Steampunk + Roses + Beauty & the Beast (The Rose and the Balloon Review)

Cover5_storyThe Rose and the Balloon

A Beauty and the Beast Story

(Once Upon a Twist Tales, #1)

by Kirsten Fichter

YA / Fairy Tale Retelling / Steampunk / Novella / Beauty and the Beast

I received a free e-copy of this book from the author — many thanks! — in return for my honest review, and these opinions are entirely my own.

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The instant I saw that this novella was coming out, I knew I had to read it. Fairytale retellings are my favorite, and Beauty and the Beast… with hot air balloons? Now this I had to try!

I was delighted to have the chance to read it for review, and I’m glad to report: I. LOVED. IT. I can’t think of a single thing I disliked about it! This novella was a simply marvelous quick read which I so enjoyed. ❤

The story and writing were charmingly witty, crisp and fast-paced, yet flowing with an easy, natural feeling, so that it did not seem too quick at all. It was adventurous, amusing, and alternated between fun and an elegant sort of fairytale feel, all mixed in with the delightful chaos of characters with minds of their own who take the story and sweep the reader along on a wonderfully fun ride.

There was a strong theme of love and of family, which I absolutely ADORED. There don’t seem to be many books with a focus on family, so this one was so nice to read. 🙂 Yes, they’re slightly disjointed families and have a lot to overcome, but you can tell they love each other all the same. ^_^ Janelle and her father, and Dmitri and his mother and twin siblings. Just… really well-written relationships, even in the short amount of pages. The bit of romance in there was so enjoyable too — I always love me a good Beauty and the Beast tale. 😉

The setting and “feel” of the story were great. There’s a light dusting of steampunk (mostly hot air balloons — yay!), and it seemed like a pseudo-historical setting (no magic), which was so well-drawn I felt it must be real; and yet still held the classic sort of fairytale feel I love. (Can I just go live in the castle, specifically the library, please??)

The characters were marvelous! Prince Dmitri was the absolute BEST! I loved him. A great hero, who I was rooting for the whole time, and loved reading about. ❤ Janelle and Dmitri are both fiery whirlwinds, and when they collide — boy, is it a storm to remember! Several storms, throughout… XD I just LOVED their bickering and conversations — it was all gold and really made the book spark. I JUST LOVED THEM TOGETHER SO MUCH. ^_^ And then the twins! They were fantastic! 😀 Princess Nicoline and Prince Nicolas were SO much fun to read about! Their antics were a blast and I loved their prank wars. XD Even “Crazy Maeva” (a.k.a. the queen) and Lord Roux (Janelle’s father, who was an excellently written character, I felt) and the other side characters, were all well painted and so vivid. Overall a great cast, and one I would love to read more about! (I also loved their names. :D)

There were nods to the Disney film version of Beauty and the Beast, and the retelling itself was fun in this little book — fairly subtle but still there, despite the lack of fantasy elements. It’s new and yet still recognizably Beauty and the Beast in some way, and I loved it. ^_^ Also, the role of all the roses in the story was fabulous! ALL THE ROSES. I loved that. 😀

I might have wished it was longer, simply because I didn’t want to leave these characters! I could have spent ages with them. ❤ But really it’s the perfect bite-sized enjoyable length to devour in a sitting or two, so I can’t really complain about that either. 🙂 No complaints! It was just perfect. ^_^ *hugs book*

All in all, it was a delightful little bite-sized retelling, suitable for all ages, with memorable characters and an airballoon full of fun. I highly recommend it and can’t wait to read more from this talented new author!

About the Book

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In a kingdom where fauna and flora are held in higher esteem than breakfast, Dmitri is a prince who yearns for change and plans it in a single daring act that will alter his life forever. However, when his demented mother accidentally causes the destruction of a prized garden of roses, Dmitri is horrified when she proposes his hand in marriage to make up for it. Not only will a wife hamper his glorious plans, he doesn’t even want one.

Janelle has spent her whole life on her father’s rose farm, tending the roses and staying simple. But she really yearns for something greater than the flower beds. But now there’s a wrench thrown in the works – the crazy Queen Maeva wants her to marry the prince, and all for ruining her father’s beloved roses.

This is Beauty and the Beast with a twist like you’ve never seen it before.

The Rose and the Balloon released August, 2016.

Find it online:

Amazon | Createspace | Goodreads


About Kirsten Fichter

AuthorPic1Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who is trying to find the balance between being one of six kids, a church pianist, a college student, a movie buff, a disaster in the kitchen, and a writing INFP. If you know what the secret is to balancing all of that, she’d be grateful to hear from you. Otherwise, don’t contact her unless you want to send her homemade gingerbread. Or a new piano book. Or an autographed Charles Dickens novel. In the meantime, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

You can find her online at her blog (Lianne Taimenlore), Twitter: @KiriLiz, and on Goodreads.

Don’t you think Beauty and the Beast and Steampunk is an excellent combination? Are you curious about it? *wriggles eyebrows* Maybe you’d like to give this novella a try! (What am I saying; of course you do, because it’s AWESOME and we all need more awesome in our lives. *nods sagely*)

Also! Do you have a favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling?? TELL, TELL! 😀

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Looking Forward, Looking Back (2016/2015)

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I love the change of the year and have been doing many of my favorite New Years things like starting new journals. A fresh year is waiting, like a blank page to be written on, and the old year is gone, with all its good times and, yes, failures. It’s time to start fresh.

Danny Gokey says it beautifully in his song Tell Your Heart to Beat Again: “Yesterday’s a closing door — you don’t live there anymore.” Give the song a listen! (I heard it on the radio this week, fell in love, and have listened to it ten billion times since and am listening to it on repeat as I write this post). It’s beautiful and feels just right for the New Year.

Here are some of my excitements for the new year of 2016, as well as a brief look back at my 2015. And — yes! — lists!

2016

My word for 2016

Joy is my word this year. I want to find joy in everything if I can. It’s going to be hard, since I struggle with a tendency to be stressed and down on myself. But I’m tired of feeling crushed beneath expectations, beneath things I feel are obligations which ought to be enjoyable but have become chores. This includes — yes — writing, reading, emailing… even the things that I usually love, sometimes can become a burden because I’m a chronic procrastinator and a perfectionist. I’m hoping to approach everything, the fun and the not, with Joy. To rediscover my Joy in writing and life and find a freedom I’ve been looking for . . . that is my wish for the new year.

