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text 2019-06-19 13:56
Reading progress update: I've listened 560 out of 889 minutes.
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Martin Shaw

Almost to my first stop-point.  Dunno if I ever made a post about my Tolkien/Middle-earth project.  Some genius [or insane] person created a list of how to read all the [main] stories of Middle-earth chronologically.  I decided to try it in 2019.  Taking a short break from my Pride TBR to get it started.

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review 2019-06-19 05:53
From Unseen Fire by Cass Morris - My Thoughts
From Unseen Fire - Cass Morris

When I was a kid, barely even a teenager, I loved to read about ancient Greece and Rome. All those gods and goddesses, all those myths, they fascinated me.  This book was like going back in time, but to an ancient time when those myths also had magic added into the blend. 

I loved the world-building, the way the magics of the people merged quite well with what I know about the history of ancient Rome.  It all felt quite familiar, yet not.

The characters were engaging, many of them not wet behind the ears youngsters coming into their own, but established, mature folks - something I'm always on the lookout for.  The heroine, Latona, is the middle of three sisters, and has been repressing her natural magic talents as well as her smarts.  Married to what I'd term a Barney Businessman type in contemporary terms, she had been forced to serve as the now-deceased dictator of Aven's mistress.  She feels almost freed by his death and begins to experience a growing of her powers. 

The hero of the tale is Sempronius, a man who has been hiding his own powers, powers having been for the most part proscribed by the aforementioned dictator, and living in a sort of exile.  He has returned to the city and wants to dedicate his life to making Aven the greatest it can be and then he meets Latona and there's instant chemistry. 

Anyway, the politics are interesting and written in such a way that they never become boring.  There is some military action happening out in the 'provinces' where a general of the people for the barbarians has arisen.  There's that romance I mentioned and there's character growth on both sides.

I liked it.  I enjoyed my read, it was meaty and juicy, filled with all sorts of things. There wasn't a huge ending to the book though. There was definitely what could be termed an ending of this part of the tale and I was satisfied by it, instead of being frustrated with a huge cliffhanger. I'm looking forward to the next book. :)

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text 2019-06-18 21:34
Reading progress update: I've read 304 out of 640 pages.
The Aeronaut's Windlass - Jim Butcher

Rowl faces off against a stranger-cat: who can ignore the other for the longest time?

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review 2019-06-18 20:33
An Unexpected Escapade
An Unexpected Escapade - Kandi J. Wyatt
A rip in the space-time continuum has been wreaking havoc in a small town on Oregon's Coast.   Kajri, a Unicorn has found herself ripped out of her own world and into one with animals that look similar, but are lacking a horn.  When middle-schooler Daisy goes out to find her two appaloosa horses in the pasture, she is surprised to find another horse with them.  Daisy is amazed to find that the third horse has a horn and can speak to Daisy through her thoughts.  Daisy lets her friend Ana in on the secret as well.  The girls try to keep Kajri safe as they learn of a poacher that wants Kajri for her magical healing horn, but they will need help from Professor Raleigh and some friends who have been in a similar situation.  
A fun middle-grade fantasy with unicorns!  This book takes place soon after An Unexpected Adventure and it is helpful to have read that book beforehand in order to know the importance of Professor Raleigh and Will, but not necessary.   I liked Daisy's character and how her confidence and strength grew around the horses as well as Kajri. The friendship between Daisy and Ana was refreshing as well.  Even as Ana was facing family issues that Kajri could have easily solved, she knew that her friends were there to support her.  Kajri herself was amazing as well, gentle and calming even though she was in a completely different world than what she knew.  I do wish there were a few more details about where Kajri came from and her powers.  I liked that there was a little more adult involvement in this story, however I didn't get the sudden inclusion of religion.  I am glad that there is a happy ending for Kajri and I am still hoping for a similar solution for Steria from the first book!
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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review 2019-06-18 19:22
Spellbound - Allie Therin
Spellbound - Allie Therin

This is one of those books I picked up off Netgalley because it sounded like it might be my cup of tea and, for the most part, it pretty much worked for me. It's historical urban fantasy, for lack of a better descriptor, set in the Prohibition era in the US but with added magic - a number of the characters we meet during the book have various powers and this is not generally known. 


Their way of life is under threat from the import of artefacts which can be used to devastating effect by people who have these magical powers, though usually at a high cost. One of our protagonists (Rory) has such a power, in his case the ability to see the history of an object, which he uses to determine whether or not antiques are fakes and he helps his aunt run a profitable business in Hell's Kitchen. Early on, Rory crosses paths with our other protagonist (Arthur), who has no magic of his own but who hangs around with a hell of a lot of people who do - he and his friends also have a troubled history with magic and its misuse, which led to the death of people they cared about.


There's a lot to like about Spellbound, the adventure plot of which mostly hangs together well and the setting of which also promises some future issues around period-typical discrimination even if those are only alluded to in this particular book. There's enough period detail to make the setting work without falling into infodump territory or the perils of an author wanting to demonstrate that they have Done The Research. 


In terms of the romance storyline, this book was on the knife-edge for me between 'these characters are delightful' and 'these characters are annoying me now' and I'm not completely sure which side they landed in the end. For a novel-length story, there's a temptation for miscommunication to get over-used and I think this was a little too heavily done here. There's only so much mileage to get out of 'surely he can't feel about me the way I feel about him?' and this was a fraction overdone for my tastes.


There's also some messing about with names, as one of our heroes is commonly known as 'Ace' and that's used interchangeably (and not always consistent with the temperature of the relationship at the time) while it's revealed partway through that Rory is actually using an assumed name and not only does he get called by both names, there's also a nickname added in too. I initially thought that Rory's big secret, one of those 'you wouldn't like me if you knew the truth'-type secrets, was that he was trans and that then led me down the wormhole of dead-naming someone, which made the name usage really not work for me. 


Anyway, an enjoyable enough read even with the issues above and apparently the first of at least a trilogy, so I guess if I end up reading those then we'll see whether the author can push the characters firmly back into 'delightful' for me!


Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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