Tag Archives: Magic

Book of the Day, Week 1

Everyday on Facebook we’ll be posting a short description to novels that aren’t very well known. Be sure you check them out daily on our Facebook page, or get the compiled list every Saturday on here.

Jan. 5th, 2013

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A Matter of Magic, by Patricia C. Wrede – ‘Mairelon the Magician’ and ‘The Magician’s Ward’ together in one volume. Kim is a young street urchin who finds her life turned upside-down when she tries to rob a magician’s cart. Very nice dialogue and engaging characters.

Jan. 4th, 2013

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Kingfisher Days by Susan Coyne. This is an interesting little book — a memoir, and a biography; with a magical and imaginative tale. When young Susan Coyne discovers an old overgrown fireplace, she begins her correspondence with a precocious young fairy princess, Nootsie Tah through letters left on the hearth. I first read it 11-12 years ago, and it’s a light read showing the simple pleasures and cherished memories that last a lifetime, with a child’s imagination and innocence.

Jan. 3rd, 2013

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Avalon: Web of Magic series, by Rachel Roberts. Three unsuspecting girls find they have a surprising connection to a magical land and must work to help save it, forming friendships along the way. A nice light read with some cute pictures interspersed throughout the text.

Jan. 2nd, 2013

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Book of the Day: A Whiff of Death by Isaac Asimov. After the death of Ralph Neufeld — a graduate student, Professor Brade must determine if Neufeld’s death was accidental, or if there’s a murderer afoot. Asimov’s A Whiff of Death is a fun read, that’s quite different from his well known Science Fiction stories.

Jan. 1st, 2013

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The Shadow of Malabron, by Thomas Wharton: When Will goes through a portal into the Land of Stories, he finds himself pursued by Malabron, a sorcerer who took over the land decades ago. Now, he needs to get out and back to his family before getting caught. A fun and gripping read.


Highly Anticipated Fantasy Novels of 2013

Last year I compiled a list of highly anticipated science fiction and fantasy novels that were to be released this year. And, with a new year only a couple of months away, the holiday season approaching and many great books coming out in 2013 it seemed only fitting to create a new list.

There aren’t really any Science fiction novels on here, as I’ve had more of a focus on Fantasy this past year and haven’t had a chance to read any of the latest novels in the genre. I’m definitely missing some books, and there are some books on here that you might disagree with. Feel free to let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

1) A Memory of Light – Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

– The Eye of the World (book 1 of the Wheel of Time) was published back in 1990. 23 years later, the series is finally coming to a close. With the Last Battle between good and evil approaching; and  the end of an age, Rand, Mat, Perrin and the rest of the world must unite under a common goal and put their own wars and differences aside to fight the Dark One and the Forsaken, along with their hoards of evil creatures.

Release Date: I had this on my 2012 list as well; but with the date changed, A Memory of Light, the epic conclusion to the Wheel of Time series will be release January 8th 2013. 

  • Read “Eastward the Wind Blew” (Chapter 1) here
  • Listen to “The Choice of an Ajah” (Chapter 2) here

2) The Daylight War – Peter V. Brett

Humanity is fighting back. Although the night still belongs to the demons that arise as the sun sets, new wards and weapons are giving those willing to fight in the darkness a chance to retaliate against their core-spawned enemies.

But, as humanity is about to learn, not all monsters are confined to the dark.

Civil war ravages the north and south, battles fought between those who should be working together. It is up to Arlen – the Painted Man – and Jardir – the self-proclaimed Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer – to put aside their differences and bring their people to terms if they are to have any chance of saving their civilisation from demon-rule.

The Daylight War is another one that was on my list for 2012, but with the date finally announced, I’m happy to say that the third book in the Demon Cycle will be out next year!.

My review for the first book, The Warded Man can be found here.

Release Date: February 12th 2013 – My review for The Daylight War will be posted around mid-January.

3) Bloodfire Quest – Terry Brooks

Long ago, many dangerous creatures were locked behind a magical barrier, bringing peace and prosperity to the land. But now those barriers are eroding, and generations of embittered prisoners are about to escape. War seems inevitable… unless a few brave souls can stem the tide.

While some venture into the forbidden lands, others must undertake a perilous quest – a quest whose success will mean the death of a young girl who has barely even begun to live, but whose failure will have unimaginable consequences.” – source.

Book Two of the Dark Legacy, Bloodfire Quest continues the tale of The Wards of the Faerie in Brook’s world of Shannara
Release Date: March 7th 2013. – My review for The Bloodfire Quest will be posted mid-late February. 

