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.

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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! 🙂

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The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson (Book Review)

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The Silent Songbird

by Melanie Dickerson

Young Adult / Christian / Historical Romance / Fairy Tale Retelling / The Little Mermaid / Medieval


_225_350_book-2070-coverEvangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal—until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?

Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.

Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.

More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

Published November 8, 2016, by Thomas Nelson


Links — find The Silent Songbird on:

Thomas Nelson | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Goodreads


My Review

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5starratingAnother enchanting, romantic Young Adult fairytale retelling from Melanie Dickerson!

Evangeline, a young woman with a beautiful voice (and the ward of King Richard), is kept in a castle but longs to go out into the world. She finds her chance when she must escape marriage to a horrible man, and meets a caring young man named Westley le Wyse. Deception, scheming villains, and misunderstandings all stand in her way, as she tries to escape her fate and find love and a deeper faith in God.

I was curious how a retelling of The Little Mermaid would work with no magic and not even a mermaid, but it worked wonderfully in this book! It was so fun to pick out the references and see how the retelling wove through the story in surprising yet fitting ways.

The plot was so interesting and really kept me on my toes, wondering what would happen next and how it would all work out. It had a lot going on, was exciting and sweet by turns, and kept me totally absorbed in the lives of these characters, who felt so real. I loved them!

Evangeline was a good heroine, who I quite liked. Westley was the best—endearing, noble, kind, with a sense of humor, though also conflicted about a lot of things going on, and quite energetic which for some reason was really cool. I liked him a lot. I also love their names! (Speaking of the name Westley… I couldn’t help grinning when Eva told Westley “as you wish” once. I loved that! :D)

The romance was so sweet and beautiful—loved it—and the Christian elements were also lovely.

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Hagenheim books! Only missing The Golden Braid…

The other characters were great to read about as well: Lord and Lady le Wyse, Westley’s parents—his mother was so nice, and his father was simply awesome. Reeve Folsham, too. He was a gruff character who surprised me by really growing on me. The rest of the characters were all well-written.

The whole book, in fact, was written excellently. And I loved the setting, which I felt so immersed in: the medieval English countryside and castles! So awesome. ❤ I also loved that King Richard was in the story!

The book started out a little predictably (heroine supposed to marry old, ugly, evil man, and determined to escape), so that part sounded somewhat like other books (but I suppose that couldn’t be helped, and it quickly moved on to become surprising and intriguing). Otherwise, I didn’t have any real complaints and I just really enjoyed it. 🙂

I’m aware this is a sort of sequel to The Merchant’s Daughter by the same author, which I’ve not read yet, and I can tell that anyone who read it will love reading this one and seeing references and characters from before. But The Silent Songbird also stands alone, and my lack of familiarity with the first one didn’t take away from my enjoyment of reading this. In fact, it’s made me even more excited to go back and read The Merchant’s Daughter, very soon, to read the story of Westley’s parents!

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Three generations of le Wyse brides! 😉

Whether you’re a long-time fan of Melanie Dickerson’s novels, or thinking of trying one for the first time, I highly recommend picking up The Silent Songbird! It’s one of my favorites of her books so far, and I’m eagerly awaiting her next release. 🙂


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

Retellings, anyone? I know I certainly can’t resist reading them. XD Have you ever read a retelling of The Little Mermaid?

“Past-Present-Future” Giveaway

blogoversary3

Here is the second giveaway to celebrate my 3rd Blogoversary!

Past/Present/Future is the theme, since I’m celebrating the past of my blog (3 years of it), the present of my blog (with giveaways and tags, yay!), and the future of my blog, looking forward, Lord willing, to many more fun times of posting! 🙂

Thanks everyone for coming with me so far. ^_^

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For this giveaway I’ve chosen 3 books: a historical fiction for the past, a contemporary novel for the present, and a dystopian novel for the future. (Hopefully the future will not be like that. AHEM.)

Past

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One winner will receive an ARC paperback copy of The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson (historical fiction/Christian YA romance/fairytale retelling set in Germany in the 1400s). Read my review here.

