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.

I review for BookLook Bloggers


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

Find the book on: Goodreads • Thomas Nelson • Barnes & Noble • Amazon • Author Website


Thanks for reading! 🙂

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson (Review)

Title: The Noble Servant

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Date read: June 6, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Christian / Historical Fiction / Romance / Fairytale Retelling (The Goose Girl)
Age: YA
Year pub: 2017
Pages: 312 (hardcover)
Series: A Medieval Fairy Tale, #3 (or Thornbeck Forest, #3)
Fave character: Steffan
Source: BookLook Bloggers review program (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Notes: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher

My Review

Melanie Dickerson does it again! Another extremely enjoyable novel from a talented author. 🙂

I always enjoy Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale novels, and this one was especially enjoyable for some reason! 🙂 It’s the final book in the trilogy which began with The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and The Beautiful Pretender, and it tells the story of Magdalen, the friend of the heroine in The Beautiful Pretender, which I was very excited about. However, each of the books stands alone (aside from a few references/characters who reappear, which isn’t so important), so if you haven’t read the first two, you can definitely jump in on this one! 🙂

The Noble Servant is a retelling of The Goose Girl (with nods to The Prince and the Pauper as well), which is not a fairytale I’m as familiar with as some, although I know the general idea of the servant taking the place of her lady and forcing the heroine to become a servant tending to geese. I enjoyed the retelling aspect but likely didn’t pick up on as much of it as I might have if it was a different fairytale. But far from making it less enjoyable because of that, I actually enjoyed it immensely because I had no idea what was going to happen!

I really liked our heroine, Lady Magdalen of Mallin, who was very sweet but capable; and I especially liked the hero, Steffan, Duke of Wolfburg, who was kind but heroic and noble, and had some great lines. They are both nobles who find themselves in servant roles outside Steffan’s castle, and there is a plot by Steffan’s uncle and all sorts of intriguing things. I loved how they both ended up servants for awhile, which was interesting to read about. My favorite thing about the story was probably Magdalen and Steffan. They were super cute together, too. 😉 I loved their dialog! Some of their discussions and times with the sheep and geese were my favorite parts of the novel. ^_^

I especially loved how Steffan really disliked the geese. XD You have a Goose Girl retelling, and the hero doesn’t like the geese the heroine is around because he’s scared of them. It. was. the. best. XD Steffan’s comments about the birds were my favorite. 😀

As always, I enjoyed the medieval German setting (Steffan had even been away studying in Prague! I loved that!), with the smattering of German words, and the castle and the woods and fields, and even a sight of the sea. It was overall lovely and a great setting and time-period. Also, I want to eat those stuffed rolls with bacon, potato, and sauerkraut in them—they made me so hungry. XD

It was exciting at times, and absorbing all throughout, and had a few surprise twists which I did not see coming! Especially with a few of the side characters surprising me. So that was neat. 🙂 Something about it felt a little different than Melanie Dickerson’s previous books, I felt, but not in a bad way. It was just… kind of new. 🙂 While still being slightly similar in a good and familiar way.

Like I said, I wasn’t ever sure what would happen next, and the writing was extremely well done, and kept me turning pages all throughout the book, eager to find out how our sweet heroine and dashing hero would get out of their predicaments, with God’s help, and maybe find a little love along the way. 😉 I couldn’t stop reading and was captivated until the final page.

I can’t think of anything specific that I disliked. Occasionally it gets very slightly exasperating how long it takes the hero and heroine to actually let on that they like each other and get over their worries about not being worthy etc., but that seems to be a classic romance theme, so oh well. 😛 And it didn’t annoy me as much as sometimes.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable story, which I quite liked. ^_^ I’d say that young adults and adults alike would enjoy this charming, sweet romance in medieval Germany, with a dash of retellings and Christianity, mistaken identities, lovable characters, and fun dialog about geese. 😀

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.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Favorite Quote

“Evil birds. What are they doing among my sheep?” He raised his arms. “Shoo, you cruel little beasties.”

About The Noble Servant

She lost everything to the scheme of an evil servant.

But she might just gain what she’s always wanted . . .

if she makes it in time.