JOY! 🙂

I’M EXCITED FOR THIS YEAR:

aspysdevotionThese books coming out:

Yorien’s Hand // The Goblin’s Puzzle // A Spy’s Devotion // Fridays with the Wizards // Rebel of the Sands // Songkeeper // The Story of Kullervo // King’s Folly // The Beautiful Pretender // Five Magic Spindles // Defying Shadows // Stolen Crowns #1 // The Bone Queen // Crooked Kingdom

(I did a post about this if you want pics/links to Goodreads, but I’ve since added Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams — sequel to Orphan’s Song — and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, both of which are sequels that I need this instant. *flail*)

These movies releasing:

  • The Abominable Bride (Sherlock special which I’m hopefully going to see on Wednesday… YAY!)
  • Captain America: The Civil War (YESSSS!! As I may have mentioned, I’m kind of looking forward to this a lot, primarily because BUCKY and HAWKEYE!)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Because Star Wars…)

(Also, perhaps someday I’ll see Kung Fu Panda 3, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and Batman Vs. Superman, which are releasing this year, but I’m not in a super hurry as they also sound weird…)

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I’d also like to see:

  • Pan (missed that when it came out last year)
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy (somehow still haven’t seen this)
  • Thor 2: The Dark World (which I technically saw once but need to rewatch since I have no memory of it which is slightly terrifying since I think I liked it a lot?!)

My 2015 at a Glance

READING

66 Books

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I read many lovely books, notably many retellings and much Diana Wynne Jones; and discovered steampunk and heist books. (Yay!) And I just posted my top 15 favorites of the year.

Goodreads has a lovely new “Year in Books Feature” which I love! (Mine is here.)

WATCHING

Shows I saw:

  • Leverage (seasons 1-5) — everyone knows how much I love this… *cough*
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (BBC Miniseries) — interesting to see on screen
  • Star Wars: Rebels (Season 1) — I ADORED THIS! Sooo much fun. ❤

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I don’t go to the theater often, but this year I saw:

  • starwars7posterStar Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens — AS;LDKJFLSK FEELS. WHAT. Still haven’t decided what I think of it except that I know I had a blast and then felt extremely sad near the end… I think overall I loved it? But I’m not sure yet! *flail* One thing’s for sure: ALL OF THE FEELS. And I adore the new characters, particularly Poe, and want to see the movie again.
  • Cinderella — Gorgeous.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron — Hawkeye!!
  • Mockingjay Part 2 — Um.
  • Beyond the Mask — EPIC!!! ❤

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BLOGGING

87 Posts

I really discovered my love of blogging this last year, and started my Ishness posts, and just had a fun time.

My top viewed posts were:

ccakeFrom which I discern that people are unprepared for NaNo (always), and love movies (or characters), bookshelves, Christmas, and cupcakes (or possibly denial). Basically you, my blog readers, have your priorities in order. *thumbs up*

WordPress has a handy blog report showcase for the year which is fun. Take a look at my blog stats if you enjoy numbers like I do. XD

It says my top commenters were Sarah, Tracey, Christine, C.B., and Abi — thank you guys! And to every single person who reads this blog and who has commented (even just once) a heartfelt thank you. ❤ You make my day every time. ^_^

WRITING

Over 100,000 Words

DRcoverishR&RI wrote an entire novella and two whole short stories (and a couple fanfictions) — namely:

KW2coverPSilverForestCoverFinalAnd worked on several other books:

  • 2. The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (mostly this one)
  • The Silver Forest (and this one)
  • 0.5. Child of Kedran’s Wood
  • 2.5 Mixup at Kedran’s Wood
  • 3 The Shadow of Kedran’s Wood
  • 4 The Writer of Kedran’s Wood
  • Heartseeker
  • The Other Half of Everything (snippets)

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OHEcoverI was attacked by several new plotbunnies that I adore and can’t wait to write, most notably:

  • The Other Half of Everything
  • The Siren and the Skyship

My Kedran’s Wood series exploded into several different books/novellas/short stories.

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My epic fantasy series the Starrellian Saga is taking shape in a new and exciting way as I reimagine all of the threads into a different sort of book structure.

A few other exciting things:

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***

PonyFrom the start of the year when I was followed by a pony from the post office, through seeing my first stage play, spontaneously going on a few roadtrips, being a NaNo Municipal Liaison for the third time, all the way to spending my last days of the year frantically editing a novella under a deadline for the first time . . . it’s been a very interesting year!

With my new word (Joy) in hand, I look forward to what 2016 holds!

I haven’t made specific writing/reading goals yet. I’m on a semi-hiatus from writing for a bit, so we’ll see what happens after that… I’m currently leaving my options open. 🙂

How was your 2015? I wish you all a truly fantastic 2016!

Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2015

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As is traditional (last year’s is here) it’s time for a list of the best books I read in 2015! YAY! Because lists and books and favorites are all the best things ever. ❤

I read some gems this year, and though it was super painful trying to pick favorites, these (especially the ones near the top) make my heart explode in happiness just from looking at the titles, so I think they’re some good ones! My list is roughly in order of amount of loving them, and doesn’t include rereads. So here we go! (Prepare for much squealing…)

My top 15 reads of 2015

1. Broken Glass – Emma Clifton (in Five Glass Slippers)

brokenglasscoverSo… I spontaneously reviewed this awhile back. And it’s made it to the very top of my list this year. IT’S JUST SO PERFECT AND MY FIRST STEAMPUNK FANTASY AND ALL THE CHARACTERRRRRRRRRRRS!!!! Ahem. I just really really love this story! I want to read it again (and I’ve already read it twice). It’s just perfection and bursting with humor and snark and great dialog and plots and sooo many characters I love, especially Marius and Darcy and Henry, and it’s FUN but then it gets epic at the end and it’s so British AND I JUST LOVE IIIIIIIT! ❤ It makes me grin and keep grinning and unable to STOP grinning, whenever I think of it. GAAAHH! *tackle-hugs story* ALL OF THE LOVE! *gives Darcy and Marius an extra hug*

2. Archer’s Goon – Diana Wynne Jones

HOW. DO. I. DESCRIBE. THIS. BOOK. Ummm… I can’t! *flails around* It was Diana Wynne Jones which means it was pure distilled BRILLIANCE mixed up with total uniqueness, absolutely FANTASTIC humor, and just ALL OF THE PLOT TWISTS. Mind. Blown. I can’t get over it and it’s amazing and I think I need to read it again right now. I still love Howl’s Moving Castle the best of Diana Wynne Jones’ books (I mean… it’s my favorite book EVER besides The Lord of the Rings) BUT I THINK ARCHER’S GOON MIGHT BE SECOND. Maybe. Ahem. All of the characters are fantastic and the dialog and the humor and it’s timey-wimey and sci-fi and fantasy and modern and super confusing and I just love it a lot. Ack. ❤

