Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Blog Tour: The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa Excerpt & Q&A


Hiya, Booknerds! I was lucky enough to be selected for the Blog Tour of THE IRON RAVENAs such, I will give you some details about the interesting book as well as its lovely author. 

And you also get a BOOKISH BONUS: 

*A delightful morsel of an excerpt can be found below*

ABOUT THE BOOK:

PublisherINKYARD PRESS
Release DateFebruary 9, 2021
GenreTeen & Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy; Folklore and Fairytale; Paranormal romance
Pages
336
Source: ARC

THE STORY:
Wicked faeries and fantastic danger... Welcome to book one of the new trilogy in New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey fantasy series, as infamous prankster Puck finally has a chance to tell his story and stand with allies new and old to save Faery and the world. 
"YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF ME..."
Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Prankster, joker, raven, fool... King Oberon's right-hand jester from A Midsummer Night's Dream. The legends are many, but the truth will now be known as never before, as Puck finally tells his own story and faces a threat to the lands of Faery and the human world unlike any before.
With the Iron Queen Meghan Chase and her prince consort, Puck's longtime rival Ash, and allies old and new by his side, Puck begins a fantastical and dangerous adventure not to be missed or forgotten. Filled with myths and faery lore, romance and unfathomable dangers, The Iron Raven is book one of a new epic fantasy trilogy set in the world of The Iron Fey.
BUY LINKS:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Apple Books
Google Books


Q&A WITH JULIE KAGAWA

Q: What was the hardest scene to write in The Iron Raven? What was the easiest?

A: I can't say too much without giving away spoilers, but the hardest scene in The Iron Raven was near the very end of the book when they're fighting the final Big Bad, and Puck does a completely Puck-ish thing to give them a fighting chance. It was random and irreverent and completely ridiculous, so I had to get it just right to avoid making it cheesy. The easiest scene was one where Puck and Ash were semi-seriously threatening each other, because I know those two so well and it was all rather familiar. 

Q: Did you hide any secrets in your book? (names of friends, little jokes, references to things only some people will get)?

A: Lol, well I'm going to reveal my absolute geekiness and say that the name of the newest character, Nyx, is actually my D&D character, a dragon-hating elven assassin. There were a few tweaks, of course, but Nyx is...well, me in a D&D campaign. :P

Q: What do you hope people remember about The Iron Raven?

A: I hope The Iron Raven brings back the feel of the first Iron Fey novels, where everything was new and surreal and exciting. I hope readers will experience the same wonder and belief in magic, friendship, love and heroism that I tried to present in the first series. 

Q: Did The Iron Raven have a certain soundtrack you listened to while writing?

A: My music tastes are eclectic, but I do listen to a lot of Two Steps From Hell while writing, because its mostly instrumental and they have some epic soundtracks.

Q: What is your dream cast for The Iron Raven?

A: I am so bad at this question I don't even think I can answer it. Apologies, but I really am terrible at remembering actors and actresses. This is a great question for fans, though. Who would your dream cast be for an Iron Fey series?

EXCERPT:

The human world

A long, long time ago

It was almost time.

I peeked out of the bushes and grinned.  The stage was nearly set.  In the tiny, sun-dappled clearing beyond the trees, the crystal-clear pool glimmered, attracting all manner of life to its sparkling waters.  A herd of spotted deer bent graceful necks to the surface under the watchful eye of a great stag, standing tall at the edge of the pond.  A few rabbits hopped through the bracken scattered through the clearing, and a family of squirrels scolded each other in the branches of a large gnarled oak.  Birds sang, wildlife meandered, and the wind gently rustled the leaves overhead.  It was a blissful, picturesque woodland scene, a perfectly peaceful day in the human realm.

Boring, boring, boring.

I smiled, reached into my shirt, and pulled the pan flute into the light.  It was my own design; I’d spent several days gathering hollow reeds, cutting them, binding them together and making sure the tone was perfect.  Now, I was going to see what it could do.  

Drawing glamour from the forest around me, I raised the flute to my lips and blew out a single note.

