A Gathering of Shadows – Where Does The Magic Reach?

Book Review : A Gathering of Shadows
Shades of Magic #2

By V.E. Schwab

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I have mixed emotions about this series.

Cons

Schwab uses cliche phrases, such as, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Every high school english teacher tells their students to avoid cliches.

Periodic language is another problem. Schwab releases the F-bomb about 4 times in the book. Since they’re in a different, alternative universe with different languages, must we be submitted to foul language from our own world? She has developed a vocabulary of Red London epithets which I prefer; they are clever and don’t have the same sense of being crude.

The characters fail to progress. Too much time was spent on the separation of Kell and Lila, where each is eaten up by their choices, but unable to progress into making new choices. Another character which didn’t develop was Rhy, we already knew that Rhy wasn’t picky about his lovers. There are a couple of steamy scenes; one, an encounter with an unnamed girl, and another steamy kissing scene with a man (but I’m not revealing his name). I can’t say that this added anything to Rhy at this point. He has become more brooding after his brush with death, but as a secondary character it didn’t seem that important, yet. The king and queen of Red London probably had the biggest shift in their characters, now they have revealed that they loath and blame Kell for all that has befallen their true son, Rhy.

A plot devise that has been used (think Harry Potter) with contestants from other nations competing for the glory of being the best magician feels overused. It served it’s purpose to bring Kell and Lila back together. The contests are not a blow by blow description, which is actually a pro, but she moves to the essence of each battle.

I’m a little confused if this is a young adult book or was it written for adults. It feels like young adult; it’s brooding, hyper-emotional, has a devil-may-care attitude towards authority and has a romance. It’s as if the alternative universes had to come together just for Lila and Kell. With that said, I wouldn’t want my kids to read this book until they are over 16 years old. My library has it listed under adult fiction, but sometimes they are funny about their placement of books.

Pros

The magic system is different than other fantasy series. I always like originality. Because the traveling magicians need to use blood for some of their magic it is a darker twist than some series.

I know this sounds contrary to one of the cons, but overall I find Schwab to be above average in her writing. She uses some creative metaphors that are fitting, such as, Lila’s smile being described as a knife.

Once the story gets moving it clips along at a good pace. This one had a bit of a slow start, but once Kell and Lila were both in London it moved fast and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. I plan to read the third book, so that is always a good sign that I’m enjoying a series even if it has points I pick at.

The stirrings of White London and the culminating events that have led to Holland’s rise in power (after he was thrown into Black London at the end of book 1) were an interesting plot development. I honestly would have liked to see more out of White London in this book, instead of having to wait for the sinister dealings that will be laid out in book 3.

 

3.5 out of 4 stars
3-half-star-hotel

  • Michelle

A good author to check out would be Brandon Sanderson if you enjoyed this series. He has done a lot of writing; he is well known for his Mistborn series, but I also enjoyed books like The Rithmatist and The Emperor’s Soul.

Another good author to discover is Patrick W. Carr who is currently writing his second series. The first series begins with A Cast of Stones and the new series starts with a novella, By Divine Right.

I would love to hear your suggestions for authors you enjoy!

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Vengeance Road – Classic Western Style Revenge Anyone?

Book Review : Vengeance Road

By Erin Bowman

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I have not read many westerns in my life. Vengeance Road is what I would consider to be a classic western. It was grittier than I expected for a young adult novel.

Kate, the protagonist, is ornery. From the moment we meet her she is solely focused on her quest for revenge, to the point of being one dimensional as a character. She doesn’t turn her head when a certain cowboy walks by, she doesn’t long for a pretty dress and she certainly doesn’t pine away for someone to take care of her. I can’t say I particularly liked Kate, until she gets shot on page 88. After being shot it would be ridiculous to keep up the fiction that she is a boy. Too many novels become ridiculous as a girl disguises herself as a boy, becoming silly and highly unrealistic. Kate’s deception adds another layer of tension with her relationship with the Colton brothers, Jesse and Will. It was a logical time for the other characters to discover her identity and made the novel more interesting.