3. The Ordinary Princess – M. M. Kaye

This was, in a word, PERFECT. ^_^ It just makes me so happy. I can’t. *beams and huggles book* It’s a sort of original fairytale type of thing, feeling like it has some hints of Sleeping Beauty and maybe a couple others, but mostly its own thing. It was just a quick read that was ADORABLE and sweet and perfect, and I loved the illustrations, and the character of the Ordinary Princess herself was awesome, and Peregrine who I loved a ton, and they were so cute together and just alskdjljlsjk it makes me happy and is a perfect little book. ^_^ ❤

4. Illusionarium – Heather Dixon

I’ve been dying to read this ever since reading Entwined. Needless to say, I pounced on it. The internet is probably still reeling with the incoherent fangirling babbles I shared on this blog about Illusionarium… Ahem. So suffice it to say, despite the creepiness, that I LOVED THIS BOOK AND THE DIALOG AND HUMOR AND EPIC STEAMPUNKNESS AND ESPECIALLY LOCKWOOD. LOCKWOOOOD!!!!! *flails around forever and a day* Basically, Lockwood. ❤ I just can’t get over that indescribable airguardsman snarky fiery epic trigger-happy roguish awesome Lieutenant Lockwood. (And he and Jonathan are a great pair. XD I love themmm.) (BUT LOCKWOOD. SO MUCH. ❤ ❤ ❤ )

5. The Pinhoe Egg – Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones books are always wonderful, but this one’s one of my top, like… four? of hers? (Howl’s Moving Castle, Archer’s Goon, The Crown of Dalemark, and this, are my favorites.) This was the conclusion to the Chrestomanci series, which I started late in 2014, and read most of this year. AAAHHH I LOVED THIS BOOK. It returned to the hero of the first book, Cat (who is great), and there were shenanigans and it had sooo much more of Chrestomanci himself than a lot of the others (which is pretty much my one complaint usually, since he usually only shows up a little in the midst of other people’s adventures). THERE WAS ALSO A GRIFFIN. AND CHRESTOMANCI AND AND AND ASLKDJFLK I just really really really love Chrestomanci and I need some fancy dressing gowns to wear around the house like he does. Except he has a castle… BASICALLY I WANT TO LIVE AT CHRESTOMANCI CASTLE AND READ ABOUT CHRESTOMANCI FOREVER. Because CHRESTOMANCI!!!!! ❤ ❤ Ahem.

6. Frederica – Georgette Heyer

After reading and loving The Grand Sophy in 2014, I wanted to try another Georgette Heyer, so this happened. I LOVED IT. The characters, just… aaagh! I loved them. LORD ALVERSTOKE. He’s one of those kind of awful fellows who’s sort of vain/spoiled, a lot like Howl actually, and yet he ends up being all noble too and just alskdjflklaskdj I love Alverstoke, he’s wonderful. And his relationship with the heroine and with her younger brothers — just YES! I don’t actually read a lot of regency historical romance sorts of things but this one was great. There’s also an airballoon and a crash and all of the DIALOG, my goodness it’s wonderful.

7. The Penderwicks in Spring – Jeanne Birdsall

AAAAHHHHH. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I read the first three Penderwick books (I even reread them this year!) and it was amazing. I was actually surprised because in a way it was so SAD but also the usual hilarious and just… I love the Penderwicks, okay. I LOVE THEMMMM. This family. Just. THEY ARE PRECIOUS. *gathers them in a hug* It was a little strange because it’s years after the previous ones and the three older girls are like TEENS and Batty’s 11 and… yes. o.o And I should have been upset, especially with all the sad, but I just LOVED. IT. SO. MUCH. Also there were like ten billion characters and the author juggled them all SO well and the writing is golden and ALL OF THE FEELS. I wish I could write like that. Basically I waited a long time for it and it did NOT disappoint. ❤

8. Conrad’s Fate – Diana Wynne Jones

This was a sort of Chrestomanci prequel because it involves him (Christopher) when he was a teen. LET ME FLAIL. Like Illusionarium, it was a great buddy-movie story (as I call them; even when they’re not movies… *cough*) and… Chrestomanci and the hero are so much fun together and I DON’T EVEN KNOW. But it was Diana Wynne Jones and I remember having so much fun and just really ENJOYING this! *flail* Chrestomanci as a youngster is just fabulous to read about, so sneaky but refined but clever and just brilliant and the dialog and I just loved it. ❤

9. Power of Three – Diana Wynne Jones

How. I. What. It. SOMETHING! *flailing* This was totally not what I was expecting and it was so DIFFERENT (something Diana Wynne Jones excels at) and PLOT TWIST! Wow. Also I loved all of the characters, especially the two who were like the hero (you’ll understand if you’ve read it), and it just had a lot of brilliance going on! It was epic. It felt rather different than her other stuff–a bit more like the Dalemark books than her “fun” ones… But I still adored it. Plus, the flashback where the fellows were drunk and met Titch was sheer gold. *dies of laughter*

10. Plenilune – Jennifer Freitag

This is here basically because DAMMERUNG!!!!! It was EXHAUSTING to read and took me from Christmas till August to read… like really heavy chocolate cake. Or the ocean. It was a little much, kind of too rich if you know what I mean, but it was totally worth it for Dammerung. He’s, like, possibly my favorite character this year. Possibly one of my top favorite characters of EVER. Like… HE’S UP THERE WITH HOWL, OKAY? Dammerung is just AMAZING and this monster of a 600+ page book of exhaustingly gorgeous poetical prose is totally worth it just for him. (And Rupert was amazing too. I have very complex feels about Rupert. Which makes me super glad that Dammerung is there to cancel those out because he just blows everything away with his amazingness). Like… he’s funny and powerful and heroic and epic and just… HE’S LIKE THE COOLEST EVER. Dammerung has a very special place in my heart. ^____^ ❤ ❤ ❤

11. The Skin Map – Stephen R. Lawhead

This was an AMAZING book. Contemporary/time-travel/fantasy/sci-fi-ish/historical… it has a little bit of everything. The writing and setting and just the entire thing is STUNNINGLY well done, not to mention the cast of characters, each of whom I love to bits! Arthur, Cosimo, Kit, Etzel, Wilhemina! (I even love the heroine!) Just. Gaaahh. It was a fantastic book, and would have been much higher up the list if it weren’t for something that happened in the last twenty pages… *cough cough* But I’ve actually gotten over that (mostly) and all I can think of is how amazing this book was and how much I want to read the sequels! *huggles all the characters* It was just a DELIGHT to read!

stonecurse12. Stone Curse – Jenelle Schmidt (in Five Enchanted Roses)

I reviewed this one on the blog and just YES. Beauty and the Beast retelling, which I ALWAYS love… And RITTER! ❤ Ritter and his heroicness and humor and just aaaahh I love him so much! And the setting and the fairytale feel and BAREND the Beast, down to loving the heroine, Karyna, a ton as well. I just… Gaaah. ^_^ *huggles all of them* The whole cast of characters and their relationships… just fantastic. SUCH A GREAT READ! ❤

13. Corroded Thorns – Emma Clifton

Aaand I also reviewed this one (more Beauty and the Beast, yay!) and it’s the sequel to my top favorite of the year, Broken Glass, and I sort of consider them one book because it’s so interconnected, sooo I couldn’t resist putting this on the list too! DARCY!!! Eeep. I just looooved this story and the characters AND THE ENDING WAS PERFECTION OH MY GOODNESS SO MUCH LOVE FOR THAT. ❤

14. Tahn – L. A. Kelly

This was the VERY first book I read in 2015, so it’s possibly a little hazy in my memory… But I know it was an exciting adventuresome read, with some good stuff, and was a little grittier than I usually like but still fabulous. And, like with Plenilune, it’s mostly here for one of my favorite characters of the year, namely the title character himself, Tahn. Tahn is the absolute epitome of my favorite archetype of characters, what I call the “dark guy”. (I’ve heard “anti-hero” used as well.) But I really really love him and his story and it was awesome.

