The Mislaid Magician

The Mislaid MagicianThe Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years AfterThe Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years After (The Cecelia and Kate Novels, 3) by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

The final book in the Cecelia and Kate trilogy that begins with Sorcery and Cecelia, and continues with The Grand Tour.

I am a huge fan of this series, and hesitated to read this one for quite awhile as I was so scared that the book wouldn’t live up to my hopes for it. Book one was so good, and book two didn’t quite match it. How would book three fare?

What I didn’t like so much about the second book is that Cecelia and Kate are together, so the epistolary format seems much more contrived. They’re writing in their journals, or writing an account of events for the authorities. In book one they’re writing to each other, and their voices are much more believable in that sort of structure than the other.

Happily, in book three they’re separated, so they’re writing each other again. New this time is that their husbands are also writing letters to each other. That’s one weakness of the book – their voices aren’t that distinctive, and their writing style didn’t feel “right” for them in the same way it does for Cecelia and Kate.

No matter, I still enjoyed the book tremendously. If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous books, please do read this one – it’s fun to meet back up with them both ten years later. I would highly recommend reading the other books first however – you’ll spoil yourself for events in them, and also miss out on getting to know the characters.

Publisher’s Description:
Now married with children, Cecelia and Kate must face a threat to the wizarding world

It’s been a decade since Kate and Cecelia foiled Napoleon’s plot to reclaim the French crown. The cousins now have estates, children, and a place at the height of wizarding society. It is 1828, and though magic remains at the heart of the British Empire, a new power has begun to make itself felt across England: the steam engine. As iron tracks crisscross the countryside, the shaking of the locomotives begins to disrupt the workings of English magic, threatening the very foundations of the Empire. A foreign wizard on a diplomatic mission to England vanishes, and the Prime Minister sends Cecelia’s husband to investigate. In order to accompany her husband to the north of England, Cecelia leaves her children in Kate’s care. As Cecelia and James fight for the future of magic, Kate is left with a no less daunting problem: how to care for a gaggle of disobedient, spell-casting tots.

Book Details

Title: The Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years AfterThe Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years After (The Cecelia and Kate Novels, 3) by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
Author: Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: 4 Stars

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A College of Magics

A College of MagicsA College of MagicsA College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer by Caroline Stevermer

If you pick this book up and fall for the cover blurb – touting the book as “a large step up from Harry Potter,” it may lead you to believe the book will be different than it is. There really isn’t much to compare the two books, other than the broadest of outlines, and thinking you’ll get a book with the general feel of Harry Potter is a recipe for disappointment. All I can imagine is that the publishers were trying to grab any part of that audience possible, in any way possible.

So, why did they even attempt that ridiculous ploy? Well, it’s a fantasy book. There is magic, and a boarding school, and an orphaned main character. Beyond that however, I have no clue (other than that tempting built-in audience they couldn’t resist).

These complaints may make it seem like I hated the book, and I didn’t. It’s just so wildly mis-targeted as a Harry Potter readalike. In the Potter books, the school itself almost becomes another character, it’s such an important location. You become a part of the schooling the characters are undergoing. In Stevermer’s book, the school is only a small part of the story (almost 3 years are covered in maybe half of the book), and then the main character leaves, never to return. Classes are not mentioned, and other than a general “they had a lot of work to do” it’s all ignored in favor of other details.

There’s a sequel, A Scholar of MagicsA Scholar of Magics (A College of Magics) by Caroline Stevermer, and I would like to read it, to see where Stevermer goes with the story. I generally like alternative history/fantasy mish-mashes, so the setting and time frame worked for me. I’m hoping the plotting improves, as it was a major weakness, but it’s a quick enough read that I don’t mind spending some time on the second book.

Not recommended, unless you’re a die-hard fantasy fan, especially ones that are set in imaginary European countries in a vaguely Regency time period. Maybe book 2 will blow me away enough that I’ll revise this to slightly recommend it if only so you can read and appreciate the sequel, but we’ll have to see about that.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Teenager Faris Nallaneen is the heir to the small northern dukedom of Galazon. Too young still to claim her title, her despotic Uncle Brinker has ruled in her place. Now he demands she be sent to Greenlaw College. For her benefit he insists. To keep me out of the way, more like it!

But Greenlaw is not just any school-as Faris and her new best friend Jane discover. At Greenlaw students major in . . . magic.

But it’s not all fun and games. When Faris makes an enemy of classmate Menary of Aravill, life could get downright . . . deadly.

