Ronincats reads mostly fantasy and science fiction

Discussão100 books in 2014 challenge

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Ronincats reads mostly fantasy and science fiction

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1ronincats
Fev 12, 2014, 9:45 pm

Oh dear! I joined this group, as I usually do, back before the beginning of the year, and then have neglected it monstrously. I shall have quite a bit to do to catch up, both posting my reads and to read everyone else's threads.











2ronincats
Editado: Ago 17, 2014, 2:58 pm

Books Read in 2014:

January
1. Indexing by Seanan McGuire (420 pp.)
2. If the Shoe Fits by Laurie LeClair (244 pp.)
3. Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (313 pp.)
4. Hexed by Kevin Hearne (296 pp.)
5. Dragonwriter: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Pern edited by Todd McCaffrey
6. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (297 pp.)
7. Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling (309 pp.)
8. The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer (234 pp.)
9. Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold (389 pp.)
10. The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold (315 pp.)
11. The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold (345 pp.)
12. Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold (302 pp.)
13. Grimoire of the Lamb/The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne (99 pp.)
14. The Librarian: Little Boy Lost by Eric Hobbs (98 pp.)
15. Longbourn by Jo Baker (332 pp.)

February
16. Bastion by Mercedes Lackey (342 p.)
17. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (433 pp.)
18. Frederica by Georgette Heyer (437 pp.)
19. The Arabian Nights by Hassan Haddawy (428 pp.)
20. Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch (320 pp.)
21. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (309 pp.)
22. The Silvered by Tanya Huff (484 pp.)
23. Before the Dawn by Nicholas Wade (179 pp.)
24. Carousel Sun by Sharon Lee (366 pp.)
25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (341 pp.)

March
26. Hammered by Kevin Hearne (312 pp.)
27. Mr. Wuffles by David Weisner (30 pp.)
28. Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold (311 pp.)
29. Tricked by Kevin Hearne (370 pp.)
30. Half-Off Ragnorak by Seanan McGuire (368 pp.)
31. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (396 pp.)
32. The Soul Mirror by Carol Berg (515 pp.)
33. Trapped by Kevin Hearne (322 pp.)
34. The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (309 pp.)
35. Serendipity's Tide by L. Shelby (233 pp.)
36. Treachery's Harbor by L. Shelby (194 pp.)

April
37. Fealty’s Shore by L. Shelby (248 pp.)
38. The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski (265 pp.)
39. Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code by Bart Ehrman (197 pp.)
40. What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton (446 pp.)
41. The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer (272 pp.)
42. The Celestial Globe by Marie Rutkowski (293 pp.)
43. Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor (332 pp.)
44. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett (381 pp.)
45. The Jewel of the Kalderash by Marie Rutkowski (320 pp.)
46. Hiero's Journey by Sterling Lanier (318 pp.)
47. The Unforsaken Hiero by Sterling Lanier (240 pp.)
48. Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold (338 pp.)
49. Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer (304 pp.)
50. The Normans by Lars Brownworth (210 pp.)
51. The Warlock's Curse by M. K. Hobson (398 pp.)
52. A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (353 pp.)
53. Fall of Light by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (307 pp.)

May
54. The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper (381 pp.)
55. Eight Million Gods by Wen Spencer (355 pp.)
56. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (390 pp.)
57. A Natural History of Dragons (334 pp.)
58. Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach (330 pp.)
59. A Change of Heart by Candice Hern (276 pp.)
60. Disenchanted & Co. by Lynn Viehl (417 pp.)
61. Hunted by Kevin Hearne (384 pp.)
62. Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal (364 pp.)
63. Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear (336 pp.)
64. Limits of Power by Elizabeth Moon (492 pp.)
65. Crown of Renewal by Elizabeth Moon (503 pp.)
66. The Sea of Time by P. C. Hodgell (395 pp.)
67. Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear (333 pp.)

