Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

c602425589805405967592f6767434f414f4141I enjoyed this book. It’s set in a sort of alternate Russia, where the land has been split by the Shadow Fold, or Unsea – a place of darkness, inhabited by monsters.   The Grisha can work magic, and use their various abilities to try and keep the shadows at bay.

Alina is an orphan. She and her friend Mal, another orphan – they’ve grown up together – have joined the army. On their first crossing of the fold, they’re attacked, and when Mal is in danger, Alina manages to summon the sun to chase the monsters away. The Grisha immediately whisk her away, and their leader, the Darkling, takes personal charge of her education, because she may be able to destroy the Shadow Fold.

This book pretty quickly turned away from where it seemed to be heading- I’ll be very interested to see where the story goes from here – it’s a great set up to the story.


Garden Notes

a02252018 011

I’ve extended my seed starting kit – I’ve now got two grow lights, and I got shelves to attach them both to.

I don’t plan on actually planting anything until next weekend, and won’t need this until anything actually sprouts, but it snowed today, so seemed as good a time as any to get this set up.

Cybele’s Secret – Juliet Marillier

0553494864-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_This book take place after Wildwood Dancing, focusing on Paula, one of the younger sisters from the previous book. Paula’s the family scholar, and after her father’s assistant falls ill, he asks her to come with him to Istanbul, where he’s been asked to find an artifact called Cybele’s Gift, for a wealthy client.

Istanbul is absolutely fascinating – Paula quickly meets an Portuguese sea capitain, a Greek woman who supports other women in scholarship, and a young Bulgarian man who they hire as her bodyguard. There’s a great deal of intrigue around Cybele’s Gift, and Paula and her father find themselves in real danger.

I really enjoyed this story – there’s a real flavor or Istanbul under the Ottomans that’s so much fun to see through Paula’s eyes. There’s no direct fairy tale link like there was in Wildwood Dancing, but the fairy realm is still there, and the link to the mythology of the goddess Cybele was well done. Like the other book, it’s technically a teen book, but is really just a good tale anyone could enjoy.

Frogkisser! – Garth Nix

4b528895550c633596e58706e77434f414f4141This book skews to the younger side of the author’s work, more young reader than young adult. Princess Anya and her sister Morven are unlucky enough to have two step parents – first their mother died, introducing their step mother, and then, when their father died, she remarried their step-step father. Who is an evil sorcerer, and absolutely wants to take over their kingdom.

When he tries to send Anya off to a school so far away that it’s obvious he’s planning to have her gotten rid of on the journey there, she instead escapes, and goes on a quest to figure out a way to get rid of him.

This is pretty standard fairy tale stuff, except that Anya is the one rescuing princes, and herself and her kingdom along the way. It’s definitely cute, and a nice quick read.

Intrigues – Mercedes Lackey

69d2352e37ea627593935585851434f414f4141This is the second book of the Herald’s Collegium series. Mags is settling into life at the Collegium, learning to fit into this world he find himself in, but also developing the gifts that will eventually make him into a spy.

Things seem to be going well until every Foreseer in the kingdom sees Mags, near the King, who is covered in blood. And everyone assumes the worst of him. I’ll admit, I didn’t like the culmination of this story very much, because it felt extremely overblown. Mags gets completely abandoned, even by his best friends, and everything you think you know about Heralds makes this feel false. The side details are fine, but here’s hoping Lackey doesn’t go that low again in this series – she’s a better writer than that.


Magic Rises – Ilona Andrews

5e016520b2ae2125976594a6741434f414f4141Kate and the Beast Lord are asked to go to Europe to be the third party at some important negotiations between three European packs. It’s an offer they can’t refuse – the payment will be in panacea, the availability of which is the difference between life and death when shape shifter children reach adolescence.

They’re well aware it’s a trap before they even leave, but when they get there, it’s even worse than they thought – Kate’s father’s deputy has maneuvered the whole thing to get her into his power, and it’s going to take every single bit of her power and skills to get her and the pack out of the negotiations alive.

The authors throw in some interesting twists to the shapeshifters of this particular world, and an interesting window into the fact that Kate’s father is not the only old power abroad in the world. There are also some important personal changes by the end of the story, and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of impacts those have going forward.

Garden Notes


Seed buying is complete.   I even have the lavender in the fridge doing a six week pre-planting primer I say recommended.   I’m so ready for Spring to show up.    (It’s at least lighter in the evening, and we’re getting above freezing temperatures with some regularity…)

The Raven in the Foregate – Ellis Peters

d73c161c49fcab75939617a5767434f414f4141The priest of the lay parish attached to the Abbey has died, and when the Abbot returns from a meeting of the English church fathers, he brings a replacement with him. Father Ailnoth brings with him a housekeeper and her nephew, a young lad who’s quickly volunteered for help for Brother Cadfael.

The old priest, Father Adam, had been beloved by his parishioners, having his finger right on the pulse of exactly how hard to push his parishioners when they had sinned, but not going overboard with punishment. Father Ailnoth is not that kind, and quickly alienates the entire parish. On Christmas night, before services, Cadfael sees him leave the church to head into town, and he’s never seen alive again. There are too many suspects- including his housekeeper’s nephew, who clearly has a much more interesting background than originally presented.

There is an interesting twist to perpetrator of this crime – I will fully admit I did’t see it coming. Other than that, this didn’t feel like a particular original story compared the others that came before. There definitely seemed to be a combination of elements of other stories that came together to make this one. It’s not bad because of this, just not one of my favorites. (I probably partially feel this way because the last book has a very interesting central plot, and this one just can’t compare.)

Foundation – Mercedes Lackey

6a046d0e1b1f699593750485377434f414f4141This book starts a new series in Valdemar, in a different timeframe than’s been covered before, when the Herald’s Collegium was developed, because there were so many new Heralds that the old mentorship system of training them is starting to fall apart.

Mags has lived all his life in the gem mines, and simply cannot believe that a Companion has come for him. Just having three square meals a day is a mind-boggling improvement to his life, let alone being thrown into a life where he suddenly matters, and people want him to succeed. (There are definite shades of Talia in the Arrows books here, except that Mags was definitely in a worse situation than she was.)

As he starts warming to live in Haven, he finds a unique talent for observation, while being unobversed, and the King’s Own Herald realizes that ability, and asks for his help. The new Collegium system is causing divisions amoung the Heralds, and they need all the help they can get to make sure the kingdom doesn’t fracture because of it.

There is a certain comfortable familiarity about this book. I did see a few complaints that it wasn’t necessary covering new ground, but I’m ok with that. Mags is a likeable hero, and the friends he makes as distinct enough from other groups around the Herald’s Collegium to keep things interesting. It’s definitely a good set up to a new series. (Ok, new to me. There’s yet another series that came out after this one that I still haven’t gotten to.)