Steampunk + Roses + Beauty & the Beast (The Rose and the Balloon Review)

Cover5_storyThe Rose and the Balloon

A Beauty and the Beast Story

(Once Upon a Twist Tales, #1)

by Kirsten Fichter

YA / Fairy Tale Retelling / Steampunk / Novella / Beauty and the Beast

I received a free e-copy of this book from the author — many thanks! — in return for my honest review, and these opinions are entirely my own.

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The instant I saw that this novella was coming out, I knew I had to read it. Fairytale retellings are my favorite, and Beauty and the Beast… with hot air balloons? Now this I had to try!

I was delighted to have the chance to read it for review, and I’m glad to report: I. LOVED. IT. I can’t think of a single thing I disliked about it! This novella was a simply marvelous quick read which I so enjoyed. ❤

The story and writing were charmingly witty, crisp and fast-paced, yet flowing with an easy, natural feeling, so that it did not seem too quick at all. It was adventurous, amusing, and alternated between fun and an elegant sort of fairytale feel, all mixed in with the delightful chaos of characters with minds of their own who take the story and sweep the reader along on a wonderfully fun ride.

There was a strong theme of love and of family, which I absolutely ADORED. There don’t seem to be many books with a focus on family, so this one was so nice to read. 🙂 Yes, they’re slightly disjointed families and have a lot to overcome, but you can tell they love each other all the same. ^_^ Janelle and her father, and Dmitri and his mother and twin siblings. Just… really well-written relationships, even in the short amount of pages. The bit of romance in there was so enjoyable too — I always love me a good Beauty and the Beast tale. 😉

The setting and “feel” of the story were great. There’s a light dusting of steampunk (mostly hot air balloons — yay!), and it seemed like a pseudo-historical setting (no magic), which was so well-drawn I felt it must be real; and yet still held the classic sort of fairytale feel I love. (Can I just go live in the castle, specifically the library, please??)

The characters were marvelous! Prince Dmitri was the absolute BEST! I loved him. A great hero, who I was rooting for the whole time, and loved reading about. ❤ Janelle and Dmitri are both fiery whirlwinds, and when they collide — boy, is it a storm to remember! Several storms, throughout… XD I just LOVED their bickering and conversations — it was all gold and really made the book spark. I JUST LOVED THEM TOGETHER SO MUCH. ^_^ And then the twins! They were fantastic! 😀 Princess Nicoline and Prince Nicolas were SO much fun to read about! Their antics were a blast and I loved their prank wars. XD Even “Crazy Maeva” (a.k.a. the queen) and Lord Roux (Janelle’s father, who was an excellently written character, I felt) and the other side characters, were all well painted and so vivid. Overall a great cast, and one I would love to read more about! (I also loved their names. :D)

There were nods to the Disney film version of Beauty and the Beast, and the retelling itself was fun in this little book — fairly subtle but still there, despite the lack of fantasy elements. It’s new and yet still recognizably Beauty and the Beast in some way, and I loved it. ^_^ Also, the role of all the roses in the story was fabulous! ALL THE ROSES. I loved that. 😀

I might have wished it was longer, simply because I didn’t want to leave these characters! I could have spent ages with them. ❤ But really it’s the perfect bite-sized enjoyable length to devour in a sitting or two, so I can’t really complain about that either. 🙂 No complaints! It was just perfect. ^_^ *hugs book*

All in all, it was a delightful little bite-sized retelling, suitable for all ages, with memorable characters and an airballoon full of fun. I highly recommend it and can’t wait to read more from this talented new author!

About the Book

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In a kingdom where fauna and flora are held in higher esteem than breakfast, Dmitri is a prince who yearns for change and plans it in a single daring act that will alter his life forever. However, when his demented mother accidentally causes the destruction of a prized garden of roses, Dmitri is horrified when she proposes his hand in marriage to make up for it. Not only will a wife hamper his glorious plans, he doesn’t even want one.

Janelle has spent her whole life on her father’s rose farm, tending the roses and staying simple. But she really yearns for something greater than the flower beds. But now there’s a wrench thrown in the works – the crazy Queen Maeva wants her to marry the prince, and all for ruining her father’s beloved roses.

