Tag Archive | Favorite Books

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! 🙂

Giveaway heads-up: Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows!

Just a quick heads-up: I’m having a giveaway for a paperback of Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows (by Arthur Daigle), my favorite read of 2020, over on my Instagram, so go check it out at https://www.instagram.com/deborahocarroll and enter to win! (US only due to shipping, ends 3/25.)

(If you are NOT on Instagram and would still like to enter, follow me here on my blog, add the book on Goodreads, and then drop a comment below on this blog post and I’ll enter you for a Kindle e-book copy instead. I’ll reply to the winning comment on 3/26/21 to notify the winner so do check back then if you enter!)

My brief thoughts so you know a bit about the book if you missed my full review:

This book is one of my top-five favorite books of all time, so of course I had to buy an extra copy to share the love! 💚

What do you get when you pair up a loyal, practical farm girl and a lone-wolf, elegant, snarky, insanely powerful enchanter with a chip on his shoulder, and set them loose to fight monsters and injustice in a fantasy kingdom?

This snarky, clever, sheer fun fantasy novel, is what! It perfectly balances comedy, epic swashbuckling, and humorous or heartfelt character moment that give me all the feels.

Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett (it is #MarchMagics this month, after all!), and Terry Brooks’ Magic Kingdom for Sale.

Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden are one of my favorite character duos ever and I just love them to bits!

Good luck if you enter in either place and thanks for reading! I highly recommend this book! 💚

FAVE BOOK! Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows by Arthur Daigle (Review)

Y’all, I’m ECSTATIC to be reviewing Jayden and Dana’s book today! Ready to hear about my top-favorite read of 2020? Here we go!

Title: Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows

Author: Arthur Daigle

  • Date read: January 20, 2021
  • Rating: 5 stars (6 out of 5 stars, TBH)
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: Teens and adults alike will enjoy it
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 289 (paperback)
  • Series: Book 1
  • Fave character: Jayden!
  • Source: Amazon
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazon

Well, that made it to my top-five favorite books of all time! Jayden and Dana are some of my favorite characters EVER. I was a fan of short stories about their adventures (two of them first appearing in Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, and on Booksie), but they finally have a novel which just released and I. AM. ECSTATIC. I’ve read this four times now and I never get tired of it. I just can’t put into words how much I love it! I love humorous banter, I love fantasy stories, and I love these characters SO MUCH.

What do you get when you pair up a practical, solid farm girl and a lone-wolf, elegant, snarky, insanely powerful enchanter with a chip on his shoulder, and set them loose to fight monsters and injustice in a fantasy kingdom? This snarky, clever, sheer fun fantasy novel, is what! It perfectly balances comedy, epic swashbuckling, and those humorous or heartfelt character moments that I’m totally here for! Did I mention Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden are one of my top favorite duos EVER? THEY JUST MAKE ME SO HAPPYYYY! *deep breaths*

Let me break down some of my favorite things about this book.

1. Jayden: He’s my favorite. An elegant enchanter with anger management issues but a burning heart for justice, he’s open about his own flaws but won’t tolerate injustice and has it out for the king and queen. He can be politely cutting, snarky, or in a towering rage of righteous anger in turn, and woe to the corrupt, the villains, the oppressors who get in his sights. He has the best dialogue (my favorite!), and is always ready with a cutting remark or a bit of his shadow magic. (Also, watch out if you disrespect his friend Dana—oh, boy.) He covers a hurt, broken past with an exterior that’s alternately bored, casual, angry, or just—Jayden. I can’t do him justice in a description like this, but he’s one of my top favorite characters EVER! (He also gives me slight Howl vibes.)

2. Dana: Then we have Dana, who is just as marvelous in a different way. This sturdy, good-hearted girl is #goals. It’s amazing the way this fifteen-year-old girl can be the only friend of the world’s only sorcerer lord—and the only one to make him see reason. 😉 She brings out the best in him and he in turn respects and informs her, and they’re my faaaavorite! They make an incredible pair, with Dana being the reasonable one trying to stop him from getting killed or redirecting his destructive tendencies, and often saving the day in her own way. I can’t really describe her either but she’s got to be one of my favorite heroines, and I don’t have many of those. She’s fabulous! I just love seeing her (and both of them) grow on this journey. They’re the most epic duo!