June
68. Arabian Nights II translated by Husain Haddawy (266 pp.)
69. Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear (429 pp.)
70. Dust Girl by Saray Zettel (290 pp.)
71. The River Kings' Road by Liane Merciel (431 pp.)
72. The Daemon Prism by Carol Berg (498 pp.)
73. Getting Schooled by Garret Keizer (302 pp.)
74. Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer (333 pp.)
75. The Martian by Andy Weir (369 pp.)
76. My Real Children by Jo Walton (320 pp.)
77. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (446 pp.)
78. Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard (348 pp.)
79. Spirits That Walk in Shadow by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (306 pp.)
80. Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold (392 pp.)

July
81. Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold (462 pp)
82. On Basilisk Station by David Weber (432 pp.)
83. Shattered by Kevin Hearne (332 pp.)
84. What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan (353 pp.)
85. The Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner (319 pp.)
86. Legacy by James H. Schmitz (346 pp.)
87. The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde (289 pp.)
88. Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold (304 pp.)
89. A Taste of Poison by Aaron Kite (234 pp.)
90. Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold (311 pp.)
91. A Civil Campaigne by Lois McMaster Bujold (405 pp.)
92. Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold (307 pp.)
93. The Vorkosigan Companion Lilian Stewart Carl (ed.) (469 pp.)
94. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (273 pp.)
95. Of Darkness, Light, and Fire by Tanya Huff (513 pp.)
96. A Marginal Jew: Volume IV by John P. Meier (667 pp.)
97. Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey (388 pp.)
98. Across the Great Barrier by Patricia Wrede (357 pp.)
99. Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff (410 pp.)

August
100. Quest for Kim by Peter Hopkirk (273 pp.)
101. The Ripper Affair by Lilith Saintcrow (386 pp.)
102. A Symphony of Echoes by Jodi Taylor (334 pp.)
103. A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin (464 pp.)
104. The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross (359 pp.)
105. Sorcery & Cecilia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (320 pp.)
106. The Grand Tour by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (469 pp.)
107. The Mislaid Magician by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (328 pp.)
108. Blood Red by Mercedes Lackey (312 pp.)

3ronincats
Editado: Ago 17, 2014, 3:02 pm

Books Acquired in 2014:

January
1. Hell and Earth by Elizabeth Bear
2. Forty Thousand in Gehenna by C. J. Cherryh
3. Aunt Dimity: Snowbound by Nancy Atherton
4. The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson
5. Legacy by James H. Schmitz
6. Changer by Jane Lindskold
7. Dragon's Kin by Anne and Todd McCaffrey
8. Desolation Road by Ian McDonald
9. Grimoire of the Lamb/The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne
10. Magnificent Devices 4-book set by Shelley Adina

February
11. Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
12. Carousel Sun by Sharon Lee

13. Shannivar by Deborah J. Ross

March
14. Beast Master’s Circus by Andre Norton (301 pp.)
15. Destroyer by C. J. Cherryh (406 pp.)
16. Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds (580 pp.)
17. Spin by Robert Wilson (452 pp.)
18, Tricked by Kevin Hearne (370 pp.)
19. Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire (368 pp.)
20. Oath of Fealty by Elizabeth Moon (497 pp.)

21. Buffalito Destiny by Lawrence Schoen (308 pp.)
22. Buffalito Contingency by Lawrence Schoen (274 pp.)
23. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett (381 pp.)
24. The Daemon Prism by Carol Berg (498 pp.)
25. Trapped by Kevin Hearne (322 pp.)
26. Disenchanted & Co by Lynn Viehl (417 pp.)


April
27. The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke (254 pp.)
28. Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code by Bart Ehrman (197 pp.)
29. Of Darkness, Light and Fire by Tanya Huff (513 pp.)
30. Rise of a Hero by Hilari Bell (578 pp.)
31. The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
32. The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu

May
33. Forging the Sword by Hilari Bell (608 pp.)
32. A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (352 pp.)
34. The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan (331 pp.)
35. Summerland by Michael Chabon (500 pp.)
36. China Court by Rumor Godden (304 pp.)
37. Super Finishing Techniques for Crocheters by Betty Barnden (128 pp.)
38. The Hidden Queen by Alma Alexander
39. Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready (309 pp.)
40. Hunted by Kevin Hearne
41. Grunt Life by Weston Ochse (420 pp.)
42. Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
43. Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire
44. Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
45. Getting Schooled by Garret Keizer (299 pp.)
46. Crown of Renewal by Elizabeth Moon

47. Edwin High King of Britain by Eduardo Albert
48. The Sea of Time by P. C. Hodgell

June
49. Sinai Tapestry by Edward Whittemore
50. Moon Dreams by Brad Strickland
51. Off To Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer (387 pp.)
52. The Science of Discworld by Terry Pratchett etal. (385 pp.)

