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: (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)
Whew, it's been a while since I posted. I had a few dry periods, particularly over the holidays, but have been cracking along (relatively) since mid-January.

I was waiting for a few books to come out, and none of the new books sitting around were enticing so I ended up (re)reading a few Elizabeth Peters books in the Amelia Peabody-Emerson series. Both were later books, set after Ramses is an adult: Children of the Storm and The Golden One. I enjoyed the later books, after Ramses (Amelia's son) became an adult and had more control over his own destiny. These are set in and around WWI. This series can be an acquired taste. I liked the first book when I read it, somewhat of a pastiche on the old Haggard / romance novels, but Amelia, Emerson, et al. really grown on you, and I've wildly enjoyed almost all the books. I'll shall likely continue to acquire the ebooks and re-read the rest of the series this year. Oh, the Peabody-Emerson clan are British archaeologists in Egypt who end up tangling with a Master Criminal, tomb robbers, spies, and other nefarious characters.

It was definitely a short novel, but I managed somehow to finish Jo Walton's My Real Children over a weekend. It's the story of a woman relegated to an Alzheimer's unit who has confused days, and really confused days. So confusing that sometimes she remembers having 4 children and sometimes remembers having 3 children. The book tells both stories which led out of her having to answer 'yes' or 'no' to her boyfriend about whether she would marry him. Both stories had good and bad parts, so there's no answer as to which answer was correct. I found it very haunting and sad, and very difficult because I'd had a hard week, and it made for a hard weekend too. The ending though, wow. Also hard because my father lost his facilities before he died (as his mother did but hers was gradual and his more abrupt), and my maternal grandfather had also had problems before he died.

I definitely needed an upper after that, and settled on A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold. Miles Vorkosigan has fallen in love...he has a plan! I'm still not sure about the very visceral fight near the end (a bit too slapstick for my liking), but the Council of Counts scene, and of course, the dinner party earlier--priceless! Although someone could read this as their introduction to the Vorkosiverse, reading the rest of the series adds quite a bit to understanding the undercurrents and comments that occur in the book.

The eARC (electronic advanced reader's copy) of Dragon in Exile by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller was released either late in January or early in February. It continues from I Dare, Dragon Ship, and Necessity's Child. It opens a new five book series. Set mostly on Surebleak, it reveals that DoI is definitely still after Korval, and that there are likely other enemies of the clan heading to Surebleak to have their revenge, or to revel in Korval's downfall (as they think). Not a good place to start in the Korval Universe.

I then happened to see a reference that the Cormac and Amelia book was out, Low Midnight. This is a side book to the main Kitty Norville series, featuring Cormac, her husband's cousin, and his resident magician/wizard, Amelia. Cormac was convicted of manslaughter (I think) and has to spend several years in prison. While there, he's taken over by a ghost or spirit of a woman who had been convicted of murder and witchcraft a hundred years earlier. They combine forces to kill a supernatural creature, and Cormac agrees to Amelia's continued presence in his life. In this book, they take on a few mysteries trying to help Kitty and her battle against an ancient vampire who plans to take over the world. I like Cormac and Amelia a lot so was quite happy to read this book.

Meanwhile, the latest Order of the Air book, Wind Raker, by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham was released. Yeaaaa!!! These books deal with a set of aviators in Colorado, Gilchrist Aviation, a medium (she can see and talk to ghosts), and an archaeologist. They're also part of a lodge (magical). In this book, the archaeologist has been given a job on Oahu to prove that he can handle a dig. If it works, he'll be able to work on a dig in Alexandria, where they may have a lead to Alexander the Great's mausoleum. Why is it a problem? Jerry lost part of a leg in WWI, and it's the 1920s so getting around can be difficult. Meanwhile, Gilchrist Aviation is asked to test the new Catalina sea plane, also in Hawaii. At the same time, one of the aviators, Mitch and his wife (the medium), Stasi have custody of the three kids of a laborer/mechanic who left the kids and hasn't returned. Everyone ends up in Hawai'i, where they encounter Pelley again, a woman under a curse, and some early German shenanigans. Lots of fun.
melita66: (ship)
The third book, Silver Bullet, of the Order of the Air series by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham has just been released as an ebook. The printed book will be out in a few weeks. Due to a trip, I was able to purchase the ebook and finish it today.