The impossible was happening. She, Magdalen of Mallin, was to marry the Duke of Wolfberg. Magdalen had dreamed about receiving a proposal ever since she met the duke two years ago. Such a marriage was the only way she could save her people from starvation. But why would a handsome, wealthy duke want to marry her, a poor baron’s daughter? It seemed too good to be true.

On the journey to Wolfberg Castle, Magdalen’s servant forces her to trade places and become her servant, threatening not only Magdalen’s life, but the lives of those she holds dear. Stripped of her identity and title in Wolfberg, where no one knows her, Magdalen is sentenced to tend geese while she watches her former handmaiden gain all Magdalen had ever dreamed of.

When a handsome shepherd befriends her, Magdalen begins to suspect he carries secrets of his own. Together, Magdalen and the shepherd uncover a sinister plot against Wolfberg and the duke. But with no resources, will they be able to find the answers, the hiding places, and the forces they need in time to save both Mallin and Wolfberg?

New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson beautifully re-imagines The Goose Girl by the Brothers Grimm into a medieval tale of adventure, loss, and love.

Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, May 9, 2017

Links

Find the book on: Goodreads • Thomas Nelson • Barnes & Noble • Amazon • Author Website

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Chasing Shadows

ChasingShadowsCoverChasing Shadows

by Ashley Townsend

4 stars

Young Adult (older teens) / Romance / Medieval / Time Travel / Christian

I received a complimentary PDF of this book from the author in return for my honest review. (Thank you!) I wasn’t required to be positive, and these opinions are entirely my own.


CHASING SHADOWS kept me guessing, there were lots of surprises, and it was overall a good and exciting adventure/romance! It was kind of too long for me, but that’s just my personal preference. I felt a bit like the first half dragged somewhat, with the plot seeming to get lost behind a lot of emotions and the love triangle, and a lot of stuff seemed to sort of come out of nowhere. But the final third picked up considerably and turned awesome and very exciting and I absolutely loved it!

I loved the romance — it was great and went back and forth between being breathtakingly sweet, to me wanting to bang the heads of both parties against the nearest hard thing and go “seriously guys, don’t be idiots!” But that of course is half the fun of romance tales — we like a little exasperating on the side with our heart-sighing romance. 😉 (I personally didn’t like the love triangle part of it though — nothing against this book in particular, I’m just not a big fan of love triangles in general. But I know many people would enjoy it so that’s fine and it was fairly well done.)

I had a hard time connecting with Sarah, the main character, since most of the time she drove me batty by being stupid. But I think that’s likely just me, and I have a feeling most readers would like her better. And I still wanted her to win, of course! She did grow on me, eventually.

Can we just take a moment to talk about Will now? Will was awesome and fabulous and I loved him a ton and he is one of my favorite characters now. He’s basically a big broken strong huggable bundle of epic, the perfect mix of a dark-guy and a hero and an all-around great guy who is just awesome and can be really sweet at times too, though you wouldn’t know it with his shell. His struggles and confused moments only made him more endearing. His caring and bravery and amazingness… just yes. He’s a mean shot with a bow, too. 😉 Will is basically the main reason I really liked this book. It’s well worth reading just for him!

The Spaniard was brilliantly done and I won’t give anything away but it was fascinating how he was written. I have very complicated thoughts/emotions about the whole thing that I’m still working on sorting out.

The other characters were all very well drawn and realistic-feeling, from Edith to Karen and the Professor and the Joneses (yay, Seth!) to characters like Robert. Particularly Robert. Yes. That is all I will say. (Also Richard. I really liked Richard! Even though he was sort of random. I somehow thought he’d be more important and now I really want to read more about him! I’m weird like that. 😛 )

The medieval setting was really neat. It was that sort of “gritty”, “realistic” sort of medieval that is more realistic than my taste would prefer, but I most people seem to like their medieval settings to be that way, so… *shrug* The whole book felt very REAL though. In fact, at times, it felt so real that it felt a bit more like real life than like a novel — like this was really happening to the main character. Very real emotions and problems and little day-to-day details instead of everything being streamlined and so dramatic and novel-like, if you know what I mean. Which was very different, somehow, and made me think about it, so even if I wasn’t used to that sort of feeling, it was actually kind of cool.

