Vintage Jane Austen Mini-Reviews + Sarah Scheele Interview + Giveaway!

The Vintage Jane Austen Blog Event is running this week (November 5 – 11) and features a giveaway, reviews, interviews, and more, for this lovely series of stand-alone retellings of Jane Austen’s classic works retold in a 1930s American setting. There is one yet to release, coming soon, but the other five are all available in ebook and paperback now!

For the tour today, I’m excited to have Sarah Scheele (author of the Mansfield Park retelling, Bellevere House) here for a quick interview!

I’m also spotlighting each of the Vintage Jane Austen books below with some mini reviews. 🙂

And when you finish reading, be sure to scroll down the whole way and enter the giveaway!

First, a little bit about the talented author I’m interviewing…

Sarah Scheele scribbled incessantly as soon as she could read and write. A heavy background—some might say an overdose—of literature during her childhood set writing into a loop she has yet to escape. That education in classics gave birth to several of her stories, including a rewrite of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park for this collection. She used to wonder why Edmund and Fanny couldn’t have a better resolution?—and so she decided to give them one. Today she does many things with her time. But then she writes, which is the most important thing to mention in an author’s biography. Sarah lives on a farm in Texas with a ladylike cat and a tomboyish Pomeranian.

Visit Sarah Scheele online at her Website, Blog, and Facebook Page

Interview with Author Sarah Scheele

1. What was your favorite part of writing Bellevere House?

Probably the adaptation of the Bertram’s theatricals into renting the house to various people while the Sir Thomas character (Uncle Warren) is away. I didn’t want to have the characters simply do a more recent play among themselves, so I tried to choose something that could get them into lots of trouble in the same kind of way. That area was written early and never changed much because it’s kind of a short story on its own, apart from the bulk of the remake.

2. That was a hilarious part! 🙂 Do you have a favorite book (and/or character) by Jane Austen, and why?

Hmmm…Northanger Abbey, maybe. The abbey is a fascinating set and as a little kid I actually wrote my own version of Mrs. Radcliffe’s Udolpho (since I hadn’t read the original) pulling names and scraps of detail from things mentioned in NA. And for second favorite, Emma’s a really fun character. It’s hard to show those flawed people so we aren’t soft on them but we also see their point of view. I like watching Emma movies more than reading the book, though—and the opposite for NA.

3. Can you tell us a little about your other available books and what you’re currently writing?

It’s funny because they’re mostly fantasy with literally no bearing on this VJA thing. Victoria: A Tale of Spain is historical, but it’s based on Snow White and started as a fantasy story. I also have a set of five short stories, called Facets of Fantasy, and a children’s sci-fi novel. Getting Bellevere finished was a pretty involving process, so I’m just brainstorming new things at this point. Currently I’m doing an urban fantasy–like a western, but with Elves and dragons.

4. Ooh, I’m intrigued! Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Instinct, mostly. I’ll admit I’m not one of those all about the craft writers, though I would say I take it seriously. But I don’t have much of a method. I just find things everywhere and save them for later. Animals, pictures, a funny line from a TV show, anything I can imagine turning upside down and then taking it from there. It’s about possibilities. Like throwing on lots of different things and suddenly you’ve got an outfit.

5. Who are some of your favorite authors?

That’s a hard one because I tend to think in books, not authors. I might love one work by an author and never read—or like—another by that person again. But overall I’d say classics are always a good bet (currently I’m reading The Wind in the Willows) and for recent books I like almost anything about kids in our world who stumble on marvelous adventures. And comic stories with funny dragons in them. You just can’t beat a funny dragon if you want to get away from reality.

Yesss! I love dragons. Thanks so much for coming over to my blog for an interview! 🙂

You’re welcome. Thank you so much for having me.


And now for my…

Mini Reviews

One of my favorite things about the Vintage Jane Austen series is how individual and unique they are, different from each other but with those unifying threads of the Great Depression era and Jane Austen retellings. They fit together as a series so well, while at the same time being vastly different, with different styles and fresh outlooks from each separate author. They’ve all outdone themselves, and through the whole varied series I have enjoyed all of the books immensely!