The Order of the Air series follows five characters, all owners or employees (or otherwise affiliated) with Gilchrist Aviation, a small aviation company based in Colorado Springs. It's the 30s, so Prohibition is in effect (and widely disregarded), the Depression is deepening, and in this book, Roosevelt has just been elected. The characters are also members of a hermetic lodge, and have various arcane powers. Lewis Segura, is a seer, and learning to use his powers with the help of Stasi, a clairvoyant, ghost talker, and sometime thief. She's a European refugee, who never tells the same story twice if she can help it. Alma Gilchrist Segura is a co-owner of Gilchrist. She started it with her first husband (the company's namesake) but he died several years earlier. Her co-owner is Mitch Sorley, a decorated ace from North Carolina, dealing with pretty horrible injuries (although they're not obvious). Lastly is Jerry Ballard, an archaeologist currently on a temporary job in New York City. He lost part of a leg from a war injury and is struggling to get back into archaeology. Stasi and Jerry aren't pilots.

In Colorado, the group is dealing with planes crashing about blue sky lightning. Meanwhile, Jerry has come across what first appears to be an ubiquitous relic but could be the clue to an amazing archaeological find.

Everyone ends up coming back together in Colorado, with both mysteries handled--at least for the short term. There are a few very interesting developments that should have lasting effects on the group. I think this series is just getting better and better. I felt the first book suffered from introducing everyone. Now that that's been done, more story can be told, and a deepening of the characterizations as we learn more about the characters' back stories and current feelings.

Upon reflection, I was surprised at a conversation that Alma and Stasi have. I don't know why Stasi would have the vocabulary since English is at least her third or fourth language. I can't really say more as it would definitely be a spoiler. Also, this book has some (short) explicit sex. Anyway, start with the first book, Lost Things, although you could probably start with the 2nd instead, Steel Blues.
melita66: (AK blue)
Melissa Scott is an SF/F writer. She hadn't published anything that I came across for several years, but in the last year or two, that's certainly changed. She teamed up with Jo Graham and Amy Griswold for a multi-book Stargate: Atlantis series, with Graham for an alternate 1930s mystery/fantasy series, published a new book in the Astreiant series, and rewrote the final book in the Silence Leigh trilogy. She and Griswold have started a new series, set in a late Victorian or early Edwardian England--alternative, of course. Magic is real, called metaphysics, and done via diagrams and symbology. A metaphysician in private practice, Ned Mathey, is hired by the father of one of his prefects at boarding school to ensure there's no curse on the family silver. Mathey is conflicted--the son made his life a living hell in school--but a job is a job. The client, Edgar Nevett, later turns up dead...struck down by silver candlestick.

Mathey is then hired by the son, Victor Nevett, to find out who killed his father. Mathey asks for help from a long-term friend (who also attended the school), Julian Lynes, another metaphysician. Mathey and Lynes had been particularly close friends in school, but had drawn apart at university. This book includes a swiftly complicating murder mystery (as usual more people end up dying) and the reconciliation and deepening relationship of Mathey and Lynes. Lynes in particular is conflicted by the case and he was bullied by Victor and has never forgiven him or decided to "put it all in the past" as Mathey has or tried to do. There are flashback scenes which detail what happened at the school.

Interesting world and characters. I want to see more of these characters, including Mathey's secretary/assistant, Miss Frost. Women aren't allowed yet to attend the same colleges as the men, but she has a degree from women's college and metaphysics training and helps them out with some particularly women's magic.

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November 2016

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