Ishness! NaNo, Christmas, New Year

Oh, hi, my dear Roadlings! It’s been absolutely AGES since I did an Ishness (I think the last one was my Realm Makers Ishness?) — or, well, blogged in general (*cough* I’m sorry, guys!) — so it’s CLEARLY time to do so again!

November, December, and January are the three months which at the blink of an eye mysteriously vanish to wherever missing pens go. So obviously this whole not-blogging-much thing is not my fault. (I jest. It’s totally my fault. And the unreliable internet which has been victimizing me.)

I guess I’ve been busy living life instead of writing about it? And kind of unmotivated as far as blogging goes. Sometimes you just feel tired, you know? But I’ve missed you guys! And writing Ishness posts!

(I . . . er . . . accidentally wrote one after NaNo and then proceeded to get so busy that I never posted it! :O Whoops. So I will just squeeze two more months onto it. As you were.)

So I’m officially back, and I’m here with a recap of my 9th NaNoWriMo, December holidays, and New Year beginnings!

WRITING

November

Writing highlights include:

  • Winning NaNo for the 9th time!
  • Finishing The Siren and the Skyship!!! (Still in the clouds about this one.) *pretends that wasn’t a terrible pun* XD
  • Beating my personal record of words in a day and writing 8K words. 😛
  • Wordwars!! Wordsprinting with friends is one of my favorite things. It’s just so motivating and it’s fun hanging out online with people and getting to chat but also being productive. Seriously, surviving NaNo is so much easier with wordsprints!
  • Finishing NaNo on the 27th!
  • Staying up until midnight on November 30th writing until the very last moment, cheering on one of my bestest writing pals (who won with three minutes to spare).
  • Hitting 58K, my largest wordcount for a single month, ever! (Yay for more records! XD)
  • Staying on par the entire month! (A huge relief. I hate falling behind, and the first week or so it was a serious struggle to stay on that bar, but I managed it because I was determined not to fall behind!)
  • Getting soooo close to finishing KW2. Just two or three chapters from the end. I was super excited. (Plus, finishing “Part 2” of that book, which was a milestone I kept not being sure if I’d ever get to. XD)

It was tough sometimes, and I had my share of days when I just didn’t want to write, or had no clue where to go next in my stories. But I stayed on track, finished one book and nearly finished another, and it was an excellent NaNo on the whole!

December + January

I’m squishing these together because not a lot happened in them, writing-wise. *cough* I had big plans of finishing KW2 in December . . . and then in January . . . and neither really happened. 😛

I did write a couple thousand words across the two months, mostly on KW2. I also finished one writing journal and started another for the new year, did some plotting, and met up with various writer friends (!!) and went to a few writers workshops.

OH! And I did write on my “Writing Day” which happens every January 20th. Because every year on that day, I write something, even if it’s just a snippet, and since I first started in 2010, this was my tenth annual one. Every January 20th for a decade, I wrote on one of my stories, and that’s kind of special to me. 🙂

It was overall a very quiet couple of months on the writing front. I’m trying to forgive myself for that, given the busyness and tiredness and all of that. I did sort of write 58K in November, so a couple of quiet months to recover should be allowed. Maybe?

READING

November – December (in reverse order)

Highlights included Mark of the Raven, Falling Snow, fun Christmas-y stories, finishing my Dalemark re-read, and my new favorite, Echo North! (It’s like a month and a half since I’ve read Echo North and I still have a book hangover…)

January

I got off to a fun start for my reading this year. Highlights include The Fall of Gondolin and A Tale of Time City. You can check out mini-thoughts on each of these in my latest Book Ishness over on my book blog!

WATCHING

  • I saw Mortal Engines in the theater and it was SO MUCH FUN. XD I don’t know why I liked it but it was an absolute blast and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. (And now I want to read the book.)
  • I also saw Mary Poppins Returns, which was fairly enjoyable. I particularly liked the lamplighter dance scene!

