Tag Archive | Masters and Beginners

Masters and Beginners by Daley Downing (Review)

Twinsies! My cat loved that there was a fellow stripey cat on this book. ^_^ (Thank you, Callette, for putting up with me using you as a photo prop. XD)

Title: Masters and Beginners
Author: Daley Downing

Date read: May 3, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Age: YA
Year pub: 2017
Pages: 194 (paperback)
Series: The Order of the Twelve Tribes, Volume 1
Fave character: Alexander Torrington (and Flynn… and Jules… and… yeah, lots of them. :D)
Source: From the author in exchange for my honest review
Links: GoodreadsAuthor’s Blog • Purchase here or email the author at the address provided on her blog 🙂

Masters and Beginners is a delightful modern fantasy novel for young adults (or anyone, really), featuring some of my favorite things, namely Faerie things! I had a lot of fun reading it! I don’t read a lot of modern fantasy largely because I don’t often like it, but this is one I didn’t mind reading and overall enjoyed muchly.

There are Faerie things (fae/faery/elves used interchangeably) which were really cool, and talking cats who are more than cats (Jules! Loved her! :)), Fae characters both good and bad, Seelie and Unseelie (I particularly liked/would like to know more about Alex…), other mysterious beings, mystery, family, humor (I laughed aloud a couple of times), adventure, and other awesome things like PORTALS, yay! (Loved how the portals were used.) It was a very rich tapestry of different elements. 🙂

It starts out a little bit slow, drawing us into this well-constructed storyworld of our modern times with an undercurrent of mythological things, and steadily builds as we meet beloved characters, are immersed in all the details and magical feel of it, and drawn deeper into the mysteries and dangers, until it gets quite exciting and intense near the end there! O_O I was so drawn into this storyworld, and although I might have liked to have gotten to know a few of the characters better (next time!), overall I really fell in love with these characters and this setting, and just had an incredible time reading it! ^_^

In a lot of ways, it was very different from other YA books I’ve read, which was both fascinating and a delightful breath of fresh air. 😀 There are actually *gasp* nice people! And the parents aren’t dead! *more gasps* And the parents are actually nice and a part of the story! *triple gasp* There was more of a focus on the entire family—who actually love each other *biggest gasp of all*—and even some homeschoolers. All of this was super neat to read in a YA book. 😀

Also, not a big thing, but the main characters, the Driscolls—Sophie and her brother Flynn, and their parents Kate and James, and little brother Callum—are already a part of this set of people (the Order of the Twelve Tribes, which is where the series gets its title) who know about the crazy stuff going on in the world, so they didn’t need to go through the “wait, faeries exist?” transition that’s common to a lot of modern fantasy type stories. They do, of course, become more a part of it, and learn new things, so it’s not like there’s no wonder or discovery, but already being past the big hump of knowing it all exists is a great twist. 🙂

Sometimes angels in fiction make me twitchy—I have no idea why—but I think I managed to get over that this time and found it intriguing and different how there were all kinds of legends, mythology, faeries, Nephilim, angels, etc. just woven together in the history of this setup. Some of it was a litle weird, but I hadn’t seen something like this done before, so it was interesting to have Faerie mythology and elements of Christianity/Hebraic history/legend seamlessly woven together and taken for granted as things that are a part of the world. 🙂

Other fun things:

  • References: I loved the little references to things like Doctor Who, the “Warriors” cat books, King Arthur, things like the veil between worlds being thin Halloween night, and other myths and legends—so much fun. 😀
  • Extras: There are lyrics or quotes at the beginning of all the chapters, as well as “extra” material at the end of the chapters—emails, documents about the Annex, texts between characters, letters, etc.—both of which lent it an extra atmospheric and authentic quality, which I absolutely loved! 😀

As for possible downsides (if they can be called that)…

  • I might have liked seeing more of some of the characters, but that’s what sequels are for. 😉 Same with the actual Annex (the warehouse with mystical artifacts)—I think I thought there would be more with that, but with portals and such, who even needs artifacts when you have the real thing? XD
  • At the beginning especially, there were a lot of names all at once that were a little hard to keep track of, which was simultaneously difficult and made it seem more real—like this is an actual organization with interconnected families, and naturally something that complex is hard to keep track of for a sudden reader. I might have liked some more reminders of who was who with some of the side characters, but that may have been me not paying enough attention.
  • One thing—the only thing I might have actually disliked—I’m still on the fence about… I can’t really talk about because it’s a spoiler about how some things ended up at the end. There are enough hints at something different happening in a later book that I’m deciding that I THINK it’s okay… so I will wait it out on that one to see. But it’s just a general trope I don’t like in fiction, so not a particular fault of this book, I guess? SPOILER (highlight to read):: When characters forget some of the things that happened, “for their own good” just because some powerful being, who’s supposed to be benevolent, can’t have them spilling secrets. But then what’s the POINT of having the story and them having those adventures? *wails* I want them to remember all those times they had together! D: Buuut there was a hint that mayyybe they might break free of it and remember at some point, so I’m holding on to that. 😉 ::END SPOILER