Present

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A second winner will receive a copy of The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, which is like my favorite contemporary novel ever. ❤ SERIOUSLY, I ADORE IT. ^_^ If you’ve not read this, you are missing out on a perfect slice of summer and fun and family and friendship.

Future

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And a third winner will receive a paperback copy of Captives by Jill Williamson. I am not the hugest fan of dystopian (nothing to do with this book, which is really well-written; it’s just me in particular and this genre do not mix well), but I know many people are, so I thought I’d give a chance to win this one! Please note that I feel like it’s not appropriate for younger readers (I personally would say 18 and up) so keep that in mind if you choose it.

Details

3 winners. Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open to US residents only. Giveaway will run from today (Fri., Sept. 16) until Thursday, September 29. Winners (3) will be chosen and contacted by email and also announced here on my blog, on September 30, 2016.

EDIT: The winners have been announced! Thanks for participating!

(If the embedded form doesn’t work for you, you can find it here.)

How about you, my roadlings? Do you prefer past, present, or future in your books? Have you read any of these? Want to? Share your thoughts! 🙂

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

5starrating

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.

Return of the Ishness! {March 2016}

We will just ignore the fact that while I was trying to write this post I got distracted looking at Sherlock pins on Pinterest for far longer than I would care to admit. Yep. Because That Would Never Happen. John-est. Honest. Never.

Ahem.

Anyways, THAT was a sidetrack. But HI! Hello everyone! ^_^ I’m… trying to wrap my mind around the fact that it’s April? Say what?

I’ve also kind of… forgotten to post over here. *shifty eyes* I’ve been posting bookish things on my book blog, so it vaguely slipped my mind that I hadn’t posted here in awhile, what with not having life/writing things to say. But I am back! 🙂

And now that we’re a week into April *cough* it’s time to look at what happened in March…

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WRITING

R&RThe month started off with the Rooglewood Press announcements, putting a bookend on my first writing contest, which was definitely an interesting experience! I’m very glad I wrote The Rose and the Raven and glad I entered; and actually, now, glad I didn’t win. I’m not ready for that kind of pressure, that kind of being-edited, and it’s quite clear that my somewhat whimsical, more fantasy retelling would not have fitted with the selection that was finally made…

Anyways! I learned a lot about writing and cutting words and editing under a deadline and all that good stuff. 🙂

Now that this chapter of my writing is closed for now (I’ll likely go back to the story and re-edit/add some eventually but not right now), I feel ready to focus on something else! …What that something else will be remains to be seen, though. 😉

OHEcoverAs far as what I actually wrote in March, I wrote a bit of The Other Half of Everything for later on in the story (Teague and Meridian are so fun to write…).

I also finally edited the horrendous bits of The Secret of Kedran’s Wood that I wrote during NaNo (they were a mess) and wrote a bit more of that, officially finishing Part 1 of KW2! *confetti* (We’ll just ignore the fact that it’s passed 60k and only allegedly one-third done… *cough*) But that was a HUGE milestone for me! I’ve been trying to get to that point for a looong time. Very excited about that! Though… my characters are not. Ahem. Tare may or may not be verrry done with me right now. >.>

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I printed out Part 1 as a reward/incentive

And as per usual, there’s a lot of plotting of various books going on. I changed the title of my epic fantasy series from The Starrellian Saga to The Princes of Starrellia (because… er… there are many characters of a princely variety… And I like the sound of it). I’ve been working a bit on that.

I also have a new-ish book knocking at the back of my brain to be let in, which is actually a combination of several different ideas I’d had before (namely a sci-fi/mind thing, an alleged Doctor Who fanfic which I’m taking the germ of the story and just making it an original, as well as a steampunk time-travel thing, another time-travel thing involving books, and another vague idea featuring a very special library). This new/old story is called The Library in the Stars and it’s still in fledgling state, especially since I haven’t sorted out exactly how all the threads fit together, but I’m excited to see what happens with it.

libraryinthestars

So that’s what’s going on on the writing front for me! I’m still a bit writer’s-blocked and having a hard time focusing. I consequently decided to spend much of March reading instead.

Speaking of which . . .

READING

march2016reads

Again, these are in reverse-order of when I read them, because it’s from my Goodreads Reading Challenge.

