i'm darkness and light, bubbles and faerie wings.
i am sparkles and glitter, shadows and clouds.
i love purple, and faeries, and books, and music.

Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

The Pool of Two Moons

The Pool of Two Moons (Witches of Eileanan, Book 2)
by Kate Forsyth

Taking up where The Witches of Eileanan left off, we find Meghan o’ the Beasts and her young charge Isabeau, outcasts in a land where magic has been outlawed. But the pair are soon separated, and Isabeau is wounded by witchfinders, and saved by a group of samaritans. Meghan sets out to find Isabeau’s warrior-trained twin, Iseult, and a missing prince living under an ancient curse. Separately, the two parties must make their way through a land where magic is punished by death, seeking allies to spread the news–that the Witches are returning, and the Queen and her evil must fall. (goodreads.com)

This book was my introduction to the Witches of Eileanan series back in 1999. I remember when I unpacked it from a box of new books for the store how it caught my eye instantly. The cover itself enchanted me, the type-face of the title (which I would love to know what it is!), the title with the word “moon” in it and then the name of the series itself, with the magical word “witch”. I made sure we ordered the first book in the series and I of course started with that. I have never been happier to discover a series in my life.

Both Isabeau and Iseult are still apart for pretty much the duration of the story and their first meeting still gives me a thrill even with this third reading of the story.

One thing that struck me more with this reread was how Isabeau has a pretty crummy lot in life. She grew up with such hopes and dreams and it seems like she keeps getting the bad end of the stick and all the good stuff happens to Iseult, who has only just been discovered. I have always sympathized more with Isabeau throughout the series and this time around it was an even stronger connection to her that I had. I feel bad for Isabeau and do not think she deserves a life of sacrifice and suffering. Of course she is envious and bitter about her sister’s life. Isabeau cares so much for everyone and she always seems to get shafted. Poor, firey thing.

The funny thing about the end of this book is the “Stay tuned for the conclusion to the Witches of Eileanan series with the next book!” I know at the time this was to be a trilogy, but like many trilogies it seemed to have grown into a longer saga – 6 books to be precise.

As much as I am dying to reread The Cursèd Towers, I am finally in a better head space to start reading some of my TBR review books. So I shall put off the third book for a while and get some much needed scheduled reading done!

There just aren’t words enough to express how much I love this series.

The Witches of Eileanan series

  1. The Witches of Eileanan
  2. The Pool of Two Moons
  3. The Cursèd Towers
  4. The Forbidden Land
  5. The Skull of the World
  6. The Fathomless Caves

Rhiannon’s Ride

  1. The Tower of Ravens
  2. The Shining City
  3. The Heart of Stars

    The Witches of Eileanan

    The Witches of Eileanan (Book 1)
    by Kate Forsyth

    In the Celtic land of Eileanan, witches and magic have been outlawed, and those caught for practicing witchcraft are put to death! It is a land ruled by an evil Queen, where sea-dwelling Fairgean stir, and children vanish in the night. But in a valley deep in the mountains, young Isabeau grows to womanhood under the guidance of an elderly witch, and must set out on a quest, carrying the last hopes of the persecuted witches. (goodreads.com)

    If you asked me what my all-time favourite Fantasy series was I would answer with “The Belgariad! No! The Witches of Eileanan! No! Bellgariad! No! Witches!” and then my head would probably explode. But I have been thinking about this question a lot as I reread the series I first discovered in 1999. Though I adore David & Leigh Eddings’ Belgariad and Mallorean series, I think my favourite part of that series was a companion novel, Polgara the Sorceress. Kate Forsyth’s Witches series reminds me a lot of Polgara, or rather, the other way around.

    ANYHOW… my point is that this 6-book series is fantastic and comfort food for my brain and soul. After the state of mind Plain Kate left me in I just could not get into a brand new book. I started and stopped 5 books after Plain Kate and finally decided since I was desperate to read something I would pick up an old favourite and see how that went. It’s been a while since I have read this first book and I was instantly transported back to the world of Eileanan within the first pages.

    Many of you may only know Kate Forsyth from her two recent MG/YA novels – The Puzzle Ring (which I ADORED) and The Gypsy Crown, although I have loved her for much longer than that. I was working in a bookstore when the second book in this series came out and the cover caught my eye instantly and when I saw it was a Book 2 I went in search of Book 1. So, really, since 1999 I have been head-over-heels in love with this series and the author’s writing.

    The series has quite a large cast of characters and it may seem a little daunting as you are introduced to the various clans of Eileanan. Even with this rereading I was trying to remember all of the clans and characters. Many are around much of the novel but some slip in under the radar and you are left trying to figure out what side they’re on. 😉

    Oddly, my fondest memory of the book is Isabeau and yet much of the novel focuses on her sister Iseault and guardian Meghan. Some major plot points that happened in this book I remembered has happening later on in the novel, but in my defense by the time I got to the 6th book so much had happened! 😉

    One thing I remember missing – and still do – from the books are the maps of the country. These can actually be found on the author’s website, but I like having maps at the front of my fantasy books so I can flip back and orient myself when a character goes from one place to the other. And these maps weren’t available online back in the days of yore that I originally read the books!

