Fields of Iron – A Steampunk Adventure Novel With Witches As A Bonus

Book Review : Fields of Iron
Magnificent Devices #11

By Shelley Adina

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

“What do you propose, sir?”

He held her astonished gaze as he went down upon one knee. “Why … I propose.
Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife, so that I may accompany you to San Francisco de Asis and help you stop this war?”

Gloria Meriwether-Astor, determined to end the invasion her father and a power-hungry diplomat started, has found safety with the witches of the river canyons in the Wild West. But how can one young lady without so much as a hat to her name challenge a kingdom? Confronted with the solution—marriage—she has two choices: accept the help she needs, or return to Philadelphia alone and a failure.

So, in the company of riverboat Captain Stan Fremont—the dashing rogue she must now call husband—she sets off for the capital to negotiate with the Viceroy. But with an entire country mobilizing between herself and her objective, the attempt could mean her life—and the life of the one person she is beginning to care for … (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

For the record I hate the covers on this series; they are so garish. However, I always love the content. The Magnificent Devices are filled with strong female characters, inventive devices and a plot that clips along at a fast pace.

Gloria Meriwether-Astor has grown through the novels from being a spoiled debutante to a woman who strives to do the right thing, even in impossible situations. Gloria was brought under the witches protection in the previous volume. In history women accused of being witches have been those on the fringe or outside of society; easily maligned by men because they didn’t have protection. The witches in Fields of Iron are the epitome of witches through history, however, they have banned together in an inhospitable environment to protect one another and have even developed their own religion. I have really enjoyed the witches, but worry that they will become man haters.

Romance takes on a new suit of clothes in this book. The shy, bookish man has extended himself in great feats to try to rescue Gloria, and even though she likes him she doesn’t love him. Aha! A failed romance between two good people. Gloria finds herself married to Captain Stan Fremont to try to travel safely through the territory to reach the Viceroy in her quest to stop a war. Stan is a lot more than Gloria bargained for, and the Viceroy puts her in an even bigger pickle!

Good luck Gloria! And good luck Shelley Adina on writing yourself out of this mess.

These are a fun, fast read.

3.5 – 4 out of 5 stars
4 star

  • Michelle

If you like steampunk try reading Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams.

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The Little Selkie – Definitely Not A Mermaid

Book Review : The Little Selkie
Timeless Fairy Tales #5

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Dylan—a selkie—makes a terrible mistake when she brashly chases an evil sea witch onto land. Captured and stripped of her pelt—leaving her unable to return to the sea in her sea lion body—Dylan’s only chance of survival is to serve as the sea witch’s tool. Instead of allowing the sea witch to use her selkie ability to control water, Dylan asks a wandering enchantress to seal her voice, rendering her unable to use her selkie magic. Stranded—with no allies and no way to contact her family—Dylan fears she will never successfully steal her pelt back.

Luckily, Dylan is not alone. She is befriended by Prince Callan, a kind, human prince whose country is being pulverized by the sea witch. Combining the strength of humans and the intelligence of the selkies, the pair unites to save their people.

But when the storm is over will Dylan choose to stay with Callan, or return to the sea and leave him behind…forever?

THE LITTLE SELKIE is a retelling of The Little Mermaid. It is a story of distrust, friendship, and unexpected love, and it is part of TIMELESS FAIRY TALES. The books in this series take place in the same world and can be read all together, or as individual, stand-alone stories. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I love to see how different authors approach fairy tales. The Little Selkie is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, though Dylan is horrified when Callan had mistakenly thought she was a mermaid.

I easily related to Dylan because she is always hungry. She couldn’t care less what is going on when she is eating and is thinking of her next meal opportunity when not eating. Dylan was reluctant to have to bother to save a human when she spotted him in the storm, but did it because her family had pounded it into her head that it is a silkie’s job to save humans from drowning. It even takes her a few days after coming onto land to realize that Prince Callan is the human that she had saved two year ago. She definitely is not in love with the prince at first sight.