As a western, Vengeance Road is peppered with murder, poker, cowboy cussin’ and saloons. It is missing the quintessential gun fight on a dusty road in the middle of town. The painted ladies help Kate, and Will describes Evelyn as his favorite whore. Sex is all off page. There are some kissing scenes which are passionate, but the characters break it off because they need to have a clear head for revenge against the Rose gang led by Waylan Rose.

Bowman does a good job developing Lil’s character in the last half of the book. We don’t know her full backstory, however, we know that she had been captured after the man she would have married was killed. She is not loyal to Kate, but rather recognizes she has a debt and she wants to return to her people. Liluye has dignity, self-respect, a sense of justice, faith and is resourceful. She does not feel that she is a second-class citizen. As an Apache, she has a different mythology that she shares with Kate as an insight into her chosen path. We get a small peek into the Apache’s lives as they celebrate a girl of about 13 entering womanhood. Liluye’s belief in Ussen, their god, helps her to find peace with Jesse who had never been kind or polite. Liluye was one of my favorite characters even though she was a secondary character.

Westerns offer many classic themes in literature; a quest for justice and revenge, an extension of mercy and seeking forgiveness. How different is Kate’s thirst for revenge than Edmond in the Count of Monte Cristo?  I love the Count of Monte Cristo. It’s a difference mostly in the style of writing and time period. I was mostly fascinated that Vengeance Road was written by a woman because, other than having a female protagonist, it seems more like a book written for boys.

I didn’t absolutely gobble up this western; I think we can safely say it isn’t my favorite genre. Bowman kept a close hand as she slowly revealed twists in the plot. The writing was interesting and a step above many YA novels. I always love an unforeseen twist! The first third was a might tiresome for me to read, but the last two thirds picked up the pace to a gallop.

I loved the cover illustration!

3.5 out of 4 stars
3-half-star-hotel

  • Michelle

A modern twist on a western to try that I recommend is Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson. It is actually the fourth novel in a series, but can be read prior to the other three without too many problems.

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Thick As Thieves – Books Worth Rereading

Book Review: Thick As Thieves
The Queen’s Thief #5

By Megan Whalen Turner

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Deep within the palace of the Mede emperor, in an alcove off the main room of his master’s apartments,. Kamet minds his master’s business and his own. Carefully keeping the accounts, and his own counsel, Kamet has accumulated a few possessions, a little money stored in the household’s cashbox, and a significant amount of personal power. As a slave, his fate is tied to his master’s. If Nahuseresh’s fortunes improve, so will Kamet’s, and Nahuseresh has been working diligently to promote his fortunes since the debacle in Attolia.

A soldier in the shadows offers escape, but Kamet won’t sacrifice his ambition for a meager and unreliable freedom; not until a whispered warning of poison and murder destroys all of his carefully laid plans. When Kamet flees for his life, he leaves behind everything—his past, his identity, his meticulously crafted defenses—and finds himself woefully unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.

Pursued across rivers, wastelands, salt plains, snowcapped mountains, and storm-tossed seas, Kamet is dead set on regaining control of his future and protecting himself at any cost. Friendships—new and long-forgotten—beckon, lethal enemies circle, secrets accumulate, and the fragile hopes of the little kingdoms of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis hang in the balance. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Advantages of a Megan Whalen Turner book:

Great writing
Sympathetic characters
Plot twists
Well thought out world building
Great connections within story; not revealed until the end
A hidden complexity
First 5 books are written and available

Disadvantage of a Megan Whalen Turner book:

It takes her a very long time to complete a new book and once you start you will want to finish reading the series!

