting foot on the start of a long road to redemption. I JUST LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH.

[MY REVIEW]

2. Flight of the Raven (Morgan L. Busse)

I adored the first book, and each one gets even more amazing! Flight of the Raven was just SO good (and, spoiler alert, I just read and loved book 3, and I think each one of them is going to end up on the top-reads-of-the-year posts in the years I read them!). Dreamwalking, water powers, growing peril in the land, wonderful worldbuilding and fascinating fantasy “gifts”/powrs, and characters I’ve fallen head-over-heels for! I loved this one so much! ^_^ And getting to dress up as Lady Selene Ravenwood when I went to Realm Makers (and the author also, surprise, dressing as Selene!) was definitely a highlight!

[MY REVIEW]

3. Cress (Marissa Meyer)

I liked Cinder, enjoyed Scarlet, and absolutely fell in love with Cress! I can’t wait to read Winter! Audiobooking Cress was definitely a highlight. I got to live the adventure alongside Cress and Thorne (my faves!) and all the other characters I’d grown to love in the previous book, and all while exercising this summer! (The parts in the Sahara coincided with dead-of-Texas-summer heat, so that made it an interesting exercise companion. XD) IT’S JUST SO MUCH FUN! I’m so glad I finally tried this series. 🙂

4. Curse and Consequence (Savannah Jezowski)

I loved this so much that I read it twice in the same week, because I simply HAD to share the delightful and hilarious story aloud. My siblings and I now quote these characters, particularly Hugh. XD (“Wicky, how could you!”) It’s a Regency-esque fantasy novella, with magical curses and shenanigans, a dragon, and a very Twinkle-like character. IT’S HILARIOUS and I need book two yesterday.

[MY REVIEW]

5. Head in the Heavens (E.B. Dawson)

*screaming* I don’t know WHY I adore this collection so much, other than that the author is apparently a genius. Anyway, E.B. Dawson made me fall in love with sci-fi short stories enough that they’re in my top reads of the year! I binge-read them separately and was THRILLED when they were collected in this handy volume. Sci-fi Moby Dick and Beauty and the Beast, GORGEOUS writing, and edge-of-your-seat dystopian (I don’t even like dystopian but this was just SO GOOD??), are only some of the delights that await you in this anthology!

[MY REVIEW]

6. Deadwood + Hollow (Kyle Robert Shultz)

I simply HAVE to mention these new Afterverse books, Crockett & Crane book 2 and 2.5! (I did edit them, since I am, after all, the Editor of the Afterverse. But they are totally going on this list of simply as a books this fangirling reader loves.)

In Deadwood, Todd and his friends face off against a creepy sentient town in the magical wild west. Also, I love how we get more of Julio, everyone’s favorite (second-favorite?) dragon! There is plenty of signature banter and humor and magical fun, but everything has a more serious side too, as well as creepy Pinocchio elements, and there are plenty of feels! But Todd and Julio are just THE BEST, OKAY? OKAY.

Speaking of feels, HOLLOW! It’s Sleepy Hollow meets Wonderland with a dash of time travel and WOW. It’s so delicious. And, again, feelsy. But with Ichabod Crane (Todd’s ancestor) as the main character, and important characters from both the Crockett & Crane and Beaumont & Beasley series . . . it’s ABSOLUTELY AWESOME and mind-blowing. It packs quite a punch for a novella! (Plus, that cover! *heart eyes*)

[MY REVIEW OF HOLLOW]

7. Dark is the Night (Mirriam Neal)

A new book from Mirriam Neal released and some of my favorite characters, Skata and Angel, have been published — THIS IS NOT A DRILL. I adored this book years ago when I beta-read it, and having it finally on my shelf is A DREAM. I’m so happy to have read the final version in all its vampire-hunter, urban fantasy, southern gothic, snarky-hilarious-banter-buddy-story glory! Buddy stories are my fave, and Skata and Angel are THE BEST. XD

[MY REVIEW]

8. Magic Kingdom for Sale (Terry Brooks)

This one was sheer fun, and I’m so pleased that I finally picked it up on the recommendation of Jenelle Schmidt. I was determined to read one book by Terry Brooks before going to Realm Makers 2019, where I got to meet him (!!!), and this one fit the bill perfectly. It’s a delightful portal fantasy from back when that wasn’t really a thing, and I loved the down-to-earth-ness of the main character, and the quirkiness of the world and other characters! A blast.