Prince Callan is an interesting character because he has social anxiety, though it isn’t said in those exact terms. He has a public mask he wears, with a false smile for others. Dylan brings out his sense of humor because she is authentic, unassuming and brash when he has been surrounded by courtly mannered sycophants. The problem with a character that doesn’t do well socially is trying to get the reader to feel like he is making a genuine connection with the love interest. I felt like there needed to be more as to why Callan trusted and fell in love with Dylan.

Shea’s books are all light reading, clean and fun. The plots and characters are fairly shallow, but have small twists that are interesting. This book is appropriate for a young audience.

3.25 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

Other retold fairy tales that I enjoy include Beauty by Robin McKinnley, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale and Enchantment by Orson Scott Card.

ps- After all of this reading of Shea’s novels I can say that Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella and the Colonel were my favorites because they have a more complex plot and vary more widely from the original tales.

 

 

 

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Rumpelstiltskin – Would You Give Up Your Firstborn Child To This Mage?

Book Review : Rumpelstiltskin
Timeless Fairy Tales #4

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

When 17-year-old Gemma, a seamstress, is ordered by the insane King Torgen to spin straw into gold or be put to death, she knows her life is forfeit. Unwilling to give up, Gemma tries to escape her prison, earning her the respect of the mysterious mage, Stil. Stil offers to complete the impossible task…for a price.

Greedy and unsatisfied, King Torgen demands more and more straw to be spun into gold, and decrees that he will “reward” Gemma by marrying her. With death or marriage to a crazed king clouding her future, Stil offers Gemma a bargain that seems too good to be true.

Will Gemma’s trust in Stil be her downfall, or will he defy the entire country to save her? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Once Upon A Time, a woman got caught in reading a particular author and can’t seem to stop. In this case, I just finished Rumpelstiltskin and like it less than Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella and the Colonel, but more than The Wild Swans.

Rumpelstiltskin is riddled with errors in the text, spelling and word choice. I find these errors to be jarring while reading. One other item on the neutral side would be how similar the tent was to J.K. Rowling’s tents in Harry Potter, The Goblet of Fire. Unfortunately, her work is so well known it makes this idea, of a richly furnished tent disguised with a tatty exterior, feel like it only belongs in Harry Potter even if other authors had previously used the same schtick.

Gemma’s character is fun because she is so focused on sewing clothes that she sees little else, and certainly has no desire for personal wealth. Stil, short for Rumpelstiltskin, was my favorite character in this book. He is whimsical, unpredictable, knows his short comings as a mage and falls in love with Gemma because she is his opposite. In the past, Rumpelstiltskin has seemed a bit creepy asking for the first born child of the woman he is helping; and in this case he has the same deal “your firstborn child will be mine”, which Gemma agrees to since she isn’t even convinced she will ever have children. Later, Gemma truly realizes what she agreed to with Still and I believe her response was to smack him, while my response was to laugh with the author. My favorite secondary character was the young lady Gemma served because she is so interested in becoming a soldier and has to hide her sword practice and heart felt desire. She is bold, unrealistic and loyal to those she loves.

I believe anything by this author is appropriate for any audience and I enjoy that she adds her own twist to famous fairy tales. Next, I’m reading her version of The Little Mermaid.

3.25 out of 5 stars
3-half-star-hotel
Michelle

If you enjoyed this fairy tale try Enchantment by Orson Scott Card or any of the fairy tales by Robin McKinley, Beauty being a favorite as well as Spindle’s End. Though not a fairy tale you may also enjoy Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede. I believe The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley would be a great selection because it has a lot of girl power in it, and horses! Happy reading.

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Snow Queen, Heart of Ice – Is It Too Much Like Elsa In Disney’s Frozen? Or Does It Reflect Hans Christian Andersen’s Original Story?