I usually read fantasy novels, but I enjoy a Jane Austen or a historical from time to time, and these books are definitely worthy additions to the world of literature. They’re wonderful retellings of Jane Austen’s beloved works, and also lovely novels in their own right. 🙂 Below are some mini thoughts on each. (Please note I received free e-copies of these books for the purpose of writing my honest reviews.)

Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Emma)

Sarah Holman retells Emma in this novel which I believe to be her best work yet. 🙂 I loved how it was able to keep all the plot threads tightly written together in a shorter space than the original, translated into the 1930s perfectly, and all while being fun, too! Fredrick Knight (the Mr. Knightley character) was my favorite thing about the novel (with a sort of Mr.-Knightley-crossed-with-Frank-Hardy-but-grown-up sort of vibe; yay for the ’30s), along with the so-fun banter and relationship between him and Emmeline. It was fantastic. 😀 There’s a strong Christian element as well.  I so enjoyed this book. ^_^ Emma fans, don’t miss this one!


Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant (Sense and Sensibility)

Kelsey Bryant writes an absolutely gorgeous YA retelling of Sense and Sensibility. The writing is beautiful, the research pristine — I was drawn completely into this story and 1930s Ohio/New York setting. It was captivating! Both sisters (Ellen and Marion Dashiell, the Dashwood sisters in this) were so well written, and all the characters were so vivid and likeable — except for the ones we weren’t supposed to like. 😉 Add some fabulous twists, an adorable romance or two ( ❤ ), some much-needed extra “screen” (page?) time for Everett (Edward’s character), and a thoughtful faith element, with a sprinkling of humor, and you have an utterly delightful retelling! ^_^ Definitely a favorite. 🙂


Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele (Mansfield Park)

You don’t really think of “fun” when you think of Mansfield Park, but this retelling by talented author Sarah Scheele flips that on its head. It’s written in such a witty, charming style, with many parts absolutely hilarious to read — and funny books are my favorite. 😀 A bit more of a re-imagining than a straight-up retelling, it runs away with the Mansfield Park story (which, though I liked the original book, I found Mansfield Park kind of depressing to read) and makes it a mostly-lighthearted romantic-comedy type story. It was so much fun! It’s a little tongue-in-cheek, with occasional more serious subjects. I liked the characters, the writing was awesome, and overall I just had a blast reading this one! 🙂


Perception by Emily Ann Benedict (Persuasion)

Emily Ann Benedict pens a sweet retelling of Persuasion, fitting the 1930s time-period like a glove. I loved how Abbey (Anne’s character) and Freddy (Wentworth’s character) and their roles fit so well with a post-WWI/Depression-era setting. Her once-wealthy family in decline due to the Depression, and him just out of the army after the war, as a journalist. I really liked the other characters too, and enjoyed “visiting” Boston and Cape Cod… The writing was of an elusive quality just right for the “feel”, and the book had one or two twists but was mostly a very faithful retelling of one of my favorite Austen novels. Yet another worthy addition to the Vintage Jane Austen series, which I continue to enjoy so much! ^_^


Presumption and Partiality by Rebekah Jones (Pride and Prejudice)

Coming soon… A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice… set in 1930s Arizona.

This one isn’t out yet, but I’m very excited to read it when it releases! P&P is my favorite of Austen’s original novels, and I think this retelling is going to be amazing. 🙂 I can’t wait! ^_^


Second Impressions

What an absolutely sweet (and varied!) collection of retellings! I absolutely loved these little tales — all so unique, and either funny, touching, or just plain enjoyable. ^_^ Some are modern, others historical, or with a dash of kingdoms/light fantasy, and even a sci-fi story! Lovely Jane-Austen-esque gems by talented authors, this collection of stories is a wonderful addition to the Vintage Jane Austen series, and if you’re an Austen fan, you definitely need to give this sweet bundle of tales a try. Excuse me while I hug it. ❤

I’ll be sharing my full review of Second Impressions (including mini-reviews for each of the short stories in this collection) on my book blog tomorrow, so stay tuned! 🙂


More Links

You can find the VJA books on Goodreads HERE.

If you’d like to read my full reviews for these books, you can find them by clicking the covers below. 🙂

 


Tour Schedule

Visit these blogs during this week to find interviews, book reviews, and much more!