This is Beauty and the Beast with a twist like you’ve never seen it before.

The Rose and the Balloon released August, 2016.

Find it online:

Amazon | Createspace | Goodreads


About Kirsten Fichter

AuthorPic1Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who is trying to find the balance between being one of six kids, a church pianist, a college student, a movie buff, a disaster in the kitchen, and a writing INFP. If you know what the secret is to balancing all of that, she’d be grateful to hear from you. Otherwise, don’t contact her unless you want to send her homemade gingerbread. Or a new piano book. Or an autographed Charles Dickens novel. In the meantime, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

You can find her online at her blog (Lianne Taimenlore), Twitter: @KiriLiz, and on Goodreads.

Don’t you think Beauty and the Beast and Steampunk is an excellent combination? Are you curious about it? *wriggles eyebrows* Maybe you’d like to give this novella a try! (What am I saying; of course you do, because it’s AWESOME and we all need more awesome in our lives. *nods sagely*)

Also! Do you have a favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling?? TELL, TELL! 😀

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In the Merry Month of May… {2016} Ishness

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May 2016

Time for another Ishness! Once question though: How, exactly, is it June already? I have absolutely no CLUE what on earth has happened to this year… Isn’t it still February? WHAT EVEN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS TO ME. Ahem. Anyhoo, here’s what’s up with me as of this last month.

Life

For much of the month I was dreadfully sick with a nasty flu and had a lot of dead internet (whaddayaknow, it’s STILL dead! *surprise* We had 8 straight days with internet in the midst of May which was glorious and then BOOM gone again…), so that was all very exciting and made for me falling behind on a lot of things… But other than that I had a pretty great month because writing and movies and books happened… so on to that! 🙂

Writing

KW2coverPI wrote 2000+ words in May, mostly snippets for The Other Half of Everything and some for The Secret of Kedran’s Wood. I also finally started the next chapter of KW2, which I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time. I think Tare finally woke up from his exhaustion that I put him into around NaNo, and at last has gotten jealous of Teague; consequently Tare has been talking to me again. This is very good news. 😀

A bit slow on writing still, mostly just snippets all over the place, but I’m just glad to have a bit of writing instead of nothing. (I know, I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, writing 2k three months in a row mostly on snippets…)

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(pics used to make this “cover” were all found on pinterest & I don’t own them etc. and it’s just for fun)

I also analyzed why I’m stuck on literally every single one of my WIPs. Which is bad in one sense because I’m stuck, but good in another sense because at least now I know WHY. Don’t know where to go from here but it looks like I may only be writing disconnected snippets for awhile until I get all my plots figured out and decide if I need to rewrite some stuff.

I’m also starting to worry that I may be able to write Other Half of Everything snippets till the cows come home but seem to be having a distressingly difficult time writing actual writing in chapter one. So snippets = easy. Actual book = I can’t. This is very bad. I may have to write the whole book out of order and sew it together, I dunno… >.> We’ll see. But I love Teague and Meridian and Lulin and Ivan and am having fun so that’s good.

That’s what’s up with me on the writing front! 🙂 I will give you snippets because I’m nice like that. XD

Snippets

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TarePizzaSnippet

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Blogging

Le posts of mine from the last month:

Book blog posts:

Reading

I had another slow reading month… but the things that I DID read were 100000% awesome, so. 😀

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Aaaall the whimsical fantasy books with purple/blue/pink covers. ❤ *huggles them*

For mini-review-ish things/flailing on all of these, you can hop over to my May Reading Roundup post on my book blog. 🙂 (Warning: Much fangirling. May blast your eyeballs out with its amount/intensity. *cough*)

Oh, and I’ve also been beta-reading some AWESOME stories by lovely writer friends. Including The Dead Boy and the Paper Cut by Cait which… Yeah. Wow. The snaaaark. ❤ Just… take my heart, Cait. Just take it. *melts in puddle of feels*