The clear, high sound cut through the stillness of the woods, arcing over the grove, and all the animals clustered around the pond jerked up, eyes wide and nostrils flaring.  The rabbits sat up, ears twitching back and forth.  The deer raised their heads, dark eyes huge as they gazed around, ready to flee.  The squirrels’ tails flicked back and forth as they clung to the branches, their chittering voices silenced.    

In the sudden stillness, I took a deep breath, gathering my magic, and began playing.

The melody rose into the air, cheerful and face paced.  It swirled around the pond, into the ears of every living creature.  For a moment, none of them moved,

Then, one of the rabbits began tapping its foot.  The others followed, thumping their hind legs in tune to the rhythm, and the deer began tossing their heads to the music.  In the branches, the squirrels bobbed, tails flicking back and forth, keeping time, and the birds added their voices to the song.  I bit down a smile and played louder, faster, drawing in more glamour and releasing it into the notes trilling through the forest.  

With a bugle, the ancient stag reared up, tossing his huge antlers, and gave a graceful bound to the center of the clearing.  His sharp hooves pawed the grass, raking gouges in the earth, as he began stepping and leaping with the music.  As one, his herd joined him, bouncing and cavorting to his side, and the rabbits began flinging themselves in wild arcs around the stomping deer.  My glee soared; this was working better than I had hoped. It was all I could do to keep playing and not let the song drop because of the enormous grin wanting to stretch my face.  

Rising from the bushes, I walked toward the grove, the pan flute moving rapidly under my lips, the song rising and the magic soaring in response.  My feet itched, and I started to move them, stepping and dancing to the center of the clearing.  Filling my lungs, I played as loudly as I could, my body moving almost on its own, leaping and twirling and spinning through the air.  And all around me, the forest creatures danced as well, hooves and horns and furry bodies barely missing me as they bounced and cavorted in a frantic circle, hurling themselves around the grove with wild abandon. I lost myself in the music, in the excitement and ecstasy, as I danced with the forest.

I didn’t know how long the melody went on; half the time my eyes were closed and I was moving on pure instinct.  But at last, as the song reached a crescendo, I sensed it was time to bring it to a close.  With one final, soaring note, the melody died away, the wild emotions faded, and the whirlwind of magic swirling through the grove fluttered out, returning to the earth.   

Panting, I lowered my arms.  Around me, my fellow dancers also came to shuddering stops, breathing hard.  The great stag stood a few feet away, antlered head bowed, legs and flanks trembling.  As I watched, he quivered and collapsed, white foam bubbling from his mouth and nostrils as his head struck the ground.  One by one, the rest of the herd crumpled as well, some gasping wide-eyed for breath, some lying motionless in the dirt.  Scattered around them, furry lumps of rabbits lay in the churned mud.  I looked at the trees and saw the squirrels and birds lying at the bases of the trunks, having fallen from their perches once the music ceased.  

I blinked.  Well, that was unexpected.  How long had I been playing anyway?  I looked at the sky through the branches and saw clouds streaked with orange, the sun hovering low on the horizon.  I’d come to this grove and played the very first note early this morning.  It seemed our wild revel had lasted the entire day.

Huh.  I scratched the back of my head.  Well, that’s disappointing.  I guess I can’t push these mortal beasts too aggressively, or they just collapse.  Hmm.  Tapping the fingers of one hand against my arm, I gazed at the pan flute in the other.  I wonder if humans would do any better? 

“Boy.” 

The deep, lyrical voice came from behind me, and a ripple of magic shivered through the air. I felt a stab of annoyance that someone had been watching my revel; that was why I’d chosen to do this in the human world, after all—so I could worry less about curious eavesdroppers.   I turned and saw a procession of horses at the edge of the clearing, watching me from the trees.  The mounts were fey creatures, lighter and much more graceful than their mortal counterparts, their hooves barely touching the ground.  The riders atop them were sidhe knights, clad in armor of leaves, vines and branches woven together.  Part of the Summer Court, I realized.  I’d seen them before, as well as the knights of the Winter Court.  I’d even played with a few of them in the wyldwood, though they never realized the cause of all their small, annoying mishaps was a forest boy too insignificant to notice. 

