Review: ‘The Iron King’ by Julie Kawaga


Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth — that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Given my book is written in the same category as Kawaga’s (young adult -> urban fantasy -> fae), part of me is a little nervous about reviewing this. I don’t want my minor gripes with the book to be viewed as sour grapes! I promise they’re not. And overall I did like the book. I just found the first third of The Iron King to be a bit slow, and a little predictable. But once Meghan got to Oberon’s Summer Court and the Winter Court arrived for their biannual party, things got interesting.

One thing I loved about this book was that Kawaga added an extra element to the original mythology and the Midsummer Night’s Dream characters: the concept of a new breed of fae that has arisen from mortal dreams of technology. Instead of being mortally wounded by it, they are often made of it or control it, making them deadly to the traditional fae. The descriptions of some of these new fae, like Virus and Ironhorse, were delightful. (In fact, Kawaga’s writing in general was very good.)

Meghan is a bit of a traditional young adult heroine: she winds up being gorgeous, and all the boys like her. It’s unclear whether the best friend is going to turn into a love interest or if his determination to protect Meghan arises from their friendship and the fact Oberon will disembowel him if he fails. But the pretty Winter Court prince, Ash, is definitely struck by a case of love at first sight (as is Meghan for him), and the nature of the Iron King’s interest is also a little predictable.

That being said, I didn’t mind Meghan too much. She reminded me of Sarah from the Labyrinth, rushing off to rescue her kid brother from the evil king. Some of the evil king’s minions were clearly inspired by the packrats in the Labyrinth’s junkyard, although I viewed this as more of a homage than outright imitation. And honestly, Labyrinth deserves more of that!

Normally I hate insta-love but the relationship between Ash and Meghan (such as it was) didn’t bother me as much as they usually do, possibly because this was urban fantasy rather than paranormal romance; it wasn’t the main focus of the plot by any means. Maybe it was just adolescent hormones, at least on Meghan’s part. (As for Ash, who knows what his excuse is? He might be a thousand years old!)

Once it got going, this was a fun read. I own the rest of the series — I have poor impulse control and bought the boxed set without having read it — and I’m happy to keep reading. The way The Iron King ended definitely made me want to know what happens next.

Four stars

Top ten sequels I can’t wait to get my grubby hands on


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is “Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get”! This is an easy one for me. Waiting, on the other hand, is haaaaard, you guys!



Endsinger by Jay Kristoff (The Lotus War #3)

Ensnared by A. G. Howard (Splintered #2)



Split Second by Kasie West (Pivot Point #2)

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler (Daylight Falls #2)


This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Starbound #2)

These ones don’t have covers yet:

The Problem With Heartache by Lauren McKellar (Crazy in Love #2)

Never Forgotten by Stacey Nash (Collective #3)

Burn by Paula Weston (The Rephaim #4)

Thunderbird by Chuck Wendig (Miriam Black #4)

Winter by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #4)

Getting to know me, with Cuddlebuggery


Today I’m taking part in the “Getting to Know You” blog hop hosted by Cuddlebuggery (I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take advantage of that awesome blog name). I’m supposed to tell you guys a bit about myself, including my favourite book series EVAH. Gee, they aren’t asking for a lot there. ;)

Of course, if I had to pick just one it’d be the sentimental favourite that would win: the Dragonriders series by Anne McCaffrey. This won’t be a surprise to anyone that follows my blog, as I mention these books regularly when I do the Top Ten Tuesday blog hop. They were the first adult fantasy series I read (after The Hobbit but before Lord of the Rings) and opened my eyes to the fact that you don’t have to read serious, boring books as you grow older.

Given I read speculative fiction almost exclusively now, it’s a lesson I clearly took to heart.

Another way I’m steadfastly refusing to grow up is by gaming. There’s been a bit of computer-style gaming over the years — I had a WoW addiction there for a while, and more recently a Minecraft one. But mostly I’m talking about roleplaying, both live action (when I was younger, before becoming a mother reduced my opportunities for evening outings) and tabletop (still).

Live action roleplaying (or LARP) is what people who don’t roleplay think of when they think of roleplaying: people dressing up and pretending to be something they’re not. But with LARP you don’t sit around a table like the stereotype would insist; instead, you actually all meet at a venue and immerse yourselves in your characters. Think improvisational theatre.

The games I played were all part of the World of Darkness milleu: vampires and werewolves, mostly, with the occasional changeling and mage game. You’re all there with an agenda that will probably cause strife with another character, while in the meantime world events (as decreed by the Storyteller) try and screw you over. The idea is to create the most interesting story — although there are always people who are in it to “win”, which is the other reason I don’t play anymore.

Coincidentally, it is because of my time LARPing that I have a photo of myself dressed rather the same as the girl in the meme picture. SNAP!

