How to Read a Diana Wynne Jones Book

In honor of March Magics*, I present you with the first in a set of two posts on The Diana Wynne Jones Experience, otherwise entitled: How to Read a Diana Wynne Jones Book and What Your Fantastic Journey Along the Way May Look Like.

*Previously known as Diana Wynne Jones March, March Magics is held each… March (who knew?) by Kristen @ We Be Reading, celebrating the works of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett.


Part The First:

How To Read a Diana Wynne Jones Book


Step 1:

Find a book by Diana Wynne Jones.

This is, naturally, the only required step. And if you haven’t, you should do so at once.

Options include: finding it

  • at a library
  • at a bookshop
  • at a library sale
  • online
  • borrowing one from a friend

You should exercise discernment if you do the last one, for, depending on the friend, they may (a) be thrilled to lend you the book, since “EVERYONE IN THE WORLD MUST READ THIS BOOK OH MY WORD READ IIIIT!” or (b) it may be their Precious, a hard-won copy wrested from a dragon’s lair, and “NO ONE CAN TOUCH THIS BOOK IT IS THE PRECIOUS DON’T YOU DARE” or (c) a mix of both (which is obviously the most dangerous of all).

In the case of b or c, if you do manage to borrow it, you should be extremely grateful** cautious and return it to them promptly upon reading it, utterly undamaged, or your welfare may be threatened. Dragons hath no fury like a bookworm with damaged lent book that they value above all else, especially by this particular author…

Please also note that most fans of this author are FIERCELY LOYAL. I’ll just… you know… leave that note there in case you don’t “get” the books, to suggest caution in your dealings with said fans, especially if they lent you it. It’s basically the equivalent of lending someone your heart, so do be considerate.

If at this point I have left you with a vague and uneasy impression that DWJ fans are like rather cantankerous dragons who might spout fire at you if you look at them (or their books) the wrong way, then let me direct you toward the book “Dark Lord of Derkholm” which contains a strong-willed and rather grouchy but firm dragon known as Scales, and you will see that we have nothing on him, and therefore you are clearly quite safe.

**I won’t force the “grateful” on you, since I’ve read DWJ’s Eight Days of Luke and therefore know better. (The hero of that book was constantly being told by his nasty relatives that he should be grateful for them “looking after” him. Um… yeah, no.)

Step 2: (optional)

Look at the cover.

At this point, you will probably go: “Erm… that’s an… odd… cover… >.>” and be highly tempted to return the book and/or not get it and/or hide it among your stacks of books so no one can see that you have such a dubious-looking book.

Above all else, DO NOT YIELD TO THIS TEMPTATION.

I REPEAT: DO. NOT.

Do not be fooled. Cover artists notoriously have no clue how to illustrate real works of Fantasy Genius, especially when said books are by Diana Wynne Jones.

Press bravely on to what lies between the pages and your fortitude will be rewarded.

Note: This step is not always there. That is, you may look at the cover and be surprised to find it is an okay and/or beautiful one. This, however, is not as common as I would like, and you must count yourself a fortunate soul if it is the case for you.

DWJ tower

Step 3:

Read the book!***

Preferably in a single day.

(You complete this step, naturally, by opening to page one and reading the first sentence, followed by the next, etc., etc.)

Be warned, reader traveler! Once you embark upon this journey, you may not emerge until the final page falls . . . so see to it that you absolutely do NOT start reading it late/after dinner, especially if it’s one of the lengthier specimens, or you may be liable to be up in the wee hours of the night, not caring a smidgen if you have to get up in a few hours, because you simply must finish, at once!

Also, DO NOT STOP READING IN THE MIDDLE IF IT DOESN’T CATCH YOU RIGHT AWAY. These books can at times be a slow-burn type of adventure, which gets going a little slowly through the middle, and you think a lot of it isn’t related, until suddenly in the last third or so, everything starts coming together at once and HAPPENING. So. Press on! Give it a chance even if you feel like it’s not your thing. By the end, it will likely capture you.

***So, I lied; this is the other required step after Step 1.

This third step, the reading, is the most important, and consequently will be the longest step on this journey.

