A Whole New Faerie

Title: The Iron King
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: borrowed from the public library

Before anything I need to talk up my local branch of the public library system. These people are awesome! Even with budgeting cut-backs and other red tape issues they are keeping up with the readers who want the new, hot books. I've never had to wait more than a week to get the ones I really want. Which, in my opinion, is just awesome!

Now about the book, I love stories of the fae, but sometimes they all seem to fall into the same mold. Teen comes of age, has mixed human / fae parentage. The fae want her back. Teen then has to come to terms with not only being fae, but having to believe in them in the first place...usually while fighting for her life.  I was a bit worried that this novel was from that same form, but I didn't need to worry. Ms. Kagawa created a world that took that traditional model and turned it on end.

Quick Summary:
Meghan Chase is about to discover who's been keeping watch. When her little brother is kidnapped, Meghan must enter a world where anything she touches may kill her—including the icy prince who stirs her wakening senses. As she steps into the Nevernever, finding her brother is only the start of her problems. For the trail leads Meghan toward the most dangerous threat of all, the mysterious Iron Fey.

What I liked:
1. The novel easily meshes the faerie realm of Nevernever and the world we know. By combining fairy creatures from all sorts of backgrounds - faerie from literature, from childhood imaginations, from varieties of historical backgrounds, even from films- there is a world created that is intriguing and entertaining while still be comfortable.

2. Love that the author didn't stick with well-know fae. Don't get me wrong, I adore that some of the main characters are the much loved Puck, Oberon, Titania, and Maab, but by including a new type of fae - The Iron Fey - the mythology is taken to a whole new level. Old characters are comfortable and reliable, but it's hard to see them in a new light. That is, unless they are thrown into a new situation. The new style of Fey creates the perfect background for everything unknown in this world.

What I didn't like:

1. Meghan has a uncharacteristic self-questioning moment near the end of the novel. This moment (I'm avoiding too many details her to avoid spoilers) stands out simply because throughout the rest of the novel she has been resolute. She hasn't been swayed by magic or the finery offered to her. She could have easily taken her place among the royalty. But she stayed focused on rescuing her brother. That is until the very end. For a brief moment she considers giving in to the temptation. She eventually decides against that, but still.......it is completely out of character for her.

2. I have to wait for the next novel in the series!  This is a sad thing. When I fall for a book, I want to be able to read the next one right away. Luckily, it will be out in August. Not too far away!

Overall: This is a great  young adult fantasy novel. There's nothing to risque or violent. Every faerie fan should read it.

Discussion Questions

1. What did you think of the feud between Puck and Ash? How do you think that might play out in the next two books?        Honestly, I'm torn. I have loved the character of Puck for a long time. Seeing him in this lovelorn protector role is a wonderful new treat. On the other hand Ash is everything a girl could want her Faerie boyfriend to be. I think their feuding will make life, and the adjustment to being a faerie, easier for Meghan. She'll be dealing with their drama which may shed light on the harder transitions she'll have to make. But I don't foresee their feud coming to an end quickly or easily.

2.  Favorite scene or line from the book? Could you relate to any of the characters?    "I'm a cat." Love, love love Grimalkin. He reminds me of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, but with significantly more attitude. His on his own time answers and haughty delivery of everything make him just about perfect.

3. With whom did you identify with the most? And Why?      I most identified with Meghan pre- knowing anything about the fae world. It is mostly her not fitting in at school, but wanting desperately to be asked out by the hot guy. Yep, that was me. While I did have a great group of friends, it took me a long time to be comfortable with myself. For some reason I never measured who I was/wanted to be against my friends but against the popular crowd...much like Meghan. And like Meghan has Rob to come to her rescue, I had a great friend who came to mind. Relating that easily helped me identify with her as the novel continued.

4. Did you find the concept behind the Iron King-  being  a technology fueled modern day faerie-  original or unbelievable?     It's completely original.  I'm all for taking the ideas that are so comfortable and twisting them into something new and fascinating. So many things can be done with the tech fueled faeries...I'm excited to see where this goes.