Book Review : Snow Queen, Heart of Ice
The Snow Queen #1

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Rakel, a princess by birth, has spent most of her life exiled on a barren mountain, despised because of her powerful snow magic. Though she longs to be accepted, she hides in her ice-castle and lives with the fear that her brother—the King—will one day order her execution.

Her empty life changes forever when an army of magic users—led by the enigmatic Colonel Farrin Graydim—invade her home country and plan to enslave its citizens. Swallowing her fear, Rakel joins forces with her jailers and uses her magic to save the people who scorned her.

If Rakel cannot defend her homeland, the country will be lost.

THE SNOW QUEEN: HEART OF ICE is a story of magic, distrust, and unexpected friendships. It takes place in the same world as the TIMELESS FAIRY TALES series, but occurs centuries prior. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

When I first started reading Heart of Ice I was concerned that it would feel like a retelling of Disney’s Frozen because Rakel is isolated in a castle which she has built from ice like Elsa. Heart of Ice deviates sharply from Frozen because there is no sister trying to heal Rakel, no singing snowman guard, and no dancing rock trolls trying to help a romance along.

There are a few elements from Heart of Ice that parallel the original Andersen tale, but the details and storyline vary widely from the original. There is a mirror that has been broken into pieces and spread across the world, though at this point we don’t know the purpose of the mirror. The characters are also similar; the original has Kai and Gerda and Gerda’s grandmother with key roles. A robber girl is also present and reindeer. This one might be a stretch, but in the original there is a troll or the Devil, but in Heart of Ice there is an evil magic user who may fulfill the same role.

I thought it was odd that Rakel would gather the enemy and banish them from a city without killing them because then these same men would only strengthen their own military to attack again since they were part of the invading forces. She did this as part of her character being so merciful that she couldn’t bare killing others, which directly opposed others perceptions of her character.

The budding romance is a bit murky. Is Rakel going to fall for the misguided magic user, Colonel Farrin Graydim? Is she going to fall for the Captain? Or how about Oskar who has loyally been on duty for years at her castle? I actually like that it is not clear at this point in the story, because the plot is more about her personal development and rescuing her country.

As always Shea’s books are a clean fantasy with a bit of romance. Even a tween could read these books. In this particular one the robber girl loves to ogle the men, but it’s funny. At this point I’m finding more typos that bug me as I’m reading and would like to see more finished product. My two favorites continue to be Cinderella and the Colonel and Beauty and the Beast. I keep hoping to find another of their caliber.

3.25 out of 5 stars
3-half-star-hotel
Michelle

If you enjoyed this fairy tale try Enchantment by Orson Scott Card or any of the fairy tales by Robin McKinley. Though not a fairy tale you may also enjoy Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede.

 

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Puss In Boots – Or Bossy Boots

Book Review : Puss in Boots
Timeless Fairy Tales #6

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Though she dreams of adventure, Gabrielle—a peasant girl—is given only a cat for her inheritance and is told she must marry, immediately. So when the cat, Puss, offers her a life of excitement in exchange for a pair of boots, Gabrielle jumps at the opportunity. Through Puss’s cunning and Gabrielle’s good deeds, they become celebrated heroes in small villages across the country.

Their adventurous life is complicated by Prince Steffen—a handsome prince who has a low opinion of love. He befriends Gabrielle and comes to grudgingly respect Puss as they work together to purge monsters and brigands from the countryside.

Disaster strikes when Steffen realizes his growing feelings for Gabrielle, and Puss and Gabrielle fight the evil ogre who rules the lands of Carabas. Can Gabrielle save Carabas? Will Steffen accept his feelings for her before it is too late?

Set in a world brimming with magic, monsters, fairies, and heroes, PUSS IN BOOTS is a retelling of the classic French fairy tale. It is part of TIMELESS FAIRY TALES. The books in this series take place in the same world and can be read all together, or as individual, stand-alone stories. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

 

Puss In Boots could be considered a prequel because it goes into the past prior to The Wild Swans, but then catches the reader up with events that happen after the swans have become human again. This addition to the Timeless Fairytales collection is charming. It lacks the depth of characterization found in Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella and the Colonel (My current two favorites).

