Tag Archive | The Twelve Dancing Princesses

The Stealthmaster’s Shadow by Hope Ann

The Stealthmaster’s Shadow is finally here!

Yep, it’s release day and I’m excited to share my review with you! 😀

It’s been ten confounded years since the war ended.

Verus, a retired soldier, determines to enforce the peace the victory ought to have brought. His wanderings bring him to the city of Nerva, a sprawling riverside chaos no other Stealthmaster will touch.

Commandeering the task of a former comrade, Verus presents himself to the governor and promises to search out hidden Subverters. The true reason for his actions he keeps to himself. After all, the tyrannical governor will hardly approve of lending aid to those pitted against him, but the Subverters need information. Maybe even weapons.

The wishes of the Subverters themselves are immaterial. They weren’t there during the war. They didn’t see the horrors Tauscher spread.

Verus has.

So has the new ambassador from Zahavia who strides through the great doors of the feasting hall, bringing Verus face to face with nightmares from his past.

As the simple mission dissolves into confusion, Verus struggles to help those he’s plunged into danger, from a serving lad to the infuriating woman he’s taken to calling “Princess.” Fleeing will only make the enemy stronger. But staying…

Staying could doom them all.

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Title: The Stealthmaster’s Shadow

Author: Hope Ann

  • Date read: May 27, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Retelling / Christian Fantasy / Twelve Dancing Princesses / Novella
  • Age: New Adult
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 129 (Kindle)
  • Series: Legends of Light, #4
  • Fave character: Verus
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author (thanks!) and these opinions are entirely my own.

Well, that was great!

Meet Verus. Verus is without a doubt my favorite thing about this novella. 😀 He is SO epic! A retired soldier (at… like… in his twenties; what can we say—the war’s over), he’s a Stealthmaster (something which is never fully explained but we basically get the idea) and totally lives up to such a name. He’s constantly sneaking around, lurking in shadows and picking locks and jumping off balconies and being snarky to everybody, and… he’s just epic and so, so much fun! I don’t know how he manages to be kind of grumpy AND all dramatic and sassy, but he is. Everyone’s kind of afraid of Stealthmasters with their mysterious ways (and his awesome cloak! Want.) but Verus at least has a heart of gold, and I loved reading about him, even as he wrestles with his past and learns through mistakes. Anyway, he’s my favorite and so much fun to read. 😀 WHAT a character. ❤

Essentially, reading this is worth it just for Verus. 😉 But it’s an intriguing tale, too, AND (wait for it) it’s a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses! Kinda. There aren’t twelve, and it’s not so much a retelling as an “inspired by,” but the hints and nods to the original were so fun and some were brilliant. It was like picking up clues! And they all made total sense, too. I loved how it was totally different and yet you could recognize bits and pieces of the fairytale, which also mixed well with the Christian allegory parts, largely involved with parallels of the early persecuted Church.

I’m pretty sure there’s a law somewhere that says all Twelve Dancing Princesses retellings must be dark. XD There wasn’t a bunch of scary magic or anything for this one, but some of it was kinda brutal… so be aware of that, if that sort of thing bothers you. Despite the snark and humor, a lot of it’s very intense and deals with some tough themes. It was also interesting how some of the story was told in flashbacks about Verus in the war.

The story is set about a decade after the other three Legends of Light novellas. I think one could read this one and enjoy it without having read those, but I did enjoy it extra since I had. There was a cameo appearance from one of my favorites! 😀 (Hi, Evrard! *waves enthusiastically*) So that was awesome. Most of the characters (like the “princess” character, who’s pretty stealthy in her own right, and a cute little boy, etc.) are new, and even if you haven’t read the first three, this one pretty much stands alone. 🙂

A few times I felt like things could have been explained better than they were and I kind of tripped up and didn’t have a clue what was going on (possibly due to the short length; it is a novella, after all), but I figured things out eventually and I just wish it could have been longer! I’d love to explore this neat palace setting and hang out with Verus and Adreana longer, but I was just relieved things turned out better than it looked like it would for a bit. XD Whew! Quite intense and exciting! With all kinds of mysteries and sneaking about.

