In this first of what looks to be an excellent series, Victorian England has vampires at every level of society, especially the higher ones, and they engage in incessant intrigue, power games, and casual oppression of the weak--activities, as we know, that are all too human. Numerous characters from literature and from history appear in both major and cameo roles. Spectacular fight scenes, stormy politics, and a serial vampire killer keep the action lively. A scholarly bibliography is included.

This was one of the most disappointing reads I've had in a long time. I had heard nothing but praise for this vampire novel but I don't understand why that is. The writing, IMO, was so bland and uninspiring I barely dragged through page 49 before I decided I could take no more. Mrs Newman seems to be in love with hyphens, so much so that I counted 11 on one page alone. So many words were hyphenated: new-born, un-dead, curly-haired, knee-tremblers, desk-banging, boot-leather, bread-knife, vampire-slayer,after-darks, tea-bowls...and on and on and on. It was distracting, to say the least. Too many sentences dragged on or made no sense and I found my mind wandering more than once. I couldn't care for any of the protagonists and I certainly didn't care to know just who the Silver Knife murderer was.

Maybe I can try and get into this another time but, for now, it's a DNF.

This is my second novel based on the Tam Lin folk ballad and I must say I am extremely disappointed. I like the Tam Lin myth and I found this book extremely and utterly boring. Let's have the plot first from Amazon:

In 1558, while exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle known as Perilous Gard, young Kate Sutton becomes involved in a series of mysterious events that lead her to an underground world peopled by Fairy Folkwhose customs are even older than the Druids" and include human sacrifice

The plot and the fact that it's based on one of my favorite tales should have made this a great read. That and the praise that seems to follow this book everywhere. So what went wrong? I can't put my finger on it. All I can say is that there was nothing motivating me to go on reading.

The character of Kate, our heroine, is bland and given to sudden silly outbursts for really stupid reasons. The hero, Christopher, is no better. One of the things that really bugged me was how one minute they couldn't fathom for one second that faeries exited and the next they are all but going after them. They, especially our heroine, are portrayed as religious therefore they cannot accept such pagan thoughts. The next thing you know they are utterly convinced that it was the Fey that took Christopher's niece a while back. Up to this "realization" Christ was adamant that the girl was dead and it was his fault for not watching her and that she fell into the Healing Well and drowned. He has lived with this guilt eating away at him and will accept no respite from wallowing in his misery. Then it takes Kate barely a few sentences to convince him without a shadow of a doubt that it's the Fey that did it.


I found this a little too convenient. That along with the bland characters and the writing, which felt stiff and without any emotion, made me not care what happened to any of the characters or how this would end up.

A very disappointing Did Not Finish.

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

I liked Ender’s Game, and I’m surprised that I liked it. Science fiction has never really been my forte. Even science fiction television shows: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek...none of that has ever interested me. I’ve always been more interested in fantasy. So I wasn’t expecting to really like Ender’s Game, which is based on the premise of a hostile alien race creating the need for child military geniuses. But the audiobook was nearing its due date at the library and I’d already renewed it twice, so I decided it was time to pop the discs in and listen to them. I can’t say I was riveted throughout the entire novel, eagerly turning the pages (or in this case, changing the discs), to get to the next sentence. It’s a little slow to start with—you have to be eased into the world and the lives of the characters—but as the story progressed, I became more and more interested in what would happen to Ender; in what would become of this genius child, thrown harshly into an adult world. I liked Ender because he strived so hard to do the right thing and hated when he couldn’t. The fact that he suffered so much when he had to make hard choices was testament of the good person that he was. I also liked Ender’s strength. When others sought to bring him down, he sought to show them otherwise. It was compelling to follow—it made you want to root for the underdog. And even though the world Card presented is different from the world we know, I could relate to Ender as a character. His emotions and his reactions to his situations were very human to me, even when the world he was in, was not. The secondary characters were well-developed, as well, bringing life to the story just as much as the main characters. One of the things I particularly liked was that Card didn't just tell you that the children were smart, he showed you.

As I mentioned before, I listened to this on audio. I’m quite new to audiobooks and the reading of this book surprised me because it was the first audiobook I listened to where there was more than one actor performing the reading. At first, I thought hearing a bunch of different voices would be distracting to the story, but it wasn’t. It actually made it more interesting and all the actors performed their readings well, putting emotion into each of the characters’ voices.

While I’m still unsure whether or not I would like to invest my time in the rest of this series (Ender’s Game stands-alone well enough), this is a book I would definitely recommend—not necessarily as a page-turner, but as a thought-provoking (and emotion-provoking) piece of fiction. I wish I’d read this book when I was younger, because I think it teaches some important lessons about life.

The comfortable world of Martris Drayke, second son of King Bricen of Margolan, is shattered when his older half-brother, Jared, and Jared¿s dark mage, Foor Arontala, kill the king and seize the throne. Tris is the only surviving member of the royal family aside from Jared the traitor. Tris flees with three friends: Soterius, captain of the guard; Carroway, the court¿s master bard; and Harrtuck, a member of the royal guard. Tris harbors a deep secret. In a land where spirits walk openly and influence the affairs of the living, he suspects he may be the mage heir to the power of his grandmother, Bava K¿aa, once the greatest sorceress of her age. Such magic would make Tris a Summoner, the rarest of magic gifts, capable of arbitrating between the living and the dead.

Although my expectations where high when I first heard about this book, as Necromancers are one of my favorite character types, I wasn't as disappointed as I thought I would be. I have to admit that yes, I was hoping this was a rare gem of a book that lives up to my expectations but, although it was not, it wasn't that bad a disappointment.

The book starts off well enough with murder at the palace and the escape of Tris and his friends. His quest to get to his uncle's lands takes up most of the book and are what, IMO, made it interesting as their journey is plagued with great dangers. It was fast paced enough to keep the reader entertained. In fact, it was not until they get to where they are going, almost at the end of the book, that the pace slows down and the novel loses interest. This is where we have some rather cliche moments, such as Tris having to fight with a ghost for an ancient sword or the fact that a character, merely pages old and a little too conveniently, turns out to be related to the one person they were going to see.

The problem is that the writer doesn't know what to do with the characters once they reach their first destination where Tris is supposed to get trained as a mage. We spend over half the book having fun as we follow their adventures and then the action gets bogged down in the last few pages as there is too much still to say and not enough room to say it in. It's almost over and Tris doesn't have any sort of training or control of his powers. All of a sudden and with the help of the Sorceress we find out that he knew a lot of magic all along but his grandmother, the great Summoner of her time, had repressed this knowledge until "the right time" else it cost him his life. He had to come of age and then be in danger before the magic kicked in, so to speak. A little too convenient way to get Tris to learn a lot in what little pages where left. To be sure he has a long way to go and anyone expecting an all out battle between good and evil will be highly disappointed. This book is obviously the first in the series and the ending clearly tells you so. Tris and his friends still have to learn to use their powers, gather an army and then they may be ready to face the villain.

Since most of the book was spent on the journey I rather enjoyed the book and I think it's pretty good for a first effort and as a beginning of a series. It does have a lot of room for improvement and I can't wait which way Gail goes with this. The next book in the series will be out on January 2008.

A 3.5 out of 5.

Two thousand years ago, the Born Queen defeated the Skasloi lords, freeing humans from the bitter yoke of slavery. But now monstrous creatures roam the land—and destinies become inextricably entangled in a drama of power and seduction. The king’s woodsman, a rebellious girl, a young priest, a roguish adventurer, and a young man made suddenly into a knight—all face malevolent forces that shake the foundations of the kingdom, even as the Briar King, legendary harbinger of death, awakens from his slumber. At the heart of this many-layered tale is Anne Dare, youngest daughter of the royal family . . . upon whom the fate of her world may depend.
The Briar King by Greg Keyes
Published by Del Rey in 2004


I picked this book up at the bookstore one day pretty much on a whim. I had been seeing the third book in the trilogy around, The Blood Knight, and thought the trilogy looked promising, so when I saw the first book at the second hand store, I decided to give it a try.

There is a lot going on in this book. The book starts out in peaceful times, but there is a change coming. People can feel it coming, and though they are warned about what is about to occur, it is so out there that they do not believe it will happen. This is the story of a kingdom on the brink of take over, on the brink of something from the past reappearing in the future. The king's woodsman has been warned that his life is about to change, he can feel the differences in the forest, but he chooses to ignore the warnings until it is almost too late.

