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Disclaimer: I won this book from Graeme Flory, Graeme's Fantasy Book Review. It was provided to him by Del Rey.

It has taken me a long time to get through Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch. I can't figure out why. It has lots of things that I like.

1. It's set in London and mostly in an area that I'm familiar with.
2. Police procedural
3. Smart-ish main character. I think Leslie is smarter, and it looks like she'll have a bigger part in the next book.
4. Has an interesting twist that Peter Grant (main character) is trying to put magic on a scientific footing.
5. Well written.

Anyhoo, I bogged down in this one several times, and did the same thing in the first book, Midnight Riot (UK title: Rivers of London). You can read my comments about that book here. At the time, I wasn't sure about buying the 2nd book. Then I won a copy in one of Graeme's drawings. Since then, I read about 50 pages, stopped, took it on 2 or 3 trips, managed to get a few chapters on, stopped, and finally plowed through it (after re-reading several chapters) over a few days. There did seem to be fewer explanations-to-our-US-readers then in the first book. Much appreciated! I also liked the jazz connection, although I'm more of a swing girl, rather than the musician's musician type of jazz that Peter's father plays.

So, a bit about the story. Peter Grant is a constable who can work magic and is apprenticed to the last practicing magician in London, who's also on the force. He's now getting called in to any odd crimes. In this book, a jazz musician is found dead. It looks like heart trouble, but they discover it was really done through magic. Several other deaths in the past are similar, and then more bodies start piling up. I thought that he was a bit stupid in this book, but maybe it was just the hormones. There's a nice running battle with a baddie near the end that I enjoyed and we get a nice reveal at the end with Leslie. I'm definitely picking up the next book, Whispers Under Ground, scheduled for US release in January 2012.

p.s. Sad mood because a colleague and friend at work has lost his son.
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I traveled to Houston this week. Traveling usually derails reading but there was an exception this time. I'd started a reread of Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce, but didn't want to carry the hb with me. Instead I took Aaronovitch's Moon over Soho and got about a third of the way through.

Sharon Lee posted that the e-arc of Ghost Ship was going to be available at this week. An e-arc is an electronic advanced reader's copy. Normally an arc (cheaply published) is sent out to reviewers a few months before the publication date. The text is a beta version--it may or may not have been through copy-editing and will often contains typos and other mistakes. Although they're not supposed to be sold or passed on, there's always been a market for them, and if the book is anticipated...Prices can get into the hundreds. I've bought several over the years, usually for around $10-$40 (usually $15-$20), but I always buy the hardcover as soon as it's out as well.

Jim Baen found that rabid fans were willing to pay for an electronic version, $15. It's also possible to buy a webscription for a particular month. It contains 6 or so books, 3-4 new ones, the rest already published. For the new ones, in the months coming up to publication, another portion of the books can be downloaded. For the July 2011 webscription, the first halves of the new books are now available.

Ghost Ship went live on Tuesday. Due to work commitments, I couldn't get access to it until that evening. I probably got about halfway before I collapsed, then finished it the next night. I'm not going to say much about it and definitely no spoilers. It joins the main I Dare storylines to Theo Waitley's (Fledgling, Saltation). It's closer in feel to Plan B or I Dare--a lot of plotlines and viewpoint characters--than to Conflict of Honors or Fledgling. My thoughts at the end consisted of--Argh! I have to wait for the next book! I want to read more of these people!

So I may be rereading some of the books. I particularly want to read Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon again.

On the plane ride home, I should have picked up Moon over Soho. I instead read a good chunk of Justice Hall by Laurie R. King on my android phone. Which kills the battery like crazy.

I've picked up Trickster's Choice again and should finish it today.

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I finally got my copy of Tortall and Other Tales from Tamora Pierce. Most stories take place in her existing world of Tortall, but there are one or two contemporary stories. I think my favorite was "Nawat" which occurs after Trickster's Queen. Nawat is a crow who can turn into a man. He helped Aly (daughter of Alanna) restore the native people to the throne of the Copper Isles. Aly is now the spymaster to the crown and Nawat her husband and second in command (sort of).

"Lost" was my second favorite, probably because of the mathematics. A merchant's daughter has the true gift of mathematical reasoning. Although she's attending merchant's school, her current math teacher wants her to "show all work"--but she can't see why as she knows the answers are correct. Her father, who could hardly be convinced that she should attend school, plans to use this as an excuse to pull her out. Luckily, she meets a Tortallan architect who champions her. Adria does manage to rescue herself though, which was great.

I think many of the stories could be read by someone who hasn't read other Pierce books, but the stories will be more meaningful if you have.

My current favorite Pierce series are Trickster and Beka Cooper. Beka Cooper is ongoing (new book later this year!). It's set 200 years before the Alanna series and is about a young woman who becomes a Provost's Guard (like a police force).

Several blogs have been talking about Ben Aaronovitch's Midnight Riot (in the UK: Rivers of London). Peter Grant is finishing his probationary period as a police constable and hopes to be moved to a detective unit. Instead he ends up in a dead-end group, until he witnesses a strange death and gets information from a ghost. He's seconded to Detective Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England. I enjoyed the book until about halfway through when I caught the flu for the first time in years. That pretty well drained my pleasure and energy. I think I had been losing interest in the book before the illness, but will give it the benefit of a doubt and probably pick up book 2, Moon over Soho, at some point. I did enjoy Peter's scientific investigation of how magic affects technology and the long time it takes him to learn new techniques. Someone else pointed out that the book has time problems. You'll be reading along and suddenly realize that there's been a skip of months. I didn't feel the transitions were handled very well.

With the flu lingering, I headed straight to books that I'd already read. I decided to read Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion with the idea that I would also read Paladin of Souls. This series has an interesting theological underpinning. The religion is Quintarian and worships five gods: Father, Mother, Daughter, Son/Brother, and the Bastard. Next door is the Quadrene religion who believes the Bastard is a demon and will torture and defile any devotees of the Bastard that they can get their hands on. The politics is loosely the princedoms of Spain (Quintarians) before the reconquista with the Quadrenes playing the Moors. The geography has been inverted--the Quadrenes are on the northern coast of the Ibran (Iberia) peninsula. Lupe dy Cazaril was a noble landowner's son who became a page, then a courier and spy, warrior, etc. He gets on the wrong side of the brother of the Chancellor and ends up sold to the Quadrenes as a galley slave. After a few years, he is miraculously released and, suffering from physical and mental issues, decides to make his way to Valenda where he was a page originally. He ends up tutor for the heir to the heir to the throne, Iselle, and finds out that the royal house of Chalion is under a curse. The worldbuilding is detailed and most characters are finely drawn. With Bujold's books I definitely feel that I am 'there.' It's very easy to loose yourself within the book.

Paladin of Souls takes place a few  years after the end of The Curse of Chalion. Ista was the 2nd wife of Ias and is the mother of Iselle. The gods tried to use her to lift the curse in the previous generation, but it was too strong. Because of her failure and the curse's effects, she ended up in Valenda under loving, but tight security and thought mad. She's never really been mad, but terrified of the curse's effect on her children and Chalion. In PoS, her grandmother has finally died and she's now wondering what to do. Ista is desperate to get out of Valenda; to get some sort of freedom. She decides to go on pilgrimage. CoC is the Daughter's book. Cazaril is a devotee of the son (many military men are). Ista turns out to be taken up by the Bastard who decides she's just who he's looking for.

I haven't decided yet whether to read The Hallowed Hunt. I've only read it once, but thought it 'eh' at the time, but others have mentioned liking it more upon rereading. For now I'm reading Death Cloud, the start of a young adult series about a young Sherlock Holmes.


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