Tag Archive | The Skin Map

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.” πŸ˜€

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

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. πŸ˜‰ (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. πŸ˜› 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. πŸ˜€ (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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ˜€ 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. πŸ˜€ *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! πŸ™‚ It’s now available for pre-order on Amazon HERE and on Goodreads HERE, releasing June 17. πŸ˜€ 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. πŸ˜€ 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. πŸ˜€ 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. πŸ˜€ Expect a review for it (hopefully) later this week. πŸ™‚
  • 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! πŸ™‚
  • 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! πŸ™‚
  • 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! πŸ˜€

~ ~ ~

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. πŸ˜‰ 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. πŸ˜‰

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

Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

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The Bone House by Stephen R. Lawhead

bonehouse

5starrating

Title: The Bone House (Bright Empires, #2)

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

review

It’s a mind-baffling attempt, trying to figure out how to review this book… But I shall give it a shot so that I can capture some of my thoughts as they are at this point in the saga, before launching into reading book 3, The Spirit Well.

The Bone House picks up more or less where book 1 in The Bright Empires series, The Skin Map, left off — I say more or less, since the time aspect makes such statements more complicated and… fluid than usual, and let’s just say that “chronology” is a word I only dreamed of while reading this book, in the best possible way. πŸ˜‰ It makes me want to start an elaborate chart to map out the character threads, timelines, eras, and locations… That would be FUN! And mind-boggling, but hey.

This series (of which The Bone House is but the second part out of five) is a wonderful mental exercise, which I’m enjoying immensely. πŸ™‚ The myriad of character threads, localities, times periods, and relative time lines to each other, not to mention the way the story leaps between characters from chapter to chapter with abandon — it all calls for a very elastic mind! Like I said, excellent mental exercise. πŸ˜€

Not to mention that it makes me think and want to ask questions and to LEARN things. Which is just a lovely side-effect of this exciting timey-adventure (with many breath-taking parts, twists, and fascinating timey things which I LOVE), which I couldn’t put down. I’ve never read anything quite like this series!

Let me just put it this way: If most novels are the equivalent of a jog for the mind, the Bright Empires series is like parkour… in zero gravity… through multiple universes. πŸ˜‰

This delightful second book, which I enjoyed as much as The Skin Map, carries us through time and geography to Egypt, England, Prague… to the Etruscans, and even people of the Stone Age… as well as the 1200s, 1600s, 1800s, and naturally includes characters from our own 21st century.

Each place, each person or group of people we meet, is steeped in the fascinating and rich tones of cultures old and new, strange and familiar, and all equally skillfully penned. I felt entirely drawn into each place, and the details were fabulous and so gorgeously written. I just felt THERE the entire time. The bits of other languages scattered throughout — Latin, German, some prehistoric dialect — lent an even further air of rich immersion. I just LOVED being so fully inside these places!

Also, the part with the “River City Clan” as Kit dubs them, in the Stone Age, was one of my favorite parts! I don’t want to give anything away, but I simply loved how they were portrayed, in such a unique and intriguing way. They felt… right somehow; not bumbling backward cavemen of the cliche mentality moderns hold, but solid, close to the earth, with their own wisdom and close connection with each other, which we seem to have forgotten in this, our own “civilized” age. It was… refreshing to consider another perspective, to see these simple folk who are more complex than one might think. I also really loved the part with En-Ul — it was fantastic. Love, love, love. I guess the whole cavemen thing and how Lawhead did it surprised me, in a good way. I just… really really liked it. πŸ™‚

Time would fail me (in more ways than one) to discuss each facet of this book with all the different places and things that happened, plus I don’t want to give it away and spoil the joy of discovering it yourself… So I think I will say a few words about the wonderful characters and then dash off to read the next book… πŸ˜‰

