Tag Archive | Hazel B. West

Giveaway+Review+Tour: The New Emperor’s Concerto by Hazel B. West!

I’m so excited to join in on the tour for The New Emperor’s Concerto!

Today I’ve got a book review, all the tour/book info, and my own personal giveaway as well as the tour-wide giveaway, so read on for all the juicy details and why you need this book in your life. XD

It’s one of my top favorite books I’ve read so far this year! ❤


Tour Details

The blog tour runs 4/20-4/24 and you can follow the official tour links here!


Instagram Live Chat!

Hazel B. West and Claire M. Banschbach will be doing an Instagram Live chat on Thursday, April 23 on Claire’s Instagram @cmbanschbach — be sure to drop by!


Instagram Photo Challenge

There is also an Instagram photo challenge — anyone who participates will be entered in a giveaway for a signed copy of the book, or a swag pack!


Tour-wide Giveaway

Hazel is hosting an awesome giveaway across the tour!

Be sure to drop by the Rafflecopter link HERE and enter to win a signed copy + swag, or an ebook + swag!


My Personal Giveaway! (On Instagram)

Drop by my Instagram and enter to win this paperback! (Tea and biscuit not included, sorry. XD)

I’m also running a giveaway of my own!

I ended up with an extra paperback copy of The New Emperor’s Concerto, and I thought it would be fun to give one away!

Drop by the post on my Instagram and enter there!

(Runs 4/22-4/29, US only, winner announced on my stories afterward.)

If you are NOT on Instagram but would still like to enter, just drop a comment below here on my blog and let me know, and I’ll enter you!


Free Prequel Short Story

Lastly, The Butler’s Story, a fun prequel short story, is FREE on Kindle during the tour!

Find it here!

It’s about Sinclair (MY FAVORITE BUTLER) and a young Lysander, years before The New Emperor’s Concerto.


About the Book

The year is 2228 and the world is on the cusp of World War Four. London is rife with anarchists and secret plots. It looks like dark days are coming for the British Empire. Darker than any that have been seen for decades.

But luckily England has some help.

Sir Lysander is the King’s Righteous Man-and all that entails. He’s the king’s right hand, and a red one at that, the man who stands in the shadows and does what needs to be done for the protection of his country.

Eidolon is a phantom, the anarchist group Apophis’s top retrieval expert. They need something, he gets it, no matter the consequence. Even though he’d secretly prefer to be in his flat with his cat and a good book.

They’ve been butting heads for a while but in times like these, loyalties are known to change and right now, any help is good help. They just didn’t count on being the only thing standing between England and the start of the next world war.


Book Links


About the Author

Hailing from Purgatory (aka, Florida) Hazel is an indie author, book wyrm, and coffee connoisseur. She typically enjoys writing books with an unconventional flair, probably with a bit of folklore and mythology, most definitely with a lot of siblings or brothers-in-arms. When she’s not writing, she manages an Etsy shop, drinks a lot of coffee, listens to music, haunts conventions, or just holes up like an eldritch horror and binges her favorite shows—for inspiration. If you meet this rare creature on the street, she has been known to respond to the offer of coffee and old bookstores. But it’s probably best you try to contact her online first.


Title: The New Emperor’s Concerto

Author: Hazel B. West

  • Date read: January 7, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Thriller / Mystery / Futuristic / Humor / Buddy-Cop-type-story / LONDON. IS THAT A GENRE?
  • Age: YA and up (minor language/action)
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 333 (paperback)
  • Fave character: Eidolon AND Lysander AND Sinclair!
  • Source: The author and also Amazon
  • Notes: Disclaimer: I was a beta-reader for this book, so that means I got a free copy, but I legitimately loved this book and went on to buy my own copy as well. All opinions are entirely my own.

10 Awesome Things About

The New Emperor’s Concerto

1. WHAT DID I JUST READ. I have no idea, but it was absolutely smashing and I adore it, and I’m going to go have a book hangover now, thanks. My absolute FAVORITE thing about this book is the characters and their banter/snark/buddy relationships. I CAN’T. I love them all so much! Shenanigans and unlikely friendships and brothers-in-arms. It’s HILARIOUS and awesome and so much fun! And their snark gives me life. XD

2. MY NEW FAVORITE BUDDY STORY. ❤ Buddy stories where two (or more) characters who don’t get along AT ALL have to work together and become brothers-in-arms are the best! LYSANDER AND EIDOLON/FLYNN AND ALSO SINCLAIR. (Everyone needs a Sinclair!)

3. IT’S SO BRITISH. Honestly. It’s like the most British thing I’ve ever read. It celebrates Britishness and tea and just all of it. And it’s set in futuristic London a couple hundred years from now, which I adored! “Futuristic London” should be a genre. It’s delightful because it’s a perfect mix of modern London with other feels — old-fashioned-ness tossed in, and bits of technology that are just enough ahead of modern times to be cool and spy-gear-like but without being so advanced as to feel like it crossed into sci-fi. It just all felt so natural and I loved it!

4. HUMOR AND SNARK GALORE. Humor is important to me. I love books that make me laugh, and are fun, and I especially love humorous, quotable banter. The dialog in this book is on point and I kept wanting to quote it. XD These snarky characters are just the best! Not to mention the footnotes from one of the characters. The book itself also doesn’t take itself too seriously, so there will be random fun cliches or make fun of those, and it’s just . . . great. XD

5. EXCITEMENT, THRILLING ACTION, ETC. Aside from simply being a fun romp, it’s also an awesome action-adventure story, with the characters trying to stop World War Four from happening. If it was a movie it would be on par with some of the greats. It can get a bit intense at times and kept me on the edge of my seat and there were a few feels thrown in along the way. The plot kept twisting and it was just delightful! Such an exciting book. (Now I wish it WAS a movie… 😀 Also, if it was, it’d be rated a low PG-13 for minor language/action so just FYI.)