November 5

November 6

November 7

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11


Giveaway

As part of this special blogging event, we are giving away a $25 Amazon gift Card.

Enter to win HERE.

And don’t forget to check out www.vintagejaneausten.com if you’re curious about the series.


Thoughts? Share ’em below! Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Vintage Jane Austen: Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele (Review)

The third novel in the Vintage Jane Austen series is now up for pre-order and is releasing this weekend, on June 17! 😀

This one is a retelling of Mansfield Park, and it’s called Bellevere House, by a talented author friend of mine, Sarah Scheele. I’m super excited. ^_^

In case you haven’t heard, the Vintage Jane Austen series is a collection of novels by different authors, retelling Jane Austen’s classic works in a new setting, a.k.a. the 1930s in America.

They are great fun so far and I hope you’ll give them a try! If you’re at all interested in historical fiction, Jane Austen, retellings, the ’30s, Christian fiction, well-written stories, etc. then you’re sure to enjoy them. 🙂

The books out so far in the series are:

And now on to my review! 🙂

My Review of Bellevere House

  • Title: Bellevere House
  • Author: Sarah Scheele
  • Date read: June 10, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Christian Romance
  • Age: YA (ish? I think the characters are more in their twenties so not exactly teens, but I’d say YA and up would enjoy this novel. :))
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 262
  • Series: Vintage Jane Austen, #3 (Each book is a standalone, by different authors.)
  • Fave character: Ed
  • Source: From the author
  • Notes: I received a free e-copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. These opinions are my own.

I quite enjoyed this book! 😀 I loved the humorous style and the banter. The characters were far from the unpleasantness level their counterparts achieved in the original book by Jane Austen, which means that Bellevere House wasn’t as depressing to read as Mansfield Park was, for me. XD

Comparing the two, Bellevere House is definitely more of a re-working/re-imagining than a straight-up retelling of Mansfield Park, but I actually really enjoyed that, and it was fun to pick out the changes and the way things were sometimes tipped on their heads, but all masterfully done. (One random but handy thing: the hero and heroine aren’t blood relatives, since Ed is the son of a previous marriage of Faye’s uncle; I know cousins married all the time back in Austen’s day, but it would’ve been slightly more problematic in a book about the ’30s. XD)

When I read Mansfield Park, I felt like it was something of a chore to get through (which I don’t usually feel about Austen’s works), exhausting and depressing. The light, skillful writing in this retelling made Bellevere House a pleasure to read; I zipped right through it and had a blast. 😀 They’re overall quite different books. Jane Austen’s original novel was an excellent book with many intriguing things to say, so I’m not saying either of these is better than the other (they’re so different it’s hard to compare), but due to the original’s depressing nature, I couldn’t enjoy Mansfield Park, the way I ended up enjoying this retelling of it. 🙂

Faye was a good main character, more strong-willed than her counterpart Fanny, and I liked Uncle Warren, and especially Ed and Jane Watson (more on them later). I didn’t care for Helene Carter (but I never cared for her counterpart in the original book) and I didn’t like Horace Carter either, and wasn’t sure what anyone saw in him, but… oh well. I didn’t loathe either of them the way I loathed the Crawfords, so that was less stressful, fortunately! 😛 There were a few times when Faye would think of a character a certain way and I disagreed with her and just didn’t SEE them that way. But overall the cast was quite an amusing bunch. XD

The setting was very well done, and even though there weren’t a lot of long descriptions, I felt entirely immersed in the 1930s in Illinois, Florida, and New York in turns. The description of New York City was particularly fantastic. I loved that bit! It was so vivid. (Although Faye did seem a little naive to act like nothing about the city could be dangerous.)

I find it fascinating how the Vintage Jane Austen books I’ve read so far have all been so different from each other, yet all equally delightful in different ways, and somehow fitting together as a series despite that, with their 1930s setting, Christian thread, and of course, connection to Jane Austen. 🙂 They’re so DIFFERENT but I still like them all!

One of my favorite things about this book is the style it’s written in—particularly the opening chapter, which just draws you in with this… how can I describe the style? It’s witty and humorous and kind of… I don’t know… chatty? I adore funny stories, and the writing in this is SO FUN. I can’t get over it! 😀 It just flows really easily and quickly and seemingly-effortlessly, and was a pleasure to read. 🙂

OTHER FAVORITE THINGS INCLUDE:

The mess that Grover made with his money-making scheme and how it ended. XD That entire part was such delightful (horrible) chaos and silliness, and the characters knew it, and it had me constantly on the verge of laughter. 😀 So funny!