As a general note, I ADORED how the characters in this book were mostly… nice people. That may sound strange, but it was refreshing to me to read about characters who are actually decent folks, with the good old ways of hospitality and cordiality even to strangers. Again, something this modern age may lack? There was by no means any shortage of suspense (goodness, no! ALL the suspense!) but it shows that there are more subtle ways of keeping us on the edge of our seat in books than through every person the main characters meet being awful people who are out to mess up their lives. …I mean, there are obviously villains to do that still (in a serious way! O_O Eep to Burleigh and company… *shivers*) but the world(s) seemed to be inhabited by REAL people, not caricatures full of “flaws” and suspicion and general ill-will toward the heroes. And maybe no one else understands what I’m trying to say, or cares, but to me it was important, and again, it was a different take, which I really liked. πŸ™‚ I like when things make me think and make me feel welcomed, and when I can truly ENJOY them, which is definitely true of these books.

While thinking about villains (if I can call them all such… hmm… I shall look forward to more developments!), let me just say that even being in their points of view was really interesting; if slightly disturbing… There were a lot of different points of view, even among the heroes, and though some readers might not appreciate so many different viewpoints flipping back and forth throughout the book, yet I found the many perspectives quite bracing and intriguing, personally!

All the character-threads were so neat and I can’t wait to follow them further through the rest of the series! Arthur Flinders-Petrie and his line, Lady Haven Fayth (what’s her deal??) and even Archelaeus Burleigh himself, in his own shadowy way… Eep. Side characters such as Xian-Li, Etzel, Dr. Thomas Young, Giles, and all the rest, are still a delight to meet, follow, and learn more about… So real and varied. I just love them all! (All right, not such a fan of Snipe. O_O He scares me a little… I’m not sure what to think of some of the characters yet…)

My favorite main characters, though, are still Kit and Wilhelmina and their two different storylines. πŸ™‚ Kit is still such an enjoyable chap to read about — I don’t even know why, he’s just… amiable and British, in whose mind it’s something between fun and amusing to be in — and I greatly enjoyed his escapades, even when he did blunder a little… but, well, we can’t all be Minas. πŸ˜‰ Even if we wish to be… Wilhelmina is AMAZING, by the way. I loved her in The Skin Map already, but she takes another step in The Bone House, into a new role as one of my favorite characters ever. I basically want to be her. Or, barring that, at least be more like her. (She’s also the only female character in a book that I’ve felt that way about since I was very young. This is big news.) I don’t think I can even begin to accurately describe her in this small space, but she’s brave and warmhearted and smart and confident and friendly and enterprising and she has that charming lively way with words and… I just feel like if she’s around, everything might be okay, you know? It’s a feeling I can’t quite put my finger on, but she’s definitely a favorite character, and one I’d like to be more like myself. She’s really fitting in fabulously in 1600s Prague, like a duck to water, and has come so far from the beginning of the first book — and so has Kit, at that, in his own way. Anyway, I can’t wait to read more about all of these characters!

Even the little things add fabulous touches to this book: clever and/or amusing chapter titles; the helpful (and witty) list of characters and the “Previously” summary at the beginning which did wonders to refresh my memory of the happenings in book 1 (I wish I’d re-read The Skin Map before embarking on The Bone House, since it was over a year between readings for me, but the summary was very helpful and I think I did okay); and the essay at the end which was fascinating… Even little things like Etzel’s muffins (I want some now!) and such thoughts from Mina as: Plus, of course, she would have chocolate. A girl after my own heart. πŸ˜‰

(One final note: it’s “clean” and age appropriate for teens. πŸ™‚ I’d class it as Young Adult, content wise, though adults will enjoy it as well. So, all you young people who care about such things, this series is not actually Adult, even if the main characters are in their twenties. I think young adults will love reading these. I may have left the ranks of teenagerdom somewhat recently, but I’m still a teen at heart and there was nothing that bothered me. :))

I think I can safely say that I greatly enjoyed The Bone House (in fact, I can’t think of a single complaint I have about it!). Another excellent read from a masterful author. I have a feeling that, as only part two out of five, this far-reaching and intricate tapestry has only begun, and I can’t wait to follow the ever-more-tangled threads into the next part!

