Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Monday, January 21, 2013

Scent of Magic

Scent of Magic picks up almost exactly where Power of Touch leaves off. Kerrick and Avry are alone after Avry has survived the plague, but they won't be together for long. Both have missions of their own to accomplish, so with promises to reunite soon, they separate. Kerrick is headed north to his kingdom and Avry is headed toward Estrid's army which is waiting to engage Tohon's army. Naturally things do not go as planned; Avry infiltrates Estrid's army in disguise in order to help train them, while Kerrick ends up prisoner to the marching northern tribes. Throughout the course of the book, each one's story is told in alternating chapters as we watch tragedy, hope, and war bloom among the main characters.

I am in love with this series! Is it the best written series ever? Nope. Does it offer anything new as far as fantasy goes? Nope. But what it does do is provide an intriguing storyline with a heroine who is not waiting around to be rescued and a supporting cast that is almost as interesting as the heroine. I love Avry's voice; she's not always reasonable and at times she's downright moody, but she cares so deeply for those she loves and she tries to do the right thing always. In the book's final conflict between she and Tohon, I was cheering her on every step of the way. She's got so much heart that even if there wasn't a romantic link between she and Kerrick, I'd be hooked into reading about them because of her force of will. And while a few of the characters--ahem, Cellina--really work my last nerve at every turn, all of them are realistically flawed and well-described.

I read Scent of Magic on the heels of finishing Power of Touch, and I'm extremely glad I did so. I was able to keep the momentum going and recall the cast of characters vividly, something I fear may diminish with the third book since I have to wait until later in the year for its release. But make no mistake, I'll be there for Book Three; Maria V. Snyder has yet to let me down as an author and I'm on board with this series completely, flaws and all.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Touch of Power Review

Touch of Power immediately started with our heroine, Avry, doing the right thing and almost being killed for it. In her world, healers such as she are on the run, outlawed and hunted down because of the recent plague pandemic they could not quell. Avry's been hiding out in small towns and attempting not to use her magical gift, but she simply cannot help herself when faced with the illness of a young child she knows. Once her secret is out, she's condemned to die...but wait, someone rescues her just in the nick of time. Though Avry of course takes the opportunity to live, she knows it won't be without strings attached, and they are big: She's being forcefully taken to heal Ryne, king of one of the Fifteen Realms. What her captors don't know is that if she heals Ryne, she will die, and besides that, she doesn't even like the guy.

Much of Touch of Power takes place as Avry and her captors, who become her friends, travel toward the Nine Mountains so she can heal Ryne. To say that Avry is less than thrilled with leader Kerrick is an understatement; but it's equally evident that there are sparks flying between the two and that they work well together. A lot of time is spent on Avry learning the tricks of the forest and there are some side forays such as helping a girl who has been kidnapped that add to the length of the book. The best parts are the interactions between Avry, Belen, and the "monkeys" (the men helping Kerrick retrieve Avry); it's so nice to see genuine friendships develop slowly, and it gives depth to Avry's character. There is a lot of repetition in the travels: staying away from Death Lilies, sleeping in caves, escaping mercenaries; while those things didn't bother me, I do wonder now if perhaps they could have somehow been varied a bit. The whole story with Avry's sister Noelle took me by surprise and I look forward to seeing how it will all play out in the future.

I loved Avry's spirited personality and her headstrong attitude and felt she was definitely the brightest link in the book. Smart female protagonists always enhance my enjoyment and Avry is no exception, with her sharp mind and outstanding sense of sarcasm. A few times I was drawn out of the story by the modern feeling of the dialogue, but since it's a fantasy, I feel the author can choose to write it as she wishes. I was not such a fan of Kerrick, however; I disliked his unwillingness to listen and definitely despised his treatment, sometimes physical, of Avry early on. It's going to take some doing before I'm 100% on board with him.

My biggest complaint, if it can be termed as such, is that it's hard to gauge the readership for this novel. Though the characters are in their twenties, they often interact and react as though they were teens. While I see this novel as appealing to all fantasy readers and most young adult readers, I wonder if there will be those who will nitpick the actions of twenty-somethings who do not seem fully adult. But Maria V. Snyder's writing fully engages and those minor concerns are lost in the overall fun and action of the story. I'm on to the second book!


Friday, January 04, 2013

I Read a Book! Really!

My reaching screeched to an everlasting STOP over the break, just when I thought it might pick up. Oh wells. I finally kick-started with it the fabulous Call the Midwife, the book upon which the PBS series is based. Here's my thoughts:

Like most of the reviewers for Call the Midwife, I picked up the book having seen and loved the PBS television series. I wanted to know more about the world these ladies inhabited, hoping some of the stories would be illuminated with details. What I got was so much more than just a litany of births in the 1950s.

Worth is a good storyteller, and the book features many of the incidents seen (and in a few cases, embellished) in the series. I fell in love all over again with the Sisters of Nonnatus, especially Sister Monica Joan, whose exploits are often explained away due to her age (but she's still a sly one!). Life in the convent is at times stifling but mostly friendly and supportive, and the friendships formed go far beyond professional bounds. In this regard, the book really shines much more fully than the tv series; we get to understand why Jenny felt as she did about the Sisters and how their quiet fortitude leads her to her own religious awakening (which is done tastefully and not centrally). But it is the personal stories of the women giving birth that stand out, including Conchita, mother of 25, and poor young Mary, tricked, used, and abused and finally the ultimate victim of betrayal. These women's lives are woven into the fabric of Worth's career and life through evocative description and realistic situations.

If there is any problem with Call the Midwife, it is that at times Worth over-lingers on a story, stretching it over the course of 3-4 chapters. Personally I would've preferred either longer chapters or more editing in the telling, but this issue is really not worth much in the course of such a well written book. I will be rewatching the series now with a fresher eye, knowing that many of the stories are based in truth. This story rates a solid 4.5 stars and can be highly recommended.