The third, and final book in the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy will be out shortly afterwards on July 16th 2013.

4) The Gate Thief – Orson Scott Card

“Danny North is still in high school, yet he holds in his heart and mind all the stolen outselves of thirteen centuries of gatemages. The Families still want to kill him if they can’t control him…and they can’t control him. He is far too powerful.

And on Westil, Wad is now nearly powerless—he lost everything to Danny in their struggle. Even if he can survive the revenge of his enemies, he still must somehow make peace with the Gatemage Daniel North.

For when Danny took that power from Loki, he also took the responsibility for the Great Gates. And when he comes face-to-face with the mages who call themselves Bel and Ishtoreth, he will come to understand just why Loki closed the gates all those centuries ago. –source

The Gate Thief is the second book in the Mither Mages series, picking up from The Lost Gate it continues the tale of the mages of Westil whom have been exiled to Earth.

Release Date: March 19th 2013

5) A Tale of Tales – David Farland
“The great war with the Wyrmling Hordes is over, and mankind has lost. Lord Despair has gathered an army of fell creatures, planning to unleash them like a wildfire across the stars.
Those who oppose him know that the battle is all but lost. Though they stand against the darkness, they cannot hope to win with arms. Indeed, they stand against him armed with little more than principles.
Fallion and Tuul Ra, with only a handful of allies, must hope that with resolve and cunning alone they can win the day — before darkness closes upon them forever.” – source
I haven’t had a chance to read The Runelords series, however — readers of Farland’s Runelords will want to read the ninth, (and final) instalment to the epic series.
Release Date: April 1st 2013
6) River of Stars – Guy Gavriel Kay
River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay is set in the same alternate historical China as his novel Under Heaven, but centuries later. Following the tales of Lin Shan, the daughter of a scholar, whose intelligence capitvates the emperor whilst alienating her from women of the court, and Ren Daiyan after he takes the lives of seven men and joins the outlaws in the forests of Kitai and emerges years later.
Release Date: April 2nd 2013
7) Blood of Dragons – Robin Hobb


Blood of Dragons
 is the fourth and final novel in the Rain Wilds Chronicles. No description of the book has been released yet, but I plan to have a review for the first book in the series — Dragon Keeper up later next week. {Will update when a description is available/review has been posted.}

Release Date: April 9th 2013

8) The Silver Dream – Neil Gaimen and Michael Reaves

“Sixteen-year-old Joey Harker has just saved the Altiverse — the dimension that contains all the myriad Earths — from complete destruction. After mastering the ability to walk between dimensions, Joey and his fellow InterWorld Freedom Fighters are on a mission to maintain peace between the rival powers of magic and science who seek to control all worlds.

When a stranger named Acacia somehow follows Joey back to InterWorld’s Base, things get complicated. No one knows who she is or where she’s from — or how she knows so much about InterWorld. Dangerous times lie ahead, and Joey has no one to rely on but himself and his wits — and, just maybe, the mysterious Acacia Jones.” – source

This book is partly on this list just because I’m a fan of anything Gaimen, however I have heard lots of praise for the first book, InterWorld and I am sure that The Silver Dream will be an excellent follow-up novel.

Release Date: April 23rd 2013

9) The Rithmatist – Brandon Sanderson



The Rithmatist
 is an epic fantasy set in an alternate version of out own world. The Americas are under treat by creatures known as Wild Chalkings (two-dimensional drawings infused with life). Following the tale of Joel, a boy wanting nothing more than to be one of the Rithmatist and his adventures as he follows a trail of discovery which could change their world forever.

This book is primarily on here because I’m a big fan of Sanderson’s writing (if you hadn’t noticed by the number of his books appearing on this list, and by how many I’ve reviewed..) but aside from his Alcatraz series which I’ve yet to read, Sanderson has proven himself to be a great writer of epic fantasy, and I’m sure The Rithmatist will not be an exception to that.

Release Date: May 14th 2013

10) The Ocean at the end of the Lane — Neil Gaiman

I’ve yet to read anything by Gaiman that I haven’t absolutely love, and this one sounds as if it’ll be no exception to that.

It began for our narrator forty years ago, when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed.

His only defense are three women on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

To quote Neil himself, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a novel of childhood and memory. It’s a story of magic, about the power of stories and how we face the darkness inside each of us. It’s about fear, and love, and death, and families. But, fundamentally, I hope, at its heart, it’s a novel about survival.” – source

Release Date: June 18th 2013

11) Emperor of Thorns — Mark Lawrence

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To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.

