Tag Archive | Kyle Robert Shultz

Top 14 (ish) Reads of 2020

In which Deborah over-uses the word “delightful” approximately 987348749 times. February’s not too late to have a 2020 bookish wrapup, right? *cough*

Of course I have to share my favorite reads of last year (in several categories . . . so, yes, there’s more than 14!), so let’s get to it!

According to my Goodreads, I read 100 books! (A few more on my personal list, but hey, unpublished etc. things don’t quite count. :P) Yes, many of them were shorter, but anyhoo.

Here are some stats:

  • 32 new-to-me novels
  • 21 novellas/quick reads
  • 12 re-reads
  • 10 short stories
  • 7 picture books
  • 6 non-fiction
  • 5 anthologies
  • 4 graphic novels/comics
  • 3 audiobooks
  • Total: 100 books

And here are the reviews I posted here last year:

TOP NEW READS OF 2020

  • Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows (Arthur Daigle) — Well, that made it to my top-five-favorite books of all time! Jayden and Dana are some of my favorite characters EVER and I’ve talked about short stories of theirs on the blog here before, but they are finally released in a novel form and I’ve now read it four times and just never get tired of it! I’m hoping to review it this week. I just can’t put into words how much I love it! Jayden’s one of my favorite characters ever (an elegant enchanter with anger management issues but a burning heart for justice) and Dana is just as marvelous (this sturdy girl is #goals) and they make an EPIC duo. The book is just SO FUNNY but also epic and the humor and world and snark all blend together to form one of my favorite books ever. Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, Discworld, or Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold.
  • Winter Spell (Claire M. Banschbach) — This wintry tale is perfection and has some of my favorite characters, pair-ups, and world-building ever! Plus we have ice and water magic, different faeries, a dash of romance, an epic buddy story on the side, and Northern Lights. What is not to love? Tonya, Princess Diane, August, and of course Dorian all wrapped themselves around my heart and won’t let go. I love it so, so much!
  • In the Region of the Summer Stars (Stephen R. Lawhead) — This Celtic fantasy felt like coming home and swept me into a world of ancient Ireland that I’d been longing for without remembering that I was. It’s a marvelous adventure with warriors, horses, boats, druids, fae, and our hero Conor, all in the stunning hills and coasts of Eirlandia. It’s fantastic and I really need to finish reading the series — hopefully soon!
  • Between Floors (W.R. Gingell)note: this is book 3; starts with Between Jobs — I’ve been quite enjoying the City Between series, urban fantasy set in modern Tasmania with fae etc., and this was my favorite yet, because Athelas is my faaave! (And Zero. And just all of it.) I love the humor and the snark! Pet and her Psychos are just such fun. I’m reading them aloud with my siblings and the voices are a blast to do. *grinning*
  • Fierce Heart/War Bound/Death Wind/Elf Prince (Tara Grayce) — I’m just lumping them all together because I feel like it’s one story, Farrendel and Essie’s story, and I love iiit. (I think my favorite is War Bound, but they all go together. ;)) Farrendel is the bessst cinnamon roll elf, and I love Essie and her brothers (Edmund, though!) and all the humor and sweet romance and banter and epicness. They’re just a lot of fun (and feels)!
  • The New Emperor’s Concerto (Hazel B. West) — A fabulous swashbuckling buddy story set in futuristic London, this felt like a fun action movie and was equal parts humorous and epicly exciting. Lysander and Flynn forever! And everyone needs a Sinclair (the butler). It was so wonderfully BRITISH and I adored it. Also, all the Pratchett references.
  • Cry of the Raven (Morgan L. Busse)note: book 3; starts with Mark of the Raven — An amazing conclusion to a trilogy with books that have been on my top-favorites list each year — there’s a reason I cosplayed as Selene. 😉 Just a really wonderful fantasy trilogy, and Selene and Damien and wyverns and the gifts/elements and THAT SCENE NEAR THE END WITH THE FLOWER, AAHH! MY HEART. I just loved how it wrapped up!
  • continued —
Between Jobs is standing in for Between Floors since I sadly don’t have a paperback of that one (yet!)
  • An Echo of the Fae (Jenelle Leanne Schmidt) — This selkie/fae, winter/summer novel is like a perfect summer day. I loved it so much! A fae summer adventure with a dash of Rapunzel, some selkie mysteries, a determined heroine in our young Echo, delightful side characters and creatures — including mini dragons! — it’s just a delight all-around and it makes me smile.
  • The Changeling Sea (Patricia A. McKillip) — I can’t even describe this book! *shrieks* It was a totally unexpected amazing book, which I picked up on a whim, and it was absolutely delightful and like an original fairy tale, all enchantments and mysterious princes and magic and the sea and a magician and a girl and a little village. Descriptions fail me but it was a lovely little book!
  • The Geppetto Codex (Kyle Robert Shultz)note: book 5; starts with The Beast of Talesend — Gareth the mild-mannered, nervous faun, and Sylvia, the hotheaded dryad, pair up to go up against terrifying puppets in 1920s fantasy Venice — and yes, it’s just as fun and wacky and thrilling and hilarious as that sounds. *grin, grin* If you haven’t tried out this Afterverse adventure yet, you’re missing out. Also, amazing prologue and epilogues which have bits of our favorites, Nick and Cordelia! *flailing*
  • Midnight for a Curse (E.J. Kitchens) — A truly delightful Beauty and the Beast novel, with humor and feels and gorgeousness, mysteries and fun characters, and a wonderful dream-aspect that I super enjoyed! Also, what would happen if the Beat didn’t actually want to be un-cursed? Bwahaha. This one was so much fun and made me happy.
  • Emberhawk (Jamie Foley) — I adored her Sentinel trilogy so I was super curious about this set in the same world at a previous time. It was fun! I loved seeing more of Felix (sly snarky fox!) and Ryon’s story and all the other characters, and the woods and adventures and the treetop city! Also, Lysander forever! (Yes, there’s a Lysander in two of my favorite books this year. It must be a Lysander year.)
  • Thief of Time (Terry Pratchett) — Probably my favorite Pratchett since Mort, Guards Guards, and The Wee Free Men. This was a fabulous conclusion to the Death series and I so enjoyed all the timey-wimey things in it and Susan and just most of it in general.
  • The Islands of Chaldea (Diana Wynne Jones) — I’ve been curious to read this one for a long time, as it’s one Diana Wynne Jones’s sister completed. I quite enjoyed it! It had a Celtic feel and a hot air balloon and yeah, fun as always! I’m nearly out of new-to-me DWJ reads, so it was a delight to read this one last March Magics. (I’ll have to do something for that this year too if I can find time.)