Which brings us to the second part of this two-post series, namely Part the Second: What Your Fantastic Journey Along the Way May Look Like. (Or, as I’m going to call it, The Diana Wynne Jones Experience, because title length, you know. *nods*)

I’ll be posting that next Monday, so stay tuned!

Feel free to wait on the edge of your seat if you like.

I was going to have it all one post, but I couldn’t help myself running away with this delightfully fun topic — surprise! — so I chopped it in half to spare you readers. 😉

(It’s going to be great fun, believe me. >:D)

Part 2: The Diana Wynne Jones Experience

C is for Cade Peregrine (Songkeeper Blogtour + Giveaway)

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Greetings, Roadlings!

I’m so excited to be a part of the blog tour celebrating the one-year book-birthday of Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams!

#ExploreLeira is an A-to-Z blog series making the rounds through the blogosphere, focusing on different characters, places, etc. in the land of Leira within the Songkeeper Chronicles, and it’s going to be loads of fun! 🙂

(If you’re not familiar with this series, you can read my review for book 1, Orphan’s Song, and book 2, Songkeeper.)

Today, I’m super pleased to have Gillian herself over for a guest post about Cade!

Cade happens to be my favorite character in the Songkeeper Chronicles, and although he’s not a general reader favorite, I maintain he’s misunderstood and is a fascinating character, and fairly epic, to boot. 😉 I hope you’ll enjoy this post’s insight into his character.

And now, I give you Gillian Bronte Adams and her guest post on Cade Peregrine! 🙂

Thanks, Deborah, for hosting me here and helping me celebrate the (almost) one year book birthday for Songkeeper! It is the second book in the Songkeeper Chronicles, which tells the story of a girl who can hear the song that created the world. If this is your first encounter with the blog tour, we are continuing a series of alphabet posts looking at the world and characters and magical creatures of the Songkeeper Chronicles (you can follow the tour at gillianbronteadams.com) and we have an awesome giveaway that you can enter below!

Today, we’re looking at the letter C.

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C is for Cade Peregrine

A tall boy stood before him, clad in a ragged white blouse and tattered breeches, with a fine leather vest on top and a sword belted at his side. His arms were folded across his chest, and his chin lowered so that his eyes seemed to look straight through Ky. Cade, the leader of the Underground.

– Orphan’s Song

Ah, Cade. In another tale on another day, Cade Peregrine could have been the hero of the Underground, instead of Ky. He is a young man rooted in conviction, strengthened by pride, and determined to uphold the legacy of resistance left by his father and the outlaws of Kerby.

“It is insane. For now.” Cade’s eyes glittered in the firelight. “Now, it’s just a dream, but one day it will be a reality. Even now, every dagger we steal, every purse, every coin is a step toward breaking the soldiers’ hold on Kerby. And when we’re ready, we’ll fall upon them and drive them from the city. Then we’ll be free again.”

Orphan’s Song

It was Cade who first saw the desperate need of the children of Kerby who were left orphaned and abandoned when their parents were taken by the Khelari. He realized that their best chance of survival came if they banded together, so he decided to form the Underground. In a cavern below the city, down tunnels where outlaws once roamed, the children found a new home. In the assigned brother and sister pairs, they found both the family they had lost and mentors to teach them how to survive life on the streets. And in Cade, they found someone to look up to and aspire to. A hero, like the legends of old.

Cade is a warrior, trained in the art of the sword by his late blacksmith father. He is a boy of the streets, versed in the skills required to disappear without a trace into a crowd. He is a born leader, capable of managing, organizing, and caring for the orphans of the city. He is a skilled orator, capable of drawing a crowd in so that they hang upon his every word and are swayed to his way of thinking.

“And what is all this?” Cade turned a circle with his hands spread wide then moved toward the digging, forcing Ky to fall into place behind. “Digging your way out, are you? Like rats in a hole.”

By now all activity in the tunnel had ceased, and Cade’s voice grew to fill the silence. He always had been good at speech-making and crowd-wielding. The runners hearkened to his words like starving men begging for bread.

