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: (ghibli house)
I got a bit behind there.

Martha Wells had a new book out, The Edge of Worlds, which is the start of a duology in her Raksura series. Indigo Cloud experiences some prophetic dreams that hint at disaster. It turns out that other courts have experienced the same thing. Moon and Jade decide that they need to investigate before the disaster strikes. It turns out that some groundlings are investigating a city that may be a Raksura/Fell Forerunner city. If so, is there some horrible creature imprisoned there like the one in The Siren Depths? Moon is really settling in to role as consort, and quite happy now that there's a clutch. Some old friends show up for the journey--if you've read the books, you can likely guess that one is Delin. More good fun, but there's a definitely cliff-hanger for the next book, The Harbors of the Sun, which is supposed to be turned into the publisher by next month.

I then read The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King. After a brief start with Mary facing down an angry man with a gun, we spend a good chunk of the book with Sherlock as he tries to track down what happened to Mary. The angry man claims to be Mrs. Hudson's son and good portion of the book is her story.

While waiting for other books to be released, I decided to reread Emma Bull's War for the Oaks. It's set in Minneapolis and is full of the 1980's music vibe. Prince had died recently and I thought it would be a good tribute. The main character is Eddi McCandry, a singer song-writer and guitarist. She quits her current band (which is falling apart) and her relationship with the band's leader. Her best friend (and drummer), Carla, tells Eddi to put together her own band. Meanwhile, Eddi is recruited to provide a link to the mortal world for the local fey folk who plan to war with the unseelie. Linking to mortals means that the fey can be killed and make the war more meaningful. Some lovely descriptions of music-making and how a group of musicians becomes a "band." The Phooka (woof!) is a great character too.

The latest entry in the Foreigner series by Cherryh, Visitor, is out. Not a place to start the series. The kyo finally show up and Bren has to try to not get into a war with them, and keep the peace. The kyo have a big surprise for Bren. I thought, 'oh, she's not going to go *there*. Oh, yes, she is' which disappointed me a bit, but the consequences and what Bren decides to do were very surprising for me.

I was again waiting a new release, and decided to re-read Fairs' Point by Melissa Scott. It's set in a matriarchal, quasi-Low Countries Renaissance setting. People are disappearing in Astreiant and money is being stolen out of locked boxes near the time of the yearly dog (terriers) races. Law enforcement is doing by Pointsmen. Nico Rathe is trying to investigate the crimes but hampered because they're not in his jurisdiction and there's a bit of a feud going on between him and his counterpoint at another station. Meanwhile, his leman, Philip Eslingen, is given a basket-terrier pup as payment of a debt. Philip ends up doing a good chunk of the investigation since he's thick in the middle of the issues. Another great installment.

Finally, Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay came out in mid-May. It set in the world of two moons and 900 years after Sarantine Mosaic. Sarantium was conquered 25 years before by the Asharites and is now called Astarias. The story mainly follows 5 people and is set in the eastern Mediterranean. Pero Villani is an Seressini (Veneto) artist sent to paint a portrait of the khalif of Astarias. Leonora Valeri, recently disgraced by childbirth out-of-wedlock, is also recruited to accompany a Seressini doctor to Dubrava (Dubrovnik) as a spy. They travel on a Dubravaen ship contracted to the Djivo family. The younger son, Marin, is on board. The fourth viewpoint character, Danica Gradek from Senjan, is part of a raiding party looking for Asharite or Kindath goods. The Senjanis are pirates to many in the Med, but also staunch supporters of the Jaddite emperors. The last "main" character is Damaz, a djanni (Janissary), who was taken as a young boy from a settlement near Senjan. He was born Neven Gradek and is Danica's sister. Kay has the ability to make you gasp with wonder or sadness or amazement at times. There were a few of those, but I find some of his other books to have more of that numinous quality. I also wish the copy editor (or regular editor) had nixed the use of 'sometimes.' I thought it was very overused. The Lions of al-Rassan is still my favorite but there are wondrous parts in the Sarantine Mosaic, Under Heaven and River of Stars. And, of course, the Fionavar Tapestry.

Edited on 30 May 2016 to add a bit to the GGK paragraph.
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: (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: (ghibli house)
Oy. Well, I'm finishing about a book a month. I guess kids'll do that to you. In mid-September, I finished Melissa Scott and Jo Graham's Lost Things. It's the start of a new series, set after WWI. The main characters work or are associated with Gilchrist Aviation. Alma Gilchrist is the owner and widow of its founder. She's a pilot herself and employs two other pilots: Lewis Segura and Mitch Sorley. An old friend of Alma and Mitch (and Gil, the founder), Dr. Jerry Ballard, an ex-archaeologist, is also connected. While all are veterans of the Great War, Lewis finds out the others have a deeper connection which becomes important when they're faced with trying to defeat a creature released from a dig in Italy.

In this world, magic is real and supernatural creatures exist. I wanted to like this book more than I did. I can't tell how much life stuff may be interfering. It's very difficult to get more than an hour's reading time so I'm not getting into the story as deeply as I used to. I do like the characters, but a lot of the book felt like set-up, just introducing the characters and their lives. Now that that's been done, I look forward to the next book. The world-building/setting is believable. There are some issues with Alma sharing a room with Lewis--they're lovers, but you can't just check into a respectable hotel in the 20s, in the same way you can today. The aviation is loads of fun, beyond the planes of Gilchrist Aviation, we also get to see a dirigible and its workings on a trans-Atlantic journey. Consequences are also dealt with well--what do you have to do after abandoning your luggage which includes your passports and money? Some authors would skimp on this, but Scott and Graham have it take time, just as it would in real life. If you like either author, or (recent) historical fantasy, give it a try.

It then took me most of another month to read Laurie R. King's Garment of Shadows, the latest book in her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. Set in Morocco at the time of Rif Rebellion, Russell wakes up with a bandaged head, and most of her memory gone. She soon manages to be reunited with Holmes who have to solve the disappearance of a government agent as well as deal with the political shenanigans going on in Morocco at this time. Much better than the previous book, it occurs directly after it, although the movie company is thankfully, off stage. (The previous book contains a movie company filming The Pirates of Penzance. Russell went undercover, and then stayed to participate) This is not one of my favorite novels of the series and I wouldn't suggest someone start here.

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