On a magical note: The Lost Prince

Did you know that Christmas is only a couple of days away? You did? Well it must not have snuck up on you quite as badly as it’s snuck up on me! As ill-prepared as I feel, I am quietly pleased that it’s nearly here, as the merry day will mean that I have a few days to put my feet up, sleep in, and do some extra reading. I might even avoid turning the computer on for a couple of days!!

But, before that, I’ve got one more fantastic author interview to share with you. What better way to finish off a year of amazing reading?!

Screen shot 2012-12-20 at 11.48.45 PMLast month I had a read of Julie Kagawa’s latest instalment in her Iron Fey series, The Lost Prince (Harlequin). I enjoyed Julie’s The Immortal Rules earlier in the year but this is the first of the Iron Fey books that I’ve read. It was magical, action packed and filled with goblins and fey of all shapes and sizes…

Don’t look at them. Never let them know you can see them. That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs – including his reputation – begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family and to save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan is used to dealing with faeries, but this is a whole different situation – a puzzle he has to solve with brain and brawn, even if it means making contact with his absent fey-royal sister…

“Shivering, I gazed stonily at the thing hovering a few feet away. It was unlike any faery I’d seen before. Not a nymph, a sidhe, a boggart, a dryad, anything that I recognised. Not to say I was an expert on the different types of faeries, but I’d seen more than most people, and this one was just…weird.”

“It was shorter than me by a nearly a foot, and so thin it didn’t seem possible that its legs could hold it up. In fact, its legs ended in needle-sharp tips, so it looked like it was walking on toothpicks instead of feet. Its face was hatchet thin, and its fingers were those same thin points, like it could poke its nail right through your skull. The skeletons of what used to be wings protruded from its bony shoulders, broken and shattered, and it hovered a few inches off the ground, as if the earth itself didn’t want to touch it.”

Julie has created a stunning world of likeable characters, surreal scenery and classical magic that will draw you into the story. You’ll be sure to enjoy the beautiful mystery of Nevernever and the gentle romance of the Ethan and Kenzie’s story.

Last week I asked Julie a few questions about her latest novel…

The last book of your’s which I read was The Immortal Rules and I was wondering, is it difficult to move out of one series, one scenario to another? How do you shift from vampires to faeries?
It helps that the books are so different.  In the Iron Fey series, the setting itself was surreal, magical, beautiful, and a little bit creepy.  In The Immortal Rules, the setting is much darker.  In Immortal, Allison had to be tough, gritty, and hardened to survive her world, unlike Meghan Chase in the Iron Fey series, whose upbringing was fairly normal.

In this latest Iron Fey installment, Ethan takes on the lead role. In each book, how do you decide whose story you’re going to tell?
It made sense to continue the Iron Fey series with Ethan.  Meghan’s story is done; she fulfilled her destiny and became who she was meant to be all along.  But what about the family and brother she left behind?  His story is just beginning.  He has a lifetime of resentment built up from hating the fey, what happens when he is forced into their world once more?  The Lost Prince answers that.

You book is fabulously visual, any tricks that you use to create such a real faery world? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Oh, thank you!  When I created the Nevernever, I wanted it to have that surreal, dreamlike quality, so when writing a scene in Faeryland, one of my tricks is to write the landscape as normal, but to include something that is just slightly off about it.  Just enough to give it a disconcerting feeling, like you’re really not sure if you’re dreaming or not.

You’ve included a lot of references to Shakespeare and other classics (for obvious reasons) Are you a big fan of Shakespeare’s plays? Do you have any tips for kids reading Shakespeare for the first time?
I love Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I think cultivating a love of books and stories in kids is the most important thing for getting them to read anything.  When I was younger, I was a total bookworm.  That hasn’t changed, except now I make up my own stories.

What’s next? More vampires or more fey, or something completely different?
Well, after I finish the Blood of Eden series and the Call of the Forgotten series, I do have something very different in mind.  Sadly, I can’t say anything about it, yet.  But hopefully I’ll be able to share soon.

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Oh… how intriguing! A big thanks to Julie (and Harlequin) for helping to see out the year in such a magical fashion! If you or your teens are into paranormal or fantasy reading, I’d suggest that you take a look at The Lost Prince, and the Iron Fey series.

And with that, we’re almost done for 2012. Keep an eye out on Monday for a special TBYL Chrissy message before we sign out…

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Should she or shouldn’t she? Speechless

I’ve read a few Young Adult titles lately, and I’ll admit to have enjoyed them probably more than I had expected that I would. They’ve been absorbing, complex and pretty unique.

But, I’m well aware of the fact, as I review these books for TBYL that I’m reading and reviewing them as an adult. My view of them could possibly be quite different to that of an actual teen. And so…

I’m really happy to introduce a brand new TBYL Reviewer, Clea Boyd-Eedle. Clea is a teen, and has kindly offered to give us her perspective on this really exciting genre. This month, Clea has read Speechless, by Hannah Harrington (Harlequin Teen). Here’s what she thought…

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“Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret…”
I suddenly think I am about to read another story about another silly teenager who again did something she shouldn’t have. And in a way it is, but it’s also more than that.

“Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast – and nearly got someone killed.”
That’s when I started to listen, what secret could have been so dangerous? To me, it seems as if no real debatable topics are ever presented in chick-lit young-adult fiction, just glossy versions; usually never anything serious. What could this story have that was different?

“Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence – to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting everyone else. And if she thinks keeping a secret is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence and in new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way. People she never noticed before. A boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends forgive what she’s done.”

Hannah Harrington’s second novel, Speechless(Harlequin Teen) is refreshing to read – the teenaged characters have been portrayed as they really are, without fine-coating everything. It is written in a language actually relatable to teenagers.

Speechless is set in your average American community, complete with parties full of red solo cup scenarios, one of which turns very ugly. What makes this book really interesting is just how a public issue is addressed and presented to the teenagers in the story.  I haven’t read of a situation like this before in any young-adult fiction.

The stories main character, Chelsea Knot is under the wing of the top girl, Kristen, making her somewhat popular and in with ‘that’ crowd. Red-headed, but not exactly fiery, Chelsea is clumsy with her words and is notorious for saying everything and anything her ears come across, which up until ‘that night’ hadn’t caused her any serious consequences, surprisingly. Since things turned bad, Chelsea has made a vow of silence and an effort to make things right. This in turn earns her the hatred of half her school, but also relationships blossom with people she would never have considered as friends.

Meeting Chelsea in detention, Asha is the friend everyone wants. Asha is quirky (she actually knits…seriously), an incredibly loyal and defensive friend (even though Chelsea didn’t speak a word to her) and a real people-person. I admittedly fell in love with Asha before Chelsea, envying her characteristics and wondering what made her so admirable.

And of course, where there’s girl’s teenaged fiction there is almost always, and inevitably, boys; and the choice between two. Sam is an artsy character, quite similar to Asha, who decides to help Chelsea out despite clearly having problems with her original popular position – will the relationship work or not?

Speechless was a great book, perfect for your typical teenaged girl looking for more insight into high school life, how to overcome problems (although not talking may not always be the solution) and more assurance that their issues are normal.  If you like Louise Renninson or Sarah Dessen you’re sure to enjoy Hannah Harrington’s, Speechless.

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I’m really looking forward to hearing more from Clea in the future, what a great way to work out what’s good in the world of YA fiction!

You can find out more about Speechless here…

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