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review 2017-12-12 02:39
Penny White's back for more Fantastic adventures
The Cult of Unicorns - Chrys Cymri

Sure, all I know about the life of an Anglican priest comes from this series and Paul Cornell's Lychford novellas, (oh, and one series of Grantchester) and maybe Fantasy fiction isn't the best source, but man, being a priest in a small village/town in England seems to be lonely and horrible -- especially around Advent. Which is where we find Penny White -- running on fumes, bouncing from obligation to obligation -- with barely enough time for her grieving brother, her gryphon partner and her snail shark (never mind the duties in the parallel world of Daear) -- not to mention casually dating a police inspector and a dragon. Throw in a murder mystery and . . . wow. How does she sleep?

 

Before we get to much of that Penny and her brother, James, go to Lloegyr for the trial in the death of James' girlfriend. It is quick, decisive, decidedly alien (as it should be) and adjudicated by a panel of 3 unicorns. Apparently, Unicorns are impossibly fair, honest and just so they make the perfect judges. No one, not even the dragons would dare protest what the unicorns decide. Penny can't help but note how almost everyone she sees reacts strangely to unicorns -- she'd probably do the same, however, if she weren't so dragon-obsessed. When bodies start showing up on Earth with what seem to be unicorn-caused injuries, Penny seems to be the only one who is willing to follow the evidence. At the same time, maybe it's just me, but it didn't seem that Penny was too bothered by the murders -- and certainly didn't seem to spend too much energy investigating them. (although, that might have more to do with the obviousness of the culprits and the difficulty getting anyone else on board with it).

 

James is not handling the grieving process too well -- not that anyone does -- and I was less-than-impressed with the way Penny was dealing with him.. It really seemed out of character for her. I think it points to a slow-build of a problem for Penny and her dual callings. In the first book, we got hit over the head with the concern that she'd be too focused on the other world too much to do a decent job on Earth, and while it was only brought up once or twice here, I think it's easy to see that the danger was real. I like how it seems that Cymri is moving this problem to the back burner, just so it can keep growing as a problem while being subtle about it. Professionally/vocationally, things are not going well for Penny, and I think this will continue for awhile.

 

While writing about book 1, I was worried about an impending romantic triangle -- and I like the way that Cymri dealt with it here, much more than I assumed I would when we left it off. I'm not sure I'm ready to breathe easily about it yet, but I have hope (I also haven't read as many romantic triangles this year as I have in years past, maybe my tolerance for them will increase). Actually, I liked just about everything about the romance angle in this book. Especially Morey's.

 

The Murder plotline (and the aftermath) serves as the narrative hook for the book, but doesn't seem to occupy as much of the time as you'd think. Where The Temptation of Dragons introduced us to this reality (or dual-realities, I guess), this one explores it -- with a greater emphasis on Earth. We really spend very little time on the "other side." Which was okay, really. I imagine that won't always be the case (glancing ahead at the blurb for the next volume, it looks as if I'm right).

 

I'm not sure what else to say at this point, but I'm pretty sure I've been less thorough than I intended. I enjoyed The Temptation of Dragons and The Cult of Unicorns kept all the charm and wit about that, but grounded the characters and their actions better (or at least more firmly). And really, that's about all you can hope for from a series -- you keep everything you liked in the previous installment and build on it. Cymri nailed that, which serves to make me plan on getting to book #3 faster than I did this one.


Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for this post -- thanks so much for this book.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/12/11/the-cult-of-unicorns-by-chrys-cymri
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review 2017-05-03 02:37
A Charming Fantasy Novel
The Temptation of Dragons (Penny White) (Volume 1) - Chrys Cymri

Penny White, an Anglican priest of a small town who seems to be working on becoming a functional alcoholic, is driving home one night when she feels her car hit something. She stops to investigate and comes across a dragon who claims to be dying and requests last rites. Without thinking, she gives them, gets home without further incident and goes to sleep. By the next morning, she's convinced herself it didn't happen.

 

Until the next day, when her bishop asks her to take a role in ministering to magical creatures like dragons, unicorns, vampires, and more in a parallel reality to ours. Being a pretty big fan of SF/F, she jumps at the chance, and ends up ministering in both worlds. A gryphon named Morey is assigned to live with her and help her navigate between the two worlds (and other reasons). Actually, his name isn't Morey -- it's something long and fairly unpronounceable because it's Welsh -- in the magic reality, everyone speaks Welsh.

