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)
Lois McMaster Bujold released a novella, a sequel of "Penric and the Demon", called "Penric and the Shaman". Penric is now past his training and has settled down into an interesting life with Desdemona (the demon). They are assigned to chase a Welce man accused of murder. The man is trying to find someone to help him while dealing with some magic gone bad and emotional trauma. I thought it was a little slow in the middle, and picked up near the end. Recommended if you liked "Penric and the Demon" (although I'd like to see more of Penric's training!)

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller also released the new e-chapbook, Sleeping with the Enemy, which contains two stories: "Chimera" and "Friend of a Friend". Both are set of Surebleak and fill in some side stories within the main sequence. Both are good, solid work--recommended.

I then went on a re-read spree of Kristine Smith's Jani Kilian series: Code of Conduct, Rules of Conflict, Law of Survival, Contact Imminent, and Endgame. Jani is a colony girl in a time when being of a Family is vastly important. Jani becomes one of the first enrollees at the idomeni Academy. One of the idomeni high religious leaders believes the only way forward for idomeni and humans is to blend via hybridization. After graduating, she's joins the military and is stationed there. A civil war breaks out among the idomeni. After the war, Jani ends up on the run from...everyone. The first book begins when she is tracked down after 20 years by a former lover--who's now in trouble and wants her tenacity and smarts. Of course, it's helpful that she's a fugitive and will have to depend on him to keep her safe.

Probably the only series where the main character is a forensic accountant.
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.
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: (ship)
After a big purchase of books on "Buy from Tor" day, plus illness, busyness at work, I haven't been in the book to read a new author.

Instead I reread Patricia Wrede's Frontier Magic series which is comprised of:


  • Thirteenth Child

  • Across the Great Barrier

  • The Far West



Set in the 1800s, it's an alternative Earth complete with magic and a lot of magical plants and creatures. Franklin, Jefferson, and ...someone else set up a magical barrier along the Mississippi, and connecting into the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence to hold back the majority of the magical creatures and enable homesteading. A few hardy souls are starting to homestead on the far side of barrier and investigate what's in the west. Eff is the thirteenth child of a college professor father, and the twin of a double-seventh son. She's supposed to be quite unlucky based on classical magic theory, and having problems with relatives who believe it. Her parents decide to relocate to the frontier and a new college where it won't be obvious that she's a thirteenth child. Eff ends up assisting professors in caring and studying the fauna and flora, including traveling beyond the great barrier. Very fun stories, but reading them back-to-back, I found myself getting a little bored in the third book--too repetitive. I'd still love to catch up with Eff.

I then felt like reading Caroline Stevermer's A Scholar of Magics but thought I should read A College of Magics. The latter focuses on Faris Nallaneen, the heir to a Ruritanian country in eastern Europe. Sent off to Greenlaw (in France) to acquire polish, she ends up learning magic too, and becomes quite powerful in her own self. Her best friend, Jane, is a major character in the second book, when she is sent off to Glasscastle (in Britain) to convince a scholar there to take up a similar position to Faris's. While there, she ends up working with Samuel Lambert, an American sharpshooter, who is helping with some research. Both books are just lovely, with interesting twists and turns.

I also read Lois McMaster Bujold's new novella, "Penric's Demon", set in the Chalion universe, I think earlier than Curse of Chalion. Light fluff, but an engaging character.

I also read a short story by Megan Whalen Turner set in her Queen's Thief series. The story is about Eugenides as a child, hell-bent on becoming the Thief like his grandfather.

In other fun news, Martha Wells announced that she's sold a duology, set in the Raksura universe. Yay!!! Happy Dance!!!!

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