Review: The Iron King (Iron Fey, Book 1) by Julie Kagawa

by First Mate Keira

Title:The Iron King
Author: Julie Kagawa
Format: Kindle Ebook
Page Count: 368 (Paperback)
Grade Reading Level: Grade 7+

Summary: Meghan Chase is just your ordinary unpopular girl trying to navigate the hierarchy of high school, get her driver’s permit, and possibly a date with the hottest boy. Her best friend, Robin Goodfellow, calls her princess, an endearment she despises. What she doesn’t know is just how apt that nickname is because she is the bastard daughter of Oberon, King of the Seelie fairies and of Summer. When her younger half brother, Ethan, is kidnapped and taken to the Nevernever, Robin sheds his glamour and reveals that he is her protector and Puck, yes that Puck, from Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In very little time Meghan finds her whole world turned upside down and that rescuing her brother will require help, loads of help, in the form of a cat, an Unseelie prince, and her best friend.

Why I started this book:

I requested a reader copy from the publisher because I love romances and was eager to read something from Harlequin’s new teen romance line. I picked this novel also because I had seen the title appear a lot on the YA blogosphere.

Likes:

  • Julie Kagawa is absolutely brilliant. Her world building is vibrant, full and lively, and it literally leaps off the page. I enjoyed her new type of fairy species—a masterful stroke that really gives the story a new dimension. I would go into more details but it’s so much more fun discovering the answer for yourself.
  • Ash, the Unseelie prince, is a spectacularly drawn character. He’s that aloof hero whose motives are hard to determine. He hides a soft heart behind a cold hard façade and makes for a truly forbidden love interest. Yum.
  • Puck, he’s the wayward merrymaker who at times isn’t the best judge of when too far is too far. I have a feeling he’s also in love with Meghan but as of yet hasn’t made his feelings known and Meghan views him as her best friend, not a love interest.
  • Grimalkin or Grim, the cat. He reminds me of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland and is another fantastic well drawn character. He’s sarcastic, condescending, and witty. He trades favors and barters without a plan seemingly in mind in order to extract another promise or favor from someone else. You can find him wherever something interesting is taking place.

Last Minute Thoughts: The worst part of the book is that it ended! The next in novel in the series cannot come too quickly for me. I can’t wait to read The Iron Daughter.

Buy: The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)

Rating: 5 Treasure Chests

P.S. The Iron King is the perfect story to read for any Twilight fan looking for a new series to love.

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Review: Darklight (Wondrous Strange, Book 2) by Lesley Livingston

Reviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Darklight (Wondrous Strange, Book 2)
Author: Lesley Livingston
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 336 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 13 and up

Summary: Kelley Winslow might be a Faerie princess, but her Janus guard is far away in the Otherworld hunting down the dregs of the Wild Hunt. Sonny Flannery misses Kelley something fierce and is doggedly determined to get back to her. But it is another Janus guard that rescues Kelley from a terrifying fae encounter and sends them both tumbling end over end into the Otherworld themselves. There secrets about an ancient power start to whisper and Kelley must learn the game that is afoot or lose more than she can risk.

Likes:

  • Fennrys Wolf really stood out in this book. He is looking like a contender for Kelley. I bet Sonny won’t like that. Also I’m probably Team Fennrys.
  • Sonny’s past is expanded and boy does it ever get complicated and convoluted as it crosses Kelley’s past too.
  • The Spring Court! Woo!
  • The cliffhanger – I don’t love Sonny! Oh angst!!!

Dislikes:

  • Not enough interaction between Kelley and Sonny in the beginning of the book. They don’t meet up again in person until about halfway through.
  • Why does Queen Mabh not want her daughter to be with Sonny? That is not explained satisfactorily.
  • Creepy leprechauns – who is controlling them – because they don’t seem all that organized or focused – just crazy.

