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.

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.

 

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…

The Hero and the Crown – Robin McKinley

2b60d63e26cf9e6593966385251434f414f4141Continuing my rereading theme, here’s the prequel to The Blue Sword. Aerin in the only child of the king, by his second wife, who some considered to be a witch, so there are whispers about her. She won’t inherit the throne – that goes to her cousin Tor. Consequently, she’s not really sure what to do with her life.

A chance encounter with an old book in the library gives her a formula for an old dragon fighter’s heat resistant potion, which she’s able to replicate, and when a representative of a village being menaced by a dragon comes to the palace while her father and Tor are away, she jumps at the chance to prove herself.

She’s wildly successful, but the dragons she’s fighting are barely more intelligent than regular animals, not the legendary creatures of old. Until the day that word comes that Maur, one of the great old dragons, has awakened. The King and Tor are dealing with an upstart baron on the border, and Aerin is therefore the only person capable of fighting this dragon. She wins, but is gravely wounded.

While trying to heal, she has a vision of a man, who may have known her mother, and she knows will heal her. She eventually finds her way to him, which will gain her the Blue Sword, and a heritage she didn’t know she had.

This description is absolutely not giving this story justice – it’s so much more than the above. Again, it’s a perfect example of why I love McKinley’s Damar stories – she’s imagined such a fantastic world.

The Scarlet Thread – D. S. Murphy

1530331625-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_I get a couple different book newsletters for cheap or free ebook deals. I’ve learned to be really leery of the free ones. So I was really pleasantly surprised by this book. It’s definitely more in the YA realm, so has a fair amount of teenage angst, but not anymore than any typical book in the genre. What is also has is a really interesting take on the how the ancient Greek pantheon transitioned into the monotheistic tradition we live in today. (This sounds dry – I swear it’s not.)

Kaidance has been at a sort of juvenile/mental facility for a number of years – because everyone, including her parents, believes she killed her younger brother. She’d actually seen a vision of him dying, and had tried everything she could to prevent it, but everyone believed that her telling people that he would be hit by a red truck had gone on for so long, she had to make it happen. Since then, she’s been careful to never touch anyone, because she never knows when she’ll get a vision of a person’s death.

After a party where she sees a mysterious stranger, Kai’s busted out of the facility and brought to an estate in the middle of nowhere populated by an interesting cast of characters. They know about her power, and while they are offering to help her train it, they also clearly want to use it for their own ends, and it takes Kai a while to uncover why.

It turns out these people are refugees in a war between the gods. Zeus has decided to go it alone – and has been killing as many of his relatives as he can, using an army he created that are basically angels. If a member of that army falters at a command for just a moment, even if it’s an unconscious pause, they’re cast out. These fallen angels have thrown in their lot with the refugees. Have I mentioned those refuges are led by Hades?

This book is very much the set up to this story – it would appear that Kai has been chosen by the Fates to end this war. I’m interested to see how that will happen.

Cloaked in Red – Vivian Vande Velde

a06a0d9e32acbc559324f325951434f414f4141I found this book while looking at what was available under Amazon Prime Reading. It would translate to a small volume in paper – not sure I would have paid for something that size.

The author starts out with all the parts of the “Little Red Riding Hood” fairy tale that make no sense – like how Red’s mother must be a terrible parent to send her young daughter into the forest, and how Granny can’t be that smart to let a wolf into the house.

She then tells various versions of the story to correct those issues, so you end up with stories from different character viewpoints. I think my favorite was the wolf’s story, which was very much an “I was minding my own business, and these humans are crazy” tale.

Still not sure I would have paid for this, but it was an entertaining evening’s reading.