Long ago in 2017 I surpassed my Goodreads reading challenge of 60 books, and made it all the way to 63. I know, I’m amazing. However, I wanted to look back and list the top 5 books that I read last year. Now I am skipping over books I’ve read before, and only listing those that I read for the first time in 2017.
This book is as sweet as it sounds. I’ve come to love several of Allen’s books, and I actually read 2 other of her books this past year. This I think was my favorite of hers simply because I can relate to the sugary sweet cravings that Josey is subject too. But like most of her books, there’s this hint of magic in the air, where even in a world that’s created to be as realistic and relatable as our own, there’s still that chance that anything is possible.
If you ever read a book by Cassidy you know how much good humor there is in them. This one by far is the most hilarious. I practically had to smother myself to keep from laughing out loud at work. It was so much fun to read, and an interesting set of issues for werewolves to have to deal with that I’ve never once seen brought up in other books. Which in a way made it more realistic, and of course more interesting.
This is actually the 2nd book in the Alyria series. While the first was rather good, this took Calamity to a whole new level. It’s always nice to read a series that gets better with each book, and this one was a fascinating story to begin with. Definitely one that keeps you wanting more.
I love fairy tale retellings, and I love the old detective stories of a world weary gumshoe just trying to do the right thing. In this I got both. It’s funny and exciting, and it’s another series that each book takes you on a new twisty turn of old tales.
If you love romance novels, but are also the sort to wonder why the heroine always makes such silly mistakes, or does crazy things, then this is definitely a book you should pick up. After all Annalise actually knows she’s in a romance novel and is just trying to figure out exactly where the script is taking her.
There were plenty of other good books I read, some within the series of the ones I listed, and some that I chose to read over and over again. But when scrolling through my list these were the main ones that jumped out for me, and I definitely won’t be forgetting them any time soon.
The Last Days of Lady Cordelia by Kyle Robert Schultz description:
Lady Cordelia Beaumont is dying.
That’s what her mysterious nurse tells her, at least. Even worse, her magic powers have abandoned her, her friends are missing, and her whole world has completely changed. Everyone around her is insisting that magic and fairy tales aren’t real. Even the name of her city is different. She’s not in Talesend any more—she’s in a place called London.
Cordelia is determined to return to her own reality, but dark forces are working against her. An old friend may be able to help—but he doesn’t remember who she is.
Who are the Neverwolves? What is the secret of the Shadow Parallel? And how can Cordelia use magic to escape from a world where magic doesn’t exist?
Honestly this shouldn’t really be considered a series all on its’ own. It’s really just part of the regular Beaumont and Beasley series, like maybe BOOK 2.5, because it seems to pick up where The Tomb of the Sea Witch left off. Although it is taking place in a sort of other world, it wouldn’t really make sense without reading the other 2 books. However, it is a rather short story, but an interesting one that does promise a more intricate plot later on. I really loved the idea of the Neverwolves, and how this isn’t just some throwaway short story that can be easily done without. It’s a really good tale, and one that didn’t need to be a full book, but definitely makes me want more. The only thing is that it did need better editing. There were typos that could’ve been easily fixed with another read through. Regardless, worth the read and can’t wait for the next one.
Beauty in Autumn by Ruby Dixon description:
Inspired by the story of Beauty and the Beast, a short and sexy interpretation of the classic fairy tale…
For years untold, there has always been a beast in the cursed forest. Every year at the Harvest Festival, a new bride is sent to him…never to return. But when Willow is chosen to be the newest bride, she seeks out the help of the local wise woman.
Willow might be able to break the curse, but to do so, she must refrain from looking at the beast entirely. It sounds easy enough, but as things get heated between them, can she keep her promise? Or will she need to see who – and what – she’s bedding first?