Onward, to The Spirit Well!

summary

From Goodreads:

2bonehouseKit Livingstone met his great-grandfather Cosimo in a rainy alley in London where he discovered the truth about alternate realities.

Now he’s on the run — and on a quest — trying to understand the impossible mission he inherited from Cosimo: to restore a map that charts the hidden dimensions of the multiverse. Survival depends on staying one step ahead of the savage Burley Men.

The key is the Skin Map — but where it leads and what it means, Kit has no idea. The pieces have been scattered throughout this universe and beyond.

Mina, from her outpost in seventeenth-century Prague, is quickly gaining both the experience and the means to succeed in the quest. Yet so are those with evil intent who, from the shadows, are manipulating great minds of history for their own malign purposes.

Those who know how to use the ley lines have left their own world behind to travel across time and space — down avenues of Egyptian sphinxes, to an Etruscan tufa tomb, into a Bohemian coffee shop, and across a Stone Age landscape where universes collide — in this, the second quest to unlock the mystery of “The Bone House.”

The Bright Empires series — from acclaimed author Stephen R. Lawhead — is a unique blend of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery. The result is a page-turning adventure like no other.

factoids

Genre/Category: Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Sci-fi / Time Travel / Contemporary (ish; linked to our time) etc.

Age Group: Young Adult — Adults will enjoy too!

Published: 2011

Pages: 385 hardcover

Series?: Book 2 in the Bright Empires series. (Book 1: The Skin Map — read my review here.) Followed by The Spirit Well, The Shadow Lamp, The Fatal Tree.

brightempireslawheadcollage

When Read: August 8-16, 2016

Favorite Character: Wilhelmina! And Kit… and Arthur… etc.

Source: Library

Other Notes: Please do be sure to pick up a copy of The Skin Map before delving into this one! These are definitely not standalones and it would be a shame to get lost and miss the amazingness of the series by starting on book 2 instead of at the beginning. Plus, of course, The Skin Map is amazing, so. πŸ˜‰

findbook

{Goodreads} β€’ {Amazon} β€’ {Barnes & Noble} β€’ {Author’s Website}


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

#FantasyFunMonth Book Tag

fantasyfunmonth

#FantasyFunMonth by @JillWilliamson on Twitter

So… this isn’t exactly a tag, per se, and it’s six months late at that, but I saw this cool Twitter tag thing from Jill Williamson back in March and thought it would be fun to take the questions and instead of doing one every day for a month (which would be exhausting) turning them into a tag on a blog post!

At the time, I had just done a February Fantasy month, and I was busy, so I didn’t get around to this till now. So! Let the fantasy fun begin!

1. Fantasy Currently Reading

King’s Warrior by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt, and enjoying it muchly. πŸ™‚

2. Fave Fantasy Series

The Lord of the Rings, The Prydain Chronicles, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc.

3. Fave Fantasy Quote

“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”

— Lloyd Alexander

LloydQuote4

4. Fave Fantasy Hero(ine)

Oh, so many. There are several I could choose… but I’m going to pick some I’ve been thinking of lately.

For hero, I’m picking Tom Lynn from Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, because he’s a great hero. I said a lot about him in my review.

And for heroine, I’m picking Wilhelmina from The Skin Map and The Bone House by Stephen R. Lawhead (which are the first two books of The Bright Empires 5-book series, which I’m reading, and have read the first two so far and loved). Mina is just… I don’t know. She’s amazing. I want to be her. πŸ™‚

5. Fave Fantasy Book Cover

Five Enchanted Roses. You gotta admit, it’s pretty gorgeous. πŸ˜‰

6. Fave Fantasy Map

The map of Middle-earth is classic, so I’m going with that one.