Ed. (And Ed and Faye.) So, in a sense, there wasn’t as much of him as there could have been, and he’s actually rather different than the Edmund of the original (in a way), but I loved his character all the same. 😀 He was kind of egotistical at times (which was super amusing) but deep down a great guy, and he was just so fun to read, especially his parts with Faye. I loved them together, and they were a fun/adorable almost-romance even when they didn’t know they were a thing. 😀 He’s a little complicated and hard to analyze, which I’ve found my favorite characters are, so. There you are. 🙂

Favorite quotes about Ed:

He cracked his crooked smile that made all women swoon except the ones who wanted to slap him. Faye was a fence-sitter on the subject.

***

Ed frowned. “Well, it’s a terrible picture of me! Here, give me that. I’m going to tear it up. There ought to be legal action against publishing a bad picture like that without my permission . . . .”

A wild scuffle ensued as they tried to keep Ed from destroying the article before they could read it.

(Can you see why I like this funny book and this character? XD)

Jane Watson’s parts at the end were FABULOUS. Like… so so so fabulous. 😀 I absolutely loved those bits! When I first read it, I didn’t really like her, but she grew on me and now she’s one of my favorite things about the book. XD A very strong-minded journalist, she just makes such a striking appearance in the story. Many of her lines (as well as her article at the end) were simply gold. 😀

When she’s expounding on her time as a nurse in the Great War, recounting the horrors of the time and all she went through, and finishes with:

“And I’d have you know, through all of it, I still had perfect nails! Because I am completely swell.”

I JUST LOST IT. XD THE. BEST. (Can you tell she has a strong personality? XD)

And this fantastic quote from the news article by her, which was my favorite:

“We delude ourselves if we think that decency is not rewarded in other people simply because we refuse to practice it ourselves.”

CONCLUSION:

Sometimes it seemed sort of like a light-hearted romantic comedy, at times slipping in slightly deeper/darker topics or bits of Christianity, and the characters were all individual, many of them lovable, and well-written, and it was quite an enjoyable book! 🙂 Some of the story ended up rather differently than its original counterpart, particularly one character’s ending! I’m on the fence about how a couple of things turned out, but on the whole I’m happy with most of the ending. ^_^ (Definitely a happier book than the original. XD) I don’t read this genre much, so it’s not like my favorite book, but I’m giving it 5 stars anyway, just because I enjoyed it. 🙂

Overall, I had so. much. fun. reading this! 😀

Now I shall sigh that it’s over, and anxiously await the next Vintage Jane Austen book, because I’m quite addicted to these. XD

About Bellevere House

It’s March, 1937 . . .

And Faye Powell couldn’t be happier. After moving to live with her uncle, a wealthy banker, she’s fallen into the swing of life with his exuberant children—including Ed. The one she will never admit she’s in love with. But she hadn’t reckoned on the swanky Carters getting mixed up in that vow. Ed seems to be falling for charming, sweet Helene Carter. And when her cousin BeBe suddenly trusts Faye with a secret about Horace Carter, Faye’s in over her head. Will she betray the confidence BeBe’s given her? Will she lose Ed to Helene? The days at Bellevere House are crowded with surprises and only time will tell how God plans to untangle Faye and Ed’s hearts.

Find the Book

Amazon • Goodreads

Author Bio

Sarah Scheele scribbled incessantly as soon as she could read and write. A heavy background—some might say an overdose—of literature during her childhood set writing into a loop she has yet to escape. That education in classics gave birth to several of her stories, including a rewrite of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park for this collection. She used to wonder why Edmund and Fanny couldn’t have a better resolution?—and so she decided to give them one. Today she does many things with her time. But then she writes, which is the most important thing to mention in an author’s biography. Sarah lives on a farm in Texas with a ladylike cat and a tomboyish Pomeranian.

