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Posts Tagged ‘Book Series’

Fiction Review – The Paper Magician Series

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

The Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

The Paper Magician series is a series unlike any other I have read.  I experienced reader highs and lows and moments of confusion and clarity through a story that was refreshing and enchanting in its uniqueness.

The series begins with The Paper Magician.  Ceony Twill does not want to be a Folder, a magician who uses paper.  She wants to be almost any other kind of magician.  But upon completing her schooling at Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, she is forced to choose folding due to the low numbers of current Folders.  In order to finish her education and become a professional, practicing magician, Ceony must successfully complete her apprenticeship with a mentor Folder and she is placed with Emery Thane.  Ceony and Emery develop an unexpected connection and they are projected into an adventure of fear and love.

Throughout The Paper Magician, and in books 2 and 3 of the series (The Glass Magician and The Master Magician, respectively), Ceony and Emery are thrown on the course of fighting and defeating Excisioners, magicians who practice illegal flesh magic.  They both have moments of self-doubt and they question everything they know about how magic works. What can an apprentice magician have to offer to defeat a magic that other practiced magicians cannot?  And how can she manage to focus on her apprenticeship and passing her final magician’s exam while trying to defeat this dark magic? And what about the feelings and connection she has for Emery, does he feel the same?

I thought book 1, The Paper Magician, was the weakest of the series.  The ‘quest’ Ceony jumped into was long-winded and I started to lose some interest. I felt having Ceony basically on her own so soon wasn’t the easiest scenario to believe and I felt like the character development wasn’t totally successful.  But even with that disappointment in the first book, the premise of the series brought me back for more.  Happily, for me, books 2 and 3 were more fast-paced and allowed the readers to really get to know the characters more deeply and understand their personal motivations.  I read books 1 and 2 but listened to the audiobook of book 3.  The narrator for The Master Magician was adept at bringing life to the different characters and listening to the book gave me different visualizations of the scenes.

Overall, I found The Paper Magician series unique and thoughtfully considered.  Every story line has a purpose and each is a part of the larger picture.  Readers looking to go on a magical adventure should check out this series.

Books 2 and 3 in the series:




Fantasy Review – The Sevenwaters Trilogy

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

The Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Marillier

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

I recently finished The Sevenwaters Trilogy (Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows, and Child of the Prophecy) by Juliet Marillier and really enjoyed them all. The books were recommended to me by my friends Sara and Tasha so I shouldn’t have had any doubt I would like the books; they always give me great recommendations!  I decided for this post I would pick my top seven highlights from the trilogy in a blatant attempt to encourage you to read it.  So, without delay, here are my Seven Highlights of Sevenwaters (in no particular order):

1)       The stories within the bigger story.  Throughout the three novels there are characters who tell tales of the land and ancestors.  These tales are told through music, around campfires, during banquets, within caves, or in quiet moments shared by characters.  The tales are carefully written and inserted into the novels at the perfect point to shed more light on the overarching story yet each tale is an engrossing story all on its own.

2)       The faith of family.  In book 1, Daughter of the Forest, Sorcha is the youngest of seven children and the only daughter.  Her brothers are transformed into swans by an evil sorceress and only Sorcha’s efforts can save them.  The brothers have faith in Sorcha’s strength and this faith in family continues through the trilogy.  Sometimes there are doubts and disagreements but the deep-seeded faith in family remains.

3)       A band of tattooed warriors.  At first introduction the mysterious band of tattooed warriors in book 2, Son of the Shadows, appear to be menacing, hard, and ruthless. Seeing their true colors and learning their histories make them some of my favorite characters of the entire trilogy.

4)       Magic and fantasy without being cheesy.  Sometimes I am skeptical of fantasy novels because they can get too cheesy for me.  While the trilogy is obviously from the fantasy genre it becomes more about the characters than the fantasy.

 5)       The epic-ness of it all.  I like long books (when I care about the characters).   These books are lengthy and offer tons in terms of  character development and backstory.  I also like that the books continue with future generations of the family introduced in book  one while still including original characters.  I get very attached to characters so it’s nice to still have them around, even as  secondary characters.