7. Fave Fantasy Sidekick

Lockwood from Illusionarium by Heather Dixon. (Hush, it’s totally fantasy; I know it’s mostly steampunk but I’m saying it’s fantasy anyway because I want to answer Lockwood.)

8. Movie Better Than Book

The Princess Bride is one of the only movies I liked better than the book, but it’s simply the best as a movie, so I’m going to go with that one.

9. Epic Fantasy Fave

The Lord of the Rings put the “epic” in Epic Fantasy, so that one. πŸ˜‰

10. Fave Fantasy Book Title

Kestrel’s Midnight Song by J.R. Parker. I’ve always loved that title. ❀

11. Fave Fantasy Animal/Beastie

Dragons and Griffins are classic… and they can fly, so there’s that!

12. Fave Fantasy Stand-Alone

This one suddenly makes me realize how many books have sequels. O_O Um. No clue. I guess I’ll just put Howl’s Moving Castle here and pretend there weren’t two more books… (They’re sort of about other people, so maybe that counts?)

13. Guess That Fantasy (from quote)

Instead of guessing one or making you guess, I’m just sharing a random fantasy quote that I love saying randomly. ❀

β€œSOUNDS GROSS,” he said. “SALAZAR PREFERS WOOD. TAPESTRIES ARE ALSO ACCEPTABLE.”

Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal

14. Fave Fantasy Magic System

My mind is horrifyingly blank on this one. I know there must be some, but I can’t remember!

15. Highly Recommended Fantasy

Off the top of my head: The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal.

16. Last Fantasy You Bought

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett are recent ones I’m excited to read, since I’ve heard such good things about both. πŸ™‚

17. Book Better Than Movie

How about… ALL OF THEM? XD

18. Cheezy Fantasy Fave

Hmm. I’m not good with things like “cheesy” because I don’t really like calling things that?

19. YA Fantasy Fave

How about By Darkness Hid, To Darkness Fled, and From Darkness Won by Jill Williamson.

BloodOfKingsTrilogyButton-1024x625

20. Fave Fantasy Cast

The Lord of the Rings and Howl’s Moving Castle kind of can’t be beat on this one… (I know, I know, I keep answering with those… I can’t help it!) But there are SO MANY fabulous fantasy casts. I just can’t choose.

21. Fastest Fantasy Read

Anything by Diana Wynne Jones. I always buzz through those really quickly.

22. Fave Wizard/Mentor

This reminds me of the Silmarillion Awards we had a couple months back… πŸ˜‰ Um. I’ll go with Howl and Chrestomanci for favorite wizards (though I think Chrestomanci’s technically an enchanter? I don’t remember) and Cosimo (The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead) and Beana (Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl) for mentors, and Gandalf for both Wizard/Mentor.

23. Fave Childhood Fantasy

The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. They introduced me to fantasy as a wee thing, and I still love them muchly.

24. Fave Fantasy Romance

So many wonderful characters. Hmmm.. Off the top of my head: Sophie and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle, Mendanbar and Cimerene from Searching for Dragons, Ginger and Hal from Paper Crowns, and of course Faramir and Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings. THEY’RE ALL SO PRECIOUS.

25. Fantasy Never Finished

I… always finish, so I can’t think of one… I do remember starting The Once and Future King by T. H. White once and not getting around to finishing it at the time because it was so long, but I do fully intend to get back to it at some point.

26. Middle Grade Fantasy Fave

I never know exactly how to know which those are… But I’ll go with The Land of Elyon series by Patrick Carman, since they’re likely for a younger audience but I love them to death.

27. Fave Fantasy Weapon

The sword of King Mendanbar of the Enchanted Forest, from Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede! It’s just the best and it’s so handy and magical and I love it.