Watching

I saw The Avengers 2.5 Captain America: Civil War. Twice. (I obviously want to watch it another million times but twice will have to do for now.) ALLOW ME TO MAKE SOME NOISE ON THIS COUNT THANK YOU. I mean, obviously I’m not happy with some of the goings on a.k.a. pretty much the ENTIRE PLOT because I don’t want my precious people to be fighting, and it kind of just ENDED without any proper conclusion. BUUUUT interestingly all of this had absolutely no effect on my enjoyment of the movie because honestly I’m just there for the characters so if they’re on the screen… yep, I’m pretty happy. I mean, sure, there’s stuff I didn’t like; I could complain about that all day; but I’m not going to because honestly where does it get us? Nowhere. Basically I irrationally really enjoyed it BECAUSE BUCKY AND HAWKEYE AND CAPTAIN AMERICA AND EVERYONE so I kinda loved it for absolutely no reason and want to see it again. (And Bucky. Buckyyyyyy. *shrieking* Andandand Hawkeye yessss.)

Basically this is me:

HAPPY BUCKY. HAPPY ME. (pinterest)

Also Beauty and the Beast teaser trailer! EEEP! *flails* I NEED IT TO BE MARCH 17TH RIGHT NOW PLZ. ❤

Internet: there’s a B&B teaser trailer.

Me: *proceeds to watch it 2093750938409 times*

Me: *posts it on blog so that I can have excuse to watch it again and because if you haven’t seen it yet you need to ASAP*

And I’m still watching that western show, The Deputy AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH AAAHH. ❤ I love “buddy” stories and these buddies are fabulous. XD You will probably not hear the end of this anytime soon because there are like 70 episodes and I haven’t run out yet… 😀

June Plans

My June plans consist basically of: read the things, write the things, and stop stressing about it; also try to survive life. That’s a good idea…

Oh! And very exciting things happening beginning later this month on this blog and throughout the blogosphere… I will give you a hint: it involves that “Fantasy Oscars” kind of thing I may have mentioned before. So watch out for that because we’re going to need YOU to be involved! 🙂

Also, many apologies to everyone if I’m kinda absent/behind on all the internet things. I hope to have internet again sometime but I really don’t know. If I’m late on replying to comments or something, IT’S NOT BECAUSE I DON’T LOVE YOU CAUSE I DO. ❤

So that’s my May. How was yours? Tell me all! 🙂

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson (Review)

beautifulpretenderThe Beautiful Pretender

(Thornbeck/Medieval Fairy Tale Romance, #2)

by Melanie Dickerson

Adult Christian Romance / Fairy Tale Retelling / Beauty and the Beast & The Princess and the Pea

Published May 17, 2016 by Thomas Nelson


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My Review of The Beautiful Pretender

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5 stars

I loved this book so much! Definitely a favorite of Melanie Dickerson’s books, for me. Ever since meeting the Margrave of Thornbeck Forest in the first book in this series (THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST), I simply couldn’t wait to read THE BEAUTFUL PRETENDER to get his story. I liked this one even more than the first book!

Although THE BEAUTIFUL PRETENDER is a sequel, it can very easily be read alone (though readers of the first book will be delighted, as I was, to see Jorgen and Odette, the hero and heroine of the first book, throughout this one!). If you haven’t read the first book, no worries — just read this one right away because it’s even better! Adults and young adults alike would I think enjoy it. (I don’t recall anything about it that teens wouldn’t be okay reading. :))

I have a thing for fairy tales, so the retelling aspect was awesome. It was somewhat subtle at times, much like it was in the first book, but I could definitely see the hints of the Beauty and the Beast and Princess and the Pea plots. It was fabulous! I loved seeing them weave throughout the plot, so much a part of it but also so original. I was quite impressed with that.

It also got rather exciting, especially later in the book. So much excitement! Peril and plots and deception and wolves and fire and mystery and all of that thrilling stuff. I also absolutely LOVE how the book turned out at the end! Not to give anything away, but that ending was super satisfying! 😉

The setting was also splendid — a castle in medieval Germany, yay! I just want to live at Thornbeck Castle in Thornbeck Forest in the snow!

