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: (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: (ghibli house)
I continued reading more Melissa McShane books. Rider of the Crown was released this month. It follows a young woman in a nomadic tribe who ends up bound for a year to another, Viking-ish tribe's leader, as part of a peace treaty. No bed rights come with the treaty, luckily for the Imogen. When the heir to the crown of Tremontane shows up as a "guest." Imogen finds herself entangled in the political maneuverings of three countries. this takes place a generation after the first book. Jeffrey (son of Alison and Anthony) is now king. Very much the story of Imogen learning to think beyond her birth role and tribe and finding a place in a larger world.

The fifth book, Oath Bound, of the Order of the Air series by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham was released this month. The series follows the members of a "lodge" aka magical lodge as they negotiate life, and threats to the world. Alma, Lewis, and Mitch are pilots. Alma was an ambulance drive in WWI while the other two were fighter pilots. Stasi is a mysterious European who's a medium and an ex-jewel thief. Finally, Jerry is a classicist and archaeologist. Jerry is in Alexandria on a Ptolemaic dig while covertly looking for the Soma--Alexander the Great's tomb. The rest of the time are in Italy at an air show showing off two different airplanes. An old friend of Jerry's from Ethiopia shows up and it will require the entire team to help him. Well, Stasi tangentially but she gets a great scene. We get some archaeology, some great dogfights and long-distance flying...I think this is my favorite of the series.

I then decided that I couldn't wait until Monday to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens and started reading the novelization on Saturday/finished on Sunday. It's short, writing is...I'll generously say rushed, so only for completists. I liked the movie a lot, but it's not my favorite of the series. It may improve on a rewatch or two. So glad that Rey was the force sensitive and that she *can* take care of herself. Otherwise, very fun to see old friends and the new characters are interesting.

I then went back to McShane for a set of short stories about Zara North, Anthony's sister and Queen before she died. As it turned out, she had inherent magic and is effectively immortal. Revealing that could have destroyed the country so she staged her death and went out into the world. An interesting reversal of Heinlein's Time Enough for Love as Zara learns that she needs the connections to people to make live worth living.
melita66: (ship)
Jeweled Fire is the third book of the Elemental Blessings series by Sharon Shinn. So far the books have focused on several women who were all heirs to the crown of Welce. This book focuses on Corene. Corene is the most ambitious, and has found out that she won't take the crown. She decides to drastically change her life by traveling to a neighboring kingdom and vying to marry one of the heirs. There, she makes friends but runs into several mysteries--like why have some many of the royal family died in recent years? Shinn's books are always interesting and fun to read.

I then decided to try the first installment of serial novel, Tremontaine, that is being published in 13 installments over several months. It's set in the titular dukedom, home to Ellen Kushner's novels--Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, and one co-written with Delia Sherman, The Fall of the Kings. It's set before Swordspoint and so far we've met the current Duke and Duchess of Tremontaine; Micah, a farmer's daughter which a mathematical mind; Ixkaab, a young woman of a Mayan-analog trading clan who's been rusticated from her homeland; and Rafe, a young scholar who espouses a much-derided theory that the earth circles the sun. That last thread caused me much amusement in one of the episodes (I've read 5, and 6 is queued up next) when the latter three were talking. Kaab mistakenly let slip that her people know that the theory is true. When she realized her mistake, as Rafe was ecstatic. She tried hurriedly to obfuscate the matter by throwing a false tidbit out, 'Oh, you think the earth is a sphere. Ha-ha, of course not, it's an ellipsoid!" Oh, that was fun. (yeah, I'm a geodesy/cartography/GIS/map projections geek, why do you ask?)

After episode 5, I decided to try Melissa McShane's first book in her (oddly enough) The Crown of Tremontane series, Servant to the Crown. I'd read her The Smoke-Scented Girl earlier this year and enjoyed it. In this book, Alison Quinn, Duchess of Waxwold and editor of Quinn Press, is summoned to the capital city to become a lady-in-waiting to the Dowager Consort. She's furious as she likes her job and life perfectly well, thank you! Anyway, she does take up her duties and gets embroiled with the heir but also a political struggle between the crown and the Scholia, the pre-eminent university. Quite enjoyable. It's mostly a romance, and just what I felt like reading.
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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