Book Review: The Faerie Ring

October 31, 2011

The Faerie Ring
Kiki Hamilton
Historical Fantasy
Ages 12+
352 pages

The Faerie Ring is a title with multiple meanings.  The most literal one is a ruby ring that belongs to the British royal family.  In 1871, that makes Queen Victoria its keeper…until it’s stolen by the book’s main character, orphaned teenager Tiki.  Tiki wants to sell or ransom the ring so that she and the make-shift family of orphans in her care can live in a real apartment instead of an abandoned shop in Charing Cross station.  When the youngest orphan, Clara, falls seriously ill and must be taken to a charitable hospital, Tiki’s hopes only intensify.  But she learns through fellow pick-pocket Rieker that the ring is more than a piece of beautiful jewelry–it’s a symbol of truce between the faerie courts and the humans who occupy Great Britain.  Without the ring being in royal hands, all bets are off for faeries who want to return to their ancestral home.

A comment on the back cover called this book urban faerie meets Oliver Twist, and I couldn’t put it better myself.  Tiki’s struggle to survive by stealing food and coins and living in horrible conditions in late Victorian London is just as vivid as the encounters with the faeries.  Being more of a historical reader than a fantasy one, I usually find myself drawn more to history than magic in books like this.  But not here.  There is something that captures my imagination about the faerie myths of Britain and Ireland, and I wanted to know more of this faerie world that co-exists with the London we read of in Dickens novels.  Tiki is a sympathetic character with strong motivations to help those around her.  Her past is revealed little by little throughout the book, until the end when she and the reader realize there’s much more to her heritage than she ever imagined.

And as for other meanings of “faerie ring?”  You’ll have to read the book to discover them all.

Tiki’s story is only beginning in this book.  Two or three others are set to follow, and I can’t wait to read them.  Be sure to come back Wednesday to read an interview with author Kiki Hamilton, and then Friday to enter a contest to win a signed copy of the book.

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What is it?

October 26, 2011

Let’s play a game!  I’m going to show you some images and I want you to tell me what you think it is! (A little hint, they’re all from the early 1800s!)

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Blast from the Past

October 21, 2011

The first week of October I was in NY visiting my family. Sunday morning as I was waiting around for everyone (and basically bored) I started going through drawers in the room I stay in at my grandfather’s house. I opened one of the desk drawers to find the old computer paper you had to load into the printer and then pull off the edges when you were done.

The last time I used that paper was in 8th grade for a project I had to do for my US History Class! Oh the memories that paper brought back! Do you remember using this paper? Any fun/awful memories it brought back for you?


Odd Scraps for the Economical

October 17, 2011

America Frugal Housewife

Odd Scraps for the Economical

Those who make candles will find it a great improvement to steep the wicks in lime water and saltpetre, and dry them. The flame is clearer, and the tallow will not run.

…presented to you from The American Frugal Housewife – Dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy, by Mrs. Child…


Book Review: Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos

October 12, 2011

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (Theodosia Throckmorton #1)
Janet Fox
Historical Fantasy
Ages 9+
350 pages

Here’s the plain and simple of it. I love Theodosia Throckmorton. Are the mysteries asking you to stretch your natural suspension of disbelief? Yes. Is Theodosia a (super, super) super bright eleven-year old? Yes. Does that bother me? No. Why? Because Theodosia is a character that makes me smile, laugh, and cheer her on at every obstacle she faces (and she faces many).

Let me back up a bit. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos is the first in a series of novels set in 1940’s England about an eleven-year-old girl who not only possesses formidable knowledge of Egyptian theology and black magic but also has the ability to see evil spells and spirits.

Often neglected by her loving, but preoccupied, archeologist parents, she has more freedom than the average eleven year old. This freedom allows her to work relentlessly to rid the museum her parents curate of these evils spells. Things don’t always go as she plans though, and Theodosia finds herself in one bind after another. Clever thinking, wits, and sometimes a little bit of help from some unexpected people get her through her adventures unscathed.

This book isn’t the most historically authentic book you’ll ever read, but it’s fun! It’s got adventure, mystery, a spunky character that will make you laugh. Give it a shot! Follow along as Theodosia tries to find her place in a society that doesn’t understand or appreciate her gifts. This book and its sequels are well-written and worth the read.


Just hit me over the head with a book . . .

October 4, 2011

Original cover, 1941

Stories have a way of sneaking into our lives and making changes—often without us realizing it. The first books that made an impact on me were Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books. First published in 1941—and no, I wasn’t born then—The Black Stallion sank its hooks into me and didn’t let go. It had a shipwreck. A desert island. A wild stallion. A seventeen-year-old boy. And a victorious horse race. What’s not to like?

I was only a kid, but I jumped into that series with the loyalty of any child who discovers a fabulous story. I became a Walter Farley fan. I wanted to be a jockey—even though horses made me sneeze and the only time I ever rode was during summer camp. Those stories instilled in me a love of reading that I’ve never lost.

When I was in junior high, I discovered—because isn’t that what it feels like?—the books of Alexandre Dumas. The Count of Monte Cristo. The Three Musketeers. Let’s hear it for swashbuckling adventure, intrigue, and revenge! I learned that I had the ability to read a “big” book, even though I had to look up words in the dictionary and barely understood the adult issues involved in the plot.

In my early twenties, I read Madeleine L’Engle. In fact, it was pretty much all Madeleine, all the time. Her books entertained, challenged, and inspired me. I felt encouraged to write and write well. I can’t even tell you what it was about A Ring of Endless Light, but when I finished it I felt so much joy about life that I knew I had to write. To write the kind of books I loved to read. Madeleine L’Engle wrote for children, young adults, and adults. She wrote fantasy, women’s fiction, picture books, and contemporary YA. She wrote nonfiction. And that’s another lesson I learned from her—write the book you need to write. Just because I write young adult fiction, doesn’t mean I have to only write YA forever and ever, amen.

So, how about you? What books have made an impact on your life?