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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!!!!
In May, I finally finished Joel Shepherd's late Cassandra Kresnov book, Originator. Kresnov is a cyborg (artificial person?) who fled her creators in the League and has made a home for herself on Callay, a Federation planet. More cyborgs have ended up there and many are getting high government positions. While Tanushan society is relatively liberal, the pressures are building. The League is having trouble with societies going haywire which turns out to be due to using alien technology in their implants and networking technology. Kresnov and her kin aren't effected by it (as much). There is much interdepartmental maneuvering and politicking between various groups and more is revealed of the aliens. Kresnov has also adopted three orphans she found in a previous book and is finding strange new feelings arising in her relationships with them. Generally very fast-paced stories with a lot going on. Kresnov's been powering up quite a bit, which I'm eh about. Recommended, but start with the first book, Crossover.

I then decided to read Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor as it's a Hugo nominee. I was iffy about reading it based on several reviews that I'd seen. I did enjoy it a lot, and hope that she writes more in this world. I didn't think it was great! the way some do, and will rank it below Ancillary Sword. In a world filled with elves and goblins, the elvish emperor married among others, a goblin for political reasons. She gave birth to a boy, who was several down in the order of inheritance. After his mother's death, he was exiled to a distant estate with a guardian who hated him. As a late teenager, his father and all the heirs ahead of him are killed in an airship crash. The reviled, innocent Maia has to navigate a complex court and try to keep from being killed himself. It was very interesting to see Maia try to navigate the court, and still try true to himself. He does find a few allies, but some bitter betrayals as well.

While waiting for the second Raksura collection by Martha Wells to arrive, I re-read the trilogy, The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, and The Siren Depths. What can I say again? I really, really like these books, and hope Wells will be able to publish more in the future. I think there are no contracts for more, unfortunately. The collection, Stories of the Raksure II: The Dead City and The Dark Earth Below, are novellas. The first takes place just after Moon fled the city of Saraseil after it was taken over (and consumed) by the Fell. Moon had been orphaned as a child and didn't know what race he was. The Fell were the first ones that he'd see that looked similar. He soon realized they weren't his people, and fled. The settlement that he winds up in is menaced by "miners" and a second race that have come to fight the miners for control of a city buried underneath the jungle. "Mimesis" is a story about Jade and was previously published. "The Dark Earth Below" takes place as Jade is about to give birth. The Kek, a frail vegetarian race that lives on the forest flow below Indigo Cloud colony (set high in a giant tree), have asked the Raksura to help find some missing members. They end up finding an airship with injured people. How they got injured is the mystery they have to solve. Another very good collection from Wells.

While poking around on Amazon looking for Kindle ebooks, I came across a self-published collection by Jennifer Roberson with two stories in her Tiger and Del series. The first one, "The Lady and the Tiger", which has a lovely twist if you aren't familiar with the series. "Rite of Passage" is set sometime early during the series when they take a commission to retrieve an important man's son.

Finally, I just raced through Andy Weir's The Martian. Set in the near future, the main character Mark Watney is a member of Ares 3, the first manned mission to set foot on Mars. A disaster takes over the mission, Watney is injured and presumed dead, and the rest of the crew flee the planet. As it turns out, he isn't, and aided by his mechanical engineer/botanist background, tries to figure out how he can survive for 4 years until Ares 4 arrives. Communications are out, so he thinks no one realizes that he's alive. Within a few months, NASA does realize, and a wild, all-out-effort starts to try to rescue him. Totally a geek book, full of techno-speak. As many have pointed out, the characterizations are shallow at best, but hey! that's not what the books about. I don't remember if I saw this xkcd cartoon before I started reading it or not, but it sums up the book pretty good.



If you like this kind of thing, loads and loads of fun. There was one instance when someone on earth goes, hmmm, and starts calculating. I guessed what it was! That was nice. Later, the announcement that the idea was going to be followed through on was announced with, "XX XX is a steely-eyed missile man" and I started laughing and shouted, Apollo 13!
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.
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.

2014 December books: Moore and Shelby

I didn't get much reading done over the last month or so. Nothing really tickled my fancy. I finally decided to make a concentrated effort to finish Heroes' Reward by Moira J. Moore. This is the final book in her Heroes series which started with Resenting the Hero. I really enjoyed the first book in series and eagerly awaited the sequels. The series didn't perform that well, and the publisher went back and forth on publishing the latter entries. Ace did finally publish 6 novels in the series between 2006 and 2011.

Moore released the final book in 2012. The series is set on a lost colony world (the resident know that they were colonists). The world itself is tectonically and meteorologically active. People were born (possibly genegineered?) to be Sources or Shields. Sources can affect the disturbances while Shields can guard the minds of Sources while they're 'channeling' the forces.