6)       Sacrifice is rewarded.  I don’t know many people who like to consistently give of themselves and get nothing in return, even if  all they get is peace of mind.  So, sure, I like authors who let those who sacrifice gain something in the end. And I also like that some  characters I don’t initially like are redeemed through their actions.

7)       True love wins at the end of the day.  There are ups and downs, family trauma and drama, misunderstandings, and sacrifices  but true love eventually wins out, this is especially true in Child of the Prophecy.  Love doesn’t win in the exact way I would like but  it’s a check in the win column anyway.

Have you read The Sevenwaters Trilogy?  I’d love to know your picks for highlights, your favorite characters, or bookmarked moments.  If you haven’t read them, I hope you’ll give them a try…and if you like them, there are three more books!  Yep, Marillier  wrote three more books and created a longer series.  I haven’t read books 5-7 (Heir of Sevenwaters, Seer of Sevenwaters, and Flame of Sevenwaters) yet but I’ve already got them on my ‘to be read’ shelf  so I’m hoping I enjoy them as much as books 1-3.  And thanks,  again, to my great friends for giving me an awesome  recommendation!



Author Interview with Jennifer Ashley

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Author Interview with Jennifer Ashley


By Mirah Welday (mwelday)


I recently discovered the Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series by Ashley Gardner and was hooked with the first book! So far I have read the first five novels and one novella from the series.  A fine mix of gallantry, romance and mystery, the series is fun and intriguing.  After doing some research, I discovered the author was Jennifer Ashley, writing as Ashley Gardner.  I found Jennifer on twitter and made a comment that I loved Captain Lacey and would love to have an opportunity to interview Jennifer for the PBS blog…and I got a response from her!

I hope you enjoy my interview with Jennifer and that you’re inspired to pick up one of her novels, she writes a variety of genres so there’s bound to be something you’ll enjoy and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! So without further delay…..

MW: You are prolific writer, writing a variety of genres as Jennifer Ashley and Allyson James.  What made you decide to create the Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series, writing as Ashley Gardner? Is there something particular about that time period that interests you?

JA: The Regency does fascinate me, because it was such a complex time. Jane Austen’s world is only a small part of it, and even she hinted at darkness–the dangers to a woman unprotected by family, for example.  I wish I could remember *exactly* what prompted me to set the mysteries in this time period, but I think it was simply that I loved reading about it and researching it. Then when I “met” Captain Lacey, I wanted to write about him.

I love that you say you “met” Captain Lacey; I think it’s fascinating how the mind of a writer works.  What is your process when developing new ideas and writing for the series?  Approximately how long does it take you to write a book?

It takes me about 2-3 months to write a full Captain Lacey novel. I write 5-7 novels a year, total, so I can’t spend all my time on Lacey, darn it. But while I’m writing other things, I think about the book a lot, make notes, and do research on the aspects I want to bring up. I have quite a lot of material once I finally get to sit down and write.

Captain Gabriel Lacey is a dynamic character.  He has a strict sense of honor and integrity and, while a proud man, he is also humble. I think Lacey is wonderful but I am probably a bit biased since I’m married to someone in the military!  What was your inspiration for Captain Lacey?

Thank you! Actually, when I thought about doing a Regency series, I toyed with the idea of having a Regency dandy as the sleuth. Then I realized that had been done (several times–Beau Brummell has been the star of a few series), and I wanted a character the exact opposite of a wealthy Regency dandy.  I didn’t deliberately create such a character; I just let the idea swim around in my head. Captain Lacey took form and kept on growing, while I stood back and watched him. He’s a very organic character, and very real to me, in many ways.

My husband also was in the military–in the cavalry, in fact! He is a great source for information about weapons–and will quickly tell you all the gun errors made in TV shows and movies–quite a few!

Lacey isn’t the only great character in the series. I just love Grenville.  He and Lacey are an odd pair of friends in some ways but it really works!  I enjoyed The Sudbury School Murders because I think it took their friendship to a different level. What is it about the two of them that you think makes them a great pair?