3: The Humor: I LOVE funny books. Love them. The style and the humor, the mix of comedy and dry wittiness, and all the snark and bantering dialogue! Glorious. There’s such a variety of humor, which I think is tons of fun, and I love how the funny parts often keep it lighthearted, without detracting from some of the heavier topics and the real struggles they face in this kingdom. Humorous AND epic? Sign me up! Which brings me to the next part.

4: The World and Story: Part tongue-in-cheek comedy, part epic fantasy kingdom, Meadowland Kingdom etc. creates the perfect backdrop for Dana and Jayden’s adventures. A mix of ordinary, spooky, and elegant in turns, the towns and people they encounter are deep in struggles caused by monsters, injustice, and a king and queen out for destruction. I love how, despite Jayden’s issues, he and Dana do so much good throughout the kingdom. They battle injustice wherever they see it, rid the world of destructive monsters, and encounter zany characters like Sir Lootmore and his terrifying cat Jumpscare, Suzy Lockheart the alchemist, various mischievous goblins, and others. It’s the BEST mix of my favorite type of epic fantasy with humorous fantasy. It’s just everything I’ve ever wanted in a book!

I’ve been awaiting this book releasing ever since the very first short adventure I read about Dana and Jayden in the multi-author anthology “Mythical Doorways.” Over the next couple of years, I followed their continuing adventures with sheer delight every time a new “episode” was posted online—my family can attest to how my day was always brightened and I’d go around in a cloud of happiness all day whenever there was “a new Jayden and Dana story!”

I just can’t explain my love of these characters and their fantastic, humorous, feelsy adventures. I’m absolutely beyond thrilled that there is now a whole novel available so the world can experience this book that I’ve been in love with since before it existed in book form. It’s a dream come true to finally have it on my shelf! I can’t wait for the next book. ^_^

DANA ILLWIND AND GROWING SHADOWS is my favorite book I read in 2020 and one of my top-5 favorite books I’ve read, period. Joining the ranks of Lord of the Rings/Silmarillion, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Paper Crowns, I simply ADORE this book and can’t recommend it highly enough! Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, Discworld, or Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold. Teens and adults alike will all find this book delightful.

Go read it! We all need some humor, adventure, and these amazing characters to improve our lives. It’s my favorite and I wholeheartedly recommend it!


You may also like . . .

pc jackabycover


Let me know if it sounds fun! I just love it sooo much! Thanks for reading! 🙂

The Electrical Menagerie Audiobook Review!

I finished this only this morning and it was INCREDIBLE! ❤

I just had the most delightful experience!

It’s somehow fitting that a story largely involved with theatrical performance should be brought to life in this way by a talented audio performer. It was wonderfully theatrical to listen to—the next best thing to seeing it on a screen. I LOVED it!

It’s a wild ride of adventure, imagination, flying trains and islands in the sky, electrical robots, a stardust-powered steampunk-feel, show-business and illusions, mystery and sabotage and insidious plots, an 1800s-feel, and one of my favorite things: a “buddy story.”

Mollie Reeder’s skillful tale is a story to touch the heart of any creative and anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing something MORE. It’s one of the most sheerly enjoyable books I’ve ever read, but it also has a depth to it that makes you re-examine life and learn new things about life and ourselves, through the adventures of these delightful characters who are wholly human—both making mistakes and committing feats of imagination and heroism. It inspires me to reach for the stars. And it makes me laugh, which is always important. 😉

I read The Electrical Menagerie when it first came out, and it joined the select ranks of one of my favorite books of all time. So to say I was excited for the chance to re-experience it, as an audiobook, is an understatement.

I started the audio version with caution, however. Would any rendition of this beloved book be able to do it justice?

But I needn’t have worried. While I still may prefer reading physical books, this audiobook was a sheer delight! I had SUCH a blast listening to it! It was like revisiting an old friend and it came alive anew. ^_^

Travis Baldree’s rendition of these larger-than-life characters was wonderful and I 100% enjoyed hearing them all come to life! The different accents were great fun (I particularly liked Miss Skyhawk’s voice) and Carthage and Huxley re-delighted me all over again! I was constantly smiling or laughing, even on this second reading. The other characters are incredible too, and the dramatic or exciting scenes soared.

I LOVE this book and Carthage and Huxley, who are both absolutely AWESOME characters in their totally different ways, and the sheer rich imagination of everything about The Electrical Menagerie.