Buy: Darklight (Wondrous Strange)

Rating: 3.5 Treasure Chests

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GIVEAWAY + Review: Croc Capers (Bindi Wildlife Adventures, Book 7) by Bindi Irwin and Chris Kunz

Reviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Croc Capers (Bindi Wildlife Adventures, Book 7)
Author: Bindi Irwin and Chris Kunz
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 112 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 7 and up

Summary: Bindi and Robert Irwin are visiting one of their favorite places in the world when their idyllic location and crocodile captures is interrupted by some noisy new neighbors.

Why I started this book:

I was offered the book by the publisher and it sounded cute.

Likes:

  • Bindi, one of the authors (and the heroine!) is a young girl, age 13. Woo! Have you seen her on the Discovery Channel?
  • Crocodile-tagging adventures are cool. I can’t imagine wrestling one can you? Yikes!
  • The fact sheets at the end of the story are great for sharing fun tidbits about the animals.
  • The great bowerbird event was pretty neat. Not everything is as it seems! Good lesson to remember!

Dislikes:

  • The book could do better to quickly share who is who for those who haven’t been in Bindi’s world before this, but it is relatively minor.

Last Minute Thoughts: Visit www.crocodilehunter.com for more from Bindi and Robert and the activity guide for more fun with the books.

Buy: Croc Capers: Bindi Wildlife Adventures

Rating: 4.5 Treasure Chests

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GIVEAWAY: You could win all 7 books in the BINDI WILDLIFE ADVENTURES series! Open to residents from the US or Canada. Ends August 10, 2012. Enter by leaving a comment! Tell us about one of your wildlife adventures!

My Top Five Inspirations for Writing My First Zombie Story with Pippa Jay

My Top Five Inspirations for Writing My First Zombie Story with Pippa Jay

  1. Warm Bodies. I can totally and completely blame this for starting me off on zombies. I’ve never been a fan of horror, and if I had to name my top fear in horror it would be zombies. Oh, okay, I admit it – number one would be the Alien. But zombies come a too-close-for-comfort second! Or did.Thanks to the cuteness and humour of the Warm Bodies film (and the beautifully lyrical writing in the book by Isaac Marion), I became a convert. I won’t be watching World War Z or Night of the Living Dead any time, but a Warm Bodies sequel or something along similar lines will definitely get me watching.
  2. Sir Terry Pratchett. When I said I hated zombies, I meant the classic horror film, Hollywood variety. Anyone who has read any of the Nightwatch books by Terry Pratchett will be familiar with the somewhat tragic figure of zombie Reg Shoe. Or maybe you know Baron Samedi from Witches Abroad or the recently deceased wizard WindlePoons from Reaperman. And you’ll know that these aren’t the moaning, lurching brain-eaters more familiar on the big screens. These are more the original form of zombies – rather sad figures dragged back from death either because of something left undone in their former life, summoned back to seek revenge, or simply left behind when Death hung up his scythe and retired. Or maybe you know the zombies in Piers Anthony’s Xanth books. These are more the type of zombies that I love. Still mostly the people they were in life, but unable to rest, often not by their own choice. It was researching this old mythology that set me writing the kind of zombie story that probably isn’t so well known to zombie devotees.
  3. Music. This is always a big influence in everything I write. It can affect the feel or tone of a story, or lyrics can inspire a title or story idea. For Restless In Peaceville, I had a couple of tracks from Warm Bodies, but mostly a lot of Linkin Park, plus an album by Dead By Sunrise, a band fronted by Linkin Park’s singer Chester Bennington.

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The Little Things Give You Away was one of my favourite LP tracks, and one that would have fitted right in on Warm Bodies!