You can connect with her online here:

Website • Blog • Facebook

 Thanks for reading! ^_^

Nightstand Books – May Edition

Nightstand Books is a monthly blog meme Jenelle Schmidt and DJ Edwardson started… the idea being that we take a look at our nightstand of books we’re reading/looking forward to reading that month.

I think it’s a fun idea and since I have a large stack currently (and forgot to mention anything about them in my last Ishness post…) I thought sharing them with y’all might push me to actually finishing some!

Since I’m in the middle of 7 books (yes. Seven. *cringe*) and have another half-dozen I’m dying to get to…

So, without further ado, behold!

NightstandBooksMay
Plenilune by Jennifer Freitag — Planetary Fantasy. I started this on Christmas, got a hundred pages in by sometime in January, and didn’t pick it up again until a couple days ago. It’s so rich that it’s very slow to read, which coupled with its ginormous length makes it daunting as Mount Everest. But I’m making the climb! If I can manage to read a chapter a day, I hope to finish it this month…

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine — Snow White retelling, set in the same world as Ella Enchanted. I read this once, forever ago, and remember practically nothing about it. So I’m re-reading it this month with my bookclub. Fun!

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien — Needs no introduction. 😉 Another re-read… I started this on Tolkien’s birthday (Jan. 3rd) and… have been a few chapters in ever since. I just haven’t felt like re-reads lately, but I want to finish that up this month as well! So I can start on re-reading The Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time… Mwahaha.

Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl — Goldstone Wood, book 2… I’m a bit of a ways into this and loving it to death. 11-year-old Leo and Rose Red are ADORABLE and Stengl’s writing is both gorgeous and funny. I have no idea what took me so long to get to it after reading Heartless eons ago…

Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl — Goldstone Wood, book 3… So I’m not to this one yet, obviously, as I’m still in Veiled Rose… But the Goodreads group for Goldstone Wood is having a group read-through for Moonblood, starting May 1st and running till near the end of June. Hence my hastily trying to finish reading Veiled Rose so I can join in the fun! It’s going to be AWESOME.

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman — Contemporary Fantasy with the premise that magical fairytale items are lent out like library books. Cool idea, much?? I have been dying to read this ever since I found it at a used bookshop several months ago and it has been sitting on the top of my “read-right-now!” pile for a very long time. Somehow I just haven’t started it yet. But as soon as I finish some of the ones I’m reading right now, I’m going to devour it.

Out of Darkness Rising by Gillian Bronte Adams — Christian allegory fantasy novella. Similarly, I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I got it. I can’t wait!

Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd — I won this Christian/romance/historical/gothic book in a giveaway and it looks super intriguing. Different from my normal reads but I’m looking forward to trying it out and seeing how it turns out.

But wait! I’m also in some ebooks!

Silly ebooks, not physical enough to put on a nightstand for a picture… *shakes head*

Here are my current-and-soon ebooks:

kindleMay
Galdoni by Cheree Alsop — Kind of futuristic/modern-ish about some experiments who are basically humans with wings. This was one of those random-free-ebooks things that I downloaded–no idea why–and I accidentally started reading it and got hooked. It’s totally not my genre or my type of thing, and I’m not even sure what I think about it yet, but I’m really curious to find out what happens anyway.

Twelve Dancing Princesses Tales From Around the World edited by Heidi Anne Heiner — EEE!! So I’m super excited to devour all these versions of my favorite fairytale, collected from around the world… I also get to call it “research” for my upcoming NaNo novel this year, so that’s fun. 😉 But there’s, like… 50 in this thing. (So some of them are only vaguely related to the Twelve Dancing Princesses type stories. But still.) All the deliciousness! I’m having so much fun.

The Valley Stories Omnibus by Sarah Scheele — I’ve read the first two in the collection (Alyce, and Consuela) which I adored, and can’t wait to read Victoria, which I hear is a Snow White/Twelve Dancing Princesses story! (Lots of that going around this month…) I just KNOW it’s going be be awesome. 🙂 (Also, the author is giving away free ebooks of this collection to anyone who signs up for her newsletter on her website!)

