Wow. This book blew me away. And I had gone into it thinking I probably wouldn't enjoy it that much.
One aspect I really loved was how well Grant was aWow. This book blew me away. And I had gone into it thinking I probably wouldn't enjoy it that much.
One aspect I really loved was how well Grant was able to make the teenagers/kids really act their ages. Sure, there were lots of moments I wished they would act older, that they wouldn't be such *kids* but that was one of the best done elements of the book. No adult ideas on how kids should act, these where kids dealing with a crisis.
I did wonder though, why 15 was the cut off for an "adult". Seems like 16 or 18 would have made more sense. Maybe we'll find that out as the books go on....more
Silver Phoenix is an exquisite Asian fairytale, something I’ve been hoping for for some time. Of course, my knowledge of ancient China is pretty limitSilver Phoenix is an exquisite Asian fairytale, something I’ve been hoping for for some time. Of course, my knowledge of ancient China is pretty limited, but it felt very authentic to me, and we can chalk up any problems to the fact that this is fantasy, and not exactly China. I especially loved how Pon stayed true to restrictions and prejudices toward girls, but worked around them in a way that didn’t make me go "But.. but… one girl is not going to change the gender prejudices of a whole nation!!!!!" It was great to see a fairytale style story that is very distinctly set in a non-western country, and one that doesn’t feel like it was just transplanted there without regard for all the little nuanced differences that come between western and eastern societies.
Another element I found well done was the topic of sex. The book opens on Ai Ling pretty much getting a sex ed lesson from her mother, about her duties as a wife, and throughout the book the topic of sex and purity is artfully and realistically woven into the story. Of course that makes me hesitate to say it’s appropriate for kids under 13, without knowing the kid, but I must commend the author on her good usage of the subject. I’m tired of books that use sex as purely a "look, kids, we’ve got smut!" or where girls are constantly threatened with rape ’cause they are girls in a male dominated society. The issues of sex, rape, and purity, though, were of great importance in earlier societies, so I also dislike it when authors glaze over them or pretend "oh, let’s have a medieval society, except everybody is openly promiscuous and the guy totally won’t care if he doesn’t know if he’s the father of the kid." Those kind of social changes take a lot more background history modification. But I’m digressing, and my grand debate about women’s roles in older societies can be left for a different day.
My least favorite thing about the book? The ending. Darn those open endings that need a sequel! It’s always been a pet peeve of mine when I get towards the end of the book and start realizing "wait a sec…. the author wants me to hang around for a sequel before she wraps things up, doesn’t she???" (Un?)fortunately, this was an excellent book and I will be eagerly awaiting the sequel to see how things turn out, especially with the unspoken promise of getting to see some other countries in this world. I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that the author told me on Goodreads that the book would have ended there even if there hadn’t been a sequel coming, but I probably would have felt a tad let down. I like my fiction to have what I consider happy endings. Life has enough ambiguity for me.
This book enticed me by the cover. I love the intricate illustrations along the edge and the use of gold to attract my eye. Unfortunately, the cover lThis book enticed me by the cover. I love the intricate illustrations along the edge and the use of gold to attract my eye. Unfortunately, the cover let me down and the book was not nearly so complex and enticing.
Hoffman paints a beautiful picture and stunning portrait of medieval Italy. For the history and setting, I would recommend the book. The plot however, fell short of what I was expecting. The book is sold as a murder mystery, yet I always felt the mystery took a backseat to the setting and the final ending did not feel very well set-up. Hoffman took great efforts to make sure that no one seemed an obvious villain, yet that simply made me not believe that the final killer could have really done it. The motive was also relatively weak....more
For good and bad, this book reminded me a lot of the movie Anastasia. Little details were different, and the magic was removed, but iReview updated -
For good and bad, this book reminded me a lot of the movie Anastasia. Little details were different, and the magic was removed, but it was still extremely similar and followed the same basic plot. But, I loved that movie. It’s probably still one of my all time favorites, and this book appealed to me for the same reasons I loved the movie. So, I still enjoyed the book a lot despite strong similarities (I wouldn’t call it a knock-off/rip-off, but I would understand if someone else said that).
The historic details were much better though, and Weyn painted the time period well. I enjoy Weyn’s writing style and her use of history, but I wish that she’d been able to find a way to give the tale a new twist, instead of just kind of expanding on the movie. I also enjoyed Sergei (not-Dimitri)’s partner, who I felt was much better developed than his counterpart in the movie (not that I didn’t love Vladimir).
For those who enjoy the Once Upon a Time series, especially Weyn’s books in it (which are typically my favorite), I recommend reading the book, but just accept up front that it’s a lot like the movie–it’ll be much easier to read that way.
The book was also awfully predictable, more so than the typical book in this series. I think it was the title, because the title gives away the "mystery" pretty early in the book. As soon as she starts dreaming about a diamond, you know it’s pretty essential to the plot, even more so than just that a reader knows to pay attention to a character’s dream.
From railroads and ley lines, to a mute girl and a peculiarly enchanted dog, and topped off with spell-casting children and unexpected visitors, cousiFrom railroads and ley lines, to a mute girl and a peculiarly enchanted dog, and topped off with spell-casting children and unexpected visitors, cousins Cecy and Kate, along with their husbands, James and Thomas, certainly have their hands full. Letters chronicle their investigations as Cecy and James investigate a missing magician, while Kate and Thomas stay at their home to watch over both families’ broods of children.