Book Details

Title: A College of MagicsA College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer
Author: Caroline Stevermer
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

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Heaven’s Queen (Book 3, Paradox Series)

Heaven's QueenHeaven’s QueenHeaven's Queen (Paradox series book #3) by Rachel Bach by Rachel Bach

I was a little bit nervous to begin this final entry into the Paradox trilogy. I had so enjoyed books 1 (Fortune’s Pawn) and 2 (Honor’s Knight) that I wondered if Bach could continue that through the end of the series.

Because it does serve as a wrap-up to the entire series, it becomes so much harder to write anything about it without risking spoilers for the earlier books at the very least, if not the entire series. So, I’ll just say that if you read and liked books 1 & 2, book 3 shouldn’t disappoint you. It continues the trend of Devi getting herself into seemingly impossible predicaments, and you’re just sure somehow she’ll extricate herself. But does she?

Spoilers ahead! Highlight the below text only if you don’t mind being possibly spoiled:

n the first two books, I was always confident that Devi would be ok. Maybe battered and bruised, but there was a third book – she’d be in it. Book three removes that confidence, but the overall feel of the story line still had me convinced that she’d end up ok, no matter how impossible that seemed. Anyone and everyone else however? Seemed like fair game.

Not telling exactly how it ends, but I liked the job Bach did at wrapping up all the story lines, and how she kept Devi consistent throughout the book, and yet she showed some growth too. That seems like a contradiction, but I don’t think it really is.

Recommended for science fiction fans. And for fantasy fans like me who didn’t think they liked sci-fi. 🙂

Publisher’s Description:
From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell’s doomed ship, Devi Morris’ life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that’s eating her alive.

Now, with the captain missing and everyone — even her own government — determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi’s never been one to shy from a fight, and she’s getting mighty sick of running.

It’s time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay.

Book Details

Title: Heaven’s QueenHeaven's Queen (Paradox series book #3) by Rachel Bach
Author: Rachel Bach
Category: Science Fiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

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The Spirit War (The Legend of Eli Monpress, #4)

The Spirit WarThe Spirit WarThe Spirit War (The Legend of Eli Monpress, #4) by Rachel Aaron by Rachel Aaron

Heads-up! Possible spoilers for previous books in the series below. Read at your own risk!

Let’s see, book 1 (The Spirit Thief) introduced us to Eli, book 2 (The Spirit Rebellion) gave more attention to Miranda, and book 3 (The Spirit Eater) focused on Nico. That means now in book 4 it’s time to find out about Josef and what his story is (and especially, what’s the deal with that sword??). Plus there’s more of Eli’s backstory, which is very appreciated.

Aaron does a great job at juggling all those multiple points of view – there’s Eli and Nico and Josef, and Miranda off with Slorn. And the Immortal Empress too.

While there are a lot of plot threads, the book isn’t so much of a deeply layered novel with an emphasis on character development but more of a big fantasy adventure, with lots of action. One change throughout the series is the overall feel: the tone in this one is darker, especially when compared to the introduction to the series. The impending invasion has cast a pall on everyone, understandably.

Really liked this book, and I love this series. So much so that I’m not sure that I’m all that objective about it.

You’ll want to start at the beginning – this series has a very clear overall story arc, so you’ll miss out on a lot if you try to jump into it mid-series.

[Read more…]

Throne of Glass

Throne of GlassThrone of GlassThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas by Sarah J. Maas

An ok but not great fantasy novel. Some of the writing was clunky and the dialogue had … issues. Other weaknesses included a derivative plot, obvious villains, instalove, the gorgeous-but-she-doesn’t-know-it-except-she-does heroine, a love triangle, obnoxious ego from that heroine, a huge secret that way too many people know for it to still be a secret, over-the-top villainy, a major deus-ex-machina moment, and that’s without me really even trying to think what else didn’t work.

Wow, writing all that out and I’m wondering how on earth I even finished the book, let alone why I’m going to read the next in the series.

So, what was the appeal? I liked the premise, and I want to see how it all works out. This land where magic has vanished, except maybe not entirely. What’s the story with the princess (and can she be the main character next time?) Can we please have more of Chaol and less of Dorian? There’s going to be some significance with the puppy, isn’t there? (There better be.) Does that awful king ever get his? Is Celaena’s backstory as obvious as I think it’s going to be, or will Maas come up with something better? I’m skeptical, but hopeful.