The princess of the kingdom is not your average princess. She refuses to confirm to the common ideals of being a princess and is not at all like her older sister. The sister that used to be her friend has become more like her jailer, making sure that she does not break the rules of decorum. When it gets to the point that she refuses to listen to anything, she is sent to a convent to be trained as an assassin-like character. The changes in the kingdom come to her sanctuary, though. Someone has desires to overthrow the king, and they cannot be successful if she is still alive to risk their plans. They plan to put her brother on the throne because he is mentally slow and will be a puppet king. Suddenly the princess that played at being daring is forced into that role for real.

There is an interesting band of characters in this book. Other than the woodsman and the young princess who both have destinies to fulfill, there is a young priest who sort of annoys me, but he is supposed to. He has spent his time living in books, and suddenly he finds himself in the middle of an adventure that he is not ready to handle. But when safety is offered to him, he finds that maybe he is ready to break outside of his norm afterall. There is also the roguish adventurer who knows nothing but fighting for his honour, but he finds himself up against forces that even surpass his fighting abilities. He becomes an unlikely ally to a rebellious princess.

Lastly, there is a young boy who finds himself the queens protector. He is the youngest of the guard, but he has dedicated his life to his queen and he will do anything for her. It might be the difference between success and failure for those that plot the overthrowing of the kingdom. As you can see, this book has a large band of heroes and heroines in the mix. The princess is supported by her lady in waiting, the king's woodsman finds himself caught up with a woman, and the queen finds herself in a place that she never dreamed of being.

This was an interesting fantasy novel and a decent beginning to a trilogy. I would not say that it is very revolutionary in content, but a lot happens in it to make it a good read. I look forward to seeing how this band of people transforms in the sequel, The Charnel Prince.

Highly disappointed in this historical mystery novel by Janet Gleeson. From Amazon:

Nathanial Hopson is an apprentice to the famed cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale. This position, which often involves executing his master's designs in the homes of the wealthy and titled, allows Hopson access to all kinds of goings-on, both upstairs and downstairs. This device also allows Gleeson to give readers insights into both eighteenth-century social tensions and the wonders of antique furniture. The mystery starts with Hopson, assigned to make a Chippendale bookcase at the estate of Lord Montfort, discovering Montfort's dead body in the library, his hand clutching an elaborately carved box fashioned from grenadillo wood, his neck covered with leeches. The murder of the designer of the box, an apprentice friend of Hopson's, follows. The second murder convinces Hopson that his own life may be in danger, prompting him to sail into a full-scale investigation of both crimes.

There were many, many things I found rubbed me the wrong way with this book. So much so that I merely skimmed the last few chapters just to find out how it would all end.

One of the things that bothered me is the fact that the entire book is supposed to be one big letter. Make that huge letter. The very first page is a letter from Nathaniel, our hero, to Alice, the woman he is in love with. Clearly throwout the course of the mystery investigation they've had a fallout and, as Nathaniel explains in this letter, the entire book is his accounts of everything that happened so that she may understand what was going on and perhaps forgive him. Now, my problem with this is that, as a rule, letters don't have entire conversations in them. If this was supposed to be an account of everything that happened and you are writing all of this to someone I don't think you would send anyone 200+ pages written as a book, with entire conversations, descriptions of every place you ever went, and even word for word copies of quite a few letters you've discovered or have been sent by various people. If he was narrating to the reader or writing his memoirs or something I'd go with this but, again, a 200+ page letter that reads more like a book just so that someone forgives you? The fact that Alice was present a lot throwout the book and knew what happened half of the time makes it even more silly. Why the need to retell her every single conversation you ever had? She was there! She knew all this! It just didn't make sense at all.

Next is the fact that Alice ALWAYS just happens upon Nathaniel when he is in a compromising position with some "pretty young thing." Of course there are explanations as he gets help from these women but how is it that Alice catches him 3 times with 3 different women in compromising positions? Furthermore we as the readers know that nothing is going on because it's always some accident that lands him in said positions. Now, Nathaniel has a reputation for getting along famously with the ladies and he does get it on with quite a few of them yet none of these times does Alice happen to find him. It's only when he is really just investigating that she comes along and gets the wrong idea. How convenient. Also, how in the hell does she find him at those times? Is she a stalker? I mean, the man is literally ALL over the place with the investigation, going from town to town. He talks to a lot of people yet Alice only finds him at these moments when he is talking to the ladies. One particular time I found even worse than the others. He has gotten into an accident and the lady he is visiting to get some answers from is an actress. She offers him a bath and new clothes because he literally is covered in dung from head to toe. All is well until he goes into the bedroom to change. As he is standing in the middle of the room naked he happens to look out the window and guess who is looking back at him: Alice. First of all this is set in the late 1700's and I don't think people where that open to stand naked or half naked in front of a window that leads to a backyard much less the street. Second of all, I can't believe Alice was just strolling along in her carriage when she just happens to look inside someone's window and it just happens to be the one where Nathaniel is standing naked. The other two times were just as silly but I felt that was the worse.

Another thing is the way Alice acts towards Nathaniel. It is clear that he fancies her yet he says nothing and simply treats her with respect. He knows that she knows of his reputation so he decides he must take it slow and perhaps do the friendship first. Since he hasn't proposed to her or is even courting her what right does she have to get so angry with him when she catches him in these awkward moments? Sure, she may like him but if you are just friends it's a bit presumptuous on her part that he should be without other women. You don't have the right to judge your friends like that and what they do and who they do it with is their business. She just comes off as immature. Especially since, knowing full well that Nathaniel told her about one of the suspects she decides to ignore the warning on the basis that she feels he is simply jealous. She is still upset with him at this point over the women and she ignores the fact the man she is flirting with is a suspected killer and everything points to him.

Worse still is the way that Nathaniel comes across. His preoccupation with Alice and her misinterpretation of things makes him look like a whimp. He is doing nothing wrong yet he runs after her all the time to ask for forgiveness and to explain what happened. Not once does he stand up and asks what her damn problem is. He is also a coward and hesitates over and over never once standing up for himself. He lets everyone order him around simply because they are his superiors or because he is afraid to lose his job. There comes a time when you have to stand up for yourself, everyone else be damned, especially if you are risking your neck to find out who committed the murders. Also, the fact that he is always fainting when he sees blood and guts is annoying. He is not the only man involved with the murders yet he is the only one that gets physically ill every time they find a dead body. I can understand that no one likes to see dead people, especially gruesome murders, but none of the other men ever show as much weakness as Nathaniel does. In fact one of the men even comments on the fact that they don't feel any more comfortable than he does around dead people yet none of them take it so bad.

All in all the novel was a big disappointment. I would recommend it if only because the mystery was good enough. However, the main characters of Nathaniel and Alice are too damn annoying, especially as the story moves along, and the whole supposed "letter" format with conversations included just didn't do it for me.

A 2 out of 5.

So buddy review!!! It's been so long since we last had a buddy review!!

So Ames, tell me why you got this book :D

I kept picking this book up and putting it down, not sure about some of the reviews I had read. But then I read one good review and saw it not too long after at the library. I couldn’t resist anymore! What about you?

Me, well I was seeing Jacob everywhere! In bookstores, at Wal-Mart, at the grocery store! But I held out! I was so proud... I took a look at the cover, read the back blurb and thought it was another book about vampires and I said, No. I've had enough. Then, I read someone's review, I think it was Kristie... and I broke down and bought it. However, it's been sitting in my TBR pile for a few months :P Until I saw it was part of your challenge...

Since time began, there have been Nightwalkers -- the races of the night who live in the shadows of the moonlight. Love with humans is absolutely forbidden, and one man makes certain to uphold this ancient law: Jacob, the Enforcer...

For 700 Years, He Has Resisted Temptation. But Not Tonight...

Jacob knows the excuses his people give when the madness overtakes them and they fall prey to their lust for humans. He’s heard every one and still brought the trespassers to justice. Immune to forbidden desires, uncontrollable hungers, or the curse of the moon, his control is total -- until the moment he sees Isabella on a shadowy New York City street. Saving her life wasn’t in his plans. Nor were the overwhelming feelings she arouses in him. But the moment he holds her in his arms and feels the soft explosion of her body against his, everything changes. Their attraction is undeniable, volatile, and completely against the law. Suddenly everything Jacob has ever believed is inflamed by the heat of desire... Bring on the night.

