If I had a Boat

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Hollow Kingdom Review

Well, I think I already mentioned how much I enjoyed The Hollow Kingdom, but I want to get a little more specific about it. Let the review begin!
In nineteenth-century England, a powerful sorcerer and King of the Goblins chooses Kate, the elder of two orphan girls recently arrived at their ancestral home, Hallow Hill, to become his bride and queen...
The Hollow Kingdom is one of those books that you stumble upon by complete accident, and you feel as though your life has been changed for the better. It's a frightful story told in three parts, and each part has its own entrancing aura...
Starlight, part one, begins with an eerie warmth about it that made me want to be reading the book on a chilled fall evening with a cup of cider. Mystery, magic, and an underlying feeling that there was more to the story than you first may believe immediately pulled me in to the story. It was dark, but not too dark. In some ways the book had a very Jane Eyre- ish feel to it. 
Probably what I loved most about Claire B. Dunkle's writing was not the eeriness that I love so much, or the mystery, or even the light humor that often made me laugh out loud throughout the book. What I loved most were the characters she created. I have never read a book with so many diverse characters who didn't resemble any other character I had ever read about before! The hilarious big-sister little-sister relationship was spot on. Emily was adorable and hilarious. Marak, king of the goblins, was a character that truly kept me guessing throughout the book. What is he really thinking, anyway? And Kate, sensible, proud Englishwoman was a loveable, courageous heroine whom I came to love!

And did I mention the rather adorable cat, Seylin?
Lamplight, part two of the book, began continuing the same magic and excitement as the beginning of the book. I really enjoyed the classic goblin feel it gave which was most reminiscent of The Princess and the Goblin.
Part three, which I cannot remember and Google refuses to help me, plus I'm no where near the book to look, is the only part of the book I had a slight problem with. It was still wonderful, don't get me wrong, but it was rather...sudden. It almost seemed disjointed with the rest of the book. But, I ignored this and wound up loving the ending of the story. It was masterfully told, with the exception of the slight disjointment (which is strictly my opinion. You might not find it disjointed in the least.).
All in all, The Hollow Kingdom is a must read. Anyone who enjoys fantasy should love this book. Really, though, I recommend it to anyone who has a love for wittiness and excellent writings. I should probably re-read it and take notes in my journal...
Well, what do you think? Have I piqued your interest?  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Coming Soon!

What ho!
(okay, so, I might be writing this really late at night...which means I'm feeling a little random. Sorry.)
Random babblings aside, I thought I might mention that I'm going camping, which means I will be hiking, sleeping, eating, hiking some more, eating, kayaking, eating...and reading. Lots of reading. What is a camping trip truly for if not reading?
I planned ahead and ordered some books that I've been eyeing for quite a while. I told myself that I wouldn't read any of them until I was at the campground.
My resolve ended the minute I opened The Hollow Kingdom for a peek at whether or not it was going to be a good read -- just a peek, mind you.
The book was finished in one sitting.
She had never screamed before, not even when she overturned the rowboat and almost drowned. But now she screamed, long and loud, with all her breath.

"Oh, I know what's bothering you," Marak teased before Kate could turn away in disgust. "The cloak and hood. It's been on your nerves all evening. You've been imagining all sorts of horrors, I'd guess."
This is just another way to goad me, Kate thought grimly, but he was absolutely right.
Marak tugged back his hood and examined her stunned expression. He watched her cheeks grow pale, her lips bloodless. He grinned in delighted amusement.
"You imagined all sorts of horrors. But maybe not this one."
Hallow Hill has a strange and tragic history. For thousands of years, young women have been vanishing from the estate, never to be seen again. Now Kate and Emily have come to live at Hallow Hill. Brought up in a civilized age, they have no idea of the land's dreadful heritage. Until, that is, Marak decides to tell them himself.
Intelligent, pleasant, and completely pitiless, Marak is a powerful magician who claims to be a King—and he has very specific plans for the two new girls who have trespassed into his kingdom.

Well, the fact that I've already ordered the next two in the series of The Hollow Kingdom should tell you that I enjoyed this book very much. But I'm going to leave my review for when I get back from my trip.
What I'm going to read next, and what I'm guessing will be my favorite of the books I ordered, is Keturah and Lord Death. 

It just gives the feel of a classic!
Keturah, renowned for her storytelling, follows a legendary hart deep into the forest, where she becomes hopelessly lost. Her strength diminishes until, finally, she realizes that death is near—and learns then that death is a young lord, melancholy and stern. She is able to charm Lord Death with a story and gain a reprieve, but he grants her only a day, and within that day she must find true love. A mesmerizing love story, interweaving elements of classic fantasy and high romance.
Needless to say I have big hopes for this one. I read the prologue and it instantly reminded me of Robin McKinley's writing...although perhaps not as complex. We'll have to wait and see. But the plot is promising, and I'm very much looking forward to sharing my review with all of you!