July
53. Ike by Michael Korda
54. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
55. What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan
56. The Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner

57. Mere Humanity by Donald Williams (165 pp.)
58. Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand
59. A Symphony of Echoes by Jodi Taylor

August
60. How We Learn by Benedict Carey
61. Sorcery & Cecilia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
62. The Grand Tour by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

63. Fantasy Stories by Diana Wynne Jones (ed.)

4ronincats
Fev 12, 2014, 9:55 pm



Book #1 Indexing by Seanan McGuire (420 pp.)

This is the start of another new series that was first written via Amazon's e-serial process. It was fun, the characters were snarky as they try to prevent the narrativium from classic fairy tales from bleeding into our reality.



Book #2 If the Shoe Fits by Laurie LeClair (244 pp.)

This is a romance I picked up for free for my Kindle, thinking it had some potential with its fairytale framework. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to it, being pretty much stock romance--they fall in lust at first sight, and love follows and the frame story just didn't get fleshed out enough. Cute for those into romances, and first of a series as the two stepsisters also have each their own book and romance following this one.



Book #3 Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (313 pp.)

This is the first book in the Vorkosigan series by Bujold and a reread for the group read/discussion here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/162708

There is one book set in the same universe that is chronologically earlier, Falling Free, but it isn't really a Vorkosigan book. This one is Lois' first published book--she has become a much more polished writer in the meantime, but the characters of Cordelia and Aral are so great, while their societies and the cultural clash are so interesting, that you really don't notice. You all know how much I love Bujold's books--this is a great starting point.

5ronincats
Fev 12, 2014, 9:59 pm



Book #4 Hexed by Kevin Hearne (296 pp.)

This is the second book in the Iron Druid series and just as much fun as the first. Although I don't know why we call fun stories in which multiple people are killed, tortured or injured, these still manage to have a light-hearted feel to them. This is probably thanks in great part to Oberon, Atticus' wolfhound, and once again I didn't mark the section with Oberon's remarks I wanted to quote and can't find it now. I quite liked Mark del Franco's 6 book druid series about Connor Grey, due in part to his mastery and appropriate application of Celtic mythology and in part to its having a definite story arc which came to a satisfying conclusion at the end of the series. However, Connor was an injured Druid trying to heal his powers. Atticus, on the other hand, is a mature Druid in full control of his powers and dealing with a much more eclectic world in which all mythologies and magic systems can and do appear. This makes for some very interesting situations with a lot of potential for story lines.

Book #5 Dragonwriter: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Pern edited by Todd McCaffrey (288 pp.)



This book is a tribute to Anne McCaffrey, a collection of essays by people who knew her. This will have little attraction for those who are not familiar with her work, but was an interesting read to learn a little more about the woman. I lifted one of her quotes (heading the essay by Janis Ian):
I have a shelf of comfort books, which I read when the world closes in on me or something untoward happens.

And I'm thinking that maybe next year we should have a year-long read of her work like we are doing for Bujold this year, and introduce a lot more of you to her work.



Book #6 Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (297 pp.)

I finished Death Comes for the Archbishop today. I loved the writing and the way she reveals just a bit of the history of that fabulous region. It worked for me. I have been to the Cathedral in Santa Fe some years ago, but after reading this, very much wanted to see it again.

And although there were many good quotes in the book, this one stood out for me: "Where there is great love there are always miracles...One might almost say that an apparition is human vision corrected by divine love...The Miracles of the Church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always." I think e. e. cummings must have read this book before he wrote his poem i thank you God for most.