5. Kagawa used a lot of mythical faeries in The Iron King, such as King Oberon, Queen Mab and Puck. Which fae from myth would you have liked to have seen added into the pages of The Iron King besides the ones she used?     I lucked out on this one! My all time favorite faeries were the chosen to be the key players in this novel. A Midsummer's Night Dream was the first time I met the characters of Oberon, Titania, Mab, and Puck. It's still my favorite!

Some really good bad guys!

Title: The River Kings' Road: A novel of Ithelas
Author: Liane Merciel
Genre: fantasy series
Source: Received from Sarah Reidy as part of the Pocket Books blog tours for purposes of giving my honest review.

Summary from the publisher:
Liane Merciel’s The River Kings’ Road takes us to a world of bitter enmity between kingdoms, divided loyalties between comrades, and an insidious magic that destroys everything it touches. . . .
The wounded maidservant thrust the knotted blankets at him; instinctively, Brys stepped forward and caught the bundle before it fell. Then he glimpsed what lay inside and nearly dropped it himself. There was a baby in the blankets. A baby with a tear-swollen face red and round as a midsummer plum. A baby he knew, even without seeing the lacquered medallion tucked into the swaddling—a medallion far too heavy, on a chain far too cold for an infant who had not yet seen a year. A fragile period of peace between the eternally warring kingdoms of Oakharn and Langmyr is shattered when a surprise massacre fueled by bloodmagic ravages the Langmyrne border village of Willowfield, killing its inhabitants—including a visiting Oakharne lord and his family—and leaving behind a scene so grisly that even the carrion eaters avoid its desecrated earth. But the dead lord’s infant heir has survived the carnage—a discovery that entwines the destinies of Brys Tarnell, a mercenary who rescues the helpless and ailing babe, and who enlists a Langmyr peasant, a young mother herself, to nourish and nurture the child of her enemies as they travel a dark, perilous road . . . Odosse, the peasant woman whose only weapons are wit, courage, and her fierce maternal love—and who risks everything she holds dear to protect her new charge . . . Sir Kelland, a divinely blessed Knight of the Sun, called upon to unmask the architects behind the slaughter and avert war between ancestral enemies . . . Bitharn, Kelland’s companion on his journey, who conceals her lifelong love for the Knight behind her flawless archery skills—and whose feelings may ultimately be Kelland’s undoing . . . and Leferic, an Oakharne Lord’s bitter youngest son, whose dark ambitions fuel the most horrific acts of violence. As one infant’s life hangs in the balance, so too does the fate of thousands, while deep in the forest, a Maimed Witch practices an evil bloodmagic that could doom them all. . . .

All good epic fantasy stories not only have a brave hero, and quest of grand porportions, but also have some great bad guys. No story worth its salt would dare go on with the hero left unchallenged.  The River Kings' Road is no exception. Thorns are a group of religious devotees that use their powers to kill, maim, and destroyin the name of their Goddess. In a world where a variety of warriors, knights, and everyday people follow dozens of Gods/Goddesses having a group go to the extreme violence side of life creates strong tension and interesting moments.

What I liked:
1.  I adore epic fantasies.  The idea that the story is so grand,  twisted and complicated, and has dozens of facets that it has to unfold over time (books) seems perfect to me. This novel easily balances the story with the character building and the world building. As a reader you are given insight and knowledge of the world and characters throughout the novel.

2. Like I said above, the Thorns are some really good bad guys. They are described as self-mutilated, sometimes horrifically beautiful and with a range of powers that are fueled by death and blood.

3. Well rounded characters abound in this novel. Unlike some novels, epic fantasies or others, not only the main characters were given full characterization. Everyone has motives (some known, some not discovered in this book) that come into play as the story unfolds.

What I disliked:

1. The names of people and places were constantly switching. Scenes changed, sometimes to quickly, as the story unfolded. It was hard at first to keep all the character names straight.

Overall: I truly enjoyed reading this novel. I wouldn't call it a must read for fantasy fans, but imho it's very close.

Thank you Sarah, for giving me the opportunity to read this novel!

