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: (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.
melita66: (ship)
Whew, I just could not seem to get my act together and post.

I re-read some more Laurie R. King: The Beekeeper's Apprentice and A Monstrous Regiment of Women. I dearly love me some Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes and am very much looking forward to The Murder of Mary Russell, due out next spring.

I then scarfed down Ann Leckie's Ancillary Mercy. It's a quieter novel, in some ways, very domestic but with an interesting twist at the end that I didn't anticipate. I'm sorry that currently there are no plans for more Breq although Leckie does plan more stories in the Radchaai universe.

Stephanie Burgis has a short story (novelette?) out, "Undead Philosophy 101" which was entertaining (but not Kat, darn it!).

I then started, but didn't finish Zen Cho's Sorceror to the Crown. I liked it fine, but never really felt a burning desire to find what's going to happen to the characters, so it got dropped for another book. I'll try to finish it at some point.

Also started (and closer to completion at 78%), was Diane Duane's Life Boats, a novel in her Young Wizards series. Nita and Kit (and Dairine, Tom, Carl, and many other wizards from previous books) are sent to a planet who's binary companion/moon is about to blow up, annihilating anyone left on the planet. An effort has already begun to "terraform" other worlds for the natives and transport them, but a significant number are refusing to go. Nita and Kit are tasked with helping maintain the world gates that are shuttling people to the new worlds.

It was dropped (I will finish it next, likely) to read the eARC (electronic advanced reader copy, like a beta version) of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold. I characterized this to someone who just whipped through the Miles books in the last year, as "the story of two people who were devastated by Aral's death and are now, 3 years later, ready to move on and see where life will take them." It's set on Sergyar and focuses on Cordelia and Jole. Jole was aide to Aral, then became Admiral of the Sergyar system several years prior. Miles, and family, does make a brief appearance.

Next up: Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn and Black Wolves by Kate Elliott.
melita66: (iceberg)
In May, I finally finished Joel Shepherd's late Cassandra Kresnov book, Originator. Kresnov is a cyborg (artificial person?) who fled her creators in the League and has made a home for herself on Callay, a Federation planet. More cyborgs have ended up there and many are getting high government positions. While Tanushan society is relatively liberal, the pressures are building. The League is having trouble with societies going haywire which turns out to be due to using alien technology in their implants and networking technology. Kresnov and her kin aren't effected by it (as much). There is much interdepartmental maneuvering and politicking between various groups and more is revealed of the aliens. Kresnov has also adopted three orphans she found in a previous book and is finding strange new feelings arising in her relationships with them. Generally very fast-paced stories with a lot going on. Kresnov's been powering up quite a bit, which I'm eh about. Recommended, but start with the first book, Crossover.

I then decided to read Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor as it's a Hugo nominee. I was iffy about reading it based on several reviews that I'd seen. I did enjoy it a lot, and hope that she writes more in this world. I didn't think it was great! the way some do, and will rank it below Ancillary Sword. In a world filled with elves and goblins, the elvish emperor married among others, a goblin for political reasons. She gave birth to a boy, who was several down in the order of inheritance. After his mother's death, he was exiled to a distant estate with a guardian who hated him. As a late teenager, his father and all the heirs ahead of him are killed in an airship crash. The reviled, innocent Maia has to navigate a complex court and try to keep from being killed himself. It was very interesting to see Maia try to navigate the court, and still try true to himself. He does find a few allies, but some bitter betrayals as well.

While waiting for the second Raksura collection by Martha Wells to arrive, I re-read the trilogy, The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, and The Siren Depths. What can I say again? I really, really like these books, and hope Wells will be able to publish more in the future. I think there are no contracts for more, unfortunately. The collection, Stories of the Raksure II: The Dead City and The Dark Earth Below, are novellas. The first takes place just after Moon fled the city of Saraseil after it was taken over (and consumed) by the Fell. Moon had been orphaned as a child and didn't know what race he was. The Fell were the first ones that he'd see that looked similar. He soon realized they weren't his people, and fled. The settlement that he winds up in is menaced by "miners" and a second race that have come to fight the miners for control of a city buried underneath the jungle. "Mimesis" is a story about Jade and was previously published. "The Dark Earth Below" takes place as Jade is about to give birth. The Kek, a frail vegetarian race that lives on the forest flow below Indigo Cloud colony (set high in a giant tree), have asked the Raksura to help find some missing members. They end up finding an airship with injured people. How they got injured is the mystery they have to solve. Another very good collection from Wells.

While poking around on Amazon looking for Kindle ebooks, I came across a self-published collection by Jennifer Roberson with two stories in her Tiger and Del series. The first one, "The Lady and the Tiger", which has a lovely twist if you aren't familiar with the series. "Rite of Passage" is set sometime early during the series when they take a commission to retrieve an important man's son.

Finally, I just raced through Andy Weir's The Martian. Set in the near future, the main character Mark Watney is a member of Ares 3, the first manned mission to set foot on Mars. A disaster takes over the mission, Watney is injured and presumed dead, and the rest of the crew flee the planet. As it turns out, he isn't, and aided by his mechanical engineer/botanist background, tries to figure out how he can survive for 4 years until Ares 4 arrives. Communications are out, so he thinks no one realizes that he's alive. Within a few months, NASA does realize, and a wild, all-out-effort starts to try to rescue him. Totally a geek book, full of techno-speak. As many have pointed out, the characterizations are shallow at best, but hey! that's not what the books about. I don't remember if I saw this xkcd cartoon before I started reading it or not, but it sums up the book pretty good.



If you like this kind of thing, loads and loads of fun. There was one instance when someone on earth goes, hmmm, and starts calculating. I guessed what it was! That was nice. Later, the announcement that the idea was going to be followed through on was announced with, "XX XX is a steely-eyed missile man" and I started laughing and shouted, Apollo 13!

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November 2016

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