The level of detail was awesome! I loved how detailed everything was. I could see and feel everything and felt perfectly immersed. I loved the lovely settings, like the castle with its ornate feeling at times, and the cold but beautiful snowy forest… just yes! I loved being immersed, and it was amazing to feel so much a part of the world. I definitely felt like I was there.

It had its moments of fun and hilarity and I found myself laughing aloud a few times, and quoting some particularly wonderful lines that were funny, brilliant, or well-written. Points for that!

I wish the slight hints of Robin Hood stuff had been more explored (maybe more is in Book 1 and 3? I can hope! 🙂 ) but most of what there was, was cool! Even small hints are a lot of fun!

A few other little thoughts:

  • I really disliked the whole Jade plot though. I can’t really say much about it because of spoilers but… just no.
  • I definitely feel like this is for older readers, higher teens and up maybe, just for some general content.
  • There were occasional touches of Christianity, for those wondering if it was there.
  • I haven’t read much time travel, but this one was fairly neat! Interesting to read, anyway.

This is a sequel, and I haven’t read the first book (RISING SHADOWS) yet, so maybe some things are more explained in that. Mostly though there were enough hints about the events of the first that I didn’t feel lost, so you don’t have to read it in order to “get” this one. I’m certainly now curious about it though and want to read the prequel — and the third one (DEFYING SHADOWS, when it comes out — which I see rumors of coming this November?) to find out what happens! But at the same time, though I do want more, CHASING SHADOWS still wrapped up fairly well. It left me feeling happy at the end.

Overall: It wasn’t a five-star favorite for me, but it earned its four stars and I absolutely loved the last third of the book! Mostly, the problems I had with it were my personal preference, and I feel like many others would enjoy it more.

If you like time-travel, awesome characters, medieval tales, realistic-feeling settings with a bit of grittiness, a love triangle and sweet romance, with a touch of Robin Hood and intrigue and adventure in castle rooms and snowy forests . . . then this is the book for you.

Back Cover Copy

From Goodreads:

Would you choose to entwine your fate with a hero of the past, even if it meant altering the future?

The murder of an ancient king spurs Sarah Matthews to travel back in time, putting her life in jeopardy as she races against the clock to solve a thousand-year-old mystery and pick up the pieces of her star-crossed romance. Her return to Serimone reveals that the kingdom is in upheaval and that the elusive Cadius has sinister plans for the throne. Unable to right the empire alone, Sarah reunites with Will, the love she left behind and the man beneath the Shadow’s hood. As they work together amidst lavish balls and explore the secret depths of the castle, they discover that the conspiracy runs deeper than they ever imagined. And when a counterfeit Shadow claims the life of someone close to her after a personal threat from Cadius himself, Sarah discovers that the price of questioning the new regime is a life.

Guilt-ridden and alone, she discovers comfort in her newfound friendship with Damien, a charming Spaniard who joins Sarah in her personal crusade for justice. But as she draws closer to his dark past and to the faceless killer in their midst, she realizes that the severed threads of time and the mystery surrounding Serimone Castle are unraveling rapidly, weaving new tapestries of devastation.

In this thrilling and deceptive sequel to “Rising Shadows,” Sarah is forced into harm’s way countless times as she races to solve the puzzle before it is too late and Serimone becomes nothing more than a faded memory of the past . . . And before Sarah becomes a permanent fixture in history.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About the Author

Ashley Townsend is a young twenty-something who has been spinning tales since she discovered that her wild imagination and love of storytelling could make a career. Reading and writing are her way of experiencing grand adventures from home, and she hopes that others will join in her fantastical escapades! She is a native to bookstores, coffee shops, the beach, and San Diego, CA. She also has an unexplainable aversion to clowns and describes outlines as a “proverbial noose.” Her first book “Rising Shadows” is available on ebook formats, and the follow-up novel “Chasing Shadows” is available for purchase on ebook and paperback via Ink Smith Publishing.

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