The characters in this book were splendid. Let me go through them:

Reinhart, the margrave, was incredibly awesome. He’s very much of the “Beast” type of character, gruff and stern and growly, but he’s also a fundamentally great guy, just embittered at the world about his injured ankle and having to choose a wife when he doesn’t want to. He was my favorite! I really felt for him, and his dark, grouchy, short-tempered, man-of-few-words personality was so fun to read about. Beneath it all he’s actually noble and awesome.

Avelina was a wonderful main character. Her struggles with having to impersonate a Lady when she’s only a servant, were really interesting to read about. I also love her name! She and Reinhart have the best romance story — I loved it so much! Melanie Dickerson pens another sweet love story which was so enormously enjoyable to read. Especially with how complicated their story is… 😉 I also really loved the alternating viewpoints between them!

Lady Magdalen, who befriends Avelina, was another character I really liked. She was fabulous and such a good friend to Avelina. Magdalen was so NICE. With all the people being nasty to poor Avelina, it was so refreshing to read about a really sweet character like her. 🙂 I haven’t read an adorable friendship like that in a long time. It was touching and wonderful. Magdalen was so lovely and I hope we’ll see more of her in the third book…

Jorgen and Odette are pretty much Reinhart’s right-hand people in this one, so they’re in the story a lot, which was great. They’re so helpful, nice, and awesome. Loved seeing them more in this book! They really added to it in a good way.

I don’t really have any complaints. I do wish there had been more with Reinhart, maybe him talking more; but he’s not a talkative sort of person, so that was in character, I suppose… But really, no major complaints. It was just so good! I’m very much looking forward to another Thornbeck tale from Mrs. Dickerson… Her novels are always so enjoyable and this was one of the best yet! Now what are you waiting for? Go read THE BEAUTIFUL PRETENDER! Go on! 🙂

Many thanks to the author for the Advance Reader’s Copy of this book which I received in exchange for my honest review. These opinions are my own.

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About the Book

What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Publisher


About the Author

Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama.

She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.

You can find her online at www.MelanieDickerson.com.

Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2015

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As is traditional (last year’s is here) it’s time for a list of the best books I read in 2015! YAY! Because lists and books and favorites are all the best things ever. ❤

I read some gems this year, and though it was super painful trying to pick favorites, these (especially the ones near the top) make my heart explode in happiness just from looking at the titles, so I think they’re some good ones! My list is roughly in order of amount of loving them, and doesn’t include rereads. So here we go! (Prepare for much squealing…)

My top 15 reads of 2015

1. Broken Glass – Emma Clifton (in Five Glass Slippers)

brokenglasscoverSo… I spontaneously reviewed this awhile back. And it’s made it to the very top of my list this year. IT’S JUST SO PERFECT AND MY FIRST STEAMPUNK FANTASY AND ALL THE CHARACTERRRRRRRRRRRS!!!! Ahem. I just really really love this story! I want to read it again (and I’ve already read it twice). It’s just perfection and bursting with humor and snark and great dialog and plots and sooo many characters I love, especially Marius and Darcy and Henry, and it’s FUN but then it gets epic at the end and it’s so British AND I JUST LOVE IIIIIIIT! ❤ It makes me grin and keep grinning and unable to STOP grinning, whenever I think of it. GAAAHH! *tackle-hugs story* ALL OF THE LOVE! *gives Darcy and Marius an extra hug*

2. Archer’s Goon – Diana Wynne Jones

HOW. DO. I. DESCRIBE. THIS. BOOK. Ummm… I can’t! *flails around* It was Diana Wynne Jones which means it was pure distilled BRILLIANCE mixed up with total uniqueness, absolutely FANTASTIC humor, and just ALL OF THE PLOT TWISTS. Mind. Blown. I can’t get over it and it’s amazing and I think I need to read it again right now. I still love Howl’s Moving Castle the best of Diana Wynne Jones’ books (I mean… it’s my favorite book EVER besides The Lord of the Rings) BUT I THINK ARCHER’S GOON MIGHT BE SECOND. Maybe. Ahem. All of the characters are fantastic and the dialog and the humor and it’s timey-wimey and sci-fi and fantasy and modern and super confusing and I just love it a lot. Ack. ❤