Other notable things I saw in the last three months:

  • Despicable Me 2 (fun!).
  • Mowgli (. . . interesting).
  • Some Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes since I hadn’t seen any of those before!
  • A neat mystery called Ace Wonder which I really enjoyed!
  • I also finished the second season of NCIS and am NOT OKAY. *cough*
  • Re-watched It’s a Wonderful Life and A Muppet Christmas Carol for Christmas. 🙂
  • And I re-watched Captain America: Civil War (because Bucky!) and Snow White and the Huntsman (because Thor wasn’t in Captain America; KIDDING. XD).
  • And I finally saw The Secret World of Arrietty which is MY NEW FAVORITE THING. ❤ (I grew up reading the Borrowers books, and vaguely avoided the movie for years because I was terrified it would be dreadful. But I ADORED IT. And have a sudden need to re-watch it and Howl’s Moving Castle and go find more Studio Ghibli films since those are the only two I’ve seen.)

LISTENING

So, back in November, I started listening to Scarlet by Marissa Meyer on audiobook. I NEVER LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS. (Well. Almost never. Let’s just say it’s an Occasion. A small one, but still.) I was at a write-in and saw it at the library and couldn’t resist picking it up since I read Cinder not long before. This was a Terrible Idea because I was far too busy to finish it during NaNo and it had to go back to the library. However! I did enjoy myself and have picked it up again recently — but that’s probably part of some future February Ishness so HUSH. SPOILERS.

During Nano, I also did a ton of listening to the Piano Guys’ version of Rewrite the Stars, on repeat, during wordwars. XD

December brought Christmas music which I really enjoyed this year for some reason.

In January, I discovered some new music such as Celtic rock and Tide Lines (a new favorite band! This song has been stuck in my head nonstop and yes I am currently listening to it and regret nothing. XD) and some others. I must listen to more!

Continuing my audiobook obsession, I re-listened to The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame in January — it’s very short but HILARIOUS and absolutely awesome and I highly recommend reading it. ❤

LIFE

November

November was terribly busy. In a good way. But whew! I’m very much a homebody and I have no idea how people manage to write NaNo when they’re busy and juggling jobs/school/whatever. I salute you guys. But anyway…

Busy (but awesome) things included:

  • Hardly being home the first four days of NaNo and squeezing in writing here and there, in places like the car on the way to-and-from places.
  • An awesome library book-sale which always coincides nicely with NaNo when I should be writing. XD

 

  • My aunt and uncle visiting, which was so much fun! And taking them to the Magnolia Market/Silos etc. (If any of y’all come see it, let me know . . . 😉 I haven’t seen the show, but.)
  • I’m the ML — which stands for Municipal Liaison — for my NaNo region so I was quite busy organizing events, sending messages, and managing forums. One more crazy thing during NaNo. XD I’ve done it six years now, so I’m kind of used to it, but it’s still busy.

  • Having write-in events every weekend — there was much writing and hanging out with other Wrimos.
  • Which reminds me that some of the best moments were chatting with friends old and new — at home, at booksales, at a writer class, at write-ins, in line for a bookstore. I’m an introvert sometimes, but you know, people are awesome too. ❤

  • Thanksgiving. Food. Pies. Nom nom.

Standing in line getting some reading in!

  • Standing in line on Black Friday for the first time in my life, because a bookstore was having a special giveaway. Yes. This is the only thing that can tempt me to go shopping on such a day. Or… ever, in general. XD (Boooooks.) (Fortunately, the bookworm line was small and orderly and we had some lovely bookish chats.)
  • Spontaneously crocheting a pair of fingerless gloves instead of writing. They’ve been so handy!
  • Going for “like-a-quick-lady” walks and runs with my audiobook, and plot-walks with my sister. (Plot walks are magical and consist of talking out the problems in the plot so that I know what to write next.)

Found a cozy bench/garden to curl up with this book while at a fair. ❤

  • Sneaking in reading occasionally, like at a fair and in the car.
  • Some beta-reading and editing, which are of course the best jobs during an already bookish month. 😉
  • In fact, one of the things I beta-read during NaNo is coming out later this month! It’s an utterly charming retelling of The Bremen Town Musicians, called The Road to Bremen, and I adored it!

December Highlights

  • A post-NaNo celebration with cupcakes!

Otter!

  • A fun trip to the zoo with lovely writer friends!

  • Meeting up with some friends from Realm Makers and having a blast chatting over lunch!

  • Sending Christmas cards.
  • A few days of just relaxing and reading Diana Wynne Jones. I kind of needed that after all the crazy that was November.
  • Going to see Mortal Engines and Mary Poppins Returns with my siblings.
  • Peppermint shakes!

  • General quiet, cozy Christmas celebrations with family.