Genre: paranormal romance, demons, druids, necromancers Series: The Nightwalkers, Book 1 Published by: Kensington/Zebra Paranormal Romance in November 2006

Ok, this book was a pleasant surprise. I thought for sure I was going to hate it when the smart (librarian) heroine slips and falls out of a 5 storey window. I was this close to throwing the book against the wall, but I just had to see what would happen when our heroine, Isabella, follows Jacob into an abandoned warehouse. Then the story got really interesting…and the sex really hot. So yeah, I liked this book.

Well I have to admit that I did enjoy this book a lot too LOL... even with Bella falling from her window. You know, when you told me that she fell off the window, I thought you meant, she jumped out to avoid danger, but not even!!! I liked Jacob and Bella well enough; however, it seems to me that Bella took all the revelations too easily. Not at one moment did she doubt or freak out, which seems a bit unbelievable for me ^^.

That’s true upon reflection. But Isabella did see proof with her own two eyes when she followed Jacob into the warehouse right at the beginning. I enjoyed Isabella’s strength. She was a good heroine, despite falling out a window (which the author does explain).
Well yeah, she does see proof... but some denial would have been expected. I have to admit, I'm getting tired of vampires and so I was pleasantly surprised that they were demons :P I thought it was a great take on demons, very original and new. I liked the powers and the diversity of them...

Me too! I love this world that JF has built. The demon society is interesting and new, and I can’t wait for Gideon’s story, which comes out May 29.

We're so lucky that we don't have to wait too long, LOL! Although the book was enjoyable, there are still some few lose ends in the world building and that annoyed me. 1) What is the punishment? This was never mentionned... at first, I thought it was death, but then too many survived LOL All I know is that it must be embarassing... All right, onto no. 2) what do they do? I mean, it's great that they exist... but besides that? they don't mingle with humans... do they own some business corporate in secret? do they have a mission like the Dark-Hunters? I mean, it seems they're missing a purpose!

Hmm…I think the punishment was different for each demon? It was tailored to punish each demon differently. As for their purpose? I’m not sure about that one either. But what’s our purpose? LOL I don’t mean to get philosophical, but the demons not having a purpose didn’t really bother me.

Ames’ grade: B- (the minus is for the heroine falling out the window, even with an explanation, that’s a no-no)
Nath’s grade: Hmmm, I'd give this 3.75 (B) :P

Kailana says...

17 year old Laurel Blackburn has returned to Ireland where her twin sister died the previous year. Guided by entries in her sister's diary that speak of a strange mission for a mysterious people, Laurel travels to Achill Island on the Irish west coast. As she searches for the lost Summer King of Faerie, Laurel is attacked by the Sea People and the raven-like gruagachs.

Will she find the King in time to light the Midsummer fires?

Will she be re-united with her sister?

And what of Ian, the dark-eyed brooding young man who shadows her every move?

Is he friend or foe?

I originally bought the 4-in-1 book for this as a treat last year during a rough week, and I read the first book way back then, but I am just getting through the rest of the books. I regret waiting so long to read the second book, though, because the first book was not as fresh in my head. It came back to me as I was reading, but the series would be better if you read the books close together.

This is a cute young adult series about faeries and the magical connection between our world and the faery world. Laurel is a skeptic about this world, but her sister was a true believer. When she died she was moving up the ranks in faery world, and was about to go on a mission for them because only humans can save the faery worlds in times of troubles. When Laurel visits her grandparents in Ireland a year after the accident that killed her sister, she finds herself entrapped in a world that she is not sure she wants to be in. When the magic folk tell her that helping them might mean a reunion with her sister, though, Laurel finds herself in a world totally new to her.

The story was interesting. With the other books in the series, the main characters are not skeptics, but Laurel is, so she has to figure things out in a totally different way than the others. If she was not helping her sister receive entry into the faery world, she would likely not believe anything that she saw. The story gets interesting, though, when she gets closer and closer to the conclusion of the mission and things get weirder and weirder. Especially with Ian, because she never knows who he is and whether he is a good guy or bad.

Overall, this is obviously a young adult series, but it is still an interesting collection with strong female characters and a magical world that will capture anyones imagination.


Dance Chica says...

I have grown wary of sequels in general, because often one finds they’re not as magical or original as their predecessor, but this one was a treat to read and I think those who enjoyed The Hunter’s Moon, will enjoy this one, as well. Melling takes the reader on a wild ride through Faerie. I love the land of Faerie as Melling describes it; she makes the mystical elements so mysterious and so enchanting that it leaves you with a sense that there are many secrets to Faerie, and you’ll never know them all no matter how much time you spend there. The story’s twist was a bit weird and somewhat confusing at first, but I liked this volume in the Chronicles of Faerie just as much, if not more, than The Hunter’s Moon. Whereas in The Hunter’s Moon, the heroine embarked on her journey largely alone, in this one, Laurel finds herself with a companion from the start, in the form of Ian--a surly Irish boy she’s known since childhood. He’s the bad boy of the neighborhood and they have sort of a love-hate relationship at first, but they worked well together, and the back and forth bantering between him and Laurel was hilarious. I thought Laurel was a great heroine and I found the romance very compelling. And there were pirates in this one! That about sealed the deal for me as I’m very fond of pirates in fiction. All in all, this was an enjoyable addition, and I can’t wait to read the next one. Melling really is a gifted storyteller.

The Chronicles of Faerie (in order):

The Hunter’s Moon
The Summer King
The Light Bearer’s Daughter
The Book of Dreams

Mailyn says...

The Genre
Fantasy: Necromancers, Magic, Journey, Adventure, Kingdoms, Series

The Plot
From Amazon:

After receiving a cryptic message from her father, Abhorsen, a necromancer trapped in Death, 18-year-old Sabriel sets off into the Old Kingdom. Fraught with peril and deadly trickery, her journey takes her to a world filled with parasitical spirits, Mordicants, and Shadow Hands. Unlike other necromancers, who raise the dead, Abhorsen lays the disturbed dead back to rest. This obliges him--and now Sabriel, who has taken on her father's title and duties--to slip over the border into the icy river of Death, sometimes battling the evil forces that lurk there, waiting for an opportunity to escape into the realm of the living. Desperate to find her father, and grimly determined to help save the Old Kingdom from destruction by the horrible forces of the evil undead, Sabriel endures almost impossible exhaustion, violent confrontations, and terrifying challenges to her supernatural abilities--and her destiny.

The Review
Another book I loved and I can't wait to read the rest of this series, which I do believe, is a trilogy as well.

The only beef I had with this book is that, for the most part at the beginning of her journey, Sabriel is alone. This makes for a lot of descriptive passages and not a lot of dialogue. She may be a necromancer but she's not crazy so she doesn't start talking to herself. It can get just a tad boring even if there was a bit of action but this quickly passed once she reaches her father's house.

I absolutely loved the cynical cat, which of course, isn't a cat at all. I even kept hoping that it would be Sabriel’s love interest in disguise. Perhaps some young wizard being punished for past mischief and whom Sabriel would have to somehow free. I loved his snobbish attitude, which made him damn funny and cool. Sabriel wasn’t very lovable at the beginning as she was a little too naïve for my liking but she did have her reasons. She grew up in a shelter environment and, all of a sudden, she finds herself facing the fact that her beloved father may be dead and that the fate of the world pretty much rests on her shoulders. And she is only a teenager.

The Verdict
As I said, I can't wait to read the rest of this series. It's very addictive and you really want to know what happens to the characters as well as what will become of the Old Kingdom. The last few chapters are even better than the rest of the book and they wet your appetite for what's to come next.

A 4 out of 5.

Kailana says...

I have had this book just sitting here waiting to be read for quite some time. So, I am glad I finally sat down with it. It really is a rather short book, you would be surprised how fast you can get through it, because it keeps you reading the whole time.

Garth Nix delves deep into the mystical underworld of necromancy, magic, and the monstrous undead. This tale is not for the faint of heart; imbedded in the classic good-versus-evil story line are subplots of grisly ghouls hungry for human life to perpetuate their stay in the world of the living, and dark, devastating secrets of betrayal and loss. Just try to put this book down.

For some reason this book has no description on the back or inside about what it is about. I think that is a stupid thing to do, to be honest, because some people are not going to buy it without knowing what it is about.

