Melting Stones – Tamora Pierce

Welcome back everyone, we’re finally up to the final review for the Circle of Magic universe!

There’s one more book planned to make this a quartet rather than a trilogy. And I seriously hope that book is better than this one. This is the one book I actually didn’t enjoy. So much so that I’m not re-reading it.

I just can’t.

It feels so different to all the other books and I don’t like that none of the original four aren’t in it. Potentially my dislike for this book is because Evvy is still quite young and the book is aimed at that younger age group. Compared to the other four who’ve grown up therefore making the books geared that little bit closer to my age.

Maybe because Evvy is younger I no longer connect to her, whereas I’ve grown up with Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar. Either way the writing FELT different to me and in a way the overall story felt too dramatic and over the top compared to Tamora’s other works.

In terms of whether you should read this one or not, personally. I’d say skip it. From what I can tell it adds no benefit to the overall universe’s story and so won’t impact your reading of anything else.

On the flip side. This is the second last book published in this world. So it stands to reason Tamora’s writing will have changed over time. I’m sure everyone’s does.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing The Boundary Fence by Alissa Callen.

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Battle Magic – Tamora Pierce

Welcome back everyone, although this book is set before the other two in this quartet it was published after them.

And it shows.

I had to re-read this because I’ve only read it once so couldn’t remember it well enough to write this review. Since I know Will of the Empress so well (I honestly don’t know how many times I’ve read that one) some of the phrases, scenes etc were expected. Yet it didn’t feel as dramatic or intense as Briar made it out to be in Will of the Empress.

Given how much time was spent focussing on the lead up to the war, there really wasn’t enough time left to devote to proper descriptions of the war. By the time we got to the main war we were lucky to get one chapter to a battle that raged days. And then the Emperor wasn’t even there for the war to end!

Since I’d forgotten what happened I thought we were going to miss out on finding out how the war would end. Then in the space of what felt like a few pages it was all over. It was definitely an unsatisfying ending. I felt jibbed by that ended.

When the magic and development of the people was done so well throughout the book, I can’t believe how badly it was finished. At the same time, quite a few of the magical moments were so similar to ones in the Will of the Empress that I now want to re-read that again. While also hating on the fact that Tamora so easily “copied and pasted” those aspects. I think more effort could have been put in to make them more different so each book is unique.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Just Another Silly Love Song by Rich Amooi.

The Will of the Empress – Tamora Pierce

Welcome back everyone, after finishing the second quartet in the Emelen world I’m on to the final quartet. Even though there’s only 3 books published… And the 4th is an unknown as to whether it’ll ever get written and published…

I love coming back to this book. I think it’s probably my all time favourite book by Tamora Pierce. Even if the writing isn’t technically great and there’s some moments that feel clumsy and almost contradictory.

Throughout this book Tamora has woven a sense of female empowerment. From the ruler of the largest nation being a woman who doesn’t need to be married, right down to a victim of domestic violence doing what she needs to do to get out of that situation.

Every step of the way we see women showing it’s OK to be who you are and to make the most of your life without a man holding you back. Reading this for the first time when I was 16 and just starting to get a sense of my place in the world and where I wanted to go. This was amazing. It was so liberating to know that I could do anything, and be anything I wanted if I worked hard and didn’t let others hold me back.

Although it’s 14 years later, and I’m almost 30, it’s still great to be reminded of this empowerment. Especially when I’m feeling a bit down or like I’m struggling to achieve what I want. Reading this and getting that reminder that I can make it happen is such a great feeling.

Thank you for reading, tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Worth Fighting For by Lasairiona E. McMaster.

Shatterglass – Tamora Pierce

Welcome back everyone, there’s been a lot of contemporary romances lately so it’s good to get back to a fantasy briefly.

The last book in the quartet follows Tris as she makes her mark in a new city. In so many ways this city makes me feel ashamed that I’m human. In a world where slavery is almost gone, this city essentially lives with it as it’s entire eco-system.

Tris’s ability to see past this cities ambivalence and see the people, what they’re going through and how broken the structure is, is amazing. As a teenager reading this for the first time, I was inspired to do better, be better and fight for what’s right.

I can’t say I’m as good as Tris at this. But the inspiration is there, and I’m reminded of it every time I read this book.

Tris goes even further by taking in an orphan, giving a hurt man a new lease on life, fixing a man-made drought, showing people that different is ok and changing a whole cities way of life. How could I ever measure up to that given how much ill will there is in the world? How could I possibly find my way of making a difference like Tris does?

I honestly don’t know any other book that’s touched me in the same way that this book did and continues to touch me. I think this inspiration is something that every young person should read to get, remember and take with them through all their journeys throughout the rest of their lives.