“Running isn’t the Underground way. Out on the streets, it may be every man for himself because that’s what we have to do to survive, but not here—not in our stronghold. Here we stand and fight together. Here we are free. We cannot run away and leave our home behind!”

Songkeeper

He is stubborn and accustomed to getting his way, so it is no surprise that he frequently butts head with Ky—one of the main characters in the Songkeeper Chronicles. Both are convinced of their own rightness and ready to fight for that conviction. Both are willing to sacrifice for those that they care about. It is ironic that the two are more alike than either of them would care to admit. If they could just learn to work together, they would be an unstoppable force.

“It was your half-baked idea to leave Kerby behind. Now what? You have a plan for where we should go and how to get there? Or do you intend to walk thirty runners across the Nordlands in search of refuge with barely enough supplies to last another four days and half our number falling to the white fever already? How far do you think we would get? These are the things a leader has to think about, Ky.” He released his grip so suddenly that Ky wound up sitting on the ground. “So stop whining and think.”

Songkeeper

Not going to lie, I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Cade. He means well, but he so often gets the short end of the stick. In the Songkeeper Chronicles, we typically only see Cade from Ky’s perspective, so it’s usually a slightly unbalanced view. Admittedly, Cade can be a bit over-bearing at times, and he occasionally has control issues, but Ky isn’t always completely fair in his assessment.

Cade is the sort of secondary character who has a story that is just begging to be told. As in, there is a file, quite literally, sitting on my desktop begging me to write it. Maybe one day we’ll get to hear a bit from his point of view …

But for now, you can read about him in the Songkeeper Chronicles! Check out the links below for a place to purchase the books.

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Amazon: Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper

Barnes and Nobles: Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper

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And before you leave, don’t forget to enter the giveaway! One lucky winner will take home a copy of Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper, and a gorgeous handmade mug. Two lucky winners will take home copies of Songkeeper! Enter through the Rafflecopter below and be sure to visit www.gillianbronteadams.com to continue following the blog tour. You can earn new entries for each post that you visit along the way. Winners will be announced after April 15th.

Follow this link to enter –> ***a Rafflecopter giveaway***

About the Author

Gillian Bronte AdamsGILLIAN BRONTE ADAMS is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, coffee-loving speculative fiction author from the great state of Texas. During the day, she manages the equestrian program at a youth camp. But at night, she kicks off her boots and spurs, pulls out her trusty laptop, and transforms into a novelist. She is the author of Orphan’s Song, book one of the Songkeeper Chronicles, and Out of Darkness Rising. Visit Gillian online at her blog, Twitter, or Facebook page.

About Songkeeper

SONGKEEPER-FRONT-COVERWar ravages Leira and the Song has fallen silent.

Freed from the hold of a slave ship, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, and Ky, a street-wise thief, emerge to a world at war. Hordes of dark soldiers march across Leira, shadowed by whispers of plague and massacres, prompting Ky to return to his besieged home city in hopes of leading his fellow runners to safety.

Desperate to end the fighting, Birdie embarks on a dangerous mission into the heart of the Takhran’s fortress. Legend speaks of a mythical spring buried within and the Songkeeper who will one day unleash it to achieve victory. Everyone believes Birdie is the one, but the elusive nature of the Song and rumors of other gifted individuals lead her to doubt her role. Unleashing the spring could defeat the Takhran once and for all, but can she truly be the Songkeeper when the Song no longer answers her call?

(Eep, I so want some of Cade’s point-of-view someday! Ahem. 😀 )

So what do you think, readers? Is this your first time “meeting” Cade or have you read Orphan’s Song and/or Songkeeper? What do you think of him? Are you as excited for the third book (whenever it may happen) as I am? And are you looking forward to exploring Leira in this fun A-Z blog tour? Tell me all! 🙂

With Blossoms Gold Cover Reveal!

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G’day, my Roadlings!