But overall, I didn’t have a lot of complaints! It was just a fun read that I loved! 😀 (For those who care, there was a little mild language, and some sweet possible romances, and of course a bit of fairytale violence, but nothing bad, really. Overall it’s a pretty good clean read, if readers are worried about that. :)) I found it to be definitely not as dark as a lot of the YA books out there, which made me happy. Also, the adults in the story have prominent parts as well, so it’s more rounded, about whole families, which I really liked, and makes it more likely that both young adult and adult readers will both find something enjoyable about the book. 🙂

Overall, I may have had a quibble or two, but really, I just had a blast reading it. 😀 I’m giving it 5 stars for the amount of enjoyment it gave me, and the breath of fresh air and fun this book was. 🙂 I can’t wait to see where some of this goes in later books, too! Definitely looking forward to future books in the series releasing someday so I can return to this delightful storyworld! ^_^

(I received a free review copy of this book from the author—many thanks! I was not required to write a positive review, and these opinions are entirely my own.)

Exciting book mail! This was my mini-subscription box with the book when it arrived! You can purchase an ebook or signed paperback copy, or a limited-edition mini-subscription box with surprise gifts and a letter from one of the characters. I recommend the latter. 😉

Faeriiiies! ❤ I just love faerie books, don’t you? 🙂 Are you a fan of contemporary fantasy? Does this book intrigue you? Lemme know in the comments! ^_^

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Nightstand Books May {2017}

Time for Nightstand Books! (I mean, it has been for awhile, but hey. Leave me with my delusions of it still being the first couple of days of May. It will make me feel better. *cough*)

Nightstand Books is a meme created by Jenelle Schmidt and DJ Edwardson, a monthly look at what we’re reading/have on our “nightstands”.

Here’s what I’m reading/would like to read this May. 🙂 (Or, y’know… into June… or however long it takes me… *cough*)

The Stack

  • Masters and Beginners by Daley Downing — I read this one, LOVED it (Faeries and THINGS!), and will have a review up for it soon! 😀 (Thanks to the author for my shiny review copy!)
  • Puss in Boots by Diana Wynne Jones — This is a tiny retelling DWJ did and I just read it. So much fun! I like how she made everything make sense, while also making it rather humorous as is traditional with DWJ books. 😉
  • Adventures and Adversities by Sarah Holman — I’m starting to work through the Tales of Taelis series (long overdue!). Interesting so far. 🙂
  • Arbiter by Jamie FoleySentinel was awesome, hence I’m super excited to read this! *flailing* (Thanks to the author for my review copy! *pets it*)
  • The Fatal Tree by Stephen R. Lawhead — Currently reading this, and it’s VERY intriguing so far. O_O I can’t wait to find out what happens! Eep. 😀
  • Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl — The Imps of Goldstone Wood fan club on Goodreads is having an epic series read-through this year, with a different book every month, give or take. You can hop aboard on any of them you like, as re-reads or new reads. I’m jumping in this month because Moonblood is up for May, which is next in the series for me. Halfway through and enjoying it SO MUCH so far! O_O Didn’t realize I missed the Goldstone Wood world and characters so much until I started reading it again.
  • The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson — I’m slightly addicted to Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale retellings. They just make me happy. So I’m looking forward to reading this one. (Thanks to Thomas Nelson through BookLook Bloggers for the review copy!)
  • The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Schultz — I just devoured this in a sitting and ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! Short version: just read this, peoples. (I will write a review at some point… *has many reviews to write and unfortunately not a lot of time for it lately*)

Ebooks

And the ebooks which I hope to read, which don’t stack nicely on a nightstand, but are absolutely lovely-looking books all the same…

  • Halayda by Sarah Delena White — This is the May book for the Fellowship of Fantasy bookclub, and I am SUPER EXCITED FOR IT. Because faeries and things. About a third of the way through and enjoying it thus far. 😀
  • Where the Woods Grow Wild by Nate Philbrick — Super excited to read this fantasy novel — it sounds right up my alley! (Also for review; thanks to the author for my review copy! Check out his blog — it’s absolutely hilarious. :D)
  • Spellsmith and Carver: Magician’s Rival by H.L. Burke — This is for review and just released and I’m quite excited because it’s a buddy story with magic and scary Fae things and I’m all for this. (Thanks to the author for my review copy!)

Not Pictured

  • I’d also like to keep working through my backlog of beta-reads, so I’d like to get one of those done.
  • I’m listening to an unabridged yet fully-dramatized audio recording of The Tempest by William* Shakespeare, as well, which has been interesting thus far!

*(In other news, sometimes I wonder if I should bother saying “William”. Like, is there any other Shakespeare? I mean, come on, really. Maybe I should say “Bob Shakespeare” sometime and see if anyone notices…)

If I have time, I also would not say no to re-reading Yorien’s Hand by Jenelle Schmidt, to refresh my memory before the final book releases… but we’ll see; could be pushed to my June list. In fact, seeing that we’re OVER HALFWAY THROUGH MAY (WHAT??? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN. SOMEBODY HELP), many of these might carry over to a June stack.

Not sure how many of these I’ll get around to this month, but they’re what I’m working on for now. 🙂 (And I did do remarkably well on last month’s stack, reading all of those listed, so that makes me happy.)

Yes, a lot of these are for review. Something about review-books seems to be that they come all at once. XD But, y’know, having way too many awesome books to read is obviously a good problem to have, yes? *cough*

So much awesome fantasy going on! Very excited about all of these books! 🙂

How about you? What’s on your nightstand? And have you read (or want to read) any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

FYI: Book News! {May 2017}

The other day I was thinking “there’s so much exciting bookish stuff going on!”

So I thought I should do a sort of summarizing post about several bookish things I’m excited about that you should know about! 🙂

In this post:

  • Giveaways links
  • Vintage Jane Austen update
  • Other recently-released books I’m excited about
  • Upcoming cover-reveals

Let’s get to it! ^_^

INDIE AUTHOR GIVEAWAYS

Masters and Beginners giveaway on Goodreads (ends May 17)

Check it out HERE.

I just read this one and really enjoyed it! (You may remember my spotlight post for it.) Faeries and talking cats and modern and was a breath of fresh air in many ways compared to most YA novels — review to come! 🙂

The Beast of Talesend giveaway (ends June 6)

Check it out HERE.

I haven’t read this yet, but I’m so excited to do so soonish! It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast/detective-like novel in an alternate 1920s England (I believe), with an alternate history where fairytales were real and part of history. I AM ALL OVER THIS IDEA. (Plus the author is a super cool blogger, and knowing he’s Christian and generally awesome means I know his books are going to be good clean fun, which is exciting. :D) Also, everybody should go follow his twitter (and blog) because he’s hilarious. It looks like the book is going to be just as hilarious… I can’t wait. 😀

VINTAGE JANE AUSTEN UPDATES

I’ve mentioned the Vintage Jane Austen series on my other blog before — a collection of Austen’s works rewritten in a 1930s American setting.

(I designed the website for the series, where you can learn more about these books.)

Well, there are exciting releases going on in that series! 🙂

Find the Vintage Jane Austen books so far on:

Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant

This retelling of Sense and Sensibility by an lovely author friend of mine, released today! I beta-read it and loved it. 😀 It’s currently at a discount price for a couple of days! (Details here.) Paperback coming soon too. 🙂 I hope to have a review for it up sometime soonish… *has many reviews to write*

Second Impressions: A Collection of Fiction Inspired by Jane Austen

The short story collection in the Vintage Jane Austen series, edited by my dear friend Hannah Scheele (and featuring some other authors I know), is now available! I haven’t read it yet but it looks like these are going to be some fun stories. 😀 (Note: these stories were part of a contest, and are not set during the ’30s like the other books in the VJA series, but rather in a wide range of settings, which look quite neat!) There’s a really fun “meet the authors” sneak-peek at the stories in the collection, here.

Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele (coming in June)

I beta-read an early version of this and loved it — super fun! So excited for this re-imagining of Mansfield Park, by another good writer friend of mine, to release — I can’t wait to read the final version! 🙂 (You may remember my mixed review of Mansfield Park… This new version solves some of the problems I had with the original, so… ;))

MORE RELEASES LATELY

Arbiter by Jamie Foley (May 3)

(You probably know about this one by now. XD And if you don’t, read this. Or this.)

Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians’ Rivalry by H.L. Burke (May 6)

I’m currently a liiiittle addicted to Heidi Burke’s books and I jumped on this one because magic + buddy story + Faerie things = I’m all there!

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson (May 9)

Another Melanie Dickerson, which I got for review. Excited to try this Goose Girl retelling! 🙂

COVER REVEALS

Lightporter by C.B. Cook (sequel to Twinepathy) will have a cover soon! (Which is one step closer to publication, which has me ecstatic!)

There’s also going to be a cover-reveal for the final Rooglewood Press fairytale Five-Something-Something writing contest, and we’re all so curious to see what it’ll be!

I’ll be sharing both cover reveals (probably one on each blog) on June 1st, so stay tuned! I’m so excited. 😀

Any bookish news or releases you’re excited for? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

(Now somebody chase me away to actually write those 2398798 or, y’know, 5 reviews I need to write. *cough* Or maybe very nicely ask Life to give me time to do so…)

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Book Spotlight: Masters and Beginners by Daley Downing

I’m excited to spotlight a blogging buddy’s debut novel, releasing today! 🙂

Hot off the press (well, figuratively; we don’t want the paper bursting into flame), a picture of the cover of Masters and Beginners

Title: Masters and Beginners (Volume 1 of The Order of the Twelve Tribes)
Author: Daley Downing

Genres: YA, fantasy, contemporary
Pages: 193
Notes: 1st in a series of 6

When Sophie Driscoll’s grandmother dies, her parents take over running the Annex, a warehouse facility that stores magical artifacts and documents proving, and protecting, the existence of faeries. Sophie and her brothers, Flynn and Cal, happily adjust to a new house, new friends, and a new way of living, joining the ranks of generations who have kept the fey and mortal realms separate for centuries. Before the first month of their new life is over, they’ll encounter romance, elves, talking cats, ancient secrets, and potentially lethal danger. What could possibly go wrong…

Excerpts

Sophie: “What about Gwen? Will she be all right?”
Alex: “She’ll be fine. We just need to get out of here. My wings are about to pop.”
Sophie (to herself): Did he just say wings? He said wings.

The Driscolls hadn’t always lived in Rylen, Ohio. Kate had grown up here; but when she was 18, she went to England to study abroad (just as her little sister later would), and there she met a very nice young man called James; the short version was that they got married and started a family, and stayed in southeast Britain for several years.

When Sophie was 9 years old, her family moved from Brighton and Hove, back to Rylen, Ohio. They moved into the newest development in the small town, Mercantile Manor, so called after the butchers and bakers and candlestick makers that used to run their businesses in the former colonial village.

James was a history teacher for the local schools, while Kate worked from home and taught their kids. After a couple of years, though, the Driscoll siblings decided they wanted to go to “regular school,” like the other kids in their ballet/music/art/swimming lessons.

But sticking to that decision was becoming more and more challenging. The fact that they weren’t like other people, that their family was different – even if they didn’t want this to be true – wasn’t going away.

Gramie Sheridan’s passing meant they couldn’t ignore it anymore. Her death had set their destiny into motion.

Note from the author on how to obtain a copy of Masters and Beginners:

  • Contact me: daley.downing@gmail.com.
  • Or: via the blog (https://daleydowning.wordpress.com/), which also has my Twitter handle in the sidebar.
  • Just the book: $15
  • Subscription box (limited quantity): $25 [Each box includes: a signed copy of Volume 1, three free gifts, and a letter from one of the characters. (Just for setting that truly ambient feel…)]

(Note: I am in the process of establishing a Paypal account so that I can accept credit card orders and international payments. That should be going by the end of this month. Anyone living outside of the USA interested in making a purchase can email me for details on that.)

(I am not on Amazon, nor do I have e-book format yet, due to cost restrictions for this first edition. The e-book part I’m hoping to change in the future.)

I will be hosting 2 giveaways in May – one North America only, one international only. So non-USA/Canada readers can try that as well.

Well, I don’t know about you, Pagelings, but I’m loving the sound of this with its flavor of contemporary but secret existence of Faeries and elves and talking cats and all!

Watch for a book review on this one from yours truly in the near-ish future! ^_^

What do you think? Sound intriguing? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer