I received a copy of this book at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: An orphan who’s parents died in a magical calamity goes to a magic school, quickly makes enemies with an arrogant blonde and discovers a number of secrets have between withheld for many years. Actually, don’t stop me, keep reading – because as familiar as that may sound, it’s where any similarity between this story of new students attending a magic school and the rather well known other such story ends.
In “Trials of Magic” we meet two orphaned sisters who are trying to get into the Hundred Halls, the only magic university in the world. Finally living on their own after years bouncing through foster homes, they’re short on money – and one sister is short a sponsor for the Hall she wants enter – and have to pass the entrance exams to get in. But these girls are determined to get in, even if it might mean taking dangerous risks to do so.
This is a really great book and a good start for a series. The characters are complex and while the girls do tend to run headlong into dangerous situations, they are capable of learning from their mistakes and show a lot of growth through the course of the story. The writing is clear and the author does a good job of making it easy to keep track of who’s who so that I didn’t have to keep looking back at what I’d already read to figure it out (something I run into far too often!) It’s definitely a series I plan to continue reading.
And white supremacists who claim to be Heathens in order to justify their hateful beliefs are wrong.
Vikings Were Not White Supremacists
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. The word “Viking” entered the Modern English language in 1807, at a time of growing nationalism and empire building. In the decades that followed, enduring stereotypes about Vikings developed, such as wearing horned helmets and belonging to a society where only men wielded high… Read more →
It took more than 100 years of searching but archaeologists have finally found a lost temple to the ancient Greek goddess Artemis. The Greek Ministry of Culture reported that a team has found the remains of the sanctuary near Amarynthos, a coastal town a couple of dozen miles northeast of Athens on the large Greek island… Read more →
The threat of white nationalist violence in the U.S. is at least as big a threat as that posed by terror groups such as ISIS, the FBI revealed Wednesday. Director Chris Wray told the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that there are currently 1,000 open investigations into domestic terror groups and another 1,000 probes… Read more →
As a Thorian it’s only natural that I love and am fascinated by thunderstorms. Popular Science magazine recently reported on how humanity is helping create more thunderstorms which – as much as I may love them – isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Our pollution might actually be causing thunderstorms
Ships could seed clouds for lightning. Lightning strikes the water as San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) navigates between storms. The Essex Amphibious Ready Group is currently operating in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Liam Kennedy/Released Lightning tends to trigger in us… Read more →
You know, normally I’d think this was just California being its normal, goofy self, but given the current tensions between us and the North Koreans and Trump’s inability to think before he speaks (or tweets) and lack of comprehension that his words can have serious consequences, I’m thinking they may just have the right idea.
California is prepping for the possibility of a nuclear attack, citing tensions with North Korea and a propaganda video by the country that showed the city of San Francisco in ruins. A 16-page memo issued by the Los Angeles-area Joint Regional Intelligence Center urges officials in the state to “familiarize themselves with their agency’s radiological and… Read more →
The new Coven of Fire has barely gotten its feet wet when various presiding bodies in the magical world decide they want to have some chats and a new nemesis arrives on the scene – not to mention, Alix is concerned there’s something a bit wonky with her magic.
While the stakes were pretty high in the first book, Rise, Cross ratchets up the tension even more, and the Coven finds itself looking at the possibility of having to work with some rather unsavory characters to get everything sorted out.
The story itself is engaging and I enjoyed learning more about the version of our world this series is set in but, for me, the romance aspect tends to fall a bit flat. Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of stories where would-be lovers are kept apart by seemingly arbitrary means, such as a rule that people from groups “A” and “B” aren’t allowed to fall in love, without much explanation as to why. Hopefully there will be more of an explanation down the road. Other than that, though, these first two books have been nice, quick, fun reads, and I want to see what happens next.
In this second outing with Mel Morgan we’re treated to a nice mystery as a wealthy man who recently lost his wife hires Mel to find his missing daughter. There are a number of nice twists and turns without the mystery ever becoming too overwrought or confusing and in the end the pieces fit together well.
But that mystery is hardly the only thing going on in this book. We check in on Saleem’s search for his mother, get more info on Mel’s hope of one day finding her sister, a new conundrum for Mel to figure out and some solid character development. Oh, and we also get a substantial visit from Kai Odell the panther shifter from Ayer’s other series set in her Dark World universe. Don’t worry, though, she provides enough information about what’s happening in Kai’s story to make sense of what’s going on even if you aren’t reading that series as well – without overloading those who are with info they already know.
If, however, you are reading both the Soul Tracker and Skinwalker series, be sure to read the first three books in Skinwalkers (Skin Deep, Lost Soul, and Last Chance) *before* reading this book as it contains several spoilers for Last Chance.
As I’ve come to expect, Ayer keeps the story moving along at a steady pace and I really appreciate her ability to fill her stories with multiple subplots and interesting characters while still making it easy to follow the action and not just remember who’s who but also be able to find points of connection with them.
On to the next one!
The London Coven is made up of the three most powerful witches in the city who have been charged with policing the denizens of the Uncanny Kingdom – the hidden magical world in this series’ universe – and to help keep most humans unaware of its existence. They’ve been doing their job for a few hundred years, but as the story opens, Stella Familiar, a humanoid woman the Coven had created to assist them in their work, comes home to find them dead. Stella quickly begins trying to find out what killed her witches and avenge their deaths.
Aside from a short prequel story I haven’t yet read, “Familiar Magic” is the first book in publisher Genre Reader’s London Coven series, one of at least three series they have that are set in their multi-author Uncanny Kingdom universe. It’s full of action, snarky humor, interesting people and lots of magic. It’s a face-paced tale that still manages to work in some strong world-building and good character development.
Stella makes for an intriguing heroine. She was conjured up, fully grown, by her masters, and she never ages, but even though she was created for a specific purpose, she’s not just a puppet or living automaton. She has a full range of emotions, is smart and witty, has strengths and vulnerabilities and is able to determine her own path, be it what she needs to do in the moment or what plan she had for her own future.
She gets teamed up with Detective David Tyler, who until Stella entered his life knew nothing about the magical world existing along-side the human one. And while he may get flustered when confronted with yet some other new thing or experience, he has an almost unrelenting positive attitude and does his best to just roll with it. Together, Stella and David make for a formidable (and entertaining) team.
This was one of those books I had a hard time putting down once I picked it up. It’s a promising start to what I’m hoping will be a really fun series.
This is the first book in TG Ayer’s “Hand of Kali” series, this one centered around the gods and legends of Hinduism.
Even though she’s been raised by a family devoted to the Hindu gods, Maya Rao doesn’t believe they’re real. That makes it all the more shocking when she discovers that she was born to be the Hand of Kali – her warrior on Earth to battle the Rakshasa demons who can possess people in order to do their master’s bidding and sometimes kill people just for the fun of it, so some serious evil here. Maya remains skeptical about her status even after she experiences her new-found abilities, but she soon comes to accept that what’s happening is real. She also learns that while she may have a special connection to Kali, other gods and goddesses may need her help at times and will also assist and help protect her when possible.
I’ve only read the first book in this series, so this might change, but if I was the mother of a mid-teen to young adult daughter, I could see myself giving this to her and hoping she might find some inspiration in Maya. Even though she’s still young, as Maya grows in her acceptance of her new reality, she shows a certain maturity in understanding the responsibilities that come with it. Sure, she has moments of doubt or chafes at times about some of what she’s asked to do – she wouldn’t be believable otherwise – but she doesn’t allow herself to wallow in them. She also cares about others enough that she can put their needs first and is willing to take significant risks to help her friends if necessary.
The story itself is good, as are the other main characters. The plot and subplots mesh together well and each is interesting in its own right. There are a couple of times where something that happens in one part of the book seems to be contradicted later by something else but I enjoyed the rest of what was going on enough that it was easy to give it a pass. As I’ve come to expect from Ms Ayer, the side characters are well-developed and multi-dimensional. I really liked how loving and supportive Maya’s parents are, and her friends are fun and interesting in their own right.
All-in-all, this is another good tale from TG Ayer