Gabriella is ready for an adventure and joins ranks with Puss, whose given name is Roland Archibald Whisperpaws the Fifth. Because of her humble beginnings she is reluctant to accept praise or compensation for her actions *heroics* in saving other simple country folk. However, Puss knows just how to put the right spin on things bringing on a grander adventure than Gabriella could ever have expected.

Puss In Boots is written in vignette format, with each adventure has its own climax and conclusion. As each scene is strung together we see the development in Gabriella’s confidence and the development of her relationship with that foolish, bumpkin-headed dolt, also known as Prince Steffen.

I need to add, I do like a smart cat and hope to be adopted by a magic cat in the future.

3.25 out of 5 stars
3-half-star-hotel
Michelle

If you enjoyed this fairy tale try Enchantment by Orson Scott Card or any of the fairy tales by Robin McKinley. Though not a fairy tale you may also enjoy Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede.

ps-

Puss in Boots isn’t my favorite and isn’t my least favorite by this author.

I find I keep reading more because I want more like my favorite two.

 

 

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The Wild Swans – Do Foster Brothers Bite?

Book Review : The Wild Swans
Timeless Fairy Tales #2

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Elise is the foster-daughter of the King of Arcainia, a mathematician, and the country’s treasurer. She is not a hero. But when her step-mother, a wicked witch, curses Elise’s seven foster-brothers—the princes of Arcainia—and turns them into swans, Elise is the only one who can save them.

To break the curse, she must knit seven shirts made of stinging nettles, but there’s a catch. She has to complete the shirts without uttering a word, and if she doesn’t finish the task, Arcainia and her foster-brothers will be lost.

THE WILD SWANS is a retelling of the German Six Swans fairy tale and the Dutch Wild Swans fairy tale. It is a story of humor, love, adventure, and magic, and it is part of the top selling Timeless Fairy Tales series—a series comprised of loosely related adaptations of your favorite fairy tales. All Timeless Fairy Tales take place in the same world and can be read all together, or as individual, stand-alone books. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I am not familiar with the German fairy tale of Six Swans so this fairy tale didn’t hold as much interest for me.

Elise, as the foster daughter of the king, has a lot of doubts about her place in the family. She continually feels like she has to prove her worth. She is incredibly smart with finances and has been the keeper of the royal treasury and keeps everyone on a tight budget. She has felt that her position with the treasury was a sign of the King’s trust in her abilities. The seemingly impossible task to knit seven shirts of stinging nettles is yet another way that Elise feels she needs to prove herself to the family. She would go through the agony regardless because of her deep love of her foster family.

I had a couple of questions:

  1. Why does she adamantly love her foster family? Of the seven brothers only two are very kind to her, though the youngest was previously one of her best friends. Even as swans some of them bite her! Talk about ungrateful foster brothers. She feels rejected by the Queen and King because they never loved her enough to adopt her and change her status. Nevertheless, Elise states that she loves them enough to accomplish this horrible task.
  2. Why was the magic not negated when Elise was warned to only talk to her foster brothers during the hour when they were in their human form? She was not to utter a word. There is a moment when the author states that Elise murmured a statement of discontent. That right there would have negated the magic even though no one else heard her speak. Elise also speaks with the guard, Brida, during the hour when her brothers are human. Maybe this seems nitpicky, but Elise was strictly warned so this seemed like an oversight by Shea.

 

The Wild Swans didn’t really seem to have many twists or unusual plot devices. Shea does have a small twist at the end, the reader gets to choose who Elise will fall in love with after the wicked witch is killed. Of course, I read both versions and felt strongly that the one was more in line with the characters than the other. Elise finds her place and is more than content by the end. It is a clean romance and still a fun read.

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

Other retold fairy tales that I enjoy include Beauty by Robin McKinnley, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale and Enchantment by Orson Scott Card.

ps-

This has been my least favorite in the series that I have read thus far.

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Cinderella and the Colonel – A Guide To Paying Your Taxes

Book Review : Cinderella and the Colonel
Timeless Fairy Tales #3

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Scratching out a living in a land recovering from war and a hostile takeover, Cinderella—an orphaned, destitute duchess—is desperate to save her lands and servants in spite of the terrible taxes placed upon her by the Erlauf queen, even if it means she must don servants’ clothes and work like a commoner.

Her sacrifices aren’t enough, and when a mountain of debt is levied against her, she is given one season to produce the funds. Cinderella realizes it is only a matter of time before she loses everything she has struggled to protect, and it seems that all is lost until she is befriended by the debonair Colonel Friedrich—a member of the Erlauf military and a citizen of the oppressing country that rules her homeland.

From helping her break into the royal library to saving her from a rogue mage, Friedrich draws her closer and challenges her mindset of the queen and the war.

Cinderella knows Friedrich is not all he appears to be, but can she trust him with her country and her heart?

CINDERELLA AND THE COLONEL is fairy tale retelling of love, sacrifice, adventure, and magic. It is filled with humor, deception, and clean romance, and it belongs to the top selling series, TIMELESS FAIRY TALES. The books in this series take place in the same world and can be read all together, or as individual, stand-alone books.
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

 

Cinderella and the Colonel is another fairy tale that explores relationships and has a complex back story for the plot. Because it is Cinderella we want her to end up with the charming Prince, but that doesn’t mean a twisting road to arrive at the destination isn’t more fun.

The plot:

Cinderella is from one of only six surviving noble houses of Trieux. Erlauf, a neighboring country, has taken over the smaller country of Trieux and imposed heavy taxes. It would be easy to vilify the sovereigns of Erlauf for the unjust treatment, but there are two sides to the story.

The Characters:

Cinderella is feisty, determined, loyal, a hard worker and of course a beauty (with flaming red hair). She will sacrifice anything to pay her taxes, including her hair. No one would have expected the Duchess Cinderella Lacreux to put herself in servants clothes and work so hard to save all of her servants, land and ultimately her country – even while paying her taxes. Her step-mother was a noble widow and pressed into service by the queen of Erlauf to marry the Duke, Cinderella’s father. Cinderella has only a few interactions with her step-mother, who is frosty and stern, but she learns to see the situation from her point of view and they come to something of a truce. Cinderella takes to calling the Colonel, as Fred, just to bug him. A turning point in their friendship is when Cinderella saves him from assassins.

Colonel Friedrich is one of the most influential men in the Erlauf military holding one of the highest ranks. As a military nation they esteem their officers even more than their nobility. He is charming, perseverant, and thoughtful. His men are devoted to him and he might be able to help Cinderella pay off her property’s tax debt to the queen. He is prone to calling Cinderella “Pet” and suggesting she plants flowers.

Prince Cristoph, the oldest son of Queen Freja, will need to marry and try to bring his new country into a new order. Cinderella points out to the Prince, at the ball, how the country needs to heal and forgive one another rather than move into the darkness of hatred that would allow the evil mages to get a foothold and eventually destroy both the Trieux and the Erlauf. He is quite intrigued with Cinderella’s novel ideas.

Enchantess in training, Angelique plays a small cameo in this book, and as you can guess, she appears right in the nick of time – before the ball. Who knew glass slippers could be so comfortable?

This is another light, fun read and I enjoyed it immensely. It is a completely clean romance and clever. There were a couple of moments when I was reminded of the movie Ever After because Cinderella was so practical in her approach to life.

3.5 out of 5 stars
3-half-star-hotel
Michelle

If you enjoyed this fairy tale try Enchantment by Orson Scott Card or any of the fairy tales by Robin McKinley. Though not a fairy tale you may also enjoy Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede.

ps-

Cinderella and the Colonel is my second favorite so far! But a close second to Beauty and the Beast.

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