Anyways, this novel follows 18-year-old Sabriel on her adventures after receiving a very disturbing message from her father. She had lead a sheltered life up until then, and was not really aware of what was going on in the Old Kingdom, the place where she was born. She had lived outside the wall for many years, and her father only occasionally filled her in on what she was missing while being outside. So, when she had to go back there, she found herself on an adventure that she was totally unaware of. Since many Outsiders did not dare to cross the Wall, many people were unaware of what was going on in the Old Kingdom. This meant that Sabriel didn't know her history very well, and had to fill herself in as she went along.

This trilogy received the same sort of attention as Philip Pullman's trilogy, but if I have to be very honest, I liked this one better. I just never was able to get into Pullman's first novel, and as a result have stayed away from the other two books in the trilogy. I will get to them one day, but I would rather read the rest of this trilogy than return to Pullman.

Sabriel is a very human heroine. She gets the job done, but like regular folks she has to deal with fear and indecision. In many hero novels, the main character seems to be super-human, Sabriel is a character that would be easier to relate to. She also has to deal with the fact that if her father was dead, she was now a very powerful person in the Old Kingdom, something that she had never really thought of before and was not prepared to take on. There's even a little romance in the novel, but it is not the most important thing ever. Instead of the damsel in distress, Sabriel saves a young man that has been trapped in Death for about 200 years. I am afraid to say it, but romance just seems to be a given when things like this happen.

You will really enjoy this novel, I can safely say. It is well-written, and Sabriel is not an annoying heroine. She gets the job done, but at the same time has human failings. It makes her the better character to read about, I think. It is also the more interesting fantasy novel I have read with a Necromancer in the fore-front.


Dance Chica says...

I’m afraid I wasn’t as enamored with this novel as my fellow bloggers were, which is a shame because I was kind of looking forward to this book since I’d heard so many good things about it. Plus, the main character is a necromancer which is so often left unexplored in fiction, but it wasn’t as good as I’d been expecting it to be. I liked the characters well enough, especially Mogget—the talking cat (he was just hilarious with all his sarcasm), and I found Sabriel was a competent heroine; the story itself was interesting, but I think it was the writing that fell short for me. There were parts—especially in the very beginning—where I felt the story lagged, and the romance seemed to come out of nowhere; it just felt very forced to me. I half read this, half listened to it on audio. Tim Curry, the narrator for the audio version, was very good. I really enjoyed his reading because he gave each character distinct voices, putting emotion into the characters. I liked how he acted out Mogget’s voice, which was more like a purr than anything and seemed to capture his character, well. His voice made all of Mogget’s sarcastic remarks even funnier. All in all, it wasn’t a bad story; it was good—very imaginative, in fact—but I probably won’t be reading more in the trilogy or at least, not anytime soon. I just wasn’t intrigued enough. Still, I do plan to read more by Garth Nix.

Kailana's Review

A young adult, soon to be, trilogy that I have wanted to read for a while, this enters the marks as one of the better books I have read this year. Young adult books are much better than they were when I was a young adult, I know that much.

From the back of the book:

Gemma Doyle isn't like other girls. Girls with impeccable manners, who speak when spoken to, who remember their station, and who will lie back and think of England when it's required of them.

No, sixteen-year-old Gemma is an island unto herself, sent to the Spence Academy in London after tragedy strikes her family in India. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma finds a chilly reception. But she's not completely alone... she's followed by a mysterious young man, who warns her to close her mind against her visions.

For it's at Spence that Gemma's power to attract the supernatural unfolds; there she becomes entangled with the school's most powerful girls and discovers her mother's connection to a shadowy group called the Order. It's there that her destiny waits... if only she can believe in it.

A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY is a curl-up-under-the-covers kind of book... a vast canvs of rustling skirts and dancing shadows and things that go bump in the night. It's a vividly drawn portrait of the Victorian age, when girls were groomed for lives as rich men's wives... and the story of a girl who saw another way.

I regret that it took me so long to discover this book. I had heard of it, but it never grabbed my attention enough to buy it until recently. Now, I can't wait to read the next one and I hope it will be equally good. Young adult novels have come a long way, some of them are even better than novels marketed at adults.

This novel was attractive to me because people were saying it had fantasy elements to it. I enjoy fantasy novels, so I decided to see what these fantasy elements were. This book takes place in the later part of the 19th-century. The main character, Gemma Doyle, is dealing with being a sixteen-year-old. Teenage years are never easy, and with the last few months has brought a very difficult daughter for Gemma's mother. They used to get along, but now Gemma has it stuck in her head that she absolutely has to go to London. Her mother doesn't agree, and this causes lots of conflict between mother and daughter.

Then one day, everything changes for good. While in the marketplace, Gemma says a horrible thing to her mother and the next thing she knows, her mother is not around anymore to argue with. Gemma blames herself, and is racked with guilt for quite some time. She is her most annoying at this part of the book, while she deals with the loss of her mother. But then, she discovers she has an amazing gift that results in a whole other world for her. A young man, who you will find an interesting member of the cast of characters, follows Gemma to London where Gemma is attending Spence Academy.

When Gemma first arrives in London, she wonders why she ever really wanted to go there in the first place, but then she starts to make friends and lets her powers work, and a whole new world is open to her, a world of adventure and danger. She is in a school where girls are supposed to be learning how to be good wives, they are more interested in pleasing their men folk than doing anything for themselves. Gemma soon learns this is not the way that she wants to spend her life.

I hope I am not making this novel sound silly, it is anything but. I was glued to my seat while I was reading this, waiting to see what adventures would happen to the quartet next. As Gemma is not alone when she has her adventures, most times she has her three female friends with her. They are an interesting group, but they each have something to bring to the novel as a whole.

I can't wait to read the sequel!


Mailyn's Review

I'm afraid I don't share most everyone else excitement over this book. Sure, I've heard so many things I was expecting something actually, well, exciting. Don't get me wrong, Libba's writing is wonderful. It's the subject matter that I found sorely lacking. The story started off promising enough and I was quickly drawn into it but, as soon as the four main girls started with the "club" I quickly grew bored. And annoyed. Those had to be the four most petulant and annoying girls I've ever read about. They start out nice enough but, by the end of the book, I was all but hoping they'd get spanked, smacked or something. Watching their utter stupidity reveal itself and the way they thought they "knew what's best" reminded me of every smug teenager that has utter those very words, then realize how sadly they were mistaking once they saw they were in over their heads.

It's not a good thing when you are rooting for the bad guys to win simply because the heroines are all some kind of serious idiots.

If ever Mrs Bray writes any other novel I am sure I will be reading it as I did love her writing. I just hope the hero or heroine isn't related to any of the four from this novel.

A solid 4 for her writing and a 3 for the story since it did have a promising beginning.

As a final note, and although I am far from being a prude, I think it's only fair to warn parents of children under the age of 15 of the following encounter [in a dream] between the main character and her love interest. Something similar happens again latter on in the story, although I don't remember it being as detailed as this one. I

Those black eyes flutter open, see me...Every muscle in his arms flexing as he pushes himself up, pulls me under, slides on top...His fingertips are a whisper on my skin. A thumb inches towards my breast, traces circles over and around...Feel my thighs moved apart by a knee...

The warm fingers trail down, hesitate, then brush past a part of me I don't understand yet, a place I haven't let myself explore...

The fingers, strong and sure and not entirely unwanted, are back, the whole of his palm cupped against me...The thumb on my breast rubs my skin into a delicious rawness, as if I've never truly walked in my skin before.

Dance Chica's Review

I agree with Mailyn. I liked the book—really, I did—but Gemma, the main character, annoyed me at times. There were moments when I wanted to slap her and the other girls. However, I do think the book was well-written. Bray is great at suspense. The entire novel is oozing with suspense; the world, the characters, etc., are so mysterious that it makes you want to know more about them, and I feel that Bray did a good job of capturing the Victorian age. There’s also a lot of thought-provoking, social commentary throughout the book. However, I don’t know if I’ll pick up the sequel, Rebel Angels, anytime soon. While I did enjoy the magic and suspense of A Great and Terrible Beauty, in all honesty, I was disappointed. I was expecting it to be much better than it was. So in conclusion, I'd recommend it as something to check out because it was a good story (and most people really loved it), but while I did like it, I just felt it was a little overrated.

3.5 out of 5.

