The Queen of Blood – Sarah Beth Durst

1a659cb84d3ea525973492b6e41434f414f4141Daleina discovers her ability to control spirits when they come after her village. Unfortunately, she’s only able to save her family, but that opening leads her to pursue the training that may eventually make her the Queen.

This is an interesting world. For some reason, there are spirits, and all they want is the destruction of people. But women have power over them, some more than others. With training, they will become Heirs, and when the Queen dies, the spirits themselves pick the new queen from the Heirs, even as the Heirs compel them to choose. Daleina is not the strongest candidate, but she has a special affinity for the spirits that can make her very effective at controlling them in certain situations. So her training is never entirely certain – can she make a good Heir?

I will say, what happened at the end of this book was very much obvious from what led up to it, but the way things went down is not at all what I was expecting. It turned this book into a lot more of a set up of the story than I had expected, and I’m definitely curious to see what’s coming next.

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Among Others – Jo Walton

6dc9c7f2a5700ff593562755941434f414f4141I wish I’d read this book some other time. I thought I was starting something else when I first picked it up, and it wasn’t what I was expecting. But, I’m enough of a completest, I couldn’t put it back, and had to finish it. I think I’d have liked it better if I’d started it when it was what I thought I was getting myself into.

This isn’t straight fantasy. Morwenna and her twin Morganna can see fairies. And their mother is a witch. In trying to prevent her from doing some unnamed, terrible thing, Morganna is killed, and Morwenna’s leg is ruined. She runs away to the father they’ve never before met.

The story is Mori’s school journal, talking about all the scifi and fantasy she’s discovering (in 1979 and 1980), her getting a boyfriend, and magic. The magic piece is a bit weird. It’s definitely real, but I don’t feel like I really had enough background to fully appreciate how it worked in with our real world.

I definitely think this is a book you need to be in the right mood for.

The Library, the Witch, and the Warder – Mindy Klasky

405e99654cd63fc596d442b7077434f414f4141This book’s another point of view from Klasky’s Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft, the Warder -David Montrose, instead of the witch, Jane Madison.

It’s nice to see the male point of view of one of these stories, but this book was much busier than I remember Jane’s version being. David’s gotten himself into a little bit too much action – I think focusing on one of his own plotlines, in addition to Jane, would have made a little more sense. That said, I enjoyed it.

The Enchantment Emporium – Tanya Huff

c14eaf7913b133e596c50696e51434f414f4141The Gale family works charms that can have a remarkable effect on the world around them. The Aunts rule the family, and have a pretty iron hand in how the younger members of the family will end up living their lives.

So when Alysha’s grandmother (who herself defied the other Aunts by moving away) passes away and leaves her store in Calgary to Alysha, she jumps at the chance to get away from the rest of the family, for at least a little while. Granted, the Aunts want her to figure out what happened to her grandmother, but she’s far enough away to go her own way. As soon as she arrives, it’s clear that Allie’s grandmother has been tending to the local Fae community, and that something very big is going on there.

I enjoyed this story for the most part, but one thing that really drove me crazy is that you never really get a explanation for what the Gales are. They have enormous power, and the men of the family have some very unique gifts, but you never find out why, and I didn’t like that missing piece.

Tortall and Other Lands – Tamora Pierce

0375866337-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_I am so behind with certain authors – Tamora Pierce being high on that list. This book was published in 2011, and has a collections of stories spanning all of Pierce’s various series, as well as one that’s in the real world.

I definitely liked some stories better than others, but I will say, I enjoyed the really wide diversity of stories – even if I didn’t care for some as much, this represented a really interesting selection of differing viewpoints.

One of my favorites was “Testing”, which is the real world story I mentioned above, and is based on Pierce’s experiences being the housemother in a group home for girls. That story just had a lot of heart that I really enjoyed.

One Fell Sweep – Ilona Andrews

3b34b6384bf28dc596768686e67434f414f4141In the third book of this series, Dina gets a message from her sister Maud. Last anyone knew, Maud was with her vampire husband out somewhere in the wider universe, and Dina’s shocked to get a request for rescue from her. She calls in some favors from her sometime ally Arland, Marshall of one of the vampire houses, and they find Maud and her daughter Helen on a vampire prison planet, where they’d been exiled after her husband had made some very bad decisions, and gotten them exiled from his house. He’s dead now.

In the meantime, a race called the Hiru come to Dina and her inn for help. Another race called the Draziri have started a holy war against them, and they need sanctuary to gather the help that is the last hope of their race. The Draziri play dirty, and it’s all Dina can do to keep the inn safe, but the Hiru have offered her the chance to find information on her missing parents.

And finally, we have the problem of the werewolf Sean, who’s home now, but pretty much only made it home from a mercenary job because the thought of Dina kept him going, so she’ll need to figure out how she feels about that, and what that means.

This story definitely had an air of pushing larger arcs along, but it had some satisfying smaller arcs to go with it. Maud meets Arland was great, and the story of the Hiru ends up being way more than you first think it is. Really enjoyable series – I’m a bit bummed I have to wait for the next one to come out.

Frost Burned – Patricia Briggs

9f603fa0add2765596f4e456641434f414f4141Bonding with her step-daughter Jesse has brought Mercy out on Black Friday – not something she’d like to be doing, especially when they manage to get in an accident with her beloved Rabbit. But, it turns out to be a good thing, because while they’re gone, the rest of the pack is kidnapped, even luring in the pack members that weren’t hanging around Adam’s house for the holidays. So now it’s up to Mercy to keep Jesse, and some of the other non-werewolf pack members, safe while she figures out how to save the pack.

What I liked about this story was that even though a good chunk of the werewolves out there look down on Mercy because she’s “just” a coyote, she’s more than capable of holding her own – and this particular book proves that in spades. The mate bond she has with Adam is explored, and is definitely an interesting take on how that works. (Pack magic definitely has different treatments by different authors.)

I also really like how this overall story went – the person that was ultimately behind the kidnapping was an interesting twist I didn’t see coming. Definitely enjoyed this book – so glad I’ve got two more waiting for me.