6. LYSANDER. The King’s Righteous Man, Sir Lysander’s the “good guy” who’s also a little scary and not afraid to do what has to be done. Lysander is so epic, beyond all epicness! Definitely a new favorite character. And he has no patience for putting up with the likes of Eidolon, and it’s brilliant. XD

7. EIDOLON. Eidolon, the Phantom, might be my favorite, but really they all are. He’s one of the “bad guys” and is a brilliant thief but really he just wants to read and drink tea and hang out with his cat and I love it. XD His snark and his converse and his Britishness and just I CAN’T! But what’s most fun is throwing both of them together and watching the sparks fly. XD

8. EVERYONE NEEDS A SINCLAIR. Then we have Sinclair, who is Lysander’s butler but not terribly older than him, and they’re almost like brothers-in-arms aside from the whole proper-British master/butler thing. Just imagine a younger Jeeves who can fight and you have Sinclair, who’s my new favorite butler. He’s the single most competent person ever, he’ll always have tea and biscuits ready under the slightest notice in the most insane circumstances, he is about as skilled at fighting as even Lysander, is never flustered, is the loyalest ever, can casually stab villains with a knitting-needle when you least expect it, and has the solution to everything. I need a Sinclair. Everyone needs a Sinclair! (I will not stop saying this. XD)

9. REFERENCES. As if all of the above isn’t enough awesomeness, there are also delightful references peppered throughout — from Pratchett to Doctor Who to Lord of the Rings to Star Wars to The Princess Bride. It made me so happy and is tons of fun, especially all the Pratchett-ness. XD

10. CONCLUSION: It’s just an absolute rollicking good time and I had a blast reading it. Some of the most sheer fun I’ve had reading a book in a long time. I have a sudden need for more futuristic-London stories. And more hilarious adventure stories in general. And more of these characters, let’s be honest. In conclusion, that was an ABSURD amount of fun and was absolutely hilarious, exciting, and SO BRITISH. You need it in your life!


Excerpt

Lysander came to slowly, groggily. His training kept him from making a move, from tipping off his captor that he was conscious. Simply continuing to put on the façade of unconsciousness as he tried his best to make sense of his surroundings in his current state.

The first thing he noticed was the rustle of paper as if someone were turning the pages of a book and identified the familiar scent of English breakfast tea. The clink of china confirmed that fact. Was the knave really sitting there reading and drinking tea while he was lying there captive?

He tried to ease his eyes open, staring out through his lashes when he realized something else. Something moving against his side. He froze, his breathing hitching in surprise before the thing seemed to simply leap onto his chest, digging something sharp into him. Lysander tensed, almost not wanting to look.

Unless you want to keep pretending, I know you’re awake, so you may as well get up and have a cup of tea. I’m sure it will help your head,” a familiar voice said.

Lysander opened his eyes and found himself staring face to face with his attacker: A black cat with green eyes, staring at him reproachfully, flipping its tail, claws digging through Lysander’s clothing and into his chest. He turned his head, confused, to see Eidolon. The other man was sitting comfortably in a chair to the right of the sofa Lysander was lying on, a pair of reading glasses perched on his nose, a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other, balanced across his knee to hold his place.

What is this?” was all Lysander could ask, still muzzy from the drug.

My flat, which you broke into, in case you don’t remember,” came the rather defensive reply.

Lysander huffed indignantly, reaching up to feel the side of his neck, which smarted from the dart. “You drugged me.”

You should have knocked like a civilized person,” Eidolon replied. “It’s quite rude to just go breaking into people’s residences willy-nilly, King’s Righteous Man or not.”


You may also like . . .

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And there we are. Make sure you enter the giveaways and let me know if the book sounds interesting! Do you like buddy stories? British books? Humor? 😀 Do you have a favorite book that fits one or more of those categories? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Two Cover Reveals! (Dragons and Ravens + The New Emperor’s Concerto)

I’m so excited to share TWO cover reveals with you guys today! So excited for both of these!

COVER REVEAL #1

Firstly, we have a futuristic London buddy-story which I beta-read earlier this year and loved so much! It has all the snark and Britishness and action and it’s fabulous! 😀 Definitely a favorite! I’M SO EXCITED!

The New Emperor’s Concerto

by Hazel B. West

Releasing March 24 — next Tuesday!

About the Book

The year is 2228 and the world is on the cusp of World War Four. London is rife with anarchists and secret plots. It looks like dark days are coming for the British Empire. Darker than any that have been seen for decades.

But luckily England has some help.

Sir Lysander is the King’s Righteous Man-and all that entails. He’s the king’s right hand, and a red one at that, the man who stands in the shadows and does what needs to be done for the protection of his country.

Eidolon is a phantom, the anarchist group Apophis’s top retrieval expert. They need something, he gets it, no matter the consequence. Even though he’d secretly prefer to be in his flat with his cat and a good book.

They’ve been butting heads for a while but in times like these, loyalties are known to change and right now, any help is good help. They just didn’t count on being the only thing standing between England and the start of the next world war.


Aaahh! Isn’t it so cool? 😀 I’m SO excited for this book to release! It’s just so good! And I’m getting a Terry Pratchett vibe with that cover — which is appropriate since one of the main characters is a huge Pratchett fan and there are several inside jokes about that. 😉

Links:


COVER REVEAL #2

And now ANOTHER cover reveal, which I’m also super excited about! *flailing*

You see, one of my favorite recent reads was Strayborn by E.E. Rawls, and Dragons and Ravens is a novella in that series!