Today is a fabulous day, for many reasons… which I will magnanimously list for you. 😉

  • It’s the first day of March (hello) which is the best month of the year (besides November)
  • It’s Aragorn’s birthday (happy birthday! *gives out cake*)
  • It’s day one of March Magics (because celebrating Diana Wynne Jones all month is brilliant and necessary)
  • It’s the day of my 10-year anniversary of deciding to be a writer (I’ve been writing “officially” for a whole decade!)
  • It’s the day of the COVER REVEAL for With Blossoms Gold by Hayden Wand, which is what I’m here today to talk about!

Yes indeed, that AMAZING Rapunzel retelling, my absolute favorite story in the Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales collection (which I reviewed in December) is releasing on its own in paperback next month!

Which means it needs a gorgeous cover of its own.

And I’m here today to help share that with you!

I’M SO EXCITED.

Scroll down to view the cover!

*drumroll*

*trumpets*

*dramatic music* Dun-dun-dunnnnn…!

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A little further…

ISN’T IT GORGEOUS? ❤

withblossomsgoldfrontcover

Synopsis

She never wanted to leave the tower. He never wanted to rule the country.

Nella has lived quietly in her tower in the woods for over a decade. After dangerous accusations drove her and her grandmother away from their village, they escaped deep into the forest where no one would try to harm them. Now, after her grandmother’s death, Nella is alone, and she is determined to stay that way. She has no patience for a world she deems judgmental and ignorant.

Or so she tells herself. In reality, her paralyzing fear prevents her from stepping foot outside of the tower.

Prince Benedict Allesandro is an adventurer- a rescuer who prides himself on saving the weak and unfortunate. When he hears rumors of a beautiful damsel trapped in a tower, he rushes to her rescue…only to find a woman who most definitely does not wish to be saved.

But when war breaks out, this reckless prince and reclusive maiden are faced with overcoming their deepest fears in order to determine not only their own fate, but that of their entire country.

Coming April 2, 2017

withblossomsgoldfrontcover

Add to Goodreads

About the Author

Hayden Wand is the author of the novel HIDDEN PEARLS as well as the novella “The Wulver’s Rose,” which was published in the FIVE ENCHANTED ROSES collection. A Christian and a 2012 homeschool graduate, she currently attends a local college where she studies history and haunts the campus library.

Visit Hayden’s Blog

What do you think, Roadlings? Isn’t the cover gorgeous? Are you excited for this book to come out?? Does the story sound cool? (Hint: it was one of my absolute favorite reads last year! ❤ ) Do you like fairytale retellings?? (Particularly of Rapunzel, in this case.) Tell me all in the comments! Thanks for reading! ^_^

Emma Retold: Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Review)

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Hey, everyone! 🙂 As promised, I’m here today with:

My Review of…

Emmeline by Sarah Holman

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I beta-read this book awhile back, and I’m so delighted that it’s released to the world now! Seriously, if you like Jane Austen or the book Emma (or films!) at all, you’re going to want to try this one out! 🙂

Emmeline is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, set in the 1930s during the Great Depression. This book is the first of a series of such retellings, The Vintage Jane Austen.

Now, as a disclaimer, I’d like to say that I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, that I’ve never (to my knowledge) read a book set in the ’30s, and that before this I hadn’t read any retellings of Jane Austen’s novels… Yet even though it was not my usual reading fare, I enjoyed it immensely!

I read Emma for the first time not long before reading Emmeline, so the original story was fresh in my mind when I read the retelling, which only added to the delight I found in reading it. Retellings have always intrigued me, and I adored this one. 🙂 It was fun connecting the parallels of events and characters in this retelling to the older tale, their similarities and differences and twists, and seeing how well the story translated into the new time period.

It was well written and engaging (possibly Sarah Holman’s best work yet!) and I was impressed with so much about it, including how well put together it was, as a retelling and as a book in general. It’s a fairly short read (I read it in two days), which left me impressed also that it fit in all the important Emma-type things, in far less space than the original book, without feeling condensed.

Fredrick Knight (the Mr. Knightley of this version) is so awesome! His character was pretty much my favorite thing about the book — well, him and his relationship with Emmeline. 😉 He’s like a mix of the original Mr. Knightley, and some sort of Hardy-Boys-type character (thinking of the time period), though more grown up, of course, and so very REAL. Fredrick was just an amazing character — so good and kind and firm, not afraid to tell Emmeline when she’s wrong about something (which is often. XD) but also willing to have fun. HE’S THE BEST.