6ronincats
Fev 12, 2014, 10:02 pm



Book #7 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling (309 pp.)

This reread is for the group Harry Potter series read this year. It is always entertaining to visit Hogwarts, and I love the light, youthful feeling of this book, even though we see it sprinkled with foreshadowing of future events.



Book #8 The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer (234 pp.)

Published in 1936 when Heyer was 34, this is another Georgian but definitely has a lighter feel than The Masqueraders or These Old Shades. The action takes place entirely in Sussex, mostly in an inn, and there is a lot more comedic interaction than in the earlier books although the mystery at the heart of the story is quite serious. Heyer's sense of humor, seen mostly through Sarah Thane, finally peeks out in typical understated form. Eustacie and Ludovic, the romantic leads, are suitably impulsive and very young, but well-balanced by the more mature characters. Sir Hugh Thane takes the honors, for me, of the most entertaining character. Eustacie is reminiscent of Leónie in mannerisms but has not had the depth of experience of the latter.



Book #9 Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold (389 pp.)

One of my favorite Vorkosigan books, I am glad to revisit it for the year-long Vorkosigan group read. We live very much in Cordelia's head in this book, in a tight third-person perspective, and I very much like and respect Cordelia. A lot happens in this story, both personal and political, but the personal leads us to CARE about the characters involved. I think I'm going to have to go straight into The Warrior's Apprentice at this point.

The cover, by the way, correctly places Drou in the same room as the uterine replicator and the swordstick, but the room is a bedroom, she is never in the military dress uniform and certainly wouldn't be in this time and place even if it were her regular uniform, and she isn't the one handling the swordstick. Other than that, the cover is completely accurate. And the next one won't help--my copy of TWA has the infamous battle nightie cover!

7ronincats
Fev 12, 2014, 10:04 pm



Book #10 The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold (315 pp.)

Ah yes, I own the original first printing of the paperback (oh, for the days when books came out directly in mmpb) which features the notorious "battle nightie" cover.

It is true, you cannot read just one. I've finished this and am now halfway through The Vor Game.



Book #11 The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold (342 pp.)

Miles has graduated from the military academy 4 years after The Warrior's Apprentice and, oh, what to do with him? Miles, being Miles, ends up in controversy even on a remote island and is in disgrace when he is assigned to an undercover job in the Hegan Hub. But of course nothing goes according to plan.



Book #12 Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold (302 pp.)

Cetaganda, while the next chronologically, was much later in publication order and shows it in the quality of the writing and plotting. As usual, Miles is thrown into the middle of a plot during a simple diplomatic mission. We get an absolutely fascinating look into Cetagandan social and political structure--up to this point they have simple been "the enemy" who invaded Barrayar a century ago.

8ronincats
Fev 12, 2014, 10:06 pm



Book #13 Grimoire of the Lamb and The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne (97 pp.)

These are stories set before the Iron Druid series that tell some of the backstory of Atticus. The novella is worth it totally because of these two quotes in the first two paragraphs:

People today think ancient Egypt was ineffably cool. I blame this misconception on hieroglyphics and (to a lesser extent) on the Bangles.

The truth is that the ancient Egyptians regarded most people as chattel for the ruling class and practiced some of the blackest magic history has ever seen--or, rather, hasn't seen, because they were deadly secret about keeping their secrets. But they wrote such happy tomes as The Book of the Dead and illustrated joyful kids' books like Little Scarab Shat Blood and


That and the pursuit of Atticus and Oberon through the streets of Cairo by all the resident house and alley cats at the behest of Bast are the high points. The problem with a novella is that there's not much room for a lot of character or plot development, but fans of Atticus will enjoy it nonetheless.

The short story takes place much further in the past and is an interesting take on the Sir Gawain story.



Book #14 The Librarian: Little Boy Lost by Eric Hobbs (98 pp.) completed 1/27/14.

This is one of those free ebooks that ended up on my Kindle. I'm sure the author was hoping that this would be the beginning of a highly popular middle school fantasy series. However, despite some intriguing plot elements, the characters are purely stock, both protagonists and villains, and the writing pedestrian. Not recommended.



