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: (AK blue)
I've been dipping into the Raksura collections of short stories/novellas by Martha Wells while biding time until The Edge of Worlds comes out. The official release date is early April, but I've had an alert set on several sites and an ARC finally showed up on one of them. It arrived yesterday, and somewhat fortuitously, I'm sick enough that I stayed home today--after a several hour wait at urgent care, and a leisurely trip to the supermarket.

Prior to that, I finished Kingfisher by Patricia McKillip. Interesting milieu, there's a king, and witches, and knights, but the technology is around current day. I liked it, but had trouble caring about the characters (there's a lot) and it felt like some willful blindness. It's a Arthur/round table analog, but no one's heard of the fisher king, or the wild goose chase quest? Not as opaque to me as, say, The Sorcerer and the Cygnet, but it didn't feel as tightly plotted or interesting as some of the her other books.

I've discovered the joy of Murdoch Mysteries, a police procedural set in Toronto at the end of the 19th century. Murdoch is an inspector who's savvy to all the latest crime-fighting technology, and often reproduces ingenious devices that he's heard about (like a seismograph). His faithful constable, Crabtree, is enthusiastic about fantastical reasons for a crime (it must be mole men!) and wants to become a mystery writer. I turned around and read the first book of the series it's based upon, Except the Dying, by Maureen Jennings. Eh, it's fun, but at $7 - $10 per book, I'll be spacing them out.

I'm also reading Desert Rains by Jana S. Brown which was recommended by...sartorias, I believe. It's a western romance set on another planet. Technology is mixed (horse and wagon and cars, sophisticated irrigation systems and weather moderation). Another eh, I'm still reading, but it'll be in between books I want to read more.
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: (iceberg)
In May, I finally finished Joel Shepherd's late Cassandra Kresnov book, Originator. Kresnov is a cyborg (artificial person?) who fled her creators in the League and has made a home for herself on Callay, a Federation planet. More cyborgs have ended up there and many are getting high government positions. While Tanushan society is relatively liberal, the pressures are building. The League is having trouble with societies going haywire which turns out to be due to using alien technology in their implants and networking technology. Kresnov and her kin aren't effected by it (as much). There is much interdepartmental maneuvering and politicking between various groups and more is revealed of the aliens. Kresnov has also adopted three orphans she found in a previous book and is finding strange new feelings arising in her relationships with them. Generally very fast-paced stories with a lot going on. Kresnov's been powering up quite a bit, which I'm eh about. Recommended, but start with the first book, Crossover.

I then decided to read Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor as it's a Hugo nominee. I was iffy about reading it based on several reviews that I'd seen. I did enjoy it a lot, and hope that she writes more in this world. I didn't think it was great! the way some do, and will rank it below Ancillary Sword. In a world filled with elves and goblins, the elvish emperor married among others, a goblin for political reasons. She gave birth to a boy, who was several down in the order of inheritance. After his mother's death, he was exiled to a distant estate with a guardian who hated him. As a late teenager, his father and all the heirs ahead of him are killed in an airship crash. The reviled, innocent Maia has to navigate a complex court and try to keep from being killed himself. It was very interesting to see Maia try to navigate the court, and still try true to himself. He does find a few allies, but some bitter betrayals as well.

While waiting for the second Raksura collection by Martha Wells to arrive, I re-read the trilogy, The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, and The Siren Depths. What can I say again? I really, really like these books, and hope Wells will be able to publish more in the future. I think there are no contracts for more, unfortunately. The collection, Stories of the Raksure II: The Dead City and The Dark Earth Below, are novellas. The first takes place just after Moon fled the city of Saraseil after it was taken over (and consumed) by the Fell. Moon had been orphaned as a child and didn't know what race he was. The Fell were the first ones that he'd see that looked similar. He soon realized they weren't his people, and fled. The settlement that he winds up in is menaced by "miners" and a second race that have come to fight the miners for control of a city buried underneath the jungle. "Mimesis" is a story about Jade and was previously published. "The Dark Earth Below" takes place as Jade is about to give birth. The Kek, a frail vegetarian race that lives on the forest flow below Indigo Cloud colony (set high in a giant tree), have asked the Raksura to help find some missing members. They end up finding an airship with injured people. How they got injured is the mystery they have to solve. Another very good collection from Wells.

While poking around on Amazon looking for Kindle ebooks, I came across a self-published collection by Jennifer Roberson with two stories in her Tiger and Del series. The first one, "The Lady and the Tiger", which has a lovely twist if you aren't familiar with the series. "Rite of Passage" is set sometime early during the series when they take a commission to retrieve an important man's son.

