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! ^_^

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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

stgrgdragon

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!!

***

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!

Favorite Reads of 2013

I read a lot of wonderful books in 2013, so here without further ado I give you a list of my favorites, not counting re-reads. I’m including three books I read that aren’t published yet, written by people I know. When those books are published, I’m going to be the first in line to buy them.

TOP 15 BOOKS READ IN 2013


1. Paper Crowns (Unpublished)Mirriam Neal

Yes, my favorite book of the entire year was an unpublished story. Was it really that good? The answer is YES. ABSOLUTELY YES. It was perfection in awesome fairytale form. Publish it soon, Mirri, so that it can sit in a place of honor on my bookshelf and so I can send multiple copies to all of my friends. ❤


2. The Court of the Stone Children – Eleanor Cameron

This was a truly amazing book, a delightful mixture of historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, ghost story… I’ve never read anything like it before. Plus it’s by one of my five favorite authors. I’m going to be rereading this again soon I think…


3. Searching for Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede

I loved this book! Second in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and even better than “Dealing with Dragons”, the first one–even though I thought the series couldn’t get better. I loved all the fairytale things hidden throughout, and the whole thing was epic and witty.


4. The Kingdom of the Starlit Valley (Unpublished)the Princess of Dol Amroth

Hilarious humor and fun and adventure, plus one of the very coolest characters EVER made this book wonderful!


5. The Penderwicks – Jeanne Birdsall

Considering the fact that this is a modern story, which is not my thing, it just shows how amazing of a book this was that it made it this high on my list! It totally felt like a really classic older book and I was amazed to notice it was only published in the last ten years. The fun adventures of four sisters, I really enjoyed it.


6. Princess of the Midnight Ball – Jessica Day George

Okay, so Twelve Dancing Princesses is my favorite fairytale, and this was a MARVELOUS version of it. Add in the fact that it was set during a musket time-period, and it reaches near perfection for me…


7. Secrets of Camelot (Unpublished)Lauriloth

I had the great privilege of getting to beta-read this for my friend (still working on the notes, Lauri!) and let me just say… I. Was. Blown. Away. The story mixes together King Arthur legends and Robin Hood legends, and add in some dragons in there and just… whoa. Does it get any better than that? The answer is no! This was SO epic!


8. The Fairest Beauty – Melanie Dickerson

This was an AWESOME book! You may be noticing by now that I’m a big fan of fairytale re-tellings, and this was an incredible version of Snow White. I really loved it and want to try more things by the author!


9. The Naming – Alison Croggon

This was recommended to me by a friend, and though a bit thick to wade through I was extremely glad that I did! Though it seemed to borrow heavily from The Lord of the Rings for a few things, it was a great fantasy story and I’m looking forward to finishing reading the series!

10. Facets of FantasySarah Scheele

This was a collection of five novellas, and each one of them was something special in itself! Awesome adventure stories, Sci fi, and Fantasy, and also one of the most hilarious stories I’ve ever read. The author is currently serializing a rewrite of one of the stories in this collection, on her blog–an incredible and original Cinderella retelling that I am LOVING, so be sure to check it out! I can’t wait for the conclusion!


11. The Amaranth Enchantment – Julie Berry

This was a great fairytale-ish fantasy story–it even had an element of Cinderalla that was fun! Very vivid and original, I quite enjoyed it.


12. The Boggart – Susan Cooper

This is possibly the oddest thing on my list of favorites this year… But Scotland! I listened to the audio version which was awesome. Very funny and cool and unique!


13. Castle in the Air – Diana Wynne Jones

Sequel(ish) to “Howl’s Moving Castle”… enough said! This was extremely fun.


14. Tears of a Dragon – Bryan Davis

Fascinating conclusion to the “Dragons in Our Midst” series, it was extremely engaging and fun!


15. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

Going on my slowly-growing pile of books I’ve read by Jane Austen (all right, I’ve only read Pride and Prejudice besides this) I enjoyed this story immensely! It’s interesting how much I “got” it, despite it having been written so very long ago.

FAVORITE NONFICTION:


Exploring J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit – Corey Olsen

Fantastic look at The Hobbit, and really showed me some good things to think about when re-reading it! Highly recommended!

(If you’re a fan of Tolkien, check out Corey Olsen’s AMAZING downloadable MP3 college lecture series on Tolkien’s works–they are the most fascinating thoughts on Tolkien I’ve ever found; not to mention extremely fun and informative!)


The Four Loves – C. S. Lewis

Lewis always has great things to say, and this year I branched out from his fiction into some of his non-fiction. I was very glad that I did! This was my favorite I read in 2013 and had a lot of interesting and inspirational thoughts.

FAVORITE SHORT STORIES:

Wintermoon Wish – Sharon Shinn (from “Firebirds Rising”)

This story. I just… I can’t. It’s a WONDERFUL short story. Which is extreme for me to say because I’ve been finding that short stories are usually not my thing. It’s basically a Christmas story, or like what a Christmas might be in a fantasy land that doesn’t have Christmas. It was wonderful. It was also basically the only story in the entire collection it was in that I liked…

The Apprentice Thief – Seumas MacManus (from “In Chimney Corners: Irish Folk-Tales”)

I loved this story about an apprentice thief doing seemingly impossible things–it was awesome!

Westwoods – Eleanor Farjeon (from “The Little Book-Room“)

And this one, about a king who’s looking for someone to marry, was just SO delightful! In fact, many of the stories in the book it’s collected in are great!

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So there’s my year in books! Have you read any of those? What did you think? And what were your favorite reads of 2013?