The Beast of Talesend

Clever. Witty. Hilarious.

If I had to sum up Kyle Robert Shultz’ book, The Beast of Talesend in three words, those are the ones I would choose.

But, thankfully, I do not have to keep my review of this delightful tome to a mere three words. Isn’t that just fabulous? Therefore, you will now get a more thorough review. Lucky you!

IMG_1666Nick Beasley is a private investigator who lives in the Afterlands, in 1922 E.A. (Ever After). It has been approximately that long since the last “happily ever after” and magic is far less common now. In fact, Nick has made a pretty fair name for himself debunking all sorts of magical hoaxes and proving that magic more or less doesn’t even exist… perhaps it never did.

But his perspective on that… and everything else… is about to change.

I loved every page of this short novel. It had a hint of that 1920s, black and white, “Dragnet” or “Kojak” sort of feel to it. It was even told in that sort of matter-of-fact, first person sort of way that just has a very dry sense of humor to it.

Things I loved:

1. The characters. For such a short read (I think it took me about two hours to complete), the characters really spring off the pages. Nick is this grumpy, old-before-his-time, protective big brother who is sort of used to being right all the time. But he’s got a heart of gold and he cares about people. That’s the whole reason he is working so hard to prove that magic doesn’t exist: he’s seen too many people hurt by scam artists. Then there’s the Lady Cordelia, who is the polar opposite of Nick. She is impetuous and almost obnoxious in her brashness, but her “jump first, look later” nature is born of an absolute confidence in who she is and her own skills (and she really is pretty good at things) that you can’t help but admire her. Crispin is Nick’s younger brother, and at first he comes across as sort of your typical lazy lay-about who can’t hold down a job… but he is more capable than even he knows, and he is loyal to a fault.

2. The crime-drama aspects of the story. I love crime shows and detective-type stories. So those aspects of the story intrigued me and made me want to discover “whodunit” along with the characters.

3. The humor. Oh my goodness, the humor! This book is just dripping with snarky, tongue-in-cheek, dry humor. There were lines that made me chuckle on almost every page. And there was at least one moment where I could not even keep reading, I was laughing so hard. That is a huge win, in my book. I love a story that makes me laugh.

4. The world. I love the idea of all the fairy tales living along together in the same world, and this one was just so amusingly put together. With places like “Grimmany” and the “Palace of Villeneuve” scattered across the Afterlands, there were plenty of nods to the originals mingled together with entertaining puns to keep me begging for more stories set in this world.

5. THE LAST LINE….. AAAAAHHHHHHHH! CLEVERNESS!!!!!

Things I didn’t love:

Uuuuummmmm…. I’m supposed to balance out the raving from above here, right? I mean…

Nope. Can’t think of anything. Except maybe that it was too short.

And… that’s about it.

In conclusion:

I will definitely be buying the sequel(s) and reading more from this author. If you enjoy crime shows, a writing style that hearkens back to the days of Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant, mixed up fairy-tales, puns, hilarity, and unlikely heroes… this is a book you NEED to go get a copy of right now!

Five extremely well-deserved dragon eggs

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~ jenelle

September Adventures and Episodes

Adventures& Episodes

I figured it was time for me to create my own monthly “doings” and “happenings” title… as I’ve been using Deborah’s monthly-wrap-up format for over a year now… and while I may still refer to these posts as such, I wanted to make a nifty graphic of my own, too. What do you think? Seems people like seeing what I’ve been up to each month, so here is the new version of “ishness” here on the blog. I’m not sure I like it… we shall see if it sticks around.

So… what was I up to in September?

The Author Life For Me – Adventures in Writing

Lots of editing. Much editing. All the editing, all the time. I edited Minstrel’s Call chapters 31 – 42… and then I hit a major blockade. One portion of the ending needed a ton of work and re-writing, and it has bled over into every other aspect of the ending of this novel… which means that the final chapters are proceeding extremely slowly. I sort of ground to a halt for the last two weeks of September and lost all the momentum I had built up through the summer… and got discouraged, disheartened, and depressed about the entire project.