Lastly, I ordered a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera. I was incredibly excited to find a retelling of one of my favorite stories...and by a Christian author, no less! 

Chanson de l’Ange by Paisley Swan Stewart is a 3 volume epic retelling of The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Drawing inspiration from The Opera Ghost in all his incarnations through book and film; and remaining faithful to key story elements from the classic original, the author weaves a haunting tale of Christine Daae’s companionship with the mysterious Angel of Music. Book One~Orphan in Winter: opens with the tragic death of ten year old Christine Daae’s father, ushering in dramatic changes when she is left in the care of Madame Louise Giry. Christine makes her new home in the The Paris Opera’s conservatory where she encounters a bohemian world of singers and dancers, and where she is visited by the unseen Angel of Music.
Despite the thrill of finding a POTO retelling -- and also despite the fact that the author is a Christian -- I don't have completely favorable feelings towards Orphan in Winter. After glancing through a few of the pages, it would seem that Paisley Swan Stewart decided to retell the movie version. Or the play version. Whichever you like.
This bothers me.
The play of Phantom of the Opera was Andrew Lloyed Webber's own retelling of the classic, haunting tale. It would have been, in my opinion, a much better idea to retell the original story from Gaston Leroux's novel. It definitely seems as though Stewart modeled her Erik after Gerard Buter -- not Leroux's "Poor, unhappy Erik."  
Plus, in the very small bit I have read, it seems as though it won't be the most wholesome of books... I'm not sure if I'm even going finish this one :(
So there you have it! Reviews for these books will be coming shortly, and in the meantime, I hope you all have a delightful day!
NOTE: In a post or two ago, I mentioned an artist by the name of Meredith Dillman. Let it be known that I do not agree with everything she believes in or stands for...after perusing her site a little bit more, I noticed that she might not be the most respectable of people. :) 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Thank you all for stopping by my corner of the blogging world today! I'm simply thrilled to be a part of Jill Stengl's blog tour for her unforgettable novel, Until That Distant Day.

Author Bio
Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader's Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.

She blogs at Books, Cats, and Whimsy. Do stop by and follow her to keep up with all her writing and reading-related activities!

Back Cover Description

Colette and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.

But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.

Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?

"Jill Stengl is one of the rare authors with the ability to transport the reader to another world--a delightfully rich world of scent and sight and sound.” – Kim Vogel Sawyer, bestselling author of Echoes of Mercy
“Award-winning author Jill Stengl has created her greatest work yet in the inspiring and moving Until That Distant Day.” Jill Eileen Smith, bestselling author of the Wives of King David series.

What a treat it was to be able to ask the author a question! Although I must say it was rather hard to leave it at just one question...

What aspect of writing a historical novel do you find the most challenging?

As far as the historical aspect goes, my greatest challenge in writing a historical novel is avoiding anachronisms. My characters need to think, speak, and react as people of their time period, not mine.

For example, in Until That Distant Day I wished to portray my characters as true Catholics, for in this setting and time period, it would make no sense to portray them as behaving, thinking, or speaking as modern evangelicals or Protestants.

But I am not Catholic myself! I did my best to portray my characters and their beliefs in love and in truth.

Another challenging aspect of this particular novel was the complete lack of hygiene in eighteenth-century Parisian society! So, for the most part, I just don’t go there. LOL
A more general difficulty in writing historical novels is the problem of conflicting sources. Two eye-witnesses to the same event sometimes contradict each other. So which account should an author use? If details conflict, I try to avoid using either. I’m sure I made some mistakes that would offend any serious historian, but I’m hoping for a bit of grace. After all, this is fiction. Heh.
Thank you for joining my blog tour, Clara!

Thank you Mrs. Stengl for writing a fantastic novel!
Don't forget that the spectacular book is on sale right now for only $0.99! Now that's a steal, my friends!
Don't forget to enter your name for a chance to win this fantastic prize!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Caelia Thistledown

You know how you get stuck for minutes...occasionally hours...on social media? And sometimes you happen upon a very cool something that you simply have to share?
This happened to me yesterday. I was browsing through Facebook (the downfall of all writers) and came across an artist who crafted each of her paintings after fairies and flowers and mermaids...all things that make for great "inspiration", or so I like to call it.
"Hey, I'm doing research!" I said.
That wasn't entirely true.
One of the artists' paintings, her name is Meredith Dillman, got me quite tickled. This is for all the cool Whovians out there.
Germinate! Germinate!
I instantly liked Meredith Dillman after seeing this picture!
But what's even better than the germinating Dalek is her Woodland Fairy Name painting. It's actually been a great source of inspiration of character names for me!
I am Caelia Thistledown.
Caelia? REALLY? Of all the other lovely names on the board, I had to get Caelia...although I suppose it is better than Pigwidgen.

What's your Woodland Fairy name?
Did you find any names that might be perfect for a few of your own characters? Do tell!
Hands off Quince Nettlewisp, though. That one's mine! :P