The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those who see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.

This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Don’t think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.

Follow me, and I will break your heart.

I only just picked up Prince of Thorns recently, but so far I’m loving it. While I’ve heard mixed reviews about the series, I have to say I’m enjoying it so far. I’m sure the sequel, King of Thorns, and Emperor of Thorns are going to be equally enjoyable, if not better.

Release Date: August 1st 2013

12) Republic of Thieves – Scott Lynch

“After their adventures on the high seas, Locke and Jean are brought back to earth with a thump. Jean is mourning the loss of his lover and Locke must live with the fallout of crossing the all-powerful magical assassins the Bonds Magi. It is a fall-out that will pit both men against Locke’s own long lost love. Sabetha is Locke’s childhood sweetheart, the love of Locke’s life and now it is time for them to meet again. Employed on different sides of a vicious dispute between factions of the Bonds Sabetha has just one goal – to destroy Locke for ever.” – source

I haven’t actually read The Gentleman Bastard Sequence yet, however, I have heard great things about it, and have heard a lot of praise for Scott Lynch. With the release date being repeatedly pushed back, fans of the series have had to be patient and wait for the next instalment in the series — hopefully though, this time the release date will hold true.

Release Date: I’ve found conflicting data.. My guess is either September 3rd, 2013 or May 6, 2014. I’ve been told that there’s no official release date yet.

10) Stormlight Archive Book 2 – Brandon Sanderson

Continuing in Sanderson’s epic world he created in The Way of Kings (My review for tWoK can be found here). Not much information has been released about what the unnamed sequel will be about, but with the the intriguing characters, and expansive system he set up in the first book in the Stormlight Archive, I’m sure it’ll be great.

Release Date: December 2013

11) The Blood Mirror – Brent Weeks

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks is the concluding novel in the Lightbringer Trilogy. Wrapping up the tales of Kip, Gavin, Karris and the rest of the Chromeria. While no official description/cover of The Blood Mirror has been released yet, I am sure it will be a great conclusion to the series, and I’m highly looking forward to reading it.

Read my review of The Black Prism (Book 1) here
Read my review of The Blinding Knife (Book 2here

Release Date: Sometime in 2013, potentially.

Possibly being released:

Kingkiller Chronicles Book 3 – Patrick Rothfuss

The story of Kvothe; a young man who has killed kings, spoken to gods and rescued princess. A man who has known the name of the wind, trained with the legendary Adem and has sought out the secrets of the Chandrian.

Readers have followed him on since his days travelled as the Edema Ruh, through University, love and pain, and as he has slowly turned into a figure of legend. In this third book, we see the conclusion to Kvothe’s tale.

Update: This won’t be getting released in 2013. No release date is set yet, but 2013 highly unlikely.


You tell me: What books have I missed from this list? What are you looking forward to reading in 2013?

Keep checking back! I’ll be updating this list frequently over the next couple months as more information on upcoming books is released.


An Oath of the Blood by Valerie Zambito : Review

“One will be betrayed, one will be lost, one will be gravely injured and one will die.”

Following the destruction of the magical Kingdom of Pyraan, four powerful shifters and a Draca Cat who have lost everything must travel to the lands from which they were once banished with news of an oncoming war against an old enemy and an army which has been in the makings for over three hundred years.

In a race against time, Beck, Kiernan, Rogan, Airron and Bajan must battle against darkness and the stigma of their powers to save a people they hardly know but are forever sworn to protect.

Valerie Zambito’s An Oath of the Blood is an engaging and imaginative tale. With interesting and dynamic characters exploring magic, prophesy, friendship, love, betrayal and war An Oath of the Blood is a compelling fast-paced tale.

An Oath of the Old Blood is the first book in the Island Shifters series, and the novel goes to set the stage for future books, showing us mythologies, powers,lands and people which we only get to see a glimpse of, but all of which have stories which could be told and expanded upon.

I found this to be a light and enjoyable read. There were parts — the ending in particular which seemed overly rushed but for the majority of the story there was a good balance between getting a feel of what was happening, and having things happen at quick pace which gave it an action-packed feel and will keep readers eagerly flipping the page to find out what happens next.

While I haven’t read it, the second book in the Island Shifters series was released earlier this year. I recommend getting An Oath of the Mage to read once you’ve finished this one.
Thank you Valerie for giving your book in exchange for an honest review.