Another thing I loved was the relationship and banter of Fredrick and Emmeline — their dialog was priceless! And the thing about the hat. 😄 Their interactions were just SO well written!! BASICALLY THEY’RE THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS BOOK AND I LOVE THEM AND THEIR STORY SO MUCH! ^_^ ❤

The ending was a little quick (but I loved it so much anyway!), and a circumstance about Morgan’s ending surprised me a little, so I’m not sure if I liked that, but otherwise I have no complaints and just really enjoyed it. 🙂

Other fun things:

  • The details like the food they ate (yum!)
  • Literary references (the Rover Boys! <3)
  • All the little feelings of the ’30s which felt authentic and pulled me directly into the time period.
  • A Christian theme runs through the book which I really liked and felt was done well.
  • Humor and drama and banter, which I loved! 🙂

Overall, a very enjoyable read — I loved it! Recommended to any fan of Jane Austen, or Christian historical fiction with a dash of romance, or the ’30s… or just a good clean enjoyable read!

(Also, can we talk about how absolutely GORGEOUS the stunning cover my dear friend Hannah designed? Just. Just. Yes. <3)

I can’t wait for the rest of the Vintage Jane Austen series of retellings in the ’30s (each by different authors) to come out, and I’m very much looking forward to re-reading Emmeline!

About the Book

img_3447What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?

The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely? Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?

Find the Book

Amazon  Goodreads

You can find out more about the author of Emmeline, Sarah Holman, at her blog, www.thedestinyofone.com, and more about The Vintage Jane Austen series at www.vintagejaneausten.com.

Give me your thoughts, dearest Roadlings! Is or is not Mr. Knightley the best? (The correct answer is YES! ;)) Does Emmeline intrigue you? Have you read any retellings of Austen’s novels that you can recommend to me? Tell me all! 🙂

Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales (Review)

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This last week, an exciting new release happened… Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales, an ebook box-set collection of half a dozen novellas by six different authors!

I’m here today with a review for each of the six stories, but first a bit about the collection…

About ONCE

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Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

Six fairytales you thought you knew, set against a tapestry of historical backgrounds.

  • A lonely girl plots revenge in the shadow of a mountain.
  • A stolen princess fumbles a century backward.
  • A dwarfish man crafts brilliant automatons.
  • A Polish Jew strikes matches against the Nazis.
  • A dead girl haunts a crystal lake.
  • A terrified princess searches a labyrinth.

A rich collection of six historically inspired retellings, Once is a new generation of fairytales for those who thought they’d heard the tales in all their forms.

Featuring the novellas of Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, and Hayden Wand.

Find the book

Amazon | Goodreads


Author links

My Review

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Overall rating for the collection: 4 stars

Six interesting retellings of six different fairytales by six skilled authors. I found each of these to be unique and very well written, although each of them are quite different from each other, and I enjoyed some more than others. Overall, a quite good collection of tales! Here are my thoughts on each.

(I received a free e-ARC copy of this collection from the authors.)

THE MOUNTAIN OF THE WOLF (by Elisabeth Grace Foley)

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4 stars

This one started out a little slow, so I was nervous I wouldn’t enjoy it, but once it got intriguing I was hooked, and read the second half in breathless anticipation.

The Little Red Riding Hood retelling part of it only came in near the end, but it worked really well and was unique. Not sure I’ve ever read a retelling of that one before! I haven’t read many westerns (I’ve seen a lot more. ;)) but I really enjoyed this one!

It all felt super authentic — descriptions, dialog, characters… all of it. Rosa Jean was a well written character who I quite liked, and Quincy Burnett was awesome! The writing is detailed and skilfully firm — I could really see the setting, even if it made the beginning slow.

Other than a quiet beginning and the fact that it took a little while for anything to be explained (including the fact that I automatically assumed Rosa Jean was a thirty year old woman whose husband had died… um, nope.. whoops), it was really good!