As Kailana said earlier this week, although "Kelley Armstrong" month is over, we still have reviews of her books in store! So here is the review of Haunted from Rhinoa from Rhinoa's Ramblings. You've pretty much figured out that we, gals at TK, were fans of Kelley Armstrong, so I thought it'd be nice to have an outsider's opinion! :D

Haunted - Kelley Armstrong
published by Orbit (2005)

Series: Women of the Otherworld series, Book 5

Genre - Horror, Fantasy
Rating - 4/5

Eve Levine - half-demon, black witch and devoted mother - has been dead for three years. She has a great house, an interesting love life and can't be killed again - which comes in handy when you've made as many enemies as Eve. Yes, the afterlife isn't too bad - all she needs to do is find a way to communicate with her daughter Savannah and she'll be happy.

But fate - or more exactly, the Fates - have other plans. Eve owes them a favour, and they're just called it in. An evil spirit called the Nix has escaped from hell. She feeds on chaos and death, and is very good at persuading people to kill for her. The Fates want Eve to hunt her down before she does anymore damage, but the Nix is a dangerous enemy - previous hunters have been sent mad in the process. As if that's not problem enough, it turns out that the only way to stop her is with an angel's sword. And Eve's no angel...

The fifth in the series which has Eve Levine (Savannah's mother) as the heroine despite the small issue of her being dead! Eve is called in to help the Fates capture the Nix, a viscious being that helps give people the confidence to commit rape, murder and torture. Three have already failed in the quest before Eve gets roped in.

This was possibly my favourite so far. There is lots of information about Eve (who seems to have been slightly misunderstood and misrepresented in the previous books...) and the whostworld (where apparently you can still enjoy physical relationships with other ghosts!). Eve is a great character, the ones with a dodge past always seem to make for more interesting lead roles, and she really contrasts with the horrible things that the Nix has been involved in. I liked using the Nix to explain how people were pushed over the edge to become serial killers and rapists. The addition of the angels, especially Trsiel worked really well in the scheme of the story as well.

Disturbingly good humour!

I put the names of all who entered the Ironside giveaway into a “hat” and had my littlest brother draw a name. And the winner is...


Please email your mailing address to thetwistedk @ (no spaces, of course).

Thanks to all who participated!

Added: Ames' review at the bottom of Kailana's.

From Canada's new queen of suspense, another hugely entertaining supernatural thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. Prepare to be enchanted . . .

Forget the cackling green hag in The Wizard of Oz, forget Samantha from Bewitched. Real witches are nothing, NOTHING like this. For years real witches have hidden their powers, afraid of being persecuted. They have integrated so well into the community, you could have a witch living right next door and never know about it. Take Paige, for instance, whom we first met in Kelley Armstrong's novel Stolen. Just an ordinary twenty-something who runs her own website design company, worries about her weight and wonders if she'll ever find a boyfriend. Okay, so she's leader of the American Coven and guardian of Savannah, the teenage daughter of a black witch. Really, life is ordinary. But then a telekinetic half-demon, Leah O'Donnell, shows up to fight for custody of Savannah. And although Paige is ready for her, she's not quite so prepared for the team of supernaturals that Leah brings with her, including a powerful sorcerer who claims to be Savannah's father.

When all hell breaks loose -- literally -- and Paige is accused of witchcraft, Satanism and murder, the Coven, fearing exposure, abandons her. Cut off from her friends, Paige is forced against her better judgment to accept the help of a young sorcerer lawyer. And she quickly comes to realize that keeping Savannah could mean losing everything else.

Breathtakingly thrilling, hip and funny, this new novel is another page-turning triumph from an author who is going from strength to strength.
Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong
Published by Seal Books in 2004


It is sad that you are in love with a series, and then there is the book. The book that is not terrible, but after reading the other two books before it and loving it, it disappoints you. I finished this book on my trip, but it took me a bit longer to get through. I really liked Bitten and Stolen, but this one was not as great. I think the problem with it is not that it was badly written, but that in the previous book there was a group of main characters and lots of action, this book sort of slows down after reading that one.

And, I am sorry to the author, but Paige ANNOYED me. It started in Stolen, but by the time that I finished this book I was resisting the urge to tell her to smarten up or something. She tried, it was obvious she was trying not to be annoying, but she annoyed me. That being said, it was still not a bad book. Paige is a witch, so this book followed the witch community. Paige was introduced to us in Stolen when she went to warn the werewolf community that there were people hunting down the paranormal community.

In this book, we see a major contrast between the werewolf community and the witch community. The werewolves stand by each other, they will go to bat for each other no matter what. For the witches, they have turned away from their roots and spend their life trying to hide the truth of their identity from the outside world. They do not approve of Paige taking in Savannah because her mother was a black witch, but they do not stop their. When one of the evil people from the previous novel returns seeking Savannah, Paige is set up countless times and risks losing Savannah forever, but the witch community will not help her.

Overall, it was not a terrible novel, and I just have no patience for some of the characteristics of Paige, but it was not enough to make me not want to continue with the series. I think one of the problems with Paige is she is younger than Elena. I still look forward to reading Industrial Magic.

AMES' Take on Dime Store Magic

Grade: I hate grading - but if I must, I give this a B-.

I read Bitten 4 years ago and loved it. It was Canadian, featured werewolves and had a great romantic element. I read Stolen when it was released, but I my preference remained with Bitten. Then I bought Dime Store Magic and tried reading it. But like Kailana, Paige annoyed me-big time. She annoyed me in Stolen and I just couldn't be bothered. Witches? Please.
But then Nath had her challenge and I just had to give this another shot, because reviews of No Humans Involved sparked my interest. I figured it other people could muddle through DMS, I should be able to as well.

Although the first 100 pages were very slow to get through, I'm glad I persevered. Paige will never be one of my favourite characters, but I liked her by the end of the book. What made those first 100 pages so hard was the fact that we have a somewhat clueless goody two-shoe who is up against some villainous characters who will get their way, no matter what. So I just knew all these bad things were going to happen to her, and I just can't deal with that kind of tension. But when I realized Paige was not going to crack under all the stress from these events happening, I decided to have faith in Ms. Armstrong's character. Once that happened, this book turned into a good read and now I'm definitely looking forward to Industrial Magic.

And although this review is being posted late-I did finish it before the deadline! Bring it on, Nath. LOL

So, today is the 15th of a new month, so that means that there is a new author of the month! We will continue to be posting reviews about Kelley Armstrong until all of them are up, but in the meantime, we are moving on. The author of the month for this month is the wonderful Colleen Gleason. The reason that she is the author of the month is less because it is a challenge, and more because on June 5th, 2007, Colleen's new book will be out. All of the Twisted Kingdom staff are excited because we want to know what happens next, and because Colleen is very approachable and has made her presence known on our blog in the past. Also, Nath has never read anything by Colleen, so she will have to read the first book because she is missing out. Then, me and Ames will be reading her new book for sure. I have been waiting since January to find out what happened, so I am anxious to see how the series continues (but then we have to wait until February of next year for book three! The agony!) Anyways, tune in this month to see the thoughts on Rises the Night and The Rest Falls Away.

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavith: 5/5
published by Ingram in November 2006

This is a beautifully written book that reads like the fairy tales of old. The story revolves around Keturah, a girl who wanders off into the forest following a beautiful stag. She soon loses her way and eventually meets the handsome Lord Death that has come for her life. As she is her village's greatest story teller she stalls for time with a tale of true love but she refuses to say how it ends. Instead, she asks for one more day to live and promises he can have her life, and the end of the tale, on the next night.

As she goes about what will probably be her last day alive Keturah comes up with a plan, to find and marry her one true love thus defeating Lord Death. She gets help from her two best friends but things are complicated by the arrival of a king's emissary telling all his majesty will soon be there. As the village prepares for the king's arrival Keturah tries to find a way out of her dilemma, all the while seeing things as she never saw them before.

I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it, especially to anyone that enjoys a beautifully portrayed romance, fairy tale style, if you will. The writing is solid, the tale is engaging and entertaining and the love story is one of the best I've read in a long time. Keturah is an excellent character. She is, at first, a dreamer who wishes to only marry her one true love. Lord Death is cold yet there is something about him which makes Keturah see past what he represents and understand who he is. The way he shows his love for her when he does everything she asks for will make your heart ache wondering how long they will both be playing their games.

This book reminded me somewhat of Neil Gaiman's Stardust and I am sure if you liked that one then you will love Keturah and Lord Death.

A solid 5 out of 5. Absolutely amazing!

It's finally my turn to review one of Kelley Armstrong book: Industrial Magic!! It's funny, because while Kailana and Ames' challenge was to read one of the book, my challenge is that all of the Women of the Otherworld books are reviewed at TK before the 15th! LOL! All right, onto the review now... This is my favorite of the series, so it might be a little bit biased.

Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong: 4.75/5
published by Seal Books in 2004

From Kelley Armstrong website:

Think your in-laws are scary? Try meeting Paige Winterbourne's potential father-in-law: CEO of the Cortez Cabal, a multinational corporation...and the supernatural equivalent of the Mafia. Lucas Cortez has devoted his life to ruining the Cabals, though that doesn’t stop his father from expecting him to take over the family business someday. Benicio’s favorite ploy is to appeal to Lucas’s quixotic ideals by asking him to investigate Cabal cases of injustice.

After years of failure, Benicio finally has the perfect case: a teenage witch attacked and left for dead. Refusing will be difficult enough for Lucas...near impossible for his new witch girlfriend. Paige and Lucas soon discover that the young witch wasn't the first Cabal teenager attacked.
When the infighting among the Cabals threatens to let the killer continue his spree, Paige and Lucas decide it’s up to them to stop him. The chase takes them on a cross-country hunt through the supernatural world, where allies can be found in the strangest places, including a celebrity necromancer, a wise-cracking Celtic deity, a pissed-off ghost, a half-mad clairvoyant, and a group of vampires who’d really rather be in an Anne Rice novel.

Genre: vampires, witches, sorcerers, vampires, werewolves, ghost, necromancers, urban fantasy
Series: Women of the Otherworld, Book 4

Review: I usually don't take synopsis from others, but in this case, I didn't really know what to say as so much is happening, that I've decided to make an exception. All in all, this book was great! I know that some find Paige a little bit annoying, but this book was more focused on the case and so much more interesting than Dime Store Magic where the book was mainly focus on Paige's struggle. We also get to see a myriad of old characters (the vampires: Cassandra, Aaron, the werewolves: Elena, Clay and Jeremy, the demon: Adam) and get introduced to new very interesting ones (necromancer: Jaime and ghost: Eve, sorcerers: Benicio and the rest of the Cabals).

I think that Kelley Armstrong achieved a great balance in this book between the development of the characters as well as the mystery/suspense aspect. I like how this book doesn't pick up right after Dime Store Magic, but instead a few months after. It gives time for Paige and Lucas relationship to develop as well as their interaction with Savannah. Also, Paige's interaction with the other supernatural beings was also very interesting. What I really enjoy is that every character has their own personality and most of them do not follow cliche, which is hard to avoid. Also, I found Paige definitively less annoying in this book than in Dime Store Magic. I think that she has matured and doesn't need to prove that she can be a leader. Instead, her focus has shifted for the best.

Although Kelley Armstrong did a great job at characterization and revisiting old characters without it feeling so gratitious, the strong point of this book would definitively the case on which Paige and Lucas are investigating. Not only is the case complex, but very interesting and it kept me wondering. Definitively a strong plot.

Finally, I guess the reason why this book is my favorite is exactly because most of the characters are present and I like to see their interaction with each other. Clay and Lucas' friendship, Elena trying to bond with other females. Jaime is just hilarious and very different from what you'd expected for a necromancer. There's also Savannah and Jeremy's special status...

This is definitively the Must Read book in the series :D

Having heard nothing but the best about Tasha Alexander's Victorian mystery novels I finally got my hands on one. Let me say that I am both pleased and disappointed. The book starts of extremely well as we meet Emily, a well to do Victorian flower, who's just accepted a marriage proposal from one of England's most eligible bachelors. As Emily herself tells us in the opening paragraphs her decision to wed has little to do with love and a great deal to do with her insufferable mother. Unlike most single girls her age, Emily is content sitting at home reading a good book or stimulating her mind in any way. Unfortunately for her, her mother's every breath is spent trying to get her married soon. It soon gets to be too much and Emily, rather on impulse, accepts the marriage proposal. As fate would have it, no sooner is Emily married than her husband leaves for one of his legendary African hunts. The man, it seems to Emily, is interested in absolutely nothing but hunting and she resigns herself to being married to a man she knows absolutely nothing about.

It turns out she won't get the chance to get to know her husband and he never returns from his latest hunt. She is informed that he died of some sort of fever. Being all but a complete stranger to her late husband she feels little, if anything for his death and actually starts getting used to being a widow. For the first time in her life she is the property of no one and can make decision for herself. She takes to widowhood extremely well. Until she meets with Phillips' best friend Colin a year and a half into her mourning. Emily always figured that she was as much a stranger to her husband as she was to him. According to Colin it turns out that Philip had fallen madly in love with his wife from the moment he met her and until his dying breath simply adored her. This comes as a complete shock to Emily since they hardly had time to speak before he left in his last trip and their letters, mostly on her side, were rather impersonal.

Thus Emily embarks on a journey to get to know the man who was her husband. Along the way she falls in the middle of some shady business that is somehow connected to her husband.

The first part of the novel is spent mostly on Emily's dealing first with the freedom that comes with widowhood, then with her mortification for not being sadder that her husband died and also with her quest to find out everything she can about the man who loved her so. This is the part I enjoyed the most as Tasha's writing flows effortlessly and she sucks you into the story from page one. Emily was a likable enough heroine who slowly stars falling in love with her dead husband.

As the novel moves more towards the mystery we find that Emily has, expectedly, changed but not always for the better. While at first she was motivated by wanting to know about Philip as the story progresses more and more does she start doing things just to go against society. Colin tries to warn her about the dangerous path she has chosen while investigating just what Philip was involved in and, instead of trying to think things through she spurns his advice simply because she doesn't like to be told what to do.

I felt that she started quite practical and mature but became childish as the story moved deeper into the mystery. I understand that she relishes being a widow because she enjoys the freedom of being able to do what she wants and when she wants but there is a line to be drawn at acting stupid. The story is told from her point of view so the reader doesn't get any extra insight of who the good or bad guys are. We are basically along with Emily for the ride yet I felt from the beginning which characters seemed trustworthy and which she needed to stay away from they were so obviously not good. I do believe if she wasn't trying to go against anyone she perceived wanted to tell her what to do she would have shown better judgment. As it was I actually skipped a few pages near the second half of the story since I couldn't stand her righteousness.

Thankfully I liked Tasha's writing and the romance triangle between Colin, Emily and Andrew kept me interested even when Emily was pissing me off. The mystery was fun as well although not exactly a great big mystery it was rather well presented.

In the end I enjoyed the novel regardless of Emily's stupid moments in the later half. I think this book will be enjoyed by anyone who loves a well written book, a nice romance and a nice little mystery.

A 4 out of 5.

I will be reading the next book in the series since I am interested in following Emily in other adventures. Hopefully she learned her lesson the first time around.

Just finish the following sentence to win a brand new copy of Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale by Holly Black; the sequel to Tithe:

"If I could be any faerie creature, I would choose to be..."

You have until Wednesday, May 16th to post your response in the comments. The winner will be randomly drawn. Non-U.S. residents are welcome to enter.

Ironside by Holly Black
published by Margaret K. McElderry in April 2007

In the realm of Faerie, the time has come for Roiben's coronation. Uneasy in the midst of the malevolent Unseelie Court, pixie Kaye is sure of only one thing -- her love for Roiben. But when Kaye, drunk on faerie wine, declares herself to Roiben, he sends her on a seemingly impossible quest. Now Kaye can't see or speak to Roiben unless she can find the one thing she knows doesn't exist: a faerie who can tell a lie.

Miserable and convinced she belongs nowhere, Kaye decides to tell her mother the truth -- that she is a changeling left in place of the human daughter stolen long ago. Her mother's shock and horror sends Kaye back to the world of Faerie to find her human counterpart and return her to Ironside. But once back in the faerie courts, Kaye finds herself a pawn in the games of Silarial, queen of the Seelie Court. Silarial wants Roiben's throne, and she will use Kaye, and any means necessary, to get it. In this game of wits and weapons, can a pixie outplay a queen?

Holly Black spins a seductive tale at once achingly real and chillingly enchanted, set in a dangerous world where pleasure mingles with pain and nothing is exactly as it appears.