  • Curling up with Echo North and reading it in the cold near-end of the year! ❤

January Highlights

  • Ringing in the New Year watching some fireworks and seeing a shooting star.
  • Starting new journals! My favorite. 😀 Seriously, my writing journal and my bullet journal are super helpful and fun.
  • Some writers’ workshops.
  • Plot-walks with my sis.
  • Mail! Always makes my day. ❤

  • Started trying to make fingerless gloves again. XD
  • Working on some new habits and goals. I’m trying a new thing in my bullet-journal with a habit-tracker that I color in. It’s been fabulous so far!
  • Saw the Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse! It was super cold out but so worth it.

February Plans

Things I’d love to get done this month:

  • Quite a bit more blogging (my poor abandoned blogs!)
  • Read some review books and review them
  • Read other things Because Reasons
  • Finish writing The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (I KNOW. I can’t believe I’m not done yet but I still want to do this! *collapses*)
  • Also, How to Train Your Dragon 3 is coming out this month and I AM NOT EMOTIONALLY PREPARED FOR THIS. SEND HELP.

Loved this display at the theater when I saw Mary Poppins Returns


Whew! If you made it through this you deserve a cupcake.

In brief:

I made it through my 9th NaNo and I’m super pleased with how it turned out! And so glad I decided to go Rebel and work on trying to finish two WIPs. 😀 There were some rough spots and it was one of my busiest NaNos, but overall it went amazingly and was an awesome month.

December was a mix of busyness and lovely relaxing, and much hanging out with awesome people and Christmas coziness. January was generally quietly starting out the year, with a mix of slumps and bright moments.

And now we’re well into February and EXCUSE ME, Mr. Time, but who gave you permission to run away like this? Ahem. If you need me, I’ll just be over here wrapped in a shock blanket, wondering how we’re this far into 2019 already. 😛

What have you been up to lately? How has your year started off? And have you missed the Ishnesses and should I bring ’em back? Speak to me in the comments! Thanks for reading! ❤

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Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse (Review)

Time for a book review, since I haven’t done one in awhile, and I have a fabulous new book to tell you about!

Title: Mark of the Raven (The Ravenwood Saga, #1)

Author: Morgan L. Busse

  • Date read: November 25, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy
  • Age: Technically listed under Adult but teens would love it too!
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 341 (paperback)
  • Series: The Ravenwood Saga, #1
  • Fave character: Damien
  • Source: The publisher
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes and NobleAuthor’s Website

Published November 6, 2018 by Bethany House Publishers

My thanks to Bethany House for the complimentary copy of MARK OF THE RAVEN. I was not required to write a positive review. These opinions are entirely my own.


Aaah, that was so cool! Now where’s the next book?

I love a good epic fantasy and this one was awesome! The world was so rich and the characters were fantastic. The plot was a slow-burn kind of one, full of mystery and politics but enough spice of danger and adventure to keep you on the edge of your seat—the rest of it did that actually as well!

I love anything involving dreams in fiction so I was really excited to try this one. Like Inception in a fantasy world. 😛 The Dreamwalking was a cool aspect to the book. I particularly liked the soul aspect of it. I think I thought there would be more time spent in the actual dreamscapes, but at the same time I don’t really mind because the rest of the book was so cool too!

I was so intrigued by this setting and loved the world-building. The idea of the seven nations and the Great Houses and their secrets and gifts was so intriguing. The political intrigue aspect of it was interesting instead of boring. It made me think a little of Jill Williamson’s fantasy, which is high praise from me. 😉 I was pulled into this story and loved visiting these mountains, castles, secret passages, and seaside—and the different Houses were really neat. Everything had a distinct feeling and vibrant color to it and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I can’t wait to return to this world and find out what happens next, as well as learn more about the gifts—and spend more time with these characters.

The characters were all well-drawn and I loved them. ^_^ Selene was an interesting heroine and I felt bad for her and was always curious what she’d do next. I can’t wait to see where her story goes from here. No spoilers but… it should be interesting! 😉 Damien was my absolute favorite! I loved how the story alternated between his point of view and Selene’s. It was so neat getting to see each of them from the other’s perspective. But yes, Damien was a high point of the book—I loved his passion for helping people and how he had such a good heart and tried so hard and… he was just awesome. 😀

I loved many of the side characters, too! Selene’s father was so great. Taegis, Damien’s mentor, who I also loved. Lady Bryren! Man, I LOVED her and the other wyvern riders and hope we’ll see more of them! (And I don’t love them, but the villains stood out too. Lady Ragna was sooo chilling.)

