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: (iceberg)
Stephanie Burgis, of Kat, Incorrigible fame, has published an adult novel, Masks and Shadows. It's set in Hungary at the Eszterhaza palace which was built by Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy. The main character, Charlotte, is newly widowed, and has come to visit her sister, Sophie, who is the prince's mistress. Sophie is the heedless, fun-loving younger sister while Sophie had married for duty, but had come to appreciate her husband. Meanwhile three visitors arrive--Carlo Morelli, an acclaimed castrato, a probable Austrian spy, and a famous alchemist. Sophie finds Carlo disturbing but strangely appealing as she gets to know him. Meanwhile, Carlo appears to be disarmed by a relatively straightforward aristocrat who's calm and intelligent and an excellent musician. Both become aware of strange doings and have to work together to uncover what's happening. It's set in 1779, and I'm complete unfamiliar with the setting. For instance, I didn't know that Haydn worked for the prince for over 30 years. I enjoyed it a lot and look forward to the next, unrelated *as far as I know) book that's out this fall: Congress of Secrets, set in Vienna in 1814.

While checking around for backlist books to buy as ebooks, I realized that some graphic novels are available. While I was good and put some on my wishlist, I did buy the four volumes of Appleseed by Shirow Masamune. I had read these when they were originally released and were probably the first manga that I'd read. Appleseed is set in post-apocalyptic world. Deunan Knute is the daughter of a special ops man and had been raised with in-depth training. She ends up teaming up with a colleague of her father, Briareos Hecatonchires, a cyborg (I have a memory that he was human and became cyborg after an injury, but it wasn't in the manga that I reread. Wiki does agree though). Surviving in the badlands, they're recruited to go to the half-mythical Olympus, a near-utopian society run by bioroids (cyborgs/androids) although with a substantial human population as well. Deunan and Briareos take jobs doing what they're good at--police and later SWAT work. While there's definitely a focus on police work with hand-to-hand combat, car chases, bombs, giant robots, etc., there are also philosophical discussions on whether bioroids and humans can get along, how to stabilize society, and so on. Written in the early 80s, it's somewhat dated with references to a successor to Russia and other 80s preoccupations. There's even a global warming reference which surprised me. I really do love this series even though I can see more faults now.
melita66: (ship)
Whew, I just could not seem to get my act together and post.

I re-read some more Laurie R. King: The Beekeeper's Apprentice and A Monstrous Regiment of Women. I dearly love me some Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes and am very much looking forward to The Murder of Mary Russell, due out next spring.

I then scarfed down Ann Leckie's Ancillary Mercy. It's a quieter novel, in some ways, very domestic but with an interesting twist at the end that I didn't anticipate. I'm sorry that currently there are no plans for more Breq although Leckie does plan more stories in the Radchaai universe.

Stephanie Burgis has a short story (novelette?) out, "Undead Philosophy 101" which was entertaining (but not Kat, darn it!).

I then started, but didn't finish Zen Cho's Sorceror to the Crown. I liked it fine, but never really felt a burning desire to find what's going to happen to the characters, so it got dropped for another book. I'll try to finish it at some point.

Also started (and closer to completion at 78%), was Diane Duane's Life Boats, a novel in her Young Wizards series. Nita and Kit (and Dairine, Tom, Carl, and many other wizards from previous books) are sent to a planet who's binary companion/moon is about to blow up, annihilating anyone left on the planet. An effort has already begun to "terraform" other worlds for the natives and transport them, but a significant number are refusing to go. Nita and Kit are tasked with helping maintain the world gates that are shuttling people to the new worlds.

It was dropped (I will finish it next, likely) to read the eARC (electronic advanced reader copy, like a beta version) of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold. I characterized this to someone who just whipped through the Miles books in the last year, as "the story of two people who were devastated by Aral's death and are now, 3 years later, ready to move on and see where life will take them." It's set on Sergyar and focuses on Cordelia and Jole. Jole was aide to Aral, then became Admiral of the Sergyar system several years prior. Miles, and family, does make a brief appearance.

Next up: Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn and Black Wolves by Kate Elliott.
melita66: (ship)
The latest Kitty book, Kitty in the Underworld by Carrie Vaughn, came out recently. I started it and was cooking along for about 90 pages or so. Wanting to see where it was going, I skipped to the end. Now I don't see any point in reading the middle bits. Ugh. I'm underwhelmed with the whole arch-enemy storyline about Roman. Yes, we've learned a bit more about him, but only a bit. I'd much rather have more Cormac and Amelia!

This would probably be a decent book for someone who hasn't read the rest of the series. The focus is on Kitty, and she's removed from her friends, family, and pack for most of the book.

I was much happier with the Stephanie Burgis book, Stolen Magic, the third book in the Kat Incorrigible series. Kat, Katherine Ann Stephenson, is the youngest daughter of four children. Their mother died when Kat was 10 days old, and several years later, their father remarried. The stepmama isn't quite an evil stepmother, but has worries about propriety (their mother was anything but) and would like to be higher on the social ladder. The previous books revealed that Kat inherited her mother's Guardian-style magic as well as witchery and her older sisters found future husbands. In this book, her brother (who has now eschewed gambling and drinking) meets a wonderful young woman--but she has all but sworn to never entertain any but the most upright man. The also family also has a carriage mishap on their way to Angeline and Frederick's marriage which turns out to be sabotage. Who was it aimed at? Mix in some smugglers, horrible future in-laws, and other relatives and you've got a delightful book.
melita66: (ship)
I broke down and bought a hard copy of Stephanie Burgis's second book in the Kat, Incorrigible series, Renegade Magic. It begins with Kat and her sister Angeline preparing for their eldest sister's wedding which, while it finishes, goes horribly wrong. As a result, the family heads to Bath where everybody gets into trouble! Technically for younger readers (late elementary or middle school, probably) these books are lots of fun. Burgis is doing the writeathon fundraiser for Clarion West (a storied summer workshop for sf/f writers) and I donated some money as she's working on her next book.

I also read a new story by Martha Wells, "Revenants," in the first book of a shared world anthology series, Tales of the Emerald Serpent, edited by Scott Taylor. I should probably have read the rest of the stories to get a better feel for the world, but I have higher priority books waiting. The Emerald Serpent is a tavern, set in a ghost-riddled world complete with several non-human races. Wells's story focuses on two individuals who want to be archaeologists but also get rid of ghosts and trade in antiquities.

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November 2016

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