But I can’t stay in that place for long, and after taking a week or two off, I am getting back into the swing of things. I spent some time mulling over the plot points of the last 10 chapters with Derek and formed a new outline for them, an outline that helps me see where I need to re-write and where I can leave what I have. All this re-writing means that I am going to have to do another pass through the book on my computer just READING through and making sure it all flows well before I can even think about ordering a hard copy to proofread… but that is okay. I knew that a 2017 deadline wasn’t going to happen… and while I would love to be able to offer you this book as a potential Christmas gift you can give to family and friends… or ask for for yourselves… I do not believe I am going to be able to make that deadline. I need to be able to spend the time to make sure that this book is the very best it can be, and unfortunately, that takes time. Which is a bit of a rare commodity these days.

I do think it will be worth the wait, though.

Bookwyrm Adventures

I finished reading The Lunar Chronicles and started reading Fairest, which is sort of part of the Lunar Chronicles, but also more of a side-story. I will do a series review of all the books when I have finished them.

I read White Wolf and the Ash Princess with the Fellowship of Fantasy book club and much enjoyment was had.

I also read The Great Turkey Walk out loud to the kids for school – which was super fun. And I read Castle Behind Thorns, which I enjoyed even more than the first two Merrie Haskell books I’ve read.

We finished Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose, which was everything I expected it to be. Beautiful and heart wrenching. I also learned some details of the story I hadn’t known before.

We also finished Wild Born, which was… ok. The story was fun, but the writing style did not lend itself to being a very good read-aloud. I’m not sure how to explain that, except that some books you can read aloud and not get annoyed, and others you can’t. This was one of the latter types – I think it’s a pacing and style issue.

I also had the privilege of beta-reading “The Brightest Thread” by Tracey Dyck, which was SOOOO good… and I’m super proud of myself for getting it done in a timely fashion and not leaving it till the last minute. (I don’t beta read much because: reasons, but every now and then I will make an exception for an author I already know I like or if it’s a book where I just CANNOT WAIT for the release date). Am very much looking forward to buying the finished version of this someday in the (hopefully) near future!!!

Adventures and Episodes on the Silver Screen 

We finished reading the first three books in a Series of Unfortunate Events, so we introduced the kids to the movie (the one with Jim Carrey in it). I think they enjoyed it.

Derek and I have been catching up on the new Hawaii Five-O, which is fairly enjoyable. I love the snarky conversations between Dano and Steve.

The kids discovered Mia and Me on Netflix and it is ADORABLE. All three of them love it, and I find it to be very cute and fun. It has a whimsical sort of feel to it, and is produced by a coordinated effort between Canada/Italy/Germany… which is cool.

I… cannot remember what else we watched. It must have been extremely memorable. Maybe we just haven’t watched much of anything else… oh… we are rewatching Star Wars: Rebels in preparation for the release of season 3!!! (Which I think has now happened… we need to get a copy).

Episodes of Life

Brantland turned 3! And there was Paw Patrol and Batman and Optimus Prime and all sorts of rejoicing! And I learned that my husband’s knack for picking up new talents is very nearly limitless as he made and decorated an AMAZING Batman cake. Seriously… look at this…Batman Cake

What even?

I am not jealous. I am perfectly happy to be surrounded by people who are good at EVERYTHING. (Actually, I am so glad that I have talented people around me… it means I get things like editing and cover art for free). *grin*

We started school and have managed not to fall behind yet… and we’re already 5 weeks in! That is encouraging.

We have started working on costumes for Halloween. Brant decreed that we are all to be Star Wars characters… and nobody argued with him… so we’re having fun piecing together costumes for everyone. Derek will be Darth Vader, Leiana will be Princess Leia (of course), Nathalie is going to be Ashoka Tano, Brant is Anakin Skywalker, Grayden will be Yoda, and I will be attending as Jyn Erso. The kids also found my copy of “Wookie Cookies: A Star Wars Cookbook” and are busy planning a Star Wars themed party for the future. I am all for this!