Grenville is like the famous George Brummell in that his taste set fashion daily, but different because Grenville is from an old and titled family (though Grenville himself is only a distant heir to the title). Grenville has inherited a lot of money, and his wise investments have only made him richer.  At the same time, the proper English existence is not enough for him–Grenville has an adventurous streak he constantly feeds. This makes him a good friend for Lacey–Grenville envies Lacey his forays into danger, but also values Lacey’s resourcefulness and wisdom. They play off each other, though deep down inside, they are much the same: both are honorable, compassionate men who are willing to put themselves in danger for others.

If you had to cast the two of them in a movie, what actors do you think you would want to play Lacey and Grenville?

That’s a good question! I’m very bad at keeping track of who’s who in the acting world. Colin Firth certainly could play Captain Lacey. I’d be interested to hear what readers think about who should play whom.

No doubt, Colin Firth would make an incredible Captain Lacey…and I think I’d love to see Jonny Lee Miller or JJ Field as Grenville!  That’s a movie I would love to watch!  And then there’s James Denis (I’m thinking Jason Statham could play him in the movie)…he’s involved in shady dealings and is known to be a dangerous man but I can’t help but feel hopeful that deep down he’s good.  I don’t want to like him but I do! Why do you do this to me, Jennifer? Are we going to learn more about Denis in future novels?

Of course, you will learn more about Denis. He is a fascinating character to me, a villain definitely, but he has an honor, and understands that honor in Lacey. I know readers who are more or less in love with him, and that’s fine! I like him, because I’m never quite sure what he’s going to do.

Well, if you’re not sure what he’s going to do, I think we’re all going to be in for some Denis surprises!  In each novel of the series, relationships are tested.  I think A Body in Berkeley Square was all about secrets being revealed from various characters.  I can’t wait to see what happens with these relationships in future novels now that these secrets have been revealed.  Do you already know where you want these characters to end up or do you take it one book at a time?

I have a vague idea how relationships will develop over time, but I do like to take things one book at a time. I might develop something unexpected in a book, and I want to leave room for it to grow naturally, instead of forcing my characters into certain paths. So the answer is yes, I know where they’re going, and no, I don’t.  🙂  I do want to explore more of the Brandon / Lacey relationship, as well as those with other characters as the series progresses (don’t want to spoil…)

I think (so far) The Sudbury School Murders is my favorite in the series. I liked seeing the reactions of Marianne, Bartholomew, Matthias, and Lacey to the incident with Grenville.   Do you have favorite moments from the series or a favorite book?

I have a fondness for A Covent Garden Mystery, where Lacey’s past runs into his present. I liked that book. I also like A Death in Norfolk, because Lacey goes to his boyhood home and deals with more of his past. And we learn a lot about James Denis. 🙂  I also enjoy Murder in Grosvenor Square, my most recent book, which takes Lacey into the next phase of his life and makes him look hard at his friendships.

I look forward to getting to those books in the series! The friendships are one of the things I enjoy most about the series.  But I also enjoy the characters, secrets, intrigue, love, scandal.  When you read for enjoyment, what types of books or authors do you like?

When I have a chance to read for enjoyment, I like mystery novels (currently very fond of Kerry Greenwood). I also like biographies and social histories, sci-fi / fantasy that has a lot of action / adventure, and have decided I really like steampunk too! It’s a fun genre where almost anything goes. I have the hankering to write some. 🙂

Steampunk is very fun! I’d enjoy to read your take on it. According to your website, you’ll be releasing book 10 in the series, The Thames River Murders, soon.  Can you share any insight into this installment and what might be in store for Gabriel Lacey in the future? Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to share with the readers at PaperBackSwap?

Yes, I plan to have The Thames River Murders out this summer. (check my website http://www.gardnermysteries.com  periodically for pre-order info). This one will be a cold case brought to Lacey by Thompson of the Thames River Police, but it will have ties to Lacey’s current life.

