Fanciful Reader

a book blog about romance and more. . .

Month: September, 2011

TBR Challenge 2011: Cold Magic

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott (Book 1 of the Spiritwalker Trilogy)
Orbit, Sept 9, 2010

First, here’s the blurb from the publisher:

It is the dawn of a new age… The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy.

“I was not a bard or a djeli or an historian or a scribe and I was certainly not a sage, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t curious…”

Young Cat Barahal thinks she understands the world she lives in and her place in it, but in fact she is merely poised, unaware, on the brink of shattering events. Drawn into a labyrinth of politics involving blood, betrayal and old feuds, she will be forced to make an unexpected and perilous journey in order to discover the truth, not just about her own family but about an ancient secret lying at the heart of her world.

Cat and her cousin Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the Cold Mages come for Cat. New dangers lurk around every corner and hidden threats menace her every move. If blood can’t be trusted, who can you trust?

From one of the genre’s finest writers comes a bold new epic fantasy in which science and magic are locked in a deadly struggle.

I pre-ordered Cold Magic before its release last fall and have wanted to read it for a long time. Though I’m glad I finally finished it, it really wasn’t what I expected. For one, I was expecting more steampunk elements and more romance.

I mention the romance becuase I was reading it for the TBR Challenge hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian, where participants are mainly romance bloggers. This month’s theme was “series catch-up” and Cold Magic is part one of a trilogy.

There was plenty that I liked about the book. The first-person narration is something that always helps me get hooked right away. Cat, the protagonist, and her cousin, Bee, are both complex, likable characters. They’re brave, intelligent female characters who don’t veer at all into “Mary Sue” territory. The world building is very complex. I was especially fascinated with the African and Phoenician societies that populate Europe in this alternate history.

At times the combination of all the different cultures, the political machinations, and the spirit world and magic were almost too complex for me. This is probably why I read mostly romance and not a lot of epic fantasy.

Speaking of romance, there is one very swoonworthy scene at the end, and the relationship between Cat and Andevai, the Cold Mage who is forced to marry her, is one of the things that really kept me reading. Then Cold Magic ends with a total cliffhanger, where one of the pivotal characters in the book is introduced.

For that reason, I’m glad I already have Cold Fire in hand to continue the series. I’m looking forward to reading this and ever more complex paranormal/fantasy romance series!

Teaser Tuesdays: Cold Magic

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists!

My pick for this week is Cold Magic by Kate Elliott. I’m catching up on this series so I can read Cold Fire, the next in the series which I got from Netgalley last week, and releases in the U.S. on Sept 26th. Cold Magic has been slow going so far. It’s a long, complex book, and I’m short on brainpower these days!

Here’s the excerpt from Chapter 5:

We who call ourselves Kena’ani made our fortunes and solidified our sea-trading networks because there were a few things we did particularly well with the aid of gods–back when our people believed in gods–and with the connivance of the natural world, which must be understood and manipulated so as to harness its power. Some say the Kena’ani are a godless, spiritless, magicless people who will sell our swords and souls for money and will trade anything, even our honor, as long as we make a profit by doing so. They can say what they want. We know how to keep our secrets. We know what information we are willing to share, what we’re willing to sell, and what we will never reveal.

Bee and I learned that lesson young: it’s easier to get away with things you’re not supposed to be doing if no one suspects you can even attempt them. Tell no one. Not ever.

What’s your Teaser Tuesday pick?

Mailbox Monday 9/19

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

This month Mailbox Monday is hosted at Amused by Books.

Here’s what I picked up this week.

Miss Lacey’s Last Fling (A Regency Romance) by Candice Hern
Master of Crows by Grace Draven
To Dream Again by Laura Lee Guhrke
Hannah’s Vow by Pam Crooks
Dare Me by Julie Leto
Lady Dearing’s Masquerade by Elena Greene
Baby, I’m Yours (Avon Light Contemporary Romances) by Susan Andersen
It Happened One Bite (Gentleman Vampires) by Lydia Dare
The Violets of March: A Novel by Sarah Jio
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran
Isabella by Loretta Chase
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

What about you? What was in your mailbox this week?

Mailbox Monday 9/12

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

This month Mailbox Monday is hosted at Amused by Books.

Here’s what I picked up this week.

Making of a Gentleman by Shana Galen
Shadow Kin: A Novel of the Half-Light City by M.J. Scott
The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
Bright Young Things with Bonus Material by Anna Godberson
Ice Blue (Lord and Lady Hetheridge Series) by Emma Jameson
Coronets and Steel by Sherwood Smith
Silk and Shadows: Book 1 of the Silk Trilogy by M.J. Putney
Kissing Comfort by Jo Goodman
The Secret Mistress (The Mistress) by Mary Balogh
Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Emerald Atlas (Books of Beginning) by John Stephens
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K Massie
How to Rule the World from Your Couch by Laura Day

What about you? What did you pick up this week?

August 2011 reading wrap-up

I’m finally getting back to regular blog postings as things settle down after a crazy week, with my 5 y.o.’s first week of kindergarten plus a camping trip over Labor Day weekend.

Despite being too frazzled to read much last week (although I finished three books on the camping trip!) I feel satisfied with my August reading.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Good Girls Don’t by Victoria Dahl

Bad Boys Do by Victoria Dahl

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

What about you? Were you satisfied with your reading in August?

Vanish by Sophie Jordan

Vanish (Firelight, #2)Vanish by Sophie Jordan

I had the chance to preview the new book in the Firelight series by Sophie Jordan, Vanish via Harper Teen on Netgalley. Today is the book’s offical release date, and I’m finally posting a review.

Though I’ve tried not to include spoilers for Vanish, there may be some for the first book in the series, Firelight. I don’t recommend reading Vanish unless you’ve also read Firelight, so I don’t think this will be a problem for those reading the review.

Vanish picks up immediately where Firelight ended. Cassian, fellow draki (and the mate intended for Jacinda by the pride) convices Jacinda to return to the pride in order to protect her family from the hunters, even though it means leaving her boyfriend Will, who’s happens to be from the same family of draki hunters.

Early into the story Jacinda’s twin sister, Tamra she manifests as a shader, one of the rarest type of draki. It’s still very much Jacinda’s story, though.

As the story continues, so does the love triangle–Jacinda is choosing between Will and her Cassian. I had the same problem with the romance with Cassian in this book as I did with Will in Firelight. That is, I didn’t really feel the chemistry between Cassian and Jacinda until they actually had their first kiss.

The biggest problem I have with this series is that the cliffhangers are so extreme. Vanish doesn’t really feel complete in and of itself. There’s one major issue that’s resolved in Vanish but I have a feeling it will be undone in book 3. Other than that, I really enjoyed Sophie Jordan’s writing. The love scenes in particular are very hot for a YA book, even thought the characters never go beyond 1st base. I’ll have to check out book 3 just to see what happens!