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Here are two books that I simply HAVE to mention, because despite not making it onto my personal top favorites, simply for personal preference reasons, they still absolutely BLEW ME AWAY and everyone must know about them. *grinning*

  • Beyond the Shadowed Earth (Joanna Ruth Meyer) — Y’all, I adore this author’s books, and I was SO impressed with this story! STUNNING and amazingly well done! A bit dark for my personal taste but I was super impressed with the character arc and loved a lot of what I got out of it. And the Silmarillion vibes near the end were a delight. Yeah, it was wow.
  • Ahab (E.B. Dawson) — Aside from a bittersweet/borderline-tragic ending which (personally) I couldn’t handle, this book is definitely one of my favorites of the year! Everything except the last couple of chapters, basically, were ABSOLUTE PERFECTION so of course I have to shout it out! Ahab and Starbuck are LIFE and this Moby Dick retelling set in space is just gorgeous and brilliant and the best aside from some sadness. XD If you can handle some sad, READ IT. IT’S SO GOOD.

BEST QUICK READS/NOVELLAS

Sometimes shorter reads and novellas don’t make it to best-of lists because they’re a little too short to pack quite the punch, which is somewhat unfair and I feel like they deserve their own category since they seem like a different category than novels… So I’m shouting out my favorite novellas/shorter books, because I read quite a few and these were the most amazing! (Not to mention fabulous if you only have a brief amount of time to consume a story.)

  • All That Glimmers (Selina J. Eckert) — An incredible modern fantasy Rumpelstiltskin story. This is one of many seasonal fairy tale retelling novellas by this author, all of which stand alone. The “Rumpelstiltskin” character in this is a mysterious fae (I love him!), and the heroine and her best friend (who has antlers!) are college students who get swept into the fae world and must heal from loss and discover fae secrets. It was just lovely. ^_^
  • Hand of Steel & The Deathhorn (Jessi L. Roberts) — These are space opera sci-fi adventures with worldbuilding/creatures I absolutely adore. I don’t read much sci-fi but this series is just the sort that I love when I do read it! Hand of Steel is about a bounty hunter (Krys) and how she comes up against space pirates including the awesome feline-like Klate (he’s my fave!). The Deathhorn tells Klate’s backstory and I love it so much. Just such a cool series!
  • Fire and Wind (Daley Downing) — Fire and Wind follows a unique character (DG — loved her!) and spans centuries, continents, and multiple fantasy creatures and it’s just a delight. It’s a spinoff from this author’s wonderful suburban fantasy series which includes Masters and Beginners, Rulers and Mages, and Healers and Warriors. I particularly love how this includes creatures and places and times from all over, from kitsunes to Anastasia/Rasputin to phoenixes to Easter Island to modern-day London or Arizona. I just love it!
  • All the Queen’s Sons (Elizabeth Kipps) — A reverse Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling, this follows a shoemaker’s daughter who is trying to discover why the queen’s six sons wear out the shoes her father makes for them. It was so much fun and a marvelous new twist on my favorite fairy tale!
  • The Midnight Show (Sarah Pennington) — Another Twelve Dancing Princesses story, I loved how this was a 1920s-esque fantasy world and how the fairy tale retelling aspect blended seamlessly with being a detective story! Bastian is a great detective hero and the voice was fun and the worldbuilding was delightful. It was delicious!

BEST SHORT STORIES

  • Dawnsong (Bryn Riplinger Shutt) — THIS STORY. *clutches heart* Lyrical writing, amazing characters, funny moments, relatable struggles, a vivid setting I just want to melt into, and a story that touched my heart in all the best ways. And all in a novelette of just 15,000 words! Definitely one of my favorite short reads of the year. (Also, I adore Des, Lilias, and Artair so, so much!)
  • Shadow Light (Sarah Delena White) — This story reminded me of The Silmarillion, George MacDonald’s Day Boy and Night Girl, and a short story by Lloyd Alexander (as well as Windswept, another story by Sarah Delena White, and one of my own unpublished short stories), all in the BEST way. Like pure myth/original-fairytale. I loved it a lot!

