I have this goal of taking notes on a book when I finish it, to make reviewing it easier. I know myself; I will jump straight into the next book, and things will get muddled, and then I'll forget half the things I want to say if I don't take notes. Sometimes my note-taking is really lax, but sometimes I love my nerdy, essay-writing self for being a note-taker, because then when I'm being a lazy ass and putting off writing a review (for no other reason than, say, a Firefly marathon. Again.), I'll at least have something to look over to refresh my memory and make me actually write the damn thing.My review for Touch of Power is one of those, a thank-god-for-notes review. Why? Because I read it just before Christmas, all gung-ho about another Maria book and wanting to get up a review asap. But I mean, hello? Christmas and New Years, it's not like I was going to get anything done. And, um...now it's May. So that's how that works out for me. But it was funny to me a bit when I looked back over my notes. Sometimes things get a little crappier in hindsight, and sometimes they get a little rosier. I think Maria's books tend to get rosier for me, and that's because I always have issues with the beginnings of them. I mean, take Poison Study, her debut and one of my favorite books, period. A friend recommended it to me, and within the first 30 pages or so, I was emailing her and asking her whyyyyy and was about to take it back to the library, until suddenly - it clicked. And I loved it rabidly from then on out. And I look back on it now as nearly flawless. The bumpy beginning never even happened. Looking over my notes for Touch of Power, I'm discovering that I've done it again. Or Maria has. She's made me forget that in the beginning, I was writing myself notes like this: Maybe I've been watching too much Community, but Avry's narration is reminding me of Abed. It feels...almost meta-fictiony, like a cheesy voice over. It's not natural.or this: Maria said Poison Study took her about a decade, and I think it shows. I think she needs that length of time to stew and perfect and produce something with depth and originality. None of the others have come close to matching PS, and each seems to get farther from it...God, I was a bitch fussy-pants. But here's the thing - the as-I-go notes stop after that. All the rest are post-book, and that's because I didn't put it down to make a note after that point. Like Poison Study, it clicked and suddenly everything was magic. Now don't get me wrong, I think the decade Maria spent on PS still shows and it is my favorite of her works without a doubt. Touch of Power doesn't quite measure up to that, but I'm okay with that. I don't expect other books to measure up to my favorites. Poison Study was fresh to me, and this is never not predictable. It skews younger and simpler, but I don't necessarily find this a bad thing. I'm okay with a foregone conclusion because sometimes it just makes sense. This was still well told and engaging, even if you could see what was coming, and even if there was a bit of a mustache-twirler-type villain.The simple fact is, Maria writes an engaging story with rootforable characters and engrossing world-building. Always. I shouldn't doubt that because she's shown me time and again that if I just quit being a bitch fussy-pants and give in, I will be entertained and I will be very eager for the next installment of whatever it is she's writing. Ever. Period. Her romances are stomach-fluttery and swoony without being sickening; her heroines are kick-ass by human. Her tension is - my god, it's tense. Everything is always so tense! I love it! I'm using exclamation points!Maybe she's some kind of wizard. I really don't know. But whatever it is, she's got it, and even if it doesn't always shine as brightly as one may hope, it still always shines. She writes books that make you want to recommend them to people, books you talk about and push. That says a lot to a book-lover.So if you haven't picked up one of her series yet, you should.You just should.