Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Now, Let's See You Dance

Magic Steps
~Magic Steps~
The Circle Opens
Book 1
By Tamora Pierce
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Lady Sandrilene fa Toren knows all about unusual magic - she herself spins and weaves it like thread. But when she witnessed a boy dancing a spell, even she is confounded. To her dismay, Sandry learns that as the mage who discovered the power of the young dancer, she must be his teacher.

Before lessons can begin, however, Sandry and her uncle, Duke Vedris, get news of a mysterious murderer stalking a clan of local merchants. The killer employs the strangest magic of all: the ability to reduce essence to nothingness.

As the murders mount and the killer grows bolder, Sandry's teaching takes on a grave purpose. For it becomes clear to everyone that the killings can only be stopped by the combined workings of two people: the young teacher and her even younger student.

Three years have passed since the events of the last quartet. Briar, Daja and Tris have left with their teachers to study abroad, leaving Sandry alone to attend to the troubles in Summersea. It's pretty obvious from the get-go that Sandry has done some growing these past couple years. Not only is her magic more refined, but so is her attitude. She's still far from the snobbery of most Nobles or wealthy, but she is much more attuned to her status as a Noble and a mage, and what it affords and requires from her.

A Book Birthday Ahead of its Time

Today I'm pleased to announce the (early) birthday of an awesome start to a new series:

The Dig
~The Dig~
Zoe and Zeus
Book 1
By Audrey Hart
~ Official Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~

Out of time and out of her element, teenager Zoe Calder finds herself in ancient Greece, battling against the power of the Olympians and the vengeance of a scorned goddess—all for the strange and mysterious boy she has come to love.

Zoe Calder has always been an outsider. Stashed away in boarding schools since her parents died, Zoe buries herself in the study of ancient worlds. Her greatest thrill is spending her summers with her archeologist aunt and uncle on digs around the world. And one day, while investigating a newly unearthed temple in Crete, Zoe discovers a luminous artifact that transports her to ancient Greece.

As Zoe quickly learns, the Olympian Gods are real, living people—humans with mysterious powers… Powers that Zoe quickly realizes she has come to possess, as well. However, when the people of ancient Greece mistake Zoe for an Olympian, the Gods must restore the balance of the ancient world… No matter what.

Zoe is forced to play a confusing and dangerous game as Hera rallies the gods against her—all except for Zeus, the beautiful, winged young god who risks everything to save her.

Happy Birthday!
And be sure to check back in December for my review!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Healing in the Vine

Briar's Book
~Briar's Book~
Circle of Magic
Book 4
By Tamora Pierce
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Former "street rat" Briar leads a comfortable life at Winding Circle Temple, learning plant magic from Rosethorn. But street kids are still his friends, and when one of them gets sick, she turns to Briar for help. When her disease proves beyond even Rosethorn's power, Briar realizes that all of Summersea is in danger.

As the mysterious illness spreads, Sandry, Daja, and Tris join Briar and their teachers to fight the epidemic. But just as the situation improves, the unthinkable happens.

Will Briar be able to save what he loves the most?

A fascinating look at disease and the steps taken towards finding a cure, Briar's Book serves as a staggering reminder of the mortality of even the strongest among us. Even being the longest story of the quartet, it's amazing how much is packed in. Besides plague and cure-working, there's quarantine, reflections on poverty, man-made diseases, and even a small bit on death and the afterlife.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Fire in the Forging

Daja's Book
~Daja's Book~
Circle of Magic
Book 3
By Tamora Pierce
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Outcast Trader Daja, along with her fellow mages-in-training, journeys from Winding Circle to the Gold Ridge Mountains, where drought threatens widespread famine. There, Daja creates an astonishing object: a living metal vine. A caravan of Traders covets the vine, and Daja's dealings with her former people reawaken a longing for familiar ways.

Daja must choose—should she return to the Traders or remain with the Winding Circle folk who have become her family?

Though the other stories have dimmed in my mind a bit over the years, this story's great feat always stayed with me. There's just something about fire and bending it to your will that fascinates me. It mirrors life without having any. From working to tame a wildfire, or even simply stoking a fire in the hearth, you have to work with the fire instead of against it. I'm awed by its strength and simultaneous weakness.

But enough of my pyromania, back to the story. The jacket summary doesn't even begin to cover everything that happens in the book. Though it is the shortest of the series, there are a lot of fine details, cultural traditions, and magical workings packed in here. Fans of Pierce and her series will recognize and cherish the intricacies she puts into her world-building, language, and ever expanding magic. She knows how to pack a lot of punch in just a few pages, leaving readers more than satisfied.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Power in the Storm

Tris's Book
~Tris's Book~
Circle of Magic
Book 2
By Tamora Pierce
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Earthquake damage leaves Winding Circle vulnerable to pirate attack, so everyone—including the young mages-in-training Tris, Briar, Daja, and Sandry—is working to strengthen the community's defenses. When Tris's cousin Aymery comes to visit, he advises the "weather witch" to return to the family that exiled her, but she doesn't wish to leave her friends to face the threat without her.

As the onslaught begins, two things become terribly clear: the pirates have a powerful new weapon, and they have an accomplice within Winding Circle. But the attackers have failed to reckon with the fury of a young mage betrayed once too often and her very stubborn, very loyal friends...

I've always related to Tris the most out of the quartet (or any of Tammy's characters, for that matter). She's bookish, intelligent, very much a realist, a bit chubby and insecure, but loyal and strong when she needs to be. That she has the most power in terms of destructive properties of the bunch only makes her more inspiring, having such a weight on her shoulders. But her friends are not about to let her carry it alone. And they're all stubborn enough not to take 'no' for an answer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Magic in the Weaving

Sandry's Book
~Sandry's Book~
Circle of Magic
Book 1
By Tamora Pierce
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

With her gift of weaving silk thread and creating light, Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief who has a way with plants; Daja, an outcast gifted with metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. At Winding Circle, the four misfits are taught how to use their magic—and to trust each other.

But then disaster strikes their new home. Can Sandry weave together four kinds of magical power and save herself, her friends, and the one place they have ever been accepted?

Though the story is titled Sandry's Book in the US, I kinda prefer the UK title, The Magic in the Weaving, because, well, this book isn't just about Sandry. All four of the children star in nearly every chapter, and the story is more about each of them finding acceptance than any one of them. Still, Sandry's skill is the weaving, which does assume an important role in the story, so titling the book after her isn't completely out of place.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Greetings Again!


Phew, it's been a while, hasn't it? Sorry to have left you hanging these past couple months. I've been working out some personal things and have only just gotten back around to reading.

I know, I know - "How could you possibly not have been reading!?" you say. Well, the brain does funny things sometimes, like making you think that enjoyable things are too much trouble...

But I've worked through that and am currently in the process of working up my Tamora Pierce Challenge reviews! Okay, I might be a little behind, but better late than never, right? Look for a steady flow of TP reviews coming throughout the month of November, finishing up with a review of her recently released conclusion to the Provost's Dog (Beka Cooper) Trilogy, Mastiff!

Looking forward to getting back in the swing of things. Hope you've all been well. Signing off for now,