I enjoyed this sequel to Tithe a lot. In fact, I found myself more engaged in it than I did Tithe. The reason for that could have something to do with the fact that when I read Tithe, it was my first real foray into modern faerie tales, and so I wasn’t all that familiar with the genre at the time--or faerie folklore in general. Since reading Tithe, I’ve read more faerie stories, in particular teen faerie stories, and have become better acquainted with faerie mythology; therefore, I’m better able to understand the intricacies of a crafted faerie world, as I wasn’t before with Tithe. Perhaps that’s what made this a more interesting read for me. I’d have to actually re-read Tithe to see if this theory holds true, but either way, I thought Ironside was a very enjoyable book. I loved re-revisiting Kaye and Roiben, and I was completely swept away by the descriptions of Faerieland; of its beauty and its darkness, of its mythical inhabitants who are as cruel as they are beautiful. I was constantly turning the pages to see what lay in store for Kaye and her friends; what new treachery the Seelie queen, and her faeries, would come up with next to lay claim to the Unseelie throne. Corny played a big role in this novel too. I hadn’t really thought much of him in Tithe, but I liked the development his character underwent here. Black weaves her stories of magic and myth with the modern world well, making the magical world seem all the more real. My only real qualm is that I thought there could have been more resolution between Kaye and Roiben. There was resolution, but...they didn’t spend a whole lot of time together during the book, and so once the book was finished, I wasn’t left with a real sense of how the two would fare. Also, considering this is supposed to be the last book in this series, it would have been nice to know more about Kaye’s background--such as the identity of her parents, and of the person who originally sent her into the mortal world as a changeling, but none of that was addressed. Those who’ve read Black’s previous books know there’s some strong language in the stories as the characters drop the f-bomb occasionally, as well other profanities. I mention this because I know some may find that disturbing since it’s marketed towards teens, but the profanity isn’t used gratuitously; it suits the world the characters live in, and adds a bit of realism to the characters as a whole. Still, I'd recommend this for older teens. All in all, I thought this was a great follow up to Tithe, and a very enjoyable read.

4.5 out of 5.

I am such a Charlaine Harris/Sookie Stackhouse fangirl. No apologies. I love this series-and I was uber-anxious for All Together Dead's release. And in a shameless plug of my own blog, here is my rundown of the previous books in the Stackhouse series.

Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has her hands full dealing with every sort of undead and paranormal creature imaginable. And after being betrayed by her longtime vampire love, Sookie must not only deal with a new man in her life-the shapeshifter Quinn-but also contend with the long-planned vampire summit.

The summit is a tense situation. The vampire queen of Louisiana is in a precarious position, her power base weakened by hurricane damage to New Orleans. And there are some vamps who would like to finish what nature started. Soon, Sookie must decide what side she'll stand with. And her choice may mean the difference between survival and all-out catastrophe.

All Together Dead features more Sookie hijinks that I've come to love, and I thoroughly enjoyed this latest installment, vampire politics and all.

The series picks up after Definitely Dead, where Sookie thwarted an attempt on the Queen of Louisiana's life (by her own husband) and started dating Quinn, the weretiger. People in Bon Temps have matrimony on their minds (Sookie's brother, Jason, included) and Sookie is getting ready for the vampire summit, where she will be in the Queen's entourage (for her telepathic abilities).

As I mentioned above, ATD is very heavy on the vampire politics. There are those who wish the Queen to be punished for killing her husband (in self-defense, and it was her guard who did it) and the Fellowship of the Sun is not going to let this gathering of vampires rest in peace (pun intended-LOL).

But not to worry, there is plenty of face time for Sookie and Quinn (exactly why do so many know of and fear him?) and Eric manages to tie himself to Sookie, maybe permanently.

And Sookie shines. Her cleverness is always at odds with her naïveté, but Charlaine Harris strikes a great balance between these two characteristics in Sookie's nature. She does what needs to get done, and she's good at prioritizing (for example: after getting caught in Eric's arms by Quinn, Sookie gets into a dangerous situation, but she puts what just happens on hold, and doesn't freak out about it). Also, when disaster strikes (you know it just has to), Sookie doesn't let her feelings get in the way of saving people/vampires.

My only beef? That I waited a whole year for a book that I finished in ONE day. I should have drawn it out, but I was too eager.

Book Description:

Will Lady Jeanette sacrifice her freedom to save her family's honor?

Lady Jeanette Avenel is the free-spirited second daughter of a nobleman in twelfth-century Scotland. When her elder sister, Isabel, isdishonored, Jenny is asked to relinquish her freedom in an attempt to save thegood name of her father's house. But will the affection of a mysterious young man lead to Jenny's ruin as well?

Lady Jeanette battles tradition and magic amid a world alive with medieval pageantry. Hers is the timeless story of a young woman who seeks to control her own destiny to win a better life for herself and her sister.
Kailana says...

This is an example of buying a book and totally not paying attention to what it is about. I read about this book, I assume on a blog, but it was quite some time ago. So, I finally decide that I am going to buy some of the books that have been on my Amazon wish list for a while, and this is one of them, so I added it to the cart. I did not know I was going to be posting about it on this blog, though, I thought it was historical fiction. Then, I thought it had an Arthurian twist to it. I mean, there had to be something historical about it that made me buy it. I get to reading it and I discovered that I had no idea what I was reading. This book is in fact a folk tale retelling, Tam Lin to be exact. Anyways, on with the review.

Even though I had no idea what I was reading, I really liked this book. It could be considered historical fiction, and actually, the mention of anything fantasy is very minor, so it did not have to go in this blog, but I chose to anyways. For the most part, it is a historical fiction novel. The two girls in the book have a slightly unconventional father, which is what happen when he has lost two wives and decided that he is not going to marry again. That being said, though, the girls are still held to the conventions of the day. The story is told through the eyes of Jeanette. Her world has suddenly been turned upside down because her typically conventional older sister had a run in with a knight that caused her to be cast off from society and destined for a life in the nunnery. Very historical fiction because it did not matter what this knightly fellow did, it was automatically the girls fault that it happened.

Jeanette never had to run the household before, her sister always did it, so she is trying to do her best for her family. That also extends to marriage. Suddenly her marriage is important because her sister is out of the running. She always counted on a simple and quiet marriage, even marrying for love, and now she is the forerunner in the marriage game and she might have to risk her freedom for the sake of her family. So, as you can see, it is a very conventional historical fiction novel. It is only when she meets Tam Lin, the young man that has taken up residence in his old family home, that the fantasy aspect presents itself. Re-tellings of the Tam Lin story seem to be quite popular nowadays. If you know the story, you roughly know what happens to Jeannette and Tam, but if you do not, I am not going to ruin it for you.

What I will say is that I really liked this book. Believe it or not, the reason I picked it up off the to be read pile is that my sister was into my books (rare, as she is not a reader) and picked this one out of the pile. When she finished it she told me she read it in one sitting, and I figured if the book to make my sister read, it was a worthwhile read. I am glad I read it, and I strongly recommend it. I look forward to seeing what other books this author has for me to enjoy.


Mailyn says...

Let me start by saying that I absolutely adored this book. It's by far the best story based on the Tam Lin myth I've read and, as I only borrowed it from our library, it's going to be the very next book I buy! For those not familiar, the Tam Lin folk ballad tells the story of a young man who was under the Faerie Queen's enchantment and a maiden who fell in love with him.

Everything about this book was perfect for me. I loved the heroine, Jenny because she seemed very real. Our story takes place in 1162 and these were bad times to be a woman. Many, many a writer tries to make historical heroines into carbon copy of our standards of today's independent woman and thus seem extremely out of place. Not so for McNaughton. Although our heroine is a bit of a free spirit [I am sure there were exceptions to every rule even back then] she still torn between what she feels and how she must act. One perfect example is how, at one point, she treats some of her servants. This is a time when servants could be beaten and mistreated and no one would see anything wrong with that. Jenny, having grown up without a mother to teach her how to run a household and seeing how some of the other nobles act, thinks that maybe that's how a lady of her station should behave. Nonetheless she still feels bad and sad if this is how she is expected to act. When she sees another noble girl actually being kind to the servants she understands that she was wrong and makes up for it.

Tam Lin is, well, perfect in his role. Really, there is not much I could say since I found him to be just wonderful. I also loved the look into the harsh life people had back then. It was hard to swallow some of the men and how they viewed and treated women but we all know our history and it would have hurt the book a lot if Janet had tried to make it fit with our ideals today.

The love story is beautiful and I must say I enjoyed the secondary story of Jenny's sister Isabel. She was a fallen woman yet she was merely a victim of a time where women where blamed for just about everything. LOL.

My verdict, as if you haven't guessed by now, is to run to your local bookstore and get your hands on this jem. You won't be disappointed!

A solid 5 out of 5!

Hey everyone!

