melita66: (ship)
Have not read a bunch since the last post. I checked a sample of the novelization of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny but the writing style did NOT prompt me to buy the book. I also sampled C.E. Murphy's Magic & Manners but it's SO close to Pride and Prejudice (even the names, I mean really?) that I was bored, bored I tell you. I've seen comments that it diverges and picks up, but I'm just not that interested right now. I also sampled and bought Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys, but have bogged down about 1/3 to 1/5 in. I'll probably try to finish it, but there's several books coming out next week that'll likely delay me picking it back up again.

I did manage to finish Agent of the Crown by Melissa McShane. It was enjoyable but I didn't like it as much as the first book in the series. I also found that the pace slowed down for me between 1/3 and 3/4. Then everything fell apart and I found myself compulsively reading to finish it. I wouldn't read it without having read at least the first book, Servant of the Crown. A young princess was recruited to act as a spy. Her public persona is flittery, social darling, but she's actually a deviser (magic/inventor). Her current job sends her undercover as a deviser to a small town on the edge of the kingdom and right into several mysteries. All the books have significant romances in them.

I then read the electronic advance reader copy of Alliance of Equals, the latest Liaden novel from Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. This book focuses on Padi yos'Galan (Shan's daughter), Shan yos'Galan, Priscilla Mendoza y Delacroix, Hazenthull, with some visits to Daav yos'Phelium and Aelliana Caylon.

I also read The Marriage of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King. It's a short story (maybe longer) about her and Holmes actual marriage. It ends up taking place in his ancestral home's chapel--the problem is that the property is currently in the hands of estranged relatives. There's a sample from the new novel (out in early April) at the end.

I'm now sampling Simon Morden's The Petrovich Trilogy based on a review of book 4. Writing style seems a bit simplistic, but that may cure itself. Discussion of book 4 made me think of Samuil Petrovich as a Miles-gone-bad, so I'll likely buy it ($9.99 for the 3 books) and give it a serious go.

Next week, the new C.J. Cherryh book is out (Visitor), Martha Wells (already read in ARC form, Edge of Worlds) and The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King. Yea!!!
melita66: (AK blue)
I've been dipping into the Raksura collections of short stories/novellas by Martha Wells while biding time until The Edge of Worlds comes out. The official release date is early April, but I've had an alert set on several sites and an ARC finally showed up on one of them. It arrived yesterday, and somewhat fortuitously, I'm sick enough that I stayed home today--after a several hour wait at urgent care, and a leisurely trip to the supermarket.

Prior to that, I finished Kingfisher by Patricia McKillip. Interesting milieu, there's a king, and witches, and knights, but the technology is around current day. I liked it, but had trouble caring about the characters (there's a lot) and it felt like some willful blindness. It's a Arthur/round table analog, but no one's heard of the fisher king, or the wild goose chase quest? Not as opaque to me as, say, The Sorcerer and the Cygnet, but it didn't feel as tightly plotted or interesting as some of the her other books.

I've discovered the joy of Murdoch Mysteries, a police procedural set in Toronto at the end of the 19th century. Murdoch is an inspector who's savvy to all the latest crime-fighting technology, and often reproduces ingenious devices that he's heard about (like a seismograph). His faithful constable, Crabtree, is enthusiastic about fantastical reasons for a crime (it must be mole men!) and wants to become a mystery writer. I turned around and read the first book of the series it's based upon, Except the Dying, by Maureen Jennings. Eh, it's fun, but at $7 - $10 per book, I'll be spacing them out.

I'm also reading Desert Rains by Jana S. Brown which was recommended by...sartorias, I believe. It's a western romance set on another planet. Technology is mixed (horse and wagon and cars, sophisticated irrigation systems and weather moderation). Another eh, I'm still reading, but it'll be in between books I want to read more.
melita66: (ship)
I sampled Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and then hurriedly bought and inhaled it. Set in a multi-species universe, it details the lives of a small crew who punch 'holes' that enable FTL travel between solar systems. Normally, they take on smaller jobs, but the captain is hinted at a possible well-paying job that would put them well into the black. The majority of the book details the personal lives of the people on the ship on their journey to this job.

When I was looking at reviews, I saw at least one that thought it was slow-moving. Because I'm a character-oriented reader, I thought the pace was lovely and quite enjoyed learning about the crew of the Wayfarer. Highly recommended.

I then reread (again!) Martha Wells' Raksura trilogy because I needed me some Moon and Stone. Wells is one of my absolute favorite writers with smart characters and interesting milieus. I can hardly wait for the next book! (two more are planned)

I had a last minute trip in mid-January to visit a friend who's dying of cancer (F U cancer!) and meet up with several friends from college. I remembered to take my ARC (advanced reviewer's copy) of Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane. It's part of her Young Wizards series. Nita, Kit, and Dairine are invited to mentor newer wizards as part of a giant, well, wizarding fair. The participants are to build the most amazing wizardries they can, that will benefit others. The winner gets a year-long internship with the Planetary wizard of Earth. Nita and Kit are definitely together as a romantic couple as well as a wizardly team, but are taking it slowly. Dairine is still dealing with the disappearance of Roshaun in a previous book, and their two mentees have their own issues. I liked it a lot, just as I like almost all Duane books, but I think a few of the other books are stronger.

I also continued reading the Tremontaine serial by Ellen Kushner and several other authors. The last segment was released this week and resolved some of the threads. I was greeted at the end of the segment with the news that it will resume later this year. Argh!

I'm currently nearing the end of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold. I previously read the E-ARC. A lovely, character-driven entry. Stuff happens, but it's mostly detailing how Cordelia Vorkosigan and Oliver Jole are finally moving on after Aral's death.
melita66: (ghibli house)
I continued reading more Melissa McShane books. Rider of the Crown was released this month. It follows a young woman in a nomadic tribe who ends up bound for a year to another, Viking-ish tribe's leader, as part of a peace treaty. No bed rights come with the treaty, luckily for the Imogen. When the heir to the crown of Tremontane shows up as a "guest." Imogen finds herself entangled in the political maneuverings of three countries. this takes place a generation after the first book. Jeffrey (son of Alison and Anthony) is now king. Very much the story of Imogen learning to think beyond her birth role and tribe and finding a place in a larger world.

The fifth book, Oath Bound, of the Order of the Air series by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham was released this month. The series follows the members of a "lodge" aka magical lodge as they negotiate life, and threats to the world. Alma, Lewis, and Mitch are pilots. Alma was an ambulance drive in WWI while the other two were fighter pilots. Stasi is a mysterious European who's a medium and an ex-jewel thief. Finally, Jerry is a classicist and archaeologist. Jerry is in Alexandria on a Ptolemaic dig while covertly looking for the Soma--Alexander the Great's tomb. The rest of the time are in Italy at an air show showing off two different airplanes. An old friend of Jerry's from Ethiopia shows up and it will require the entire team to help him. Well, Stasi tangentially but she gets a great scene. We get some archaeology, some great dogfights and long-distance flying...I think this is my favorite of the series.

I then decided that I couldn't wait until Monday to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens and started reading the novelization on Saturday/finished on Sunday. It's short, writing is...I'll generously say rushed, so only for completists. I liked the movie a lot, but it's not my favorite of the series. It may improve on a rewatch or two. So glad that Rey was the force sensitive and that she *can* take care of herself. Otherwise, very fun to see old friends and the new characters are interesting.

I then went back to McShane for a set of short stories about Zara North, Anthony's sister and Queen before she died. As it turned out, she had inherent magic and is effectively immortal. Revealing that could have destroyed the country so she staged her death and went out into the world. An interesting reversal of Heinlein's Time Enough for Love as Zara learns that she needs the connections to people to make live worth living.
melita66: (ship)
Jeweled Fire is the third book of the Elemental Blessings series by Sharon Shinn. So far the books have focused on several women who were all heirs to the crown of Welce. This book focuses on Corene. Corene is the most ambitious, and has found out that she won't take the crown. She decides to drastically change her life by traveling to a neighboring kingdom and vying to marry one of the heirs. There, she makes friends but runs into several mysteries--like why have some many of the royal family died in recent years? Shinn's books are always interesting and fun to read.

I then decided to try the first installment of serial novel, Tremontaine, that is being published in 13 installments over several months. It's set in the titular dukedom, home to Ellen Kushner's novels--Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, and one co-written with Delia Sherman, The Fall of the Kings. It's set before Swordspoint and so far we've met the current Duke and Duchess of Tremontaine; Micah, a farmer's daughter which a mathematical mind; Ixkaab, a young woman of a Mayan-analog trading clan who's been rusticated from her homeland; and Rafe, a young scholar who espouses a much-derided theory that the earth circles the sun. That last thread caused me much amusement in one of the episodes (I've read 5, and 6 is queued up next) when the latter three were talking. Kaab mistakenly let slip that her people know that the theory is true. When she realized her mistake, as Rafe was ecstatic. She tried hurriedly to obfuscate the matter by throwing a false tidbit out, 'Oh, you think the earth is a sphere. Ha-ha, of course not, it's an ellipsoid!" Oh, that was fun. (yeah, I'm a geodesy/cartography/GIS/map projections geek, why do you ask?)

After episode 5, I decided to try Melissa McShane's first book in her (oddly enough) The Crown of Tremontane series, Servant to the Crown. I'd read her The Smoke-Scented Girl earlier this year and enjoyed it. In this book, Alison Quinn, Duchess of Waxwold and editor of Quinn Press, is summoned to the capital city to become a lady-in-waiting to the Dowager Consort. She's furious as she likes her job and life perfectly well, thank you! Anyway, she does take up her duties and gets embroiled with the heir but also a political struggle between the crown and the Scholia, the pre-eminent university. Quite enjoyable. It's mostly a romance, and just what I felt like reading.

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