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broodings from the burrow

May 27, 2020

into the stacks 2020: february, part 2
posted by soe 1:48 am

Summertime is coming, which means it’s a good time to get caught up on sharing the books I read earlier in the year. At the beginning of the month, I told you about two of the novels I read back in February. Here are the other three:

The Paper Magician, by Charlie Holmberg

Ceony has just graduated top in her class at Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, with a plan to work magic in metallurgy, the most illustrious of the human-manipulated types of magic. But she was informed at the last minute that due to a critical shortage of apprentices, she was being assigned to the least glamorous type of magic — paper. And since after you’ve been bonded to your “element,” you won’t be able to perform magic in any other field, Ceony is understandably sulky. She’d dreamt of ornate metalworks and was going to be stuck enchanting legal contracts for the rest of her life.

But her new master, Magician Emery Thane, surprises her. His cottage, seemingly run-down from the street, boasts an abundance of paper flowers in the garden. His butler is an articulated skeleton made of paper. And he introduces her to the power of origami and the written word — both of which can be imbued by their crafter with powerful magic, as well we readers know.

Several months into her apprenticeship, however, an evil practitioner of the dark magics appears at their dining room table, robbing Magician Thane of something remarkably precious and life-giving, and forcing Ceony to channel all the magic she has learned to stay the damage, pursue the villain, and confront the darkness in her master’s past — and whether she can embrace her future with her whole heart — before time runs out.

The book is the first in a series, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The story bogs down a bit and can be uneven at times as the author attempts to keep up with the twists and layers of story she’s telling, but I think it works in the end. I’ll definitely seek out the second in the series, and recommend it to those who enjoy a little romance mixed into their fantasy, but don’t mind it when their story veers down a dark path for a while.

Pages: 222. Library copy.

We Met in December, by Rosie Curtis

In this cute rom-com of a book, unrepentant romantic Jess has just landed a dream job at a London publisher and is moving into one of the bedrooms in the Notting Hill brownstone her best college friend just inherited. Also sharing their house are a glamorous lawyer, a chef, and Alex, a former lawyer turned nursing student, whom Jess crushes on madly at first sight. She tries to ignore her feelings — they’d all agreed to no relationships when they’d moved in, after all — only to find them hurt when she discovers another of their housemates sneaking out of Alex’s room one night.

But Alex is mostly a nice guy, and he and Jess become friends as he invites her to get to know her new hometown by going on walks together. He finds her a fun friend, but he’s got an ex-wife and a misbegotten fling to add complication to his life.

The story, which takes place over the course of a year and which bounces between Jess’ and Alex’s narratives, has a lot going on. Jess has a beloved grandma and a kooky, neglectful mom and two childhood BFFs — a footloose actress and a more uptight friend with a fiance and a life plan. It always gives the story a new path to explore, but it also definitely makes it a less taut tale. And while it may have two narrators, it decidedly remains Jess’ story first and foremost.

If you want a fluffy will-they, won’t they story in a great setting that could very well be made into an equally sweet made-for-tv Christmas movie in a year or two, this is definitely the book for you.

Pages: 390. Library copy.

Girl with Gun, by Amy Stewart

In the first of a series of historical fiction about one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs and her family, Constance, Norma, and Fleurette Kopp find themselves on the wrong end of a car-wagon crash with the weaselly manager of the local silk mill. This leads to a cascading series of events that include threats from gangsters, a stolen baby, an undercover assignment in New York, newspaper attention, a friendship with a reform-minded local sheriff, and a court case — all in pursuit of a $50 wagon repair. Through it all Constance Kopp keeps her head and strong sense of justice and mostly manages to keep curmudgeonly Norma and dramatic Fleurette safe. But these three sisters will never again be able to remain anonymous and hidden away on their New Jersey farm.

If you like stories of women who come into their own, who find an inner strength they didn’t know they had, and who end up kicking ass and taking names and the added bonus of knowing it’s based on a real person, this is the book for you. I’m eager to track down the second book in the series once libraries are open again, and I hope that Amazon continues to develop the series/movie they optioned from it.

Pages: 408 pages. Personal copy.

February Totals

Books finished: 5
Pages read: 1372

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