I read 13 books in March which is… a lot for me.

What a mix! Some Moomin books (a fun, hilarious children’s fantasy series originally written in Swedish); a couple of Regency books; two utterly different fantasy books set in modern-day Ireland (Blood Ties and Skulduggery Pleasant); a time-travel book; a collection of essays on writing; a splendid Beauty and the Beast retelling from Melanie Dickerson of which I got an ARC and hope to review soon; and another Diana Wynne Jones book, featuring centaurs and a Sci-fi/Fantasy Convention and tons of wackiness.

I will likely post a reading roundup on my book blog soonish… (I know, I know, I still haven’t posted my roundup for February. *cough* It will happen, it will…)

ON MY BOOK BLOG

I took part, slightly, in March Magics, which was quite fun, most notably listing the books by Diana Wynne Jones that I’ve read so far. Yay!

WATCHING

I got to see Thor: The Dark World again (yay!) and greatly enjoyed being able to actually see the faces and what was actually going on due to not having a bunch of fog between myself and the screen. Thor and Loki together are the BEST. XD

I also finally saw The Guardians of the Galaxy, which everyone and their Groot have been telling me to watch ever since it came out, and found it extremely odd but quite fun and sometimes hilarious.

I also saw Megamind, which… again, quite weird but more fun than I’d expected.

(Are you noticing a trend? Lots of superhero movies…)

And I pretty much finished watching Jeeves & Wooster. SO fun!

But most of all, I saw the first season of an original fantasy webseries, Ren: The Girl with the Mark, by the people who made the Lord of the Rings fan-film prequel, Born of Hope, and I loved it! Now they just need to do a second season! O_O (Seriously though, they need to. NEED!!!) In case you are wondering, it was AMAZING and I have very definite opinions on if you should watch it or not. (Hint: YOU TOTALLY SHOULD.)

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MUSIC

Can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that I got to see my favorite singer in concert this March for my birthday? Hearing Loreena McKennitt live on stage was MAGICAL. ❤ (If you’ve never heard her gorgeous Celtic music, you’re missing out.) Loreena herself was so lovely — charming, witty, insightful, and gracious. I just love her music so much, and it was so immersive live! So many emotions with that amazing music — one moment achingly beautiful, another hauntingly sad, and the next laughing at one of her jokes. It was so much fun, so gorgeous, and I was utterly enchanted. An incredible experience that I’m so thankful to have had the chance to have. ^_^

LIFE

‘Twas an interesting month, was March.

I kind of struggled through the Rooglewood announcements and other involved things (though I’m over that one now, thankfully! :)), Daylight Savings Time (argh! I still have not recovered. -_- *shakes clock because surely it must be incorrect*), a lot of various writing self-doubts (thanks very much for all the support on that! I love you guys! ❤ ), and a bout of writer’s block, which is lurking still, slightly…

But aside from that, the rest was really an amazing month. 🙂 I read a lot of fabulous birthday books (and a few review books), saw Loreena McKennitt, enjoyed my very first Twitter Party (for Diana Wynne Jones. It was SO FUN!) and generally… lived. Which is good, I guess. 😉

I’ve also gotten back into listening to Corey Olsen, The Tolkien Professor, since it’s handy to have something to listen to while exercising, and I had wanted to get back to listening but hadn’t found an excuse. So this is awesome and I’m very excited to get caught up on some of his awesome (free!) podcasts and lectures on Tolkien and Faerie & Fantasy and other works of literature. 🙂 Corey’s a really awesome guy, both funny and really interesting, to listen to. I always have great fun with his lectures! ^_^

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APRIL THINGS

*ignores fact that we’re already a week into the month* Dunno what my plans are for this month besides all the reading I need to do. I’ll (hopefully) have a few book reviews popping up over here soonish!

I am not, in fact, doing Camp NaNo, but for those of you who are, I wish you the best of luck, you awesome people! YOU’VE GOT THIS! I do however hope to figure out what writing projects to work on and get some writing done all the same… but we will see. *fingers crossed*

That was my March! How was yours? Any plans for April? I hope you’ll have a wonderful month! 🙂