The atmosphere of the book was just really neat—with the rich colors, the harsh beauty of the mountains, the shadows and mysteries of Rook Castle, the autumnal feel, the meetings and gala and dances, the passages and secrets, and all shot through with so many questions and interesting thoughts, a thread of faith in a unique way, and the many varied people and cultures inhabiting this world.

It took me a little while to get invested in the story (maybe until meeting Damien?) but once I got into it, I lived and breathed it, and now I’m sad it’s over. There were some pretty neat twists at the end which make me super curious to read the next book! I NEED IT.

MARK OF THE RAVEN was gorgeous and a little ominous and I was so intrigued the whole time, and I’m attached to these characters. It’s a touch scary a few times but is a basically clean read which I think older teens and adults alike would enjoy, and I highly recommend it to fantasy fans! 🙂


About the Book

Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.

As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy — a legacy that supports her people — or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.

Her dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.

One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?


Also, the next book is releasing April 2019 and I neeeed it already! Isn’t it gorgeous? ❤


Talk to me! Does or does it not sound SO cool? Have you ever read a dream-related book? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Wisest Counselor Presentation Ceremony (Silmaril Awards 2018)

The White City of Gondor is packed.

Everyone has gathered in Minas Tirith, from all across Middle-earth and other lands far beyond, for the third annual presentation of the Wisest Counselor Silmaril Award.

The sable curtains, bearing the image of the white tree of Gondor, part and draw back. I stand in the center of the stage and wave at the expectant audience.

“Welcome, everyone!” I call. “Thank you for coming to the Award Ceremony to present the winner of the 2018 Silmaril Award for Wisest Counselor!”

The crowd cheers, and some hobbit near the back, who is a little confused about what the reason for the gathering is, raises a mug and calls, “Happy birthday!”

There is laughter.

I smile and carry on. “In previous years, as winners of this award, we’ve had Aslan himself from Narnia—not sure where he is today; not a tame lion, you understand—as well as Professor Hamilton from Dragons in Our Midst, who is visiting.” I wave toward the back of the stage where the grey-haired professor stands, smiling.

The audience applauds.

“And now, to present this year’s nominees and the winner, I’d like to welcome Gandalf onto the stage. Mithrandir, as some of you know him, is one of the wisest counselors in all of Middle-earth—even in all of Arda—and therefore highly qualified to present this award. Friends, I give you . . . Gandalf!”

I gesture to the right of the stage. Nothing happens. I wait several long, awkward moments, and laugh nervously. “Sorry, folks, looks like Gandalf is a little late this evening.”

“A wizard is never late, my dear blogger,” says a voice. The crowd laughs and applauds as Gandalf himself steps onto the stage, sweeping across it in his long grey robes and silver scarf and grey pointy hat. “I arrived precisely when I meant to.”

“Of course, of course. Well, I’m sure you were busy with something important, as always.”

Gandalf furrows his bushy eyebrows and looks mysterious, but I suspect he’s hiding a smile in his long grey beard.

“Thanks for coming, Gandalf. I’ll turn things over to you.” I nod to him and slip off the stage, finding a place in the front row where the applause for Professor Hamilton had been loudest, between a teenage boy and a girl with—wings? I spin back to look at her again—oh, she’s only wearing a backpack. Must have been my imagination . . .

I settle in with the rest of the excited audience to watch the following proceedings on stage.

The Nominees

“Welcome, Elves, Men, Hobbits, Dwarves, and . . . others,” Gandalf says. “Allow me to present the nominees of this year’s award.”

The audience’s murmur hushes in anticipation, and then they applaud as each name is announced.

Rayad of Arcacia from the land of Ilyon.”

A somewhat grizzled man in a simple tunic steps onto the stage, bows, and then smiles and nods toward two members of the crowd near the end of the front row—a teenage girl holding hands with a young man whose black hair falls over his ears, a black wolf lying at their feet. The young man nods back to Rayad, quiet and unobtrusive but proud.

Professor Digory Kirke of Narnia, come all the way from England via wardrobe.” Gandalf glances toward the ornate wooden wardrobe near the back of the stage.