  1. Louisiana. Just after seeing Warm Bodies, and comparing the Hollywood zombies to those I’d met in other books, I got curious about the whole mythology and started out reading it up on Wikipedia. Then I got into a discussion on Facebook about it, and someone mentioned Louisiana voodoo. I was hooked! Not only did it lead me off into yet more interesting research, but it gave me the perfect setting for my story (even though I knew nothing about it and have never been there). Fortunately for me I have several friends who live in or near there, or were born and brought up there. Together with my research, their feedback helped me shape a location that otherwise I could only visit via the internet and Google maps. And now, thanks to my husband’s interest in books set in Louisiana, we’re actually in the process of planning a holiday there!
  2. Curiosity. Well, if I hadn’t been curious about why I’d encountered such different kinds of zombies, I wouldn’t have gone looking for the answers and got so completely enthralled by the whole concept. The research was a ton of fun, and although this was the hardest book I’ve ever written, it’s also the one I’m most proud of. I learned so many new things and found out what I can write if I challenge myself.

So, have any of these things inspired you to write something outside of your comfort zone?

I’d love to hear from you.

Pippa

***

RestlessinPeaceville_200x300Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising…from the grave…

Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems…

But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead?

And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.

Buy: Restless In Peaceville

Review: Tempestuous (Wondrous Strange, Book 3) by Lesley Livingston

Reviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Tempestuous (Wondrous Strange, Book 3)
Author: Lesley Livingston
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 368 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 13 and up

Summary: To save Sonny Flannery, Kelley Winslow has to break his heart. If she can get him to overhear her say something he will believe it because faeries can’t lie. But Kelley can and she does. Her betrayal sends Sonny down to the depths to join the ranks of the Lost Fae. When they’re attacked without provocation from members of the Janus Guard, Sonny defends them instead of joining his brothers in arms. Meanwhile, Kelley has a plan to win Sonny back and keep him safe. But time is running out for both of them as another player draws closer to the secret of unimaginable power.

Why I started this book:

I read this book because it is the last in a trilogy and I have read the previous books. I got this book from the library.

Likes:

  • In this book, we get to really feel Sonny’s vulnerability. After hearing that Kelley doesn’t love him, he wanders around lost, dazed, confused, and in denial. I also liked that he doesn’t fight or go for the kill when it’s against his moral code. He isn’t swayed to do wrong in order to keep the status quo.

Dislikes

  • I’m not really sure why Kelley had to keep Sonny in the dark about his powers or heritage once she figured it out. Surely it would have been wiser and safer to let him retain his knowledge about both, especially since he gets both back about halfway to to two thirds through the book. His memory loss is like a week if that. Probably less. So I felt this whole bit was unnecessary even though I do like angst-ridden breakups. They could have worked together more instead of separately.

Tempestuous (Faerie Trilogy)

Rating: 3 Treasure Chests

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Review: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

by Captain Lyaf Yarr


Title: Number the Stars
Author: Lois Lowry
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 156 Pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Summary: Two years into World War II, Nazis are hunting Jews. Annemarie Johansens is a 10 year old girl living in Copenhagen, Denmark. But everything changes once her best friend, Ellen Rosen has to hide from the Nazis for being a Jew. The Johansens decide to take her in and disguise her as Annemarie’s dead older sister. After that EVERYTHING is chaos! Annmarie is forced to mature. Childhood is a thing of the past. Everyone has to be brave and courageous and somehow pull though.

Why I Started the Book:

I started this book because we read it in class for a project in language arts.

Likes:

  • Every chapter kept me on the edge of my seat, I had to keep reading and figure out what happen!
  • I can’t help but feel sympathetic toward Annemarie. No ten year old should have to go through what she did!
  • Kirsti is defiantly my favorite character in this book! She’s so adorable and oblivious to everyone! She’s self-centered and is always craving pink frosted cupcakes. I love cupcakes and can relate to such cravings… but mine don’t necessarily have to have pink frosting.
  • I love the chapter where Annmarie and Ellen are waiting for the soldiers to arrive in their bed and Papa acts like a barrier and acts like he will do anything to protect his loved one! So sweet and brave!

Dislikes:

  • I think that it is so sad to think about World War II and the horror involved! :(

Last minute thoughts: This was a really good book! I defiantly want to read more book by Louis Lowry! But I wonder if all of of her books are about historic events? This book is a Newberry Award winner.

Buy: Number the Stars

Book Rating: I give this book 4.5 Treasure chests!

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