And another cool thing? Today’s the cover reveal but it’s ALSO release day! Yes indeed, this novella is available TODAY!

Here’s the cover!

Dragons and Ravens

by E. E. Rawls

Available Today!

About the Book

Curse of fire.

Hercule, the young heir of House Dragonsbane, has everything that wealth can purchase—that is, everything except for the one thing he longs for most: true freedom. And when a powerful goblin casts a curse on him, he may soon fall too far from ever finding it…

Held in darkness.

Zarren dreams of becoming a swordsmaster and a hero who saves lives, but first he must save his twin brother and himself from a cruel household. With nothing but faith, and the slim glimmer of hope to light their way, can they make their escape?


Aaahh, doesn’t it sound cool? I’m excited to read this! And I love those scales and feathers! So prettyyyy! 😀

Book Purchase Links:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | GOODREADS

Author Bio:

E.E. Rawls is the product of a traveling family, who even lived in Italy for 6 years. She loves exploring the unknown, whether it be in a forest, inside a forgotten castle, or within the pages of a book.

She runs on coffee, cuddly cats and the beauty of nature to keep the story wheels of her mind running, as she writes tales that will both entertain and inspire others, giving them worlds they can explore and become lost within.

WEBSITE: https://eerawls.com/

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/eerawls_author/

EBOOK SALE

For a short period, March 18-23, Strayborn (Draev Guardians Book 1) will be on sale for $0.99! Click to go to: Kindle.

And for the record, this was one of my favorite reads of 2019! ^_^ (You can read my review of Strayborn here!)


Thanks for reading, guys! I hope you enjoyed these covers! Eeee! I’m so excited for both of these!

February 2020 Book Ishness

It’s time to share some bookish releases this month, and what I’ve been reading so far this year!

FEBRUARY RELEASES

There are some AMAZING books releasing in February which I’m super excited about! *muffled shrieking* (Titles link to Amazon or Goodreads.)

  • Winter Spell – Claire M. Banschbach — This one isn’t on Goodreads yet (hence no picture) but I’M SO EXCITED FOR IT TO RELEASE! It’s the final Faeries of Myrnius book (but it stands alone) and I copyedited it and it’s my favorite book by this author yet (aside from Oath of the Outcast which just topped my favorite reads of last year). Y’all. This book has absolutely everything that I love, and it’s wintry, and has faeries, and all of the relationships and snark, and just AAHHH. It’s amazing and you need it in your life! I think it’s releasing in March or late Feb. Soon!
  • Cry of the Raven – Morgan L. Busse (Feb. 4) — Final book in the Ravenwood Saga, and I’m SO excited that this one is out! *shrieking* IT WAS AMAZING! (Read my review here.)
  • No Chance Meeting – Jaye Elliot (Feb. 14) — Jaye L. Knight is publishing a contemporary romance under a pen-name, and I’m super looking forward to reading it! I’ll be sharing a bit about it for the blog tour later this month. 🙂
  • Freeze Thaw – Selina J. Eckert (Feb. 14) — This novelette is a breathtaking take on Sleeping Beauty, featuring an archaeologist student and an Ice Age princess! Pretty sure I didn’t remember to breathe the entire time I read it. Wow. (I copyedited this, so I got an early look at it!) This was a Top Ten Finalist in the Five Magic Spindles contest held by Rooglewood Press.
  • Clockwork Magician – W. R. Gingell (Feb. 28) — I’m very behind on the Two Monarchies series (I’ve still only read Masque and Spindle) but this is another one and it’s releasing soon and I can’t wait to catch up on these delightful books!
  • The New Emperor’s Concerto – Hazel B. West — I beta-read this and it’s totally another favorite! Set in futuristic London, with two chaps on opposite sides who may be the only ones who can stop another world war. It has one of my new favorite buddy stories and the characters and snark and Britishness is all MY FAVORITE. It’s brilliant and I love it so much! I’m so excited for it to release!

In other news . . .

February is Fantasy Month

If you haven’t heard, Jenelle Schmidt is hosting the Fifth Annual February is Fantasy Month blog event! There are giveaways, fantasy blog posts, and an Instagram challenge! Feel free to check out all the info here, and join in with fantasy posts of your own (there’s a linkup and everything)!


MY READING NEWS

January Reads

2020 is off to a great start for reading! Here’s what I read this last month. (If you want to read more about them, you can find them on Goodreads here.)