3. The Ordinary Princess – M. M. Kaye

This was, in a word, PERFECT. ^_^ It just makes me so happy. I can’t. *beams and huggles book* It’s a sort of original fairytale type of thing, feeling like it has some hints of Sleeping Beauty and maybe a couple others, but mostly its own thing. It was just a quick read that was ADORABLE and sweet and perfect, and I loved the illustrations, and the character of the Ordinary Princess herself was awesome, and Peregrine who I loved a ton, and they were so cute together and just alskdjljlsjk it makes me happy and is a perfect little book. ^_^ ❤

4. Illusionarium – Heather Dixon

I’ve been dying to read this ever since reading Entwined. Needless to say, I pounced on it. The internet is probably still reeling with the incoherent fangirling babbles I shared on this blog about Illusionarium… Ahem. So suffice it to say, despite the creepiness, that I LOVED THIS BOOK AND THE DIALOG AND HUMOR AND EPIC STEAMPUNKNESS AND ESPECIALLY LOCKWOOD. LOCKWOOOOD!!!!! *flails around forever and a day* Basically, Lockwood. ❤ I just can’t get over that indescribable airguardsman snarky fiery epic trigger-happy roguish awesome Lieutenant Lockwood. (And he and Jonathan are a great pair. XD I love themmm.) (BUT LOCKWOOD. SO MUCH. ❤ ❤ ❤ )

5. The Pinhoe Egg – Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones books are always wonderful, but this one’s one of my top, like… four? of hers? (Howl’s Moving Castle, Archer’s Goon, The Crown of Dalemark, and this, are my favorites.) This was the conclusion to the Chrestomanci series, which I started late in 2014, and read most of this year. AAAHHH I LOVED THIS BOOK. It returned to the hero of the first book, Cat (who is great), and there were shenanigans and it had sooo much more of Chrestomanci himself than a lot of the others (which is pretty much my one complaint usually, since he usually only shows up a little in the midst of other people’s adventures). THERE WAS ALSO A GRIFFIN. AND CHRESTOMANCI AND AND AND ASLKDJFLK I just really really really love Chrestomanci and I need some fancy dressing gowns to wear around the house like he does. Except he has a castle… BASICALLY I WANT TO LIVE AT CHRESTOMANCI CASTLE AND READ ABOUT CHRESTOMANCI FOREVER. Because CHRESTOMANCI!!!!! ❤ ❤ Ahem.

6. Frederica – Georgette Heyer

After reading and loving The Grand Sophy in 2014, I wanted to try another Georgette Heyer, so this happened. I LOVED IT. The characters, just… aaagh! I loved them. LORD ALVERSTOKE. He’s one of those kind of awful fellows who’s sort of vain/spoiled, a lot like Howl actually, and yet he ends up being all noble too and just alskdjflklaskdj I love Alverstoke, he’s wonderful. And his relationship with the heroine and with her younger brothers — just YES! I don’t actually read a lot of regency historical romance sorts of things but this one was great. There’s also an airballoon and a crash and all of the DIALOG, my goodness it’s wonderful.

7. The Penderwicks in Spring – Jeanne Birdsall

AAAAHHHHH. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I read the first three Penderwick books (I even reread them this year!) and it was amazing. I was actually surprised because in a way it was so SAD but also the usual hilarious and just… I love the Penderwicks, okay. I LOVE THEMMMM. This family. Just. THEY ARE PRECIOUS. *gathers them in a hug* It was a little strange because it’s years after the previous ones and the three older girls are like TEENS and Batty’s 11 and… yes. o.o And I should have been upset, especially with all the sad, but I just LOVED. IT. SO. MUCH. Also there were like ten billion characters and the author juggled them all SO well and the writing is golden and ALL OF THE FEELS. I wish I could write like that. Basically I waited a long time for it and it did NOT disappoint. ❤