An old man with shaggy white hair and equally shaggy beard comes into view and waves at the audience. There are cheers—particularly from the very middle of the front row, where four children—two boys and two girls, one of whom is a familiar face from last year—sit together and are heard to say things like “Hurrah for the Professor!” and “Good old Prof!”

Puddleglum of Narnia.”

A tall, thin Marshwiggle steps forward on webbed feet, shaking his head with the pointy hat rather like Gandalf’s, and muttering, “I don’t see why I’m always being called to these things. A mistake, through and through, I shouldn’t wonder . . .” A girl and a boy in the front row, between a fair-haired prince and a large white owl perched on an empty chair, applaud and grin, shaking their heads.

“Ranger Halt,” Gandalf continues, before pausing and looking around.

The audience scans the stage in search of Halt, and for a moment nobody sees him.

“Wizards may not be late, but perhaps Rangers are—though not a certain other Ranger I know,” Gandalf mutters.

But just then, a shadow moves away from the dark curtain, revealing Halt himself, camouflaged in his long grey mottled cloak. “I’ve been here all along,” he says dryly, stepping forward.

“A fellow grey wanderer. I can approve.” Gandalf nods.

A rather small but wiry boy in the audience applauds loudest, between a girl and a hulking young knight-to-be. There’s a sturdy pony next to them where a chair used to be. I’ve no idea how they got it inside . . . Stealthy Rangers.

“And Prince Aethelbald of Farthestshore,” Gandalf finishes, ending the list of nominees.

An unassuming young man with a quiet, thoughtful face and deep, kind eyes, wearing fine clothes and a simple golden circlet, bows from the stage. A young woman in a white gown seated in the front row—with a smug-looking fluffy orange cat on her lap—smiles.

And the Winner Is . . .

“And now,” Gandalf says, “here at last, on this stage in Minas Tirith, comes an end to the voting and anticipation. May I present the winner of this award, a very remarkable man, and one whom I am glad to call a friend . . . Professor Digory Kirke!”

Cheering fills the air. A massive silver firework explodes overhead (no doubt why Gandalf was . . . erm . . . that is . . . not late). There are gasps and laughs of surprise, and a few more cheers. Gandalf chuckles.

Professor Kirke joins Gandalf in the center of the stage. “How did you manage to set that off while you were on stage?” the Professor asks. “Logically, somebody must have . . .”

“I may have had an assistant,” Gandalf says noncommittally.

“I love Minas Tirith!” yells a small, rather sooty hobbit figure before disappearing into the crowd.

Everyone laughs and I shake my head.

So does Gandalf, muttering, “Fool of a Took.” He clears his throat and turns to Prof. Kirke. “In recognition of your wisdom and guidance of certain young charges, Professor, I present you with this Silmaril.” Gandalf holds up a glowing golden sphere on a ribbon.

A hush falls across everyone as the gem shines out like the sun—or like an echo of the glimmer of the golden tree Laurelin from the land beyond the western seas many an age past.

Gandalf drapes it around Professor Kirke’s neck. “Bear it well, my friend.”

“Thank you, Gandalf, and thank you, everyone.” He turns to the crowd. “I’m quite at your disposal, I’m sure, and I’m honored that in your very careful consideration you should think me worthy of such an award.”

The Professor bows to the audience, to the sound of thunderous applause. Then he turns and steps past Gandalf to where last year’s winner, Professor Hamilton, stands. The two shake hands and smile.

Professor Kirke glances beyond him to where a great golden Lion, who was not there a minute before, sits quiet but majestic in one corner of the stage, his golden eyes laughing but wise—the ultimate Wise Counselor and the winner of the award two years past. A look passes between them, and Professor Kirke, feeling more like a young boy named Digory every moment, bows to the lion—who the next moment is no longer there.

“One last announcement,” Gandalf calls. “To the feast! There are a few hobbits here, who can be quite fearsome eaters in a pinch—or, well, at any time. If you want anything to eat, you had better get going before they eat everything—even though it is the finest feast King Aragorn could provide.”

There is laughter as everybody follows Gandalf toward the feast hall and its delicious aromas.

Well, almost everybody.

Halt and Rayad are on their way down the street toward a tavern to chat over mugs of ale.

Puddleglum is already planning on going back to fishing, muttering about coming rain.

Aslan is still nowhere to be seen (well, he’s not a tame lion), and nobody knows where the Prince of Farthestshore has gotten to.