  • The Geppetto Codex – Kyle Robert Shultz — Aaah! The fifth Beaumont and Beasley book is finally here and it’s so good! Faun and dryad MCs, the Afterverse version of Venice, creepy puppets, awesome epilogues…!
  • The New Emperor’s Concerto – Hazel B. West — I just flailed about this so I’ll spare you. 😉 (But I love it!)
  • Unexpected Magic – Diana Wynne Jones — This one’s an anthology of fantasy or sci-fi short stories, although I read the short stories at the end of 2019 and only read the novella at the end (Everard’s Ride—terribly interesting) this year… Some of them weren’t my favorite but they were all interesting, and I enjoyed a bunch of them. I’ve been meaning to read this collection for ages, so I’m pleased I finally did!
  • Winter Spell – Claire M. Banschbach — I just talked about this one too but AAAAHHH IT’S SO GOOD!!
  • Freeze Thaw – Selina J. Eckert — Likewise!
  • The Butler’s Story – Hazel B. West — What a fun prequel short story that introduces the hero of The New Emperor’s Concerto, and the butler character, Sinclair. (Everyone needs a Sinclair!) If you’re curious about my squawking, you can meet these characters in the prequel short story which just came out!
  • 5,000 Words Per Hour – Chris Fox — I’m trying to read a few nonfiction books I’ve collected. This one was interesting and hopefully some of the ideas will be helpful.
  • Brown-Ears at Sea – Stephen Lawhead — I finally read this! I love Lawhead’s books for children, which are not very well known but delightful! I just loved this adventure of a stuffed rabbit being swept out to sea and having adventures, while trying to get home to his little boy.
  • Defined – Sarah Holman — An intriguing short story in the Tales of Taelis Kingdom Adventure series!
  • Writing Magic – Gail Carson Levine — I have a stack of a dozen books on writing which I’m hoping to get through, one month at a time, this year. I quite enjoyed this author’s thoughts about writing and it inspired me and made me smile. 🙂
  • The Honorary Agents and the Mystery of the Stolen Artifacts – Lindsay Helm — Fun mystery for younger readers. 🙂
  • The Honorary Agents and the Mystery of the Rare Coin – Lindsay Helm — And this is the sequel to that one and I loved it so much! It’s a fun mystery/treasure hunt and I really enjoyed it! ^_^
  • Elapse – Sarah Holman — I listened to this on audiobook and really enjoyed it! Also in the Tales of Taelis series, it made me excited to read the next book.
  • Strange Waters – Phoenix Fiction Writers — What a delightful collection of fantasy and sci-fi short stories! I need to get together a review for these. Some of them were a liiiittle too scary for me, but most were amazing! (And they’re all super well-written!)
  • Beyond the Shadowed Earth – Joanna Ruth Meyer — I’m getting my thoughts together for a review but WOW, that was gorgeous and mythic and intense! :O I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it!

February: Currently Reading (Ish)

The closest I have to a nightstand stack right now. ARCs and review books, which I’m hoping to focus on and catch up on reading and reviewing in the next month or so! I’ve actually read the top two now, and I’m looking forward to getting into the others. 🙂

I’m also re-reading aloud Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn (fun Han Solo heist novel!), and I’m still in Green Dolphin Country by Elizabeth Goudge which is GORGEOUS but is taking me an embarrassingly long time because it’s so long and I keep having reading deadlines on other things. XD I WILL finish it soon! I’m determined!

January Book Haul

My January bookhaul! So many exciting books! (The top three were given to me.) Also, how about the adorable art by H.S.J. Williams! IT’S SO ADORABLE. I’ve read/loved Cry of the Raven, Hollow, Kate’s Christmas, and the Honorary Agents book. Looking forward to Emberhawk (it’s releasing March 10!!) and reading the Hero’s Guide series so I can read this third book!


That’s all the updates I have for now. Are there any books you’re excited about? I hope you have an amazing, bookish month! Thanks for reading!

Flower of the Underworld by Hazel West: Blog Tour!

GUYS! I’m so excited there’s a new Urban Fantasy novel from Hazel B. West, author of my favorite Blood Ties, An Earthly King, and Scars of War Modern Tales of Na Fianna books!

This one is not in that series but is called Flower of the Underworld, and is a modern Greek myth retelling, featuring Hades and Persephone and all of Hazel West’s trademark humor and delightful characters and banter! (At least, that’s what I’m gathering just from the excerpts I’ve seen. ;))

Flower of the Underworld is releasing TODAY!

Read on for all the info, a giveaway, and a delightful excerpt! I’m really looking forward to this one! 😀


Title: Flower of the Underworld

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mythology Retelling

Synopsis

What happens when the Lord of the Dead accidentally falls in love with the Goddess of Spring? 

Well, when there are brothers with crazy political agendas and overprotective mothers involved, a simple romance may not be as simple as it looks. Hades wants nothing more than to woo Persephone, but his fellow Olympians have other ideas. Zeus and Poseidon seem set on starting World War Three, Persephone’s mother wants her daughter to marry Ares, the insufferable God of War to make sure the earth doesn’t get destroyed in the process, and Hades is being pressured by his brothers to join in a fight he never wanted a part of. He’s definitely going to need some help with this one. Calling on his friends Hermes, Artemis, and Apollo, they do the only thing they can: kidnap Persephone themselves and team up to try and stop Zeus before his plans succeed. 

This modern retelling of Hades and Persephone is part romance, part political intrigue and guaranteed to be a version you’ve never heard before.

Purchase Links

Add it on Goodreads • Amazon Paperback (coming soon!) • Amazon KindleSmashwords


About the Author

Hazel B. West is the author of several novels including historical titles like On a Foreign Field, By Blood or By Bond; Wolfsblood, a book about werewolves in Roman Britain and the Modern Tales of Na Fianna series, which feature modern Irish warriors with swords and fast sports cars and lots of faeries.

As to what she prefers to consume (aside from bacon and coffee) she can often be found with her nose in dusty tomes about mythology and folklore, serial killers, and other dark and gruesome things. She has an almost unhealthy penchant for stories about siblings, particularly brothers, and you can probably win her over by alerting her to any books or shows that feature this. She is a true book dragon and has a lovely hoard of books (and Pop Figures). When she’s not writing, she’s probably still being antisocial, reading books, drawing, or binge-watching the same shows over and over because there’s nothing else quite like Supernatural and Merlin. She also likes to listen to music because, who doesn’t? Hazel’s particularly fond of modern folk and classic rock, which is usually what makes up the majority of her book playlists.

Author Links

WebsiteTwitterGoodreadsInstagram


Giveaway!

Be sure to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Flower of the Underworld! Enter via the Rafflecopter HERE! (Commenting on the posts in the blog tour gets you extra entries into the giveaway! :))


Hazel will be hosting a live Q&A on her Instagram account on Thursday night (April 25th) from 8-9PM EST so get your questions ready for her! She will also be taking questions from Twitter for those who don’t have an Instagram account during the same time. Feel free to ask questions about Flower of the Underworld, or just writing and books in general, Hazel isn’t afraid to go off topic. If you’ll be asking questions on Twitter please make sure to tag @artfulscribbler with the hashtag #FlowerQ&A.