I also have many other series going! The Shifters Unbound series (paranormal romance) continues in April with Mate Bond, with more installments in June and July. The Mackenzies series then picks up in August, September, and October. I’m writing a new era of Mackenzies, going back to the 1745 uprising.

I’ve also begun a new contemporary romance series called Riding Hard, which is lighter and sweeter than most of my series–it’s a small-town family saga rather than heavy romance.

I’m also continuing my Stormwalker (urban fantasy series) this year. Would like to put out a book and perhaps a novella, but I’m still in planning stages.

That’s a lot of writing! You are one busy woman, Jennifer, so I won’t keep much longer! I’d like to end with some fun rapid fire questions….

Chocolate of Vanilla?


Ok, I love that you used all caps and an exclamation!  You’re my kind of woman!

Cake or Pie?

Cake (and tortes). Though I just made a kick-butt coconut cream pie that really turned out well!

Yum, I’d love that recipe!

Winter or Summer?

Summer–love the heat!

Cats or Dogs?

I love them both equally. Though I have cats. Devil cats.

Morning or Night?

Night. I live in the desert. I like darkness.

Coffee or Tea?

Tea!!! Unlike Captain Lacey, who loves his coffee, I can’t stand it! 🙂 Tea, I drink by the gallon.

I agree, tea is delicious!

And on that note, I’d like to thank Jennifer for being so generous with her time. It’s been a joy to get to know her better and learn about her writing process and upcoming works.  For more information on the Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series, check out Jennifer’s website:  http://www.gardnermysteries.com and for more on Jennifer’s other series and genres, check http://www.jenniferashley.com.





Young Adult Review – The Luxe

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen


Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)


I couldn’t resist the cover image of The Luxe.  I was drawn to the gorgeous, luxurious fabric of the dress and had to pick it up to see what it was about.  What I got was young adult historical fiction with enough drama that would make most of us feel like we live rather sedated, run-of-the-mill lives.

The Holland sisters, Diana and Elizabeth, seem to have everything young ladies could want: money, beautiful clothing, a home in the right area, friends with connections, and a dazzling future.

In an interesting twist, the novel begins with a death announcement of one of the main characters (I’m not posting a spoiler here, if you turn to page one you get this info).  But the twists and turns to get to where the death becomes part of the plot is an intricate trip through the lives of the privileged elite of the Manhattan social scene in 1899.

Godbersen explores what happens under the surface of this social scene; the backstabbing, lies, secrets and affairs showcase that privilege can sometimes bring more complications than solutions.  The undercurrent of self-doubt in some characters reflects that having everything doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have self-respect.  Some characters are simultaneously annoying and likable and their scandals and relationships make the plot more interesting.

While the plot becomes rather transparent along the way, it is still an enjoyable escapist read.  I look forward to reading the rest of the series to see how the characters adapt to their new situations.  I think readers who like the Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars series will enjoy The Luxe.


Young Adult Review – Killer Frost

Thursday, March 20th, 2014


Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep


Review by Kelsey O.


Here it is. The final installment in Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series *sob*. I won’t go all dramatic or give away any spoilers. I do have to say watching Gwen Frost grow from book one until now, has been an exciting adventure. She started out shy and kind of a loner and has grown into a strong and confident woman with a great group of loyal friends surrounding her.

Because of this loyalty, these friends (both current and from the past) play a pivotal role in this final chapter. As always with Estep’s writing, the action starts right away and never lets up until the end. There are curveballs thrown in to keep the reader on their toes. We also learn the true identity of a certain someone that works in the library.

The use of mythology has been impeccable throughout the series. The way Estep weaves the history into the storyline is flawless. Now, I am sure you’re wondering why I only gave it a four rating. The reason is because of the repetition that occurs quite a lot (and not in just this book). It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there were times that I felt the story could move a bit faster.

Entertaining and action packed this final goodbye to Mythos Academy ended just the way it should have. For anyone that hasn’t started this YA series, it is worth your time. For those that have been reading through the series, you won’t be disappointed.