Professor Kirke and Professor Hamilton are headed off in another direction for a quiet cup of tea, deep in conversation—discussing their adventures, their young charges, and (probably) logic.

“Yes, and after all of that, with the dragon slayer and everything, I was quite done with teaching there,” Professor Hamilton is saying.

And Professor Kirke’s voice floats back as they walk out of sight together: “My dear chap, of course you were. Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?”

Fin

Thanks for joining us for the awards presentation ceremony of the Wisest Counselor Silmaril Award!

You can find the rest of the winners here (some are still to be announced in the coming days).

For those curious, here are the final results:

  1. Professor Digory Kirke (The Chronicles of Narnia) 86 votes / 43%
  2. Halt (The Ranger’s Apprentice series) 39 votes / 20%
  3. Puddleglum (The Silver Chair) 30 votes / 15%
  4. Rayad (The Ilyon Chronicles) 22 votes / 11%
  5. Prince Aethelbald (Tales of Goldstone Wood) 21 votes / 11%

As always, thanks for being a part of this fun fantasy character awards! What did you think of the ceremony? Who were you hoping would win? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for coming! ❤

Winners!

Hello, my Roadlings!

I’m just here today to let you know that the Silmaril Awards voting has ended and the winners have been chosen — who those winners are remains to be seen and Presentations begin TODAY, running through September 28 — and to announce the winners of my 5-year blogiversary giveaway!

Silmaril Awards 2018 Ceremonies Schedule

Visit all the blogs over the course of the next several days (I’ll try to update the links as they go live, and I’m sure you can check out the official website as well) to find out who the ten winners of the 2018 Silmaril Awards are! EEP! I’m so excited to find out myself. ^_^

And be sure to come back here next Monday (Sept 24) to find out who has been deemed Wisest Counselor! Be sure to show up for the awards ceremony, and don’t be late, because a wizard is never late, and a certain wizard is present this one, so he might not approve of lateness in others! 😉

Also, there are a couple of other cool Tolkien-related parties going on this week online, and Jenelle recapped them in her post, so check those out! 🙂

Giveaway Winners

I’m excited to announce the winners of the epic giveaway I held last week to celebrate my 5 year blogiversary! Thanks for entering, everyone! ❤

The names have been selected by random draw out of my viking helmet (yes, this was a thing)!

The winners of the five books (from me) and the two sets of Electrical Menagerie cards (courtesy of Mollie Reeder) are . . .

*drumroll*

  • The Electrical Menagerie (+ character cards) — Elizabeth Koetsier
  • Magician’s Ward — Arielle
  • Conrad’s Fate — Faith (Florid Sword)
  • The End of the Third Age — Rayleigh Gray
  • If You Want To Write — Donna Darling
  • second set of character cards — Skye Hoffert

Congrats, guys! I just contacted you by email to get your information (so be on the lookout for that, and if you see this and haven’t heard from me, let me know if you didn’t get the email), and I will get your prizes shipped out ASAP! 🙂

Thanks so much to everyone who celebrated my blogiversary with me! You’re all awesome and I wish I could give you ALL something. ❤

But giveaways are super fun, so hopefully I’ll do some more in the future! 😉

Also, don’t forget that The Electrical Menagerie ebook is only 99 cents until next Monday, so if you didn’t win the paperback, you can still pick up your very own copy! (I highly recommend it. ;))


Thanks, everyone! You’re the best! ^_^

The Orphan’s Wish by Melanie Dickerson (Review)

Title: The Orphan’s Wish

Author: Melanie Dickerson

  • Date read: September 15, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Retelling / Christian Fiction / Romance
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 329 (hardcover)
  • Series: Hagenheim, #8 (stands alone)
  • Fave character: Aladdin
  • Source: BookLook Bloggers review program (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
  • Notes: Thanks to the publisher for the complimentary copy. These opinions are all mine.