Excerpt!

I smiled back a bit awkwardly. I know I only ever came just to sit in the garden and never bought anything, but the girl never seemed to mind and she was one of the only employees I had ever seen. I began to realize I probably looked a little out of place there with my unkempt charcoal grey suit, minus the jacket and my red shirt rolled up to the elbows, but I didn’t really care either.

“Yeah, I’ve been busy,” I told her. I was not the best conversationalist. One of the main reasons I stayed as far away from Olympus as possible. The good thing about the dead was that they didn’t much care for conversation anyway, and the other denizens of the Underworld weren’t much better. “But the garden here is a nice place to sit and just relax for a while.”

She put the pot she was carrying down on the edge of the pond. “I like to think it is. Have you ever thought about starting a garden at home? It provides a nice place to relax, and gardening is a good form of stress relief.”

“Hm,” I replied regrettably. “Don’t know how well that would work out.”

“Well,” she said and looked me up and down. “I’m going to take a guess at office job?”

I raised an eyebrow but nodded in confirmation.

“How about a plant for your desk?” she asked. “It really does make a room brighter.”

I smiled but shook my head. “I’d like to, but I really don’t live in a good climate for plants in general.”

“Where are you from?” she asked.

“Er…down south.”

“Florida?” she asked knowingly.

I shrugged, considering. “Close enough.”

“In that case,” she said, beckoning me forward toward the garden center portion of Olympus Landscaping. “I think I might have the perfect plant for you.”

Curious, I followed her inside, again marveling at how beautiful everything looked. There were no half-dead hardware store plants here. They were all as fresh as they could be.

She went over to a shelf and plucked a tiny pot from it, and handed it to me. “I would say start with an air plant. It’s almost impossible to kill, and they do well in practically any environment.”

I took the tiny pot and stared down at the little green plant, which kind of looked like grass, but had a sort of velvety feel to it.

“Thank you,” I told the girl, smiling at her. “I think I will like to keep this on my desk.”

“He should be a good first plant for you,” she told me. “His name is George.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “George? Do you name all your plants?”

“Of course.” She smiled, and I honestly couldn’t tell whether she was teasing or not.

“Okay then,” I nodded, thoughtfully looking down at my new green friend. “And how much do I owe you for George?”

“Oh, he’s a gift,” she insisted and stopped me before I could protest. “Just take good care of him.”

“Well, I shall certainly endeavor to do so,” I promised. “By the way, I never caught your name.”

“Oh, it’s Persephone,” the girl said with a smile. “What about you?”

I hesitated. I never went by my actual name when I was among mortals. It kinda got a bad rap. Nothing closes down a conversation quicker than admitting you’re the Lord of the Dead. “Oh, well, you can just call me H,” I told her.

“H,” she said, seeming to consider it as her eyes narrowed. “So, you’re a man of mystery; I suppose I can deal with that.”

The sparkle in her green eyes made me unable to keep from smiling and Persephone smiled back. “Well, I’m glad to hear that,” I told her. “But I’m afraid I have to go for now. I will take care of George, and, thank you for him, by the way.”

“You’re welcome,” she replied. “I hope to see you again soon.”

“Me too.” I turned with great reluctance and left the landscaping center, heading back toward the spot Charon had parked the Bugatti.


I can’t wait to read more about this fun Hades and Persephone and of course George the plant! *grins*

There will be more excerpts in the other tour stops and since I’ve had a sneak peek at those, I know that you won’t want to miss them. XD So be sure to follow the tour the rest of the week — check out all the info on Hazel’s blog!

What do you think? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to enter that giveaway! 😀 Thanks for reading!

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Nightstand Books June {2017}

WHAT HAPPENED TO JUNE? HALP!

Ahem.

June is already zipping by and it’s long time for a look at my nightstand and what I’m reading!

Aaand as per usual, I have the perfect excuse for that, thanks to this fun meme created by DJ and Jenelle, where, as Jenelle so aptly put it in her post this month: “we post on the first Wednesday of each month a picture of our nightstand and the stack of books thereupon, and then we gush about how excited we are to read those books.” 😀

So I am here to do just that! (A little late, but still. ;)) Feel free to join in the fun anytime, if you like. 🙂

On My Nightstand for June

Ebooks (On Virtual Nightstand)

“Good gracious, Deborah, do you like not have a life or something? What are you THINKING, imagining you can read all these things in a month?” I know you’re saying it. XD

I know that looks… er… ambitious. *cough* Especially when there’s a couple others I want to read that aren’t on Goodreads and therefore not included in the pictures.

BUT DON’T WORRY. GOOD NEWS: I’ve already read half of these. And of the ones still to read, Blood Ties and The Skin Map are re-reads I’m working on, and The Tempest is a (short) audio play and Fallen Star is a short story.

So you see, I’m not QUITE as insane as it looks like. 😉 (Just… mostly. Ahem.)

I am dividing things into categories this time: the ones I’ve already read in June (since we’re so far in… *cough*) and ones I’m currently in, and the ones I hope to read next.