9. Mechanical Heart (Sarah Pennington)

Aaahh, this book! I had been dying to read it for years, and I was so excited to get to devour this author’s first full-length novel! Steampunk Rapunzel in a clocktower, with solid characters, politics, mysteries, and inventions? YES PLEASE! I still have not read enough Steampunk, but this is another one to add to the slowly growing list of ones I’ve read and loved. Fabulous!

[MY REVIEW]

10. The Fall of Gondolin (J.R.R. Tolkien & Christopher Tolkien)

Bittersweet as the last book Christopher Tolkien released, made more so by his recent passing, but so, so gorgeous, and a fitting end. I’m so grateful that he got to share so many stories and drafts his father wrote with us fortunate readers! This one was different than The Children of Hurin and Beren and Luthien, but as the third of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Great Tales of the Silmarillion, it was an absolute delight to get a closer look at those drafts and I was surprised how much detail there was, if sad that it wasn’t finished. I absolutely loved it, and the illustrations by Alan Lee are AMAZING!

11. The Wee Free Men (Terry Pratchett)

*laughing* The Nac Mac Feegle, though. XD They’re hilarious and totally the reason why I loved this. I had a blast reading it, and really enjoyed the gorgeous illustrated edition I managed to find at a library. It had a more Celtic feel than the other Discworld books I’ve read, and feels somehow different than them, and rather a lot more like a Diana Wynne Jones for some reason. Maybe it’s because of the young main character, who’s great! I can’t wait to read more about the Feegles and their Scottish accents and ridiculous, hilarious shenanigans. XD

12. Flower of the Underworld (Hazel B. West)

At this point, Hazel West is probably my favorite Urban Fantasy author. I absolutely LOVE her Modern Tales of Na Fianna series (the best UF everrrr), so I was curious to try this modern retelling of Hades and Persephone. IT WAS SUCH A BLAST. The normalized setting of Greek mythology in contemporary times was perfect and hilarious, and there were so many shenanigans, as well as much humor. And Hades (who’s like the only nice guy in his powerhungry family) and Persephone (who works at a landscaping business) are so much fun. And she gives him a plant named George so OBVIOUSLY this book is just the best. I just had way too much fun reading it. XD

13. Strayborn (E.E. Rawls)

This just made me happy, okay? It’s a middle-grade Christian Fantasy magical-academy type story and it felt so fresh and delightful! The characters were fabulous and unique and I loved so many of them — particularly the mentor character, Master Nephryte, who reminded me a little of Chrestomanci! Also, that cover! ❤

[MY REVIEW]

14. The Boggart Fights Back (Susan Cooper)

Aaahh! So, the first two Boggart books were on my top reads of the year lists when I read them, and I suddenly found out that years and years later there was a sequel that just came out?? I immediately snagged it from the library and devoured it. Modern fantasy set in Scotland, this time about the children of the characters from the first two. And I love the mischievous Boggart and Nessie! Delightful. 🙂

15. Compass South + Knife’s Edge (Hope Larson & Rebecca Mock)

I haven’t really read graphic novels before, so this was a first for me, and I’m surprised to see these creeping in at the end of my list, but I just HAD to include them! It’s a duology, and I’ve talked about them before, but they’re just SO MUCH FUN . Swashbuckling MG/YA graphic novels, 99% clean historical fiction, with fun characters (and twins!), unexpected twists, and just… These little books made me happy! I’m so glad I randomly picked them up at the library! 🙂


Aaand here’s a picture of all the ones I own in physical form so far!


So there are my “official” top fifteen (ish) favorites . . . but we’re not done yet!

Now I need to share some runners-up and favorites in other categories.

RUNNERS-UP THAT MAKE ME HAPPY

1. Beneath the Haunting Sea (Joanna Ruth Meyer)

This is by the author of Echo North (one of my top five favorite books I read in 2018), so naturally it’s excellent! Sea and island vibes, original mythology and fabulous characters, and all gorgeous and wild. The Silmarillion meets Jane Eyre is how it was pitched to me, which I find rather accurate. Aside from a love triangle, simply fabulous!