**This book qualifies as part of my fantasy reading challenge.**

What's in a Word

Title: What's in a Word: Fascinating Stories of More Than 350 Everyday Words and Phrases
Author: Webb Garrison
Genre: Non-fiction, language
Source: From the publisher, Thomas Nelson, in exchange for an honest review.

Whats in a word? Webb Garrison uses this quick, easy to read book to help explain the wheres and whys of our English language. Let's face it, English is sometimes hard to understand. We have bucket loads of idioms, coloquial phrases, and words that are used even when most of us don't know where they came from or why we started using them.

I love words. I am constantly fascinated with the way our language shifts and changes. I also have a bit of fun teasing my students about not understanding the source of the things they say.  This book is a collection of words and phrases you may not know the origins of.  I did enjoy learning about most of these words, but sadly, some are out of date. The section of computers/ technology is completely obsolete...anyone under 30 has probably never heard some of these terms, let alone want to know where it came from.

This collection of words and phrases would be great, light reading for word geeks and students. It also strikes me as a good read for people who love trivia.

Great Scots!

Title: A Highlander's  Temptation
Author: Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: I believe I won this from someone's book blog, but I can't for the life of me remember which blog. If it was you, I apologize!

This was the book I needed. It's currently spring break and as a teacher I enjoy this week off as much as the students do. I'm three days in and have already caught up with a boat load of reading I wanted to do. Afraid of falling behind in my reading schedule again (it's hard to get away from the slow, leisurely pace that is February) I wanted a quick, easy, feel good read. I found it in this novel.

What I liked:
1. I have a hard time enjoying historical romances as a whole. There is a weird line where too much detail is given and I'm turned from the stories to looking up the details to see if they are accurate...or what really happened. This novel only had one such moment....and it was very small. The story was strong and catching enough to keep my attention. The historical details were a well-crafted part of the story. Together there was a great balance that equalled happy brain-candy in my world. (I did look up birlinn just to see what one looked like, though I was able to guess what it was through context clues.) (It's a type of boat incase you didn't know.)

2. Alpha males. I'm a big fan of Highlanders. They just seem to make the best alpha males around. But then that could be due to the fact they almost always seem willing to show that sensitive side to the females....and sometimes other males....in their lives. The alpha in this novel, Darroc MacConacher, may sometimes get tripped up by his weaknesses, but they are also what spurs him on when he needs to go after his girl.

3. Linnet MacKenzie was just given a brief scene or two in this novel as mother of the heroine, Arabella. I want to read more of her tale. She's a strong woman, she's not bowled over by her alpha male husband, she has a touch of magic about her, and she trusts her daughter. While I enjoyed the rest of the story, I was always happy to see Linnet show up in a scene.

What I didn't like
1. There is a strange side story of a ghost who lives in a tower room of MacConacher keep. Throughout the story there are mentions of magics, scrying, old and new gods........all play a part in the tale. I've still not figured out the reason behind the ghost being there. Unless her story is covered in another book, there seems to be no purpose here. The ghost doesn't bring them together or apart. She doesn't seem to have any ability to influence them at all. Other than adding some magic history to the room, she doesn't seem to have a reason to be.

Overall:  I highly recommend it to historical romance readers...and to anyone looking for a bit of romance novel brain-candy.  This novel is the perfect flavor !

**This novel qualifies as part of my TBR challenge list.**


I'm a huge fan of lists. They make me happy. Sometimes I even use them to get things done.  Yep, I'm one of those people. 100 little sticky notes, scraps of paper, messages and lists on my iPhone.....but most of them go unused. I just like the act of listing, mostly. What's all this listing babble leading to? Well you see the other day I stumbled across this website: 1001 Series. There are all sorts of greatest hits type lists here....1001 movies to see, 1001 childrens books to read, and my personal favorite 1001 books to read before you die.

 Now, with 1001 novels on the list there is no possibility of me ever getting done with the list. Plus, I've already read at least a dozen or so of the novels listed. But, I do think this would make an interesting personal growth challenge. Break me out of my reading bubble, so to speak. My current plan is to pick one novel from each of the letters. If I can finish them in this year, that would account for 26 novels. Not bad if I do say so.....especially as I'm sure there will be some novels that will just be play ole torturous for me to read.