ALREADY READ

  • Where the Woods Grow Wild by Nate Philbrick — OH MY GOODNESS. THIS BOOK. XD It was a fabulous fantasy read, with a classic Narnia/Prydain-esque feel, yet also felt entirely new and I could NOT stop reading it; plus it was really funny, and I LOVE funny books! Plus the characterrrrs, and the originality and just ALL THE AWESOME. I really, really enjoyed it. ❤ Look for a review of this one hopefully in the next couple of days! ^_^
  • Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones — WHAT DID I JUST READ. *collapses* I don’t have a dog, but I’m convinced I now know 100% what they’re all like after reading about this. 😛 Another sci-fi/fantasy/contemporary/myth mashup as only DWJ can write, this had a slightly bittersweet ending and was definitely one of her early works (before she learned how to make EVERYTHING hilarious, and write happy endings) but I absolutely loved it all the same. 😀 (It wasn’t actually originally on my June list, but I just read it one evening when I needed a DWJ to cheer me up.)
  • Mythic Orbits 2016 — This was a collection of short stories by various authors, and most were in genres I… don’t really care for. So it was overall a mixed bag, but I did enjoy a few. 🙂 Hopefully I’ll review it at some point…
  • The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson — Another enjoyable medieval fairytale retelling by Dickerson, I had quite a good time reading this one. 🙂 I think I liked it more than the last few of hers I’d read and it was just fun. ^_^ Review to come!
  • Brothers and Betrayal by Sarah Holman — I quite enjoyed this fun Christian medieval adventure story with a Robin Hood spin! 😀 Read my full review HERE.
  • Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians’ Rivalry by H.L. Burke — This booook! It’s a “buddy story” and has magic and a scary Fae world and it’s got great dialog of the two not-getting-along heroes and I LOVE IT. 😀 *must review soon*
  • Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele — This is the next Vintage Jane Austen book, a retelling of Mansfield Park; I just read it, loved it, and am super excited! 🙂 It’s now available for pre-order on Amazon HERE and on Goodreads HERE, releasing June 17. 😀 Hopefully reviewing it this week. ^_^

CURRENTLY READING

(Halayda pictured below instead of here, because I do not have a gorgeous paperback of it. *weepings of sadnesses*

  • Blood Ties by Hazel B. West (re-read) — There’s an epic readalong of this going on over on Goodreads HERE, and I’m super excited to be taking part! I read this last year but I’ve been wanting to re-read it ever since, so this is perfect. 😀 Modern Ireland with an alternate history and Faeries and a medieval twist and humor and banter and brotherly friendships is SO AWESOME. ❤
  • The Tempest by Bob Shakespeare — Haven’t actually continued this since I mentioned it last time… I always forget about audio books. Oops? It’s not very long though, so I just have to get around to finishing listening…
  • The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead (re-read) — I know I just finished the series, but I can’t help myself! I just started re-reading this, aloud, and it’s SO fun! (Especially doing the voices, and catching all the little hints that I now understand because I’ve read the whole series.) We’re going to re-read the entire series together and I can’t wait. 😀 Definitely a new favorite! (Yes, I know I still haven’t reviewed The Fatal Tree… I’m doing that soon. It’s very hard to put my thoughts into words because I LOVED this series and it’s one of those amazing life-changing kinds of things and I know no review of mine will do it justice. Not to mention the spoilers… That said, there will be a review once I can get my thoughts in order; hoping to get my review for that one up in the next week or two!)
  • Halayda by Sarah Delena White — Yes, I’m still in this one, which was the May bookclub book I was reading. *cough* Enjoying it but it’s quite long and I’ve been busy reading review books instead. >.> Aaand of course, once the actual month of a bookclub is over, there’s slightly less incentive to ACTUALLY FINISH. (Or is that just me?) Soon, though!

READING SOON

  • Courage and Corruption by Sarah Holman — Still working through the Tales of Taelis series, and this is the next one. I’m really excited to read it. 😀 Expect a review for it (hopefully) later this week. 🙂
  • Dreams and Devotion by Sarah Holman — No cover yet, as it’s not quite ready to release. Another Tales of Taelis, this is the next one coming out and I’m reading a pre-release version for review since I will be part of the blog tour soon-ish! Can’t wait! 🙂
  • Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith by Shaun Hume — A review book from an Australian author living in England, this looks like an intriguing fantasy tale about a boy in England who can see otherworldly creatures. It looks fun and I’m quite curious about it! 🙂
  • Fallen Star by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (short story) — I think/hear-tell (hope?) this is going to be the read for this month in the ongoing Imps of Goldstone Wood Goodreads group readalong, and I’m SO excited!!! I’m guessing it will be in the last week or two of this month. Join the fun HERE if you’d like to read (or re-read!) it with us and discuss it! 😀

~ ~ ~

There you have my June Nightstand! As always, some of these may migrate to July, but since June and July are all sort of like one really long, hot month that starts with Ju, it’s no great tragedy, yes? XD

SOMEDAY I’m going to catch up on all the books coming out and will just read random things that I feel like, but it is not this day. XD They’re all awesome anyway, so that is also no great tragedy. 😉 So excited for these!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must dash off to deal with all those reviews I semi-promised you, and/or to devour more lovely books, in between Life’s ever-constant demands. 😉

How about you? Anything fun on your Nightstand? Summer reading plans, perhaps?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Top 12 Books I Read in 2016!

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*comes in singing* Happy blogoversary to meeee!

That’s right, one year ago today, I posted my Foreword first post on this blog!

The Page Dreamer has officially existed for a whole year! *cue excitement* *and Gandalf fireworks* *because naturally*

Today I’m going to look back at this year of books—the reading, the reviewing, and, most importantly, my top favorite reads of the year! Let’s get to it. 🙂

Reading Stats

I read 78 books this year—huzzah!

I was planning for 60 (according to Goodreads) and overshot that a bit because I’m addicted an overachiever.

Check out my Year in Books on Goodreads to see them all listed! 🙂

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9 of those were rereads, 6 were nonfiction (*cue gasps from a shocked audience*), and 63 were new fiction reads.