15. The Book of Sight – Deborah Dunlevy

This book… I don’t know. It just made me happy. It was one of my first “random” ebooks I tried, since it was free on Kindle at the time and sounded interesting. I got so addicted that I’ve since bought all three of the sequels which are currently out (looking forward to reading The Poisoned Cure soon!) and already hoping the fifth/final book will come out soon! It’s a modern fantasy story, and it just… somehow kind of reminds me of the sort of stories I’m writing with my Kedran’s Wood series. I just enjoy it and it’s about these kids, a group of friends, in a little modern town, and their dealings with fantastical stuff that they start running into. Also, I really love Dominic. But it’s just a fun read, so… yes. It makes me think of sunshine. 🙂

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You mayyy notice a trend*, which is that books are much likelier to be extremely loved/high on my list when there’s a particular character I really like in the story… What can I say. I’m evidently extremely attached to fictional people. But I’d say that Dammerung, Lockwood, and Chrestomanci are my favorite characters this year. THEY’RE THE BESSST!

(*Whaaat, you thought I was going to say that the trend was Howl? HAHAHA. Fooled you. XD Ahem. Sorry. Howl does whatever he likes, and apparently that includes stealing the show in a blogpost that doesn’t even involve him… *cough*)

So there’s my list! Have you read any of these? (You totally should!) Do you have any favorite reads of 2015? TELL ALL IN THE COMMENTS! ^_^

Hopefully this next year of 2016 will hold some wonderful reads in it for all of us! ❤

Happy New Year, everyone!

Illusionarium Fangirling Babbles

You may remember that I keep occasionally babbling incoherently about how much I liked that book Illusionarium. If I liked it that much, I should actually review it and tell people about it, right? Or at least explain to my poor blog readers what on earth (or possibly off of it… in an alternate world, perhaps?) I was talking about.

Well, I’ve vaguely been meaning to review it, but was kind of overwhelmed by the idea. That happens to perfectionist me sometimes… But then! I realized that I had done a rather long and in-depth excitedly-flailing ramble to a good friend about it in an email soon after I had read it…

That was sort of a review, wasn’t it? So I decided I’d tweak that some and post it as a review. (I also don’t usually reference lots of other books/characters/authors/films/shows in reviews, but there’s a lot of that in this; I’m bolding the references.)

Here is my almost-review incoherent-ish fangirling babble for Illusionarium by Heather Dixon.

My goodness! I had so much fun with this book. 😀

It’s like The Night Circus meets Inception meets Mirriam Neal‘s book Disconnect meets Doctor Who meets Steampunk meets the kind of lively writing and boisterous characters who sound 1000% British of Entwined, (which is about the only similar thing, although it’s by the same author) and it’s also told in first-person from the POV of a guy, and since the last thing I read like that was that Curseworkers Trilogy (White Cat and co.) by Holly Black, it made me think of that, and also a little of Hiccup from the How to Train Your Dragon movie. A little. Just because. So… yeah, wow. Lots of reminders, and yet it was like nothing I’d ever read or seen! Oh, and there’s also kind of crazy outfits in a lot of it, kind of really colorful raggedy steampunkish clothing, I guess, and there’s a ton of masquerade-type mask things for awhile too, so that’s probably where most of the Doctor Who reminding came from — besides a wee bit of timey-wimey ness and the creepy-factor — but it kind of reminded me of The Girl in the Fireplace episode–was that what it was called?

It was also my first steampunk book! *gasp* I’d always wanted to try some steampunk and never got around to it before this. I think the steampunk element in Illusionarium wasn’t an extreme focus of it, kind of more like background… Most of the story was focused on the illusion stuff, which was some weird mix of stuff like the magic in The Night Circus, and science, and hallucination stuff like… like in Batman Begins (ooh, another thing I’m comparing it too. XD) and the Inception stuff about sharing dreams, or in this case illusions, and sort of being able to build stuff with your mind. *shrug* Anyways! Not SUPER steampunky, mostly it was just a whole lot of WEIRD mixed together. XD But I did loooove the steamunk feel and want to read more! I think this was a more fantasy-feeling steampunk and I know there’s more mechanical, realistic type ones, so I don’t know if this is even a really good sample of steampunk. But still. I feel quite excited to have finally officially read my first steampunk and now I really want to get to other steampunk books I have lying around and try them out! (I’ve since only read Broken Glass and Corroded Thorns by Emma Clifton, which I ADORED obviously, and were also extra fantasy versions of steampunk… But that only makes me want to read more steampunk, even more!)

Anyways, like I said, it’s kind of got things that remind me of stuff all over the place, but at the same time, really I’ve just never read anything like it! So much unique! At least for me. It was crazy but awesome. XD

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Pretty much my ONLY complaint was some of the creepy aspects of it… I just don’t get along well with really creepy kinds of things. At first I was creeped out because of this plague thing that turns people’s blood black so their veins make it look like black spider webs climbing up their skin and it just creeped me out… till I got used to it and ran into the rest of the creepiness in the book, which had to do with people kind of splitting and growing extra eyes and fingers etc. Maybe most people wouldn’t mind but IT KIND OF CREEPED ME OUT OKAY. O_O Meep. But aside from those two things, I positively ADORED it! 😀 But if you don’t have much of a problem with slightly creepy stuff maybe you wouldn’t mind, I don’t know. *shrug*

I’ve seen a lot of reviewers complaining about it not wowing them… EXCUSE ME? *splutters* It was breathtaking and edge-of-your-seat! It was… amazing! (Or maybe I don’t read exciting books. *shrug*) But you might have to go in not expecting much, and then just see if it catches you or not. It certainly wowed ME. I had no CLUE what it would be like, going in, so it just sort of wowed me extra because it was so DIFFERENT and I just loved the characters. 😀

The dialog. THE DIALOG. I loved it so much and it was one of my favorite things. Especially Lockwood’s. XD But… I’m getting ahead of myself here. I think I love books with super good dialog that I love to quote, lots of great humor, and characters who are sorta sarcastic and snarky…

And I haven’t even gotten to my favorite part!