Cass corset

The tabletop game I play is your traditional Dungeons & Dragons game; again, it’s sort of what you’d expect, only we don’t dress up. (YOU try sitting at a dining table for hours in a corset!) Instead of a storyteller there’s a “Game Master” who describes the setting, while the players are responsible for their own characters. It’s a great way to be a hero in your own story, with friends.

The leap from roleplaying to writing novels isn’t that big, to be honest — especially if you take a stint as GM, but even if you don’t. It provides writers with a great appreciation of the idea that the characters should drive the story. It doesn’t always have to be the players’ characters; the ones made up by the GM or Storyteller have their own motivations too. The waves of zombies may look aimless, but who is behind rising them? What does he or she want? How do we stop them and take all their stuff?! Game design tends to favour finding the villain/s and undoing their plots, which encourages stories where the villains have their own motives.

Obviously every game isn’t created equal, but I’m lucky that my current group are all experienced gamers and we have a similar approach.

So. That’s a think about me. I’m an unrepentant geek! SURPRISE!

Now, I promised a giveaway. Leave a comment telling me a little something about yourself (no matter how silly) and I will enter you in a draw to win a copy of the Isla’s Inheritance ebook. I’ll do the draw on 30 November, my time.

Cover reveal: ‘Fight For Me’ by K. A. Last


Before we kick off this cover reveal, I wanted to say a few words. *grabs mic* I’ve actually already Fight For Me; you see, Kim is not only a talented writer and graphic designer. She’s also one of my fellow Aussie Owned bloggers, and so I was lucky enough to be asked to beta this book last month. I haven’t posted a review yet, as I wanted to wait till closer to the release date. But this book has game (girlfriend!) and another delicious plot twist.

Just so you know.

Now, enjoy this gorgeous cover!

Fight For Me by K.A. Last 
(The Tate Chronicles #2)
Publication date: January 17th 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
“How can I fight for you when I don’t know what I’m fighting for?”When Grace Tate became one of the fallen to protect a vampire, it got her into more trouble than she’d bargained for. She’s angry at Charlotte for hiding the truth, and with Josh living in the city and Seth missing, life is harder than ever.It’s about to get a lot harder…

Grace doesn’t want to leave Hopetown Valley, but when Josh ignores her calls she decides to go and search for him. She doesn’t expect to run into Seth as well.

When she reaches the city, Grace learns that Charlotte is the most hunted vampire in Wide Island. The city vamps want her blood, and the angels are after her soul. Grace gets caught in the crossfire of a battle she never wanted, but to win one war, she has to fight another.

Torn between the one she gave up everything for, and the one who sacrificed everything for her, Grace has to face Charlotte, and the past, if she wants to fight for her future. But how can she fight for someone who doesn’t want to fight for her?

Every choice Grace makes becomes a battle, and in every battle someone has to die.

Add Fight For Me on Goodreads.

Enter to win an ebook of Fight For Me, Fall For Me (book 1)
or a Fight For Me ribbon bookmark!


KALast_HeadshotFINAL_LRK. A. Last was born in Subiaco, Western Australia, and moved to Sydney with her parents and older brother when she was eight. Artistic and creative by nature, she studied Graphic Design and graduated with an Advanced Diploma. After marrying her high school sweetheart, she concentrated on her career before settling into family life. Blessed with a vivid imagination, she began writing to let off creative steam, and fell in love with it. She now resides in a peaceful, leafy suburb north of Sydney with her husband, their two children, and a rabbit named Twitch.

You can find her at her website, or on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads or on Amazon.

The waiting game

Cassandra Page:

On Tuesday over at Aussie Owned and Read, I wrote about the various writing-related ways I distract myself from going crazy while I wait for writing-related things. :)

Originally posted on Aussie Writers:

I’m an impatient person. (I will pause here while you express shock at this statement… WHY AREN’T YOU EXPRESSING SHOCK?) I’ve always been that way, and it’s something I’ve had to learn to manage over the years. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, writing and publishing books is a special kind of torture for me.

SlothThe publishing industry is a slow-moving beast. Even if you disregard how long it takes me to draft a novel in the first place—I’m jealous of you speedy NaNoWriMo types—so much of publishing is waiting. Waiting for beta feedback. Waiting for responses to queries. Waiting for edits, and covers, and publication dates. And now Isla’s Inheritance has finally been released into the wild, I’ve discovered a new thing to wait for: reviews.

It’s possible to be waiting for all these things AT THE SAME TIME. If you’re a writer, you have probably discovered this…

View original 378 more words

‘Isla’s Oath’ excerpt (and other things)

Reviews tweetIt’s been just over a month since Isla’s Inheritance was released, and it’s received some lovely reviews, especially on Amazon and Goodreads. If you’ve left a review, I LOVE YOUR FACE! To say thank you, I’m going to share an excerpt from the start of the sequel, Isla’s Oath. Because I know Dominic has some fans out there. ;)

A couple of admin things first, though.

If you’re a book blogger and are looking for some young adult urban fantasy to review, Isla’s Inheritance is now on NetGalley.