Overall, aside from a couple minor things, it’s a fantastic read. And really, with a snarky hero who is incredibly epic (like, how often are people TRULY epic, I ask you?), a lot of witty dialog (I love funny things, okay?), and a Twelve Dancing Princesses theme (my favorite!), what is not to love? You’re definitely going to want to check this one out—I know I’m glad I did! 🙂 (But Verus though. This guy!) A great tale! ^_^

Some Favorite Quotes

Verus flung himself over the banister in one easy motion and landed in a crouch in the gloom of the stairs. The shadows flickered rapid greetings, but no soldier appeared to challenge him.

***

“If you can’t read the meaning of a locked door—”

“It wasn’t locked,” Verus said. “There was merely an obstruction to opening it. A fault I fixed. Without charge, I might add.”

***

“He does have a chimney.” Her eyes twinkled. “Of course, it might smudge your cloak—the latest fashion from Zahavia, I believe? I’d have mentioned it before now, but—”

“Oh, shut up.” Verus stalked back onto the balcony. “Which way?”

“Left. The balcony there.” Adreana pointed to a wide slab of rock several dozen paces away. “I assume you can do it?”

Verus tucked his cloak into his belt. “I hope that’s not an honest question.”

She smirked. “I’ll be waiting.” She paused at the door. “And thanks.”

Verus smiled faintly, then shook his head and forced his face back into grim lines. Botheration take the girl and all the rest. They were more trouble than they were worth. Most people were, in the end.

***

“Did you have to kill the armor?”

“Do you have to make such a racket?” Verus shut the door hastily and glanced to where the helmet hung askew on the frame. “Besides, it’s just a concussion.” He strode over and spun it back in place. “See? He’s looking better already.”

“Still a nasty dent.” Adreana turned up the lamps. “How hard did you hit the poor thing?”

***

“Escape plan?”

“You /did/ have one in place in case the rebellion of yours failed?”

“Why would I ever,” Verus spluttered. “That is what you are counting on?”

“Well, do you have one or don’t you?”

Verus scowled, then hesitated. “Of course I have an escape plan.” Of a sort.

***

“Let’s find your lady.”

“We can probably slip around by—she’s not my lady.” Verus cut himself off.

Diomed smirked.

Verus scowled. “I can maim you and leave you behind.”


About the author of the Legends of Light Series

Hope Ann uses chocolate to bribe a wide ring of spies, from the realm leapers of Aslaria to the double agents of Elkbend, for their stories. Based in Indiana, she is the self-published author of the Legends of Light series, personal writing coach, and the Communications Coordinator for Story Embers. You can find out more about her at authorhopeann.com


Check out my review for the previous novellas in the Legends of Light series, collected in the single volume Burning Rose:


Well? Are you intrigued? Doesn’t it sound funnn? 😉 Let me know what you think in the comments!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

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The Stealthmaster’s Shadow: Cover Reveal! (A Twelve Dancing Princesses Retelling by Hope Ann)

Hey everyone! I’m delighted today to be helping to share the exciting COVER REVEAL for the next book in the Legends of Light series by Hope Ann!

You may remember me reviewing Burning Rose, which was a collection of the first three novellas in this fairytale retelling series with a dash of Christian allegory.

Well, now the 4th one is coming out soon, and I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED, because it’s a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling! And… I mean… hello, this is me we’re talking about, and in case you didn’t know, this is my FAVORITE fairytale and I’m obsessed with retellings of it. XD

SO YEAH.

This novella is titled The Stealthmaster’s Shadow (*cue shrieking because I love this title*) and now it’s time to reveal the gorgeous cover designed by Kate Flournoy!

Oh, whoops, just another snarky quote.

NOT SORRY.

Ahem.

Okay, okay, you’re here to see the cover, so I will finally share it. 😉

Now for the actual cover.

*drumroll*

.

.

.

.

.

It’s ten confounded years since the war ended.

Ten years since the Prince won the war and pardoned the rebels.

And left.

The Prince left, but lasting peace never had a chance to begin.

As a Stealthmaster, Verus is determined to complete the task the Prince left, whatever the cost. Traitors, needlessly vague governors, and threatening rumors are all part of a standard mission. Verus will bring peace to what is left of the world, one city and village at a time. According to the governor’s daughter, the war was never about a physical peace in the first place, but what does she or any of the other Followers know? They weren’t there during the war.

They didn’t see the horrors Tauscher spread over the land or the scars that will never fade.