Okay, so I LOVED the hero, and thought for awhile that he would be my favorite
character (sometimes it can get worrying with first-person narrators because sometimes it’s just hard to really really like them… unless that’s just me) but he was just so funny and dry but also felt sort of like a “normal” hero, and I just loved watching his struggles as he went up and down trying to find the right thing to do… I loved that and it was great. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed the main character’s “journey” this much in a long while… He also had these really hilarious, dry, witty asides he would put in occasional footnotes. It was so unique and hilarious! BUT. He wasn’t even my favorite!

23

My absolute favorite thing about the entire book had to be this one character, Lieutenant Lockwood, who’s this awesome sixteen-year-old Royal Airguardsman with an eyepatch who has the most outrageous personality and is so amazing and fun and hilarious and epic that I simply don’t have a place for him in my Character Categories! O_O

It’s usually characters like Howl and Chrestomanci [both by Diana Wynne Jones] and Florian [Westmark Trilogy by Lloyd Alexander] and Azrael [Mirriam Neal again] that I can’t pigeonhole, but Lockwood… I can’t with him either! :O It’s so weird… I think the closest I could get would be somewhere in with Peter Pan from Peter Pan in Scarlet, mixed with a pirate guy named Tamo in The Pirate’s Son by the author who wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet (Geraldine McCaughrean; she must be good at that kind of character…) but not quite. I don’t know! It’s quite odd! O_O I mean, Lockwood has the same young-awesome-kind-of-savage-but-also-carefree-and-epic-with-a-pistol sort of feeling as McCaughrean‘s version of Peter Pan, and Tamo, but so much MORE too. LOOKWOOD’S JUST UNIQUE AND I LOVE HIM.

It’s very rare and odd these days for me to find a character that just DOESN’T fit in my character pigeonholes! (Which I need to do a post about sometime…) And it usually means they’re awesome. XD

I just loooove Lockwood and have been going around squealing about him ever since I was like halfway through the book. A few weeks after I read it, I flipped back through the book and reread basically every bit that had Lockwood in it. Yes. I love him that much. And I want to go do it again now! *flail*

Lockwood Lockwood Lockwood.

I just love him too much. I know I’m just fangirling and not making any sense probably, and repeating myself, but I don’t care.

I JUST CAN’T EXPLAIN LOCKWOOD OKAY. HE’S TOO AMAZING TO EXPLAIN IN MY OWN WORDS. YOU JUST HAVE TO READ HIM FOR YOURSELF.

illusionariumback

Basically, Illusionarium had a couple elements that were too creepy for me, but overall it was totally unique and my first steampunk and I really enjoyed it and it has one of my new favorite characters.

And it made me happy. It was kind of terrifying and thrillerish and made my heart beat too fast probably but it just… MADE ME HAPPY. I want to beam and huggle it forever. Just… if that’s not what you want books to do for you, I don’t know what is.

An equation for you. (Ha! Inside joke… Equations are a big part of the book; like… sciencey stuff and all.)

Illusionarium + Lockwood – creepiness = best. thing. ever.

If it weren’t for the creepy aspects, it might be like my favorite book this year (okay so it’s up against some pretty stiff competition… so I dunno. BUT STILL). It was just AWESOME.

(Plus, cover love. We can be shallow and love it for the cover, right? ❤ )

***

Anyways! There is my ramble/babble about Illusionarium, because it’s definitely not coherent enough to quite call it a review. 😉

But if you think THAT was incoherent fangirling… Here’s the “review” I originally posted on Goodreads as soon as I’d finished reading it:

illusionariumreview

Blogoversary Shenanigans

blogoversary2year

I want to thank each and every one of you, blog readers and commenters, for coming with me thus far on my writing journey and reading my li’l ol’ scribbles on this here blog, as The Road of a Writer turns 2 years old today.

Thank you so much.

I love you guys to Starrellia and back.

Here’s a bit of a (longish…) scribble in celebration. Enjoy! 🙂


Blogoversary Shenanigans

The sun rises slowly and shines its warm pleasant golden beams past the trees circling a green forest glade. It is empty. All is still save for a quiet twitter of birdsong and the rustle of the leafy branches swaying gently in a soft breeze.

A black raven flies into the glade, and alights soundlessly on a large grey rock near the center. It ruffles its wings into place, cocking its head this way and that to survey the area as it settles on the rock. Then there is a blur and it morphs into a black-haired woman with a black cloak and a dress with a pattern of roses, sitting on the rock.

She is still looking about as she was when she was a raven, and a moment later she nods and stands up with a little smile.

“Yes. I think this will do nicely.”

Immediately, an ageless looking man with gold-tinged light hair that curls about his ears, and a gold harp in one arm, appears in the glade. He does not appear surprised, merely curious, as his golden eyes survey the dark-haired woman. Then he smiles very slightly and sits down on a nearby stump. He begins to softly pick out a melody on his harp, the golden notes filling the glade.

At that moment, there is a sudden bump and two more figures appear.

“. . . I just don’t see why on earth you should be acting like — Oh!” The eighteen year old girl in jeans and an assortment of either fashionable or extremely slipshod shirts and layers, with brown eyes and dark brown hair, breaks off in the middle of her sentence from talking to her companion, to look around the glade in a startled manner.

Her companion, however, a young man of twenty-something with sandy-ish fair hair, a pencil behind one ear and a pen in one hand, with a rather large notebook in the other hand, does not seem to have noticed either the girl’s talking or the glade he is suddenly in. He just goes on scribbling where he sits on the grass.

“Teague!” the girl half shrieks, half whispers, prodding him in the ribs with the toe of her red converse sneaker. “Pay attention! What on earth just happened?”

“Mm…?” Teague says distractedly, and finally looks up. His uncertainly-colored eyes rove about. “Oh.” He pauses a moment, looking absentminded. “I thought we were in my house,” he adds mildly, going back to his scribbling.

“We were.”

“Hmm. We seem to be somewhere else now. How did we get here, exactly?”

“How should I know? But I suggest you figure it out pretty quick. Your dinner’s going to burn,” she adds, folding her arms.

“Don’t get so excited, Meridian,” Teague says mildly. “My dinner usually burns.”

“Not when I’m there to look after it.”

“Well, you’re not.”

“That’s entirely the point!” Meridian howls in exasperation. “Look, stop scribbling and do something about it!”

His pen continues scratching. “I don’t get any pleases around here, do I?” he says resignedly.

“We don’t even know where ‘here’ is,” Meridian says pointedly. “But okay. Please.”