My Review

So far I’ve always enjoyed Melanie Dickerson’s novels—sometimes you just want a fun, light read, you know?—and I loved this one too. 🙂

I liked that The Orphan’s Wish had a somewhat different feel than the other Hagenheim books, though still with ties to them that made it familiar at the same time that it was fresh. I enjoy a good knight-or-duke’s-son-with-the-fair-maiden-in-a-castle-or-the-woods adventure/romance as much as the next person (as most of these have been), but this one (though with elements of that) was a new setup. Aladdin, while having some action, was much more of a hardworking businessman, which was different and fun for a change, and the setting was largely in the city of Luneberg and it was such a colorful, medieval European city, which reminded me a little of reading about Prague. I enjoyed that! And, of course, I enjoyed visiting Hagenheim again as well. 😉

It’s a retelling of Aladdin, but I confess that story’s not terribly fresh in my memory (I may have read the original folktale once or twice, and saw a certain Disney version of it maybe once awhile back), so I don’t feel like I caught many references. Which was fine. I enjoyed it well enough as a story on its own merit! If you’re looking for a super-Aladdin-y retelling you might possibly be disappointed, though.

Aladdin himself was a wonderful character and I felt deeply pulled into his point of view. He’s not your usual main character—he’s brave and courageous and clever, but he also works really hard and is always trying to do the best he can, and be the best he can be. He has a talent for running businesses and he’s kind of out to make his fortune so that he feels that he, a lowly orphan boy, brought from the Holy Land as a child to live at Hagenheim, can hope to be worthy of marrying a duke’s daughter. But he has a lot to learn, too. 😉 I was kind of annoyed at him for not manning up and telling someone something he didn’t want to say (you caused more problems, man!), but I also loved how he tried to do better, and how he would be clever and heroic sometimes, just when you started to think all he usually did was run businesses and be in love. XD Anyway, he was great.

I liked Lady Kirstyn too. I appreciated that she was the quiet kind of heroine—poor thing felt somewhat overlooked in her family, even though they’re wonderful (because we’re talking about Duke Wilhelm’s family of the Hagenheim Castle series. :P). And she goes through a lot too. The mischievous orphan Abu and the kind old merchant Herr Kaufmann are other interesting characters. And a villain or two…

I also loved the cameos of Valten and Wilhelm and some of the others from this series! So awesome. Especially man-of-few-words Valten giving Aladdin relationship advice. XD (This can totally stand alone as its own book, though, and you don’t have to read any of the others in the series to appreciate it. In fact, it’s a fine place to start.)

I suppose it’s a fairly usual Christian romance, but I enjoyed both of those aspects—it was sweet, and there were some nice faith elements/messages. The plot was also interesting, and—like I mentioned—felt kind of new and fresh. There’s some danger and excitement and mystery thrown in, so it’s not just Aladdin and Kirstyn trying to figure out their relationships. XD I liked how we got to see them grow up together, briefly, at the beginning (childhood friends turned lovers, yay!), and how there were also a lot of memories mixed in, because it really felt like they’d known each other forever, and that was neat. Oh, and I also loved the letters and the storks!

Random note about the series: I exaggerate slightly, but I kind of feel bad for Duke Wilhelm always having to run around after his kids when they’re the hero or heroine of the book and are always getting kidnapped, or shot with crossbows, or running around falling in love with the wrong person… Like, seriously, poor Wilhelm and Rose every time their kids get a new book. XD I love it though.

Anyway, this was another fun novel from this prolific author, and I always look forward to more. 🙂

A favorite quote: “I suppose it is difficult to be good at both business and art.”

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.

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About The Orphan’s Wish

From New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson comes an inspired retelling of the beloved folk tale Aladdin.

Orphaned and alone, Aladdin travels from the streets of his Arab homeland to a strange, faraway place. Growing up in an orphanage, he meets young Lady Kirstyn, whose father is the powerful Duke of Hagenheim. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion, and their childhood friendship grows into a bond that time and opposition cannot break.

Even as a child, Aladdin works hard, learning all he can from his teachers. Through his integrity, intelligence, and sheer tenacity, he earns a position serving as the duke’s steward. But that isn’t enough to erase the shame of being forced to steal as a small child—or the fact that he’s an orphan with no status. If he ever wants to feel equal to his beautiful and generous friend Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim and seek his fortune.

Yet once Aladdin departs, Lady Kirstyn becomes a pawn in a terrible plot. Now, Aladdin and Kirstyn must rely on their bond to save her from unexpected danger. But will saving Kirstyn cost Aladdin his newfound status and everything he’s worked so hard to obtain?

An enchanting new version of the well-known tale, The Orphan’s Wish tells a story of courage and loyalty, friendship and love, and reminds us what “family” really means.

Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, June 26, 2018


Links

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Thanks for reading! 🙂