Review of Thick As Thieves

Kamet was introduced as a minor character in The Queen of Attolia, and now he is the main character in Thick As Thieves. Kamet has an interesting struggle. He is caught not wanting to go to Attolia, which he sees as an uncivilized country soon to be swept away by the Mede Empire, and his incumbent death as a result of his master having been poisoned, most likely by his brother the emperor. Kamet misjudges the soldier sent by the King of Attolia, seeing him as stupid rather than honest. Overtime they build a friendship, which is something Kamet has never really had as a slave. Slaves don’t really do favors for each other.

In Thick As Thieves, Kamet tells stories of Immakuk and Ennikar, legendary heroes who interact with a pantheon of gods in the Ensur mythology (adopted by the Medes), to the soldier accompanying him on his journey. Immakuk and Ennikar have trials with maids, being lost, being dead, attacked by monsters and needing each other’s friendship. To help clarify these two heros; Ennikar is described as strong, brave, but not described as smart. Immakuk is described as noble, brave, canny, wise. This is the typical kind of layer Turner adds in her books that I enjoy. It’s also another reason to reread her books. It’s fun to look for the clues laid out for the surprise ending.

I also love how Eugenides is always misunderstood and underestimated. He isn’t introduced until the end of the novel, though Kamet understands completely that Eugenides has sent the soldier to help in his escape.

I want to explain how funny Thick As Thieves is, but cannot do so without a major spoiler. In this case, you will have to just believe me that the circumstances conspire to create laughter for the audience, much as the other books within the series.

This is the best quote I can find that doesn’t give away anything strategic in the novel that I found amusing:

     “‘It so happens,’ said the Attolian, ‘ that sometimes a young soldier comes to the city from deep in the country and he meets a man in a wineshop who offers to show him the town and introduces him to a ‘lovely girl’. And after the lovely girl has soaked him for all the money in his pocket, the man will offer the soldier a loan. The really naive ones get into so much debt to their ‘friends’ that they have to ask for a touch from the guard’s treasury, from funds set aside by everyone in the cohort for emergencies like this. Until the money gets paid back, they eat their meals standing up in the dining hall.’
I wondered if the Attolian had ever been a backward boy from the country eating his meals standing up. When I saw the flush creeping up past his collar all the way to the roots of his hair, I knew he had.” (p. 203)

I highly recommend Turner as an author. I am a little torn if her books should be a 4 or 5 star recommendation. As the series has continued I am tempted to go back and raise all of their star power in my reviews because of the thoughtful weaving of the tale over the last 20 years. She is a remarkable writer!

4 out of 5 stars
4 star

 

-Michelle

If you have enjoyed Turner as an author I would highly recommend reading The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler and A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr. I am confident that you will love their books.

My daughter has been in college and no longer has time to review books with me. Now my younger sons occasionally have something to add to the reviews, though they are not as interested in reading at this time. I continue to read lots of YA literature in the hopes of finding gems for my children to read.

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Death Comes To Pemberley – Please Just Kill Me Now

Book Review : Death Comes To Pemberley

By P.D. James

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

The world is classic Jane Austen. The mystery is vintage P.D. James.

The year is 1803, and Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball, the guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley’s wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham – Elizabeth Bennet’s younger, unreliable sister – stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered.

Two great literary minds – master of suspense P.D. James and literary icon Jane Austen – come together in Death Comes to Pemberley, a bestselling historical crime fiction tribute to Pride and Prejudice. Conjuring the world of Elizabeth Bennet and Mark Darcy and combining the trappings of Regency British society with a classic murder mystery, James creates a delightful mash-up that will intrigue any Janeite.

From the bestselling author of The Murder Room, Children of Men and A Certain Justice, comes a wonderful mixture of the nation’s greatest romance and best-loved crime fiction. In 2013, this novel was adapted as a miniseries by the BBC, starring Matthew Rhys as Darcy, Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Bennet and Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

P.D. James makes a coy apology to Jane Austen for dragging her characters through the trauma of a murder, concluding that Austen would have written this story better herself. The author was correct! She should have stopped, reconsidered and never written this book.

I finish nearly every book I start. I finally looked at the book, sitting on the table, on the sofa, and the floor, and realized the location wasn’t the problem, it was the book that had the problem. I didn’t want to read it.

