Fairy rings occupy a prominent place in European folklore as the location of gateways into elfin kingdoms, or places where elves gather and dance. According to the folklore, a fairy ring appears when a fairy, pixie, or elf appears. It will disappear without trace in less than five days, but if an observer waits for the elf to return to the ring, he or she may be able to capture it. They are soooooo beautiful!

fairy rings are usually caused by decaying organic matter, generally a tree stump. many types of fungi have symbiotic relationships with tree roots and mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of such fungus. So if a huge old tree was cut down, you’ll often find fairy rings. they can last for years and years as the earth  reabsorbs all the nutrients left behind by the beautiful tree.

sorry, didn’t mean to crush dreams – but i have a degree in horticulture and i was really excited when i first learned this.

maybe fairies and fungi are joining together to mourn the loss of the tree



From a writer’s perspective, it’s even more interesting to find out why they exist on a horticultural level, because it opens up a whole realm of fictional possibilities. Science doesn’t have to invalidate mythology or fiction, no more than mythology or fiction invalidates science.

For example, doesn’t that just essentially make this a tree grave? And if folklore has taught us anything, it’s that “fairies” and other spirits usually occupy trees, or have them as their life force. And that’s to say nothing of the folklore of trees being spirits in and of themselves, or kitsunes that live in tree hollows, or dryads, etc., etc.. So, if it’s disrespectful or feels like a slight to step on human graves, wouldn’t that logic transfer to stepping inside the Fairy Circle, AKA, the tree’s grave? It’s essentially giving more fuel to the story, not detracting from it, in my humble opinion!

Science doesn’t have to invalidate mythology or fiction, no more than mythology or fiction invalidates science.

Pretty sure I’m getting that bold phrase tattooed on my body because I love it so much. Seriously? Yeah probably.
I think I may have found my favorite post..

“Waiting On” Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a meme created at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming releases that we can’t wait to read.

This week I’m looking forward to All Spell Breaks Loose by Lisa Shearin.

Here’s the summary, taken from Goodreads:

My name is Raine Benares—and it sucks to be me. The Saghred, a soul-

All Spells Break Loose by Lisa Shearin

stealing stone that has given me unlimited power, has been stolen by a goblin prince, and with it went my magic. The Saghred is in the goblin capital of Regor, in the hands of Sarad Nukpana, who’s on the verge of becoming the most powerful mage ever…just as soon as I’m dead.

Because Sarad can’t use the stone while I’m alive. Incentive enough to plan a little trip to Regor with a small band of good friends, not-so-good friends, and outright enemies. All we need to do is destroy the Saghred, kill Sarad, and put a renegade prince on the throne. Did I mention I’ll be doing this without magic?

Shearin’s Raine Benares series is a fantasy series that knows how to have fun. I’ll be sad to see these characters go.

This title is released on May 29, 2012.

Review: Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Having read my first Marillier novel, Daughter of the Forest, earlier this week, I was anticipating great things going into her young adult work Shadowfell. Unfortunately, her latest title failed to live up to my expectations, and I was left wondering whether its failings resulted from the crossover from adult to young adult fiction and, in fact, whether this was actually penned by the same author.

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Stories based on fey lore have never captured my interest as much as those incorporating other myths, for some reason. A select few authors, however, have drawn me into their adaptations thoroughly despite my general aversion to faerie settings, such as Seanan McGuire, Patricia Brigs, and Karen Marie Moning. Upon reading Daughter of the Forest, I would have added Juliet Marillier to that list as well, yet Shadowfell made me doubt that initial inclination. Whereas Daughter managed to incorporate the fey in a beautifully subtle way, perhaps not altogether innovative, but nonetheless eerie and perfectly matched to the tone of the story, Shadowfell falls into the trap that perpetuates my distaste for fey-centered stories. The fey characters Neryn meets during her journey seem to step out of the forest straight from the pages of Katherine Briggs’s An Encyclopedia of Fairies, only without any modification to make them Marillier’s own. They’re short-fused, cheeky, double-tongued imps that could have walked right off the set of Labyrinth, and unfortunately they are also twice as annoying. What’s worse, they seemed to add very little to the story other than making Neryn’s journey twice as long and tedious. Had their insistence that she was on the path to danger originated in an innate tendency to be contrary, I might have forgiven their presence, yet they seem genuinely invested in helping Neryn, which merely made their interventions all the more frustrating.

Neryn is a lamentably boring heroine with very little backbone and, at times, even less common sense, though Marillier clearly believes her characters has these traits in abundance. In reality, she is but another cardboard cutout in a story full of incompletely developed ideas, as is her love interest Flint. Tali and Garret show some promise for future development, but I doubt I’ll be around to see whether that promise is fulfilled.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Shadowfell is the fact that, despite being over four-hundred pages in length, it is very obviously only the first third of a story. I have little patience for authors who confuse the concept of a trilogy with that of a single book broken into three segments. While there might be an overarching plot that ties together all three books, I should nevertheless turn the last page of each book feeling as if I have accomplished something, yet Shadowfell‘s ending is abrupt and inadequate. Had this been my first experience with Marillier’s writing, it’s doubtful whether I would have picked up another title from her catalogue. Since I do happen to know how skilled she is, I’ll chalk this one up to a bad day and go back to her Sevenwaters series.

Shipping Saturdays

I’ve decided that since Saturdays are so lonely and memeless, I would create one of my own. It seems like many bloggers (including myself) can’t help but swoon and sway over the character  relationships that comprise many of our favorite books and series, yet we often overlook those who aren’t front and center. Shipping Saturdays is a weekly meme dedicated to highlighting all of our favorite pairings that are non-canon, unpopular, unnoticed, and unrequited. It’s not limited to books, so feel free to share those film and television couples whose ship you would readily go down with, yet don’t get the attention they deserve.

It’s no secret that I love a good slowburn romance, and Seanan McGuire has produced

Toby and Tybalt- Shadows by Irrel

one of the best in her Toby Daye series. From the first shadowy verbal crossfire in the opening chapter of Rosemary and Rue, I knew that Toby and Tybalt would become one of my favorite UF couples. McGuire has strung readers along for five novels now, and while Toby is seemingly warming up to the idea of letting Tybalt into her life (subconsciously at least), nothing is certain yet. It’s the best kind of torture, for the ever-decreasing distance between Toby and Tybalt doesn’t feel artificially prolonged. These two have history, the kind that won’t be swept away by a fleeting moment of lust. This just underscores one of the many reasons why Toby is one of my favorite female protagonists; she thinks before she acts, and usually does so wisely. Unfortunately, it appears that all this thinking will keep fans waiting for a while longer, but as long as the tension remains so delicious, I won’t complain.

See more of Irrel’s artwork at the deviantart gallery here.

“Waiting On” Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a meme created at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming releases that we can’t wait to read.

After months of waiting, we finally get to see the wonderful new Chris McGrath cover art for Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire.

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

There’s no summary available yet, but it’s a Toby Daye book, so it will inevitably be one of the best urban fantasies of the year.

This title will be released on September 4, 2012.

Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls straddles that tenuous line between the elegant simplicity of a children’s story and the emotional resonance of young adult fiction, yet the sheer beauty of Ness’s prose and story make this a book that will be cherished by young and mature readers alike. For those who haven’t experienced the numbing terror of having a loved one take ill, this book might not strike as deep an emotional chord as it did for me. Yet even those who thankfully do not have similar experiences to draw upon will sympathize with Conor as the veil between his reality and the dream world in which the monster comes to him becomes ever thinner. With each new encounter with the monster comes more strain in Conor’s family ties, friendships, and school life, until his fantasy and reality ultimately enmesh as dual aspects to the horror he must deal with.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Conor is an extremely effective narrator, reacting with the premature responsibility that inevitably results when a child is dealt an unfair hand much too early in life. His responses to the increasing duress of his home-life and his meetings with the monster feel natural in their progression, planting readers firmly in his corner both because of and despite his actions. Connor’s voice is authentic; while I tend to remain hyper-conscious of the fact that I am reading a story  regarding most fairy tales, Ness’s writing absorbs you into Conor’s world completely and excruciatingly.

I admit I picked this book up based purely on a few good recommendations and knew little about it other than that it was an illustrated children’s story. My fears that the pictures would detract from the story flow were sorely misplaced. The illustrations never interrupted the flow of the story; rather, they enhanced and transported, so beautifully executed and incorporated into the text that they felt a natural extension of the story.

Fans of Neil Gaiman’s work for younger audiences will gravitate toward this story, and rightly so. Ness’s gift for teaming perfectly-phrased prose with a gut-wrenching storyline makes A Monster Calls one of the most expertly crafted books I’ve read this year. Though the story treads on supernatural elements, the truth of its message is utterly real.

“Waiting On” Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a meme created at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming releases that we can’t wait to read.

This week I can’t wait for Fever Moon: The Fear Dorcha by Karen Marie Moning.

Here’s the summary, taken from Goodreads:

In Fever Moon, we meet the most ancient and deadly Unseelie ever created,

Fever Moon: The Fear Dorcha by Karen Marie Moning

the Fear Dorcha. For eons, he’s traveled worlds with the Unseelie king, leaving behind him a path of mutilation and destruction. Now he’s hunting Dublin, and no one Mac loves is safe.

Dublin is a war zone. The walls between humans and Fae are down. A third of the world’s population is dead and chaos reigns. Imprisoned over half a million years ago, the Unseelie are free and each one Mac meets is worse than the last. Human weapons don’t stand a chance against them.

With a blood moon hanging low over the city, something dark and sinister begins to hunt the streets of Temple Bar, choosing its victims by targeting those closest to Mac. Armed only with the Spear of Destiny and Jericho Barrons, she must face her most terrifying enemy yet.

New Mac and Barrons: sign me up!

This title releases on July 10, 2012.

Review: Beauty in the Beast by Christine Danse

Perhaps I didn’t read the summary well enough, but Beauty in the Beast surprised me with its mix of genres. Danse managed to incorporate steampunk elements rather gracefully in her world, immersing the reader in her worldbuilding without superfluous explanation. Her atmosphere spoke for itself, and I’m rather intrigued to see if she bases any further work in this world she has created. Though the details were somewhat sparse, I sensed room for growth and am particularly taken with the idea of mechanimals that she introduced in this short story.

Beauty in the Beast focuses on a traveling troubadour group of puppeteers, singers, and

Beauty in the Beast by Christine Danse

storytellers stranded on a winter night. Though the story is short, Danse manages to allow all the main characters to have their own storytelling peace, telling tales that range from fae folklore to a startingly unique take of werewolf lore grounded in the novel’s steampunk premise. Danse utilizes the stories-within-a-story format to give us a glimpse at each character’s persona as they all contribute their own tale to the fireside storytelling roundabout. The stories themselves were quite charming, somewhat reminiscent of Patricia McKillip’s style of fairy tale retelling while never sounding rehashed or dated. I could easily see Danse filling an entire anthology with original fairy tales and would gladly pay to read it.

Had Danse chosen to stretch her short story into a novella, she might have managed to make the overarching plot more believable and compelling, but unfortunately I wasn’t sold on the quick connection forged between Tara and Rolph. I wish Danse had opted to push herself to embrace a novel-lenth format, because the bones of this story are quite good. Her writing is fluid and engaging, and the manner in which she ultimately ties together seemingly disparate plot threads is novel. Yet she never really reaches her destination, despite how pretty the ride there might be.

I’ll be looking out for more from Danse in the future, and recommend Beauty in the Beast as a worthwhile contribution to the steampunk genre, original fairy tales, paranormal romance, and Beauty and the Beast retellings.