Book #15 Longbourn by Jo Baker (332 pp.) completed 1/31/14.

Recommended by many, and specifically by Joe, this book has been receiving a lot of buzz on LT lately. The story is about the servants of the Bennett family, contemporaneous with the events of Pride and Prejudice. This story truly is distinct from P&P, and the characters are well-drawn, but it is a pleasure to see how the events of P&P are deftly inserted into the storyline. Mr. Bennet and Mr. Wickham both come out a little worse for the wear here. The other thing is that the details of life and the servants' work and the war with Napoleon--all of these are seen in much more detail than in P&P and the author gets them right.

9ronincats
Fev 12, 2014, 10:08 pm



Book #16 Bastion by Mercedes Lackey (342 pp.) completed 2/1/14.

This is book 5 of Lackey's latest Valdemar series, taking place at the time of the founding of the Collegium Schools for Heralds, Bards, and Healers. This series has felt like Lackey has perhaps gone to the well a few too many times. They are okay adventure stories, but nothing special. Fortunately, book number 5 wraps the story up. For anyone wanting to read about Valdemar, nothing beats the original Arrows of the Queen series.



Book #17 The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (433 pp.)

Finally, after waiting over three months for a copy to become available at the library, I got it. This is the third and final book in The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, a fairly traditional YA medievaloid fantasy rescued from mediocrity by a strong female lead and some interesting plot twists. Entertaining and a quick read.



Book #18 Frederica by Georgette Heyer (437 pp.)

As always, I enjoyed my reread. Frederica is one of the most universally loved of Heyer's Regencies, and if you want to join the Heyer love, this is the month and this is the thread:
http://www.librarything.com/topic/168682

One of the things that makes Heyer stand out--hell, that made her the nonpariel in her field--is that, besides her clever repartee and her rich settings, she plays with the traditional tropes of romance literature. Nothing is sacred. Often her protagonist is an "older" woman (in a society where 21 is older) but even when she is the ingenue, there is always a twist. Only once did she tell the same story twice, and that was her last book when she was ill. I love character-driven stories, and that is why I love Lois McMaster Bujold and Sharon Lee and Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen and...

10LShelby
Fev 12, 2014, 10:09 pm

So you really ARE here in the 100 Group. I thought maybe I'd imagined it.
But I'm glad I didn't. :)

11ronincats
Fev 12, 2014, 10:09 pm



Book #19 The Arabian Nights based on the text edited by Muhsin Mahdi and translated by Husain Haddaway (428 pp.)

I've had the two volume set of this in my tbr pile for several years, and so when I saw an Arabian Nights group read up this year, thought it the perfect stimulus to finally read them. I knew that the Andrew Lang version I'd read as a child had been massively bowdlerized, and had always been curious about the original. I'm so glad to have this edition. An extensive forward by the translator goes into detail about the initial compilation of tales, and then the proliferation of tales added onto the original manuscripts in the late 1800s and early 1900s as copyists kept adding all kinds of folk tales and fables in an attempt to actually fill out a thousand and one nights. He also extensively discusses the Lane, Payne, and Burton English transaltions, both their strengths and their weaknesses, additions and omissions, before setting forth the guidelines he used in his own translation. Burton's translation, for example, was intended to titillate Victorian mores, while Lane simply omitted all the racy stuff.

When I was a child, even in the infancy of TV, such tales were considered to be purely children's fare, along with most fairy tales and folk tales. Those who have read the originals know that to be a misapprehension. For most of our history, these types of tales were intended for adult consumption--to inspire, to awe, to entertain and, yes, at times to titillate. These days they have been superseded by vampires and serial killers and CSI labs and the like--all of which are every bit as fantastical as these tales.

This first volume contains the stories that fill 271 nights, with tales embedded within tales within yet more tales--I am in awe of the storytellers able to keep them straight before the written versions! The second volume will contain four of the most popular later stories: Sinbad, Ali Baba, Aladdin, and Qamar al-Zuman.

The writing is excellent, the verse beautiful, and the stories entertaining.