My first big problem was the character of the Colonel, Darcy’s cousin. He is bossy, controlling and horrible as he strides across the page. Next, I didn’t feel the connection between Darcy and Elizabeth. All the characters seem like parodies of the original. Nobody felt authentic. Last, the story was convoluted. After reading half the book the locals belief of a malevolent spirit living in the woods has barely been touched upon. The plot made more sense in the movie.

I jumped to the end of the book to see if some of the character problems were resolved. They weren’t. The Colonel is still overbearing, Darcy is flat, Lydia is still a brat, ect. The only good thing is that the Colonel is leaving to fight Bonaparte.

It is rare to enjoy a movie more than the book, but in this case that is true. I was very disappointed in the book. I’m giving it a mere one star because I couldn’t finish the novel. There was nothing particularly sensual or violent in the book, other than the one description of the victim. If I wasn’t appalled by the characters I would have given it two stars.

1 out of 5 stars
1 star
– Michelle

Other Regency Era books that I enjoyed would include An Assembly Such As This by Pamela Aiden (I haven’t read it in years, but I remember loving the first one – it tells the story from Darcy’s point of view), Sorcery and Cecilia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede (totally silly since they have magic, but so fun) and Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron (Jane is a sleuth solving mysteries – again, I read it a long time ago, but it was fun).

If you have read a modern Regency novel and enjoyed it please share your suggestions!

 

 

 

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The Dragon and the Scholar – What Are the Moral Values Represented? Should We Question The Values In Novels? This post will review Dragon’s Curse, Dragon’s Debt, Dragon’s Rival and Dragon’s Bride

Book Review : Dragon’s Curse
The Dragon and the Scholar #1

By H. L. Burke

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous.

Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Dragon’s Curse is a charming tale written for a younger audience. Shannon is more focused on scholarship than relationships. She is disheveled, intelligent and doesn’t realize she is beautiful. Her friend and fellow scholar, Martin, sends her to Regone to help real the King from injuries he sustained battling dragons.

She befriends Gnaw, a dragon who has decided to live in a cave near the castle of Regone. It turns out Gnaw has a sense of humor and enjoys having Shannon read to him. Sir Roderick, a knight, of a lazy nature has decided he must marry Shannon. He has convinced himself that she will want to be his wife if he has vanquished the local dragon.

Overall the book is very innocent and fun. There is a reference to a knight being allowed to have his way with Shannon, which I thought was inappropriate for the audience. Other than this sexual reference children as young as 10 could easily read this book.

 

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

Book Review : Dragon’s Debt
The Dragon and the Scholar #2

By H. L. Burke

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Scholar Shannon Macaulay and the Dragon-Prince Ewan have been traveling together for a year when their blissful companionship is interrupted by a cryptic message from their friend Martin.
“Come to Westshire. Edmond needs you.”
Drawn to his brother’s aid, Ewan finds himself hunting an elusive monster: a winged beast kidnapping young women and stealing their memories. Its latest victim is the Princess Brighid of Westshire, the very girl Edmond has recently fallen for, to the disapproval of her temperamental father, King Riley, and stoic brother, Prince Ryan.
Ewan is determined to rescue his brother’s beloved, no matter what the cost. But when Ryan’s eyes fall upon Shannon, the dragon realizes the cost might be greater than he is willing to pay. (Courtesy of 
goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Shannon and Ewan are off on adventures, and flying has definite advantages for traveling takes place in a neighboring kingdom, and ally country Westshire. King Riley is evil and in raising his son he has tried to impart the family legacy, but Ryan has turned onto a different path than his father. They are at odds over King Edmond being in love with Princess Brighid. Ewan has taken on the responsibility to find the kidnapped princess, and will work with Ryan to fulfill this goal to pay his perceived debt to hid brother.