Review: The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, by Galen Beckett

Of the three Lockwell sisters – romantic Lily, prophetic Rose, and studious, book-loving Ivy – it’s Ivy, the eldest, who’s held the family together after their father’s silent retreat to the library upstairs. Everyone blames Mr. Lockwell’s malady on his magickal studies, but Ivy still believes – both in magick and in its power to bring her father back. 

Yet it is not until Ivy takes a job with the reclusive Mr. Quent that she discovers the fate she shares with a secret society of highwaymen, revolutionaries, illusionists, and spies who populate the island nation of Altania. It’s a fate that will determine whether Altania faces a new dawn – or an everlasting night. 

That’s the summary for The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, a fantasy novel taking place in England’s fantasy counterpart, which, overall, wasn’t as good as I expected. We’ll gloss over the fact that Beckett is one of those people who insists on misspelling “magic” as “magick” for the same silly reasons that cause people to spell “vampire” as “vampyre” and look at the story itself.

The first adjective that springs to mind about the story is “slow”. In a 498-page novel, the plot – that is, when Ivy meets Mr. Quent – doesn’t start until page 227. All the plot-relevant parts before that point could be condensed to about forty pages. Much of the first two hundred pages contribute nothing to the plot and, quite frankly, are a bore to read – during a thirty page section at the beginning of the story, Ivy gets sick in a way that only delays the plot, is never explained beyond her being “not well”, ends without Ivy learning or doing anything that would have a bearing later in the story, and which a reader could skip entirely without realising they’d missed part of the story. Most of the first half of the book feels like padding, and the side characters get involved in the plot over a hundred pages before the main character.

As for the writing, it could do with being less verbose in parts. It’s a pet-peeve of mine that authors feel the need to avoid two-and-three syllable words in their stories – especially in this book, where Beckett tries his hand at a few jokes or witty turns of phrase that fall quite flat because of the language he uses. I know the book is supposed to take place in an earlier age, but really – we’ll forgive you if you write normally!

Most of the book was written in the third person. Unfortunately, there’s a one hundred and forty page section in the middle written in the first person. Beckett, like so many authors, isn’t very experienced with the first person, and this section is particularly poorly-written for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, there’s no real need for the section to be written in the first person. It really just follows Ivy going to meet Mr. Quent and then marrying him, and finding out a couple of plot-related points (really, in this whole section, there aren’t many). Secondly, Beckett does something that’s almost impossible to do well – he gives a reason for that section being written in the first person: that Ivy is writing a theoretical letter to her father (knowing he’ll probably never read it, but doing so anyway). This is one of the flimsiest excuses I’ve ever read for that sort of thing (for the record, the only worse one was found in Davies’ Fifth Business). It also brings up a few questions – namely, why Ivy feels the need to write down Mr. Quent’s appearance, when she already knows it and it’s been established Mr. Quent was a friend of her father’s; why she feels the need to go through every boring detail of her day; and why she insists on writing out things in the form of dialogue and actions, instead of the far more logical “He told me this, this, and that…”

Several times in the one hundred and forty pages, Ivy says, “Oh, how I miss my sisters, and you, Father!” – and in almost exactly the same words every time, too. Yes, she misses her family, and yes, that’s understandable, but we definitely had the message the third time. Ivy also doesn’t stick to her own resolve to conserve detail – she says “Of my journey I need say only a few things. It was long, for one, and consisted of a monotony of creaks and rattles and jolts broken only by those brief respites as the mail was delivered according to its schedule at each stop, keeping always to its timetables whether it was light out or dark.” She then goes on for the next two pages talking about the journey, of which only one collective paragraph really matters, and it doesn’t even need to be there.

There are also one or two contradictions in places. During the afore-mentioned first person section in the middle of the book, Ivy describes a time when she was in danger in detail. She later says she only remembers it through a fog. Finally, she says that she did remember it fully. Now, Ivy doesn’t write down things the night they happen, but Ivy wrote the details of her dangerous escapade a while later – after she said she couldn’t remember it but before she admits to remembering it fully. This is a rather amateur mistake made by people who aren’t very good at the first person – having your character know or remember things they couldn’t have known or later forgot. This is why it would have been better to write it the same way as the rest of the book – you can actually do that in the third person.