Teague sighs and stops writing. He looks around again. Then he gets unconcernedly to his feet, looking absentminded again, like he’s forgotten the entire conversation already. He wanders toward the bard, a trail of yellow sticky-notes detaching themselves from his notebook pages to flutter quietly toward the ground behind him. Meridian grimaces, but begins picking them up from the grass as she trails in his wake.

“You there: harper,” Teague calls.

The golden-eyed bard looks up, his fingers still moving on the strings.

“Any idea how we got here? Or . . . where here is, for that matter. That would be extremely helpful,” Teague says.

The bard nods toward the black-haired lady by the rock. “You might ask her. She was here at the start.”

“Mm.” Teague wanders toward her. Meridian sends a quick “Thank you, by the way,” that Teague had forgotten, in the bard’s general direction; he smiles.

“Good morning,” the black haired lady says pleasantly.

“Is it,” Teague says vaguely. “Incidentally, I don’t suppose you’d care to tell us why we’re here, would you? I’m not particularly caring about it myself, but Meridian will carry on and keep me from writing until I find out for her,” he adds with a certain stare over his shoulder at his follower.

Meridian wrinkles her nose at him and says, “Teague.

“I wouldn’t mind at all,” the black haired lady says, smiling widely. “In fact, I’ve called you two and the others here –”

“Others?” Teague says, raising a quizzical eyebrow.

“They don’t seem to have all shown up yet. How annoying.” The black haired lady looks questingly around the glade. “Ah. Here they are.”

The forest glade is suddenly full of several other people, scattered randomly about in small groups, save for the nearest person, who is alone. He wears a long black leather jacket, has black hair, and glances sharply around with narrowed eyes, looking tense and ready to fight off anyone who so much as steps in his direction.

“Tare, would you mind awfully — ?” a voice is saying, but breaks off and turns into a yelp.

“Yes, I would,” the young man in the leather jacket growls at the teen boy, in jeans and blue t-shirt with tousled brown hair, who had yelped.

He changes his tactic and his plan. “Where are we?”

Tare’s black eyebrows draw together, his dark blue eyes scanning everyone in the glade. “I’m working on figuring that out. Quiet.”

“You don’t look like you’re working very hard,” the other remarks, tucking his hands in his jeans pockets.

“I said quiet,” Tare repeats, his glance making its way warily over the nearby observing faces of Teague and Meridian and the black-haired lady.

“Alright, alright, I’ll be quiet. I can be quiet. Bazzes are very good at being quiet when they need to be, especially this Baz –”

The freezing dark blue eyes turn to look him in the face. “I said — ”

“Right.” Baz clams up very quickly.

A short way off, a very tall young man in his twenties, with a shaggy mane of rusty-brown hair, clad in a sleeveless brown leather jerkin and brown pants, wields a long double-ended crystal spear in his hands, looking warily about like a trapped beast. If the leather jacket fellow looked ready to fight off anyone who steps toward him, this one looks ready to instantly kill anyone who so much as breathes in his direction. His jewel-green eyes dart quickly all around the glade. A harassed-looking boy in a cloak and a once-fine travel-stained blue embroidered tunic looks nervously around, standing just behind the spear-holder, and beside them is a dark-haired princely-looking fellow, who looks like he’s resenting something. Or possibly everything.

A young man with shockingly purple hair runs languidly by, clearly neither knowing, nor caring in the least, what is going on around him. He is apparently in pursuit of two very small men in dusky brown jackets (one in an Irish-looking cap) who seem to be carrying paintbrushes far too large for them. The little men are much too quick for the purple-haired fellow.

Two small, scruffy baby griffins prance awkwardly by at dangerous speeds, flailing feather-down-kitten-fluff tails and wings. They make chaos and get underfoot everywhere, snapping and biting at ankles merrily, and frolicking about with a small fluffy white puppy who is yapping with apparent ecstatic joy and panting with a little puppy grin, his pink tongue hanging out.

“What are we supposed to DO?” wails a flustered-looking lad of seventeen, with ordinary brown hair, looking for help from a younger lad with silver hair and sharp grey eyes and a blank expression, who is leaning unconcernedly against a tree, absently fingering a gold ring.

“Calm down, Faron,” a deep voice rumbles, as an enormous black bear saunters by, pats the brown-haired boy briefly on the shoulder — in a comforting gesture that nearly knocks him over — and commences efficiently and effortlessly taking charge of the small fluffy mischievous things.

“How can I be calm when –” Faron splutters, apparently lacking further words to continue.

Several other people mill about around the edges of the glade, and between yapping, screeching purrs, harp music, and miscellaneous chatter and wailing, the place has become quite lively in the space of a short time.

“Oh. Those others,” Teague says, unconcernedly.

Meridian sighs and hands him his dropped sticky notes, neatly stacked, which he takes with mild surprise and tucks into the notebook under his arm.

“May I have everyone’s attention?” the black-haired woman calls loudly.

Most eyes turn to her (the painter, leprechauns, griffins and puppy don’t seem to notice), and there is a slight quieting down so that only a few murmurs and the soft trill of the harp continue.

“Now, perhaps you’re wondering why I’ve gathered you here on this auspicious day –”

“Then be quick about it and tell us so that we can be on our way,” the spear-holder growls.

“Shut your mouth, outlaw,” says the dark-haired resentful-looking princely young man behind him. “Let the lady speak.”

“Don’t you tell me what to do — ” the outlaw spits through his teeth.

“Calm down, both of you,” the harassed boy says hastily.

“Just because you’re princes doesn’t mean you can — ” the outlaw begins.

A loud thrum of harp music pauses everyone’s voices. “Quiet for the lady.” The golden-eyed bard speaks seemingly quietly, but the strength of his voice carries through the glade with authority.

“Thank you,” she says. “Now. I have called you all here today because it is a special day and I thought we should consult together for an appropriately celebratory . . . well . . . celebration.”

“Which is?” Meridian prompts.

“It has been two years since the author began a certain endeavor . . .”

“Is this about the blogoversary and throwing a surprise party for her?” Baz speaks up, suddenly.

There is a pause, all eyes turned on him.

“Which . . . I know nothing about, of course,” he adds quickly.

“Yes, I believe the ‘blogoversary’ is what it was called,” the black-haired lady says. “Two years is a long time . . . for some” — here she smiles distantly with what might be mischief in her eye — “and I thought it would be considerate of us to congratulate the author in some way.”

“The author . . .” Tare says, fixing her with a hard stare. “She’s not even writing you yet.”

“Yet. I have my ways.” She smiles.

Tare snorts. He folds his arms and eyes her warily. “Who exactly are you, anyway, and why do you think you’re in charge here?”