Much as the first in the series, there are a few off comments about the dalliances of King Riley that would make me hesitate in giving this book to a tween audience. The cliche comments, light writing style and shallow characters would have me believe it has been written for a young audience.

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

 

Book Review : Dragon’s Rival
The Dragon and the Scholar #3

By H. L. Burke

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Having abandoned his friends and family and taken to the skies, Ewan hides himself in the Wilderlands, away from humans. However, an unexpected attempt on his life and a warning from another dragon lead him to suspect that not all is right in Regone.

Ewan returns to his homeland to attend his brother’s wedding and discover the source of the bounty on his head. Once there the dragon prince finds that Ryan of Westshire has been using his absence to court the Lady Shannon.

With unknown forces working to undermine his brother’s throne and his own heart torn between his love for Shannon and the desire to see her happy, Ewan must choose once and for all. Is he a dragon or a man? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Ryan has been diligently courting Shannon while Ewan has studiously ignored her, to the point of exhibiting his disregard for her. The bigger problem lies in the attacks on the kingdom of Regone. Shannon is taxed with the problem of figuring out if Prince Ryan is involved.

There continue to be references to men who should have/or have taken a woman to their bed (while not married), rape and other caddish behavior by even honorable men. Yikes! Why does the rest of the story feel like a tween book, when this is obviously not material I would want my child reading. It must be for a slightly older audience, but I don’t know if they will be interested in such a simplistic tale.

I believe the discrepancy of audience to written material lies, in part, to the whimsical covers. The illustrations look like the book will be geared to a younger audience. The books are also short, really more of a novella length, found in tween books.

In the series a positive point is that each book is self-contained. For example, in Dragon’s Rival, Shannon resolves her relationship with the man she loves rather than being caught in a continual love triangle. Another problem solved is Will’s feelings about his father and half-brother. Each book as a clear problem remaining that needs to be solved. In this book it is apparent that Ewan needs to solve the problem of his form – man or dragon. There are additional problems to solve, such as, finding Rowan and resolving King Riley, who is a persistent problem.

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

 

Book Review : Dragon’s Bride
The Dragon and the Scholar #4

By H. L. Burke

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Dragon Prince Ewan has promised his beloved, Shannon, that he will become a man again or die in the attempt. Now he will do anything to make good on that promise.

With the aid of his scholarly friend, Martin, Ewan consults the great Dragon Queen Harviss, who offers him a unique solution: return to the past to find Ewan’s Fey ancestor and beg for her help. Leaving Shannon behind, Ewan and Martin travel to a dangerous past and fall into the clutches of a powerful Fey queen.

Meanwhile, Shannon finds herself alone and with child. Unable to sit still with her husband absent, she joins with Ryan of Westshire in the prince’s desperate search for his young son. King Riley, however, will see Ryan dead before allowing him to find the lost child.

Can Shannon find a way to unite Ryan with his son? Or will the attempt cost her not only her life but the life of her unborn baby?

Will Martin and Ewan ever find the cure they seek or will they remain trapped in the past and Ewan separated from his bride forever? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

The Dragon and the Scholar was described as a saga. I feel like Shannon is seen less and less as a scholar as the series progressed, but it has been a yo-yo saga romance. In Dragon’s Bride I had expected it to focus on the problems of Shannon and Ewan with Ryan finding his son as a sub-plot. I was partly correct, in that these are the two main plots. However, I did not anticipate time travel would be involved. I do like surprises in books.

One of the new characters introduced was the fairy queen. I liked her because she was devoid of human compassion, was completely selfish and hedonistic. All of these characteristics made her decidedly fairy instead of human. Shannon and Ewan, as characters, don’t see much growth or change, but all of the characters are one dimensional. King Riley is evil, Prince Ryan is kind, Ewan is loyal, ect. The one character that does change is Martin. He has previously been solely focused on his career and an incorrigible flirt. After spending time with the fairy he realizes he wants something different in his life.