8. Conrad’s Fate – Diana Wynne Jones

This was a sort of Chrestomanci prequel because it involves him (Christopher) when he was a teen. LET ME FLAIL. Like Illusionarium, it was a great buddy-movie story (as I call them; even when they’re not movies… *cough*) and… Chrestomanci and the hero are so much fun together and I DON’T EVEN KNOW. But it was Diana Wynne Jones and I remember having so much fun and just really ENJOYING this! *flail* Chrestomanci as a youngster is just fabulous to read about, so sneaky but refined but clever and just brilliant and the dialog and I just loved it. ❤

9. Power of Three – Diana Wynne Jones

How. I. What. It. SOMETHING! *flailing* This was totally not what I was expecting and it was so DIFFERENT (something Diana Wynne Jones excels at) and PLOT TWIST! Wow. Also I loved all of the characters, especially the two who were like the hero (you’ll understand if you’ve read it), and it just had a lot of brilliance going on! It was epic. It felt rather different than her other stuff–a bit more like the Dalemark books than her “fun” ones… But I still adored it. Plus, the flashback where the fellows were drunk and met Titch was sheer gold. *dies of laughter*

10. Plenilune – Jennifer Freitag

This is here basically because DAMMERUNG!!!!! It was EXHAUSTING to read and took me from Christmas till August to read… like really heavy chocolate cake. Or the ocean. It was a little much, kind of too rich if you know what I mean, but it was totally worth it for Dammerung. He’s, like, possibly my favorite character this year. Possibly one of my top favorite characters of EVER. Like… HE’S UP THERE WITH HOWL, OKAY? Dammerung is just AMAZING and this monster of a 600+ page book of exhaustingly gorgeous poetical prose is totally worth it just for him. (And Rupert was amazing too. I have very complex feels about Rupert. Which makes me super glad that Dammerung is there to cancel those out because he just blows everything away with his amazingness). Like… he’s funny and powerful and heroic and epic and just… HE’S LIKE THE COOLEST EVER. Dammerung has a very special place in my heart. ^____^ ❤ ❤ ❤

11. The Skin Map – Stephen R. Lawhead

This was an AMAZING book. Contemporary/time-travel/fantasy/sci-fi-ish/historical… it has a little bit of everything. The writing and setting and just the entire thing is STUNNINGLY well done, not to mention the cast of characters, each of whom I love to bits! Arthur, Cosimo, Kit, Etzel, Wilhemina! (I even love the heroine!) Just. Gaaahh. It was a fantastic book, and would have been much higher up the list if it weren’t for something that happened in the last twenty pages… *cough cough* But I’ve actually gotten over that (mostly) and all I can think of is how amazing this book was and how much I want to read the sequels! *huggles all the characters* It was just a DELIGHT to read!

stonecurse12. Stone Curse – Jenelle Schmidt (in Five Enchanted Roses)

I reviewed this one on the blog and just YES. Beauty and the Beast retelling, which I ALWAYS love… And RITTER! ❤ Ritter and his heroicness and humor and just aaaahh I love him so much! And the setting and the fairytale feel and BAREND the Beast, down to loving the heroine, Karyna, a ton as well. I just… Gaaah. ^_^ *huggles all of them* The whole cast of characters and their relationships… just fantastic. SUCH A GREAT READ! ❤

13. Corroded Thorns – Emma Clifton

Aaand I also reviewed this one (more Beauty and the Beast, yay!) and it’s the sequel to my top favorite of the year, Broken Glass, and I sort of consider them one book because it’s so interconnected, sooo I couldn’t resist putting this on the list too! DARCY!!! Eeep. I just looooved this story and the characters AND THE ENDING WAS PERFECTION OH MY GOODNESS SO MUCH LOVE FOR THAT. ❤

14. Tahn – L. A. Kelly

This was the VERY first book I read in 2015, so it’s possibly a little hazy in my memory… But I know it was an exciting adventuresome read, with some good stuff, and was a little grittier than I usually like but still fabulous. And, like with Plenilune, it’s mostly here for one of my favorite characters of the year, namely the title character himself, Tahn. Tahn is the absolute epitome of my favorite archetype of characters, what I call the “dark guy”. (I’ve heard “anti-hero” used as well.) But I really really love him and his story and it was awesome.