Book #20 Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch (320 pp.)

This is the fourth book in the Rivers of London series. Peter and Leslie are still trying to track down the Faceless Man and following up leads which get tangled up with housing projects, German architects, Russian witches, and a really surprising plot twist at the end. Still very entertaining writing.

12ronincats
Fev 12, 2014, 10:13 pm

Lynn, indeed I am. Welcome as the first group member to visit my "new" thread! I'm much more active in the 75ers group, but like to keep up in this smaller group as well. I'm off to read threads now that I've caught up here.

13wookiebender
Fev 13, 2014, 12:00 am

Hi Roni, and welcome back! Some great reading, you're making me already want to read more Vorkosigan (already scheduled! and you said something about a year-long group read somewhere...?), and more Heyer as well.

14ronincats
Fev 13, 2014, 12:28 am

Tania, the main thread is here:
http://www.librarything.com/topic/160914

and there are separate discussion threads for the books included in Cordelia's Honor
http://www.librarything.com/topic/162708
and Young Miles:
http://www.librarything.com/topic/163792

There's also a group read of Frederica this month at http://www.librarything.com/topic/168682

15judylou
Fev 13, 2014, 1:27 am

Impressed with your catch-up! I am glad you remembered us at last!!

16wookiebender
Editado: Fev 13, 2014, 7:56 pm

Thanks Roni, I've stuck my nose in there and dropped a few stars. :)

ETA: Will skip the Frederica group read, I don't have a copy. :(

17wareagle78
Fev 16, 2014, 2:29 am

Ahhh. So many years since I read Georgette Heyer. I did enjoy her romances so very much, once upon a time. Thanks for the reminder.

18ronincats
Fev 19, 2014, 4:31 pm

Judy, always glad to be here!

Glad you checked it out, Tania.

Heyer's romances are still just as entertaining now, Teresa!



Book #21 Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (309 pp.)

This re-read is for the group read this month. I loved this book as a child and have read it several times since, but not for at least a decade. This time through, I noticed how much Montgomery focuses on the descriptions of the landscape--no wonder this book draws so many visitors to Prince Edward Island. It must be one of the most beautiful places on earth. And I also noticed how much of the action takes place through Anne's chatter.

19ronincats
Fev 19, 2014, 4:31 pm



Book #22 The Silvered by Tanya Huff (484 pp.)

Tanya Huff is a Canadian author who has been writing fantasy and science fiction since 1988. While I never read her vampire detective series (The Blood Books, written 1991-1997 and adapted for the tv program Blood Ties), I did enjoy her Summon the Keeper trilogy, especially the cats, and the first of her Quarters quartet. Actually, I couldn't find the books after Sing the Four Quarters at the time (mid to late 90s) but have picked them up through PaperBackSwap in the last two years--they lay in my tbr stack. I've also enjoyed her science fiction Confederation series of military sf centered on kick-ass Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr and her efforts to keep her company of space marines alive during various missions. Huff's recent urban fantasy books, The Enchantment Emporium and The Wild Ways, were just average for me--well-written as always but with nothing to make them stand out from the mass of urban fantasy at large.

All of this is by way of background to say how pleasantly surprised I was to find her latest book, a much more traditional fantasy, to be a really good story, a step above much of the fantasy I've read lately (although Czerneda's A Turn of Light is still the best I've read in the last year). We have mages and werewolves in a medievaloid, moving into steampunk era, world, but forget all the stereotypical fantasy tropes. Huff builds a world where the society and the magic systems are original, detailed, and compelling. So also are the characters, especially her viewpoint character, a young woman who, having attended the mages' university because of her high scores, has been dismissed because she wasn't able to move above first level in any of the specializations. Now she has to deal with her social-climbing mother's aspirations, the last thing she wants to do. But wait--it's all cut completely short by an invasion from a neighboring kingdom and the machinations of its emperor. Cut adrift and on her own in the middle of war, Marian has to adapt and find out what she is truly capable of.

20ronincats
Fev 19, 2014, 4:32 pm



Book #23 Before the Dawn: Recovering the lost history of our ancestors by Nicholas Wade (179 pp.)