Dragon’s Bride

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

As the whole series goes, I didn’t just gobble it up and love it, but I didn’t absolutely hate it either. My biggest problem has been feeling like the intended audience and the content do not match. The covers look like the books are for a young audience.

I think it is very important for families to talk about their values and check in with what kids are reading. Sometimes a book can be a great conversation starter to help define family morals.

Outside of the sexuality, I found The Dragon and the Scholar series to be charming and a light read. Another problem was the magic system had a few holes in it that I would have liked to have explained, such as, why Adonna’s death would make Ewan’s transformation more permanent. I like magic systems to have  logical, plausible rules and parameters. The final constraint in my review is that I was to see multi-dimensional characters.

Other books that are light, fun and with female protagonists that I recommend are:

The Raven Ring by Patricia Wrede

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

 

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Fields of Gold – The Romp of Steampunk In The Old West Continues

Book Review : Fields of Gold
Magnificent Devices #12

e-book

By Shelley Adina

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Book 12 in the Magnificent Devices steampunk series!
If a wedding won’t stop a war, what will?

Gloria Meriwether-Astor’s belief in doing the right thing has carried her across the world and through dangers that would have felled a lesser woman. She believed that if she married the dashing Captain Fremont, she could approach the Viceroy of the Royal Kingdom of Spain and the Californias with impunity. She could convince the prince to stop the war their fathers began, and then she could return to Philadelphia with her husband, her conscience clear at last. Sadly, belief and reality are two different things. The prince agrees to her proposal on one condition—that she annul her marriage and become his wife instead!

Every woman has a threshold she will not cross. Gloria has come to love her riverboat captain, and the price of peace is simply too high. But when the evil stalking the pleasant gardens of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa claims its victim, the time for belief is over and the time to act—daringly, outrageously—is at hand. Do the witches hold the key to a way out of this trap?

All Gloria has to do is take up the crown of roses and play for the highest stakes. All she has to do is become the iron dragon, and start a war of her own.
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Gloria has the honor of being a character that I had cast off as uninteresting in the beginning of the series, but as Adina has continued the series, Gloria has become a character with depth. The riverboat captain, Stan, could be the prototype for mysterious men with an unknown background that are great at supporting a woman in her role as the protagonist. Real men are never so biddable. Anne McCaffrey always wrote male characters that served as a support for the women in their world. This is not to say the men are not strong, they are very masculine because women really do want a man who is strong in character and body. Gloria is in a tight spot, in love with her husband while a prince is in love with her; and she could stop the brewing war by simply annulling the marriage and instead marry the prince. Just because Gloria has two men in love with her it doesn’t mean Evan is out of the picture; he still pines away for Gloria. What is a girl to do?

The tale continues with the plot snaking towards an end with betrayal, love, secrets, more love, stolen kisses, unexpected surprises, the lost who are found, explosions, guns blazing and more love. Whew! In other words, just what you have come to expect in a Magnificent Devices book.

Previously I have stated there are a couple of good ending spots in this series if you’re not up to the full 12 (written so far, since there is a tantalizing loose end ready to be resolved). The fourth book, after the Lady of Devices is married is a good stopping point. Another stopping point would be when her charges, the Mopsies, are settled. Book 12 is another good stopping point because all of the main characters stories are resolved. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, but even I think I will give the Devices a break.

There is nothing more than a few kisses described in detail in this series. A rape is mentioned and there is an obvious lesbian relationship that readers may want to be aware of in advance.

3.5 out of 5 stars

3-half-star-hotel
Michelle

If you enjoyed this book try Cinder by Marissa Meyer and The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. 

For good clean, fun romance to try is Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede.

Another great fantasy to try is Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr.

Happy Reading!

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The Shattered Vigil – The Classic Battle Between Light and Dark

Book Review : The Shattered Vigil
The Darkwater Saga #2

By Patrick W. Carr

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Victory over the dark forces during the feast of Bas-solas should have guaranteed safety for the continent. Instead, Willet and the rest of the Vigil discover they’ve been outsmarted by those seeking to unleash the evil that inhabits the Darkwater. Jorgen, the member of the Vigil assigned to Frayel, has gone missing, and new attacks have struck at the six kingdoms’ ability to defend themselves.

