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Review: Sandry’s Book

Although I already posted my review for Tris’s Book, I want to come back and discuss the first of the Circle of Magic series.

The book starts with an introduction to the four main characters of the series: Sandry, Daja, Tris, and Briar. It tells where they are when Niko (a powerful mage) finds them and delivers them to Winding Circle. Here, they each wind up at House Discipline, where they begin to work together and learn about magic – including their own – from their mentors.

They are only just learning about how to use their power when they are put to a life-or-death test. An earthquake befalls winding circle, and the children are underground when it hits. The quake traps them and they must use their magic – together – to survive.

I began this series on my cousin Amber’s recommendation, because of how they address magic. To be honest, I may not have finished this book otherwise because it was so slow in laying the groundwork and getting started. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t really know what was going on, and the connection to the characters came in much later.

Because I wanted to read through the whole series, I pushed through. Most of the action happens in the last half or third of the book, but then things really start coming together. And as you know the pace continues throughout book 2.

Fun and light, but also interesting. Push through the first half of this book and I think the rest of the series is worth it.


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Tris’s Book


I could hardly put down Tris’s Book, Tamora Pierce’s second volume in her “Circle of Magic” series. Although I suspected I’d like it, I picked it up as a more light-hearted reprieve to a different novel I’m reading, and wound up being completely swept away.

My main concern with Sandry’s Book was its very slow start; the introduction to the various characters seemed disjointed and a little confusing, and the descriptions of Winding Circle a little burdensome. Tris’s Book had none of these issues. Instead, it began at a brisk pace and finished with me turning the pages, reading as quickly as possible.

I’m really enjoying the way Pierce spins magic into her world; learning about how each of the characters can use it differently is fascinating. This time, the children learn more about what they are capable of, and must use their magic together in a new way. The story reaches each of the four but focuses (you guessed it) on Tris.

This time, the foe takes the form of a real enemy, rather than a natural disaster: pirates are attempting to invade Winding Circle. Although their training has progressed since the start of the summer some months before, Tris, Daja, Briar, and Sandry are once again called to do more than they knew they could: first with their teachers and then together as a group. They learn more about magic on principle it is starting to become apparent that they have more power than anyone realized.

An easy read that makes it no less engaging, and I am definitely looking forward to the next one.

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Review: Promises to Keep

One of my favourite books growing up was a historical novel set around the start of the War of 1812. It told the story of two siblings and their friend, growing up on opposite sides of the river, who suddenly find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict as well.

The details from that book stayed with me far longer than anything I learned in history class (sorry, Mr. Klassen!), and the characters were so real to me I can still remember how I felt reading that book.

I’m not sure why it didn’t click for me sooner, but recently I realized that there’s no reason why I can’t continue reading historical fiction. I can definitely stand to learn some more about what’s gone on in the world. But it’s hard for me to just remember facts and dates, so this is a perfect solution.

So I took my first foray back into the world of historical fiction with a piece set in good old Canada.

Promises to Keep is set in 1755, just as the Acadians’ peaceful life in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, comes to an abrupt end. It follows a young woman named Amélie who, along with her family, is forced from the only land she’s ever known. However, one of the British soldiers is a Scotsman who is sympathetic to the plight of the Acadians, but helpless to help them. The two form a connection which deepens into something more – but the two of them are on opposite sides of the conflict. Plus, Amélie and her family are about to be sent south by ship – permanently.

Part tragic family story, part engaging romance, Genevieve Graham pulls her readers in and shows both Nova Scotia’s beauty and the contrasting horror experienced by the inhabitants. She also weaves in the Acadians’ connection with the original inhabitants, the Mi’kmaq.

Although I enjoyed it, Promises to Keep didn’t quite draw me all the way in. I liked the characters, felt for their plight, but I believe its best audience would be late teen/young adults. Or maybe it’s just me! 🙂 That being said, I learned a lot about this portion of Canadian history; I didn’t know about anything about the Acadians or the conflict in Nova Scotia.

Graham has written several other historical fiction works, which I believe are all set in Canada. I will definitely keep her work in mind as I look to explore more in the genre.