Finally, I just raced through Andy Weir's The Martian. Set in the near future, the main character Mark Watney is a member of Ares 3, the first manned mission to set foot on Mars. A disaster takes over the mission, Watney is injured and presumed dead, and the rest of the crew flee the planet. As it turns out, he isn't, and aided by his mechanical engineer/botanist background, tries to figure out how he can survive for 4 years until Ares 4 arrives. Communications are out, so he thinks no one realizes that he's alive. Within a few months, NASA does realize, and a wild, all-out-effort starts to try to rescue him. Totally a geek book, full of techno-speak. As many have pointed out, the characterizations are shallow at best, but hey! that's not what the books about. I don't remember if I saw this xkcd cartoon before I started reading it or not, but it sums up the book pretty good.



If you like this kind of thing, loads and loads of fun. There was one instance when someone on earth goes, hmmm, and starts calculating. I guessed what it was! That was nice. Later, the announcement that the idea was going to be followed through on was announced with, "XX XX is a steely-eyed missile man" and I started laughing and shouted, Apollo 13!
melita66: (raven)
Another big gap between posts!

I read a few more Elizabeth Peters books from the Amelia Peabody-Emerson series, all later ones. There are rumors of a final book but only a large print edition listing has shown up.

Based on a recommendation by Sherwood Smith, I read Melissa McShane's The Smoke-Scented Girl. Set in an alternative 19th century world complete with magic, Evon is a wunderkind, one of the strongest magicians for a generation. He's currently employed by a magic firm and provides custom solutions. His friend, Piercy, works for the government and manages to hire Evon. The goal is to locate a rogue magician that is immolating people scattered across the country. One purpose is just to stop the murders but the government (and Evon's regular employer) want the secret to the fire spell so that it can be used against an invading army. As Evon and Piercy investigate the murders, Evon realizes that it's a woman and that the spell may not be under her control. The "murders" are mostly of people who some might say deserve it--child molesters, murders, etc. Evon and Piercy finally do catch up with Kerensa who is under the control of a great spell. They now have to stay out of the hands of another magician's group, the government (to free Kerensa is not the govt's goal), and figure out the spell's connection to the invading army.

I enjoyed the book. The characters are well-drawn. I liked the fact that Evon kept thinking that he was close to a solution then finding out he'd been wrong and having to completely change his approach.

Joanna Glenn is a pseudonym of Jo Graham and Passion's Dance is an early book finally released. Because it's a historical romance, she's released it under the Glenn name. It's set in Paris in mid-19th century and is the story of a Paris Opera chorus dancer (Mirande) who gets involved with a destitute lord (Bernard) and treason! It's written early in her career and doesn't have the depth of Graham's later works (which are all recommended btw).

I then tore through the latest C.J. Cherryh novel, Tracker, set in her Atevi universe. It's about two years after Bren, Cajeiri, and Ilisidi returned to the atevi homeworld and helped Tabini (Cajeiri's father and Ilisidi's grandson) back into power. The refugees from Reunion station are mostly on hold in the orbital station and tensions are high. Bren finally agrees to help figure out a solution when the kyo, the aliens they met earlier, show up for a visit. So the original contact team--Bren, Cajeiri, and Ilisidi--have to head to the station. Meanwhile, both the station's chief and the "head" of the Reunion refugees are causing problems and must be taken care of...

Let me tell you--cliffhanger!! While the obstructing leaders are dealt with, and some other issues are handled, the kyo haven't even reached the station yet! Argh!!

Martha Wells then had a short story collection, Between Worlds published as part of a kickstarter campaign. There were two Ile-Rien stories, one about Kade and another with Reynard and Nicholas just before Nicholas meets Madeline. The latter story is new (yea!!). The other stories in the collection are about Ilias and Giliead in Cineth. Loads of fun revisting Ile-Rien and Cineth.

I then read a contemporary story by Moira J. Moore ("Resenting the Hero" series) called The CEO Can Drop Dead which she calls a "That's Not Romance Novel." A writer who takes temp jobs to help pay the bills ends up at a start-up organizing past emails to see whether a lawsuit against another company is possible. The founder/CEO, Lance, immediately starts targeting her first as a bully, then continuing to try to get her into bed. Catherine wants nothing to do with him and spends several weeks trying to avoid, mitigate, and just get out with her job done. A nice display of how a predator makes use of "oh, he's such a great guy" and getting aid from colleagues and underlings who think actions like his are "no big deal." Moore has promised a portion of her royalties to organizations that deals with survivors of abuse.

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November 2016

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