This is a really short story, and it’s shown as book 3 of a series of stories written by different authors, but they aren’t in any way connected as far as I can tell, and so it’s just as easy to read them in whatever order you want or just read this one which I very much enjoyed. While this is said to be based on Beauty and the Beast, about the only thing that ties it to that fairy tale is the roses that are mentioned. It really comes across as more of a retelling of East of the Sun West of the Moon. Regardless of what fairy tale it resembles most, it was a rather interesting twist, and I liked that Willow wanted this, that she realized that this was her fate and she went in gladly. Of course, since it’s Dixon, you should know just how naughty it’s going to be. It’ll make you blush, giggle, and have you speeding right to the end.
Hi! *waves* I’m Kyle Robert Shultz. My blog is at www.kylerobertshultz.com, my Twitter handle is @kylerbrtshultz, and you can find my Facebook author page at www.facebook.com/kylerobertshultz. Basically, just type “Kyle Robert Shultz” into anything, and my face will probably pop up. Even on ATM machines.
- Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.
You mean there’s another world besides this? *peeks out the window in amazement* No, seriously, I do other stuff besides write. My hobbies include horseback riding and caring for a small flock of miniature sheep. I also love digital art, and I’m slowly working to improve my skills in that area.
- Your series, Beaumont and Beasley, is a retelling of several fairy tales. What exactly drew you to fairy tales, and what inspired you to write them in such a way?
To be honest, I’ve never really been drawn to fairy tales. I’m not even a Disney fan, per se–about the only Disney films I actually love are Tangled and The Emperor’s New Groove. But, the basic premise of retelling classic stories has always fascinated me. I love seeing the new twists that Marvel and DC put on familiar characters when they make their movies. And since all those characters are off-limits to me, I decided I’d try to make something cool and imaginative with public-domain stuff. In the setting of my series, pretty much every public-domain story and character exists, not just classic fairy tales.
- What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…
C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Steven Moffat are the three authors who have had the most profound impact on my writing. Narnia and Middle-Earth got me started liking fantasy, but it was Doctor Who that showed me how to break all the rules to create something really fun and unexpected. I also can’t say enough good things about the encouragement I’ve gotten from other writers on social media. That’s been a huge boost to my creativity.
- While there’s only 2 books out in your series so far, The Beast of Talesend and The Tomb of the Sea Witch, you’ve already shown covers for 2 more books to come. Did you know exactly where this tale was going to take you when you started or has it been surprising you along the way?
I had a rough idea where it was going to go, but there have been some surprises. Basically, I’ve had an endgame in mind for the series for a long time (not necessarily a final “end,” just a culmination of the current story arcs). However, additional stories have sprung up between Book 1 and the climactic future books I have in mind. I’ve been putting off a fairly shattering story based on Cinderella for a long time now. Pretty soon I’m going to have to get cracking on it. My readers are going to hate me…
- Do you have any plans for stories outside of the fairy tale realm or are you focusing just on the book before you now?
I do have lots of ideas sitting around in my notebooks, but given the positive response to Beaumont and Beasley, I think it will be wisest for me to continue building this brand for the time being. I don’t feel that I have anything quite as unique and fun to write as B&B in my ideas list at the moment. But if the series reaches a natural end, or if I just want to take a break from it for a while, I know I have other stuff to fall back on.
- What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?
I think funny, snarky dialogue is my main strength. It’s all the other stuff that I have a problem with. XD My initial drafts usually read like movie scripts, and I have to go back in and add all the necessary description to flesh out the story. When my characters are sparking off each other in dialogue, writing is a breeze. The quieter scenes that rely on imagery are the ones I need to keep practicing.
- After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?
My marketing is generally based on real, interpersonal connections rather than paid advertising. Not that I’m knocking paid advertising; I’m just not very experienced with it at the moment (I’m working on that). The way I market at the moment is to just put myself out there. I try to befriend people instead of just yelling “Buy my book!” at them. So far, this approach has had a lot of positive benefits. That being said, my tip to other writers is to be bold about sharing your writing. Don’t be obnoxious about it, but don’t be timid either. Never apologize in advance for what you’ve written, no matter how dubious you may be about it. Pitch it to people like it’s the best thing in the world. Own what you’ve created.
- What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?
My advice to a new writer is twofold:
First of all, put your writing online for free. Share it on a critique website like Scribophile, or on the YouTube for stories which is Wattpad. This will get you helpful feedback and allow you to start building your audience.