    Another thing that I would have found very helpful is a glossary at the end and pronunciation guide. There are a lot of Gaelic words in this series and I never know how to pronounce them and that makes me angry! I was hoping perhaps such a guide would be available on the website, too, but sadly there isn’t. So I spent a few hours googling the words and trying to find pronunciation guides. Turns out these past 11 years I have been mispronouncing the words for King and Queen in this book – Rìgh and Banrìgh (Ree and BanREE). I was pronouncing it like RYE (like eye). Argh. I might be of Irish decent but I wasn’t born with an innate knowledge of Gaelic. ha! And I am not always certain I am pronouncing the names of people or faerie races all that well. Oh, dear. So I have been making google my friend when it comes to Gaelic terms.

    Overall, this is a fantastic fantasy series. It’s magical, dragony, humourous, torturous and all around enchanting. I am immersed in Eileanan with each book and they are not small books either. They are all between 450-550 pages and so well written you’d almost have to believe the world exists and that the author spent a ton of time there.

    I’m on to book two now and I think my emotions have settled enough from reading Plain Kate that I might actually be able to get to a review book after this!

    The Witches of Eileanan series

    1. The Witches of Eileanan
    2. The Pool of Two Moons
    3. The Cursèd Towers
    4. The Forbidden Land
    5. The Skull of the World
    6. The Fathomless Caves

    Rhiannon’s Ride

    1. The Tower of Ravens
    2. The Shining City
    3. The Heart of Stars

    Rambling Reader: The Best YA Books You Haven’t Read

    Kelly at YAnnabe contacted me about this special Blog Blitz she was organizing and although I was very interested in participating I failed because this was an extra-busy week and I have had little to no time to blog. So my post is late, when it should have been up on Thursday, or even by the end of Sunday. Since I am writing this Sunday morning and I decided I wanted to do a video post that still needs to be filmed, I don’t know if I’ll make the deadline. I got it up in time, go me!! Either way, I still think this is a great idea to post about some of the best YA books that people have read that didn’t seem to get as hyped as others.

    My top YA picks from the video are:

    The Puzzle Ring – Kate Forsyth

    The 13 Treasures – Michelle Harrison
    The 13 Curses – Michelle Harrison

    Sisters of Misery – Megan Kelley Hall
    The Lost Sister – Megan Kelley Hall

    The Swan Kingdom – Zöe Marriott

    The Good Girls’ Ghouls’ Guide to Getting Even – Julie Kenner
    Good Girls Ghouls Do – Julie Kenner

    If you head on over to Kelly’s original post you can see the list of participants, last I heard it was 39, which I think is pretty impressive!

    I really do hope that this post has helped some of you discover fantastic new YA fiction to pick up and enjoy. Spread the word!

    (Background music provided by: Ian Axel “This is The New Year” CD out now!)

    Rambling Reader: Top Reads of 2009

    This was originally supposed to be a Books You Should Buy For Christmas Gifts post, but I ran out of free time (filming and editing all those 12 Days of Christmas videos takes up a lot of time) though I always like to keep track of my favourite reads in a year. Having this blog is handy for that sort of thing. I know every book blog out there is writing a similar post, but I still want to let you know which books I found to be my favourites this year. I am not limiting the books to those published in 2009 – I am including books I might have discovered this year even if they’ve been out for a while.

    Maria V. Snyder’s Study SeriesPoison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study (Fantasy Adult / can be YA). These were a find at the start of the year and it had been a very long time since I had been quite so enchanted by a fantasy series. The main character Yelena captured my heart from the first pages. She’s someone I would love to be friends with. Her romance with Valek wasn’t all mush and gush and I found it had depth to it. The side characters in this series were just as fantastic leaving me wanting more and to try and figure out how I could jump into the pages of the book to join them on their quests. Speaking of quests, am I the only one who gets huge cravings for hunks of bread and cheese and homemade stew while reading fantasy books? Because I do. I have to run out (aka, have my husband run out) to the store get rolls of some sort, maybe paté and a hunk of cheese so I can snack while reading. I am so easily swayed by food in books.

    Michelle Harrison’s The 13 Treasures (MG) – This was a daring purchase on my part as I ordered it directly from the UK after months of waiting for it to show up on a Canadian site. It was possibly one of the best book decisions I have ever made. Thirteen year old Tanya can see faeries, though that can get her into a lot of trouble and she’s not supposed to talk about it. Her grandmother’s house and grounds was so vividly described that I longed to hop in a plane and travel all the way to England to try and find it. Houses in England always seem so much more exciting than here in Canada. They are also all named, which is just cool. I was lucky enough to befriend the author this year and one day I’ll get overseas and meet her! Meanwhile she kindly agreed to participate in a 5 Questions interview which I posted with my review.

    The 13 Treasures will be released in April 2010 in North America with a completely different cover – which I know exists somewhere though it’s not on Goodreads yet!.

    Eyes Like Stars -Théâtre Illuminata, Act I by Lisa Mantchev (YA) lived up to all the hype it was getting on the internet. I got it mainly because of the cover and the fact that there were faeries. This book started off a little confusing but you quickly got into the groove of the story and understood the way things work in Bertie’s world – where classic fictional characters come to life. I bought this book in hard cover (since that seems to be the ONLY way Young Adult books are released these days!) and was very  happy to find that I did not waste my money and that I didn’t wait a whole year or more for it to have come out in paperback. Buy this book. It is so worth is.

    Yet another book that lived up to it’s hype is Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink (YA). This was a book I hemmed and hawed about buying because it was in hard cover as well and I wasn’t all that certain that I would like it. When I discovered that it was “only” $19 I ended up adding it to my pile on a shopping trip. I devoured this book like it was the last piece of birthday cake that my mum made! Not only was the story gripping, gothic and creepy the actual inside of the book was pretty! I am such a sucker for aesthetics. I was frustrated to learn that this was not a stand-alone story however. So I warn the rest of you now who have not read it – there are two more books on the way! (At least?)

    One of my most exciting surprises of the year was a book by an author that I adore in the Fantasy genre, Kate Forsyth. The Puzzle Ring is not yet available in North America and since I had discovered The Book Depository, I decided to order her two YA/MG novels because I was tired of waiting for them to show up here. I might even go so far as to say that The Puzzle Ring was my most favourite read of the year. I felt like I was in a magical land, like waking up to find you’re a Disney Princess or something. Even the book itself FELT whimsical and I can just stare at the cover for hours. I loved the characters, the setting, the plot. I wanted to live this book. I wanted to be a part of the pages, the story, the paper. I am beyond thrilled that I decided to order it.

    And last but not least is Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (YA). And no, I am not adding any of these books to the list because everyone else has said they were great. I honestly loved this book.  I was worried about buying this book, but I had to. I mean, look at that cover! Also, I thought this book was about faeries, and I must own everything faerie. I was surprised to find that it wasn’t – it’s more about witchcraft in a way, which is fine because I am a witch-girl rather than vamp or were-girl. This is a 600+ page book that doesn’t read like it’s a 600+ page book. I read it cover-to-cover in under 5 hours (I’m a fast reader) and I don’t recall any part of the book being slow. I didn’t put it down because I needed to know what was going to happen. I was so curious about the mystery myself and I felt like I was trying to solve it on my own. This is one excellent book – and well written! The writing is even more beautiful than the cover.

    I know many of you have seen most of these books on other sites and lists as being MUST READS! I promise you that I have included these books here only because I found them fantastic on my own and feel that they are worth promoting to the world. I’m even taking deep breaths and leaving this at 6 books (I hate even numbers. Don’t ask.) because they are the cream of the crop in my mind for 2009. Oh, wait! It’s not really 6 books is it? It’s NINE – because I included all 3 of The Study Series. Well, I feel much better about that. (Shush!)

    Other books that I felt should be gifted (and therefore did) are: Dark Visions trilogy by L.J. Smith YA), Lament by Maggie Stiefvater (YA), Blackbringer, Faeries of Dreamdark by Laini Taylor (MG) (ok, not something I read in 2009, but it is still fantastic and the sequel came out this year.)

    The Gypsy Crown

    The Gypsy Crown
    by Kate Forsyth

    Yet another well-written and creative story from Kate Forsyth. It’s rare that you find a story where Gypsies are the main characters and focal point. This was unlike any other story I have read.

    Two 13-year old Gypsy cousins, Emilia and Luca have to travel through England to help save their family from jail (gaol, as it is written in the book). Their travel companions are a monkey (ZiZi), a dog (Rollo) and a dancing bear (Sweetheart). Constantly chased by the evil Coldham, the two children must beg the other Gypsy clans for help lest their family be hanged.

    Although I found the writing superb and the adventure exciting, I was not as enchanted with this book as I was with The Puzzle Ring. I might even say out of all books that I have read by the author this is my least favourite. I didn’t hate the book, I just didn’t connect as much with the main characters as I have with her other books. I found many of the characters unlikeable and can officially say I don’t really care for stories about gypsies. Not for any other reason than I’m just not enchanted by them. I also don’t care for vampires or werewolves either. I’m more of a witch/faerie kind of girl.

    The best part of this story for me was Sweetheart the bear. The way she was described was eerily similar to my eldest dog, Annie. Always wants food, thinks everything might result in food, grumbles when she has to move or not get food. Sleeps on her back with all paws in the air. Also, large, black and fat. Yep, that’s Annie.

    I did find the ending of the book rather rushed. It took so long for Milly and Luca to travel across country to reach each of the other Clans that it seemed that they got back to their starting point VERY fast in ONE day. And although the other families did send representation to help the kids get their family out of gaol, everything had been taken care of before they even all met up.

    I believe this story was originally released in individual books (each “part” of the story) and it would be more akin of the way the Spiderwick Chronicles were released. The size of the one-volume book might be daunting for some young readers, but the story is simple and engaging. Teens might find it a little dull, but I think it’s a perfect Middle Grade read!