Circle of Magic – the Circle Opens: Sandry’s Book, Tris’s Book, Daja’s Book, Briar’s Book by Tamora Pierce and I listened to this whole series in the car (separately). The four short books go together nicely to form one main story arc. It’s something like an earth magic Hogwarts, with children of different backgrounds – noble, merchant, trader, thief – coming together at the monastery of Winding Circle, finding they have unique magical powers and learning how to use them. The plots are entertaining but fairly predictable – the heart of the books are the four young mages and the circle (formed in book one) that binds their magic together. The recordings are done by Full Cast Audio, each character with a different reader and narrated by the author. It took me a little while to get used to the slightly exaggerated enunciation that the producer apparently prefers, but once over this little hump, the full cast presentation works very well. I’m sad that only one book of the following quartet has been recorded, with no apparent plans to do the other three.
Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent As a teen, in an era when options for women were quite limited, Vincent’s parents told her to become a nurse, because she’d always have a job. And with her first OB rotation, Vincent was hooked on birth. In the era of Twilight Sleep, a patient refuses to lie down or take drugs. “Please lie down! What if the baby falls out?” Peggy pleads. “Well, darlin’, that’s the whole point, ain’t it?” the woman responds between contractions. She chronicles her path to becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife, working at the Bay Area’s most prestigious birth center and doing home births (then covered by insurance.) The meat of the book are the birth stories, beautiful, bizarre, and hilarious. From that first rebellious mother to births in lesbian communes and on board ship, barely-caught births and breech births, births in hospitals and at home, this is a heart-warming tale from a midwife passionate about birth and women’s right to birth choices. If you’re interested in birth, but less in scary medical facts like Born in the USA (or need to recover from reading it), this is the perfect book.