I'd feel remiss in my recording-what-I-read duty if I didn't mention that I read Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede (author of one of my favorite books, Sorcery and Cecelia: or The Enchanted Coffee Pot) and Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith.
I'd like to post a pic of Mairelon but I couldn't find a cover I liked. My copy had a creepy, shadowy '80s vibe going. Let's just say I kept the cover face down when I wasn't reading it. Anyway, both books are YA fantasy, albeit set in totally different eras.
Mairelon does feature a magician, like in Sorcery. Mairelon takes in a street urchin named Kim and they solve a mystery. While there isn't any romance really in this book, I'm hoping for some in book two--Mairelon is in his 20s and Kim is 16, so nothing too illegal going on, at least back in those days. Also, I had a hard time with her name (but not because I don't like the name--I do! One of my best friends is named Kim! Hi Kim!). But this girl, well, I kept on wanting to call her Kat. And were there really Kims back in the early 1800s? I don't know. Her name just didn't suit her personality.
Anyway, the book was a rollicking read. Not as much fun as Sorcery but enough to keep me entertained. I think it was Kim's street slang that threw me off. I can only handle so much guttersnipe talk before I want to throw down the book.
Crown Duel is a fantasy set sometime in past-that-never-was. After the death of her father, Countess Meliara and her brother are forced into defending their people. There's a whole bunch of tricky battles and entanglements and kidnappings and alliances and lots and lots of traveling. Has anyone else ever noticed that some books have huge portions of the story dedicated to descriptions of the characters traveling places (Graceling, anyone?). Those stories also make me thankful for my bed. And the fact that no one has ever forced me to go camping--at least since I was 7 or so (thanks a lot, parents).
All in all, I liked Crown Duel ok, but Meliara's ignorance grated on me. WHY IS SHE SO OBTUSE??? Gaaah. At least she admitted she was ignorant--but then she fled the situation so she could go home and "learn." Oh well. And there was a lot of political discussion, which honestly bores me. For me, politics = snooze. Regardless, I'll read the second book but still, not my favorite book ever.