15. The Book of Sight – Deborah Dunlevy

This book… I don’t know. It just made me happy. It was one of my first “random” ebooks I tried, since it was free on Kindle at the time and sounded interesting. I got so addicted that I’ve since bought all three of the sequels which are currently out (looking forward to reading The Poisoned Cure soon!) and already hoping the fifth/final book will come out soon! It’s a modern fantasy story, and it just… somehow kind of reminds me of the sort of stories I’m writing with my Kedran’s Wood series. I just enjoy it and it’s about these kids, a group of friends, in a little modern town, and their dealings with fantastical stuff that they start running into. Also, I really love Dominic. But it’s just a fun read, so… yes. It makes me think of sunshine. 🙂

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You mayyy notice a trend*, which is that books are much likelier to be extremely loved/high on my list when there’s a particular character I really like in the story… What can I say. I’m evidently extremely attached to fictional people. But I’d say that Dammerung, Lockwood, and Chrestomanci are my favorite characters this year. THEY’RE THE BESSST!

(*Whaaat, you thought I was going to say that the trend was Howl? HAHAHA. Fooled you. XD Ahem. Sorry. Howl does whatever he likes, and apparently that includes stealing the show in a blogpost that doesn’t even involve him… *cough*)

So there’s my list! Have you read any of these? (You totally should!) Do you have any favorite reads of 2015? TELL ALL IN THE COMMENTS! ^_^

Hopefully this next year of 2016 will hold some wonderful reads in it for all of us! ❤

Happy New Year, everyone!

Five Enchanted Roses: Stone Curse Review

Five Enchanted Roses, the collection of five novella-length retellings of the beloved fairytale Beauty and the Beast from Rooglewood Press, releases today!

Aren’t you excited? Of course you are. Because Beauty and the Beast retellings! And let’s be honest: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more downright beautifully gorgeous breathtaking cover than this one. ALL THE PRETTY. ❤

Today I’m reviewing the third story in the anthology, Stone Curse by Jenelle Schmidt.


stonecurseStone Curse

by Jenelle Schmidt

5 stars!

in the Five Enchanted Roses anthology

Fantasy / Young Adult / Fairy Tale Re-Telling / Beauty and the Beast / Novella

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in return for my honest review. It was not required to be positive, and these opinions are entirely my own.


As a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, STONE CURSE surprised me with its originality while still clinging to the familiar threads. The reader is plunged directly into several intertwined mysteries that it’s wonderful to try to unravel. I predicted just enough of the answers of the mysteries to feel excited and elated whenever I was right, but there were more than enough surprises and twists to keep me on my toes, which I loved!

The writing was excellent and flowed beautifully in an effortless fairytale-ish way, and I loved the “feel” of the story and the world. It’s exactly the sort of feel that I like best in the fantasy tales I read! I can’t really describe it but it’s gorgeous and makes me feel at home, while still keeping me on the edge of my seat about what will happen next, because even (or especially) the most lovely of fantasy worlds contain a measure of uncertainty and danger! Something about the feel reminded me of a couple other favorite authors of mine, especially Patricia C. Wrede. This makes me happy and I’m looking forward to reading more by Jenelle Schmidt.

I’ve decided I enjoy novellas. I was able to read this in a sitting but it felt more fulfilling than a short story, and yet it was close enough to a novel’s depth, without the extra fluff, that it was extremely enjoyable.

It’s a very fun adventure, with some banter and journeying through a gorgeous fantasy world, tangled woods, homely (and not so homely) inns, and dark mysterious crumbling castles surrounded by roses… (I almost felt like a couple other fairy tales were subtly hinted at as well as Beauty and the Beast, which of course only made it cooler.) And then it got so exciting and epic. Yes! I basically loved this story a ton and had such a great time reading it. (Also, Ritter’s horse was cool. I think I want a horse now please. And a Beast like Barend too. Thank you.)

All of the characters were awesome and felt so very real. Characters are important to me and these definitely rank up with my favorites!

