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.

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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.

Storms over Babylon – Jennifer Macaire

Welcome back everyone, we’re back to Ashley and Alexander in the Time for Alexander series. I swear I become more and more obsessed with this series with every book I read. Please hurry up and let me read the next three!

I chose to stay up on my flight to Brisbane to read this one instead of sleeping. To put this into context, I normally go to bed about 9pm and my flight took off at 9.30pm. To say I was dead tired when we arrived in Brisbane a couple of hours later is an understatement.

But I did smash out like 90% of the book in that couple of hours on the plane. And man was it good! I actually checked how long I had left to finish the book because I didn’t want to have to stop to get off the plane. Luckily, I finished the book with 5 minutes of my flight to spare.

If you’re familiar with the previous books (not just my reviews of them) then you might remember that Plexis was told all his questions about Ashley would be answered on his death bed. Well, Ashley is faced with the knowledge of when he’s meant to die alongside Alexander being adamant, he doesn’t want her to save him.

Well in this book we get to discover how Plexis dies, along with Alexander a few months later. Knowing that there’s a fantasy element to this story and just loving Ashley’s relationships with Alexander and Plexis and that this is only the 4th of (currently) 7 books, I was left wondering when this book would end.

Well, spoiler alert! (not really) It ends When Alexander dies, and his kingdom begins to crumble with Ashley and her family fleeing the violence. As soon as I was finished, I was like “NOOOO!!!! I want more!” So rest assured, once the 5th book comes on tour I’ll be jumping for a spot to give you more deets!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, tomorrow
(yes you read that right!) I will be reviewing The Determined Lord Hadleigh by Virginia Heath. Continue to read
further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.


Author Bio

Jennifer Macaire lives with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves cooking, eating chocolate, growing herbs and flowering plants on her balcony, and playing golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

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Heart of Stone – Ben Galley

Welcome back everyone, after a disappointing romance last week I moved onto a war novel. And this isn’t any old war novel. This is a fantasy war novel!

I hadn’t looked this book up before agreeing to review it, so other than the blurb I really didn’t know anything about it. All I’d really gleaned from the blurb was that there was going to be a war and a golem. Past that I didn’t know what to expect.

What I discovered is a story that follows three sides of a war with the golem, who is strangely human like, stuck in the middle. As it was quite heavy on the war and spy aspects, I did find myself at about half-way through needing to stop and read a couple of feel good romances. I think if the book had been split over a duo or trilogy, I wouldn’t have needed to do that.

But when the book is three times longer than most of the books, I read these days I did feel that I was getting emotionally drained. If you love war type books you probably won’t find that you’ll need something lighter. But since this was the first war novel I read with no romance, or anything else light, in it I did need that break.

From about ¾ of the way through the book I realised how all the pieces would fit together and some of how it would all play out. That doesn’t mean that I was able to predict the ending. With this being a fantasy novel, you never know what can be possible making guessing endings extremely difficult.

I would have loved a little bit more at the end to really wrap it up. Maybe a few years later? I found myself feeling like I was missing some small detail about the story when I was reflecting on what I’d read to be able to write this review for you.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing the fourth instalment of the Time for Alexander series, Storms over Babylon by Jennifer Macaire. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Don't forget to check out the other bloggers reviewing Heart of Stone!

Author Bio

Ben Galley is an author of dark and epic fantasy books who currently hails from Victoria, Canada. Since publishing his debut The Written in 2010, Ben has released a range of award-winning fantasy novels, including the weird western Bloodrush and the epic standalone The Heart of Stone. He is also the author of the brand new Chasing Graves Trilogy.

Check out Ben's other books also on tour for the next 10 days

#4/1 – Briar’s Book – Tamora Pierce

Welcome back everyone, this week we have Briar’s book!

I found this book to be the saddest in the whole series across all three quartets (I know the last one isn’t finished yet).

Reading about Briar being forced to work in a civilian “hospital” managing a massive outbreak that is killing people, is highly contagious and resistant to all treatment is awful. Especially because they discovered it because his mate Flick caught it and was one of the first to die from it.

