The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron (Book Review)

Good morning, my dear Roadlings!

I’ve been a teensy bit absent around here due to Camp NaNo, which has not left much time for reading or blogging… But I’m happy to announce that I hit my NaNo goal!

In honor of this fact, have a book review of a fascinating novel I read this week to celebrate completing Camp NaNo. 🙂

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron

(I’m in love with the cover! ❤ )

Title: The Lost Castle
Author: Kristy Cambron

  • Date read: April 23, 2018
  • Rating: 3.5 stars
  • Genre: Contemporary / Historical Fiction
  • Age: Adult but teens would love it too
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 385 (ebook)
  • Series: The Lost Castle, #1 (stands alone)
  • Source: The publisher (Thomas Nelson) through the Booklook Bloggers program
  • Notes: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

My Review

3.5 stars

Firstly, this book is GORGEOUS. The writing, the descriptions, the setting—I was drowning in beauty. The author’s voice and the poetic descriptions were really enjoyable to read. ^_^

This book is actually three stories in one, which was fascinating. Three stories set in three different time periods, but intertwined and connected by names, places, family… and intriguing items. An eighteenth century portrait, a fox brooch, a World War II photograph… and a castle in France. Almost the entire book is set in France in three different time periods (contemporary, WWII, and the late 1700s), with a dash of contemporary America and WWII England.

My favorite of the three storylines was actually the contemporary one: a young woman named Ellie trying to find a mysterious castle in France and coming up against unexpected roadblocks, like visiting a vineyard and meeting the Irish grandson of the old Frenchman who owns the vineyard. (Loved the grandfather!) Quinn Foley (said Irish fellow) was one of my favorite parts of the book. He had some fun lines and I loved giving him an Irish accent in my head. XD Ellie was spunky and I liked her. Together they make an interesting pair, especially when they’re at odds. 😛 But I loved when they worked together, too.

Another of the story threads deals with Revolution-era France, and a lady who was supposed to be marrying the lord of a certain castle… when a peasant uprising changes her life and the lives of the aristocracy in Paris and elsewhere. She adapts surprisingly well, and it was neat reading her story of working alongside Robert, the younger brother of her betrothed. I like Robert a lot too. 🙂 This was another era I enjoyed reading about.

Less-favorite (for me), but still super gripping, is the storyline in the World War II era. This one featured Vi, a plucky British gal behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied-France. I personally don’t really care for reading about this time period—it just depresses me for some reason—but these sections were certainly thrilling, and I did enjoy them sometimes. It was mostly interesting as Vi is Ellie’s grandmother, and so piecing together her past in these flashbacks/third narrative was intriguing. Plus, there was Julien, and I really liked him! And there were a couple of references, like to Sherlock Holmes, which I enjoyed. 🙂

I loved getting to follow three totally separate, yet somehow connected stories, and putting together pieces as they alternated.

It was also fun how the castle (the Sleeping Beauty, as it was called) was at the center of the three plots; it gave it a connected feeling.

Sometimes you’d hear bits of one of the stories in one of the other stories, which gave it a fascinating, layered feel.

The characters were quite lovable, the romance threads were adorable, and like I said, the writing and description was breathtaking.

What I didn’t like as much was mostly a certain THING that happened, which I saw coming and was fairly obvious, given the evidence, but still. I can’t STAND sad endings, and it was depressing, even if some readers might find it bittersweet and not mind. I won’t give away details, but the NUMBER ONE RULE of romance is you-know-what… and that one broke it. And my heart with it. *cough* If a book wants to make me dislike it, all it has to do is kill a favorite character or have a bad ending… It made me a sad otter. 😦

To be fair, there WERE three separate storylines and I was QUITE happy with how two of them turned out, so that’s not bad, statistically. 😛 Most of the book is a solid, gorgeous 4 star. I knocked off half a star for the sad thing.

Other than said disappointing ending of one of the threads, and simply not usually caring for WWII-era stories (which is totally a me-thing), I don’t really have anything to complain about. (I do still think if certain characters had been more Narnia-like and not been standing around talking about nylons and lipstick, a random side character wouldn’t have died. Air-raid shelters exist for a REASON, people, and you should totally get in them instead of standing around putting on makeup. PLEASE. Sorry, a pet-peeve of mine. XD)

Content: There’s a bit of violence (I mean, WWII…) and involved intensity, but otherwise it’s a clean read, and even though I think it was written for adults, it’s suitable for teens. It’s technically Christian Fiction, though there’s not a huge message or anything, just occasional mentions of faith (surprisingly few, actually) and the quiet touch of God’s presence even amid war-torn France. So even if you don’t technically care for this genre, you won’t find it preachy.