It’s such an important message that everyone needs in their heart to remind them to be better.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Summer in Provence by Lucy Coleman.

Cold Fire – Tamora Pierce

Welcome back everyone, continuing on with Tamora Pierce’s book’s I’m up to Daja.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Daja because she was ostracised and banished from her culture yet rose above that to make something of herself in a way that goes against her culture’s traditions and beliefs. By staying true to herself and her magic.

What more could you ask of anyone?

The fact that Daja finds not one, but two students with vastly different personalities, skill sets and desires for their lives was great. She finds herself navigating not only the magical world in an unknown city and country, but she also needs to navigate the political and aristocratic marriage mart scenes.

Some of my favourite moments in this book involve Oakborn, the wood master mage, and Potcracker, the cook master mage. Some of Daja’s interactions with them are amusing, even after the 10th or more read of them. How often can you say that about books?

Growing up, I thought Daja was having a bit of a romance situation going on. However, looking back now I can see that it was never going to be a romance. But 16-year-old me didn’t know enough about romance to know this. And I was idealistic that maybe one of them would get lucky.

Whenever I go back to re-read this book I look forward to the balance of humour and action that is woven brilliantly throughout the book.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Game Changer by Lasairiona E. McMaster.

Street Magic – Tamora Pierce

Welcome back everyone, I’m picking up where I left off with Tamora Pierce’s books. Today we get to see how Briar goes as an adult.

Briar is probably my favourite of the four so I was always going to have a soft spot for his books, but Tamora write his books in a way that I just can’t resist. Like with his book in the first series, The Healing in the Vine from The Circle of Magic, Briar’s story revolves around those in the slums. Specifically, those in gangs.

The way Briar has really accepted his magic, and his connection to plants is amazing. Every time I read this, I have certain moments, like the jasmine vine, that I just smile at. I can’t help it! It’s so sweet and touching to see a manly man so in touch with his green thumb.

However, the growth we see in his maturity as he accepts that he needs to teach Evvy about her magic, how to control it and even how to use it for good, is amazing. He’s only just finding his own place in the world, yet he accepts (grudgingly, like any teenager) his responsibility as a qualified mage and takes Evvy under his wing.

The fact that he cares for her in more ways than his magical responsibility is amazing. He fights for her in ways I feel like he’d only fight for his sisters. As a young teenager when I first read this when I didn’t have many close friends, this was amazing, and I wished I had someone who’d fight for me like this.

The lengths he goes to protecting Evvy is amazing. He doesn’t seem to care about his own health or life so long as he can save his student and friend. The fact that they have a friendship is easy to see, even if it took a while to get there.

When I’m re-reading Tamora’s books, this is one I always look forward to reading. It gives me the warm and fuzzies every time.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Breathe of Passion by Lisa Kessler.

Magic Steps – Tamora Pierce

Welcome back everyone, I’m finally back to Tamora Pierce’s books! YAY!

I ended her books on the final book of the Circle of Magic quartet and I’m picking it back up with the first book in the Circle Opens quartet.

We left off with our four main characters roughly one year after arriving at Winding Circle at the age of roughly 14. We’re now 4 years later, they’ve achieved their Medallions (which signify they can practice magic without supervision) and have gone off on adventures. That is, all except for Sandry.

Instead, she stays home with her uncle to help him run his kingdom and in doing so discovers a new type of magic and an extremely old and rare type of magic. I love that she uses her powers to help her new student in the best possible way.

The fact that she waited for him to come to her rather than forcing her tutelage on him was so important to me growing up. I’ve always believed that if you have a reason to learn something you’ll enjoy it and become better at it. When I first read this book, I was thinking of my maths classes, how much I hated them and how much I sucked at it.

16 years later, now that I’m a learning and development professional I still believe this wholeheartedly. Creating that motivation and need to learn something is such a great driver, and studies have shown is much more effective for long term retention than being forced to learn something.

Throughout the book we see examples of how Sandry tries to create a comfortable environment where Pascal can feel comfortable. Rather than bring him to the palace she finds quiet places that he’s familiar with, and is comfortable in.

Even when everything was going wrong, murders were happening left and right, magic was all over the place and Pascal just wanted to do his own thing, she was able to stay calm. This kind of approach to life’s problems is something I strive towards, but can honestly say, I final really difficult to execute.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week’s series review will be the second last book in the Time for Alexander series, Soul of Time. And on Monday I’ll be reviewing The Bachelor by Sabrina Jeffries.

Rise of Gaia – Kristin Ward

Welcome back everyone, to give you a break from all the romance tours Rachel lured me into, I have a YA fantasy book on tour with The Write Reads.

