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Favorite Reads #1

Posted by on December 12, 2014

Happy Friday!


Today concludes our 2014 Favorite Reads Christmas Countdown, you have until next Wednesday to comment and earn entries for the giveaway. More details below. And the winner? Your choice of ANY of the books I’ve mentioned in the countdown. I’ll announce the winner Friday, December 19th.


It isn’t a secret I love the Tales of Goldstone Wood. Ever since I picked up a copy of Heartless years ago and was blown away with Una and the dragon and the Prince of Farthestshore. At first the tale was nice enough, but midway, I had been transported into a kingdom betrayed by another. The Dragon’s poison and Una’s struggles hit home with me. And I’ve learned that one should always be careful when voicing one’s opinion of another’s actions until one knows why, thus I had to issue a public apology to Prince Lionheart. I do think he’s come close to being one of my favorite characters. Oh, but it’s so hard to choose among such a diverse and vast cast. The creativity, the depth, the characters, the story…all sweep me away every time I pick up one of Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s novels. So, number one in my 2014 Favorite Reads countdown is Shadow Hand.


The Dragon King Seeks His Princess—
Who Dares to Stop Him?

Princess Una of Parumvir has come of age and will soon marry. She dreams of a charming prince, but when her first suitor arrives, he’s not what she’d hoped. Prince Aethelbald of mysterious Farthestshore has travelled a great distance to prove his love–and also to bring hushed warnings of danger. A dragon is rumored to be on the hunt and blazing a path of terror.

Una, smitten instead with a more dashing prince, refuses Aethelbald’s offer–and ignores his cautions with dire consequences. Soon the Dragon King himself is in Parumvir and Una, in giving her heart away unwisely, finds herself in his sights. Only those courageous enough to risk everything have a hope of fighting off this advancing evil.

Read my review here.

Find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

add to goodreads



Rose Red

A monster prowls the Mountains of Southlands

Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely.

Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Headstrong young Leo startles everyone by befriending Rose Red, and together they begin searching for the monster rumored to be stalking these lands.

But the hunt, which began as a game, holds greater risk than either imagines. Soon both are forced to test their trust in each other as a far more terrifying scourge puts their entire land at risk.

Read my review here.

Find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

add to goodreads



Moonblood Draws Near, and Soon the Dragons Will Wake

Desperate to regain the trust of his kingdom, Prince Lionheart reluctantly banishes his faithful servant and only friend, Rose Red. Now she is lost in the hidden realm of Arpiar, held captive by her evil goblin father, King Vahe.

Vowing to redeem himself, Lionheart plunges into the mysterious Goldstone Wood, seeking Rose Red. In strange other worlds, Lionheart must face a lyrical yet lethal tiger, a fallen unicorn, and a goblin horde on his quest to rescue the girl he betrayed.

With the Night of Moonblood fast approaching–when King Vahe seeks to wake the Dragon’s sleeping children–Lionheart must discover whether or not his heart contains courage before it’s too late for Rose Red…and all those he loves.

Read my review here.

Find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

add to goodreads



The Black Dogs Are on the Hunt, But Who Is Their Prey?

When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps fairest Lady Gleamdren, the Bard Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission…and a race against his rival for Gleamdren’s favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.

But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren’s rescue? Or will the dark power from which she flees destroy both her and her rescuer?

Read my review here.

Find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

add to goodreads



Who Will Dare to Face the Dragonwitch?

Submissive to her father’s will, Lady Leta of Aiven travels far to meet a prospective husband she neither knows nor loves–Lord Alistair, future king of the North Country.

But within the walls of Gaheris Castle, all is not right. Vicious night terrors plague Lord Alistair to the brink of insanity. Whispers rise from the family crypt. The reclusive castle Chronicler, Leta’s tutor and friend, possesses a secret so dangerous it could cost his life and topple the North Country into civil war.

And far away in a hidden kingdom, a fire burns atop the Temple of the Sacred Flame. Acolytes and priestesses serve their goddess to the limits of their lives and deaths. No one is safe while the Dragonwitch searches for the sword that slew her twice…and for the one person who can wield it.

Read my review here.

Find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

add to goodreads


Shadow Hand

This is a tale of blood.
And love.
And the many things that lie between.

By her father’s wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. As her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.

