Aug 19, 2014

Book Review - Hidden Power

Today I'm reviewing the book Hidden Power by Tracy Lane. I received this from the Early Reviewers program on LibraryThing. (This review had previously been posted here.)



Here's the summary from Amazon:
Aurora Turnleaf has lived her whole life hearing fairy tales of mysterious lands, magical beings, and crystal towers. She thought nothing of them until the day she stumbled upon a magnificent city, deep within the woods, built entirely of see-through crystal. It appeared out of nowhere, in a part of the forest she’s never ventured into before, and suddenly all those stories she heard growing up become much less imaginary. Her guide is Iragos, a light mage, who introduces her to Kayne, a mage in training for a dark wizard named Kronos. Unbeknownst to Aurora, Kayne had just stolen the Ythra Orb form the Hallowed Hall on behalf of his master and hidden it in her pack. Suddenly Aurora is thrust into a life or death journey to help Kayne find the mystical land of Morgis, home to the Oracles who first created the Orb, in hopes that they can secure its safety against Kronos. The path to Morgis will be treacherous enough, but it is what follows the two teens that is more life threatening. For the dark mage’s fierce legion of vicious minions is on their path, with Kronos himself not far behind, and all of them are intent on intercepting Kayne and Aurora at every turn. Meanwhile Aurora and Kayne must battle both the elements and Kronos’ dark magic to complete their quest. And along the way, the two teens from very different worlds must learn to work together to overcome obstacles, one of them being their mutual attraction.

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I want to start out by saying just how much I loved this book! I finished it in record time; granted it's a short YA book, but I usually end up finding something to do that gets in the way of reading time if it's something I'm not into it all that much. I didn't want to put this one down because I enjoyed the writing style and characters so much. The story itself was well-written, which is always a plus. The plot was cohesive and fit together with the characters working towards a clear end goal. I almost want to say that there wasn't a whole lot of world building because I think I would have liked it even more if there had been room for more detail and adventure, but even though the book wasn't overly long, it did have world-building, particularly if this is going to be the start of a series. I thought it was neat how the mages have their own hidden location kept secret from the rest of humanity and I thought the way the two main characters' magics worked was an interesting spin on a magic system. I always enjoy it when an author includes animals in a story and I liked how these were different from earth creatures because they existed on a fantasy world, but still were similar enough that the reader easily knew what they were- that is, until the evil mage did his thing, of course! I thought both of the main characters had depth and their interactions and relationship were written well. The supporting characters were a little more flat, but since they weren't the main ones, this wasn't much of a problem.

The book may not have been too utterly deep, but that was completely fine with me! I'm actually so tired of the current trend in fantasy and fiction being dark, edgy, and epic that I truly appreciate a book that's pleasant and has a happy ending. (I'm not a young reader wanting this, either; I'm a thirty-something who enjoys lighthearted stories with happy endings.) When I reached the end I actually smiled a huge smile and went "I loved this!" because finally I was able to read something that was generally happy. Thank you, thank you, Tracy Lane, for writing something that was different from the redundant and overdone trend currently saturating the market!

I'm usually very nitpicky about books; my friend and I theorize that it's because I studied literature in college and that left me constantly critiquing and editing the written word. When I got to the end of this book, however, I just couldn't think of any real faults with it and nothing I could dislike. There were a few typos and some excessive punctuation in the Early Reviewers copy that I received that I would have edited slightly, but other than those extremely minor things that most people probably wouldn't even notice, this was a great book.

I really wish I'd written this review as soon as I had finished reading because I feel like I'm missing so much here that I wanted to rave about in better detail! (Darn life got in the way this week and book reviewing got put on the back burner.) I'm going to assume that this is the start of a series judging from how the epilogue played out and I'm looking forward to reading more in the series if that's the case. Even if it's not, I'm going to look for more books by this author. I'm giving this five stars because I can't think of any reasons that would drop it from five to something lower.

Aug 15, 2014

Dear Characters - Part 7 (NaNo '13)

Was it really April when I wrote up my last "Dear Characters" post? I've moved on quite a bit since then and changed some things around, mostly locations. I'm currently at the climax of the story where the characters face the main antagonist for the last time. Things aren't going so well for them at the moment.

Dear Adair (the Forcepainter/illustrator),
Here you are at the end of your adventure. (This adventure anyway...) You're going to need everything you've learned over the past few months to try to get through this and protect your friends- and all the other mages, really. I know you're a pacifist and it's going to suck to go against your nature, but Talan is going to learn to beware the nice ones the hard way. You're going to snap and it's not going to be pretty. On the plus side, you have the element of surprise: Talan doesn't know who you are under the Sol disguise, he doesn't realize he just took out your best friend, and he's going to figure out too late that you're actually a Colorweaver, not a Forcepainter. Two can play at his game.

Dear Etri (the Shadowwalker/fire-eater),
You and your tag-team need to keep better track of your possessions. Adair still has Blythe's scarf which you really need right now. Adair has your knife which would help either you or Blythe. Adair forgot to give the second bottle of invisibility paint to Blythe who could probably find a good use for that again. ... Actually, how does Adair keep ending up with all your stuff? Anyway, go guard your Artist before it's too late. Even incorporeal, you can help him, and that knife and scarf are only going to get him so far.

Dear Blythe (the Bladeshielder/blade-dancer),
Okay, first thing first, get that invisibility paint from Adair. Then I finally give you permission to start beating bad guys. Even Dolph. Particularly Dolph. I need to wrap up that antagonist's storyline, so you'll be running across him soon. After that your job is just as important as Adair's: get Etri back. You're destined to become their Muse, which you can't be if the Guard's off floating around on a different plane for all of eternity. By the way, you should have given him your other scarf. Hindsight, right?

Dear Grandeau (the Shadowshaper/mime),
Well, you're the shadow-mage right now. I'm still not sure how, but you have to help Blythe and Adair face Talan and his minions because they're currently short their usual Shadowwalker. That is, if Ember doesn't distract you again. I can't even figure this out- are you staring at her because she has hidden fire or because she's a pretty, older woman? Freaking teenagers.

Dear Chantrell (the Songshifter/melodist),
I'm not following you much at this point because you and Sol split away from the three narration characters, but please don't let him get out of your sight. I'm not sure what he's going to do when he can't sense Etri anymore and I won't find out until the both of you stumble across Drake. I love how you're the youngest character by far, but yet you always seem to be babysitting the older ones.

Dear Sol (the Lightbringer/fire-breather),
You and Adair had a plan to confuse Talan by both of you pretending to be you and I can only hope this sort of works. Everything else seems to be going pear-shaped for you all. I am still curious what happens when you take away a Lightbringer's Shadowwalker...

Dear Drake (the Spellbinder/fire-dancer),
I love watching you go feral! It's such a wonderfully drastic shift from your usual pretension and flamboyance to see you maul Shadows with your bare hands, clawing, pouncing, and hissing. (By the way, I think at this point you can stop saying how much you hate Etri. You two have this highly antagonistic thing going on, but after seeing you vengefully lash out at someone else for hurting him, it's clear that he's your friend. I'm fully expecting the first words out of your mouth upon seeing him again to be a scathing insult, but he won't mind; this will mean all is right with the world again.)

Dear Ember (the mystery mage),
Thank you oh so much for showing up on my figurative doorstep on page 215 saying "Hey! I heard you complaining about too many males in this book. I'm here to help even the numbers!" You unpacked your bags before I could explain that I'm trying to wrap things up, not add to my already huge cast of characters. Sigh. You're just going to make things even more confusing in the next book, aren't you?

~Meri, the author who is itching to get to book two in this series. Come on, guys, we can do it! We're almost there!