Magic Under Review

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Magic Under Glass

By: Jaclyn Dolamore

  • Age Range:12 and up
  • Grade Level:7 and up
  • Paperback:256 pages
  • Publisher:Bloomsbury USA Childrens (May 24, 2011)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1599905876
  • ISBN-13:978-1599905877

Summary (From Amazon.com)

When a wealthy sorcerer hires Nimira to sing with a mysterious piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it will be the start of a better life. But at the sorcerer’s estate, rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman, and fairies that are tortured for sport. When Nimira discovers-and falls for-the spirit of a fairy gentleman trapped in the automaton, she will also find the fate of the magical world in her hands

 

Character Believability:

The three main characters that populate this book are well written, multi-dimensional, and manage to still exhibit ‘normal’ emotions and reactions to the proceeding of the plot. Typically, that’s all you can really ask for in a quick read novel like this: fantasy, steampunk, pseudo-historical…these elements tend to combine to bring us 1 or 2 dimensional characters that would fall flat if brought away from their specific world and work.

Jaclyn Dolamore, however, skipped over that particular ‘norm’ and gleefully provided us with secondary and tertiary characters, twists, and exciting discoveries that all obviously believed her when she pretended the story was about them. These many facets come together to bring us a world that makes perfect sense and characters who, mostly, feel as though they might live down the street from their readers.

I’ve given this category a 4 out of 5 possible stars because a few of the characters, though well written, seems as though they were a) written in a rush and added in and/or b) were incredibly predictable.

Flow and Pace:

I have given the flow and pace of Magic Under Glass a rating of 4 out of 5 possible stars. While the majority of the book is, in my opinion, excellently maneuvered for both the flow of the story, and the pace of the plot, there are a few places in which I felt the pace slowed a bit too much and that the flow seemed to stutter and confuse itself.

For example, Nimira (our main female character) and Erris (our automaton) first meet in a scene that really slows the feel of the story for me. Conversely, the final two chapters stutter and feel rushed, in my opinion, so that the ending winds up with an information dump. However, I did enjoy the overall flow and pace of this book and think it will work wonderfully as a decently quick read for middle and high school students.

Reader Engagement:

This book did a wonderful job of capturing my attention. The first inkling of what was inside came when I spotted this book on the shelf at the Scholastic Book Fair on one of my substituting days…the phenomenal cover art, followed by the back blurb, lured me in. By the time I got around to cracking open the front cover I was already hooked.

I remained interested, engaged, and intrigued through the story. I am giving this category 4.5 out of 5 possible stars and have already placed the follow up novel, Magic Under Stone on my wishlist/TBR/somebody please buy it for me lists.

Reader Enrichment:

While I truly enjoyed the world and wonders of Magic Under Glass, I have only given this category a 3.5 out of the possible 5 stars. The fact is that, while I was excited for the addition of trouser girls and an automaton, this seems to be mainly a mixed-up Beauty and the Beast re-telling (My FAVORITE fairy tale, fyi). As a retelling or on its own, the story is beautiful. However, while my imagination sparked a bit in a few places, I walked away feeling as though I had spent a delightful afternoon reading a well done story…but didn’t take anything away from the experience with me. So, with a sad and slightly pouty face, I am giving this category a 3 out of possible 5 stars.

Reader Enjoyment:

I cannot begin to describe in enough detail how much I truly enjoyed this book. I adore fairy tales, Beauty and the Beast being my all-time favorite, and this book has several subtle takes from that beloved story. I have also been getting very interested in the steampunk movement lately, so this fairy tale magic automaton mixture was absolutely perfect for me to wade into those worlds with.

If it had not been for a couple (literally, TWO) places that made me think that I had perhaps skipped a line or fallen into a plot hole, this category would have jumped the half point for 4.5 to 5 stars. However, 4.5 out 5 possible stars just ain’t too shabby anyway!

Front Cover:

The front cover photograph, copy written in 2010 by the talented Ali Smith, was what originally drew me to the book. When I saw it sitting there on the book fair table I just needed to know more about that character.

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The only reason this category is being given a 4.5 out of 5, instead of a perfect score, is that I felt the text font should have been more consistent with both of the As being the same for the title, instead of the ‘A’ in Magic being specialized while the ‘A’ in glass was plain.

Back Copy:

I agree whole heartedly with the back copy assertion that fans of Libba Bray and Charlotte Bronte will probably enjoy reading this book. The author has created a wonderful world to sink into and discover.

