Mind Over Magic – Lindsay Buroker

Morgen’s been laid off, and her marriage has just ended, when she finds out her grandmother has died, and left her her house out in the woods in Washington state. Morgen hasn’t been out there in years, and with nothing to hold her in Seattle, she decides to head to Bellrock to take stock of the property. Where a very overprotective werewolf tries to chase her off the property.

Turns out Morgen’s grandmother was a witch. And even though witches and werewolves don’t get along, she’d allowed the local lone wolf to live in her barn. Amar is very protective of the woods on the property – it’s one of the last places the werewolves can roam in the area. He and Morgen strike a very tentative peace when he finally believes she doesn’t want to sell the place. But he then tells her he’s pretty sure her grandmother was murdered.

So this is definitely the set up story to a longer series – we get an intro to the local town, which does have some other witches, as well as the two local werewolf packs. There’s also something very interesting about the woods that Morgen now owns that we barely scratch the surface of. It’s just interesting enough that I think I’ll read the next book in the series, but I do hope that one picks up on the action a bit.


Embroidery Notes

I get the biggest kick out of how big this pattern is compared to the actual product. The translation of the name of this is Coffee Admirers. I suspect it’s losing something in the translation from Russian. (It’s really not the best translation, but I don’t say that to cast shade. It’s a really well done pattern, and I’m really glad they spent the money on the graphics. The little bits of English are good enough to get the job done.)

The Kitchen Diaries II – Nigel Slater

I found this and Volume III at the used book store for ridiculously cheap – a lovely holiday find.

I forget how much I like Slater’s writing style until I’m reading one of his books again. And yes, these are cookbooks you can read. The stories that go along with each recipe are just such a comforting snapshot of the changes in the season throughout the year. They’re also not terribly fussy recipes, which is a definite plus.

Embroidery Notes

First craft project of the year is done! This is Owl Forest’s Fly Agarics. It’s a fun project. Looking back at the picture on the site, the one big difference is that it’s designed to use some hand dyed variegated floss. I like the substitution colors that were given, but that variegation does look pretty cool. However, I do not have the time or Cyrillic alphabet skills necessary to track down that level of specialty product from Russia, so I will not mourn its loss too long.

Into the Labyrinth – John Bierce

Hugh of Emblin is shipped off to the mage school at Skyhold as soon as his powers manifest – Emblin is rather proud of its reputation for no magic, and everyone there wants him gone as soon as he displays powers. The trouble is, once at Skyhold, no one can seem to teach him to use his powers.

Hugh’s pretty much despaired of being a mage when he’s chosen as an apprentice by Alustin, the librarian errant, along with two other students that the mainstream teachers have given up on. It turns out all three of them have unique powers, and Alustin seems to be the only teacher paying attention enough to want to take them on.

The first year at the school ends with teams of students testing themselves by entering the first level of the Labyrinth below Skyhold. So naturally, adventure with their unique powers awaits.

I enjoyed this book – it’s a great mage school story, and definitely an interesting set up for future stories in this series. I’m looking forward to Hugh, Talia and Sabae continuing their studies.

Garden Notes

I bit the bullet and did a Johnny’s order this year. The one thing I don’t like about Johnny’s is that they’re not really in it for the home growers, so their shipping costs are much more expensive than most other seed companies. I ultimately don’t mind paying them, because they’re a wonderful, local to me company, and I absolutely trust that their product will work, but I just can’t make myself pay that shipping every year. But I’m now set for seed starting for 2022!

Pretense – Tara Grayce

I’ve been really enjoying this series – it’s got some decent politics to it, and some nice romances, but none of it is particularly fraught – you know everything will turn out alright in the end.

Princess Jalissa of the Elves and Prince Edmund of Escarland grew “close” during the captivity of Jalissa’s brother Farendel (husband to Edmund’s sister Essie). But Jalissa is the last remaining unmarried sibling of her generation, and thinks that she really needs to marry an Elf. Queue the angst. You absolutely do know where this story is going, but what makes it fun is that Edmund is a spy, and ends up bringing Jalissa along for the ride.

The rest of the family is along too – Farendel and Essie are unfortunately in for an assassination attempt (which is why Edmund and Jalissa go spying), but that ends up alright in the end. And we get to see more of Melantha in the Troll Kingdom. Like I said, absolutely none of it’s a revolutionary new story you’ve never experienced before, but it’s wonderful comfort reading.

Fated Blades – Ilona Andrews

This is a novella in the Kinsmen series. We’re still on Dahlia, and two members of rival families need to team up to save both their families from bankrupty (and the scandal of having their spouses run off together).

I enjoyed this immensely – Ramona and Matias are just great together, right off the bat. They’ve known about each other all their lives, but never met, because their families’ particular power makes them deadly killing machines, and they should never be in the same room together. I’m pleased that there was a good reason for that that’s covered in the book, and becomes central to how they’ll be able to save their families.

I also actually really enjoyed the political maneuvering – it was well done, and interesting. I’m so glad these guys have published another story – if we could just get another Innkeeper book…

The Prince of Secrets – A.J. Lancaster

This book picks up at the end of The Lord of Stariel, with Hetta now confirmed as the Lord, and her relationship with Wyn on a new footing. This book is mostly told from Wyn’s point of view, and it’s an interesting one. Since he’s a prince of the Fae, we get a greater view into that world.

In addition, the Fae are no longer sealed off from the mortal realm, so Wyn’s family fairly quickly comes to call, and he and Hetta must decide how to deal with that. I’ll admit, the end of this particular book had an event that seemed much quicker than it should have been, so I’ll be very interested to see where the other two books in the series go – there’s clearly more in store.