Map of Summersea Harbour during the outbreak

Reading about how oppressive that environment is gave me a whole new appreciation for our doctors and nurses who work tirelessly to help those in need. Poor Briar and Rosethorn worked from the moment they woke up to the moment they passed out caring for those around them and having their own life and energy sucked from them was almost heartbreaking.

I’m pretty sure if I was to read this now, I would end up in tears because of how sad the whole situation is.

And poor, sweet and considerate Briar was the one to realise that they needed their living plants around them to perk them back up. Unfortunately, it was too little too late and Rosethorn got sick.

Briar’s attachment to Rosethorn was so strong that he leaped after her into the world of death to bring her back because he wasn’t ready to lose her. To make sure they didn’t lose him, all three of the girls jumped after him to hold him secure to the world of the living.

Briar's Book

That whole ordeal was tragic. If it wasn’t for the fact that I knew The Circle Opens was out, I’d have wondered if all four of them and Rosethorn were going to die trying to save her. Luckily, they were able to bring Rosethorn back with them and save her life.

But her speech and mobility were impacted because she was technically dead for a few minutes and so parts of her brain died. But we don’t really see too much of this in this book.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Magic Steps, the first book in The Circle Opens quartet.

#3/1 – Daja’s Book – Tamora Pierce

Welcome back everyone, this week we have Daja’s book!

This one really hit me hard when I read it on so many levels. Daja is a Trader who’s been made an outcast because her whole family died, and she survived. Because of this she isn’t allowed to speak to a Trader ever again, and they aren’t allowed to even acknowledge her presence.

Map of the Gold Ridge area

When I was reading this book, I was at that impressionable age of 12 or 13 where bullying is really ramping up. For Daja, she was excluded because of some silly Trader law while I didn’t have the easiest time because I was an early bloomer in my yr. And boys can be horrible.

What made this amazing for me was that even though the Traders hated on Daja, her friends stuck by her and made sure the Traders acknowledged her and treated her better than they wanted to. Also, Daja being the caring person she is made sure the Traders survived even though they’d been absolutely horrible to her and her friends.

She put her own life at risk in an attempt to save their lives because she had a chance of surviving, and they didn’t.

Daja's Book

Throughout all this time, Sandry, Briar, Tris and Daja had been battling with their magic becoming corrupted by the other’s magic and having to sort it out. I loved the little stories of how their magic got corrupted and the funny things that happened. But I can also agree that if it wasn’t fixed then it’d end in disaster.

Anyway, right at the end Daja is given a new staff that tells her story of her family dying, and of her bravery saving the Trader caravan which then ends with her being accepted back into the Trader world. I remember this bit being the first thing to ever get me close to tears from anything other than anger.

Of this quartet, this is probably the favourite for me. But I have others that rank higher in the Emelan world.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Briar’s Book.

#2/1 – Tris’s Book – Tamora Pierce

In this book we mostly follow Tris, however that doesn't mean that the other's are lost to us. In fact, they all work together to thwart money hungry pirates that attack their new home.

Map of Summersea's harbour

Key Story Points

All four of our characters are starting to understand their magic and learn how to use it. In this case we're mostly following Tris as she learns how to master some new and impressive powers.

Unfortunately her favourite cousin is making life difficult for her. He rocks up to Winding Circle and seems to put a few people on edge for a few different reasons. But Tris is happy to see him, and the others just want her to be happy.

Then out of the blue, Winding Circle is attacked by a bunch of pirates. And thanks to Tris's magic with weather, she's able to help clean out the pirates from Winding Circle and restore order.

Tris's Book

My Thoughts

I will admit, parts of this book makes me love it. But as a whole, it's not my favourite in the quartet.

Overall, I got the feeling that I was being strung along between great moments embedded at JUST the right moment to keep you hooked.

My Fav Part

Honestly, the main points that I remember and that pops into my head sometimes is Daja working on the city's and Winding Circle's defences. And Tris learning some cool new magic that allows them to see into the past.

I'm pretty sure this is the book where Daja almost gives her fellow apprentice a heart attack when she handles metal straight out of the forge. It has me chuckling every time I think about it.