28. Slowest Fantasy Read

It was called Hero’s Song by Edith Pattou and I should have liked it because it was based on Celtic mythology (I think?) but it was so. slow. and it took me MONTHS to read it and I just couldn’t like it which made me sad. -_-

29. Fantasy Read Repeatedly

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. ❀

30. Most Anticipated Fantasy

An Earthly King by Hazel B. West (cover reveal coming Sept. 9 on her blog!!), Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, and King’s Blood by Jill Williamson (which sadly seems to have moved its release date to next year. *wailing*). I WANTS THEM, PRECIOUSSS. ❀

31. Fave Fantasy Author

J. R. R. Tolkien and Diana Wynne Jones, naturally. πŸ˜‰

How about you? Feeling fantasy-ish now? Agree with any of my picks? (SO hard to choose!) Answer the questions in the comments or steal this tag idea if you want! πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead

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(Yes, you get a random review from me today… I’ve posted it before on Goodreads but I may start posting older-ish reviews here on occasion. :))

5starrating

Title: The Skin Map

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

review

I’m giving THE SKIN MAP 5 stars . . . with one reservation (which is what this review is for, naturally).

This is going to be just a little bit hard to review. I won this book in a giveaway from Robert Treskillard (a masterful author in his own right), and read it over the course of three days when I was sick, and it helped pass the time marvelously.

For most of the book, THE SKIN MAP was a resounding 5-stars. I enjoyed it so very very much and it was brilliant and unique and fascinating and awesome and funny and perfect.

Then the last 20 pages happened and it almost lost a star or dozen because, well, not to be specific or anything, let’s just say certain authors don’t mind killing characters and I may or may not have gotten really really sad and/or devastated at something that may or may not have happened. Ahem.

That being said, if I’d rated and reviewed THE SKIN MAP the instant I finished it, I probably would have been upset enough it would not have held the 5-star rating it so richly deserves. As it was, I went to bed after finishing it, with a hole in my chest and a determination to never read anything ever again. What can I say. I’m a drama-queen when it comes to books that play with my emotions.

But I let myself cool down, and now I have to say that THE SKIN MAP fully earned every one of those five stars. Again with that one reservation, which naturally only shows how well the book was written that it made me CARE that much. I didn’t like how it was handled, though. But I will say no more because spoilers…

I must say, I was surprised by how much I outright loved THE SKIN MAP when I started it. (And still do, of course!) But from the very beginning it hooked me and drew me in and I found myself thoroughly enjoying myself. So. Much. Enjoyment.

It also felt perfectly British at the beginning there (it went on to feel like other countries too, wherein lies part of its brilliance) and I just found myself loving this story to death.

The characters were so much fun!

  • I love our hero, Kit Livingstone, who had so much humor and normal Britishness.
  • The timeless old fellow Cosimo who I love love love every second of.
  • Arthur Flinders-Petrie himself, who can I just say was positively awesome; though I was a bit confused about his parts of the story and if they were all flashbacks…? But I suppose they were. The nature of time-jumping-ish stories can sometimes get confusing….
  • Wilhelmina surprised me by working her way into my heart. I don’t usually love the heroines of stories that much, but she had such unexpected spunk and determination. I found myself loving the parts with her and Engelbert and their Kaffeehaus the best of any parts of the book — which, again, surprised me, because in a way there wasn’t much going on with them compared with all the action and mystery in the other parts of the story. But the genius of Lawhead seems to be that he can make absolutely anything fascinating.

Following all these characters in all these different times/countries (modern-times, 1600s, and older; England, Prague, Egypt) was so much fun, so interesting, and masterfully handled. There was a particular “feel” to each section which was awesome. So well drawn!

The ley-line travel was fascinating and awesome and I can’t wait to read more about it.

Plus, aren’t those character names just delightful? I love almost everything about this book!

All in all, THE SKIN MAP is a fabulous read, full of mystery, awesome characters, and traveling through different times and localities, all richly painted in a masterful tapestry of ever-turning pages. I couldn’t stop reading, and enjoyed the whole adventure immensely.