As some of you may know, I’m not really a fan of YA since most of them have these annoying teenagerish things that just annoy me in my old age. Kristin’s first two books had me hooked and broke the mould of YA books.

Because of that I thought I’d really enjoy Rise of Gaia. And for most of the book I did.

Yet I found that with roughly a quarter of the book left I was getting those typical YA feels.

This isn’t a bad thing! Not by any means! It’s just not my cup of tea.

We have, what sounds like, a small town in Oregon where a 17-year-old starts experiencing unknown hallucinations and begins her quest to find out what is happening to her. As we go through this process of discovery, expansion and growth and making new relationships everything feels quite mature and well thought out.

Terran feels like a very mature 17-year-old, in that she seeks out help, she seeks out support and she doesn’t isolate herself when things start going weird. While she’s doing this, we learn more about the poison mankind has been spreading through the earth.

The way Kristin describes this sickness and it’s spread is amazing. It captures your attention and makes your heart bleed for what our one and one planet is going through. So much so that when I went to my local shopping centre and found they’d cut down one of the only trees in the car park my first thought was “Why would you cut down one of the only bit of greenery? Don’t you know how much we need that!”

For a YA book that weaves in fantasy and a strong message of the impact to the environment we’ve had, it’s amazing! I just found myself getting lost in the last part of the book coz of the typical YA feels that I personally don’t like. Any fans of YA and fantasy will LOVE this!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; I might not be releasing a review on Monday, but I will be reviewing Erotic Fiction? by Hannah Lynn on Wednesday. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Kristin Ward has loved writing since middle school but took thirty years to do something serious about it. The result is her Best Indie Book Award-winning novel, After the Green Withered, followed by the sequel, Burden of Truth. She lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, three sons, and many furry and feathered friends. A SciFi geek to the core, she is fueled by dark chocolate and coffee and can be heard quoting eighties movies on a regular basis.

Burden of Truth – Kristin Ward

Welcome back everyone, you’ll notice me jumping between two series for the next couple of weeks, so I hope you don’t mind. After finishing After the Green Withered, I lasted all of 22 hours before asking for the second book so I could start reading it immediately.


Writing Style

After the unique style of After the Green Withered, I was expecting this one to follow the same style. What I found was that although there were elements that were still there, there were also elements that felt very similar to some other dystopian YA novels.

I still want to know what happens next. But I’m almost afraid to know because it’s so close to tipping into the realm of what’s been done multiple times already. Which is one of the issues I have with the YA genre that Kristin has done SO WELL to keep clear of so far.

I know it’s really hard (if not impossible) to come up with 100% unique stories these days. But this one is getting perilously close to the point of no return for me. And I REALLY hope it doesn’t go that way because I really did love the first one.

Please Kristin, do not go the way of Hunger Games, Divergent and The 100! Your story is so different, and it doesn’t deserve to be tarnished with those generic story lines!

Note: I still enjoyed those stories, I just don’t want to read another one that follows almost the same skeleton for the story and character development as so many other YA books.


Initial Thoughts

I really felt like there was hope that Enora could be true to herself and what she believes in. Maybe she could be the driving force for change in a positive way.

At the same time, was I reading the vibes between Enora and Springer properly? Were they being set up to fall for each other and be a romance within the story? I kinda hope not.

I’m really loving the focus on the survival and the truth. So, I hope it isn’t ruined by an attempt to put some romance in there just coz it feels like there probably should be some romance to balance the sorrow that otherwise overpowers the story.


Final Thoughts

By the end of the book I was wishing Kristin took a different route for the story. Almost all my fears for the story and character development were realised.

Enora and Springer end up kinda being a couple, the rebel faction is possibly just as evil as the DMC so Enora and Springer decide to make their own way. Only to end up pretty much dead (but still alive) right at the end of the book and Enora doing something quite possibly, ridiculously stupid in an attempt to save their lives.

Sound familiar to anyone?

If you’re not sure, think about Katness almost shooting the rebel leader and at the last second shooting the evil president in Hunger Games. Not to mention her weird romance with Peeta. In Divergent, don’t Beatrice and Four leave the rebels and their home in the hope of finding something better when it turns out the rebels are as bad as their ruling council?

I don’t like drawing parallels between different stories. But every step this book took towards this feel I cringed. Kristin, it feels like you have so much creativity and some great ideas that are different to anything that’s happened before. Please bring this out in full force for Ander’s story!

I still enjoyed the story as a whole, there were just moments when I felt like those parallels were glaringly obvious. While at other’s it was still it’s own story with no other similarities that made me mourn right alongside Enora and Springer.


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Zoe Ashwood’s second Shifter novel Truth or Bear.