Not really recommended, unless you’re a die-hard fantasy fan desperate for something else to try. And yet, I am still going to try the next one, so obviously the author did something right. 🙂
[Read more…]

The Grand Tour (Kate and Cecelia #2)

The Grand TourThe Grand Tour: or the Purloined Coronation Regalia (The Cecelia and Kate Novels, 2)The Grand Tour: or the Purloined Coronation Regalia (The Cecelia and Kate Novels, 2) by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

Another re-read, to refresh my memory before reading the final book in the series. When I read it the first time, I loved it almost as much as book one, Sorcery and Cecelia. This time, I felt it didn’t measure up quite as strongly next to the series introduction.

Much of that may simply have been timing – I read them back to back, and what seemed so fresh and inventive in book one was less so the second time around. Perhaps I’ve also become a more discerning reader though, and could recognize some of the structural limitations of the format. In book one the main characters are separated, and they tell the story through letters to each other. In this book, they’re journeying together, and the narrative is related through journal entries and a written testimony after the fact. It doesn’t work quite as well as the back-and-forth letters.

However, if you liked book one, I do think it’s fun to continue their story, and I’m still looking forward to reading the third book. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read the first, which I highly recommend to fantasy fans.

Publisher’s Description:
Kate and Cecy and their new husbands, Thomas and James, are off on a Grand Tour. Their plans? To leisurely travel about the Continent, take in a few antiquities, and–of course–purchase fabulous Parisian wardrobes.

But once they arrive in France, mysterious things start to happen. Cecy receives a package containing a lost coronation treasure, Thomas’s valet is assaulted, and Kate loses a glove. Soon it becomes clear that they have stumbled upon a dastardly, magical plot to take over Europe.

Now the four newlyweds must embark on a daring chase to thwart the evil conspiracy. And there’s no telling the trouble they’ll get into along the way. For when you mix Kate and Cecy and magic, you never know what’s going to happen next!

Book Details

Title: The Grand Tour: or the Purloined Coronation Regalia (The Cecelia and Kate Novels, 2)The Grand Tour: or the Purloined Coronation Regalia (The Cecelia and Kate Novels, 2) by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Author: Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Sorcery and Cecelia

Sorcery and CeceliaSorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate PotSorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

This is not a new read for me – I first read it in 2005, but I reread it this month as I’m finally going to read the third book in the series and wanted to refresh my memory as to events in books one and two.

Plus, I just love the book that much. I even own my own copies of the books, and considering how rare that is for fiction books, that’s saying something.

I think I’ve mentioned before my love – maybe even an obsession – with epistolary books. This has that. It’s historical fiction which I love, set in 1817 England. It’s also a fantasy tale – this Regency England includes sorcery and wizards and spells. The beginning of the book is fantastic too, with a seemingly ordinary historical book and then suddenly there’s a mention of a Wizard and you realize this is NOT just another historical tale.

My copy of the book includes some details at the end of how the book was created, and I enjoyed that tremendously, so don’t skip reading that if it’s included in a copy you read. The dual author format work so well here, as each author takes on the letter-writing of one of the main characters (Kate and Cecelia), and I especially enjoyed noting differences in voice and personality as they came through in the letters.

Highly recommended, if it at all sounds appealing to you (i.e., if you loathe fantasy and think it sounds ridiculously silly, don’t feel compelled to push past your reservations). It’s technically a YA book, but this definitely-not-in-that-age-group reader found it compelling and interesting enough to be enjoyable no matter the target age range.

Publisher’s Description:
Two girls contend with sorcery in England’s Regency age
Since they were children, cousins Kate and Cecelia have been inseparable. But in 1817, as they approach adulthood, their families force them to spend a summer apart. As Cecelia fights boredom in her small country town, Kate visits London to mingle with the brightest lights of English society.

At the initiation of a powerful magician into the Royal College of Wizards, Kate finds herself alone with a mysterious witch who offers her a sip from a chocolate pot. When Kate refuses the drink, the chocolate burns through her dress and the witch disappears. It seems that strange forces are convening to destroy a beloved wizard, and only Kate and Cecelia can stop the plot. But for two girls who have to contend with the pressures of choosing dresses and beaux for their debuts, deadly magic is only one of their concerns.

Book Details

Title: Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate PotSorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Author: Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: 5 Stars

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The Spirit Eater (The Legend of Eli Monpress series, #3)

The Spirit EaterThe Spirit EaterThe Spirit Eater (The Legend of Eli Monpress book #3) by Rachel Aaron by Rachel Aaron

I’ve already shared about the first two books in this five-book series, The Spirit Thief, and The Spirit Rebellion. This third book again expands on Eli’s story and highlights Nico as a character. While she’s appeared in both previous books, she’d clearly a secondary character in them, and I enjoyed discovering more about her and her story.

