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)
Whew, it's been a while since I posted. I had a few dry periods, particularly over the holidays, but have been cracking along (relatively) since mid-January.

I was waiting for a few books to come out, and none of the new books sitting around were enticing so I ended up (re)reading a few Elizabeth Peters books in the Amelia Peabody-Emerson series. Both were later books, set after Ramses is an adult: Children of the Storm and The Golden One. I enjoyed the later books, after Ramses (Amelia's son) became an adult and had more control over his own destiny. These are set in and around WWI. This series can be an acquired taste. I liked the first book when I read it, somewhat of a pastiche on the old Haggard / romance novels, but Amelia, Emerson, et al. really grown on you, and I've wildly enjoyed almost all the books. I'll shall likely continue to acquire the ebooks and re-read the rest of the series this year. Oh, the Peabody-Emerson clan are British archaeologists in Egypt who end up tangling with a Master Criminal, tomb robbers, spies, and other nefarious characters.

It was definitely a short novel, but I managed somehow to finish Jo Walton's My Real Children over a weekend. It's the story of a woman relegated to an Alzheimer's unit who has confused days, and really confused days. So confusing that sometimes she remembers having 4 children and sometimes remembers having 3 children. The book tells both stories which led out of her having to answer 'yes' or 'no' to her boyfriend about whether she would marry him. Both stories had good and bad parts, so there's no answer as to which answer was correct. I found it very haunting and sad, and very difficult because I'd had a hard week, and it made for a hard weekend too. The ending though, wow. Also hard because my father lost his facilities before he died (as his mother did but hers was gradual and his more abrupt), and my maternal grandfather had also had problems before he died.

I definitely needed an upper after that, and settled on A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold. Miles Vorkosigan has fallen in love...he has a plan! I'm still not sure about the very visceral fight near the end (a bit too slapstick for my liking), but the Council of Counts scene, and of course, the dinner party earlier--priceless! Although someone could read this as their introduction to the Vorkosiverse, reading the rest of the series adds quite a bit to understanding the undercurrents and comments that occur in the book.

The eARC (electronic advanced reader's copy) of Dragon in Exile by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller was released either late in January or early in February. It continues from I Dare, Dragon Ship, and Necessity's Child. It opens a new five book series. Set mostly on Surebleak, it reveals that DoI is definitely still after Korval, and that there are likely other enemies of the clan heading to Surebleak to have their revenge, or to revel in Korval's downfall (as they think). Not a good place to start in the Korval Universe.

I then happened to see a reference that the Cormac and Amelia book was out, Low Midnight. This is a side book to the main Kitty Norville series, featuring Cormac, her husband's cousin, and his resident magician/wizard, Amelia. Cormac was convicted of manslaughter (I think) and has to spend several years in prison. While there, he's taken over by a ghost or spirit of a woman who had been convicted of murder and witchcraft a hundred years earlier. They combine forces to kill a supernatural creature, and Cormac agrees to Amelia's continued presence in his life. In this book, they take on a few mysteries trying to help Kitty and her battle against an ancient vampire who plans to take over the world. I like Cormac and Amelia a lot so was quite happy to read this book.

Meanwhile, the latest Order of the Air book, Wind Raker, by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham was released. Yeaaaa!!! These books deal with a set of aviators in Colorado, Gilchrist Aviation, a medium (she can see and talk to ghosts), and an archaeologist. They're also part of a lodge (magical). In this book, the archaeologist has been given a job on Oahu to prove that he can handle a dig. If it works, he'll be able to work on a dig in Alexandria, where they may have a lead to Alexander the Great's mausoleum. Why is it a problem? Jerry lost part of a leg in WWI, and it's the 1920s so getting around can be difficult. Meanwhile, Gilchrist Aviation is asked to test the new Catalina sea plane, also in Hawaii. At the same time, one of the aviators, Mitch and his wife (the medium), Stasi have custody of the three kids of a laborer/mechanic who left the kids and hasn't returned. Everyone ends up in Hawai'i, where they encounter Pelley again, a woman under a curse, and some early German shenanigans. Lots of fun.
melita66: (ship)
The third book, Silver Bullet, of the Order of the Air series by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham has just been released as an ebook. The printed book will be out in a few weeks. Due to a trip, I was able to purchase the ebook and finish it today.

The Order of the Air series follows five characters, all owners or employees (or otherwise affiliated) with Gilchrist Aviation, a small aviation company based in Colorado Springs. It's the 30s, so Prohibition is in effect (and widely disregarded), the Depression is deepening, and in this book, Roosevelt has just been elected. The characters are also members of a hermetic lodge, and have various arcane powers. Lewis Segura, is a seer, and learning to use his powers with the help of Stasi, a clairvoyant, ghost talker, and sometime thief. She's a European refugee, who never tells the same story twice if she can help it. Alma Gilchrist Segura is a co-owner of Gilchrist. She started it with her first husband (the company's namesake) but he died several years earlier. Her co-owner is Mitch Sorley, a decorated ace from North Carolina, dealing with pretty horrible injuries (although they're not obvious). Lastly is Jerry Ballard, an archaeologist currently on a temporary job in New York City. He lost part of a leg from a war injury and is struggling to get back into archaeology. Stasi and Jerry aren't pilots.

In Colorado, the group is dealing with planes crashing about blue sky lightning. Meanwhile, Jerry has come across what first appears to be an ubiquitous relic but could be the clue to an amazing archaeological find.

Everyone ends up coming back together in Colorado, with both mysteries handled--at least for the short term. There are a few very interesting developments that should have lasting effects on the group. I think this series is just getting better and better. I felt the first book suffered from introducing everyone. Now that that's been done, more story can be told, and a deepening of the characterizations as we learn more about the characters' back stories and current feelings.

Upon reflection, I was surprised at a conversation that Alma and Stasi have. I don't know why Stasi would have the vocabulary since English is at least her third or fourth language. I can't really say more as it would definitely be a spoiler. Also, this book has some (short) explicit sex. Anyway, start with the first book, Lost Things, although you could probably start with the 2nd instead, Steel Blues.
melita66: (ship)
I kept holding off on posting hoping that I'd get another book read, but it's taking longer than I expected. In early October, I finished The Emperor's Agent by Jo Graham. It's the sequel to The General's Mistress which came out last year. The series is a fictionalized account (or maybe secret history) of Ida St. Elme aka Elzelina van Aylde aka Maria Versfelt. She was born in the Netherlands and married young. She ends up abandoning the marriage and becomes the lover of General Moreau in France. Later she becomes Marshal Ney's longtime lover. This book focuses on early love affair with Ney and how she becomes an imperial agent for Napoleon. She's quite an interesting character: bi sexual, a cross-dresser on occasion and can even get glimpses of the future. There are a few sex scenes if that matters to you.

Graham has connected Elza to her Numinous world books--Elza was also Gull (Black Ships), for instance. This closely connected worldbuilding of reincarnation after reincarnation gives depth to the book.
melita66: (ship)
Yeah, early April, as if I'm going to finish another book this month. Actually it might happen because I've just started Martha Wells' new YA novel, Emilie and the Hollow World. A couple of days ago, I finished Steel Blues by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham. It's a sequel to Lost Things and part of the Order of the Air series. I read Lost Things last year. While I enjoyed it, and looked forward to Steel Blues, I found the set-up and character introductions to be a bit slow. With that of the way, I thought Steel Blues moved along a much quicker clip and was the better for it. Set in the 1930s, during the Great Depression, Gilchrist Aviation is struggling after losing a lucrative mail contract. Gilchrist Aviation is owned by Alma Gilchrist Segura and Mitch Sorley. Alma was married to the previous owner, who died, and is now married to Lewis Segura, another pilot. A friend, Dr. Jerry Ballard, also resides with them. He was an archaeologist, but now pieces together work translating and writing a few papers after losing a lower leg in WWI.

They decide that they could save the business if they win a cross-country passenger air race. They don't have the entrance fee, but Henry Kershaw, who owns an aviation company (they have one of his planes) and whom they saved in the previous book, owes them a favor. Duly entered, Alma has a trick up her sleeve that should give them an edge, and an almost sure-fire win. Of course, things get complicated and don't go as planned.

The aviation details are good. I find them quite interesting. I'm definitely looking forward to book 3, Silver Bullet.

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