Chasing Shadows by Ashley Townsend — Time travel and a masked man? Yes please! I’m reading this for reviewing and am super intrigued so far… So I just need to finish it and then y’all should be watching for a review on it! 🙂

Heidel by Anita Valle — After getting hooked on Maelyn and Coralina, I can’t wait to read this third “Nine Princesses” novella! This one’s about the cooking princess, so that should be interesting…

***

So there are the books I’m reading right now and want-to-read-right-this-instant-but-will-try-to-wait-till-I-finish-some-of-the-ones-I’m-already-in. Yes, that’s 13, and it’s unlikely I’ll get to all of them this month. But I just had to share! 🙂

Have you read any of these? Are they good?

Are any on your to-read list?

And what are your May Nightstand books?

Feel free to join the meme if you like, and check out Jenelle and DJ‘s posts (link to them if you do it)! 🙂

Favorite Reads of 2014!

I did a post like this last year, and I think it’s a fun and/or useful tradition, so I’m doing it again! (Once again, I’m not including re-reads.)

So here, without any further ado, are the best of the books I read in 2014. 😀

TopReads2014Icon

Top Ten Novels

1. The Crown of Dalemark – Diana Wynne Jones (The Dalemark Quartet, #4)

Ohhhhhh my goodness. I CANNOT EVEN WORD WITH THE AMAZINGNESS OF THIS THING’S CONCLUSION. So it’s book 4 in a series, wrapping up The Dalemark Quartet… Which means I’m sort of including all four books when I say this is the best, because part of the amazing was how the separate storylines of the first three books came together so epically in this one. BUT STILL. It was just… I CAN’T, OKAY.

When I finished it I was literally incapacitated for several minutes. All I could do was some combination of sitting there in awesome-book-ending-shock, and flail around and babble incoherently at my sister who had to put up with me. XD

BUT BUT FANTASY WORLD, WITH MUSKETS, BUT ALSO QUITE MEDIEVAL, BUT ALSO MODERN-ISH BECAUSE TRAINS. AND TIME TRAVEL. IN A FANTASY WORLD. WHY DOES THIS NOT HAPPEN MORE OFTEN? IT WAS ALSKDJFLKJDFL POSITIVELY BRILLIANT. AND THE CHARACTERS WHO I LOVED WHO WERE AWESOME. <3<3 AND THE HUMOR. AND EVERYTHING. AND DIANA WYNNE JONES. And. Just. I CAN’T EVENNNNNN.

THAT. ENDING. *flaiiiil*

2. Orphan’s SongGillian Bronte Adams

So I reviewed this last Wednesday in this post. Which means it is hopefully fresh in your memory… But if not, go read that review. Or better yet, READ THE BOOK!!! But this book was so awesome. Christian Fantasy done RIGHT… An awesome fantasy world… Characters who were 100% human and 100,000% loveable… And the SONG… And the WRITING… And Birdie and Ky and Amos and Cade and Carhartan! This was an epic story and I’m itching to read the next one. ❤

3. The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer

YES. This book. It was recommended to me by several online friends, so I just had to give it a try. I’M SO GLAD I DID. I feel like this is what Jane Austen was trying to do… It’s like Jane Austen with spunk! I enjoy Austen’s works very much, don’t get me wrong! But they are rather… quiet. The Grand Sophy has an AWESOME heroine… I don’t usually love the heroine this much! Sophy is grand indeed, and full of spark and wit. I love her! The story and incidents were all HILARIOUS. And CHARLES RIVENHALL! ❤ Possible one of my top 2 favorite characters this year… I feel like he’s a perfect mix of Mr. Darcy and what I think Mr. Knightly is like (I haven’t read Emma yet, sorry, but I did see a film). Charles Rivenhall is the ultimate dark, kind of furious, strong-willed hero, who is up against the most whirl-wind-ish female he’s ever encountered… Who’s going to tame who? The resulting story is just perfect.