Overall, it was a gorgeously-written, enchanting read, skillfully weaving three storylines together, with memorable characters, and for the most part I really enjoyed it! 🙂

If you don’t mind a tiny smidgen of tragedy and some bittersweetness mixed in with your historical/contemporary romance-mystery-ish stories, you’ll absolutely love this. ^_^

I’m glad I gave it a read, and I’m now curious about this author’s other work!

Some Favorite Quotes

“A tourist like you, ya mean?” He tossed a glance down at the half-hidden map in her hand. “I didn’t think they still made maps that folded.”

“Yeah. They do, apparently. I found it in a bookstore at the airport. And good thing, because my GPS hasn’t once found a signal out here.”

***

“And you didn’t come all this way to France just to get arrested, now, did ya?”

***

“… even if it was only for a short time, that time forever changed her. And if it’s succeeded, isn’t that what a story should do? Change us in some way?”

***

“Maybe they’ll see the fairy tale in this place too.”

***

“I like the idea about buildin’ up the wall again. It’s grand. But I thought maybe we could start with the chapel? If you say yes, we’re goin’ to need it first.”

I review for BookLook BloggersI received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

About the Book

Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . .

Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.

Bridging the past to the present in three time periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and of an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

Links: Author • PublisherGoodreadsAmazonBarnes & Noble

Let me know what you think in the comments! Thanks for reading. ^_^

Behold the Ishness! {Feb-March 2018}

Oh, look, the last time I did an Ishness was for January; it’s high time to let y’all know about the ishnesses going on in my life these last two months!

Let’s see what I was up to in the blur that was February and March . . .

WRITING

(via pixabay.com)

I wrote a grand total of 1.5K words in these past two months.

I know. So amazing.

Ahem. XD

Basically, I’ve been in a little bit of a writing slump this year. 😛 I’m hoping Camp NaNo will help with that.

BUT! I am very pleased with those 1500 words, so that’s a good thing, yes?

I finished a particularly tricky chapter of The Secret of Kedran’s Wood. This work-in-progress is now 75K words long, so far. (Yikes!)

(via fellowshipoffantasy.com)

I wrote We Otter Do It, which, although it was small, I really enjoyed writing. Having such a tight wordcount limit was a fascinating puzzle, and I kind of loved it. 😀

I’ve also been doing some plotting for The Other Half of Everything and some other stories.

READING

In reverse-chronological order (recentest reads at the top), here’s a screen-shot of my March and February reads taken from my Goodreads challenge.

(via goodreads.com)

(If you are curious what I thought of any of the books/stories pictured, just ask!)

So much reading! Actually, a lot of those are short stories and novellas and random things, so it’s not as many as it looks like. XD I’ve been including everything on my reading challenge, not just novels, so . . . yeah.

I’ve enjoyed most of these, but highlights were DEFINITELY:

 

  • Lady Moon by Rachel Starr Thomson — With a subtitle like A Tale of Love & Magic & Other Improbable, Unpredictable Things of COURSE I love this book! I have no words for this other than it’s one of my new top favorite books and I loved it SO MUCH that I read it twice in February. You know: that short month? TWICE, I say. I read it in a single day and then the next week I turned around and read the whole thing aloud to my younger siblings because I just could NOT resist re-reading it at once. Everyone should read this if you like whimsical fantasy. It’s DELIGHTFUL and Tomas is my favorite. ❤ (Thanks to Mary Horton for the recommendation!)
  • Masque by W. R. Gingell — I adored this book and I can’t wait to try more by this author. It was brilliant and hilarious, a Beauty and the Beast magical murder mystery which felt rather like a magical Georgette Heyer novel. I LOVED IT. There were a couple very gruesome scenes (because magical murder mystery) which I could have done without, but otherwise it was PERFECT. Everyone go read it, right now. (Thanks to Suzannah Rowntree for bringing this delightful novel to my attention.)
  • Minstrel’s Call by Jenelle Leanne SchmidtReviewed this one; I absolutely loved it! Brilliant conclusion to one of my favorite fantasy series! ^_^ Gaah. Brant! KIERNAN KANE! (Thanks to Jenelle for my review ARC. <3)
  • Sage by Jamie Foley — Let’s just say the same thing about this as about Minstrel’s Call. XD Because it was an awesome conclusion to another favorite fantasy series! (Look at me, actually finishing series I’ve been reading. #SoProud) Read my review here. ALSO JET IS STILL MY FAVE. ❤ (Thanks to Jamie for my gorgeous copy. <3)

(Look at how pretty the series is together! ❤ )

WATCHING

Er… not much? A little more Once Upon a Time (I think I still enjoyed Season One more? But still enjoying it somewhat and we’ll see how it goes), some old Batman movies which were weird, Alex Rider which was kinda fun.

Oh! And I started watching White Collar, a show about a con man who works with an FBI agent to solve crimes. I’ve only seen the first half of Season 1, so I don’t know how it goes on from there, but I LOVE it so far! XD It’s like Leverage meets Castle, and the characters are great. 😀

(via giphy.com)

BLOGGING

I’m also working on my “official” website, which reminds me I need to finish that . . .