So, what do you say? Anyone up for trying to expand your reading horizons with me?


Title: World of Warcraft: Stormrage
Author: Richard A. Knaak
Genre: Fantasy, series
Source: Gallery Books / Simon and Schuster sent me the novel for free in exchange for my honest review.

Let me just start right off by saying....no, I don't play World of Warcraft. I wasn't even aware that there were WoW novels. Though, a quick visit to a bookstore set me straight. Apparently, the stories/ novels of WoW are as popular, and are working on being as prolific as the stories/ novels of the Star Trek universe. It's crazy! So many authors, so many characters, so many story lines......but they all fit together. There must be something to them to attract this large and loyal of a fan base.  When I was first approached to read and review this novel, honestly, I was a little put off. This isn't my flavor of geek. I'm not sure I could tell you anything about WoW other than some of my friends have lost hours of their lives to it. But heck, the cover matter made it sound interesting...and at worst it would just be another fantasy novel. It took me a bit to get into it, but I'm glad I got the chance to dip my toes into this new area of geekery.

What I liked:
1. At its core, this is part of a well built, long running, race war - fantasy novel. It has all the requirements....large scale wars, smaller personal battles, varieties of citizens (in this case all fantastical creatures such as Night Elves, Dragons, Centaurs, etc.), and an intricate (though not too complicated) plot to keep everyone / thing driving forward.

2. Having never read any other WoW novels, I was afraid that I wouldn't understand anything that was being talked about. Not so. Mr. Knaak was able to both continue on with the story and give the necessary background information to make it all work. This is a hard feat that he managed well.

What I didn't like:
1. Probably this is a flaw of I didn't read the previous parts of the series, but I never grew to care about any of the characters. Usually, in a  good fantasy series I'm able to invest in the characters. I worry about them and cheer them on. It was a bit different with this novel. While I didn't outright hate any of the characters, I certainly wasn't invested in their story lines. I continued reading the novel because I wanted to know how the story / war ended....not because it was a gripping character driven story.

2. At times, particularly near the beginning, the writing was almost schizophrenic. One paragraph would be overly descriptive, the next narrative, all followed by a paragraph or two of haughty pseudo-medieval fantasy garble.  Eventually, this worked itself out, but I can't help but feel that either the writer or the editor should have caught and fixed this.....or made it workable throughout.

Overall: I'm glad I was given the chance to peek into the story around the game, World of Warcraft. I must say that the novel is much more interesting to me than the story. For WoW players, I think / hope this novel is everything you've been waiting for. For non WoW players, this series may be a place to go if you're looking for a new fantasy series.

The Lightning Thief

Title: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: YA, fantasy
Source: Borrowed from a student

That's right...I borrowed a book from one of my students. I love that my high-schoolers are comfortable enough with me to talk about books and movies that interest them. I love that they are willing to share those interests with me. Like Twilight before it, and Harry Potter before that, I only read this because a student recommended it to me. And like the books before it, I'm very glad I did.

What I liked:
1.  Even though she is only a small section of this novel, I was instantly drawn to Percy's mother. There is something about her love for him, her selflessness, and her sacrifices that spoke to me.  I especially like her when compared to the mothers in several other YA novels I've read recently (Yes, Never Cry Wolf, I'm talking about you.).

2. I enjoy the way Mr. Riordan is able to make connections between mythology that is well-known and a brand new world. Percy and his story is wholly unique, but with so many of the characters being ones I've met before, I'm charmed and hooked into the series.

What I disliked:
1. While the Gods are given many different facets to their characters..........or are allowed to show them, it is a bit off putting that most of the teens are mere stereotypes of the God/dess that sired them.

2. It's a bit odd that something in that last sentence inspired to me to use the word sired in a non-vampire context.

Overall: This was a fun book and I'm glad I had a chance to read it. I might be tempted to see the movie now. Though I've heard that it is significantly different from the novels. This is one of those novels that should be read by YA fans and fantasy fans alike.

I read books they way other people eat, sleep, or watch movies....voraciously, obsessively, and as often as possible. The reviews, random commentary, and snark in this blog are mine alone. Don't take my word...read the book.
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