This book gives me ALL THE FEELS. It made me laugh and it made me cry, in both its book and audiobook forms. (Now THAT is a feat.) I love the humor and the heart of it, how authentic and real it is—despite, or perhaps because of, the otherwordliness of it—touching the soul, but not in any artificial way, while making one smile.

I didn’t used to listen to many audiobooks but I’ve slowly been drawn into that world, and now I love them. It was fabulous to get to re-live this magnificent story while going about daily life.

I can only say that The Electrical Menagerie is an EXPERIENCE. “I’m Arbrook Huxley”—(er . . . Deborah O’Carroll)—“and you can quote me!” (All I need now is a sequel. ;))

I love that this book is now available in a new format to delight new readers—or should I say listeners? I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who needs a touch of stardust and wonder in their lives!

(Thanks to the author for the complimentary audiobook code. All opinions are 100% my own.)

Book Information & Links

Title: The Electrical Menagerie

Author: Mollie E. Reeder

Narrator: Travis Baldree

You may also enjoy my original review (including some favorite snarky quotes), 10 Reasons You Should Read The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder!

Audiobooks: yea or nay? And have you read this incredible book yet? I totally recommend it in ANY form! YOU NEED CARTHAGE AND HUXLEY IN YOUR LIFE.

Keep imagining! ❤

Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2018!

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

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

Goodreads claims that I read 123 books in 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOP 15 BOOKS OF 2018

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

1. The Electrical Menagerie (Mollie E. Reeder)

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

[Review]

2. Echo North (Joanna Ruth Meyer)

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

[Review]

3. Lady Moon (Rachel Starr Thomson)

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

4. Masque (W.R. Gingell)

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

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

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

[Review]

6. Minstrel’s Call (Jenelle Leanne Schmidt)

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

[Review]

7. Sage (Jamie Foley)

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

[Review]

8. Song of Leira (Gillian Bronte Adams)

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

[Review]

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

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

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

10. Horseman (Kyle Robert Shultz)

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

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

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

11. Blood in the Snow (Sarah Pennington)

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

[Review]

12. The Last Motley (DJ Edwardson)

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

[Review]

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

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

[Review]

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

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

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

15. The Ruins of Gorlan (John Flanagan)

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

[Review]


9 RUNNERS UP THAT MAKE ME HAPPY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


OTHER STUFF: Non-Fiction + Re-Reads

Top 2 Non-Fiction Reads

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

Top 2 Re-Reads

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading! 🙂

The 15 Most Glorious Book Gems I Read In 2017

Guys, it’s 2018!

WHAT EVEN.

I have no idea how this happened, but it has.

This gives me license to share with you THE MOST GLORIOUS BOOK GEMS I READ IN 2017. And also mention some of my book-reading stats of the year because obviously I need to squeal about even MORE books. It’s who I am. 😉

(Most of the books I read last year which I have physical copies of around.)

STATS

SOME STATS

According to my Goodreads Reading Challenge, in 2017, I read:

88 books

20,368 pages

(I find it perfect/hilarious that my shortest and longest reads both had sea covers. XD)

Here are some stats I put together from a spreadsheet. (And if you include some short stories and picture books, etc., which I didn’t include on my challenge, then I read 125 books this year. ;))

  • New Books (i.e. novels & novellas) I Read: 62
  • New Anthologies: 7
  • Short Stories (Singles): 17
  • Non-Fiction: 5
  • Re-Reads: 17
  • Picture Books: 18

SOURCE/ETC

  • Won: 6
  • Library: 14 (most of these were picture books. XD)
  • Audiobooks: 1
  • For Review (more or less): 37
  • Books in Readalongs/Bookclubs: 13
  • Beta-read: 5-ish

OTHER STATS

  • Diana Wynne Jones: 11
  • Jane Austen related: 7
  • Words of Reviews Written (according to Scrivener where I kept my reviews for this year): approximately 50,000. XD

BLOGOVERSARY

Also, last week, on January 1st, it was my blogoversary! :O

I’ve now been blogging here on the Page Dreamer for two entire years and I’m gobsmacked at this information.

Thanks for coming along with me all this way! ❤ And if you’re newer — welcome! I hope you’ll have as much fun here as I’ve been having! ^_^

TOP 15 READS OF 2017

Anyway! Without further ado, in no particular order (I mean, slightly more favorites are nearer the top, but it’s not 100%…) here are the top 15 (ish) books I read in 2018!