Source Shintaro Karish and Shield Dunleavy Mallorough are paired up when they graduate from their respective Academies. Both are talented and not happy to find their matched up. Over time, they fall in love and discover that both have extraordinary talents.

Lee finds that she can 'cast' or perform spells. These abilities are outlawed, sort of, and casters keep well-hidden. Taro can heal and cause 'incidents' as well as stop them. Because Taro is also a member of the aristocracy, they get involved with the current Empress, political machinations among the landed gentry, uprisings, etc.

I was not that thrilled with the addition of the casting a few books ago, but I was still happy to see the threads tied up and everything ending as well as could be. Perhaps we'll see more of them in the future, but Moore has other books that she's been working on (one should be out soon).

I then read a trilogy by L. Shelby aka Michelle Bottorff, Across the Jade Sea. The three books are Serendipity's Tide, Treachery's Harbor, and Fealty's Shore. They're set in a modified Earth (geography is different, but there are "Tartars" northwest of a China/Japan analog). The technology level is late 19th/early 20th century. There are some undersea cables, telephones are just getting installed into private residences in the more technologically advanced countries, and guns and cars are available.

The first book is narrated by Batiya Latikov, an apprentice engineer on an ocean-going diesel ship. The ship rescues several Shanali (Changali) men from a shipwreck. It turns out that they were attacked by what appear to be pirates. After another attack that kills all but one of the Changali, Batiya and the survivor, Chunru, end up in one of the ship's boats.

Chunru is actually an imperial prince sent to re-open diplomatic and other ties with another country. Someone doesn't want that to happen. Because Batiya has been drawn into this mess, the two end up saving each other multiple times while trying to find somewhere safe.

It is a love story, but it's also a rip-roaring adventure, and Ms. Shelby and really move the story along. I really enjoyed these books and wish there were more set in this world. I'll definitely be getting Shelby's other books.

Note: They're available as ebooks only and self-published. Another round of copy-editing would have been useful as there are some it's rather than its, missing words, wrong words, etc. Not tons, but more than I usually see in a professionally published book. Normally, errors like these bug me, but the characters and story were too interesting.

2014 Books: Leckie, Wrede, Kay, Tarr

I believe I'm missing at least one book, but it would have been a reread.

**SPOILERS for Ancillary Justice**

Yea!!! Ann Leckie's second novel, Ancillary Sword, finally came out in October. The first, Ancillary Justice, took home a bunch of awards last year--deservedly so. This book continues to follow Breq as she takes up with one of factions of her emperor, Anaander Mianaai. Mainaai has multiple cloned bodies, which have now split among how to maintain, or not, the Radchaai empire. Breq is given control of a small area--the only duty she would take because the sister of someone she killed lives there.

Once there, she finds several other mysteries and, of course, problems that she will try to fix or figure out. As many other reviewers have said, it's a much more interior book. Breq appears to have had a very solitary existence for about 20 years after losing her AI and other bodies and has to now re-adjust to dealing with a lot of contact. We find out more about the aliens through a very, very strange translator who shows up. Anyway, recommended, recommended, recommended.

I also reread Patricia Wrede's Magician's Ward which is set in an alternative Regency London. Kim has been rescued from the streets by an aristocrat and made his ward. Kim has the ability to become a wizard, and Merrill (Mairelon) will help her. A sweet, fun little story.

I then felt in the mood for more historical fantasy and reread Guy Gavriel Kay's A Lion in Al-Rassan. Set in an alternative almost-Reconquista Spain, it follows a young Kindath (Jewish-analog) doctor as she gets caught up in the struggle between the Jaddites (Christian-analog) and the Asharites (Muslims) in Spain. Rodrigo Belmonte is "El Cid" and Ammar ibn Khairan is a "renaissance man" (so to say!) among the Asharites. It's my favorite Kay book and the one I reread most often. The characters are beautifully done.

I'm still in the midst of Lord of the Two Lands by Judith Tarr. This one is set just before and while Alexander the Great conquers Egypt. Meriamon, a priestess and daughter of Nectanebo, comes to Alexander to ask him to becomes Pharaoh.
Ouch, it's been that long since I posted? Well, I haven't been able to settle to much recently when it came to books. I was working on sorting through my comics (over 20 boxes) to try to get rid of at least one-third and another box or two of books and other stuff because I had 11 boxes of my father's books arriving in early September.