Second, STOP putting your writing online for free. Once you’ve learned enough from reader feedback to progress beyond rookie mistakes, start charging for what you create. Go ahead and publish it on Kindle. It sounds scary. It IS scary. But it’s the only way you’ll ever actually get started as a writer. Strange as it may sound, crossing that fine line between having your work on the web and having it published–even self-published–makes a ton of difference.
BOOK 1: The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz
The Tomb of the Sea Witch description:
Private detective Nick Beasley used to be a debunker of magic–and a human being. Then he found out magic is real. The hard way. Now he’s on the run from a powerful council of enchanters who want him dead, along with his little brother Crispin and the renegade enchantress Lady Cordelia Beaumont.
So when Cordelia suggests going undercover at a stronghold of the Council’s power–the Warrengate Academy of Advanced Magic–Nick isn’t exactly thrilled with the idea. Cordelia insists that the school may hold the key to Nick regaining his humanity: an ancient spell created by the Sea Witch from the tale of the Little Mermaid.
But the mission proves to be more complicated than Beaumont and Beasley had expected. An ancient threat is rising from the deep, bringing an army of the dead along with it. Shocking revelations send Nick, Cordelia, and Crispin on a harrowing journey under the sea.
The Sea Witch is not quite as dead as everyone believes…and her secrets will change everything.
At this point I just need Shultz to go back and write a book for every fairy tale, and the truth of how it all actually went down, because his versions seem far better than the way we’ve been told them. Now if you liked the first book even just a little bit, you definitely have to read this one. We’re really delving into the world of magic, and all the beings that have been in hiding in the Afterlands. I rather liked that they ended up at a school of magic (not for villains but anti-heroes), because it was an instant view into everything that’s been hidden from the rest of the world, and a look at their history and how they interact with others. More so, Nick, Crispin, and Cordelia felt more balanced in this book. They’re more of a team, and the humor flows really well in contrast to all the insanity that’s going on around them. Plus it’s just adorable how every animal Crispin comes across loves him, which is understandable considering how much he cares for every new thing he finds. Yet, it’s not just them that you love, it’s all the new characters being added and really filling out the story and giving us an exciting plot on their journey to uncurse Nick. I particularly liked the class of Mythfits, and even the show of their own fear of having to survive without magic, and why they’re so terrified of mermaids. There’s endless reasons to enjoy this story, and the world that’s being created here, you can’t help but dive right in. I only hope the next book comes out quickly, especially with those interesting tidbits Shultz left at the end.
The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz description:
Private eye Nick Beasley lives in a world where fairy tales ended a long time ago – where zeppelins now soar the skies instead of dragons, and where the first automobiles have taken the place of flying carpets. He’s made a name for himself across the Afterlands by debunking fake magicians and exposing fraudulent monsters. This is the modern age, after all. Magic and monsters are long gone.
At least, that’s what Nick believes. Until he gets magically transformed into a monster, that is.
The only person who may be able to help Nick is Lady Cordelia Beaumont, one of the last enchantresses in the Afterlands. But in order for her to cure him, they’ll have to retrieve a powerful artifact from a ruthless crime lord – who is also Cordelia’s father.
The fate of the Afterlands lies in the hands of a runaway enchantress and a monstrous ex-detective. What could possibly go wrong?
This is like a hard boiled detective got tossed into the darkest and bloodest of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, then made it darker and more horrifying, and then someone decided it should be a comedy. Surprisingly it works. Honestly the twists Shultz has taken on the fairy tales was rather surprising and far different than anything I’ve read before, and I’ve read my fair share of retellings. I would love it if he would go back and write books on the stories they talk about in here as their history. Because while this is obviously a Beauty and the Beast retelling, since it’s a land of fairy tales, they’re all mixed in in varying ways, and the truth about Snow White honestly made a lot more sense than a lot of the other reasons for why the step mom would want her heart. Like I said, it’s dark, but the humor brought to it by the characters going through this, and Nick and Cordelia’s banter help really lighten it over all, even while they’re fighting evil and saving the world from darkness and destruction. Though it did start out a bit overly goofy in the beginning, once you really get into it, the tale does find a good balance and you get taken on quite an adventure. I even rather enjoyed Crispin’s involvement, as Nick’s little brother, there’s a lot going on there that I’d love to see developed and to find out more about their past. But it was the last line of this book that sealed the deal on me snatching up the next as soon as I can. I don’t want to spoil it, but I liked how Shultz got there and then left you hanging with that OMG moment. There’s just so many ways this series can go from here, and I look forward to the journey ahead.
Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly description:
An original addition to the beloved Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Lost in a Book follows the lonely, bookish Belle as she finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s library called Nevermore that carries her into a glittering new world. There, Belle is befriended by a mysterious countess who offers her the life she’s always dreamed of.
But Nevermore is not what it seems, and the more time Belle spends there, the harder it is to leave. Good stories take hold of us and never let us go, and once Belle becomes lost in this book, she may never find her way out again.
This deluxe hardcover novel expands upon the beautiful story and world seen in the new Walt Disney Studios’ film, Beauty and the Beast.
This was a fun sweet young readers book. While you don’t have to see the new movie to enjoy this book, there were references and things brought up that do come from the movie, so I would recommend doing such. If you have seen the movie, the book mentioned has nothing to do with the book used in the movie, rather this is an adventure that’s right in the middle of the story. You don’t get the story of how Belle ended up there, although it’s brought up, nor do you see how the story ends for Belle and the Beast. This does help you get to know the characters a bit more, but because so much of this story takes place in Nevermore we’re really seeing more of what’s going on with Belle and what’s really keeping her in the castle, and how she feels being pretty much trapped there. However, even as simplistic as this tale is at times, it really does a good job of looking at what real relationships, both romantic and friendly, and how they aren’t always perfect and sparkly, that they have their ups and downs. That’s life and that being there for someone when they’re down is when they tend to need that connection the most, and that’s a pretty good moral for a fairy tale, and definitely makes this worth the read. My one complaint was the number of typos in the book. You’d think a book like this would’ve been edited a bit better.
I love Beauty and the Beast. I have since I was little and saw the cartoon version, and I love the live version even more. Perhaps it’s the book nerd in me falling for a guy who gifts a girl a huge library, but there’s always been something about it that I absolutely loved. However, now are the days of questioning every story and trying to find the evil within. Is this the tale of Stockholm syndrome or an abusive relationship that’s going to lead girls to believe they can change their abusive boyfriends/husbands if only they love them enough. I find both ideas utterly ridiculous. Maybe I’m blinded by my love of the tale, but I’m at least going to back up my reasons for why.
First off, it couldn’t possibly be Stockholm syndrome. Stockholm syndrome is described as “positive feelings toward their captors and sympathy for their causes and goals, and negative feelings toward the police or authorities. These feelings, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. Generally speaking, Stockholm syndrome consists of strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” I stole this from Wikipedia but I’m sure you can find this sort of info from a more reputable site if you’d like.
However, looking at this it doesn’t follow with what happens. First off, Belle chose to stay with the Beast so she wasn’t really taken hostage then. Sure she is being held captive, but it’s not like he went and kidnapped her. During that time the Beast and her barely spend any time together, and when he does act angrily and throws a tantrum, she stands up to him. She doesn’t back down, and while she doesn’t leave, she does move about doing whatever she wants. He yells a lot but all his threats are empty considering she doesn’t stay locked away and she does eat well. And she actually does try to escape, during which the Beast saves her life and when it’s clear she could make a run for it, she once more chooses to stay in order to find out what the curse is all about and to try to help the servants more than she is trying to help the Beast. More so, when the Beast gives Belle the opportunity to leave she does so. She doesn’t wish to remain there, and she doesn’t turn on the townspeople thinking they’re the bad guys. Besides she doesn’t even have rescuers of any sort to think badly of. The townspeople instead ignore her father’s plight and try to have him locked away instead of ever really asking what happened to Belle, and only go to the castle to murder the Beast, because even though they never knew he existed and he’s given them no trouble they’re suddenly afraid of him and decide to hunt him down and kill him in the castle he’s locked himself away in. So not much of her turning on any sort of rescuer, as it is trying to stop them from hurting people who are under a curse. In the end the only reason she shows any softening towards him, is because he finally stops acting so cruel and begins to try and be a decent human being. She also doesn’t fall in love with him until after he’s given her her freedom. In fact if he hadn’t been attacked it’s questionable if she would’ve returned or declared her feelings in time to even save him.