But the rider at the front of the procession had definitely noticed me, and he was impossible to miss, too.  His mount was bright gold, brighter than any mortal steed, but the noble atop it outshone even his mount.  He was dressed in armor of green and gold, with a cloak made of blooming vines that left flowers where he passed.  Long silver hair flowed from under the huge antlered crown that rested on his brow, and the piercing green eyes beneath it were fixed solely on me. 

Why was he here?  Had he heard my music and been drawn to the sound? That was unfortunate. I tried to avoid catching the eye of the Summer Court, particularly this faery.  I hadn’t been doing anything wrong; the fey cared little to what happened in the mortal world. The deaths of a few forest creatures meant nothing to them. But attracting the attention of one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever was a dangerous game. Depending on his mood, he might demand that I “gift” him the thing I’d worked so hard on, play the pipes for him and his knights by for as long as he was amused, or entertain them all by becoming the next hunt. The fey lords were notoriously unpredictable, and I treated them as I would a sleeping dragon: it was okay to tiptoe around and steal their gold, as long as they didn’t see you.

But now, the dragon had spotted me.

The sidhe gentry nudged his mount, and the horse stepped into the clearing, striding across the grass until beast and rider loomed before me.  I stood my ground and gazed up defiantly at the noble, who was watching me with appraising eyes.

“So young,” he mused.  “And such an impressive use of glamour.  What is your name, boy?”

“Robin.”

“And where are your parents, Robin?”

I shrugged.  “I live by myself.  In the wyldwood.”  I couldn’t remember my parents, if I’d even had them.  My earliest memory was the tangle of the wyldwood, foraging for food and shelter, learning the skills I needed to survive.  But, even though I was alone, I’d never felt like I didn’t belong.  The forest, the wyldwood, was my home.  That was how it always had been. 

“Hm.”  The tall noble didn’t press the question.  He observed me in silence for another moment, his face giving nothing away.  “Do you know who I am, boy?” he asked instead. 

This time, I nodded.  “You’re King Oberon.” It was obvious; everyone knew who the Summer King was, though I’d never seen him in person.  It didn’t matter.  I had never seen Queen Mab, ruler of the Winter Court, either, but I was certain I would know her if I did.

“Yes,” the Seelie King agreed.  “I am indeed.  And I could use someone of your talents in Seelie territory.” He raised a hand, indicating me with long, elegant fingers.  “You have power; raw, unfettered Summer magic rivaling some of my strongest allies in the court. Such a gift should not go to waste in the wyldwood.  You should not be living in the forest like a beast, singing to birds and squirrels.  You should be part of the greatest court in the Nevernever. What say you, Robin?”  The king regarded me with eyes like pale green frost.  “Would you like to become part of the Seelie Court?”

Part of the Seelie Court?  

Curiosity battled defiance.  I was intrigued, of course.  Living by myself in the wyldwood meant I could come and go as I pleased, but it was getting a bit lonely.  I wanted to talk to people, others of my kind, not just forest creatures and the occasional scatterbrained piskie.  And of the two courts, Summer territory sounded much more pleasant than the frozen, hostile land of Winter.

       Still, it was never a good idea to take the first offer.  Even I, with my limited knowledge of bargains and deals, knew that much.

“I like it in the forest.”  I crossed my arms and smiled at the king.  “Why should I go live at the Summer Court?”

The Seelie King smiled, as if he’d expected that answer.  “Because, Robin, I am king.”  He spoke the phrase like it was the most important fact in the world.  “And as king of the Seelie, I can give you whatever your heart desires. I can grant you power, wealth, the love of as many hearts as you wish.” He paused, as I wrinkled my nose. “But I can see you are not interested in these things. Perhaps, then, this would be of note.  I have many enemies, Robin.  Both within the court and without. From time to time, these enemies need to realize that they cannot underestimate the sovereignty of Summer.  If you join me…well, let us say you will have plenty of opportunities to practice your magic on things other than common forest beasts.”

