melita66: (japanese fruit)
I went on a spending spree both series of Mage (The Hero Discovered and The Hero Defined) by Matt Wagner as ebooks. Not so fun reading them on a phone, but I managed. Matt Wagner does a Arthur Pendragon reincarnated series, although we're not sure about that immediately. It was a lovely, atmospheric series when it was released. In parts, it's wordy, but Wagner does well with facial expressions, body position so that words aren't always needed. His Grendel series (particularly Hunter Rose, the first part) is more accomplished, but I never liked it as much as this one. Highly recommended.

I reread about half of The Blue Sword now that it's out as an ebook. The Wagners beckoned so I haven't finished it.

Led on by blog posts (she made a statement that there'll be 2 more books in the series, and that book 5 is close to finished!!!!) and reviews, I decided to re-read Megan Whalen Turner's Thief/Attolia series. I ripped through The Thief, Queen of Attolia, and King of Attolia. I've currently just started Conspiracy of Kings but expect that I'll finish it by the end of the week. They're set in an alternative Mediterranean setting, possibly 1500/1600s time frame (there are some guns and watches). Eugenides is the Thief of Eddis, a tiny mountain country that controls a strategic pass between the countries of Attolia and Sounis. All the countries have fought with each other, but they also face an external enemy, the Mede, a rich and powerful country that has its eyes on expansion. The twists and turns in these book are amazing and wonderful. The author creates really cool characters and the books are extremely tightly plotted. All the clues are there...also highly recommended. Seriously!
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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I managed to read two new novels and a collection while on vacation. I also reread one book: Megan  Whalen Turner's The King of Attolia. The first book was Uncertain Allies by Mark del Franco. It's one of the Connor Grey series. Grey used to be a high-powered operative for the Guild. He's a mage in a world where the Faerie realms ended up in our world a hundred years ago or so. There are two faerie kingdoms in a cold war (Celtic and Teutonic), plus unaligned creatures. Grey lost most of his power several years ago in a battle with a fey terrorist. He still works with the police and some Guild investigators and ekes out a living.

He's getting pulled back into the politics, as he has some power, and dirt on several people. Fall-out from the last book is dealt with in this one. His girlfriend, who ended up in a magical coma, is still in it and several things are tried to wake her up.

I haven't tired of this series yet. It's nice to have a male protagonist, and he's not powering up a level in each book, like some series. There's also some movement forward in the overall plotlines.

I then read book two in a new Stargate: Atlantis series. I never got into SG1, but started watching SGA in season 2, and then backed up and watched the first season. I started watching SGA because I read an SGA novel by Martha Wells, who's one of my favorite authors. I liked the book enough that I decided I wanted to find out more about the characters. Another of my favorite authors, Melissa Scott (who hasn't been writing in the field much recently), has joined with Jo Graham and Amy Griswold to write a six book miniseries continuing the SGA story. The first book, Homecoming was by Jo Graham and Melissa Scott and I was 'eh' about it. Book two, by Jo Graham and Amy Griswold is called The Lost and I really enjoyed it. Rodney is lost and most of the book is trying to find out where he is and mount a rescue mission. As you might expect in book 2 of 6, there are complications. I'm fully into the story now and am looking forward to book 3.

Among several ebooks that I'd purchased recently was a collection by Diane Duane, Uptown Local and Other Interventions. At least two are in her Wizards series. "Uptown Local" is a Nita and Kit story. "Theobroma" is about another wizard and what's missing in a chocolatier's shop. "Hopper Painting" was written for a Janis Ian story. "The Fix" is set in ancient Rome about a slave assigned to the Coliseum and dreams of being a trainer for the gladiators. "The Rizzoli Bag" and "Out of the Frying Pan" are connected stories about gifts from a Sibyl. "Bears" is a story about Berne (several stories have Switzerland connections as Duane points out). There are 11 stories total. All have been published before.
 

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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.
 


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November 2016

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