Just when the Vigil thought they had quenched the menace from their enemy in Collum, a new threat emerges: assassins hunting the Vigil, men and women who cannot be seen until it’s too late. The orders of the church and the rulers of the kingdoms, fearing the loss of the Vigil’s members altogether, have decided to take them into protective custody to safeguard their gift. On Pellin’s orders, the Vigil scatters, leaving Willet to be taken prisoner by the church in Bunard.
In the midst of this, Willet learns of the murder of an obscure nobleman’s daughter by one of the unseen assassins. Now he must escape his imprisonment and brave the wrath of the church to find the killer in order to turn back this latest threat to the northern continent.
 (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Carr continues to be one of my favorite authors. I like his world building because of the complexities, but also because it is logical. In The Shattered Vigil we learn more of the intricacies of the relationships within the Vigil. It seems that the distrust was building in such a way, that even without the evil forces working against them, the Vigil was at a breaking point. Books that work well have flawed characters. From The Shock of Night the reader discovers fairly early that Willet Dura is mad; he sees a priest for his spiritual guidance and the others recognize that there are no footprints other than Willet’s.

“‘There’s no one here.’ I murmured those same four words over and again in a voice small enough to fit in the palm of my hand.” (p. 30)

“Bolt came forward out of the shadows. ‘He deserves to know the truth of your experience, Lady Bronwyn, and he’s stronger than you think. Men are like swords, tempered by circumstance.” (p. 31)

Bronwyn has an ingrained distrust of men, Toria Deel is still reeling from the separation from the man she loved who betrayed his ideals, Pellin fully knows he isn’t as good with people as his brother had been as Eldest and Volsk wants redemption, though even he doesn’t feel that he is worthy. Each character, including those not listed, have a greater depth and humanity.

The understanding of the church also is extended in this novel. Here is the critical passage:

“…they were admited to the cathedral of the Pueri, or the Servants, as most people referred to them. Pellin stifled a centuries-old regret at the split of the church. Barely a score of years after the north-south split between the continents, led by the priest, Maren Wittendor, the Servants had been the first to split from the Merum. The absold and the Vanguard had split soon after.” (p.70)

Knowing that evil doesn’t just quit, the Vigil is on a hunt to better understand their enemy.  All the ancient texts reveal no clue to the source of the evil that resides within the forest. They also need to understand how the Clast fits into the puzzle. Bronwyn, who has always loved the old children’s rhymes, has Custos searching for a connection to find out more about their enemy and how to defeat this growing evil. Custos discovery is unfathomable to the Vigil, and his knowledge is withheld masterfully by Carr until the final moments of the book.

The political forces within the northern kingdoms faces more pressure as the threat of the forest stretches unseen hands into their homelands. Even the kings and queens of the land are left stumbling for safety. The Vigil is the only hope, while they are also under attack and may soon cease to exist.

As a second novel, The Shattered Vigil, progresses the plot while developing the characters and increasing the intensity. So many second novels feel like a set-up for a grand finale, however, there is so much happening in this installment – think supernatural assassins – it feels like an important step in our progress to the end of the tale. I can hardly wait for the third book!

Sensitive readers need to know that there is a rape within the book. It is not graphically portrayed, but relies on the knowledge of what has happened and the characters dealing with the aftermath of the brutal experience.

As one more note, I am surprised that Carr’s novels are listed as Christian fiction because of the intense subject matter. Other ‘Christian’ novels I have read often feel like they are spun from sugar, without substance and a heavy dose of preaching. Carr never preaches; he just tells a good tale.

4  out of 5 stars

4 star

  • the Mother

Fans of Brandon Sanderson will enjoy Patrick W. Carr’s books and vice-versa.

I would also recommend trying Cinda Williams Chima, The Demon King and Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron.

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