But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal parasite.

A world that is hauntingly familiar.

Read my review is here.

Find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

add to goodreads

Golden Daughter

Beyond the realm of dreams is a world she never imagined.

Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty, delicate, demure . . . and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest of her life.

But when she learns that a sacred Dream Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams. With only a mysterious Faerie cat and a handsome slave—possessed of his own strange abilities—to help her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor touch?

For the Dragon is building an army of fire. And soon the heavens will burn.

Find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

add to goodreads

Goddess Tithe

The vengeful goddess demands her tithe.

When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya’s only hope to return safely home.

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown’s garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?

Read my review here.

Find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

add to goodreads


For a chance to win your choice of my 2014 Favorite Reads Countdown, all you have to do is comment. There will be six posts in all, giving you the chance to enter six times. At the end of the countdown, all names will be placed in a hat and one will be drawn. Winner will be announced December 19th, and he or she will be able to choose from any books mentioned during the 2014 Favorite Reads Countdown.

***A chance to earn extra entries***

Do you know someone who loves fantasy? Who might enjoy one of the novels mentioned in the countdown? Refer them to any one of the countdown posts and have them comment, saying you sent them. You’ll get an extra entry for every person who mentions you by name. There’s only one more Friday left! I will stop accepting entries on Wednesday, December 17th at 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time Zone. It’s been awesome interacting with you all!

Have fun and read responsibly!

Missed a Favorite Reads post?

Honorable Mentions
Favorite Reads #5
Favorite Reads #4
Favorite Reads #3
Favorite Reads #2

What was YOUR favorite read of 2014?

Have a great weekend!

11 Responses to Favorite Reads #1

  1. sparksofember

    I own several of these but keep postponing reading them. They’re so popular, I’m afraid I’ll be let down!

    • J.L. Mbewe

      Oh??? Before I read Heartless, I had read a few of the reviews, so I was a bit nervous myself. But I loved it. These books are like soul mates for me. They connect deep with me. But as you can see not everyone has connected or enjoyed them to that level. So you never know until you try one! 🙂 Let me know if you do read it and how you liked it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Bethany A. Jennings

    I’ve read Heartless, but none of the others yet. They all have such beautiful covers! I found Heartless a little too allegorical for my taste, although I did enjoy it and I thought it was a sweet book.

    • J.L. Mbewe

      The covers are beautiful! I think the allegory has faded a bit in the other stories. Not saying it isn’t there, but not as strongly as in Heartless. (Of course, this is coming from someone who loves allegory, or used to… 😉 ) At least, when I walked away from the rest of the books, it was more about the characters, their choices, struggles, and triumphs or not, and not a character representing the church as in the case of Una in Heartless. You might be pleasantly surprised in the later novels. I read Starflower second, although, the book is fourth, and I am so glad I did. Because in book 2 & 3, you recognize some of the characters and the stories felt richer for me. But who knows, I can’t go back and read it differently. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

    • Georgina

      I agree with Mrs. Mbewe that the allegory fades, or at least grows more subtle, as the stories go on. I would definitely recommend giving the series another try. I know that Mrs. Stengl tries to make each of her novels better than the last and I personally have found that to be the case. 🙂

  3. Allison Ruvidich

    Oh, no! I missed many posts. I’m sorry! But I think I’ll go back and read them all now. I am of course a diehard Imp. I read Starflower first, which seems to be somewhat uncommon reading order, but I still loved it. It’s my favorite book in the series!

    • J.L. Mbewe

      No worries! Do you think reading Starflower first helped understand Heartless better? I read Heartless, then Starflower, then went back to Veiled Rose & Moonblood. I don’t know which book is my favorite. Maybe Dragonwitch, because of the Chronicler and Princess Leta, but then I think of Shadow Hand and Daylily…I have yet to read Golden Daughter, but it is sitting on my shelf. I’m going to use that as a reward when I finish editing. ha! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Rachael Liankatawa

    Love the Tales of Goldstone Wood. Thanks for introducing Heartless to me! I love the allegory of Heartless but it was Veiled Rose that hooked me on the series. Though, I’m only up to Starflower.

    • J.L. Mbewe

      You’re welcome! And that makes my little heart happy! I’m so glad you’re enjoying them. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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J.L Mbewe - Author