Thank you for reading and next week I'll have the next book (Daja's Book) up next week!

#1/1 – Sandry’s Book – Tamora Pierce

The first book in the Circle Universe is Sandry's Book, and although she is a main character. She isn't THE main character.

Map of the Pebbled Sea

Writing Style

The way Tamora has written the first two series in the Circle Universe means that each book has a main hero; who the book is typically named after. So with this book being named after Sandry, it means that she will be the main hero.

Since this book is written for the Young Adult audience it's not as complex or as deep as most of the books I read these days. But I've grown up reading Tamora Pierce and I just love how she writes her stories.

In this case I could feel the despair, anger and confusion that Sandry, Daja, Tris and Briar feel as they are found by Niklaren Goldeye. Then as they try to find their places in their new world.

My Thoughts

Since I wasn't much older (I think a yr or two?) than they were when I first read these books, I could really relate to the emotional turmoil they were going through.

For me, my school friendship group was changing. And since I'm not very good socially (and neither are these 4) this was a bit stressful for me. But with the help of constantly reading Tamora's books in those few years (see evidence below if you don't believe me about how many times I read these books) I managed to get through it.

And I even discovered some other people who liked reading, and who even liked Tamora Pierce as well! That was a bit of a turning point for me when I realised I had something else in common with others. Which actually seems hard to believe since I'd already spent the last 6-7 years with most of them by that point in time.

My poor, broken, over-read copy of Sandry's Book

My Fav Part

So I have a few different fav parts, I mean, these characters and their stories are written in such a great way that you can't help but have a few parts of the book you just can't wait to read again!

Ok, so my all time fav is when Sandry pulls rank on some snobby noble girl (Sandry's family is like upper upper upper echelon of society and only the people actually ruling a few different countries rank higher than her) to get Daja a seat when Daja first arrives and doesn't know where to sit in the dining hall.

A girl nearby muttered, "If that's a lady, I'm a cat."
Reaching out, Sandry lifted the pitcher of milk from the table. Cradling it in both hands, she walked over to the mutterer.
"I am Sandrilene fa Toren, daughter of Count Mattin fer Toren and his countess, Amiliane fa Landreg. I am the great-niece of his grace, Duke Vedris of this realm of Emelan, and cousin of her Imperial Highness, Empress Berenene of the Namorn Empire. You are Esmelle ei Pragin, daughter of Baron Witten en Pragin and his lady Colledia of House Wheelwright, a merchant house. If I tell you my friend is a lady, then you"- carefully she poured milk into Esmelle's plate-"you had best start lapping, kitty."
She set the pitcher down and returned to her chair.

When Sandry and Daja first meet

Being someone who HATES bullies and will actively fight back I practically bounce in my seat with glee every time I read that bit. It's just so hilarious and it just sets the tone for Sandry's personality in a way no other quote can quite grasp.

I do love a number of other moments throughout the book. Those moments of banter, discovery and amazement are heady feelings. The way Sandry, Daja, Tris and Briar grow, make discoveries and learn about magic together never fail to strike a chord with me and give me a good chuckle and/or smile

Thank you for reading and next week I'll have the next book (Tris's Book) up next week!

Tamora Pierce – The Circle Universe

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Hi all, welcome back to a new series of series reviews! Woohoo!

My mum bought me the first book in this world’s series when I was like 9 or something when I was in the city with her one day. I distinctly remember hating her in that moment for forcing me to read something outside of my normal genres.

In my first attempt of fantasy I really hated it. But luckily a few years later I rediscovered Tamora Pierce through a friend and ended up falling in love with all of her books and went back to reread this one.

To give you an overview, this series follows 4 main characters in the original Circle of Magic series when they are first brought together.

Tris, Briar, Sandry and Daja in The Circle of Magic Source

Over the course of the Circle of Magic, The Circle Opens and The Circle Reforged we see them grow up and into their powers in ways that keep you engaged, interested and riveted.

Sandry, Daja, Briar and Tris all grown up Source

Across all three series we travel across various regions countries, so you may find the below map helpful as I review the series.

The Circle Universe world map Source

I look forward to exploring this series with you and hearing what you think of these reviews!

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