Commandeering the task of a former soldier, Verus presents himself to the governor of Nerva. Eventually he’ll need to undermine the man, but even Stealthmasters need money, and a mission to discover the owner of a misshapen slipper shouldn’t be difficult.

Until the ambassador from Zahavia appears.

Suddenly face to face with nightmares from the past, Verus struggles to help those plunged into danger, from the governor’s newest prisoner to a serving lad to an infuriating woman he’s taken to calling princess. Fleeing will only make the enemy stronger. But staying…

Staying could doom them all.

Coming June 1, 2018

Click here to preorder now!

Add to Goodreads!

EEP. I LOVE THE COVER. I’m really, really excited for this book. 😀

In the words of Hope Ann herself: “Seriously. Go preorder it before you forget. Unless you have doubts about sarcasm, danger, and a cover that cool. Or if you don’t have money. That might make preordering it a little difficult too.”

Hope Ann uses chocolate to bribe a wide ring of spies, from the realm leapers of Aslaria to the double agents of Elkbend, for their stories. Based in Indiana, she is the self-published author of the Legends of Light series, personal writing coach, and the Communications Coordinator for Story Embers. You can find out more about her at authorhopeann.com

So, what do you think? Thoughts on the cover, the TITLE, the blurb? The fact that it’s coming out sooon (*grabby hands*)? …The fact that it’s a TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES RETELLING?? HALP I’M SO EXCITED.

Talk to me in the comments! 😀

Thanks for reading! ^_^

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

Random News + Nightstand Books {September 2017}

Hey, my Pagelings! Time for some random news and September’s Nightstand Books! 🙂

RANDOM NEWS

It’s my Blogoversary + A Giveaway!

Yes indeed, I’m celebrating the 4th blogoversary of my other blog, The Road of a Writer, with an epic giveaway of a few fantasy books, so check it out if you haven’t! ^_^

Interviewed + Testing the Freelance Waters

I’m stepping into freelance copy-editing and web-designing, and was interviewed by Emily Ann Benedict! 🙂

Other News

So, you know those random news-bits that aren’t enough to actually POST about but you want people to know? I usually post such things on my Twitter so follow me there because I’m fun or sometimes my Goodreads… But a couple of fun things I wanted share here today…

Remember when I reviewed that modern fantasy book Masters and Beginners by Daley Downing? Well it has a shiny new cover by Kyle Shultz, and is now available on Barnes & Noble.

Also, I’d like to mention that one of the books listed below as next-to-read, is a collection of novellas, and you can get one of those as well as a novelette prequel, for free. 🙂

Free thing…

Rose of the Night by Hope Ann is a novelette prequel, available for free for signing up for her newsletter, here.

And another…

Rose of the Oath is a Beauty and the Beast retelling by Hope Ann, available for free download on Amazon and elsewhere.

NIGHTSTAND BOOKS

Aaand on to Nightstand Books, a blogging meme created by Jenelle Schmidt and DJ Edwardson — to share and be excited about the books we’re reading each month!

It’s usually the first Wednesday of the month, but sometimes I’m late never late, Frodo Baggins, nor am I early; I arrive precisely when I mean to. *cough*

(Join in here if you want!)

The titles below link to Goodreads.

September Nightstand

Most of the books this month are digital ones, but here’s a few on the physical nightstand…

  • The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Ellen Miles — I picked this up at a library sale recently and couldn’t resist reading it right away! Super short and cute read, an enjoyable mostly-traditional version of my favorite fairytale. I did like the couple of tweaks though! 🙂 And it was just generally… fun. *shrug* 4 stars
  • Wanted: A Superhero to Save the World by Bryan Davis — Look for a review of this one next week as part of the blog tour! I’ve only read one other superhero novel, and I don’t read Middle-Grade too often, so I’m excited for this because it’s different for me and fun, plus Bryan Davis. 😀
  • Mind Writer by Mike Lynch and Lisa Godfrees — I was given a copy of this and am trying to catch up on things I should review, so I’d like to read it soon. ^_^ It looks more sci-fi-y than my usual reading-zone, so that’s going to be interesting. Sometimes that’s enjoyable though, to try new things! 🙂

Digital Nightstand

Not pictured:

  • And a couple of beta-read projects for friends, which I hope to finish this month, or next month at latest…

Don’t know if some of these will be moving to next month, as usual… But I do have a lofty goal to finish all my review and beta books before NaNo hits. So. Yes. Either way, hopefully I’ll have these all done eventually!