Also I just learned that my library has all the sequels in this Bright Empires series, which makes me indescribably happy. I can’t wait to read the rest of these books and fill my life with more Lawhead brilliance.

summary

From Goodreads:

It is the ultimate quest for the ultimate treasure. Chasing a map tattooed on human skin. Across an omniverse of intersecting realities. To unravel the future of the future.

Kit Livingstone’s great-grandfather appears to him in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm. He reveals an unbelievable story: that the ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks, but pathways to other worlds. To those who know how to use them, they grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily inhabit only a tiny part.

One explorer knew more than most. Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery. Ever on his guard and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code–a roadmap of symbols–that he tattooed onto his own body. This Skin Map has since been lost in time. Now the race is on to recover all the pieces and discover its secrets.

But the Skin Map itself is not the ultimate goal. It is merely the beginning of a vast and marvelous quest for a prize beyond imagining.

The Bright Empires series–from acclaimed author Stephen R. Lawhead–is a unique blend of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery. The result is a page-turning adventure like no other.

factoids

Genre/Category: Well gee, how am I supposed to answer that? Contemporary / Time Travel / Fantasy/Sci-fi / Historical Fiction…

Age Group: Young Adult

Published: 2010

Pages: 403

Series?: Book 1 in the Bright Empire series. Followed by The Bone House, The Spirit Well, The Shadow Lamp, The Fatal Tree. Series list on Goodreads.

When Read: February 2015

Favorite Character: Cosimo. (Closely followed by Arthur. Also have a soft spot for Kit… And Wilhelmina was awesome, so…)

Source: Won in a giveaway.

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages!

~ The Page Dreamer

Ten Books I Enjoyed Last Year Outside My Typical Reading Zone

Here’s a list of books I read last year that were not what I typically read, but which I enjoyed all the same… mostly contemporary stuff because I’m not big into the genre but dabbled in it more recently. (Fantasy of a vaguely medieval nature is pretty much my genre, so some things outside it I just consider “weird.)

(Please note that I almost included several Diana Wynne Jones books, because they pretty much defy genre… but Diana Wynne Jones is a distinct category/genre herself in my mind, so that doesn’t count as being outside my typical reading zone, because I’ll read anything with her name on it. So I’m excluding those. We’ve got to be fair to the other poor books…)

The first six are Contemporary, but I’m dividing them into straightforward contemporary fiction, and contemporary fantasy. I don’t know why, but there’s somehow a HUGE difference…

CONTEMPORARY

heist society

Heist Society / Uncommon Criminals / Perfect Scoundrels / Double Crossed (free short story on Kindle) – by Ally Carter

5starratingI know, I’m cheating slightly with a series… But I have to put them all here together in place of one. These were so much fun. YA heist/con-artist books, clean and fun, and well-written — the writing is sort of humorous and just… yes. I quite enjoyed them and wish there were more! Also notable for a certain character, namely Hale, who is awesome. (What is his first name?? We may never know…)

31ThePenderwicksInSpring

The Penderwicks in Spring – Jeanne Birdsall

5starratingI waited so long for this book and was delighted with it. In a sense, I almost SHOULDN’T have liked it because some of it was sad or bittersweet, but it was also so hilarious and awesome and PENDERWICK-y, even though it’s set several years after the other books. Also all of the myriad of characters were so distinct and their storylines were seamlessly juggled and just gaaah, can I sign up somewhere to write this well??

CONTEMPORARY FANTASY

bookofsight

The Book of Sight (5 stars) / The Broken Circle (3 stars) / The Secret Source (4 stars) – by Deborah Dunlevy (On Goodreads)

Again with the contemporary… but I just really enjoyed these, especially the first one. For absolutely no reason. But just… it makes me happy. A group of friends and their interactions with various fantastical creatures/happenings. I’m dying to read the fourth one, still… whyyy have I not found time to read it yet?