(Click the titles for my reviews! And the author names for website links.)

1. Hexwood (by Diana Wynne Jones)

This one still wins for most mind-boggling and… well… everything. I mean, there had to be a DWJ book at the top, of course, and this was the best one by her I read all year. So, naturally. And then there’s fantasy/sci-fi/King Arthur/timey-wimey/PLOT TWISTS. Plus Mordion. IT WAS SO GOOD. I need to read it again. (See review linked from title above for disclaimers. XD) (ButMordionThough.)

2. The Beast of Talesend / The Tomb of the Sea Witch / The Stroke of Eleven (by Kyle Robert Shultz)

(So, I can’t quite decide which of these is the best, hence I’m tossing them all together and saying it’s kind of one book. XD)

THESE BOOKS. I’m utterly addicted to the Afterlands and all these fairytale etc. retellings, not to mention the humor and the characters I love. ❤ Plus they’re really clever and well-written, and just… really good books. With just a smidge of alternate-1920s and steampunk to spice things up. AND TWISTS. Definitely one of my favorites of the year! (Nick! Cordelia! Malcolm! CRISPIN!)

3. Halayda (by Sarah Delena White)

I don’t know exactly how to describe this, but it’s epic and Fae and perilous, and I absolutely love Taylan and Zad and the snark and romance and fantasy, with snatches of Celtic mythology re-imagined in there. It’s just a sweeping, glimmering fantasy epic, and I love it. ^_^ I read this as an ebook with the Fellowship of Fantasy book club, but I had to get a paperback copy for myself for Christmas because I needed to own it! I hope to re-read it someday. 🙂

4. Magician’s Ward (by Patricia C. Wrede)

Regency Fantasy! Which is a genre I discovered this year, and I’m in love. I haven’t really read anything else in this genre, but I’m excited to read the prequel to this, soon. All that to say, this was a Regency England setting with magic and fantasy, and a former street thief girl trying to learn to be a “proper” lady of the time (with hysterical results), and also one of my favorite characters, a magician named Mairelon. It was just so much fun!

5. The Fatal Tree (by Stephen R. Lawhead)

The Bright Empires series has meant SO much to me that I’m having a hard time putting it into words. Which is the main reason I have yet to review this. I WILL, I just… How do you sum up an epic series like this? But I read this series at just the right time in my life, and this book was a great conclusion (I mean, how could it not be??), and I love basically every element of it! It’s a brilliantly written series, I adore all the characters, the plots and twists and timey-ness were fascinating, and the series was deep and just… they’re Really Good Books, okay? I will talk more about this at length, but it’s probably the single most influential series I’ve read for many years. ❤ I HIGHLY recommend trying out The Skin Map if you haven’t, so that you can get to this one — which definitely deserves a place in my top 5.

6. Sentinel / Arbiter (by Jamie Foley)

These have to go together, since I think of them as practically one book. And I NEED book 3. NEED. Jet is one of my favorite characters of all time — he’s just so awesome! — and I love his and Darien’s friendship. The world is so original, I really love some of the fantasy elements and can’t wait to see more, they’re super thrilling, and the character interactions and dialog and snark are just SO FUN! I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the final book and seeing how things work out!

7. Where the Woods Grow Wild (by Nate Philbrick)

This book is sort of like Prydain-meets-Narnia-meets-Wingfeather-Saga. Which is to say, it’s REALLY GOOD. Truly delightful fantasy, skillfully written, quirky, original, and just a lot of fun. It was so imaginative, and any time I say something reminds me of Lloyd Alexander, that is a HIGH mark of praise from me, since that author brought me to fantasy. I really want a sequel! If you haven’t tried this one out, it’s so much fun. 😀 (I read an ebook version of it for review, but I simply had to get a copy for my sister to read!)

8. Scars of War (by Hazel B. West)

I actually re-read the first two books in this series this year to get ready for this one, because I love this series/characters/world SO MUCH. Because an alternate modern Ireland with medieval aspects and epic warriors who drive fast cars is basically MY FAVORITE. This one was a roadtrip featuring two of my favorite characters (Oberon and Aedan), and a modern Faerie changeling plot, and basically WHAT IS NOT TO LIKE? It was so much fun. ^_^ I need more!

9. Magicians’ Rivalry (by H. L. Burke)

Another buddy story, this is one of my favorite such tales! Auric Spellsmith and Jericho Carver are basically opposites, and they do not get along AT ALL, but they have to work together. Unique magic and a scary land of Faerie and a dash of steampunk make this book a delight to read. Throw in the snark and the dash of romance (because Jericho is in love with Rill, Auric’s sister; queue awkward and ADORABLE) and it’s just SO MUCH FUN. ❤

10. Beren and Luthien (by J. R. R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien)

I almost didn’t put this one on here, because it’s not EXACTLY a normal book (being a collection of poetry and prose from various stages of Tolkien’s composing of this tale), and also because I don’t suppose it’s quite how he’d want it. But I’m putting it on anyway, because, despite those problems, it’s still absolutely gorgeous writing (and poetry), and it’s fun to see different stages of the story (even if Tolkien himself might not have wanted people reading his early drafts). The illustrations by Alan Lee are fabulous. And it’s the only new thing by Tolkien I read this year, so NATURALLY it needs to go on my top list. 😉 Here’s to 100 years of Beren and Luthien! ❤

11. The Little White Horse (by Elizabeth Goudge)

I can’t describe this story, but it’s so delightful. It’s set in England in the 1800s, and sometimes you wonder if it even IS fantasy or just FEELS like it, but there are so many fun surprises, and it’s simply one of the most beautiful stories I’ve read in my life. It’s historical and fantasy and Christian and all without quite feeling like one of those. It reminds me a little of George MacDonald, and something else, but I don’t know what. It’s like a beautiful original fairytale in novel form. And it was written in 1946, so it has the old style of writing which is fun to read sometimes because it’s DIFFERENT. I also loved its whimsical nature, and all the eccentric characters we meet — I love them all!

Plus, it has two of my favorite quotes:

‘I should like this story to be like all the best stories and to end in “Happily ever after”.’

and

‘In every fairy-tale there is a kernel of truth.’

12. King’s Warrior / Second Son (by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt)

*huggles books* These were so fun! I think my favorite is Yorien’s Hand (book 3, which I re-read this year too), but these were so enjoyable too! I love this more classic kind of epic fantasy, but with its own twists too. And I love the Myth Folk (especially the Dragons. ;)) and just all of it. Best of all are the characters, like Brant and Kiernan Kane (two of my favorites of all time! ❤ ), and all the rest! I just love them SO MUCH. ^_^ I’m really looking forward to finishing this series in the upcoming Minstrel’s Call. 🙂

13. Masters and Beginners (by Daley Downing)

This one’s a straight-up modern fantasy novel, which is a little unusual to make it to a top list, for me — but that’s precisely why this one did, because it was refreshing and fun and didn’t have all the annoying things I don’t like about modern books. 🙂 Plus, FAERIES, and I just love how the Order integrates modern things with fairies and mythology and Biblical things, and it’s fascinating! And I love the characters as well, and just — I’M VERY FOND, OKAY?

14. Moonblood (by Anne Elisabeth Stengl)

I remember enjoying Heartless and Veiled Rose, but this seems to be where Goldstone Wood gets going, so I’m SO happy I read this with the Imps of Goldstone Wood fan club on Goodreads (I hope we’ll get back to reading the books together sometime!). I so enjoyed getting to see more of Eanrin and Imraldera and Leo and Rosie and BEANA and Oeric and basically ALL MY PRECIOUS PEOPLE. It’s gorgeous and perilous and such great Fae-fantasy, and just excuse me while I hug it. Plus so well-written. o.o I need to read Starflower…

15. The Reluctant Godfather (by Allison Tebo)

And lastly, a simply utterly fun little story! This charming novella-length retelling of Cinderella was simply a BLAST to read! Burndee the fairy godfather is SO grouchy and it’s hysterical! I love the snark and dialog and humor and fairytale twists. And of course Burndee himself! Isn’t a fairy godfather who hates humans and just loves to bake cakes original? I love him. XD It reminded me a little of Broken Glass (my FAVORITE Cinderella retelling of all time) and of the Talesend books a bit (because humorous and fairytales), and it’s just so fun. ^_^


So there you have my favorite books of the last year!

Have you read any of these or are any on your TBR? Because YOU NEED TO!

And what was your top favorite(s) read of 2017?

Tell me all in the comments!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer