Thoughts on The Paper Magician Trilogy by Charlie N. Holmberg

Paper-Magician-RD-3-fullsizeFrom the author’s websiteCeony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

Glass MagicianAn Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

(This is the description of the first book. I don’t want to spoil anything, so if you want to know what the other two are about, you’re on your own. ;)) (<–Proper use of you’re/your. Grammar nerds: you’re welcome.)

So here’s my experience with reading this trilogy:

I’d heard about it and seen it on sale on Amazon. So I checked out the first book from the library. I read about 6 chapters and abandoned it. I checked it out again a month or two later and never read it. Then I saw it on sale again and bought the whole series on Kindle.

MasterMagician-19817-CV-FT-V4By then, I was determined. Once I broke my reading slump, I picked it up and read it with no problem. In fact, I stayed up till 2am finishing it (Signs You’re Reading a Good Book #1).

I immediately read the sequel the next day.

I started the third book a couple days later, but my heart wasn’t in it. (I’ll tell you why: the romantic tension was gone. I kind of hate books where the main love interests are already together.) I pushed through, but it took me about a week to finally read the whole thing.

 

All that being said, here are a couple thoughts.

-I really REALLY love Ceony as a character. All three of the books’ plots are driven by her actions; she says to herself, “Self, I can’t sit and wait around for something to happen here. Sitting and waiting will waste valuable time that my enemies will use to kill people. Let’s go be useful.” Ceony as a driving force of the narrative is downright refreshing, and it makes me forgive pretty much all the problems I have with these books.

-The romantic dynamic of the second book is my favorite. It’s the very common “everyone but you can see how into you he is” trope, but the buildup is beautiful and gave me many many feels.

-I kind of wish Paper Magic were portrayed differently? Because of the materials that magicians in these books use (paper, glass, metal, rubber, plastic… am I forgetting any?), paper is the oldest, right? (Wait I forgot about fire, which is the actual oldest, but anyway.) Was magic discovered first by using paper? Shouldn’t that lend the art of Paper Magic a certain mysticism? Instead, it’s generally regarded as the most boring of the materials. I’d have loved to have seen Paper Magicians portrayed as mystics, dedicated to their craft and  their superiority and stuff, like the Illuminati or something. But then… that would have been a different book.

-At the end of the first book, Ceony does something New and Different with Paper Magic… which is pretty much never addressed again. Why is that? I wish it had been developed more. (I mean, it’s discussed later, but she never tries to take it any further. What else can she do with this particular technique? What does this mean about the nature of magic? Can other materials also be used the same way? Nope. None of those questions are ever answered. By book 3, it’s completely forgotten.)

-The third book centers around some information that Ceony is given at the end of the second book. And what bothers me about it is how little work she put into obtaining the information. Like, some guy just tells her. She doesn’t study it out, she doesn’t go through a million iterations and a bunch of trial-and-error. Somebody just mentions it. Ceony is such a force of action in these novels! I don’t love that this information, which will hugely impact the rest of her life, was something she obtained so very passively.

-One of my friends on Goodreads mentioned that she got weirded out when Ceony goes into Thane’s heart in the first book. Personally, I thought that aspect of the novel was beyond cool. The four chambers of his heart are filled with different memories/hopes for the future, and I loved it all.

Giving the baby the green light

So the big news this week is that Scott’s here! He was able to take a few weeks to come to Utah and be with us while we wait for/greet the new baby. He got in this past week, and it’s so great having him here. We missed him so much, and Special K especially LOVES having him around again.

scott's home
My mother-in-law got this great picture when we picked Scott up at the airport. Special K was so happy to see him.

It’s such a relief having help. My in-laws are great, and they’ve been SO helpful while we’ve been living with them, but it’s different than having my husband here. I have to be on good behavior with them, and I’m really cautious about imposing on their time. Scott, on the other hand, is my husband. I don’t have any compunctions whatsoever about making demands of him, especially when Special K needs something. It’s awesome having someone around to help with the responsibilities of parenting. Being a single parent is HARD, y’all. And I didn’t even have the full “single parent” experience, because I didn’t have to work and/or go to school, and, as aforementioned, I had wonderful in-laws to help me a TON. Even so, it was stressful and overwhelming, especially being so pregnant. Having Scott here to share that with me is SUCH a relief!

On the baby front: the waiting has officially begun! I’ve spent the last week or two worried that he would come early, before Scott got here. But happily, that didn’t happen! Although we’re a little disappointed that he didn’t come on Scott’s birthday, which he was really hoping for (it was last week), I’m just glad that he’s going to be here for the birth. (My father-in-law said the nicest thing to me about that; we were talking about making sure I didn’t have the baby before Scott got here, and I said something about keeping the baby in through sheer force of will. He said, “If it were anybody else, I’d tell them that you have no control and the baby will come when he wants to. But Jamie, I think you really could do it.”) Well, whether it was my will or the baby’s, I did in fact get my wish of not delivering so early. Hooray!

My due date isn’t for another week and a half, and Special K was actually a week and a half late. So don’t get too anxious, everyone. The baby comes when the baby comes.

Challenge Accepted! 2016 Reading Challenges

Hi guys! So yes, this is also a blog about books. Over on my other blog, I participated in five book challenges last year. I had a great experience, so I’m gonna do a few this year, too. So without further ado:

 

2016 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge – Hosted by Corinne @ CorinneRodrigues.com

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Last year my total was 62, which I don’t *actually* expect to exceed this year, but who knows. I do have a baby coming soon, the nursing of whom should provide me with a lot of quality Kindle time. So I’m gonna stay at a low level for now and see where the year takes me.

Level: Getting My Heart Rate Up

Goal: 63 – 67 Books

Goodreads Shelf

2016 I Love Libraries Reading Challenge – Hosted by Bea @ Bea’s Book Nook

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So for obvious reasons, life in the Foreign Service doesn’t really lend itself well to building up a personal library. (In fact, none of my personal situations ever has, come to think of it — Air Force brat, college student, transient newlywed, study abroad spouse, Foreign Service spouse.) Of course, that hasn’t noticeably stopped me. Most of my books right now, however, are either a) in storage in Maryland, or b) in my apartment in Bangladesh. So to get in quality reading, I rely on two sources: 1) eBooks (more on that in a second), and 2) libraries! My first week in Utah, that was one of my biggest priorities — I went to all the local library systems and made sure my accounts with them were still valid (or signed up for new ones, as the case may be). Even though I’ve been in a reading rut (seriously, I’ve been trying to read The Paper Magician for two and a half months now), I’ve had at least some books checked out the entire time. (Especially books for Special K! How annoying (and expensive) would it be to have to buy her new books every time I she gets bored with the ones she has??)

I’ve loved libraries my whole life, and I’ve never really understood people who don’t use them. Not having a library card is as foreign a concept to me as those people who have never had pizza or don’t have drivers licenses. I mean, who doesn’t love unlimited access to books that you don’t have to keep?

So all that being said, I’m signing up for the I Love Libraries Challenge again this year. Last year, I read 32 library books — not bad, considering I wasn’t even in the United States for most of the year. This year, my goal is gonna be a little bit lower than that – I’ll talk about why when I talk about my next challenge. 🙂

Level: Young Adult

Goal: 24 library books

Goodreads Shelf

2016 EBook Reading Challenge – Hosted by Annette @ Annette’s Book Spot

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I first got a Nook in 2010, and thus began my love affair with eBooks. I’ve been reading them nonstop ever since. I think I’ve probably read more ebooks than paper books since then, and I’ve CERTAINLY bought more (which made my husband breathe a sigh of relief, because until then I was hopelessly addicted to buying books. Now I just buy ebooks — much easier to put in a moving van. ^_^)

So this challenge is basically perfect for me.

In fact, I own so many ebooks on both Nook AND Kindle at this point that if I stopped buying or borrowing books altogether, I could finish every challenge on this list, this year AND next year. (Except for the I Love Libraries Challenge, of course.)

But let’s not kid ourselves: That’s certainly not going to happen.

Anyway, my HUGE collection of ebooks is both why this is the perfect challenge for me, and also why I’m trying to keep my library expectations low. (In fact, three of the paper books I’ve had checked out from the library recently all went on sale on Kindle– and I bought all of them. Ugh.)

So anyway, last year my goal was to read 25 ebooks, and I ended up reading 59. So this year I’m gonna go ahead and sign up for the next level up — it’s still below what I read last year, but at least I’m not selling myself short.

Level: 4. Gigabytes

Goal: 50 ebooks

Goodreads Shelf

2016 MMD Reading Challenge – Hosted by Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy

mmd-2016-reading-challenge

And last but not least – my previous three challenges all have to do with quantity, not content. This one, from a blog I’ve been following for a while now, is gonna challenge me to diversify my reading choices a little bit, which I appreciate. I like that she’s not super specific about what kind of books to read (ie., no genre demands), but at the same time still gets readers outside of their comfort zones.

Goodreads Shelf

 

 

So there you have it! My 2016 Reading Challenges. I’m probably not going to be reviewing too many books on the blog, but from time to time some will likely make appearances. In the meantime, if you want to see what I’m reading, check out my shelves on Goodreads!

Here’s What I’m Up To

Ok guys. So obviously the blog thing hasn’t been happening. Let’s change that, eh?

So here’s where I am right now: Scott and I got back from our 3 1/2 week R&R trip to find that Bangladesh had been having some issues with terrorism. Just, y’know, here and there. The Embassy’s Regional Security Officer (RSO) has been working with an Emergency Action Committee (EAC) to decide on some security restrictions for Embassy employees and their families. Which got pretty strict at times (including sheltering in place for a couple days, luckily while we were gone still). This situation is ongoing, including various security restrictions, which happily have eased a little bit since the beginning.

So the week we got back, I had a doctor appointment at the Med Unit. (Because, surprise! I’m pregnant.) UltrasoundAnd because I was going to be medevac’ed anyway to the United States (right around now is when I would have been leaving, as a matter of fact), I asked the doctor if I could leave earlier. Like, as soon as possible.

 

(By the way, this all happened in late/mid October.)

To which she said, absolutely! Let’s get you out of here!

And that was that. There was a lot of paperwork and some tense waiting for funding approval, but I had my appointment on a Wednesday, and on the very next Tuesday, Special K and I got on a flight to Utah.

We got in the week of Halloween, just in time for her to go trick-or-treating with her cousins. 🙂

IMG_4575
Here they are, taking pictures before we go out. In case you can’t tell, she’s not into posing for pictures.

Being in America is awesome, guys. I missed it a lot, and I especially missed simple things like driving myself around and going on walks. For instance, I walked to church today (a whopping two blocks). (My mother-in-law was scandalized that I wasn’t driving. Admittedly, it was snowing. But it wasn’t sticking, and my shoes AND coat were good ones for it.) As I walked, I thought about how my walk to church today was longer than the one I would have had to make in Dhaka (while we’re under security restrictions still, the Branch President, who lives one block over, hosts church at his apartment). And yet, because of those security restrictions, I wouldn’t have been allowed to walk. I would have had to take a car. It made me really appreciate being here.

So that’s where we’re at, guys! I’m in Utah for the next couple months, while I get ready to have a baby some time in February (or January, if he’s early).

Stay tuned for more updates!

Welcome to the new blog!

Welcome, friends! This is my new blog! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jamie. I’m the wife of a US Foreign Service Officer (FSO), also known as an Eligible Family Member (EFM). My husband and I live in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with our 20-month-old daughter, Special K. 10863793_755720344482220_9109196807703618842_oThis blog is a place for me to share (and likely vent from time to time). I’ll talk about foreign service life, expat life, parenting, Mormonism, and some of my hobbies, like crocheting, baking, and the one that kind of dominates my life right now — reading! To be honest, I haven’t *really* blogged in quite a while. I’ve been writing a book blog for the last few years, but I use a similar format for all of my posts. Freestyle blogging is something I need to get used to again, so you’ll have to bear with me here. And if you have any questions for me or suggestions for things you’d like to see me write about, I’d LOVE to hear them! Thanks, guys!

Jamie