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Of those 63, I rated 40 of them 5 stars.

*crickets*

I know, I have a problem with being very agreeable to most books. Moving on, then!

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10 books were 4 stars.

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7  books were 3 stars.

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6 books were 2 stars. (We do not speak of 3 of these, For Reasons Of Bad Endings, and one of them I just didn’t believe the romance most of the book [which never happens], and two were just all right.)

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According to my visible stats, I had no 1-stars, but that’s ignoring the fact that one story in a collection is totally a 1-star, even if I chickened out in my review and gave it a medium rating for being good most of the time until the ending WHICH WAS NOT OKAY. So 1 book was 1 star.

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(Seeing a trend here…? I literally rated two-thirds of the books I read in 2016 five-stars.)

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Fun fact: I read 12 books by Diana Wynne Jones this year. Yes, that averages to one every month. Half of those were new reads, and half were rereading aloud, because OH THE FUN. (Hence this being a fun-fact instead of just a fact. Ahem.)

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I also seem to have read 20,000 pages this year??? Um. What is up with that? O.o That’s like the same amount of WORDS I wrote this year (if you ignore the 50K during NaNo).

Okay, enough stats, I can tell I’m boring you. 😉

Without more further ado, I give you (in no particular order because I’m an indecisive otter, except my very favorites are in a special category at the top)…

My Top 12 (more or less) Reads of 2016

(All titles link to their Goodreads pages; I also link to my reviews if one was written.)

BEST OF THE BEST

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1. Paper Crowns – Mirriam Neal

{My Review}

A favorite up there with The Lord of the Rings and Howl’s Moving Castle, I was SO ecstatic when Paper Crowns was published this year! It has literally everything to make it a fantabulous book, including witty writing and banter, characters who are simply my FAVORITE (Hal! Azrael! And Salazar, Asterope, Astryn, Ginger… Just everybody) and Fey and a talking cat and adorable romance on the side and adventure and JUST READ THIS BOOK BECAUSE IT’S PERFECT. ❤ Favorite of the year. 🙂


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2. The Bone House / The Spirit Well / The Shadow Lamp – Stephen R. Lawhead

{My Review of The Bone House} {My Review of The Spirit Well} [review of The Shadow Lamp to come]

THIS SERIES. I haven’t finished it yet (The Fatal Tree was, however, a Christmas present, so that will be read very soon!) but the ones I’ve read so far are simply fabulous. Different eras and settings and cultures, lovable characters, adventure, stunning writing, and all deliciously complex. I can’t wait to finish! Book 4, The Shadow Lamp, may be my favorite of the series yet! Just so much is HAPPENING. (Plus Kit and Wilhelmina and Cass and Giles and even Haven, etc. <3)


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3. Blood Ties / An Earthly King – Hazel B. West

{My Review of Blood Ties} {My Review of An Earthly King}

I’ve done my share of flailing over this series, but REALLY, I just love these modern-Ireland-mixed-with-alternate-history-and-Faerie books! The friendships and adventure and humor and characters and WORLD are just so fabulous! ❤


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4. Fire and Hemlock – Diana Wynne Jones

{My Review}

Yeah, no surprise this is here… there has to be a DWJ book in my top few! 😉 I rambled enough about it in my review, but it was just AMAZING and I can’t wait to reread it this year. 😀 Tam Lin retelling, just brilliant, not to mention bookish things and writer things and modern Faerie things and Tom Lynn and his cello and amazingness. ❤

THE REST OF THE BEST

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5. Deep Secret – Diana Wynne Jones

This one was somehow way darker than any other DWJ book I’ve read before, with some more mature-audience elements, but it just sucked me in so completely and was so original and amazing and the characters and and and… Diana Wynne Jones!!! ❤ I really need to review this one. o.o (The sequel-of-sorts, The Merlin Conspiracy, is amazing too.)


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6. The Rose and the Balloon – Kirsten Fichter

{My Review}

Once again, all my thoughts are in my review (apparently I reviewed most of these?), but this was just a delightful Beauty and the Beast retelling novella and I adored it! ^_^ (Also Dmitri. And the bickering.)


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7. Jackaby / The Map: A Jackaby Story – William Ritter

{Series Review}

Because Jackaby. Jackaby himself is basically all that needs saying here. Also historical fantasy is something I apparently like? And references! Like having banshees and redcaps and allusions to the song Whiskey in the Jar — these things make me happy. 😀


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8. Yorien’s Hand – Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

{My Review}

Ohhh my goodness, this book! Dragons and fantasy and Brant the epic warrior and Kiernan Kane (the mysterious minstrel!) and all of the things! ❤ Just… really really good. I’m kicking myself for not having read the rest of the series yet… but that will happen SOON. ❤


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9. Defying Shadows – Ashley Townsend

{My Review}

Flailing is available in the full review, but TIME TRAVEL + ROBIN HOOD RETELLING + WILL + PLOT TWISTS + ADORABLE ROMANCE/CHARACTERS = Yes. ❤


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10. The Beautiful Pretender – Melanie Dickerson

{My Review}

Another Beauty and the Beast retelling, crossed with The Princess and the Pea, this was just an enjoyable book. ^_^ Really well-written with likeable characters; one of Melanie Dickerson’s best, so far!


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11. Moominsummer Madness – Tove Jansson

Standing in mostly for the entire Moomin series, I almost put Finn Family Moomintroll here but decided Moominsummer Madness is probably my favorite, if only because of Snufkin and the woodies and the park keeper. Just. YES. 😀 The Moomin books are DELIGHTFUL, Snufkin is a kindred soul of mine (seriously though. <3) and I just love these books! ^_^ This one has a flood and an abandoned theater stage and all sorts of fun, whimsical, fantastical shenanigans.