This book hit my wishlist and the library hold list last month when Lucy reviewed it. It is an eminently readable and totally fascinating look at what genetic analysis can tell us about our evolution in the far past and in the more recent history. Dealing with sociality, language, settlement, origin, and so on, Wade traces some of the many lines of development that has resulted in us, now. Intriguing ideas abound. Wade suggests that religion, for example, evolved as a force for social cohesion to balance the opportunities for deception that the emergence of language made possible. It began as a mechanism for a community to exclude those who could not be trusted and later became a means of encouraging communal action in a society that had no central authority. Finally, it was co-opted by the rulers of settled societies as a way of solidifying their authority and justifying their privileged position. It is sobering to continually encounter the contrast between the egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies (with minimal possessions) and the seemingly immutable hierarchical nature of society as soon as there are goods to acquire and a fixed place to keep them. Highly recommended.

21ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 6:29 pm



Book #24 Carousel Sun by Sharon Lee (366 pp.)

This contemporary fantasy follows Carousel Tides by about 8 weeks, still on Archer's Beach in Maine. One of the things I like about it is the author's evident love of her Maine homeland, its characters and its economic challenges. Kate is still Guardian of the carousel and of the land around Archer's Beach, but we've settled into the why and wherefore of all that in the first book and this one focuses more on Kate and her adjustment to being back home and her roles with both humans and fae. I found it very readable and entertaining light reading.

22ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 6:31 pm



Book #25 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (341 pp.)

It's amazing how obvious it is who is the culprit in retrospect (and during rereads). And Lucius Malfoy makes his appearance--he was cast so beautifully in the movies! This was for the group read of the series.

February stats:

Books read: 10
Pages read: 3539
Average pages per book: 354
Average pages per day: 126

Initial reads: 7
RE-reads: 3 For the Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter and Heyer group reads and all off my shelves

Library books: 3
Kindle books: 2
Paper books off my shelf: 2
Kindle books off my shelf: 0

Science fiction: 0
Fantasy: 7
Children's: 1
Nonfiction: 1
Fiction: 0
Romance: 1

Author Gender:
Female: 7
Male: 3

Author Nationality:
USA: 5
England: 3
Canada: 2

Books acquired: 3
Money spent: $13.22

Format:
Paper: 1
Kindle: 2 (and 7 freebies, which don't count)

Genre:
Science fiction: 0
Fantasy: 3
Children's: 0
Romance: 0

Books read/acquired: 2/3

Books Out the Door: 4
PaperBackSwap: 4

23ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 6:33 pm



Book #26 Hammered by Kevin Hearne (312 pp.)

Lots of funny parts to this book. But the action gets serious and nobody mentioned that the book ends mid-action. And I don't have the next one lined up! Maybe it's time to switch to Kindle versions...



Book #27 Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner (30 pp.)

Many thanks to Dear Linda for bringing my attention to this marvelous Caldecott winner of a picture book which involves cats and space aliens. Loved, loved, loved the pictures. Will read it again several times before returning it to the library.

BUT while I was at the library, they were having a special on their books. 6 for $1. And someone's almost new science fiction was on the shelves. Not good for my book acquisition numbers, unless I'm trying to compete with Paul. I got:

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson-Hugo winner
Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds
Destroyer by C. J. Cherryh-I'll be reading this series eventually and will want this.
Beast Master's Circus by Andre Norton and Lyn McConchie-Loved the originals (Beast Master and Lord of Thunder) as an adolescent, but was much less impressed with Beast Master's Ark, written much later with Norton just adding her imprimatur, so had never picked this one up but 17¢?

These won't count, as they are replacements:

Low Port by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller-great condition mmpb to replace my trade paperback edition and make room on those shelves--the old one goes for trade.
Balance of Trade by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller-ditto, except replacing the hardback.
the original Earthsea trilogy by Ursula Le Guin--these are the same edition as the ones I have, but I lent out the first and never got it back and had to pick up an unmatched first book. NOW I have my matching set, and an unmatched set to give away to the first LT friend giving me a good reason why they should be the one to get it!