However, in September, two fun books arrived. Martha Wells had a collection of stories set in her Raksura world published with the imaginative title of Stories of the Raksura, volume I. It contains a story set post-The Siren Depths where Moon and Stone have to find what has happened to Jade and some warriors after they disappear while on a trading mission. The second story tells of Indigo and Cloud. We had found out that Cloud (a consort) had been stolen by Indigo from another court in an earlier book, but not the details. The third story, "The Forest Boy," is previously published and is about Moon as a young boy trying to survive. Loads of fun, and highly recommended for anyone who liked the Raksura novels.

The second book was Exo by Steven Gould. A direct sequel to Impulse, it focuses on "Cent", the daughter of Millie and Davy. After finding that she could jump in the previous book, now she plans some very high-flying achievements now that she's extended the capabilities of her father. They're also still trying to track down the shadow organization that's been after all jumpers for years. Full of orbital mechanics discussion, so if you don't like a some math in your books--too bad!

2014 books: mid-July, Duane

I re-read the 3 books that have been released in the Tale of the Five series. It's had a long, fraught history. The first book, The Door into Fire, was published in 1979. I think I read it around 1985 when the second book, The Door into Shadow, was released. I might even have read book two first. I can't remember anymore. The third book, The Door into Sunset then came out in 1994. The books have been released by multiple publishers.

The series is a fan favorite, but according to the author, Diane Duane, has never done well commercially. A fourth book, The Door into Starlight, was planned, but hasn't been written. Duane writes what sells and furthers her career, as she should.

The world is wonderful. It's medieval-ish, with two types of magic: sorcery and Flame. The Flame is Godess-given, but must be focused through something. Normally, it's a wand, but one of the characters, Herewiss, is trying to focus through a sword. Herewiss is the son and heir of a noble house. He has the Flame, as no man in centuries has had, but can't focus it. As part of the training, he's been studying sorcery and is quite good. It's word/true name-based. He's also in love with the heir of a neighboring kingdom. That man, Freelorn, ran away from a palace coup when his father died and has been trying to get up the support (and gumption) to take back the throne. Part of his crew is Segnbora, a sorceress and bard. She hasn't been able to focus her Flame either and has ended up throwing her lot in with Freelorn.

The religion is very practical and loving. The Goddess visits everyone at least once in their life, but you may not realize it. There are also dragons, who came from another world. This series is related to her Young Wizards series, we see the world-gating, and Herewiss shows up in the one of the Young Wizard books.

There's a lot of psychological aspects to the books. The characters all have faults that they have to work to overcome before being able to achieve their goals. Greatly recommended.

Duane polled people a few years ago, to see if there were enough people to warrant self-publishing (well, writing first) The Door into Starlight, but nothing so far.
After finishing the Jaran series by Kate Elliott, I turned around and read the Highroad Trilogy by Alis Rasmussen aka Kate Elliott. They were re-released in the last year or so as ebooks. Jaran is set in the same universe, but takes place a few generations before--complicated by the fact that some people have access to longevity medicine.

The Rift is a set of worlds that were colonized by Earth with ships using the "low road", slow interstellar travel. A faster method was invented/stolen/adapted after they left, but meanwhile the path had been lost to most. A few people have made it to the Rift, hiding from the government and other enemies. The main character is Lilyhae Ransome, the daughter of a mining house on a barely inhabitable world (basically, sealed underground). She's restless and has been studying martial arts with a man called Heredes. Then Heredes is kidnapped, and Lily decided to rescue him.

Reading it directly after the Jaran books made it much easier for me to catch the connections, name drops, etc. Lots of fun to try to piece together the connections while the main story (and it's complicated) unfolds. Definitely an early work by Elliott, but quite enjoyable even so.

"The old man is dead."

I then finally picked up a new book, The Sea of Time by P.C. Hodgell. It's the seventh (is that all? alternatively, already??) of Jamethiel's story. Jamethiel is a Kencyrath. The Kencyrath has been fighting a loosing battle against evil (Perimal Darkling) for thousands of years. They've been on their current planet for about three thousand. Meanwhile, there was treachery, the fall by her relatives, so she and her brother, Torisen, were raised in a kind of exile. Both have made it back to the main society, but are causing quite a bit of turbulence and mayhem in their wake. In this book, Jame has survived the randon (military) academy is assigned to the Southern Host. A good chunk of the Kencyrath have been hired as mercenaries for a fabulous trading city.

We get some more answers in this book about her and Tori's past which is great. It feels less like a diversion as some of the previous books seemed to me. I know that they're not really, everything is important, but...
I continued on a Martha Wells binge, and read the 3 Raksura novels again. Then instigated by someone's post (sorry) and their release as ebooks, I read Kate Elliott's Jaran series again.

What to say, what to say?

Both series have incredible worldbuilding. I do wish we get a few more books in the Jaran universe, even if they're in different time periods (the Highroad trilogy by Elliott but published as Alis Rasmussen is set in the future of the Jaran series).

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