I do have another stack of books off to one side that I really, really want to read, if I catch up on review books… but I didn’t share those since I have no idea when I’ll get to them. XD

August Nightstand: Take 2

On that subject, August’s nightstand looked less like I thought it would be in my last Nightstand post, and more like this:

(Find them on Goodreads here.)

  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien — LOVED this re-read! ❤
  • Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien — So enjoyable and awesome! ❤
  • The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge — I adored this to BITS. ❤ Everyone needs to read it.

  • Perception by Emily Ann Benedict — My Review. Now I need the next Vintage Jane Austen book! 🙂
  • An Earthly King by Hazel B. West — This re-read was a delight! 😀 [Last year’s review.]
  • Magicians’ Trial by H.L. Burke — My Review. Aaand now I need more Spellsmith & Carver…
  • Yorien’s Hand by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt — I absolutely LOVED re-reading this, so I’m finally caught up on the series AND NEED THE NEXT BOOK NOW. ❤ [Last year’s review.]

Not pictured:

  • Plus the picture books listed in the original post. ^_^
  • And beta-reading the sequel to Masters and Beginners by Daley Downing. I need it to be finished/published please… 😀

So sometimes I’m totally wrong about what I’ll be reading, but hey, all of those were awesome, so. 😉

ANYWAY. There’s some stuff that’s been up lately, an update on my August nightstand (whoops), and my projected September nightstand. So now you know ALL the bookish things in my life. XD

What are you reading these days? 🙂

Thanks for reading! ^_^

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

Bookworm Confessions: Reading Just One Story in Anthologies

So, fellow bookworms! Here’s a very important life question:

Is it okay to just read the one book in a short story anthology that you want to read?

Because, confession:

Sometimes I only read one short story in a collection. O_O

I KNOW.

THE SHOCK. THE HORROR. THE STARES OF DOUBT.

I can feel your surprise and worrying at my living-on-the-edge actions from here.

Ahem.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? (Or is it just me??)

There’s some collection of short stories that you have, and you got it SPECIFICALLY for ONE PARTICULAR STORY OR AUTHOR in the collection. And you’re excited to read it — that particular one! So excited!

So… do you:

  1. Read the whole collection?
  2. Put off reading the whole collection because you really only want to read that one so you procrastinate the others…?
  3. Just devour that particular story right away and be happy you read it, and then… proceed to never get around to reading the others, even if you mean to? *cough* (This is usually me…)

But what do you do in that case? Because I can’t say I’ve read the book… since I haven’t! Just one tiny portion of it! But that also means I can’t, like, rate it or review it or anything… and it also bugs my poor perfectionist mind because I know I have to finish reading the entire collection SOMEDAY because I read something in there, but… I don’t feel like it right now. *collapses*

Also, short story collections are NOTORIOUSLY hit-or-miss. There’s usually one or two I really like and sometimes a whole handful that I… really don’t care for.

It’s very risky! Sort of like a blind date with a book, but it’s a whole bunch of small stories so you have SEVERAL blind dates and sometimes it doesn’t go well. XD

So is it better to read just the one you want to? Or to go all-in and brave the possibly of lots of mediocre or creepy stories?

Even if I do vaguely want to read the others, I usually don’t get around to them…

Which brings us to the list part of my confession.

Some anthologies I’ve read a story or two in but shamefully haven’t gotten around to reading the rest:

1. Firebirds

I got this so I could read a Lloyd Alexander short story and a Diana Wynne Jones short story. The Lloyd one was actually sad and creepy. o.o But the DWJ one was awesome! (It was called Little Dot and was from the POV of a cat and I loved it. XD) The rest of the stories… have sadly gone unread so far.

2. The Dragon Book

I got this partly because DRAGONS and partly because of a DWJ story. I read the DWJ story, which incidentally turned out to be THE ONLY THING I’VE READ BY HER THAT I DISLIKED. (It’s called JoBoy and I read it at a bad time because I was ill and it’s NOT sometime to read when you’re ill… Ahem.) So. Yeah. That was a disappointment… I’ve now been avoiding it because I don’t like to think about it and so I haven’t read the others yet because I don’t really know those authors… But someday…

3. Maps in a Mirror by Orson Scott Card

I got this solely to read the original novella version of Ender’s Game (which was a really interesting comparison). And promptly didn’t read any of the others. I don’t even feel like I really necessarily want to read them at this point? But it’s just sitting there, mostly unread, and I don’t know what to do with it. XD (Confession: I probably will never get around to reading the others.)