2. Ghostlight (Rabia Gale)

BECAUSE TREY. Trey is the hero of this book and singlehandedly gains it a spot on my favorites. A little spooky for me, but it gave me a slight book hangover, and it’s a delightful regency-esque fantasy with fabulous banter, and did I mention Trey?

3. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells (Sebastian Faulks)

It may not quite be Wodehouse, but it gets jolly close. What a hilarious set of shenanigans! Bertie Wooster and Jeeves and the usual hijinks, in a fabulous homage to P.G. Wodehouse’s classic tales.

4. Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares (Shaun Hume)

Academy story. Modern-day London. Scotland. Ewan and his misfit friends are my favorite. A dragon. A mysterious castle. It’s just a wonderful romp and it makes me happy! (Sequel to Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith.)

5. Fortunately, the Milk . . . (Neil Gaiman)

Well, firstly, that title, which I quote all the time. Secondly, this is absolutely hilarious and it makes me smile and it just wanted to be on this list! (Even if there are obviously other books I read this year which I liked more in general. But it’s just so funny and I had to mention it. XD) I particularly love re-reading the beginning. XD This currently joins Make Good Art as one of my favorite books from this author.


And then a few other categories…


FAVORITE SHORT STORIES

Arbrook Huxley and the Miraculous Confection (Mollie E. Reeder)

A new short story about Huxley from The Electrical Menagerie! *screaming* This story was an absolute delight, and so well-written. It gave me all of the feels! And the ending was perfect. I laughed so hard and then I had to read it to my siblings. XD I just love it! Absolutely delicious.

The Grift of the Magi (Ally Carter)

I loved the Heist Society books when I read them ages ago, and this might be my favorite one! It’s a short story (or maybe novella?), set after book 3, at Christmas-time, and it’s. so. good. HALE and feels and Christmas and a snowstorm and a Scottish castle and so many cons and things and a great twist at the end. I love it so much!

(There’s not a “cover” for the Jayden and Dana stories, but the one I first read was collected in this anthology awhile back, so I’m using this picture. Also, it’s just a really excellent anthology, even if I didn’t read it this year. XD)

Jayden and Dana stories (Arthur Daigle)

These don’t have covers or anything, and I mentioned them in my favorites last year, but they’re a continuing sort of short story serial over on Booksie. I just LOVE reading about these two characters, Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden. I “met” them in some of the Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, and went on to read more stories of their adventures as they’re posted from time to time. There’s over a dozen of these now and I highly recommend checking them out! Jayden is the best, and so is Dana, and I love their banter and the fantastical adventures they get up to!


FAVORITE PICTURE BOOKS

‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem (Jenelle Leanne Schmidt)

I love this so much! The art is so soft and charming and the story and poem are lovely, with elegant borders and a great cover, and the whole is just a gorgeous picture book that I love! ^_^

King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson (Kenneth Kraegel)

I ADORE THIS. I found it at the library and it’s one of the best picture books I’ve read. It’s about the great-great-great-etc. grandson of King Arthur, a little boy, who goes looking for monsters to fight, with the absolute BEST outcomes. XD I just love it!


FAVORITE NONFICTION

I think I read about ten nonfiction books this year, most of them about writing in one way or another, and these were my top favorites.

Not Write Now (Kyle Robert Shultz)

I actually copyedited this one, but it’s a marvelous reverse-psychology writer self-help book. I’ve never read anything like it before, but it’s actually really helpful and also absolutely hilarious. XD

Sometimes the Magic Works (Terry Brooks)

I had the delight of meeting Terry Brooks at the Realm Makers 2019 conference, and picked this up while I was there. I’m new to his work this year, but this collection of essays about his experiences as a writer was fabulous, and really encouraged me in a difficult time. Plus, it was just really fun. 🙂


I know that was a lot! *hides face* I just want to share all the books. XD Have you read any of these? Any going on your TBR? What was YOUR favorite book(s) of 2019? Thanks for reading!