 

I really dug Penny -- I could understand her emotional arc and thought it was dealt with in a pretty solid way (I'm a little worried about the semi-triangle thing set up here, and hope it doesn't get too overplayed in future books). But a big part of Penny's character -- and what helps her adjust to this new life -- is her SF/F fandom. I share most of her tastes (including her love for the Seventh Doctor and Ace). Morey was another strong character, and I appreciated that there was a pretty strong theologically conservative voice sympathetically portrayed in this book -- I didn't expect to find myself agreeing with a gryphon's theology more than with a human's (a clause I never thought I'd write) -- even if there was a patronizing explanation offered by one character (and seemingly shared by others) for his stances. His emotional arc was just great.

 

The rest of the characters were almost as engaging as these -- human or not, they were people. Many of them need more time to be developed, but given the constraints of this one novel, I didn't think many of them got short-changed.

 

I thought the plot was pretty strong, and I did quite enjoy it -- particularly Penny's search for balance between her two callings, Penny and Morey's bonding, and Penny's family life. But the books isn't that much about the plot -- this is primarily about the characters and relationships throughout. This was more about setting up the series, introducing the characters, species, and worlds -- all of which Cymri did very capably. But the book's core was in the character moments, the characters themselves and this very interesting world that we're starting to learn about.

 

This is a comparison that won't mean much to most of my readers, I imagine -- but for those who get when I'm saying, you'll understand this book. This book reminded me of reading the early volumes of Christopher Stasheff's Oathbound Wizard series -- I think it's more than intelligent, articulate fantasy monsters and an Anglican/Roman Catholic approach to faith, the sacraments and the world, but that's part of it. Mostly, it's the warmth, confidence and charm in these pages that lured me in and kept me interested.

 

This is truly a lot of fun, give it a shot.


Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for this post -- thanks so much for this. Sorry it took so long.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/05/02/the-temptation-of-dragons-by-chrys-cymri
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review 2017-04-15 00:00
The Marriage of Gryphons
The Marriage of Gryphons - Chrys Cymri Penny White is at it again. Her longing for full-time vicarage in Daear makes life on Earth seem dull. Fortunately, some opportunities to spend more time over there are the perfect opportunity to continue to explore and revel in this world where fantasy creatures exist.

But her handsome dragon friend, Raven, is missing, and her associate's marriage proposal comes with a great many challenges to overcome. With so much fracturing around her, can she keep her loved ones safe? And what of her own heart?

The action in this novel is amazing. Penny goes on some rather dangerous journeys, and finds some surprises along the way. Her snail shark, Clyde, takes on a new and interesting dimension, the dragon, Raven, has to struggle through some issues presented by [b:The Cult of Unicorns|33253585|The Cult of Unicorns (Penny White #2)|Chrys Cymri|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1480961784s/33253585.jpg|53972318] (Penny White Book 2), her brother, James, won't be allowed to stay comfortable, and things between Penny and Peter are getting serious.

But the struggle is real. I found my heart diving and soaring along with Penny as she dives deeper into the world of Daear and finds herself facing some rather uncomfortable truths.

I received a free ARC copy of the book with no obligation to review. This is my honest opinion.
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text 2017-03-05 11:26
February in books
Eve of Chaos - Sylvia Day
Eve of Destruction - S.J. Day
The Cult of Unicorns - Chrys Cymri
Becoming Dragon - Eve Langlais Becoming Dragon - Eve Langlais
Sacrificed to the Dragon (Stonefire Dragons) (Volume 1) - Jessie Donovan
Tempted by a Vampire: Billionaire, Rock Stars, Vampires (Immortal Hearts of San Francisco Book 1) - Susan Griscom

I am a few days late for the end of February, however I reached and passed my goal for the month. I am proud of myself for getting in and knocking my personal goal out. A couple of these books I struggled with, as some of you may know

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review 2017-02-25 07:34
Time to go on an Adventure!
The Cult of Unicorns - Chrys Cymri

So it wasn't until after I started this book that I realised it was the second one and that I have yet to read the first. I was a little lost at first, especially knowing I was missing information but it was still a fun read. There was a little too much church going for me, but since our leading character is a Vicar I completely understood, even if some of it did bore me a little I still enjoyed the book itself and am looking forward to getting a copy of the first book to see how things got started and the next book to see what happens next.

Now roo leave you with a couple of quotes I enjoyed from my journey:

"There were all sorts of things I wished I knew about unicorns. For example, at what age did they learn to speak, how did it feel to have a horn growing from your forehead, and whether they would use their hooves against a friendly vicar approaching them across a field."

"My three favourite drugs: Ibuprofen, caffeine, and alcohol. What one doesn't cure the other one will."

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