(And I passed 1000 followers here, which — JUST. GUYS. ❤ *flails* I know some of those are my social media numbers, BUT STILL. THANK YOU SO MUCH, EVERYONE.)

LIFE

I had a birthday and got the One Ring for it. Which means it was my birthday present, Preciousss . . . Yes, I made all the jokes. XD

I also had my bjournal anniversary. I’ve kept a bullet journal for over a year now! *gasp* I’m on my fourth one, and I’m not as organized with it as I should be, but it’s still helpful.

A few writer workshops happened, which I attended, and they were interesting. I always learn SOMETHING new, even if it’s just a couple little tricks or a new perspective, but it’s also getting to the point where I seem to already know 80% of the information presented. That makes me feel weird, because I’m not a published author, but I’ve been learning so much about all of this for so many years that I’ve accumulated quite a bit of knowledge. People I meet seem to assume I don’t know much because I’m younger than they are. It’s kind of funny. XD

I’ve also been kicking off my editing freelancing, which I’m really excited about! Shoutout to fabulous author Kyle Robert Shultz, whose book I’m currently editing. 🙂

(via realmmakers.com)

And, most exciting of all, I signed up for Realm Makers! I’m going to the 2018 Realm Makers conference in July! Which means I’m trying to prepare for that, which means work, and trying to get my website and other things done, and starting my costume, etc. But I’m SO excited about going and getting to hopefully meet so many good online friends, and see a few I’ve met before, and just — I’M EXCITED.

APRIL PLANS

(via campnanowrimo.org)

I’m doing Camp NaNo! Which . . . well . . . as usual, I have no business doing, because BUSY, but at the same time it’s my excuse to make myself write again. So that makes me happy. 🙂 I’m working on plotting/outlining/draft-zero/writing The Siren and the Skyship, with slight forays into trying to wrangle the plots of the two sequels in this Sky Voyages series. I’m doing a 10 hour goal, so we’ll see how that goes!

(via Bethany Jennings @simmeringmind on Twitter.com)

I’m allegedly doing #WIPjoy with The Siren and the Skyship over on my Twitter and Facebook, although . . . I haven’t been keeping up very well. XD

I’m also participating in a couple of bookclub readalongs, which are fun so far! The three short stories I’ve read so far in the Mythical Doorways anthology have been delightful, and Trial by Song (a modern-day Jack-and-the-Beanstalk novel with scary Fae) has been quite creepy but otherwise fascinating. I can’t wait to see how both books finish up! (The FB book club group links for both are here and here.)

Mostly, I’m trying to keep up with whatever busyness life throws at me, and wondering how on earth it’s April already . . . (Because SERIOUSLY, THOUGH??)

So that’s what’s new with me! 🙂 How about you? What are you up to? I hope you enjoyed this glimpse at the goings-on around here. ^_^ Thanks for reading, and have a lovely April! ❤

We Otter Do It: I Won a Flash Fiction Writing Contest!

Guys! I won a contest! *squeaks*

I’m really excited to announce that I won the fan-voted Fellowship of Fantasy Mythical Doorways flash fiction Writing Contest! I can’t believe it, and little Gavin the otter and I are so grateful for y’all’s votes!

The contest was to write a 500 word or less story, opening with “The door creaked open …” I won the adult section, and the winner of the 15 and under category wrote an amazing story too!

FYI, flash fiction = a short story of one thousand words or less. Or, in this case, 499 words, which is how long “We Otter Do It” is — and you can read the whole thing on the Fellowship of Fantasy blog where it’s being featured today! 🙂 Along with the other winning story, which is fantastic. 😀

So drop by to meet a little otter secretary named Gavin. 😉 And leave a comment here or there to let me know what you think! ^_^

We Otter Do It

by Deborah O’Carroll

The door creaked open. A tall, wobbling stack of parchment pattered into the room on little furry paws. At least, that’s what it looks like when your otter secretary comes into your office carrying the mail.

I’m a respectable young man and a magician, and nobody would believe me if I told them my life is tyrannized by an adorable otter.

Read the rest at fellowshipoffantasy.com


P.S. Oh, and the writing contest was a publicity thing to celebrate the release of a Fellowship of Fantasy short story anthology which released last week, Mythical Doorways, featuring stories by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt, H.L. Burke, and nine other fantastic authors. You can get the ebook free online in some places (I think Amazon is currently being difficult but it’s 99 cents there at the moment and might be free again). Anyway, I’m reading it now and enjoying it. And it’s unrelated to the contest, except in both having doorways. XD

P.P.S. This is the first time I’ve won a writing contest and I’m SO EXCITED. It’s got me floating in the clouds! AWK.

Thank you for reading! ❤