Like when I'm traveling, I end up re-reading books when I'm ill. The 'flu is finally well over, except for some asthmatic coughing, although it's only this week that I stopped crashing mid-evening.
I did continue on and read The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold. I think this might be the second or third time I've read it which is very unusual for a book by LMB. Coincidentally, Jo Walton has been posting about this series on Tor.com. Here's the review of The Hallowed Hunt.
I have some of the same reservations about it that she does. I find most LMB books to be compulsively readable. I toyed with stopping about halfway after I'd checked the ending, but just kept picking it up again. I should like Ingrey, but just feel eh. He has a wolf spirit bound to him, which occurred when he was a young boy. This should have condemned him to death, but he got a pass from the church because it wasn't by choice, and he was able to bind the wolf spirit, mostly. He has a fearsome reputation, but we mainly hear about it through stories, not by action. I kept thinking to myself, 'Show, don't tell!'
We meet Ingrey as he's on his way to a prince's hunting lodge. The prince (a younger one) has been getting more and more wild. His sister visited on the way to the capital and left him one of her ladies-in-waiting, Ijada. It turns out the prince was binding animal spirits and planned for her to be part of it. Instead she killed him, and the leopard spirit ended up bound to her. Ingrey is sent to find out what happened, clean up the mess, and bring the prince's body and Ijada back to the capital.
Ijada, while a spirited and probably interesting young woman, did not feel that well developed as she spends almost all the book under house arrest. As you might guess, she and Ingrey fall in love, and he spends a lot of time trying to figure out how to get her pardoned--both for the murder-in-self-defense and for now having an animal spirit.
A few of the supporting characters were more interesting--the polar bear, for instance. Just kidding. I think. There's a saint, Hallana, who's much more interesting than the main characters. Anyway, it's still a good book because it's Bujold, but it's not a favorite.
I then managed to read a new book, Death Cloud
by Andrew Lane. I'd been seeing ads for it on Tor.com and thought it looked intriguing. It's the first book in a YA series: Sherlock Holmes The Legend Begins which details how Holmes became the great detective. The summer vacation is beginning and Holmes is waiting for his brother, Mycroft, who's recently started a job in London. Their father is posted overseas and their mother has been ill. Upon arrival, Mycroft informs Sherlock that he'll be staying with other relatives and a tutor has been engaged for him.
The relatives are only friendly in a distant way and the housekeeper is actively antagonistic. Mycroft warned Sherlock about her, but the issue isn't revealed in this book. While waiting for the tutor to show up, Sherlock becomes friends with a boy who travels the canals. The boy has seen a mysterious happening in town. After a death, he sees a yellow cloud leave the building and ooze up over the roof. The man died with pustules on his face, so there are fears of the plague. A 2nd man dies similarly and everyone gets very worried.
Meanwhile the tutor shows up, ichibod crane, oh sorry, I mean, Amyus Crowe. He's an American who was/is a bounty hunter. He can masquerade as a brit if he needs to and can fit into all levels of society, etc. Of course, he has a beautiful daughter who's a bit wild (American, don'cha know) and who's mother (fortuitously) died on the voyage to Britain. She's free to do what she wants! Yeah, picture me rolling my eyes. I did feel like I could practically see the author's hand moving the tokens around. The writing style itself is fine, and I finished the book which says a lot, really. I haven't decided yet whether to read more in this series, but I don't think I'll be buying them in hardcover.
The arrival of the nominating ballot for the World Fantasy Awards triggered a desire to re-read Megan Whalen Turner's A Conspiracy of Kings. The latest book in her Queen's Thief series, it's mainly told by Sophos who we met in The Thief. There were hints in The Thief that Sophos might make a good husband for Helen, queen of Eddis. Sophos is currently heir to Sounis, whose current king (Sophos's uncle) is particularly combative. In King of Attolia (book 3), we learned that Sophos had disappeared. This book tells what happened. Because most of it is set up a Sophos-tells-a-story, I remember that I had felt some distance from the story when I read it the first time. It also suffered in comparison to the other books in the series who are told through Eugenides's eyes. Gen is just a more active protagonist, so this book felt like it had less energy.
This time around, since I didn't immediately read The King of Attolia (or any of the others) directly before, I like it quite a bit more. Sometimes people discuss "if you could meet/eat a meal with anybody, who would you choose?" While there are a few people in history that I would like to do that, I don't think I would find it a comfortable meal, and that's true with many fictional characters that I like as well. Anyway, I think I would prefer to share a meal with Sophos, and possibly Helen (Eddis), than Eugenides or Irene (Attolia)! This is not good book to read first, if you haven't read the others. I would suggest The Thief or possibly The Queen of Attolia.
I still wasn't quite in the mood to pick a new fiction book, so I started A.J. Jacobs, The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World. I think I've bought this book before and skimmed part of it. Jacobs decides to read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica. He details how it affects him and his family and friends, plus throws out snippets on various topics. Honestly, he's a bit of a twit, so I barely care whether he finishes or not. And a goodly portion of the amazing facts, I already know. I'm in the C's; we'll see how much farther I get.