I actually loved the heroine! This may not sound odd to most people. But I’m notorious for disliking most female main characters, and even if I tolerate a heroine, it’s extremely rare that I like her as much as I liked Karyna! She was so extremely sturdy and nice and determined and helpful and useful! It was marvelous how she always had that satchel of hers that she would pull things out of and fix someone up or do a bit of gardening or pruning. She’s also so full of hope and won’t give up, which I loved. I just adored Karyna.

Our Beast, Prince Barend, was fabulous! His story was unique and I so enjoyed reading about him! Like the best Beast characters, sure he had some problems but ultimately you love him. I loved his loyalty and protectiveness, bit of stubbornness, and his willingness to go so far for the one he cares about. Just… yes. Barend! He’s so awesome. And he’s a little uncertain and gruff and awkward but also determined, and was wonderful. I especially liked getting to see his thoughts from time to time, as well as Ritter’s.

Much as I loved the other characters, I think I might have liked Ritter even better! He’s my favorite. His endearing charm, quick tongue, humor and bravery. I just loved Ritter! Considering how much I loved both Karyna (unexpectedly) and Barend (of course), it’s incredible that another character could surpass them and become my favorite, but Ritter definitely earned that place. I was super intrigued by him from the moment he entered the tale, and simply loved how he factored into the story. As soon as I figured out what was up with him I may or may not have actually made a squealing noise. I was also addicted to quoting his lines aloud. Ha! Quotable characters are the best, but he was also such a great all-around guy and one of my very favorites!

I’m always a big fan of humor and great dialog, and I loved the characters’ journeying and interactions and banter! One of my favorite parts involved reminiscing about the mischief young royals got into as children. That was HILARIOUS. They’re a really great cast of characters! I just love them all so much and they feel like my friends. I’m looking forward to reading this again to be with them once more and re-experience this wonderful story and its beautiful and shadowy world.

I do wish Princess Bellenya had been gone into more. Her part of the story wasn’t as developed as I’d have liked, especially considering how it all ended up (which I really liked! I just… wanted more). I was okay with it, I just wish she’d been more delved into so I could understand her more or something? That being said, it’s basically the only thing I have a complaint about in this otherwise fabulous tale!

The ending felt a tiny bit hurriedly wrapped up, but I didn’t mind because it was still awesome. The final scene was absolutely perfect and made me cry. (I’m not much of a book-crier, but this was wonderful!) At the end, when I finished reading and sat back with a little sigh of happiness and wiped my eyes, with a smile on my lips that I couldn’t seem to get rid of even if I’d wanted to, I would have hugged the book if it had been a physical copy. As it was, I settled for hugging my laptop which contained it.

Overall, I positively loved STONE CURSE and it left me with a happy, smiling, in-the-clouds feeling of contentment. I don’t know what else I can ask of a fairytale! It had a little bit of everything.

I look forward to reading the other four novellas in this collection, but I can tell you that FIVE ENCHANTED ROSES is well worth picking up if only for this delightful story.

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Back Cover Copy

From Goodreads:

STONE CURSE
By Jenelle Schmidt

Years ago a terrible curse swept over the revelers at Thorndale Castle, turning them to stone and transforming Prince Barend himself into a hideous beast. But Karyna, a former lady-in-waiting, will not abandon either her father, who stands in the throne room among the other statues, or the prince. Indeed, she sets out alone on a dangerous quest to find the one responsible for this dreadful spell. If she can but discover the reason why the stone curse was cast, perhaps she can also discover the solution.

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Five Enchanted Roses released July 27, 2015

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About the Author of Stone Curse

Jenelle is one of those rare and elusive creatures known as an “author.” She enjoys hanging out in darkened corners of coffee shops, sipping hot chocolate and carrying on animated conversations with those strange and invisible beings known as “characters.”

As most other authors, Jenelle is a bit shy and timid, though her friends would disagree with that statement. Her favorite genres to read and write are fantasy, sci-fi, and fairy tales.

Learn more about her on her blog/website:

www.JenelleSchmidt.com

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