Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Windrider Saga, Book 2: A Greater Strength by Rebecca P Minor

Storyline: Loner though he may be, Captain Vinyanel Ecleriast knows he cannot hope to accomplish his newest mission on his own. He and his comrades have managed to avert the disaster of their king’s abduction, but all is not well in the elven capital of Delsinon. Six precious Talismans of Passage slip farther from the elves’ grasp with each moment they contemplate a solution. Vinyanel’s superiors send him to reclaim what enemies have stolen.

He assembles an unlikely squadron and leads them from the back of his silver dragon mount and friend, Majestrin. Their guide: a rogue who once attempted Vinyanel’s assassination. A stealthy marksman, a bookish warrior who fights with grace, and a prophetess for wise (though sometimes annoying) spiritual guidance fill out the ranks.

The journey to the far reaches of the continent confronts Vinyanel with temptation, betrayal, and his own frailties, and all these threaten to unravel the mission. Acting as a vessel of justice is easy--but mercy? That requires a far greater strength.

My Thoughts:

A Greater Strength was longer than the first book in the series, Divine Summons, and this is a very good thing. It includes more of Rebecca Minor's lovely descriptions as Vinyanel and his team travel outside Delsinon in search of the talismans. I felt like I got to know the other characters, not just Vinyanel, in this book, and I enjoyed the opportunity to read a few passages from Majestrin's point of view.

Another thing that I was impressed with was that, despite the number of detailed one-on-one fight scenes (including two back to back) I didn't feel like they were redundant. Each one had a different element to make it interesting, and the fighting styles were varied enough that I didn't see lots of repetitious actions.

There is one caution I have regarding A Greater Strength. One of the characters, Sa'Diya, is a slave girl who doesn't necessarily wear the best outfits (one of them might best be described as 'skimpy bikini'). Vinyanel is tempted by her on a couple of occasions, and besides giving in to one kiss, stays pure. I appreciated the honest portrayal of Vinyanel's struggle, but these situations make A Greater Strength a little less family-friendly than Divine Summons. I'd probably feel comfortable handing it to a mature 16-17-year-old, as opposed to a 13-14-year-old with Divine Summons.

All in all, another wonderful fantasy. I hope there are more Windrider books to come, because Vinyanel and Majestrin easily fit into my list of favorite characters.

Rating: Five of five stars

**NOTE: For those who don't do e-books, great news! The print compilation of Divine Summons and A Greater Strength releases TOMORROW! I'm planning on buying it, even though I already own both e-books. :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Shadowed Valley by Y. I. Lee

STORYLINE: Celia awakes one day into a dreary, dusty world, and discovers she has to set out upon the quest of a lifetime--reaching the ???. Through her quest she meets an enchanted rocking horse named Sunrise and a boy named John. Together, they journey through the land of Dauthos and the Shadowed Valley.


Cons: The prologue made it hard for me to get into the story.

The book was moderately written, with some punctuation problems--or maybe, since the author is British, it was just different than I'm used to.

Most of the book wasn't really freaky, though I could see younger readers being scared by it. There was one part, where the evil lord drinks blood, that made my stomach turn. It was kind of an odd scene that didn't fit with the mild tone of the rest of the book.

Pros: As I said, most of the book has a mild tone that would be fit for young kids or for a family read-aloud time.

Some of the allegory was quite pretty, like the symbolism of a rose painting.

Overall, a decent little allegory. Three out of five stars.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pirates of the Caribbean Piano

I wish I could play the piano like this... :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Big News

OK, so remember the Big News I said I had on Monday? Well, it's actually two pieces of big news. I just forgot to mention that it came in two parts.

Part 1: Laura Elizabeth guessed it...I'm going to have a baby! I'm about a month along, right in the midst of morning sickness and tiredness and "Oh, I feel like eating this..." then I smell and it change my mind. That's why I haven't gotten a ton of writing done in the last two weeks. My hubby and I are super excited!!! :D So, another Titus will be entering the world sometime in September--should give the rest of you guys enough time to prepare for the craziness that will ensue. ;)

Part 2: This one is slightly longer, just because it's a little more complicated. :) Several of the cyber-friends I've made this year have been/are involved with the blog New Authors Fellowship. It's a great place where those in the writing industry come to hang out and read great blog posts by talented unpublished authors. Well, as each author gets published, they move to the "granny flat" of being an alumni and no longer posting on the blog, and a new Featured Author moves into the spot. I've interviewed a couple of the alumni (Rebecca P. Minor and Kat Heckenbach) on my blog.

My friend Diane M. Graham contacted me a couple of weeks ago, asking about Half Blood and my writing. I was flattered that a writer I look up to was asking me about that. Then she told me that since she was moving on (her first novel, I Am Ocilla, publishes in March) she needed to find a replacement for her at NAF...and I was her pick!!! (Thank you so much, Diane!!)

I was shocked. And extremely flattered. I've looked up to the folks at NAF for a while now, so being asked to join their ranks was a huge thing! :)

So, starting within a couple of weeks, I will no longer be posting here at Magical Ink much. I'll still probably do my book reviews and a few other posts every now and again, but look for me weekly at NAF on Wednesdays! :) You can read the introduction post that Keven, the admin of the site, wrote here.

Oh yeah, and the alumni are starting a reader-oriented blog, The Cheesecake Thickens. So be sure to hop over there too--all those authors are pretty amazing!

(And, sorry to miss my normal Wednesday review...I'm rearranging my blogging schedule, so I'll let you know when I plan to resume those.)


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