Short but Poignant (Tested by Magic Review)

Normally when an author offers up a novella, I worry that some of the story will get lost in the rush for keeping it within word count. That didn’t happen with Jasmine Walt’s offering Tested by Magic. The first “short” story in Ms. Walt’s Baine Chronicles, Tested by Magic is a fabulous introduction to the heroine, Sunaya Baine, and does not require reading of any other book in the series (which isn’t to say you shouldn’t read the others.)

Tested by Magic gives us a glimpse into Sunaya’s start as an Enforcer, showing a different side to the girl readers might have met in Burned by Magic and allows us to see what she was like before she begins her journey. It’s a slightly different Sunaya (but not really) who starts her first day as an Enforcer: making friends with Annia (another enforcer) and searching for a lost little girl.

Sunaya struggles with her morals in this book, which underlays a nice little bit to things that will come up later in the series and characters that will be major players are introduced, but for the most part, this is a nice little introduction. For readers who aren’t quite ready to dive into the whole series, this is a nice little toe dip.

Me? I’ve read the first book and have the second book ready to cue up on my Kindle. You? Can rush over to your favorite eBook retailer right now and snag a pre-order of Tested by Magic. I highly recommend this one!

Pledge Review

Pledge by Christiana Gardner (Book One in the Witches of Coventry House) seems at first glance to be a story about a group of sorority sisters starting out on a new adventure. But secrets lurk within the walls of Coventry House; not just with the new pledges, but also among the sisters and the house mother.

The story mostly follows the group of pledges: Eden, Sarah, Hannah, Rebecca, Paige, Talia, Lexi, and Julie. Although you also see a lot of the pledge leader, Alex, and the house mother, Carolyn. Just as you are getting to know the girls, they start failing the “tests”. There is no hazing in Coventry House, but everything is a test. And failing means removal from Coventry House.

Although the idea of the story was interesting, I found myself wanting to get to the meat of the story. There was a lot of buildup and false “mystery” in the story and the only reason to keep reading was to find out what was happening, not why it was happening. Ms. Gardner seems to want to leave her reader craving more. Although this can be a good thing, too much leaves the reader frustrated. And I reached that point.

I got to the point where I was starting to make guesses on what Eden’s “problem” was and predicting Sarah’s reactions to things. I also guessed things like the true meaning of Coventry House long before the characters in the book which left me with an almost unfilled feeling. (I didn’t read the subtitle so that didn’t clue me in.)

Taking the story at face-value, it’s a nice little college romp that happens to have some paranormal elements. While it’s probably not something I’ll continue reading (it’s the first book in a series), I don’t regret trying this one.

Magic Unknown Review

I received an ARC copy of Magic Unknown for a true and unbiased review. I did not receive any monetary or other compensation for my work. Please be mindful of spoilers below.

Magic Unknown by Caethes Faron picks up right where Magic Born leaves off. Ms. Faron drops readers right back into the action, hoping and expecting that they will remember where they were when they finished the last book. The story picks up with Kat Thomas and her shifter guard, Alex, debating what their next move is in the hotel dining room. It quickly jumps into the action and doesn’t let up until the last page, keeping you turning (or swiping if you’re on an e-reader) long after you should be asleep.

New characters are introduced as Ms. Faron takes the reader through a portal into Elustria and almost immediately into a confrontation with the Council, who Kat believes has sent assassins to kill her. She’s given an ultimatum; discover evidence of what her mother was doing or be banished to the Vortex.

Bouncing back and forth between Elustria and Earth, the pace never lets up as Kat, Alex, and Millbrook race to discover what Kat’s mother was working on and find evidence to clear Kat.

My only complaint about the book is how it jumps right back into the story. It’s been a while since I read the first book and I had to really dig into my memory to recall what had been going on. Still this was a gripping read, carrying on from the ideas created in Magic Born and building on the idea of the gaming world. Ms. Faron has created a worthy world, building on the idea of the game, and making a beautiful world out of it.

I highly recommend Magic Unknown, but make sure you read Magic Born first!