4. Entwined – Heather Dixon

Eeeeeeeeeeeee. This was so good! A retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (which, as you may know, I am obsessed with…) it was just fantastic! If it wasn’t for a certain slightly disappointing thing, this might have made it higher on my list. BUT IT WAS AWESOME ANYWAY. And it’s really neat how the twelve girls are named alphabetically after flowers. I can actually remember them! And… just… It’s beautiful. And all the characters are fabulous. I LOVE THEM ALL. ❤

5. The Boggart and the Monster – Susan Cooper

The sequel to “The Boggart”. (Which when I made my list last year, I put as #12 in my top-favorites of 2013… but if I were to do it over again, it would be wayyyy higher up. I LOVE THE BOGGART.) It was just as good as the first and I absolutely adored it! So much, that as soon as I finished reading it, I started rereading it the same day, aloud to my younger siblings. Many books that I love, I daydream about rereading the moment I’m done, but this might be the only one I’ve ACTUALLY carried that out for… Scotland! Humor! Loch Ness Monster! Fun! Fantasy! Soooo good.

wordchangerscovers

6. The Word ChangersAshlee Willis

I reviewed this awhile back… It was just delightful! Falling into a book and becoming one of the characters… Perfectly carried out Christian Fantasy element… KYRIN of course…! ❤ And just an overall awesome story! I JUST LOVED IT. I highly recommend it!! (And that on the left is a new cover for it!! Isn’t it simply gorgeous?? SO MUCH BEAUTIFUL! I can’t get over it! <3)

7. The Seahorse LegacySerena Chase

I reviewed this one in a blogtour… It was fairly awesome! Especially every. single. moment. with. Cazien. CAZIEN. He might have to be one of my top 2 favorite characters of the year… O_O Maybe. Just. EVERY TIME HE OPENED HIS MOUTH. So much hilarious awesomeness. He is definitely one awesome pirate. Aaand The Seahorse Legacy cut off right when I was waiting for the most interesting thing to happen. XD The second half of the story, The Sunken Realm, is supposed to come out sometime this summer. Can I just say… I NEED IT NOWWWW!!!


8. Merlin’s NightmareRobert Treskillard

This was an AWESOME conclusion to the Merlin Spiral trilogy. (My review is here.) It was rather epic, and the young Arthur up-and-coming toward his destiny of being king, mixed in with Merlin’s own story… it was just awesome. Lots of exciting adventure and humor, too! But my favorite thing about it just had to be Arthur himself. It’s hard to do a King Arthur who lives up to that name — but Mr. Treskillard’s Arthur was perfection! I loved that character so much. ❤ I can’t wait for the second trilogy to start coming out so we can continue to follow Arthur’s adventures!

9. The Princess SpyMelanie Dickerson

I also reviewed this… Exciting story, beautiful setting, and I loved the characters so much! Margaretha was a fun heroine, Colin was awesome, and they were a very cute couple. ^_^ It wasn’t much of a fairytale retelling, I didn’t think, but it was an AWESOME book. Melanie Dickerson always writes awesome books… 😉

10. AlyceSarah Scheele

I’m not sure if this quite counts since it’s a novella and not a novel… But I simply HAD to include this rolick of a Cinderella retelling that had me laughing hysterically but was also rather epic and beautiful. Such fun! So funny, so mysterious, full of witty writing… and the characters were just absolute delights. I loved it a lot! ❤

Things That Are Category-less But Must Go On This List


Prince Valiant, Vol 1: 1937-1938 – Hal Foster


Prince Valiant, Vol 2: 1939-1940 – Hal Foster

So they’re not exactly novels. Or nonfiction. Or picture books. Or really comic-books because they’re not like most. But when I say that the Prince Valiant comic-strip saga is basically my favorite thing ever, I hope you understand how much I really mean that. I’ve loved Prince Valiant ever since my earliest memory of being read it from the comics-page in the newspaper, and on into reading collections of it in book form. So when I discovered that my library had these two earliest collections, I sort of went crazy and checked them out and read them before you could have said “crazy fangirl”. PRINCE VALIANT. So much epic.

Best Non-Fiction

The Green and Burning Tree: On the Writing and Enjoyment of Children’s Books – Eleanor Cameron

Reflections: On the Magic of Writing – Diana Wynne Jones

Both of these were basically collections of essays by two of my favorite authors ever, about two of my favorite things ever: books and writing. Specifically, children’s books and fantasy, mainly, which are others of my favorite things.

I always say that J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexandar are my 3 favorite authors. But I’ve been fans of them for almost as long as I can remember — I grew up with their books. Eleanor Cameron and Diana Wynne Jones come right after them in my list of top 5 favorite authors, and THEY are the ones who I DISCOVERED. So getting to read their thoughts and see how much I agree with them and how brilliant they were… it was just an absolute joy!

