Sorcery and Celia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

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Sorcery and Celia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer is the first book in a trilogy.  The book takes place in Victorian England but magic exists.  Most of the book is told through letters between two cousins, Celia and Kate.  It took me a minute to get used to the writing style since both characters speak in first person because they are personal letters that are written but once I got used to it the story flowed easily.  Kate is in London partaking of the London Season while Celia is in the country which is why the women are writing to each other.  Right after Kate arrives in London she is mistaken for another character and is almost killed by poisoned chocolate.  Kate and Celia spend the rest of the novel trying to figure out why she was almost poisoned and as they get closer to the answer both their lives are threatened numerous times. During the investigation both women meet men who start to play a large part in the mystery and in their own lives.

I love the friendship the two women share and the bond that exists between them that is evident in their letters.  It is nice to see such a friendship between two strong women.  I also love the women’s attitude toward their family members.  It reminded me of my own crazy family, where an aunt drives everyone nuts but you love them anyway.  The story brings to light the foibles and weaknesses the two women have in addition to their strengths and I couldn’t help but think of the saying that we admire people for their strengths but love them for their weaknesses.  It is the way the women handle their weaknesses, while acknowledging them, that make the characters so endearing (in addition to their great wit).

This is one of my favorite series and I have read it several times.  I highly recommend it the entire series.

Rating: 1

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Forest Born by Shannon Hale

photo_7226_20090705I recently read the fourth book in Shannon Hale’s incredible Books of Bayern series. I first read Shannon’s books back when she had just published her second book, Princess Academy. I had dealings with Shannon for some time and was very impressed with her. Forest Born, the fourth book in the series was great. I have to admit it had been awhile since I read the previous books so I reread River Secrets before starting Forest Born. I had forgotten how much I liked the character Razo. Razo’s insecurities about his own worth and not understanding why he was asked to accompany the group on the ambassador trip really hit home for me.  How often do we doubt our own worth or feel insignificant when compared with everyone else?

Forest Born is about Razo’s younger sister, Rin. I like Rin’s character, she is very impressed with the strong women in her life and only sees how strong they are now, not how they were before this point, which is how life is. I love how Rin can see some of each character in herself, including the protaganist but it is Rin’s choosing to be a strong good person that makes her that way.  Spending time with Enna, Isi and Dasha again is great and I loved seeing the three of them interact together.

I disliked how Rin seems to focus on one major event in her life so much and she keeps living through that moment again and again. I ended up feeling like we had reviewed what had happened before and I didn’t want to continue to relive that moment when so much other events were going on.

I was very surprised by the main protagonist, definitely not what who I was expecting. I love it when an author is able to surprise me as much as Shannon did in this book.

I would suggest that anyone wanting to read this book start with the first book in the series, The Goose Girl. You don’t have to read the previous books to understand this book because you get enough of the back story to understand what is going on but, I think the story is more enjoyable if you have experienced where all the main characters have come from and seen how they have come to this moment in time.

This book gets One because there is some brief light kissing.

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