Continuing the adventures of Cecy and Kate (whose adventures can be found in Sorcery and Cecelia, and The Grand Tour) this book makes a charming sequel. When I first heard there was a new book, I was a bit worried as The Grand Tour didn’t feel like it needed a continuation to me, and indeed, it didn’t. A good sequel adds on to the original story, drawing on earlier events, but still creating a complete adventure. Unlike some books which tend to be injured by more tales (my eyes are immediately drawn to all the Princess Diaries books past number three that are sitting on my shelf), this only adds to the already complex and fascinating world and characters that Wrede and Stevermer have created.
In all fairness, I must warn that this book should not be read before reading Sorcery and Cecelia and The Grand Tour . While this book could probably be muddled through without reading the prior books, the details and returning characters will be missed if one does not have the correct context. As a result, I reread The Grand Tour before reading this one, and I will refer to that book in relation to this one. Also, in rereading I noticed something I would have passed over before, but at the end of The Grand Tour , they are discussing what they will be like in ten years. Which, coincidently, is when The Mislaid Magician takes place.
Back to the letter format of the first book, Wrede and Stevermer have crafted another excellent story. Much like the first book, this one has two seemingly unrelated sets of events that weave together through magical mayhem and odd discoveries. This time though, James and Thomas are also exchanging letters. Many of the characters introduced in the first two books find their ways back in the current events. The Grand Tour had taken a different story style, as the two couples were traveling together and had no need of letters to each other. Instead, the story was told through Kate’s journal and Cecy’s official recounting for their British contacts. Personally, I think I liked the more intimate style of Kate’s journal in the last book, but the letter game is also a great deal of fun, since as a writer I can see where the two authors picked up and dropped off hints to each other. Writing a book to begin with is a large maze of details and subplots, and working with another writer’s imagination has to be difficult, but also a great deal of fun.
Since I mentioned the cover of the first book, I do think that the cover to both the second and this third book are much better. While they are nearly the same, the change is that the girls are drawn as more of a photo image than the stylized art of the first cover. Now if only they would release the first book with some new art.
Another interesting thing I noticed about this book is the fact that it does something not very common in the genre. The characters are far older than young adults–Kate and Cecy are in fact twenty-eight in this book. Off the top of my head, I can think of no other young adult books with central characters of that age. Usually the convention is to have the narrator characters be about the same age as the intended reader. This really was only able to be pulled off though by the fact that it is a sequel book to two other books when the characters are actually in their teens.
Two romances, two mysteries, and two captivating heroines all in one book. Written as a letter game between Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer,Two romances, two mysteries, and two captivating heroines all in one book. Written as a letter game between Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, these two excellent young adult fantasy writers created a captivating Regency England where magic is a part of life and a misunderstood science.
Kate Talgarth and Cecelia Rushton are two Young Ladies of Quality who are cousins and were inseparable until this London Season. Split apart by their aunts, who fear for the safety of London if the two girls were unleashed on society at the same time, Kate goes off to London with her sister, while Cecy is left in the Country. The two correspond via letters as their stories unfold. In Town, Kate is nearly poisoned by a mysterious woman, while back in the Country, Cecy finds a charm bag under her brother’s bed and a new young lady becomes suspiciously popular in local society. When it seems like the new girl’s feared step-mother and Kate’s poisoner are the same woman, the cousins begin to piece together their oddly connected mysteries. Between London and the Country, the odd coincidences build up as the two girls are drawn into a deadly power play.
Cute, quick, and clever, the reader will enjoy this book until the last word. The use of language and description draws us into the time period. My only concern with the book is that the characters tend to blend together.
I must say, I don’t really like the cover. Or, more specifically, I don’t like the art of Kate and Cecy on the cover. The faces look odd, with a very nineties American comic art styling that seems out of place. Otherwise, the use of black and white, along with the blue chocolate pot, entices the reader. Another thing I do like about the cover is the fact that the spine looks like a fantasy book, incorporating gold and black, along with the chocolate pot. To me, that’s an important element, because at large book stores the most you get to see on the shelf is the spine. Unless the spine makes me want to pull the book out and take a look, I might accidentally walk by a really great book with an ordinary title.
Kim has played the part of a thieving boy for most of her life, hiding her gender being the safer alternative to revealing herself as a girl in the daKim has played the part of a thieving boy for most of her life, hiding her gender being the safer alternative to revealing herself as a girl in the dark underbelly of Regency London. But she knows this career path will soon come to an end, as at seventeen she is quickly outgrowing her disguise. When a job leads her into Mairelon the magician’s wagon, she finds real magic and an opportunity to become someone new.
Following Mairelon as he flees from the city, she quickly finds herself lost in a plot of stolen magic artifacts and aristocratic intrigues. Soon she’ll have to give up the freedom of being a boy forever and try to figure out who she really is, so that she can become Mairelon’s student and enter London Society as a real magician. But being a girl brings new problems, marriage proposals, and a definite notion that nothing fun also falls under the heading of being Proper.
I’m reviewing these two books together, because odds are the easiest copy of the books to find is the combined version. Really, I think they work much better together, as the first ends with an incomplete feeling (all right, fine, that’s code for no real romance). In addition, I liked the second book, Magician’s Ward, much better, but I think you need to start with the first book, Mairelon the Magician.
In essence, reading these books is pretty much just like reading Sorcery and Cecelia, except with different characters and plot. The feeling and world are the same, and while I can’t find anything that says the books all take place in the same world, they easily could. In fact, how magic is treated in the worlds, history, etc., all seems to be pretty much the same, except in Sorcery and Cecelia magicians create focuses, which is at least never mentioned in the Mairelon books. What all this means is if you haven’t read these yet and love Sorcery and Cecelia, these might need to be next on your to-be-read list.