Now that sounded interesting. I glanced back at the pond, at the motionless bodies surrounding it.  Poor dumb animals. I hadn’t meant to harm them, but it seemed normal creatures were very fragile.  I would love to try some of my ideas on sturdier creatures, maybe even a few fey, and Oberon was dangling that big, bright carrot in front of me.  He seemed to know exactly what I wanted.  The only question was, did I care?  

“So, Robin of the Wyldwood,” King Oberon went on, peering down at me from his horse.  “What is your decision?  Will you join my court?  I will name you court jester, and you can play your tricks and practice your magic without boundaries.  All I ask is that you do me a small service from time to time.  Do we have a deal?”

Something nagged at me, a feeling that this agreement wasn’t quite what I thought it was. I’d made deals before, but they were with piskies and sprites and a couple local dryads. Never with someone as important as the ruler of the Seelie Court. Was I missing something? This did seem a little too good to be true. 

I hesitated a moment more, then shrugged.  Then again, why not join the Summer Court?  What was the worst that could happen? I was aching for something new, and if I was under the protection of King Oberon himself, think of all the pranks and tricks I could play without fear of retribution.  

This was going to be fun.

“All right,” I agreed, grinning up at Oberon, who raised a thin silver brow in return.  “You have a deal, king.  I’ll join the Summer Court, as long as I get to practice my magic and play as many tricks as I want.”  

“Excellent.”  Oberon nodded and raised both hands.  “Then I name you Robin Goodfellow, jester of the Summer Court,” he announced in sudden, booming tones, and the branches of the trees shook, as if acknowledging his declaration.  Lowering his arms, the Summer lord gazed down at me with a sudden, almost proud smile.  “Welcome to the Seelie Court, Robin Goodfellow.  Wear your name proudly.  Perhaps someday the world will come to know it, as well.”

Excerpted from THE IRON RAVEN by Julie Kagawa. © 2021 by Julie Kagawa, used with permission by Inkyard Press.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



JULIE KAGAWA is the New York Times, USA TODAY and internationally bestselling author of The Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, The Talon Saga and the Shadow of the Fox series. Born in Sacramento, she has been a bookseller and an animal trainer and enjoys reading, painting, playing in her garden and training in martial arts. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and a plethora of pets. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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***Check out Julie Kagawa's website for more information about her and THE IRON RAVEN: http://juliekagawa.com/ 

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 31, 2021

January 2021 Wrap-Up!

A review of the monthly activities on the blog incl. book reviews, memes, 
reading challenge additions, book hauls

Hey Bookies!

I had a good reading month. This is my Wrap-Up post for January! Take a look:


BOOKS READ:



BOOKS REVIEWED:

WHAT BIG TEETH  by Rose Szabo – (MY REVIEW)


NEW BOOKS:


. . . To name a few


BOOKS IN PROGRESS:


FROM BLOOD & ASH by  Jennifer L. Armentrout


February TBR:

FROM BLOOD AND ASH by Jennifer L. Armentrout
BLOOD & HONEY by Shelby Mahurin
A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES by Sarah J. Maas

If you have any suggestions on improving my Wrap-Ups for future posts, comment below.


Happy Reading!
Friday, January 29, 2021

Feature Friday ARC Review : What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

 

*Feature Friday ARC Review is a meme hosted by The Tattered Page to review YA books not yet released.


Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley ARC

THE STORY:
Rose Szabo's thrilling debut is a dark fantasy novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls.

Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.

Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together―in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.

Exquisitely terrifying, beautiful, and strange, this fierce gothic fantasy will sink its teeth into you and never let go. 
BUY LINKS:  The Lit. Bar  |  Amazon

RATING: 

ONE-WORD REVIEW: GOTHIC

OPENING LINE:

I opened my eyes, and I was on the train.


REVIEW

I was fortunate enough to be gifted an ARC of WHAT BIG TEETH on Netgalley -- thank you Farrar, Straus and Giroux! I was looking forward to the read -- I didn't read the premise because I didn't want to be spoiled but I loved the cover and the title so I was intrigued.