Cry of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse (Review)

I’m thrilled to be sharing about my latest favorite read — and the book that was my most-anticipated read of the year! IT’S SO GOOD! Read on for my thoughts! 🙂

Title: Cry of the Raven

Author: Morgan L. Busse

  • Date read: February 4, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars (All of the stars!)
  • Genre: Fantasy / Epic Fantasy / Christian Fantasy
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 380
  • Series: The Ravenwood Saga, #3
  • Fave character: Damien! And all the others!
  • Source: Thanks to Bethany House Publishers and the author for the influencer copy.
  • Notes: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s WebsitePublisherBarnes & Noble

Aaaahh! This book was so amazing! A new favorite, and an epic, suspenseful conclusion to the Ravenwood Saga! I loved it so, so much! I’ll try to keep this review spoiler free. 😉

I’ve loved each book in this trilogy, and each one has gotten even better than the last—difficult to imagine, since they’ve all been top favorites. CRY OF THE RAVEN was my most-anticipated read of the year, and wraps up the series, and totally delivers! IT. WAS. INCREDIBLE.

New twists and secrets come to light and there’s SO MUCH EPICNESS and it’s all on such a grand scale. I was blown away. The inspiring journey of these beloved characters, in this amazing world, with so many things that I love and have been excited to see since I first started the series, has just been so thrilling to experience! It makes me so happy! I’m sitting here grinning, trying to come up with words to do justice to this delightful book.

I just had to dress up as Lady Selene Ravenwood again! ^_^

I absolutely love the characters, and how real their stories are, with their struggles, relationships, and growth. It’s been amazing following Selene through these books and seeing where she is now (I love her character so much, and even cosplayed as her at a writers conference last year!). Damien is my favorite, and he has quite a story in this one too! He is just the best. I love them together as well and seeing how their relationship plays out! All the love for these two! Reading their adventures and seeing the end has been so rewarding and I will love them forever. ^_^

So many of the side characters are favorites of mine too—and everyone is so real that they practically step off the page! I especially liked to see more of Caiaphas, Lord Leo and his brother, Lady Bryren and Reidin (who are EPIC!), and other characters like Taegis, Karl, and wise Renlar, who is new but awesome. Meeting new characters and delving deeper into ones we had met previously and seeing how they change was one of my favorite things!

I also love the worldbuilding! Aaahh! Definitely one of my favorite fantasy worlds. The powers/gifts, and all the different cultures and places we get to visit. I was so excited to get to see more of this world! *beaming* I stepped right through the page into this fascinating place—so happy to return one last time, and sad when it was over. I’m going to miss these books! *hugs them forever* But it was such an epic and satisfying conclusion that it’s also hard to be anything other than elated. 😀

I love the writing, too—how it’s not sparse by any means, but at the same time there’s nothing “extra” and it shows just exactly the right things, everything important that we need to know, drawing you right into the action and emotion. It felt so clean, well-written, and masterfully crafted together, with inspiring words in there as well. The spiritual journeys, redemption, and healing, and parts about the Light, were very well done.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to fangirl about more of my absolute favorite things, besides the characters and world, because there is SO much to love about this book. Apologies for any incoherency, but aaaahhhh! CRY OF THE RAVEN had so many amazing things that I adored!

  • Firstly, seeing more of the wyverns! (Yesss! I was totally hoping for that!)
  • I also absolutely loved how the dreamwalking was an even bigger part of this one and how it fit into the plot! (No spoilers, but aaahh!)
  • In the previous books, we’ve seen Selene’s dreamwalking gift and Damien’s water-manipulation gift, but only briefly touched on the other gifts in this world, so I was SO EXCITED to finally learn more about and get to see some of other Great Houses’ gifts in action a bit! (*muffled shrieking*)
  • ALSO! A couple of things about the ending were my absolute favorite! No spoilers, but you’ll know when you read the end. 😉 (The scene with the flower!! My heart! Aaahh! I don’t even know why I loved it so much but I ADORED THAT PART and it makes me smile and tear up. ^_^)

MARK OF THE RAVEN and FLIGHT OF THE RAVEN have been building up to this one and it’s everything I ever wanted! Nearly everything that I hoped to see was brought to light, and so many things that were good surprises, too! It was the perfect ending to this trilogy which I absolutely adore. I whole-heartedly recommend this series! If you are a fantasy fan, you need it in your life!


Read my reviews of the first two books:


Aaahh! It was just so good. Have you read this series yet? Let me know what you think! Thanks for reading! 🙂