Future adventures

I really want to finish outlining Turrim Archive #3 and try to get the rough draft pounded out for Nanowrimo. I have been reading “Write 5,000 Words in an Hour” and really want to try some of the techniques and see if I can learn to draft faster… but I know I need to have a good outline ready to go first, or I’ll run into too many obstacles trying to get the book written, and I don’t know if I can work on outlining that while also trying to finish up this pass of edits on Minstrel’s Call at the same time…

And that concludes this episode of adventure recap. How was YOUR September, dear Reader? Are the temperatures cooling off, or are the leaves beginning to change colors where you are? Are you planning to do Nanowrimo this year? Are you working on a story for the Short Story Challenge? Are you participating in #Drachtober? I’d love to hear from you!

~ jenelle

October Nightstand Books 2017

A little late in the day for a post… but since it IS the first Wednesday of the month, I figured I’d go ahead and publish this now. Why? Because, as everyone knows, the first Wednesday of the month is NIGHTSTAND BOOKS DAY!

And I have a whole new shiny stack o’ books for the nighstand this month! It is so exciting, those fresh covers, those unread pages, the adventures that await within each tome… so let’s see where my bookish journeys will take me this month… shall we?

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From top to bottom:

Write 5,000 Words in an Hour by Chris Fox – I’m not usually super excited about non-fiction, but this book was recommended to me by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, who has been using the tips and tricks in the book to increase her writing speed and ability to put out more drafts faster (three books in three months… which was impressive enough that I had to grab a copy and see what the secret was!) I have only read the first chapter so far, and have begun participating in some group “writing sprints” and have already seen a major difference in my ability to write faster… and it does not appear to be causing any great loss in quality, either, which was my fear.

In these “word wars” I have managed to increase my productivity and even broke 1,000 words in half an hour last time I participated. And I am pretty happy with the way the words turned out in the short story I was writing. I have also seen myself able to write faster when I am not trying to sprint, and able to focus for longer periods of time on my editing and the rewrites I have been working on with Minstrel’s Call. And that’s all after just one chapter in this book! I am excited to read and learn more!

Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Rachel Hubbard - This is the book study that my Tuesday Morning Moms group is going through this semester. I have read it before, but it’s nice to go through it again.

Beyond the Gathering Storm by Janette Oke - I don’t think I have read the last two books in the Canadian West series before, so I am looking forward to seeing where the story goes.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer - Technically this is book 3.5 in the Lunar Chronicles, but I am reading it after reading the original quadrilogy because I was worried there would be spoilers. I am glad I am reading it now instead of between Cress and Winter. However, even knowing how Winter ends, I am feeling jumpy for everyone in this book and worried that they aren’t gonna make it.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer - This is a compilation of short stories that take place in the world of the Lunar Chronicles and…. that’s all I know so far. I’m just happy to spend a few more happy hours in that realm. When I’m done with the entire series, I will do a spoiler-free series review, I promise! I’m jotting notes as I read each of the books.

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens- Leiana has listened to this book in audio format a few times, and I’ve heard snippets here and there. She is convinced I would enjoy it, and went out of her way to find the “book” version in the library for me. She’s such a sweetheart.

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The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz - This is the October book for the Fellowship of Fantasy club and I am excited for the additional impetus to get a copy and read it… I have been wanting to since Deborah first reviewed it, and even moreso since Kyle kindly stepped in and helped out with the Silmarillion Awards and I find that I enjoy his blog/writing style quite a lot.

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Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt - This is the read-aloud we are currently going through for school. It’s a classic that I’ve heard a lot about, but I’ve never read it before, so that’s fun. It is set against the backdrop of the Civil War, which is the time period we are also studying in History class.

Beauty by Robin McKinley – Leiana won a copy of this at the library over the summer during the reading program and wants it to be the next book I read out loud to them now that we’ve finished Jim Elliot and Wild Born.

So, that’s my line-up for October. What are YOU reading these days?

~ jenelle