4. A Wolf at the Door

This is a collection of short story fairytale retellings, so I WILL read the rest someday, I just… haven’t yet. I mostly got it so I could read the Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling in it by Patricia A. McKillip, which I did and I seem to remember enjoying it… But I still haven’t read the others yet.

5. Tolkien: A Celebration

This one is actually essays about Tolkien by several different authors, so it’s not exactly short stories. I specifically got it so I could read the one Stephen Lawhead wrote, and I LOVED it — one of my favorite things of all time — but… I haven’t read the rest of the essays yet, so I can’t really review it or recommend it and I’m just like WHY. Because it was an amazing essay about writing and fantasy and it was by a favorite author about another favorite author, which is always DELIGHTFUL, but I haven’t read the rest so I can’t talk about it yet. I will read the others… someday…

6. Tales Before Narnia

I found an uncorrected-proofs version of this at a library sale? And I read the poem in it that Tolkien wrote (which I hadn’t ever found in anything else) and haven’t read the rest yet… They do look interesting, I just haven’t started yet. (The lack of an actual official cover, due to it being an uncorrected proof, may be slightly involved. Whoops.)

Also: Fairytales

And there are a few fairytale collections which I surreptitiously read the Twelve Dancing Princesses ones, or a couple others, and haven’t read the others yet… but I will!

…Someday.

Let’s discuss!

What about you, readers? Do you ever read short stories? And do you read entire collections or… do you live on the edge and sometimes just read one? Any reader confessions about short stories or otherwise? Tell all in the comments!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Tales of Old (Fantasy Love Feb. Mini-Challenge 3)

FantasyLoveFebruaryReadingChallenge

A brief post today…

The mini-challenge of the third week of the Fantasy Love February Reading Challenge is to read an original fairy tale (Grimm… Hans Christian Anderson…) and then to answer the following questions. (Ooh, I like this one. :))

I’ve read most of the “classic” ones, and was at a loss as to which fairy tale to read (especially since I figured I’d be tempted to pick The Twelve Dancing Princesses, as my favorite… but I’ve already read every version of that I can find, so…), but I remembered that awhile back I’d been in the middle of reading through a collection called “The World’s Best Fairy Tales“, and hadn’t finished. So I pulled it from my shelf and opened it where I’d left off…

1. What fairy tale did you read?

The Tinderbox (Hans Christian Anderson; the book said it was from the Andrew Lang collection). It’s the one about the soldier, the tinderbox (naturally), the princess, and the three dogs with the interestingly large eyes… (Teacups, saucers, and millstones or towers were I believe the operative words…) It sort of sticks in your mind once you’ve read it!

2. Did you enjoy it?

I’d say so. It’s kind of odd, as many fairytales are, but I vaguely recall a shortened, illustrated version of it from a collection of children’s tales and verse, which I remember I loved. It has some similarities to a few other fairy tales, like perhaps Aladdin and his lamp, though obviously I — as a person rabidly mildly interested with The Twelve Dancing Princesses — ended up noticing that it has a slight resemblance to that… opening with a soldier meeting an old woman, and having an underground place with an emphasis on three areas and having copper, silver, and gold, and a princess who her parent(s) are worried about going out at night. …Okay, so maybe I’m over-thinking it. 😉 Anyways, it’s a short tale, and interesting, with an occasional amusing turn of phrase. I’m not the biggest fan of Anderson, and some of it’s… weird… but still pretty fun. 🙂

3. If there is a movie version of it, which is better? If there’s not a movie version, do you think there should be an adaption?

If there is, I haven’t seen it… 😛 And I think it would make an odd movie! There’s kind of not that much to it? But I supposed all adaptions of fairy tales manage to build more on the story than was originally there…

4. Is this the first original fairy tale you’ve read?

Not at all — I’ve read many others! 🙂

5. Do you want to read any more original tales now?

Yes, I hope to read many more in the future! Fairy tales are fascinating. 🙂

***

In case you can’t tell, I’m having a lot of fun being a part of these Fantasy Love February challenges. 😀