Now, much of this also answers why it’s not about an abusive relationship. Firstly, if you’re building your relationship ideals off Disney then you clearly don’t have any good ones to look upon in real life. Instead of blaming TV maybe we should question why they don’t have people in real life to look up to. Regardless, this isn’t the tale of someone who thinks they can save this cruel man if they just love him enough. Instead, she stands up to him repeatedly showing she isn’t going to bow to his will to just because he yells and demands it of her. While he does tear up a lot of stuff, the Beast never harms Belle or his servants. He clearly isn’t someone who they even fear because they disobey him readily. Showing he’s more bark than bite. Yet, the main thing to note is that it isn’t until he acts better, and shows that he cares, and that he’s trying to be a better man that she actually begins to love him. She isn’t loving him to make him better, she loves him as he becomes better. Once more, only upon him undoing all the wrongs he’d committed against her does she love him. Once he frees her to help save her father, who is only in trouble because of the Beast, and gives up his chance of breaking the curse does she finally let herself fall in love with him. Only once he’s completely turned from all the things that led him to becoming the Beast does Belle actually see him as someone worthy of her love. That is not the description of an abusive relationship. Belle wasn’t trying to save him, instead the Beast was working to become worthy of Belle.
BOOK 1: Desperately Ever After by Laura Kenyon
BOOK 2: Damsels in Distress
Skipping Midnight description:
One part Sex and the City. Two parts Desperate Housewives. Three parts Brothers Grimm.
For the women of Marestam, “happily ever after” has always come with a grain of salt. Be it infidelity or aging, deferred dreams or lost love, or even the pressures of raising a family, they have always seen each other through life’s trials with laughter, wine, and a brand new take on old-fashioned chivalry. But when rage and treachery take over, everything they hold dear comes under attack.
Suddenly, the monarchies are crumbling, Cinderella is missing, Belle is harboring the secret of all secrets, Rapunzel is facing the one dilemma she spent her whole life trying to avoid, and Dawn could lose everything she’s finally learned to love. In order to save everyone and unmask the wolf in their midst, this iconic group of friends must follow a dogmatic fairy no one trusts, invoke a magic no one understands, and face a past they thought they had buried long ago.
Rapunzel, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and the rest of Marestam’s favorite females return in this third and final novel in Laura Kenyon’s Desperately Ever After series, which takes a whimsical look at our most beloved fairy tale princesses several years after true love’s kiss.
At heart, it’s a tale of ordinary women coming to terms with how their lives have turned out. They just happen to live in castles.
This is one of my favorite series, and one of the best twists on fairy tales that I’ve read. How she has weaved this story in a modern sort of setting, and yet so enriched with the kingdoms and magic, has been so much fun to read. This book does a great job of tying up all the loose ends. Kenyon rotates through all the characters with such ease that it keeps the story moving along and engages each one of them in this search for the truth. I love how she keeps you guessing until the end, as they gather bits and pieces of the full story, and how they begin to try and understand what’s really happening to all of them, and what the ultimate end game is. But what I think helps set this series apart from so many others is how Kenyon is able to take these old fairy tale princesses and make them so relevant for today, and for anyone searching for their own happily ever after. Not every relationship is the same, not everybody needs the same things, and not every happy ending is wrapped up in a tidy bow. Each of these princesses are dealing with problems in their life, whether it’s the struggle of having a child or trying to decide if the one they married is the one they’re supposed to be with. These aren’t stereotypes, it’s not some glossed over love story, it’s a look at what so many of us have to face on our path to true love and so much more. Can’t wait to see what Kenyon does next.