whitecat

White Cat / Red Glove / Black Heart (The Curseworkers Trilogy) – by Holly Black

4starratingOh my goodness, how do I even start? Um. These are super dark YA, I don’t even think they should be considered YA? But despite the darkness/content and stuff, I couldn’t help really having a blast with them. (They’re even in first-person-present-tense, which I generally hate? But I just forgot while I was reading.) The hero, Cassel, is just so snarky and hilarious and unfortunate, and the series is… I don’t know. It’s mafia crime family con-artists with magic. WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE. The magic is fascinating — like, there’s four or five different “types” and people are born with different kinds, and everyone wears gloves because the magic comes from the touch of hands. These books I feel like could teach me a lot about pacing and stakes and stuff, for my writing, because just everything comes at our poor hero all at once! My goodness. I can’t fully recommend them due to content, but I really enjoyed them aside from that. But yes, definitely outside my genre/comfort zone; but I’m glad I read ’em all the same. I picked up the first one on the sole recommendation of Cait’s review on Goodreads… After I read it, I thought I didn’t need to bother reading the other two. …Then the next day I realized I was really MISSING this world! Ack. So I got the other two from the library as soon as I could, and devoured them both in a day. Sigh. Addiction is bad, isn’t it? *shakes head at self* I really hope the author will write sequels or spinoffs or something, but I doubt she will…

37TheGrimmLegacy

The Grimm Legacy – Polly Shulman

4starratingThere’s a sort of lending library of magical artifacts from fairytales, in modern-day New York… This one was fun, I enjoyed it, though I feel like it had potential to be more, if you know what I mean? But it was good. Also Aaron.

65ScepterOfTheAncients

Scepter of the Ancients (Skulduggery Pleasant #1) – Derek Landy

4starratingThis was so bizarre but I adored it all the same, because of the fantastic witty banter/dialog/snark from Skulduggery Pleasant himself. It’s set in modern-day Dublin, which is so cool, and Skulduggery is awesome, even if IS a… erm… skeleton. He’s also a detective and has the best lines and this was just rather fun even though it was also kind of scary.

…STUFF

39Illusionarium

Illusionarium – Heather Dixon

5starratingI’m considering steampunk odd/outside my general reading because I’ve only read a handful. This was my first, and I loved it so so much. (For those who haven’t, you can read my incoherent fangirl babbles on this book on my other blog.) But briefly: steampunk and alternate worlds and science-y/magic-y illusion things and sarcastic footnotes by the narrator, our hero Jonathan who’s wonderful, and then of course my favorite thing about it, the character named Lockwood who is just the best ever.

53Plenilune

Plenilune – Jennifer Freitag

5starratingUm… it’s a historical-fiction 1800s turned epic medieval fantasy on the moon story? That’s… not exactly a genre I read a lot of, since it kind of doesn’t exist. It was way too long and exhausting to read because it was so beautifully written, but a lot of it was brilliant all the same, and I really love one and a half of the characters. (Dammerung is the best ever, okay? And Rupert and I have a complicated relationship. BUT DAMMERUNG. <3)

10SkinMap

The Skin Map – Stephen R. Lawhead

5starratingOh my goodness, so much genre mashing in this one too! It defies category… It starts out Contemporary England, and then becomes some odd mix of sci-fi/fantasy with time-travel and alternate time-lines and it’s a mess and I love it so much. I need to read the rest of this series… Also it’s brilliantly written and at times hilarious and so exciting and edge-of-your seat, and the CHARACTERS are just the best.

20Frederica

Frederica – Georgette Heyer

5starratingI don’t read regency romance that often, but this one was so much fun. The family dynamics in this were the best, it was sort of like E. Nesbit meets Jane Austen sort of thing… But the hero, Lord Alverstoke, was one of those kind of awful characters you love all the same (looking at YOU, Howl…) and he and the heroine and her siblings were just… awwwk, the best. *flails around* There is also a hot air balloon. What is not to love. Shenanigans and romance ensue. It’s fabulous and I need to read more of this author.

Do you have a comfort zone/genre of books that you tend to read? Do you step out of it sometimes and are the results good or bad?

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer