A College of Magics – Caroline Stevermer

684c34b40dca712597a456d5a77434f414f4141Faris is the Duchess of Galazon, but until she reaches her majority, her uncle’s in charge, and he’s shipped her off to Greenlaw College. Faris wants nothing to do with this choice, but it turns out, her mother has specified Greenlaw in her will, because Greenlaw teaches magic.

This story isn’t all about the college –Faris is not actually meant to practice the magic of Greenlaw – she’s meant for something much bigger, and that will bring her back to Galazon, and the neighboring kingdom of Aravill.

This book was not what I expected – it’s much more than just a school story, and Faris does not follow the typical path of plucky girl hero, and this is truly a stand alone book. It was a very interesting read – I’d love to run into more of these.

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The Furthest Station – Ben Aaronovitch

3c088924915a27c596f784f7041434f414f4141Ghosts are starting to interact with passengers on the Tube, and Peter Grant (and the Folly) are called in on the case.

One complaint about this story – it’s too short. I absolutely want more of the main story line of this series, and this was not the novella to do that. That said, you get to met a baby river god, and Peter’s cousin Abigail’s studies in magic are coming along quite nicely, so it’ll be interesting to see where that goes. I just hope I get to see where that goes soon.

An Excellent Mystery – Ellis Peters

dc5a85894c45fdf593255635267434f414f4141This Brother Cadfael book actually isn’t about a murder, for a change.

After Winchester was sacked as part of the civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud, the brothers of the Benedictine monastery there have scattered to neighboring monasteries. Brothers Humilis and Fidelis have come to Shrewsbury, which is near where Brother Humilis was born. Before he became a brother, he was a crusader, and a wound from his time then will be the death of him, and probably soon. It’s his last wish to return to the place of his birth.

His former lieutenant, Nicholas Harnage, comes to find Humilis. It was Nicholas that had to break the word to the girl that Humilis was to marry that he was a broken man, and would be unable to wed. Nicholas has never forgotten the girl, and three years later, has come to find Humilis to ask his permission to pursue this girl, if she is not yet wed. Humilis has no objections, so Nicholas rides to her family home, which is also near Shrewsbury. And there, he uncovers a mystery, for Julian Cruce supposedly took the veil shortly after her engagement was ended, but no one at the nunnery she supposedly entered has ever heard of her.

What follows is a story all about fidelity. If you’re paying attention, it’s not long a true mystery – what the real mystery is is how everything that has happened to a number of people will be resolved, and I very much enjoyed that story.

Shadows of Self – Brandon Sanderson

4e100516d9d8f0f596852706e41434f414f4141This is the second book of the second Mistborn trilogy, set three hundred years after the last trilogy. The technology of the world has come a long way, but this book especially references back to what happened in the previous trilogy (the first book of this series was lacking that to some degree).

I really enjoyed the women characters in this book – Marasi is a full constable now, and learning to navigate in a world that is not as equal as people want to think it is; Steris actually gets to be a person in this book – I can’t wait to see where that goes in the final volume; and there are a couple other female characters that would be very spoilery to give away, but had some amazing plot twists.

I also really enjoyed the religious commentary. We get to see here that Sazed is really a god now (we should call him Harmony), and being a god is far from easy. I am very interested to see where Wax’s relationship to Harmony goes from where it was left at the end of this book.

An enjoyable read. I still think I like the first trilogy better, but this one is growing on me.

 

Oak and Ash and Thorn – Peter Fiennes

ddf33e27289871259697a716f77434f414f4141Having recently read a book about the American view of wilderness, it was very interesting to get a contemporary British view – and it very much makes me appreciate what I have in my fairly well forested state.

This is an interesting book – if you’re looking for scientific details of Britain’s forest, you won’t find that. What you do get is a cultural landscape of the remnant forests of Britain, and a call to save them. It’s a scattered narrative – taking place over a year where the author seeks out pieces of forests that still survive, though in some cases, barely. His concern for the loss of these places is clear. This is a lovely portrait of something that should not be lost, but is close to being so.

Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Bleeds – Ilona Andrews

So I went on a bit of binge over the past weekend, into the past few weeknights. (It was hot and humid, and doing things outside just didn’t seem fun.) So I read the first two books in a day each, and the last one over a couple nights. BF is suspicious I don’t actually remember anything from them, but I enjoyed the heck out of all of them.

These are set in an alternate version of Atlanta where waves of magic will take out tech for days at a time. There are vampires and shapeshifters, and assorted other magical creatures. Kate Daniels clearly has some very special abilities above most of those other magical creatures. (The exact nature of it is covered in Magic Strikes.) I love these books – Kate is a fantastic heroine.

Magic Burns deals with Celtic mythology – there’s a flare in the magic waves, which can allow gods to manifest, and there’s a particularly bad god that’s trying to come through. This is also the book where Kate manages to adopt an orphaned girl (her mother’s gone missing, and the initial brief if to find her). By her own admission, Kate’s much better as a crazy aunt than a mother, so I really love Julie’s place in the stories as they continue on.

Magic Strikes concerns some gladiatorial style games, and the shapeshifter community. This is also where Kate cements having a best friend, Andrea, who also happens to be a werehyena. It’s also the beginning of the complications of Kate’s relationship with the Beast Lord, Curran. (He’s a werelion.)

Magic Bleeds start to deal with Kate’s family, and has she and Curran cement their relationship. There’s also a were-crocodile and a hell hound involved. (Love the attack poodle!) I love Kate and Curran’s relationship. She’s probably more alpha than he is in a lot of ways, so it’s delightfully combative. And they do a really good job showing that it’s a struggle for these two people to mesh, considering all the alpha baggage he has to deal with, and her family baggage. It could easily be way over the top, but it works well.

I’m really glad the BF discovered this series – I have several more I can fly through. I’m just trying to be good and finish something else first. I may have put three other books aside during this binge…

P. S. from Paris – Marc Levy

b713009cc1f942f597344526f67434f414f4141Continuing this year’s apparent comfort reading theme, when I saw this book come up on the Prime Firsts list, I grabbed it. It was as pure escapist fun as the description implied.

Mia is a famous British actress who’s just completed a film with her husband. Just in time for the publicity junket, she finds out he’s been cheating on her. She flees to Paris, where her childhood best friend runs a restaurant.

Paul is an American novelist. His first novel, which he only published because friends sent if off to a publisher, was a wild success. He moved to Paris, figuring it was the best place to write more. He’s never written another book as successful, though oddly enough, his books do well in Korea. He’s in a sort of relationship with his Korean translator – the one time a year she comes to see him to translate his books. His best friends (the same ones that sent the original book out) , come to visit him, and enroll him in an online dating site to try to jolt him into changing his life.

You can pretty much see where this is going. There’s really nothing in the book that’s a surprise, but it was a very enjoyable read.