BEST NON-FICTION

I don’t have a lot to say about these two other than that I quite enjoyed both and recommend them for creative types. ^_^

  • Adorning the Dark (Andrew Peterson)
  • Walking on Water (Madeleine L’Engle)

BEST ANTHOLOGY

  • A Very Bookish Thanksgiving (Note: This was a limited-edition anthology, but I think the novellas may be published individually later, or the anthology miiight reappear for a bit for a limited time?) — I couldn’t not give a shout-out to this lovely collection of Thanksgiving novellas inspired by works of classic fiction. A Promise of Acorns (by Kelsey Bryant; Jane-Eyre inspired) and As Long as I Belong (by Sarah Holman; Mansfield-Park inspired) were absolutely amazing stories that blew me away. I adore them. I also loved The Windles and the Lost Boy (by Rebekah Jones; Peter-Pan inspired) and the Great-Expectations inspired Grand Intentions by J. Grace Pennington about a writer! (A Fine Day Tomorrow, by Amanda Tero, inspired by Little Women, was too sad/stressful for me, but I expected that. XD So it wasn’t to my taste but those who enjoy Little Women will very likely like it — just my personal taste.) Just such a good collection. ^_^ I loved the classic-inspired aspects to them, and the Thanksgiving theme, and they were just so delightful!

BEST PICTURE BOOKS

  • The Four Donkeys (Lloyd Alexander) — The Four Donkeys was a delightful folk-tale-esque picture book by Lloyd Alexander. One of the last of his children’s books I hadn’t read yet, I got it for my birthday last year and found it full of his winsome wisdom and wry humor and delight that I always love.
  • Marigold and the Snoring King (J.D. Rempel) — I won a copy of Marigold and the Snoring King and it was so fun, original, and adorable! Next time you’re looking for an indie picture book, I recommend this one! It was fun and classic but fresh all at once. Charming. Made me smile!

There we are! I hope you enjoyed this look at my favorite books of the year, and if you stuck with the post this whole time, you deserve a virtual cupcake. *awards it to you*

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these or are any going on your TBR? What’s your favorite book you read last year?

Review: Strange Waters Anthology (Phoenix Fiction Writers)

I’m excited to share with y’all a review for this anthology of sci-fi and fantasy stories from the Phoenix Fiction Writers!

Title: Strange Waters

Authors: the Phoenix Fiction Writers

(E.B. Dawson, C. Scott Frank, Janelle Garrett, Hannah Heath, Nate Philbrick, K.L. + Pierce, J.E. Purrazzi, Kyle Robert Shultz, Beth Wangler)

  • Date read: January 30, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Sci-fi / Fantasy / Short Stories / Anthology
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 302
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received a free e-copy of this anthology from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

(5 stars to the collection overall! The stories might have different ratings, but most of them are 4’s or 5’s, definitely!)

STRANGE WATERS features nine sci-fi and fantasy stories from nine different authors. These tales range from intense to all the feels to hilarious and they’re all original and well-written!

A couple of them were too scary for me personally, but kudos to all these authors for writing such captivating stories in such a short space, all incredibly different even though they all feature the image on the cover! I had a blast reading this!

Here are some brief thoughts on each story. 🙂


Backpack Boy – by Nate Philbrick

Wow, talk about good writing. O_O I haven’t read a story like this before but it was sooo interesting and well-written. I loved the backpack boy and how things weren’t as they seemed and the sheer imagination of it. There were definitely feels, and I love how everything slowly got revealed. So original and yet classic-seeming, and like a definition of childhood.


Finer Things – by C. Scott Frank

Whoa! I loved this one! It’s very sci-fi, and sci-fi has to work hard to make me like it, but I was intrigued the entire time, on the edge of my seat, and I really liked the characters and their lively banter! Soren is my fave. They’re adorable. I love it! Fabulous and one of my favorites. ^_^


Roanoke – by J.E. Purrazzi

This one is set on an icy planet and I felt sooo cold reading it, so I guess it succeeded. XD Intense and exciting and unique! I liked the time element, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, rooting for our heroine Ketera! I’ve found myself thinking of this one several times since I read it and sometimes feel like I watched a movie of it instead of reading a short story.


Kamynosa’s Labyrinth – by Beth Wangler

I absolutely loved the islands and nautical feel of this one! Princess Kamynosa was a fierce part of this competition. XD I especially loved Jadairos! He was my favorite. 🙂 It’s told like a history, which meant it took me a minute to get into it, since we feel a little removed from the story at first, but was also a really cool touch in another way. And everything was so vivid!


Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea – by E.B. Dawson

THIS ONE! Oh my word. XD I’ve adored every E.B. Dawson short story I’ve read so far, and this one was so, so much fun! This unorthodox archaeology professor and his snark, though! I love Barnaby Brown so much. XD I kept wanting to quote the whole thing. Throw in unlucky Oliver and some shenanigans and problems and it’s just a riot. I love it so much! The idea of an archaeologist on another world/planet is so cool, by the way. And the ending was suuuper intriguing! Aaahh! Plus, fabulous banter. I love banter and humor and this one totally has a ton of both. 😀 One of my favorites!


Through the Lens – by K.L.+Pierce

This one was really fascinating, if a little scary, and I really liked the mind elements to it. It felt sort of quest-like and I was really curious to see what was going to happen, because I had no idea! I was confused a couple of times, but got straightened out, and a couple of the twists I did not see coming at all. o.o So yes, great suspense, and intriguing!


Ric Vayne and the Curse of Ghoul Nebula – by Kyle Robert Shultz

Disclaimer: I edited this one. But it’s absolutely hilarious and I love it so much. XD Ric Vayne, a space wizard, gets turned into a space ship, and shenanigans ensue. His dry narration, the humor, and the hilarious way that Ovo (the bird-like alien character) speaks totally made this story. I kept laughing. XD Another favorite!


The Underground – by Janelle Garrett

This one was SUPER INTENSE and I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe the entire time I was reading it! *nervous laughter* It was terrifying, dystopian-ish story, with a good blend of fantasy and sci-fi feel. Oh, and I really liked Kef! It was just a bit too creepy for me, personally (I don’t do well with scariness or dystopian feels!), but certainly super well-written, and I never knew where it was going to go next. I’m sure many readers will enjoy it. ^_^


This Pain Inside – by Hannah Heath

This one was super fascinating and intriguing! I had similar problems with it as with the previous one, because, again, I’m just not a dystopian/post-apocalyptic person — sorry! It was really intense and scary and full of feels. But the writing was awesome, and the message, and the ending, and everything was very vivid. The under-the-sea stuff was intriguing, and I loved the mermaid tails. So, too scary for me, but that’s just me. XD But I definitely couldn’t put it down! Wow. Oh, and I liked how music was a part of it!


Overall, my favorites were Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea and Ric Vayne and the Mystery of Ghoul Nebula, because I love funny stories, and they were both just so much fun. XD But all of the others were super good too (even the scary ones!) and I really enjoyed the collection as a whole! Definitely check this one out! 🙂


A Few Favorite Quotes

“You don’t think they’ll come looking for us down here? They never come down here. They’ve never had a good enough reason.”

Soren smiles mischievously. “I’m afraid I may have given them one.”

— Finer Things (C. Scott Frank)


“But you haven’t told me much about this expedition,” Oliver said. “Maybe we could talk about that. What’s this exciting find?”

“Well, you remember when Folger discovered the ancient city of Telia Cross?”

Oliver’s face brightened a shade. “Yes.”

“Well, it won’t be like that,” Barnaby muttered.

Oliver’s face fell. “Probably just as well. I’m allergic to dust.”

“We’re investigating the origin of a strange marking on a two-inch piece of potsherd,” Barnaby said.

“That sounds a little more likely.”

***

“I had no idea archaeology was so dangerous,” Oliver said.

— Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea (E.B. Dawson)


Everything was worse in the middle of the night, including sarcasm.

— The Underground (Janelle Garrett)


I also want to quote the entire Ric Vayne story (it’s by Kyle Robert Shultz; of course it’s quotable and hilarious), and more Barnaby Brown, but I will leave readers to discover them instead. XD


You may also like . . .


Thanks for reading! 🙂

4th Blogiversary & Jan. 2020 Book Ishness!

Happy New Year! Hey, it’s only January 3rd—I’m still allowed to say that. XD Speaking of which, today is J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday! (Always have to commemorate that day since he’s my favorite author. ^_^)

Also, January 1st was the fourth anniversary of when I started this book blog, so I’m pretty excited! Happy Blogiversary to the Page Dreamer. ^_^ And… it’s 2020. Not quite sure how. O_O

Anyway, I’m here to share a few January releases and what I read in December!

But first, a few quick stats in honor of my blogiversary!

  • 228 posts
  • 281 followers (1,136 including connected social accounts)
  • 1,784 likes
  • 2,576 comments
  • 6,249 visitors
  • 13,973 views
  • 218,842 words of posts

Also, I apparently wrote 50,376 words on this blog in 2019 alone, which does not count my other blog, so… O_O

Anyway, this is a fun time to look back at four years of this book blog. I’ve had a blast with it so far!

But better than any numbers is getting to chat with y’all about books I love, and all of YOU, my blog readers, who are the ones who make this blogging thing fun. 🙂

Thanks so much for hanging out with me here these last four years, and here’s to four more!

JANUARY 2020 RELEASES

  • Beyond the Shadowed Earth by Joanna Ruth Meyer(Jan. 14) This one is very soon on my TBR and I’m hoping I can read and review it by the time it releases, but I’m SO stoked about this book! It’s a companion novel to Beneath the Haunting Sea, which I read last year and adored. (And it’s by the author of Echo North which was one of my top reads which I shrieked about early last year and have been shrieking about since. XD) Also, I hear there are some snazzy preorder goodies.
  • The Geppetto Codex by Kyle Robert Shultz(Jan. 17) Guyssss, it’s the next Beaumont and Beasley book! Remember how The Stroke of Eleven came out awhile back? And then there was The Hound of Duville novella and various other shorter B&B adventures… Well, this one is the next B&B novel and it’s releasing in just two weeks! *gasp* There’s a preorder where you can read more about it, but I edited this one and it features Gareth the faun and Sylvia the dryad, scary puppets, and the Afterverse version of Venice. YES PLEASE. And, of course, lots of the usual snark and humor. 😉
  • The Black Claw by Jessi L. Roberts — (Jan. 20) I copyedited this a couple of months ago and it’s an excellent space opera novella! I’m so excited to read Hand of Steel, which is the book before this one (and I remember seeing it at Realm Makers when it had just released), so that I can get the “backstory” on these characters. If you need a bit of space pirates and bounty hunters and excitement to kick off your year, check these out. ^_^
  • Hidden Current by Sharon Hinck(Jan. 28) I don’t know a lot about this one but it’s the next book from Enclave and it’s GORGEOUS! Plus, a fantasy novel that prominently features dancing sounds really unique.

December 2019 Reads

Christmas reads

I went on a bit of a Christmas story reading-rampage. XD I just felt in the mood and devoured several short works which I’d been saving up.

Most of these I mentioned in my Christmas books post, so I won’t repeat thoughts about them here. The last few were after that post, though. 🙂

  • Brown-ears by Stephen Lawhead (re-read!)
  • The Least of These by Kate Willis
  • The Dragon and the Santa by Emily Martha Sorenson
  • The 12 Cats of Christmas by Perry Kirkpatrick
  • Nyssa Glass’s Clockwork Christmas by H. L. Burke
  • The Grift of the Magi by Ally Carter
  • ’Twas an Evening in Bethlehem by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt (adorable picture book!)
  • Holidays at the Castle by Jessica Day George — Fun short story.
  • Some Christmas Camoflage by E. S. Grayson — Really enjoyed this historical fiction short story. 🙂
  • The Ninjabread Man — Okay, so it’s not totally Christmas, but it’s a gingerbread man picture book retelling, but with ninjas. It’s basically The Gingerbread Man meets Kung Fu Panda and I loved it. XD

Non-Christmas reads

  • Knife’s Edge by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock — A graphic novel! I read the first one, Compass South, in November, and was so excited to get this one from the library and finish this duology. Swashbuckling high-seas middle-grade historical fiction graphic novels. They were SO much fun and I loved them so much! ❤
  • Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks — This novel was a tribute to P.G. Wodehouse, and I’ve been meaning to read it for YEARS so I was terribly pleased to pick it up at the library and finally read it. It was absolutely hilarious and I loved it so much. XD Jeeves and Bertie have to switch places, Jeeves being a Lord Etringham and Bertie his gentleman’s gentleman, and that’s only the beginning of the shenanigans. Yes, it wasn’t Wodehouse, but it wasn’t pretending to be, and on the whole the author did an absolutely terrific job of capturing the essence of Bertie Wooster’s narration and the shenanigans that always happen. It was just SO much fun and it made me happy. 😀
  • My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse — So then I was in the mood for some more Jeeves and I dug this one out of my Kindle and read the short stories in it that were Jeeves-ish (which, yes, means I skipped half the book, but who’s counting). HILARIOUS. Wodehouse’s classic characters are… well… classic. Hurrah for Jeeves!
  • A Storm Grows by Janeen Ippolito — Poetry collection, very short, which I opened on my Kindle app on my phone to look at and ended up reading the whole thing. It felt kinda dark and sad but I liked some of them, even if poetry isn’t usually my thing. XD
  • Murder on New Year’s Eve by P. Creeden — I was sorting my Kindle app and found this and so obviously I had to read it on New Year’s Eve. XD It was a pretty interesting short story.

Also, if you want to check out the books I read in 2019, Goodreads has a handy-dandy list right here.

I’m going to sign off with some books I got for Christmas, and collage of my top nine most liked pictures on my Instagram!

That’s what I have for today. I’m not sharing a TBR right now since I’m not sure what I’ll be able to read this month, and I haven’t figured out my New Year goals and things. But I’m in the middle of way too many books right now. O_O I must finish some before I go crazy. XD

I’ll be back hopefully soon-ish with a list of my favorite books I read in 2019!

Thanks for reading, and happy 2020! May it be full of books!

Christmas-y Books!

(The Christmas books I own in physical form — and more listed below!)

Hello, my dear Pagelings! I’ll probably take a blogging break until the New Year (2020! *gasp*).

But before I slip off to enjoy the holidays, I wanted to share a list of Christmas-ish books! Ones I’ve read, ones on my TBR, and favorites!

If you’re looking for something Christmas-y to read, maybe you’ll find ideas on this list… and maybe you’ll recognize some favorites of your own!

If you don’t have time to read all of the post, skim for the titles marked in red because those are my favorites. 😀

I link to a few of them, but if you want to read more about any of them, you can find them all on Goodreads here!


Christmas Books and Novellas

  • A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens) — I mean, obviously. XD I enjoyed the original book, though I still say The Muppet Christmas Carol is my favorite version of this story. 😉
  • The Grift of the Magi (Ally Carter) — I just read this one and it MADE MY DAY, although those who have read the three Heist Society books will enjoy it more, since it’s a novella set after them. I love it! (Hale!)
  • Nyssa Glass’s Clockwork Christmas (H. L. Burke) — D’aww! Another one I just read this month. Nyssa and Ellis being cute and misunderstanding each other and trying to make their first Christmas perfect. Lovely steampunk Christmas novella. 🙂
  • Kate’s Christmas (Sarah Holman) — This came out last month and it’s another fabulous Kate’s Case Files FBI mystery book! With dashes of Christmas. ^_^
  • Freddy Goes to the North Pole (Walter R. Brooks) — I heard this audiobook when I was younger and I just love Freddy the Pig, Jinx the cat, Eek, Quick, Eeny, and Cousin Augustus (the mice), Mrs. Wiggins the cow, and even Charles the rooster. They go to the North Pole in this one and have to save Santa’s workshop from “pirates” and it’s been years since I read it but it was really fun.
  • When Santa Fell to Earth (Cornelia Funke) — Although I’m not always the hugest fan of Santa plotlines, a friend recommended this and I absolutely adored this book! Niklas is actually a young man who is “a Santa” (he’s really cool!) and his caravan crashes in an alley near a little boy’s house because his invisible reindeer ran off. It’s so charming and I love the illustrations.

Christmas Short Stories

  • The Sixth Christmas (Mollie E. Reeder) — THIS ONE. It’s sort of between a short story and a novella and it’s slightly Christmas-Carol-ish with a smidge of time-travel and the writing is FABULOUS and I just LOVE IT SO MUCH. AAHH. If you read only one book on this list, read this one. ^_^
  • The Villain Who Saved Christmas (C. B. Cook)This. Storyyyy! It’s about superheroes and a supervillain who’s kiiind of the most important character (don’t ask but it works and it’s awesome) and it’s a Christmas short story and I LOVE IT. So many feels. (My full review.)
  • Someday at Christmas (Kyle Robert Shultz)Crossover short story featuring characters from the Beaumont & Beasley and Crockett & Crane books… It’s about young Cordelia! I just love it! *hugs story*
  • Nyssa Glass and the Caper Crisis (H. L. Burke) — A short story prequel about Nyssa Glass before her first story, with a dash of Christmas if I remember correctly.
  • For My Good (Sarah Holman) — Loved this contemporary little tale, with a dash of mystery and Christmas and cameos from some Kate’s Case Files characters!
  • Distorted Glass (Sarah Holman) — Snow-Queen-esque contemporary short story.
  • The 12 Cats of Christmas (Perry Kirkpatrick) — I just read this one and it’s a cute contemporary short.
  • The Dragon and the Santa (Emily Martha Sorensen) — This was pretty hilarious. XD And very short, so I don’t want to spoil it, but the title alone should give a hint of the fun.
  • The Least of These (Kate Willis) — Another one I just read. Quick read, much snow.
  • Red Boots (Kate Willis) — I think I read this one awhile back but I remember it being charming. 🙂

Christmas Anthologies

  • Christmas in Talesend (Kyle Robert Shultz)This one could kind of go in the short story section above, but there are four of them, so… anothologies it is. XD I love these quick Afterverse Christmas stories! Especially the last one, in which Malcolm ends up calling himself the Christmas Dragon. XD It’s delightful!
  • A Very Bookish Christmas — This is a LIMITED COLLECTION which will go away after December 31 this year, so if you’re interested, be sure to go snag a copy! It features four Christmas novellas, inspired by different classic novels! 🙂 And from four talented authors, three of whom I’m featuring other Christmas stories from in this post: Sarah Holman, Rebekah Jones, and Kate Willis. Also J. Grace Pennington! I haven’t read three of the stories in this collection, but I’m sure they’re lovely, and I adored Gingerbread Treasures by Rebekah Jones, which I copyedited and is a modern-day mystery set in a little desert town around Christmas, with great characters, fun moments, and a mystery that was unique, while also inspired by a Sherlock Holmes story!
  • A Christmas Treasury — I read this so long ago I don’t really remember it but I’m sure there were some cool stories and songs in there.

Christmas Picture Books/Etc.

  • ‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem (Jenelle Leanne Schmidt) — This just came out and it’s lovely!! I’ve been looking forward to reading this ever since I found out one of my favorite authors was releasing a picture book, and I finally got myself a copy and I love it so much! So BEAUTIFULLLL! *hugs it*
  • Letters from Father Christmas (J. R. R. Tolkien) — The letters “from Father Christmas” that Tolkien wrote to his children every year, collected in one place, complete with illustrations he drew, and tales of shenanigans at the North Pole — including Father Christmas, Polar Bear, various elves, and problems with goblins and stuff. XD I just love it so much!
  • A Tree for Peter (Kate Seredy) — I forgot about this one until I was looking through my Goodreads list. I need to re-read it but I remember it being charming like her books always are. ^_^
  • Christmas Coloring Devotions — I got this adult coloring book for review (see mine) from Zondervan back when they still had their Booklook reviewer program. It’s pretty fun with all the Christmas-y patterns and scenes to color.

(There’s a handful of other Christmas picture books I’ve read and have on my Christmas shelf on Goodreads.)


Christmas… Ish

(Wintry Christmas-like festivals in fantasy lands)

Sometimes it’s not actually a Christmas book — since it doesn’t actually have Christmas, per se — but it feels like it!

  • Wintermoon Wish (Sharon Shinn) — This is a short story, collected in Firebirds Rising edited by Sharyn November. I don’t care for most of the stories in the anthology but Wintermoon Wish is MY FAVORITE and I always read it around this time of year. It has a fantasy holiday called Wintermoon which sort of combines Christmas/yule-logs/New Year’s/winter solstice/etc. into a neat semi-magical holiday and it’s just SUCH a cozy, delightful read, with some of my favorite characters. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. ^_^
  • Flight of the Raven (Morgan L. Busse) — There was a delightful wintry festival in this and I loved it so much! ❤ It felt Christmas-y without being quite Christmas. It just made me happy — and I loved all the candles! (My review.)
  • Hogfather (Terry Pratchett) — Um. Not quite Christmas? But very much a parody and a hilarious fantasy Christmas-ish book. Anyone who’s read this will know what I mean. XD Anyone who hasn’t… well, it might not be your cup of tea unless you are a Pratchett fan. XD Discworld’s version of Christmas! (I also saw the movie and it was weird but kind of fun. XD)
  • We Three Dragons — I read this a couple of years back and don’t remember it all that well but I know there were dragons and Christmas-y feels and three different novellas about fantasy Christmases.

Books With Christmas

(That Aren’t Christmas Books. XD)

And a few that have some of my favorite Christmas parts, but aren’t technically about Christmas. 😉

  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis) — I mean, Father Christmas and his gifts are definitely an important part of the story. 😉 Plus, so wintry! (Even if… the winter part… isn’t actually a good thing. XD)
  • The Good Master (Kate Seredy) — One of my favorite Christmas chapters is the last chapter in this book. ^_^ (Even if the rest of the book isn’t about Christmas. XD)
  • The Singing Tree (Kate Seredy) — There are some fabulous Christmas parts in this, and anyone who likes WWI-era stories will love the book in general. 🙂
  • Brown-ears (Stephen Lawhead) — Most of this isn’t a Christmas book, but the end is and it makes it so perfect! ^_^ The story of a lost toy, which reminds me of Tolkien’s Roverandom. (Yes, Stephen R. Lawhead did write children’s books. This one as well as a sequel, and three tales of the Riverbank, the first of which is The Tale of Jeremy Vole. So good!)

On my TBR

Pretty much everything in this post so far, I’ve read, but I wanted to share a few on my TBR as well!

I’ve already read a few Christmas reads this month so we’ll see if I manage to squeeze in any more, but here are the ones on my list for this year or next year. ^_^

  • The Father Christmas Confessions (Emily Ann Benedict) — I loved this author’s contribution to the Vintage Jane Austen series (she wrote Perception, a retelling of Persuasion!) and I’m excited to try more from her. 🙂
  • The Father Christmas Profession (Emily Ann Benedict) — Sequel to the above, and sounds delightful!
  • 12 Days of (Faerie) Christmas (C.J. Brightley) — I loved this author’s Lord of Dreams, and any book with “Faerie” in the title next to “Christmas” sounds like something I need. XD
  • The Lawrence Chronicles (E. Bronwyn Hinkle) — I don’t remember when I picked this up but it sounded intriguing. 🙂
  • 24 Days Before Christmas (Rebekah Jones) — Mystery set at Christmas-time? Yes please! I read Gingerbread Treasures, by this author, which is collected (for a limited time!) in A Very Bookish Christmas, as I mentioned above, and I loved the mystery and the Christmas aspect, so I’m excited to read this. 🙂
  • Christmas Carol Society (Rebekah Jones) — Another by this author, and it just sounds super fun — a Christmas Carol society with the members being assigned a “Scrooge.”
  • Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball (Donita K. Paul) — Someone mentioned this in the Realm Makers Facebook group and said they read it every year. Color me intrigued! I’m excited to read it. 🙂
  • Behold (Faith Potts) — I picked up a copy of this short story collection when it was free the other day and I’m curious to try it out. 🙂

Do you have a favorite Christmas-y/seasonal/wintry book?

(I wanted to share some favorite winter-themed books too but ran out of space. Maybe next time!)

I hope you enjoyed and maybe found a book or two you want to read, and I hope you have a fabulous holiday season! See you in the New Year! Thanks for reading! ^_^

Hollow by Kyle Robert Shultz!

There’s a new Afterverse book (novella) out today, guys! *cue muffled screaming*

Hollow by Kyle Robert Shultz

(Crockett & Crane, #2.5)

Sleepy Hollow meets Wonderland with dashes of time travel!

Featuring Ichabod Crane (ancestor of Todd Crane) and intriguing cameos from various Crockett & Crane and Beaumont & Beasley characters (aaaahh!).

HOLLOW is a novella about half the length of a usual Afterverse novel. It’s set after Horseman and Deadwood (so it’s Crockett & Crane 2.5), but also technically set a hundred years before, in the 1790s (and also in the future . . . and various other times . . . because TIME TRAVEL), and it has extremely important ties to the Beaumont and Beasley books!

It’s SUPER EXCITING and epic and edge-of-your-seat, and a bit more somber than the other Afterverse tales, so hold on to your feels and brace yourselves. 😉 (SO. MANY. FEELS.) But there are still a few funny parts (if fewer than in previous installments), and it’s all TOTALLY worth it because it connects some things and just — AAHH! *muffled screaming* IT’S. SO. EPIC.

There are mind-blowing reveals and further hints, and it deals with important questions touched on at the end of DEADWOOD and in other Afterverse books. You’re not going to want to miss this one! (Especially if you just finished reading DEADWOOD and need to know Things in answer to that explosive final line!)

But I don’t want to give anything away, because spoilers, sweetie. So I’m going to stop talking. Just go read it! 😀

(Disclaimer: I copyedited this book, but the above review is unbiased and written merely as an avid fan of the Afterverse. I was in no way required to write a review, and these are my FEELS-INDUCED but honest opinions. XD)


About Hollow

It’s time for answers.

Ichabod Crane made a sacrifice to save the future.

Now the future has come to Sleepy Hollow, and it threatens to take even more from him.

Ichabod must embark on a dangerous journey to save his family and his legacy…

…but he’s not prepared for the nightmares that await him.

The Queen of Hearts reigns supreme. The Horseman rides again.

And in the shadows, the Hollow Ones are waiting.

Only Ichabod can stop the gathering darkness…

…but sometimes, darkness wins.

A Crockett and Crane novella, set between Book 2: Deadwood, and Book 3: Westenra. The series begins with Book 1: Horseman, available in Kindle Unlimited and on Audible. This story also ties into the Beaumont and Beasley series by Kyle Robert Shultz.

Available on Amazon in ebook (paperback coming soon!)

Also, here on Goodreads.


You can also read Kyle’s latest post, about Hollow and its release, an exciting Phoenix Fiction Black Friday sale (which features many of the Afterverse books, and which I’ll be sharing about in more depth later), and some updates about book covers and other things!

But aaahh! GUYS! THIS BOOK. It has so much going on, despite being a novella, and just. *muffled screaming* I need you guys to read it so I have people to talk to about iiiit! XD

Thanks for reading and I hope you all (er, Americans anyway?) have a good Thanksgiving! 🙂

Strange Waters: New Phoenix Fiction Anthology!

Just a quick announcement to share that the new short story collection from the delightful Phoenix Fiction Writers is releasing TODAY! *applause and confetti*

I’m so excited to read Strange Waters (you’ll hear from me again with a review once I do) and you can read on for more about these sci-fi or fantasy stories from a group of talented authors! 😀

(I did read the one by Kyle Robert Shultz, which I edited — it’s hilarious and space fantasy and yes you need it in your life. I can’t wait to read the others!

Links

THE STORIES

Here’s more about each individual story that’s collected under the gorgeous cover above!

Backpack Boy by Nate Philbrick (www.natephilbrick.com)

Pirates have kidnapped Mum and taken her to the cave across the island.

The boy with the red backpack has everything he needs to rescue Mum: a map, a wooden sword, a book about pirate adventures, and a ham sandwich. Most importantly of all, he has his elephant.