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So Ember, please email us your address at thetwistedk at gmail dot com.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Published by Scholastic US in 2005


One cruel night, Meggie's father reads aloud from a book called INKHEART-- and an evil ruler escapes the boundaries of fiction and lands in their living room. Suddenly, Meggie is smack in the middle of the kind of adventure she has only read about in books. Meggie must learn to harness the magic that has conjured this nightmare. For only she can change the course of the story that has changed her life forever. This is INKHEART--a timeless tale about books, about imagination, about life. Dare to read it aloud.
A book about books, what better literature to ask for! When you read a book, you get to know the characters and you get to interact with them, and some people go as far as having characters that they want to meet. Well, in this book, that is a distinct possibility! I wish I had not waited so long to read this book, because it was really good and I cannot wait to read the sequel (and see the movie).

When I first started this book, I was worried because it was not working well for me and I was scared that I was so excited and the book was going to disappoint me. Once I got going in it, though, I got engaged and was soon quite enjoying the experience. When books are your thing, it is fun to read books where books are a central theme. You read quotes and try and figure out what book they are from, you visit with other favourite characters from other books, it is even more fun than reading normally is.

Meggie is a cute and brave kid. Her mother left when she was very small, and it has been just her and her father ever since. She has learned how to raise herself, and you watch her and her father interact and you cannot help wondering which one the parent is. She takes care of her father quite well. Then, one night her father's past returns to haunt him, and suddenly the relatively simple life that Meggie has enjoyed with her father and their books is turned upside down.

This was a very enjoyable read, but hard to talk about without giving too much away. I liked figuring things out as I went along, so I do not want to destroy that for others. I will just say that for those that love books, this is the book for you!

Kailana's Review

I had seen the four-in-one book that this was in for quite some time, but had never bought it. The other day, though, after a bad day, I decided I was going to buy myself a book. And, I decided, why not slurge and get 4 books for the price of one. So, I did.

From Amazon:

For some, coming to grips with a challenge means passing another milestone along the road to maturity. For others, it's a matter of life and death. For Findabhair (pronounced "finn-ah-veer") and Gwen, the joint heroines of 0. R. Melling's The Hunter's Moon, however, the challenges come from all directions. Fantasy-loving Findabhair dares to sleep on sacred Irish ground and is stolen by the King of the Fairies. Gwen, her more practical Canadian cousin, sets out to rescue her with the help of a leprechaun in a battered Triumph and a businessman with red hair and freckles. What makes this story sing is the ease with which Melling alternates between fantasy and reality, making her readers, like her characters, "Comfortable with both." Add generous helpings of suspense, romance, humour, and atmosphere you could cut with a knife, and the result is a thoroughly enjoyable yam by an author with impressive command of her material, writing within the tradition of Irish folklore and legend

This is a modern fairy tale. The two girls live in what could very easily be this year, but they have always dreamed of something more. One summer they decide that they are going to trek across Ireland, where Findabhair lives, and track down the portal to the faery world. The two girls set out to find something that they are not sure exists, and along the way find adventures of their own. On a night that they decide to sleep in sacred Irish ground, Findabhair is taken from her cousin, Gwen. Now, for Gwen, it is not about finding the doorway to the faery realm, it is about finding her cousin.

Most of the story is told about Gwen. It is she that sees the things that make up the story. Finn appears from time to time, but it is Gwen that has the most to do in this novel. She makes friends along the way, and the story plays with common ideas that have been represented about the magic folk. Both of the cousins are readable, and not the common damsels in distress that stories normally portray. There is a nice blending of females and males in this book that makes it readable. It could be something that attracts both sexes to it.

When you look at it, it is not a very long piece of work, but a lot happens in a very short time. There is never really a dull moment, as the fairy king is often playing tricks on Gwen, and you never know when it is going to happen next. Once again, I must point out to all the fantasy by-standers, that there is even romance in this book, although I don't think it is necessary, it might attract you to reading this!

I enjoyed this book. Hopefully I will read the next one soon, but I am not so great at reading trilogies and things one right after the other.


Mailyn's Review

I also enjoyed this book a lot but found that, towards the end, the story tended to stall a bit and stray from the constant fast pace it had up to then. From the very begining I liked the main character of Gwen and her cousin. Like Kailana, I enjoyed that these weren't two TSTL heroines that waited around to be rescued. I especially liked Gwen for this and for her courage to go after her cousin, even when it was clear that she did not want to be rescued.

I can't get into it so as not to give away the ending but I found the last banquet turn a bit into a fantasy movie cliche. Nonetheless the figthing after that was handled pretty well and the ending, although again a bit of a cliche, will leave most people happy.

All in all a nice little read, fast paced and a great heroine make this a 4 out of 5 for me as well.

I can't wait to get into the follow up, The Summer King.

Dance Chica's Review

I originally bought this based on Kailana's recommendation and I'm glad I did. Melling is a great storyteller! I was completely caught up in the world of Faerie. Her descriptions were sweeping and flowing; infused with myth and legend. Sometimes they were a bit much, but overall I enjoyed them. She created a great cast of characters. One of the best parts for me was the heroine. Gwen was a great heroine that grows so much as a character. When we first meet her, she’s the sensible one who follows after her energetic cousin, but as the story progresses, she learns to do things on her own. This leads to her discovering her own strengths and independence. She was resourceful too, and while she did make mistakes, she learned from them. I really liked her fiery personality. There’s romance in this too which I found compelling and the overall story was imaginative. If you like faerie tales with a bit of magic, romance and suspense, you’ll probably like this. Also, if you liked Holly Black’s Tithe, I think you’ll find this enjoyable. Melling’s world is a bit more detailed than Black’s and the language a bit more flowery, but it's still compelling, and I found Melling’s characters more likeable than Black's. There’s a sequel to this out titled, The Summer King. I’m really looking forward to more adventures in Faerie. 4.5 out 5.

War for the Oaks by Emma Bull: 4.5/5
first published in 2001

War for the Oaks is a classic of the urban fantasy genre and for good reason: it's one of the best ever written. From Amazon:

Emma Bull's debut novel, War for the Oaks, placed her in the top tier of urban fantasists and established a new subgenre. Unlike most of the rock & rollin' fantasies that have ripped off Ms. Bull's concept, War for the Oaks is well worth reading. Intelligent and skillfully written, with sharply drawn, sympathetic characters, War for the Oaks is about love and loyalty, life and death, and creativity and sacrifice.

Eddi McCandry has just left her boyfriend and their band when she finds herself running through the Minneapolis night, pursued by a sinister man and a huge, terrifying dog. The two creatures are one and the same: a phouka, a faerie being who has chosen Eddi to be a mortal pawn in the age-old war between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Eddi isn't interested--but she doesn't have a choice. Now she struggles to build a new life and new band when she might not even survive till the first rehearsal.

The way Mrs. Bull portrays Minneapolis seems all too real even if the place is crawling with Fey. Her writing is solid and at her best when the phouka is trying Eddi's nerves. In fact, the interaction between the characters of Eddi and here friends, fey and mortal, are what ultimately sell the book for me. Sure, the Fey here act just as I like them, cruel and self-serving, but I found myself more immersed in the novel when the two main characters were simply talking rather than when the actual war was taking place. Thankfully there is little figthing and most of the novel is spend with Eddi trying to get used to the idea that she is now caught in the middle of the Fae wars, with her trying to put a band together and having to deal with the ever present, always infuriating phouka. Their banter is witty and I found myself laughing out loud more times than I could count.

On the downside the end does seem kind of soap-opera like and, IMO, doesn't go well with the rest of the novel but everything else fits so well it hardly matters. I guess I was expecting a bit more omph from an actual war and the final "duel" felt a tad too cheesy. Nonetheless I highly recommend this book and I daresay it's a good way for romance lovers to break into the fantasy genre.

If you, like myself, are not an 80's fan don't think that will stop you from loving this book. I simply skipped or skimmed pop culture references [mostly songs] and dressed the characters in my head rather than go by what the book described. If you haven't read it yet I suggest you march down to your local library or your closet Barnes & Nobles and get your hands on this classic now. You won't regret it.

A solid 4.5 out of 5!

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About Me

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Since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with books. Early photos show me with a book in hand, even if it was not exactly my reading level... My first word was a made-up word meaning 'book', actually. I suppose I had my priorities at an early age... Over the years my interest in books has become one of the defining features of who I am as a person. You can probably call me a bookworm. While I have other interests, reading will always be the one I talk about the most, even if I am not focusing on it as much as I used to.