A gripping, vivid, well-written story, which I quite enjoyed and made me happy there at the end. ^_^ *hugs book*

SHE BUT SLEEPETH (by Rachel Heffington)

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5-star story, 1-star ending

(don’t know what to rate it overall, so I’m going with 5+1=3 stars [shush, don’t question my maths])

This story was GOLDEN and I ADORED it and it was amusing and cleverly witty and fascinating and fresh and I was grinning the whole time I read it and it was a sparkling 5 star story… until the last second when everything crashed and burned and it ripped my heart out and left me DEVASTATED AND FURIOUS and I can’t say what happened because spoilers but IT WAS NOT OKAY AND I AM NOT OKAY AND I’M SO UPSET I CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW.

Some people might not mind such an ending but for me it just totally made everything not okay. I couldn’t even keep reading the collection for awhile because this one ripped my heart out so bad and made me so furious. *SADNESSES OF ALL SADNESS*

It was a modern-turned-time-travel-1897-Romania-Sleeping-Beauty-magical-gypsy-curse kind of story with a beautiful love story (most of the time), and was a magical, clever, fresh, funny, well-written, unique story, with so much personality and charm. I just loved it so much. Which is why it’s so tragic that the ending was… well… tragic. It’s not a fairytale romance, it’s a tragedy. And I need my happy endings or else I’m a heap of displeased as high as Mount Everest. So that was super disappointing, even though the rest was really good! BUT IT MADE SAD AND ANGRY AND UGH.

I just… don’t know what to rate it, since half of me says to give it 5 stars (or at least 4… knocking one off for the ending), and the other half of me wants to rate it 1 star and not even be sorry and howl from the rooftops how such an ending is so many levels of not okay. Bad endings tend to cancel out good stories for me. Plus, I expected something else to happen with Ioan, and it never did? There were a bunch of unwrapped-up things like that. I just… I really thought the ending would come together into something clever and interesting and happy and then it DIDN’T. Lost opportunities, IMHO.

Um. I’ll just be over here in a corner feeling conflicted and royally distraught.

Great story. Awful ending. We’ll leave it at that. (BUT IT WAS SO GOOD. BUT UGH THAT ENDING WHYYY. -_-)

RUMPLED (by J. Grace Pennington)

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4.5 stars

This story was so good! Definitely one of my favorites of the collection. 🙂

This was a Rumpelstiltskin retelling with a steampunk/sci-fi twist set in an alternate-history America (really intriguing, but I wish we’d learned more about it in the story than we did).

It was much more like the original fairy tale, in terms of plot layout, than any of the other stories in the collection, but I actually loved that because it made the differences, despite the similar framework, stand out a lot more strongly. Because this story was SO Rumpelstiltskin, and yet SO twisted around and fresh and different.

The writing is brilliant but also down to earth. The characters were real and interesting. I liked Amanda, and Byron, what was seen of him, was great. It almost felt like a Beauty and the Beast story occasionally, which was actually cool.

There were mysteries which kept me guessing, and I stayed on the edge of my seat for most of the story, immersed and reading as fast as I could, wondering how it would all turn out.

Overall, it was a beautifully written, entrancing and original tale, with a touching love story and a good dash of suspense, at least for me. I loved it! Definitely a favorite. ^_^

SWEET REMEMBRANCE (by Emily Ann Putzke)

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2 stars

This is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” things. I knew from the start that this would be a story that would not be a favorite.

World War II, The Little Match Girl, first-person-present-tense, tragic love story, with a lot of darkness and grimness, and favorite character dying, and no happy ending in sight… Those are like some of my least favorite things ever, all rolled in one (seriously, it’s only missing dystopia and zombies. XD) so I knew it just wasn’t my thing.

But I admit I was surprised how sweet the romance was and how beautiful the writing was (in some of the flashbacks, anyway), and I could see why it was written how it was (the flashbacks, which are actually most of the story, are in past-tense, so it made sense to tell it that way), and Romek was the best (*sadnesses*), and it was gripping despite not being my thing.