“I’m Ev, of course; I’m a fairy and — oh, I forgot my own,” she adds suddenly, and that instant beside her, standing by the rock, appears a young man in a royal purple tunic with a golden coronet, and a young woman with a silver circlet in her dark hair. They appear to be kissing, and break off just then, looking around in confusion.

“What — ?” the prince begins, looking around at the assembled gathering and gently pushing his lady behind him in a protective gesture, a hand going to rest lightly but unapologetically against his sword-hilt as he turns a calculating eye on everyone.

“Prince Derrick, Princess Brier-Rose . . .” The raven fairy Ev quickly fills them in on why they are gathered. “So,” she finishes, “I am only asking what you all think we should do to surprise the author in celebration for this day that she finds so special. Suggestions?”

Princess Brier-Rose smiles. “I think it’s a lovely idea.” She pulls a long-stemmed scarlet thorny rose from behind her back and holds it up. “We could give her roses,” she adds softly.

Prince Derrick deftly takes the rose from her. “Don’t touch that, Brie,” he says, kissing her forehead. “You’ll hurt yourself.”

She frowns. “I like roses, and I don’t see why they’re forbidde –”

“Cake!” Baz exclaims. He gets another round of stares. “Cake,” he explains firmly, grinning widely and obviously enjoying the attention, “is absolutely the only way to celebrate any celebratory celebrations whatsoever. Which would include blogoversaries.”

The bard is seen to smile in the background.

“Well, not that I know anything,” Faron speaks up from the edge of the crowd, still looking flustered — it looks as though he had been continually prodded by the silver-haired boy, who looks innocent of all such doings as if he has merely been quietly observing the bark on the branch above him. “But I should think that a proper royal feast would fit the occasion.”

“How about we leave her alone,” the outlaw growls.

“Nonsense, all of you,” says an imperial voice from somewhere above everyone’s heads. Several people look up. A great airship is hovering above the glade, and standing on the bottom rung of a long slightly-swinging rope-ladder, unconcernedly holding the side with one hand, is a young woman with truly impressive fiery red hair in gorgeous but haphazard curls about her pretty face. “A ride in my skyship should do. Scurry off, everyone. Unless you’d all like to be invited along too, which… could perhaps be arranged. I think you’d fit. As long as everyone behaves in a shipshape fashion, of course.”

“They won’t. I don’t like their looks. Don’t let them up,” calls a voice from above.

“You’re one to talk,” the redhead says, tossing her hair out of her face as an errant breeze tries to blind her with it.

“And who are you, exactly?” Ev calls up. “I’m not certain we have met before.”

The girl on the rope-ladder smiles with cheerful charm, mixed with royal elegance, and touches her brow in a sort of salute. “Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley, Captain of the HRSS Star-Dreamer, at your service.”

“That won’t do. I believe the author is afraid of heights,” calls a random sandy-haired youth in a cloak with a sword, who is standing among a collection of others.

“Not at all — it’s only you that is,” retorts one of his companions, a sea-blown looking young fellow with a young lady at either shoulder.

A new rush of voices begins as almost everyone begins to give suggestions or argue about them.

Tare shakes his head, muttering. “This is ridiculous. I’m out of here.” He strides toward the edge of the glade, ignoring everyone, but when he reaches the border, he finds himself suddenly back where he had been standing near Teague and Meridian and Ev and the rock. “Hey –”

Ev finds herself the recipient of the icy dark-blue stare, but instead of doing anything about it, only climbs up onto the rock so she can see everyone better.

The outlaw looks as though he had been going to try to leave as Tare had, but seeing the results of it, he makes a surly face, sticks one end of his double-ended spear in the ground, and leans against a tree, apparently waiting it out.

At this point, there is a rather interesting disturbance at one side of the glade. A whole cluster of young ladies come through the trees and into the clearing, talking animatedly among themselves. There are twelve of them, they appear from their circlets to be princesses, and they are each wearing a different colored dress: grey, black, purple, blue, green, blue-green, red, reddish-brown, white, yellow, pink, and light orange. The grey one is leading the way, looking about alertly while engaged in some sort of argument with the one in blue-green. The green one seems to be complaining about a horse, or perhaps the lack of it, while the blue one is soothing her and simultaneously trying to keep track of the pink and the orange. The red and the brown, who have the same face and appear to be twins, are laughing, and the yellow one is somehow reading a book while walking. The one in black and the one in white are at the back, silent; the black, a withdrawn silent; the white, a shy one.

“Good afternoon,” the princess in silvery-grey says to Ev as they approach. “We seem to have lost our way; or at least to have found a very curious gathering.”

“Indeed,” the golden-eyed bard speaks up pleasantly, still playing a quiet melody that weaves through the sunbeams.

“And I have certainly not met the rest of you, either,” Ev says curiously. “Who might you be?”

“We are the daughters of King Fergal,” the blue princess says. “Or . . . most of us are,” she adds with a glance at the silver princess.

“And it’s quite obviously not doing us a bit of good, because we’re bloody lost,” the green princess says, folding her arms.

I don’t care,” the peach princess says carelessly, her eyes sparkling. “It’s far more interesting to be lost.”

“And the author is definitely not writing them yet,” Tare mutters. “Not till November. She promised.”

“Jealous, much?” Baz says comfortably from behind him.

“Actually . . . no, I’m not. And you said you were going to be quiet.”

Meridian is frowning, staring around with her hands on her hips. “Well, one thing’s for certain,” she says. “There are far too many princesses around.”

The outlaw glowers. “More like far too many princes.” His resentful prince looks ready to go at his throat, but the harassed one makes peace by stepping between them (a dangerous move, but he seems to live despite it). Prince Derrick stands by politely and does not appear offended.

I think,” Teague says mildly, “that there are far too many people of any kind around.”

“That’s the first sensible thing I’ve heard all morning,” Tare says with an annoyed sigh. “Nothing’s going to get done, and we’re never going to get out of here.” He looks toward Ev with a left-over glare. “Can’t you — ”

But at this point a rather severe, tragic looking young man — or fairy? (He does seem to have the semblance of silver wings growing out of his black cloak.) — with long black hair and silver eyes, arrives and severely addresses the twelve princesses. “There you are. I told you not to stray off the path. Come.” And, with several severe glances at some of the others, particularly Tare and the outlaw, he escorts the twelve princesses to the edge of the clearing . . . and out of it.

Which means that they at least could get away.

Tare looks put upon, and the outlaw looks angry.

Princess Tasmania, still swinging idly on the end of her rope ladder above everyone’s heads, is looking vaguely bored.

But most everyone else is still talking at the same time and there is a general buzz of noise, mostly arguments, that makes it quite impossible for anyone to really accomplish anything.

“For the love of Faerie, be quiet at once before I decide to put you all to sleep just to save a headache!”

This startling announcement is made at the top of her lungs by Ev the raven fairy, who is standing on top of the rock at the glade’s center. There is a sudden silence. Everyone looks at her. Until now she had been the picture of amiability, but now there is definitely some anger to her, and her black hair seems to have been fading into a shade of red.

“Now then. Can we possibly stop quibbling and come to an agreed-upon mode of celebration?” Ev glares around, hands on hips, the red color crawling further up her hair. “Everyone, make one suggestion each, and then we’ll vote.”

She unfortunately had not specified who was to give suggestions first, for everyone begins talking at the same time again. But before Ev or the bard or anyone else can restore order, there is a sudden voice from another direction altogether.

“Guys! What . . . in the world . . . is going on here?!”

There is a sudden, deathly stillness. Then everyone turns to look.

A girl with long brown hair, in a green t-shirt and brown skirt, with a notebook embellished with clock-faces in one hand, and a black pen held limply in the other, is standing at the side of the glade and staring in utter confuzzlement at everyone.

The bard ceases his playing and comes smoothly to his feet, his golden harp in the crook of one arm. He makes a minor bow in the direction of the newcomer, a smile playing in his golden eyes. “Author. We did not expect you so soon. The Lady Ev here has been . . . Well . . . She had plans.”

“What are you doing all together — what happened — is everyone all right?” the author asks, darting frantic looks at everyone. “Has anybody killed anyone? You do not mix well! Tare, get away from Bithoa — now.”

“I wasn’t doing anything,” Tare says with a frown of perplexity, not moving. The outlaw narrows his jewel-green eyes but otherwise makes no move. They are several feet away from each other, but this does not seem to do anything to soothe the author’s worries.

Ev slides down the rock and smiles. “We’re fine. I only thought it would be nice to call everyone together. We were going to . . . surprise you.” Her face falls. “Unfortunately, we seem not to have come up with a surprise yet.”

“For what?” The author looks very confused.

Tare sighs and folds his arms. “Your blogoversary. Obviously.”

“Yes, we were going to give you a surprise celebration,” Baz cuts in. “I suggested cake, but nobody’s listening.”

Others begin to put in what they had thought of, particularly Princess Tasmania.

The author begins to laugh and stops everyone. “Well, you needn’t think any further,” she says. “I’m glad everyone’s okay — I was worried there for a second. There’s a reason you’re not all in the same story, you know. And a reason you don’t ever gather together, besides. But if you were looking for a special way for me to celebrate my blogoversary . . . you’ve already done it. Thank you, guys.” She smiles happily.

Several of them smile back — though some, like Tare, the outlaw, the silver-haired boy, and the still-oblivious purple-haired young man, do not seem to do smiling much in these or any circumstances.

“Well, I’m off,” Princess Tasmania is saying from above everyone’s heads. “You’re sure you don’t want a ride, author?”

“Sometime, thanks,” the author calls back. “I’m just busy for now, with . . . other things.”

“As you please,” Princess Tasmania says cheerfully, shimmying up the rope ladder in a twinkling. “I’ll give the rest of the crew your greetings.” She waves a hand back down. The author waves back with a wistful look.

“If that’s all cleared up,” Teague says, “I suppose you can go back to writing. And so can I,” he adds with a pointed look at Meridian, who picks up another dropped sticky-note and sticks it firmly on the notebook he is holding, giving him a raised-eyebrow-look.

The author laughs. “Fine. And . . . Ev. I loved seeing you all together for a minute, and there weren’t any casualties, but don’t go making a mess like this again.”

Ev laughs too. Her hair is quite black again. “I was only trying –”

“I know, I know,” the author says. “But please don’t. Now, everyone back to where you belong. Before somebody kills anyone,” she adds under her breath.

“I shouldn’t worry about that,” Ev says, tilting her head curiously to one side.

The crowd breaks up and people (and griffins, dog, bear, leprechauns, etc.) begin to disappear or wander out of the glade, which they now seem able to leave.

“Where did Baz go?” the author asks suddenly.

Tare had been striding off to leave, but pauses and looks sharply around.

“You may want to look up,” the golden-eyed bard remarks casually as he strides by, harp under one arm, on his way out of the glade.

The author and Tare both turn their gazes skyward. Baz is just disappearing inside the skyship, waving cheekily down at them. “I’m going to explore the clouds and be fabulous!” he crows when he catches their eyes.

“I’m gonna kill him,” Tare says through his teeth, making a lunge and catching the bottom of the rope ladder. Baz yelps and disappears inside as Tare quickly climbs upward.

The author sighs, about to go after them and prevent violence, but first gives Ev a pointed look. “You see?”

Ev’s laugh turns into a sound of ruffling feathers as she is once more a sleek black raven. She spreads her wings and flies off in the other direction from the skyship (with the dangling rope-ladder and its climbers), leaving below an empty forest glade full of golden sunbeams and no sound save the quiet twitter of birdsong and the rustle of the leafy branches swaying gently in a soft breeze.

Starring, As Themselves (In Order of Appearance):

Ev (The Rose and the Raven)
Bard Reldin (Heartseeker)
Meridian Brownley (The Other Half of Everything)
Teague Aurelius (The Other Half of Everything)
Tarragon “Tare” (Kedran’s Wood Series)
Basil “Baz” (Kedran’s Wood Series)
Kevin Johnson (Underground Rainbow)
Donal and Liam (Underground Rainbow)
Troggsie and Scottle (Underground Rainbow)
Small Occasion (Kedran’s Wood Series)
Faron (Starrellian Saga)
Ryan (Starrellian Saga)
Darksky (Starrellian Saga)
Bithoa (Starrellian Saga)
Prince David (Starrellian Saga)
Prince Donavin (Starrellian Saga)
Prince Derrick (The Rose and the Raven)
Princess Brier-Rose “Brie” (The Rose and the Raven)
Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley (The Siren and the Skyship)
Andrew (Starrellian Saga)
Liam (Starrellian Saga)
Laura (Starrellian Saga)
Marigold (Starrellian Saga)
Princess Silver (The Silver Forest)
Princess Ebony (The Silver Forest)
Princess Amethyst (The Silver Forest)
Princess Sapphire (The Silver Forest)
Princess Turquoise (The Silver Forest)
Princess Emerald (The Silver Forest)
Princess Auburn (The Silver Forest)
Princess Ruby (The Silver Forest)
Princess Ivory (The Silver Forest)
Princess Goldie (The Silver Forest)
Princess Rosie (The Silver Forest)
Princess Peach (The Silver Forest)
Prince Taghdach (The Silver Forest)

With Special Guest Star:

Deborah O’Carroll as ‘The Author’

Written on location at the forest glade.

No characters were harmed in the writing of this crossover.
(Baz came close, though.)
(And Tare and Bithoa within seeing distance of each other were murders waiting to happen.)