I've decided to intersperse my review reading with some reads from my own TBR pile this year and a great way to do that is to do some quick reviews rather than the full reviews that I do on books I receive from authors and publishing houses. It also makes reading far more pleasurable knowing I don't have as many full reviews to do. It's not that I mind doing reviews, but it's sometimes nice to read just for the sake of reading, you know?
I was looking forward to reading The Lost Gate (Mithermages, Book 1) by Orson Scott Card, his new trilogy released January 4th by Tor Books. The novels begins with Danny, a young man who is growing up in a secluded compound, the only non-magical being in a family of mages. Due to his lack of Talent, he is ostracized and ridiculed, and learns to survive by his wits. A big discovery sends Danny fleeing from the only home he has known, fearful for his life, in order to find out who he really is. Along the way, we are introduced to a variety of quirky and fun-loving characters and to a new magical world that is rife with political intrigue. I did find this novel somewhat confusing at times as I tried to sort out some of the characters and some of the magical elements. I also found some of the descriptive writing was too long-winded; and although I did appreciate some of the foundation that was given to us, I felt it dragged on a little too much at times. I would have liked to have learned about Danny and his family in other ways rather than just through descriptive narrative. I did enjoy how the mythology was tied into the narrative as I always find that interesting, but I was not crazy about Ced's wife and did not enjoy the scenes in which she was involved. Unless something happens in the following two books, I don't even see how these scenes were necessary. In the end, I did enjoy the fantasy nature to this novel and always love the magic, and look forward to seeing what happens in book two when it is released.
The Goldsmith's Daughter (Roger the Chapman, Book 10) by Kate Sedley is my first Audiobook and I really enjoyed it. It tells the tale of King Edward IV's imprisonment of his brother George and the Duke of Gloucester's desperate attempt to save him using King Edward's mistress. Before any of this can happen, a murder-mystery concerning the King's mistress's family must be solved for the Duke to use his wiles and save his brother. I found myself mesmerized by the story and by the narrator's voice. The descriptions of the time period were fascinating and I could easily picture them in my mind; the mud, the cold, the various houses, the people, the streets, and so on. I love historical novels and while the mystery is pretty average, I have to admit Ms. Sedley's brilliance always lies in the way she is able to transport the reader to this time period and make you feel a connection to the characters.
I really enjoyed The Agency: The Body at the Tower (Mary Quinn Mystery Series, Book 2). This time around, Mary sets out to uncover the mystery surrounding the death of a 'brickie' at a building site, but has to undertake a difficult role in order to do so. Mary must use many of the skills she learned on the streets as a young child in order to pass as a young boy, a new apprentice on the same building site as the murder. Through many twists and turns, near escapes, a host of quirky new characters, plus some familiar ones, this is a great romp through Victorian London. I found the descriptions of the daily lives of some of the people to be disturbing, and it always amazes me when I read historical fiction how people lived in such squalor and how they were able to survive. Even things we take for granted, and even Mary now takes for granted, things like regular meals and hot baths, become few and far between as she takes on her most challenging role and tries to outwit those around her. There is plenty of romance, suspense, action, and intrigue to keep you turning the pages. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, The Traitor and the Tunnel, to be released in August 2011. I would love to see more of James Easton in the next novel.