However, I am giving the back copy a 3.5 out of 5 possible stars because, after reading the book, I realized that the summary is actually incorrect in three separate places. THREE PLACES! Now whether that was an intentionally misleading copy to make sure the readers were not expecting certain aspects of the story (and the things that led me astray from the back copy are actually not that important to the story) or just some odd oversight from the editors, publisher, and author, I still do not ever appreciate being maneuvered in that way.

The back copy is still intriguing, however, which is why I didn’t drop the score down even lower.

 

Overall Rating:

4.0 out of 5 possible Stars and Dragons.

This book is well written and worth a read, whatever age level you currently claim (or actually are)

I very much look forward to the next one!

A New Book and Some Old Friends

I have just finished the ‘leg’ (or rather…typing fingers) work on publishing my first collection of short stories (The first 4 months of Short Story Sundays). This is an excellent way to keep to the stories with you or easily accessible for you without having to keep searching online or not re-reading them at all (and I know how much you ALL want to re-read my every story ;P )

Since I am now playing the waiting game while Kindle and Amazon finish up their end of the bargain, I thought that it would be a good time to remind you of some other offerings the members of Tyree Tomes have available for your word loving pleasure.

 

We really need to get some new pictures! There are at least four new books between the two of us already 😀

Remember to check us out on Amazon.com and Kindle @

http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-S-Tyree/e/B00B7PGMYU

http://www.amazon.com/Dr.-Wilson-Jay-Tyree/e/B00B1VF9OY/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1400864629&sr=1-2-ent

(for some reason his newer books don’t seem to be listed on this author’s page. We will work on fixing that, but until then they do appear if you look at the ‘search results for Dr. Wilson Jay Tyree’)

 

 

 

 

Aside

Tyree Tomes is the forum in which my father and myself  announce and discuss our books and contests with our fans.

Dad, (Dr. Wilson Jay Tyree, minister for the churches of Christ and spiritual author) and I (Elizabeth S. Tyree, friend of dragons and young adult fantasy author) are pleased to announce that we have almost reach 100 ‘likes’ on this Facebook page and, as such, are going to conduct a contest when the 100th ‘like’ comes in. The winner will receive one of our books, their choice, autographed and personalized by the author.

We would LOVE for each and every one of you to be a part of this! Just go to www.facebook.com/TyreeTomes and click the ‘like’ button at the top of the page. You will be privy to inside information, research questions (mostly from me…I admit it!), and discussions of our books. We enjoy interacting with our fans/followers/people with questions. So come on over and get your chance at a free book and great conversation!

 

Link

Another Free Book – Kindle App Edition

Another Free Book – Kindle App Edition

Who are you reading this week? If you don’t have a Monday book picked out yet, may I suggest my own?

Beginning tomorrow (December 16th) at 12 am and going through Midnight Tuesday (December 17th), the newest Stone Dragon Saga book, Dragon on the Green, will be available for free download.

Pass the word along and see how many I can give away in the two days!

Feel free to leave messages and/or reviews for me wherever I pop up!

Have a blessed day and enjoy the reading!

Excerpt – Dragon on the Green

I am currently working on the final formatting and editing process for the third book in my YA Fantasy series, The Stone Dragon Saga.

In Dragon on the Green we find our protagonists in a bind as they are forced to work for the one person they are trying to thwart. Here is a short excerpt from the middle of the book. Enjoy!

 

“Tea?”  Jane offered helpfully, pointing out a tea pot and cups at the table’s center, “its chamomile, I had a feeling we might all need the purported calming effects after that little meeting.”

 

“I think that I had better stay away from any calming brews right now,” Joseph pointed out, “I have far too much to do to think about calming down!!”

 

“Any more of those caffeine cans of death and you, sir, will vibrate right out of your skin!”  Anna wagged a disapproving pen in his direction.  “You, my dear artist, have been cut off!”

 

“Noooo,” Joseph dropped his head to the table with a loud thud, “I won’t survive without them!!”

 

“Oh hush, you will be fine,” Jane patted his hand while Anna valiantly tried (and failed) to keep a straight face.  “I’ll go make you some nice black tea, it has a really good kick to it!”

 

“Ok,” Joseph agreed with a whine, kicking the carpet and pouting like a toddler put in time out.

 

“Oh for goodness sakes Joseph! Suck that lip back in, you are a grown man!” Jane lectured, setting a cup of steaming, aromatic dark tea in front of the artist with a clink.

 

“Shouldn’t you be working on some drawing of a fantastical beastie or something anyway?” Anna asked, barely taking the time to look up at her boss as she plowed away at the ever expanding pile of notes in front of her. “And be honest here, do you really need all of these notes or are you just trying to punish us for laughing at you earlier?”

 

“Of course those notes are VITAL to my success here because I should, indeed, be working on drawings, sculptures, and creating all kinds of odd, yet life-like items all in order to assuage a crazy lady’s homesickness for another dimension.  Yes,” Joseph grimaced and swept his arms out expansively and dramatically (as was his wont) “The answer is, all of the above Anna.  All of this should be started, finished, or in the process of both before she gets back tomorrow…or at least a good portion should be, and if you don’t get to work and make those notes readable, I can’t transpose the images from words into ART.  If I can’t make art, we get turned into toadstools and mowed over by a large tractor like machine.  Do you want to be mowed over by a large chopping machine Anna? DO YOU?”

 

“As much as I love your amazing flair for the dramatic overstatement and wish that I could just sit here and listen to you all evening, I think I’ll just get back to work on this life changing transcription about a hulachin,” Anna sassily bobbed her head at Joseph before deliberately turning her back and using the kitchen bar to continue her efforts.

 

“Hulachin???”  Joseph gaped at the girl, “I don’t remember anything at all about a hulachin!  Is there an adequate description?  Are you sure that it actually says hulachin? Oh, I’m never going to get this done!  I’ll be a dozen little pieces of mulch before the weekend.”  Sinking to his knees and hanging his head in defeat, the artist sobbed theatrically for moment as the girls looked on in worry before he slowly sat upright and, wiping his eyes, continued, “You know, maybe I can get this all finished out.  I mean, it isn’t like she expects me to have everything finished tomorrow.  I don’t have to any of the statues done, a really good painting or two should be sufficient to appease her majesty. That kind of work usually takes several days, but I think that I can get it done IF I’m allowed a drink or two of my zing.” 

 

Raising his eyebrows and looking imploringly up at his incredulous duo of assistants, the gentleman in question batted his eyelashes, jutted his lower lip just a fraction, and tried to look as much like a puppy as he could.  Unfortunately for him, the puppy dog look didn’t work on such seasoned babysitters as the two women sitting in front of him. 

 

“OR, you could get up, drink your tea before it gets cold, and stop whining or nothing will get done and Passiona will turn you into a fire hydrant,” Jane was about to the end of her tether and it was starting to show.  “All of this complaining is doing nothing more than wasting time that you could be spending on sketches.”

 

“Don’t worry boss,” Anna smiled reassuringly before returning her gaze to her own work, “You’ll get it done without a doubt!  This is the kind of thing that you love to do.  Besides, didn’t you tell us that you love working under pressure because it doesn’t give you as much time to think instead of just ‘do’ and that is when you create your best pieces?”

 

“Well yes, but I meant time crunches, not the literal pressure of a head vice closing around me, which is something that Passiona is likely to break out of the closet and use on me if I don’t work quickly enough for her!  Did you hear her stop our consultation earlier to tell one of her minions to make a note to check all of the basement and attics for old torture equipment that might be left from ‘those good times,’ before modern civilization?”

Not Necessarily Mysterious

Not Necessarily Mysteries:

 I was going to just talk about Young Adult/Teen mystery series today, but then I began to think.

There are several great book series that contain mysteries within their plotlines, even though they may not be designated as such. A good example of this in the Young Adult/Teen section is that of Rick Riordan’s three mythology based series. Each one is shelved as a fantasy novel, but each one also contains mysterious elements which lead the protagonists on their journeys and build suspense for the reader. 

Other such novels, like the Mortal Instruments series written by Cassandra Claire, build suspense and keep readers coming back for more by dropping hints and providing small and large mysteries that float throughout the stories.  Harry Potter has mysteries sprinkled in each book and even romance stories, like the Just a Little series by Tracie Puckett weaves tales of mystery and dropping clues, even if just to discover what that cute guys ‘deal’ is!

 

If, at the end of the day, you prefer just a good old fashioned mysterious book then I suggest these titles for your reading pleasure:

 

 

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

 

The Catalyst Series by Heidi Willard (supernatural thriller mysteries)

 

The Academy Series by C. L. Stone

 

Gareth and Gwen Medieval Mysteries by Sarah Woodbury

Link

Dragon in My Yard

Dragon in My Yard

The second book in Elizabeth S. Tyree’s Stone Dragon Saga, we follow Aliphonsore and his new friends in their search for his statue family.  Meanwhile, the crazy fairy queen has also been awakened, and is already sending out searches of her own.

Don’t miss out on any of the action! Get  your copies of this series today!