So I’m giving it an extra star for being well-written and having some good things like that. I just… why can’t stories have happy endings? -_- Anyway, I’m sure many people will enjoy this one, it just wasn’t for me.

I just don’t enjoy tales that are hopeless and depressing, no matter how well-written they are. Just my personal preference.

DEATH BE NOT PROUD (by Suzannah Rowntree)

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4.5 stars

I wasn’t sure what to think about this one for awhile, but it surprised me by drawing me in and I ended up really enjoying it!

I found it interesting that it was set in New Zealand in the 1920s, and I enjoyed the slight unfamiliar touches of the setting and time period. Very loosely based on Snow White, I simply LOVED finding little hints and parallels to that fairytale. Unless you knew to look for them, they could easily slip through the cracks and not be noticed, so I found them to be quite clever and fun to look for. 🙂

It’s more of a thriller, murder-mystery type story, and much of the time you don’t know who to believe or trust, which only added to the suspense and mystery. Normally I really dislike stories which leave out key bits of information that we ought to know but for some reason I didn’t mind in this one. I guessed a lot of things, but despite that the mystery kept me on the edge of my seat.

The heroine, Ruby Black, was somewhat strange and I wasn’t sure if I liked her at first, but I found that didn’t really matter because by the end the characters were so real to me that I found “liking” or not had no say in the matter. They just… were. The other characters were interesting too, particularly Max, who we saw the most of besides Ruby, and who I was really kept on my toes wondering about.

There was also some poetry and imagery woven in, which only added to the ethereal feel. It was exciting and beautifully written, and the tiniest bit eerie, but in a way that didn’t bother me. I just… really really liked it! 🙂 Which surprised me, because it started out a little rocky and I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it. I’m so glad I kept reading!

Somewhat haunting and gorgeous and strange and unique, and I liked the clever fairytale twists in it. Another favorite!

WITH BLOSSOMS GOLD (by Hayden Wand)

5starrating5 stars!!! Favorite of the collection! ^_^

THIS STORY!! *shrieking* I just loved it so so so much! ^_^

A retelling of Rapunzel, set in Renaissance Italy, this story was like golden sunshine and I LOVED it. What if Rapunzel (in this story, Nella) didn’t want to leave her tower?

It starts out a much lighter-hearted story than the rest, but it has its share of reality and war and adventure and peril as well. All of that comes later, but first we must meet quiet Nella, and two princes who are SO much fun to read… seriously, the dialog in this story is FANTASTIC. It’s mostly about Nella, who’s odd but nice and has to face many fears, and Prince Benedict, who is just… asldkjflk HE’S GREAT OKAY.

The humor in this story is superb and had me laughing aloud several times, or just grinning and grinning, quite unable to stop. The banter Benedict has with Nella, and with his brother (seriously great brother scenes with Benedict and Orlando, even if there weren’t a lot) just made my day.

In a way it’s a simpler plot than some, but it was just so refreshing and fun and gorgeous and I adored it. ❤ When war threatens and peril engulfs our main characters, they must be brave and press on in the face of adversity, with only their love, ingenuity, and faith to guide them.

There wasn’t a lot of Christianity, exactly, but it was worked into the story and certainly more prevalent than in the other stories in this collection. I quite liked how it weaved in. I also loved how some of the original fairytale things got worked in, in different ways than you’d expect. The labyrinth, for example, was cool. 😀

It was a beautiful, sweet love story and fairytale retelling, with princes and castles and towers and knights, loads of humor, and priceless character interaction and bickering which I seriously cannot say enough about because I LOVED the humor and fun and characters and banter! ❤

I just… *flailing* I don’t even think I can think of anything I disliked about it. IT WAS AWESOME, OKAY? The perfect note to end this collection on, it left me grinning and beaming and just so happy. ^_^ This story is the BEST. EVERYONE, READ THIS COLLECTION IF JUST FOR THIS STORY!

I loved it so very much and it made me incredibly happy. ❤

There you have it! My thoughts on ONCE. Overall, I enjoyed them. 🙂 How about you, my Roadlings? Have you read, or do you wish to read, these tales? Which most interests you? Hurray for fairytale retellings! ^_^