Some people, I suppose, find fiction they like by finding out if they like the author’s opinions. I find fiction I like, and then because I like it, I find nonfiction that I agree with… 😉

Honorable Mentions

They don’t quite belong in my top ten/twelve/whatever because they’re not my normal thing and there were other books that are not on the list that I liked better, overall, but there was just something about these, so I have to mention them.

NeverJ. Grace Pennington

This is here because it is the best Christian book I read all year. I read about a dozen of them, and some were good — some are even up there in my top ten. But there was something about Never that affected me more than any of the other Christian books I read this year; plus it was a good mystery, and it makes me want to read more westerns because I never do, and I loved both of the main characters a ton. But the Christian aspect may have been done the best I’ve seen, and it was not preachy but at the same time was more real than in many books I’ve read. It just hit me with a very strong feeling.

The Mysterious Benedict Society – Trenton Lee Stewart

While I enjoyed it wayyy more than I thought I would and it was a good book, it’s only here because of one particular moment that was one of those explosive things that gave such a FEELING that affected me in that moment way more than any other book this year besides the ending of The Crown of Dalemark and basically the whole of Orphan’s Song. But if you’ve ever heard of Tolkien’s “eucatastrophe”, this was the best example I can think of and just aaaaahhhhh. That feeling of explosive elation and excitement and happifulness right after the moment when you think all is lost; plus mixed in with resolving a mystery I’d been suspecting, and just– I can’t explain it!! It’s weird, too, because other than that moment, it would have been a really enjoyable book but I wouldn’t be too excited about it. But just. Wow. I don’t even know if anyone else would think that way but it really got me and was awesome. So this can’t even go in a category, but it gets mentioned because of the moment. 🙂

Favorite Picture Book

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Saint George and the Dragon – retold by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

This is just such a beautiful, awesome, picture book! I love Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations… she may be my favorite artist… So much expression in the characters, and so much beauty and detail! And this story was just so cool. Actually, the look of this book very much influenced some of the feel of my own story Heartseeker. Which may be one of the reasons I’m so attached to this book. But it’s just… perfect. ❤

Favorite Short Stories

I didn’t read as many short stories as the year before, but two stood out as my VERY favorites, both from the collection “Book of Enchantments” by Patricia C. Wrede.

The Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn (short story) – Patricia C. Wrede

This was just ADORABLE and perfect — it’s set in the Enchanted Forest (of Wrede’s awesome four-book series) and it has a princess and a cat and a unicorn. …Er, well, I suppose you could tell that. BUT IT WAS AWESOME. There need to be more short stories like this.

Utensile Strength (short story) – Patricia C. Wrede

This. THIIIS. It’s probably the closest we get to a “sequel” to the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Because it takes place after book 4 AND WE GET TO SEE DAYSTAR ETC AS A HAPPY FAMILY AND JUST ALKDJFLKDJFLKF. I loved it to death. I LOVE CIMORENE AND MENDANBAR AND THE ENCHANTED FOREST AND DAYSTAR AND ALL OF IT SO MUUUUCH. ^_^ So yes, this is absolutely a favorite of the year. Anyone who’s read the Enchanted Forest Chronicles: get ahold of this one and read it!!

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So there are some of my favorite new reads of 2014! Have you read any of them? What did you think?

What about you? What are your favorite reads of 2014? 🙂

Awesome Book Release!

I was so excited when I saw THIS POST that I just had to share it!

A good blogger friend just published her marvelous Cinderella retelling, Alyce (which is free on Kindle until April 9th)!

Sarah Scheele is a great writer with a delightful dry wit, and this story is an original version of Cinderella with fantastic twists that are very unexpected. I also found it to be hilarious. Love it!

And check out the amazing cover…

Seriously, it doesn’t get any more gorgeous than that. ❤

Also free for a couple days is Jurant, a sci-fi story she wrote that’s just incredible.

I reread it yesterday and ended up accidentally staying up till 2 a.m. because I had to finish it (and I’d even read it before). You’ll want to check that out as well! It also contains one of my all-time-favorite fictional characters . . .

And for the matter of that, Alyce too has a marvelous cast! I’m currently having a lot of fun rereading it.

Happy Monday!