The drawback to the focus on a previously-secondary character is of course, that there is less about Eli (and much less about Miranda) in this book. That’s ok, and I still enjoyed the book, but if you’re primarily reading the series for Eli, be aware that he’s not the emphasis this time. I liked seeing him through Nico’s eyes a bit, and learning more about their backstory.

Not recommended unless you’ve read the previous books – there is too much that you won’t appreciate by reading them out of order, and you’ll ruin a lot of the fun of the earlier books by reading ahead. I’ve admitted to how much I love this series, so my overall “read it!!” recommendation should be tempered by that bias. Fantasy fans, go, grab it, and tell me what you think of them!

Publisher’s Description:
With the pressure on after his success in Gaol, Eli Monpress, professional thief and degenerate, decides it’s time to lie low for a bit. Taking up residence in a tiny seaside village, Eli and his companions seize the chance for some fun and relaxation.

Nico, however, is finding it a bit hard. Plagued by a demon’s voice in her head and feeling powerless, she only sees herself as a burden. Everyone’s holiday comes to an untimely close, though, when Pele arrives to beg Eli’s help for finding her missing father.

But there are larger plans afoot than even Eli can see, and the real danger, and the solution, may lie with one of his own and her forgotten past.

If only Nico could remember whose side she’s on.

Book Details

Title: The Spirit EaterThe Spirit Eater (The Legend of Eli Monpress book #3) by Rachel Aaron
Author: Rachel Aaron
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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The King of Attolia

The King of AttoliaThe King of AttoliaThe King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner by Megan Whalen Turner

Book three in the series, and I think I liked this one even more than book two, The Queen of Attolia. What takes a bit of getting used to is the perspective of this one – it’s not Eugenides telling the story, but one of the Queen’s guards. This ends up being a fun way to both get outsiders’ perspectives on the new King, but also to keep the reader guessing on what exactly Eugenides is doing. Surely he’s not the idiot he appears to be?

As mentioned in the review of book two, please don’t read these out of order. It makes such a difference to the story to have details revealed as the story unfolds. It’d also be harder to fully appreciate the current tale without knowing what all has taken place to get the characters to where now are.

Publisher’s Description:
By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making. Attolia’s barons seethe with resentment, the Mede emperor is returning to the attack, and the king is surrounded by the subtle and dangerous intrigue of the Attolian court.

When a naive young guard expresses his contempt for the king in no uncertain terms, he is dragged by Eugenides into the center of the political maelstrom. Like the king, he cannot escape the difficulties he makes for himself. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king’s caprice, but he discovers a reluctant sympathy for Eugenides as he watches the newly crowned king struggle against his fate.

Fans of the Newbery Honor Book The Thief and The Queen of Attolia will recognize Megan Whalen Turner’s signature plot twists and turns in the third exquisitely crafted tale about Eugenides.

Book Details

Title: The King of AttoliaThe King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

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Cress

CressCressCress (Lunar Chronicles book 3) by Marissa Meyer reviewed by @SheilaRCraig by Marissa Meyer

My feelings for Cinder and Scarlet has been blogged before, so while I was very very excited to read this third installment in the Lunar Chronicles series, I was also just a bit hesitant that it wouldn’t live up to my high expectations.

Happily, my fears were unfounded – I loved the book. My favorite characters from books 1 and 2 are here, plus we get to know Cress and others. The pacing is the same fast tempo as the earlier books, but it never feels overly frantic to me.

One of my favorite parts of this series is how Meyer takes familiar fairy tales, in this case Rapunzel, and reimagines them into this new world. The hints included for the fourth and final book make it that much more painful that it’s another year to wait for that one to be released.

As I’ve mentioned in the previous reviews for the series, if you’re not a fantasy fan I don’t think this will convert you. If you are a fantasy fan though, please give this series a try, but make sure you read it in order – you’ll spoil yourself for some events, and take a lot of the enjoyment out of the overall series.

And a heads-up if you’re interested in trying the series: I’m assuming it’s a special offer to try and get people hooked on the series, but book one, CinderCinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, is currently on sale for Kindle for only $2.99.

Publisher’s Description:
Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Book Details

Title: CressCress (Lunar Chronicles book 3) by Marissa Meyer reviewed by @SheilaRCraig
Author: Marissa Meyer
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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