We can almost forgive Beckett for that, because he’s clearly not very practised in the first person. Another contradiction can’t be excused so easily, though. Ivy has a brief almost-romance with a man called Mr. Rafferdy early in the story, but doesn’t believe it’ll come to anything because of their different social classes. On page 190, Ivy briefly believes Mr. Rafferdy would propose to her, and “now that a joy she had previously forbidden from her mind and heart was at last allowed to enter, it could only expand rapidly and quickly fill her.” Basically, she feels elated. Naturally the marriage doesn’t go through – the book isn’t called The Magicians and Mrs. Rafferdy. On page 391, though, Ivy says she never admitted to herself that she hoped Mr. Rafferdy would marry her. Well, I’m not sure what Beckett calls her thoughts on page 190, but that sounds like an admission of love to me, and that wasn’t the only one she made.

This brings us to the subject of romance in the book. When it comes down to it, Ivy’s marriage to Mr. Quent makes absolutely no sense. What do they have in common? Nothing at all. How do they feel towards each other for most of the time before their marriage? Ivy, at least, hates Mr. Quent. Oh, she starts to enjoy his company later on, but there’s nothing there that would act as the foundation for a romance. Really, this marriage shouldn’t have happened either – Mr. Quent and Mr. Rafferdy are both nobles and Ivy isn’t, but it’s only Mr. Rafferdy who refuses to marry her for that reason. If she was going to get married to anyone, Mr. Rafferdy would be the better choice – they actually had a bit of chemistry together. Her marriage to Mr. Quent comes off more as a way of getting the plot going, and the way it comes about is drawn-out, awkward, and relies on Mr. Quent being a complete, self-absorbed idiot. (That’s not me being unduly harsh, he says so himself twice.)

A review on the back of the book proclaims The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is a mix of gothic romantic undertones inside a fantasy and mystery. How the reviewer came to this conclusion is beyond me. Beckett writes the romances accurately for the time period the book takes place in, meaning the realisation of love is enough to propose marriage and, as mentioned, relationships are dictated by class, and this, combined with the fact that Beckett covers little of the relationships as they develop, leads to romantic subplots which are anything but gothic and are really quite predictable. As for the mystery aspect, I’m an avid reader of mystery books, and the mysteries Beckett has written into his story are fairly standard for the fantasy genre. The mysteries could have been expanded upon if things brought up earlier in the book were weaved into them, but unfortunately, they weren’t.

Many things come up in the book that seem…almost like they were dropped midway through to make way for Ivy’s storyline. Remember the illusionists Ivy’s supposed to be connected to? They relate to a side-character, but as far as her story is concerned, they might as well not exist. As for rebels that come up in the summary? They play a fairly big role early on, but by the time Ivy’s storyline comes about they’ve been relegated to a side role – though they come into her storyline in a way that’s a bit forced and never fully explained. They then get dropped entirely and a new set of villains come up – on page 424. Naturally the climax falls a bit flat – it only had fifty pages to develop. There’s no real fear of what will happen if Ivy fails to save the world, because it’s never very well explained what will happen if she doesn’t. The ending, overall, isn’t very suspenseful and their victory never seemingly in doubt.

Finally, we come to Ivy herself. As a protagonist, she leaves much to be desired. Despite being a “strong”, “independent” woman, Ivy faints twice for absolutely no reason, gets deathly ill for, again, no reason, and contributes little to her own storyline compared to side characters. It’s said a few times that she’s “quite intelligent”, and only the villains or her enemies every say differently, but I’m afraid her enemies have it right – for someone so smart, Ivy is surprisingly slow on the uptake and asks a lot of stupid questions, and really doesn’t come off as especially clever anywhere. I got rather tired of how she met everyone – even her own family – with mixed feelings, and spends all her time in a funk missing people. She’s established as having a lot of power and is said to be strong and independent, but spends most of her time playing the distressed damsel. The two male side characters were more interesting than she was, quite frankly.

As for suspense, there’s almost none in the book. The dramatic parts aren’t overly dramatic or suspenseful. There are several twists that could have been interesting if they had been written properly, but the astute reader can figure out almost every major revelation several paragraphs – and in some cases several pages – before they happen. As a result, these revelations fall a bit flat when they come up, and the belabouring of the point before that leaves you exasperated as you wait for the characters to come to the same realisation you already have.

And yet…I kind of liked the book. Well, it wasn’t bad. It needs work, yes, but it’s good enough for a light read. It’s fairly ordinary, though – nothing really distinguishes this book from the hundreds of other fantasies in the store, and nothing really makes it stand out. At some point, I’ll pick up the sequel to see how it relates to this book; maybe the series will get better as it goes on.

Overall rating: 4/5


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