WHAT BIG TEETH is in one word: Confusing. Three words: Confusing. As. Hell. It’s creepy, atmospheric, and weird -- all things that I like. But you cannot have all of those aspects and then be confusing. There's a fine line between mysterious and confusing. And this book is outright confusing. Most of the time I felt as if I didn't know what the hell was going on and by the time I was only like 20%, I was ready to give up because it was just too weird and confusing. 

In the back of my mind, I was always asking myself: what the heck am I reading? We've got this teenage girl, Eleanor Zarrin, who ran away from boarding school back to the family who sent her away, to begin with. To a family who is casually werewolves. I couldn't connect with Eleanor. To be honest, she annoyed me for the most part. While I understood her frustrations and fears regarding her family, you'd think she'd have more of a backbone growing up with her family in her formative years -- especially given have badass she was made out to be at that young age.

A grandfather who may or may not have murdered his firstborn son and a grandmother thought her husband was a monster for it but stayed with him and loves him anyway. Or maybe the grandmother just thought the grandfather was a monster because she found out he was a werewolf? 

Speaking of the grandmother, who is not a werewolf but the fortune-telling matriarch, was hard to get a read on. She was actually the one who sent Eleanor away -- why I have no idea. She seemed mean and cold towards Eleanor and treated her as if she was a threat to the family. even though the family was frightening Eleanor, threatening her, and even nearly killing her on a few occasions. And who, not to mention, couldn't even shift to wolf form.

Also, I don't know what the hell is going on in this book mother has weird skin she apparently Sydney forgotten about witches weird because the skin condition is so Isabel and Unforgettable Hollywood you forget that she had that and then also the mom sits in a bathtub all day at the dinner table Lounge in front of the fireplace outside in the garden is always in bathtub or barrel of water. But we don't know why . . . 

Then we have her sister, the beautiful Luna, who she has her sister and her best friend she's written to hundreds of letters while she was in exile but the sister never responded. To make it worse, after seeing her sister for the first time in 8 years, Luna gives her a hug, claims she misses her but doesn't even let her finish speaking before promptly ignoring her.

Next, we have the cousin, Rhys. He is the favored child who was to inherit everything. At first, when Eleanor returned, he was affectionate and charming. But then he suddenly turned out to be an asshole, who kept trying to scare Eleanor (not in the cute, prank type of way), borderline threatened her bodily harm, and may or may not be raping Arthur . . .

Arthur is supposed to be the love interest... I think? Well, he's who's is a one dimension character, we know nothing about, and who rarely speaks. And everyone -- Eleanor, her father, her sister, and her cousin, Rhys -- seems to be obsessed with fighting for his affections, or rather who gets first dibs at taking advantage of him? As the info on his character is vague, I'm assuming he's vampire but the family is also able to force him to do things he doesn't want to do which makes him angry but he continues to come back under the guise that he's the family’s accountant. Weird.  

All in all, WHAT BIG TEETH was a weird, disorienting ride and not really my thing. I love the Addams family and this book has those vibes but it's too hard to follow. Rose Szabo's knack for atmosphere is noteworthy -- dark, gothic, weird was done fabulously. The worldbuilding was also up to par for the story. Unfortunately, the pacing was poorly executed but that's probably because there's no real plot going on and it was confusing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rose Szabo is a nonbinary writer from Richmond, VA, where they live with an assortment of people and animals and teach writing at VCU. They have an MA in English from the University of Maine and an MFA in creative writing from VCU. Their work has been published in See the Elephant and Quaint magazines. What Big Teeth is their first novel.

Visit her online at www.roseszabo.com

Happy Reading!



Monday, January 11, 2021

New YA Releases : Week of January 11th

Here are some upcoming releases this week. Release dates sources: 
Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.


Are any of these on your Bookish Wishlist or Pre-Order cart? Which do you look most forward to?

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 4, 2021

New YA Releases : Week of January 4th

Here are some upcoming releases this week. Release dates sources: 
Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.



Are any of these on your Bookish Wishlist or Pre-Order cart? Which do you look most forward to?

Happy Reading!
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