I haven’t been doing much reading this past month. Well, not entire books anyway. I’ve been reading a lot of Kindle samples on my iPhone. Love those samples. I always read before bed, but recently I’ve been using that time to read the samples instead of entire books. During my vacation, I had pictures of sitting by the pool and reading one of the many books I’d purchased previously. That didn’t happen. I didn’t read much during my vacation. Maybe a little at night, as I finished up my re-read of the Patricia Briggs Mercedes Thompson series. I didn’t do any reading at all during RWA, or the week after my return (with the exception of the aforementioned sample chapters).

So this week, I became determined that I needed to just start reading again and stop with the reading-based anhedonia (look, my psych roots are showing when I use big words like that 😉 ) so read some more samples (I’m serious, that’s what I did!) and I bought two books based on those samples. Despite the fact that I have a number of unread-purchased books I should be reading. But I won’t disclose that number and you won’t ask. In fact, we’ll pretend I own NO unread books, shall we? Thank you.

First I read Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater. (there are some spoilers in this paragraph so you may not want to read it) I thought the sample was pretty good, and it got glowing–GLOWING–reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, so it seemed like a safe bet. Um, yeah, I decided during the reading of this book that I’m broken. I didn’t really love it. I thought it was just middle of the road okay. I skimmed some parts in the middle, I felt like parts of the story were underdeveloped and I didn’t even like the heroine’s love interest a little bit and felt no empathy for him. I would have been okay if he’d died, it might have made the book more interesting.  Do you ever have one of those moments during a book where you realize you’re not really enjoying it but you push on, because many, many other people clearly enjoyed it and so there must be some big pay-off at the end that makes the book suddenly magical? That was me during the Lament. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it was a bad book, because I don’t think it was. I’m saying it was a book that didn’t work for me, I didn’t love it and I won’t be picking up the sequel. There are books like that out there for everyone, I suspect. In this author’s case, I’m pretty sure she’ll do just fine without my business because there are people out there who really think her work is wonderful, and I’m glad.

Next, I bought A Matter of Magic by Patricia Wrede. A Matter of Magic is actually an omnibus re-release of two books: Mairelon the Magician and The Magician’s Ward. I’m only a third of the way into The Magician’s Ward, but I quite enjoyed Mairelon the Magician. It’s a YA alternate-history fantasy set in Regency England. In this case, magic is a huge part of the culture of England, and magician’s not a secret at all but living as part of society. In fact, if you’re a magician, you can be part of Society (capital S) even if you’ve come from the gutters.

Mairelon the Magician is a book that doesn’t take itself, or the story, seriously. There are a number of secondary characters to keep track of, but they add to the book’s plot/conflict. The conflict and plot themselves are not complicated, but they’re well-paced, with no extra “filler” and nothing to slow it down, which kept me turning the pages. And though the story doesn’t take itself seriously, and it is a magic-filled fantasy, it makes itself entirely believable, as if this alternate history just could have happened.

I enjoyed both the primary characters (Kim and Mairelon) as well as the robust cast of secondary characters, and I was glad to have the second book to start reading immediately. It’s by no means the best fantasy or alternate history I’ve ever read, but it’s good entertainment, well-paced and fun. And I haven’t felt the urge to skim, haven’t been bored or felt dissatisfied. Since I’ve been in a reading slump, I call that a win!

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