melita66: (ship)
First off is Melissa McShane's Burning Bright, set at approximate Napoleonic level of technology and culture. Elinor can control fire. Rather than be stuck in a marriage where her spouse only cares about her breeding potential, Elinor volunteers to join the Royal Navy. Assigned to the Athena, she find camaraderie with other Extraordinary Talents assigned to the ship, including the Captain. Faced with political maneuvering, the wonderful feelings she has when manipulating fire, the horror at killing, there's a good bit going on in this story. The descriptions of Extraordinary talents are well done, and I became quite involved in the story by the end. I'll continue to hunt out new work by McShane.

I then read a book and some short stories by Laurie R. King in her Russell/Holmes series. A Letter of Mary is early in the series and involves a gift from a archaeologist working in Palestine. After delivering the gift, she is killed in London leaving Russell and Holmes to first figure out whether it was an accident or not, and when it's proved to be deliberate, whodunit? Not my favorite of the series but still entertaining. A collection, Mary Russell's War was also published this fall. I'd read a few of the stories but some were new for the book. I'd say for completists only.

Finally, finally, Becky Chambers new book, A Closed and Common Orbit, was released. It starts off directly after A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet where the AI that used to be Lovey (Lovelace) has now been installed in a body kit. Unable to stay on board her ship, she decides to go with Pepper, an engineer. Part of the book details Pepper's back story (as a young girl named Jane), switching between the past and the present story of Sidra. Sidra is having problems adjusting to life outside of a ship as her software/impulses are very unsuited for living in a crowded, lively city. Jane's story is more fraught as she was born to be a junk sorter, looking for recyclables and scrap metal. Once a certain age, the older cohorts disappear. Through a chain of circumstances, Jane ends up outside the factory and takes up residence within a shuttle that still has a working AI aboard. I really loved this book. Maybe a smidgeon less than the prior book, but only a smidgeon. Some people say not much happens in these books. Yeah, they're not slam-bang, go-go-go, but instead focus on the smaller stories, in some ways, the every day stories of life. More, more, more!

Next up was Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn. It's a direct sequel (but following a secondary character) to Jeweled Fire. Leah has returned to Chialto to try to connect with her daughter that she abandoned years before. Darien, the spymaster and soon-to-be king, decides to make use of her talents. Leah left a man behind, and slowly discovers that she wants to see him again. He has some terrible secrets (of course). I enjoyed it a lot, as I've liked all the Elementary Blessings books.

Then I read two shorter works while deciding what to read next. Lois McMaster Bujold released another novella about Penric and his demon Desdemona, Penric's Mission. Becoming unhappy under a new bishop, the local duke (count?) sends him on a mission to try to entice a disgraced general from a neighboring land. Wheels within wheels, Penric is uncovered upon arrival and has to save himself and the general (and his pretty sister). I liked it much better than the previous novella, Penric's Shaman. Something about the Weald (also in The Hallowed Hunt) just doesn't appeal to me. I don't mind the Hallowed Hunt, but I have a hard time remembering anything about it, and it's not one of the books that I reread very often. Anyway, Penric et al. are in good form and it's a lot of fun.

Lastly, I read a short work by Stephanie Burgis, "The Art of Deception". Set in a fantasy world, a down-and-out swordsman is tricked into accompanying his landlady back to her home. She's a possible successor to the position of head librarian at the White Library, a repository of all knowledge, including magic. Deceptions abound with some nice twists along the way.
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.

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November 2016

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