But wooden swords and ham sandwiches might not be enough for the boy with the red backpack to face the truth he’s afraid of the most.

And the island starts to crumble…

Finer Things by C. Scott Frank (www.scottfrank.com)

Soren Tallweather and Tabitha Courtney are madly in love with each other and furiously in hate with the society that says they can never be together. They could escape, if only they had the means to buy anonymity. If they can get their hands on the right merchandise, that can certainly be arranged.

It was supposed to be in and out, but no job ever goes according to plan. Now it’s a race against the clock to get to safety with an all-too-familiar enemy on their tails. But justice, it seems, picks the most inopportune times to show up.

Everything they thought they had is at stake as Tabitha must settle the war within herself: what’s more important? Her own freedom or those less fortunate than her?

Roanoke by J.E. Purrazzi (www.jillanepurrazzi.com)

How far would you go to save your enemies?

The invention of trans-time communication has locked Ketera’s bloodline into a single destiny. A destiny that Ketera has been preparing her whole life to fulfill. While her friends mapped out their hopes and dreams, she mapped her voyage across the stars–a voyage to a lost colony on a dangerous water-covered planet that will one day declare war on Earth.

Two ships have been sent: one negotiating for peace, the other prepared for war. If Ketera’s mission as ambassador fails, the warship following in her wake will take whatever measures are necessary in order to protect the future.

But the road ahead of Ketera is dangerous, and her mission will take her away from everything familiar, across a planet of violent extremes, and into the frozen, sunless expanse. And all to save her enemies.

Kamynosa’s Labyrinth by Beth Wangler (www.bethwangler.com)

Princess Kamynosa doesn’t need anyone’s help. Anyone could see she will be quite capable of being the Archipelago’s Archon on her own.

But her parents haven’t noticed that. No, they have called for a Labyrinth.

Disgruntled and eager to prove she can do it alone, Kamynosa commandeers a boat and joins the Labyrinth to win herself. She has every confidence that she will soar past the other competitors on the sparkling seas.

Yet Captain’s Heir Jadairos obnoxiously stays close in her wake.  Even worse—he has a hero complex.

Proving that Kamynosa doesn’t need anyone just got a bit more challenging.

Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea by E.B. Dawson (www.ebdawsonwriting.com)

An unorthodox professor of archaeology sets off to find his own answers about an unusual archaeological find, accompanied by an accident-prone student in need of extra credit.

The Archaeological Society of Catalan has pieced together a long and rich history for the planet of Illiana, based on a revolutionary dating system. But Dr. Barnaby Brown has his doubts about the accuracy of the procedure, which tends to give out false readings. His private findings seem to suggest that nothing on the planet is more than 500 years old–a hypothesis which, if proven true, would shake the very core of society.

When a set of incongruous new artifacts turn up, Barnaby learns they are inextricably linked to an old legend surrounding the Glass Sea. With an accident-prone student in tow, he sets out to find answers for himself and embarks on an adventure he never bargained for.

Through the Lens by K.L.+Pierce (www.klpiercebooks.com)

Viatem is here…and Dion does not have a gift for his younger sister.

Thankfully, he has a backup plan: a telescope that can see into the next galaxy.

But when completing the telescope means breaking into an enemy military installation, Dion will have to look within himself, and decide whether cutting through the shadows of his sister’s world is worth the price.

Ric Vayne and the Curse of Ghoul Nebula by Kyle Robert Shultz (www.kylerobertshultz.com)

Any wizard can fly a spaceship. Hotshot pilot Ric Vayne can fly one better than most. But just as he’s about to land a job that could finally pay off his bar bill, he finds himself pressed into service by a deranged captain.

That wouldn’t be so bad…except that Ric isn’t expected to fly the ship. When he wakes up after getting kidnapped, he discovers that he is the ship.

Which is a bad thing for many reasons–including, but not limited to, the fact that Ric no longer has fingers to hold his spellblaster. If Ric is ever going to get his soul out of a computer core and back into his body, he’ll have to be very clever about it.

But he’ll also have to work fast…because he’s headed for Ghoul Nebula, a place of pure chaos magic. And no pilot–or  ship–gets out of there alive.

The Underground by Janelle Garrett (www.janellegarrettwriter.com)

What if everything you believed was actually true?

His whole life, Kef has been told he is too idealistic. His older sister, Hiya, insists the Deep is a lost memory. It disappeared from the Raized Domains centuries ago.  Kef wants to believe the Domains haven’t been abandoned, but everything points to the contrary. Their parents mysteriously vanished. People keep turning up dead or missing.

And then, Hiya is taken by the feared Dragons.

Kef will stop at nothing to rescue her, including traversing to the Underground itself to take on the Dragons. What he finds there will change the whole sphere: but will he be too late to rescue Hiya?

This Pain Inside by Hannah Heath (www.hannahheathwriter.com)

The Poison that destroyed the surface has come to claim the deep. It is severing electricity lines, imploding underwater houses, and destroying the solar power rafts humanity uses as its energy source. The Neons, people who act as hosts for a magical force, are fighting an ever-losing battle to keep the Poison at bay.

But that isn’t any of Charlie’s business. All Charlie can think about is finding a cure for her chronic pain. After all, she is too tired and too weak to help fight the Poison. If she can just make the pain go away, maybe then she’ll be worth something. Maybe then she’ll become useful enough and strong enough to join the fight.

But when the Poison begins to threaten what little family she has left, Charlie may just have to rethink her views on pain, worth, and what makes a person strong.


There you are! I hope you’re looking forward to it like I am! Happy birthday to Strange Waters! *throws confetti*

Do you like anthology collections? I’m often hit or miss on short stories but I’m definitely looking forward to these!