Also, [INSERT OBLIGATORY LINK TO AMAZON PURCHASE PAGE HERE]. That’s for the ebook. There’s still no word on the paperback (I know a bunch of people are holding out for papery goodness). When I know, you’ll know.

Isla’s Oath is on track for its 22 January release date. I’m proofing the galley now (well, not right this second — but when I’m finished writing this!). Isla_Dominic

Disclaimer: this excerpt is from an unedited proof and may differ from the final, published version.

The others were halfway to the sand. I followed them down the dunes, trying not to look too hard at the rock pool, suspended high above the waterline due to the retreating tide. Empty. At least Mako wasn’t lurking in there, watching. My gaze drifted out to the vivid blue ocean. Was that a shape, out beyond the waves? A watching face? It vanished with the next swell, and I chided myself for paranoia. But I wasn’t sure—despite Jack’s reassuring words about the sirens’ oath—that I wanted to go into the water. Visions of sentient sharks flashed behind my eyes.

Ryan spread his towel high up the beach, placing his sketchbook carefully in the centre. He started a fresh one every year. The pages on this one still sat flat and didn’t have little smudges of lead on their edges from twelve months of handling.

Gazing at the rolling waves as though mesmerised, Sarah shed her tank top, shorts and shoes, placing them in a messy pile. Her emerald swimsuit stood out like a jewel in the bright sun, bringing out the flecks of green in her eyes. I hesitated, feeling my ears burn with embarrassment, before doing the same.

Dominic stared at me, eyes wide and mouth agape. I hid a smile behind my hand, pleased he didn’t give my taller cousin more than a passing glance. Scarlet flashed in his aura. Did it represent what I thought it did? I turned my face away to hide the blush that warmed my cheeks.

Sarah squirted a generous amount of sunscreen into her palm before offering the bottle to the rest of us. Ryan and I, with painful experience to urge us on, took similar portions and made sure we didn’t miss an inch of exposed skin—although Ryan was careful not to get too much on his fingers so he didn’t smear his sketchbook.

That was going to make for an uncomfortable sunburn if he wasn’t vigilant.

Dominic hesitated. He’d removed his T-shirt and thrown it down on the pile with the rest of our clothes. “I want to work on my tan a little.” His skin already gleamed golden brown.

“Don’t be an idiot,” Sarah said, one hand on her hip. “We’re not going to baby you if you get burned.”

“I won’t!” he protested, offended.

I squeezed some more sunscreen into my palm and, before Dominic guessed what I was about to do, splatted it onto his bare chest. He squeaked and drew a breath to object. When I started to rub the white lotion across his chest, he smiled and held his arms out. His skin was warm and smooth under my fingers. I glanced up; he was gazing down at me, eyes hot.

My stomach fluttered.

“Lucky bastard,” Ryan muttered.

Seven Characters That Deserve Their Own Series


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme by The Broke and the Bookish, and you guys should definitely join in. So there. :p This week’s theme is “Top Ten Characters You Wish Would Get Their OWN Book (minor or just maybe a semi main character you wish a book was from their POV)”. As usual, I’m drafting this post late on a Monday so I may not get to ten. Let’s see….

HermioneHermione Granger (Harry Potter). Because she’s smart, brave and compassionate. I’d love to see where her wizarding career took her after Hogwarts and Voldemorte. Not babies but other things.

Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter). Yeah, I know, I know. But Luna was so quirky and sweet. You just know that while Hermione would be founding a wizarding university Luna would be taming herself a cute shoulder dragon or something. (I also would love to see Hagrid’s boyhood tale.)

Smeagol (Lord of the Rings). Before he ended up as Gollum and came to a sticky (well, fiery) end, Smeagol was a hobbit-like creature. It’d be a sad story, sure, but it’d be great to see from his perspective how he ended up where he did.

Simon Lewis

Simon Lewis (The Mortal Instruments). I’ve only read the first trilogy so I don’t know if Simon gets some airtime later on, but I’d love to see more of his story, separate from Clary and Jace. A geek-turned-vampire? Awesome!

The Companions (Heralds of Valdemar).  Companions are intelligent white horses with preternatural abilities that bond with their Heralds to help them protect the kingdom. It’s more or less stated outright as the series progresses that they are reincarnated Heralds. I’d love to see a story that reveals all, from a Companion’s point of view.

Morpheus (Splintered). Once the trilogy is done and we see how Alyssa’s story plays out, it’d be awesome to see a little more from Morpheus, the netherling who has been manipulating her all her life. Because he’s the archetypal bad guy with a heart of gold. And wings.

Karen Murphy (The Dresden Files). I’ve only read (ok, listened to) the first two books in this series, but I really want Karen Murphy to have her own book. A tough cop who looks like a china doll and can kick the crap out of supers? I like it. Plus I’d love to see her take Harry to task for trying to “protect” her, but that’s another story entirely.

Ok, that’s me done! So tell me: who am I forgetting?


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