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12. The Castle Corona – Sharon Creech

I don’t even know why, but I simply adored this little tale in a vaguely-Italian fairytale kingdom, with a mystery and a Storyteller and all sorts of questions and intrigue and delightful characters! I even started out thinking I wouldn’t really like it but it totally surprised me, and now here it is on my top-reads-of-the-year post! Who would’ve thought! Simply utterly charming and delightful. ^_^

Honorable Mentions go to the following

(because they’re not my “usual” genre — being two Regency Romances and a Contemporary Superpower book — but they were really good)

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  1. Devil’s Cub – Georgette Heyer (BECAUSE GEORGETTE HEYER.)
  2. Emma – Jane Austen (This was unexpectedly extremely well done. Also Mr. Knightley.)
  3. Twinepathy – C. B. Cook (Blaze and Anvil! That is all.) {Read my review}

Bonus Categories

FAVORITE STORY IN A COLLECTION

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  • With Blossoms Gold – Hayden Wand (in ONCE: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales) — A retelling of Rapunzel, I simply ADORED it! It was fun, funny, exciting, and clever, and the banter and humor and character interactions, not to mention Prince Benedict (and Prince Orlando too) were just MARVELOUS. ❤
  • (Runner-up: Death Be Not Proud – Suzannah Rowntree in the same collection, because it was just so so brilliant and clever and this author is apparently amazing.)
  • Read my review for this collection

FAVORITE NONFICTION

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  1. Make Good Art – Neil Gaiman — Brilliant and inspiring and original. Loved it enough to read it 3 or 4 times AND listen to the speech a couple of times. {My review}
  2. If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit – Brenda Ueland — Finally, somebody (even if the book was from 1938) talking about writing the way I think of it, and about writing the way you want, and speaking out against criticism. This book inspired me SO much. ❤

FAVORITE PICTURE BOOK

  • The Water of Life – Brothers Grimm, retold by Barbara Rogasky, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman — I hadn’t read this tale of Grimm’s before, but it was great and I positively adore Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations!

Blog Stats

Because it’s my blogoversary, so of course I want to look at my stats! 😉

Most popular posts:

(I find it slightly amusing that, for a book-review blog, my most-read posts are mostly non-review posts. XD)

  1. Cover Love: Some 2016 Releases
  2. Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag {2016}
  3. Bookish Book Lover Tag
  4. 25 Bookish Facts About Me
  5. By the Book Tag
  6. The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead
  7. Fantasy Fan-Art
  8. My Diana Wynne Jones Journey (So Far)

By the Numbers:

  • 61 posts (woohoo!)
  • 120 followers (you are all awesome! <3)
  • 720 comments (half of these being me replying. XD)
  • 1343 visitors
  • 3549 hits

Top Commenters:

  1. Christine
  2. Madeline J. Rose
  3. Skye
  4. Sarahtps
  5. Jenelle
  6. Savannah Grace

Thanks SO much, all of you awesome people, and just everyone who reads and/or comments — I so appreciate you all! ^_^ ❤


Whew. Now you know all about my year of 2016 — at least the bookish part… but that’s the most important, yes?? 😉

Have you read any of my top 12? (Or… a little more like top 24 if you look at categories and series… BUT STILL.) How was your year of reading in 2016? Tell me all! And I wish you all a fabulous reading year of 2017! Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Books I’m Thankful For + Sale! (Indie Christian Books)

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(Sale details at the end of the post!)

Like most other bookworms, great books make their way onto my “things I’m thankful for” list every year. It’s hard to choose favorites, but I went ahead and picked…

5 books (more or less) which I read in 2016 and am thankful for:

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  • Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal — This is one of my top favorite books of ever, up there near The Lord of the Rings and Howl’s Moving Castle! (THIS IS A BIG DEAL, GUYS.) I was SO ecstatic when it published this year and just… everyone needs this shape-shifting blue Fae cat and snarky Wysling and company in their lives!
  • The Bright Empires Series by Stephen R. Lawhead — (shh, this can totally count as one book…) I read the first book, The Skin Map, last year, and I’m verrry much looking forward to diving into reading the last book as soon as I finish NaNoWriMo, but the middle three books which I’ve read this year have been FABULOUS. I just love this series! ^_^
  • Blood Ties & An Earthly King by Hazel B. West — I’m sorry, I can’t pick JUST ONE of these! I can’t decide which one I love more, because they were both so fabulous! Modern/medieval Irish warriors with a Faerie twist and generous helpings of snark and brotherly friendships. What is not to love?
  • Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones — As you may gather from my review, this book was just… I LOVED IT. But I always love DWJ’s books, so that’s no surprise. 😉
  • The Rose and the Balloon by Kirsten Fichter — This simply scrumptious Beauty and the Beast retelling (with air balloons and a steampunk twist) was a perfect bite-sized read which I just loved. ^_^

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to another great year of reading! Speaking of more reading, here’s one more thing to be grateful for.

Books on sale!

(Go on over there! Shoo!)

In honor of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a group of independent Christian authors banded together to offer over seventy discounted books on Nov 25-28. There’s literally something for everyone.

Every single book listed on Indie Christian Books is on sale in one or more ways. Find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if you have a budget of $0, new reading material awaits you.

Don’t know what to pick? The fearless Indie Christian Books team created a quiz that will generate a book list perfect for you! Check it out!

What awesome reads of 2016 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2017?

A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks. Also, some of the authors this year chose to not sell their paperbacks directly through the site. Those books are also marked “Sold Out” but if you click them open, you’ll find a link to the site where they are on sale and a discount code for you to use at check out.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good and Kendra E. Ardnek for their work organizing this sale, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.