All five of the latter won't count as books out the door either, since I'm not counting the duplicate editions coming in.

24ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 6:34 pm



Book #28 Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold (311 pp.)

This is a collection of 3 novellas tied together by an interview with Simon Illyan after Miles' surgery to replace his arm bones that takes place after Brothers in Arms. I like all three of these stories a lot. This was a re-read for the year-long Bujold group read.

25ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 6:36 pm



Book #29 Tricked by Kevin Hearne (370 pp.)

Book 4 of the Iron Druid series finds Atticus mopping up the mess from his last adventure, while Coyote gets him into another one. Still an enjoyable adventure and Oberon still gets all the best lines. Best pop culture moment (every book has at least one)-the Steve Perry tribute!



Book #30 Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire (368 pp.)

Okay, so we've had two books where Verity Price has been protecting Incryptids in New York City (Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue Light Special), but this book is all about her brother Alex who is an incryptid biologist currently working at a zoo in Ohio. He really just wants to oversee the hibernation and mating of a pair of basilisks while conducting a field study of the disappearance of frogs, but there's this stunning Australian working with the big cats and then people start getting petrified...

26ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 6:37 pm



Book #31 Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (396 pp.)

I thought this was an excellent book; it gets 4.5 stars from me. Leckie's universe-building is compelling and her AI character portrayed with a distinct voice. The difficulties with gender differentiation and the difficult relationship with Seivarden brought to mind my first reading of The Left Hand of Darkness many years ago, although the story is very different. I will definitely read more by this author.

And finally, this article was in the Huffington Post and I think is of interest--I was surprised how many I had already read, not being a particular mystery buff.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-wood-/9-essential-detective-nov_b_4949736...

27ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 6:39 pm



Book #32 The Soul Mirror by Carol Berg (515 pp.)

I bought this book three years ago, shortly after reading The Spirit Lens, the first book in the trilogy, and I'm sorry it took me this long to get to it. I had forgotten nearly everything from the first book and they are closely interconnected--it would have added greatly to my enjoyment of the story. But as it is, I also really liked this book, told from an entirely different viewpoint but continuing the story of the first.



Book #33 Trapped by Kevin Hearne (322 pp.)

This one just didn't seem as much fun as the previous books. I get that we have the cascading consequences of Atticus' action in book 2--but the carnage was not equalized with the humor here, and I think it suffers for it. And I'm bummed because I just realized that these books cannot be lent to my sister's Kindle, and that was one of the reasons I bought the Kindle versions.



Book #34 The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (309 pp.)

Late, but for the group read of Banks. This started slowly but built to a rip-roaring climax. I very much enjoyed the world-building and the plot even though I stayed somewhat distant from the characters.

28ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 6:39 pm



Book #35 Serendipity's Tide by L. Shelby (233 pp.)
Book #36 Treachery's Harbor by L. Shelby (194 pp.)
Book #37 Fealty's Shore by L. Shelby (248 pp.)

I've been reading a series by one of our own, L. Shelby, over this last week. It's a trilogy; subsumed under Across a Jade Sea for the series, the books are Serendipity's Tide, Treachery's Harbor, and Fealty's Shore. This would be considered a fantasy, as it takes place on another world, but no magic. Instead we have a dieselpunk-like atmosphere in a setting where steam and diesel are used, but horses are also still common. The world-building borrows a lot from ours, but is extensive and detailed. The story is an adventure-romance. We have pirates and assassins, exotic empires, loads of action, and a mechanically-minded apprentice engineer (initially encountered on an ocean liner) for a female lead. When her ship rescues some castaways at sea, and then is attacked by the same pirates that were responsible, Batiya's adventures are just beginning.

What I want to say about these books is that once I started the story, I had to keep coming back to it. I loved Batiya. I wonder if some might see her as a Mary Sue, but I loved her competence, her self-possession and awareness of who she is, and her insight into people and situations. It's all wrapped up in who she is, as she is developed as a character, not added on from the outside, and that is simply awesome! And the characters around her are no less interesting and developed. I would LOVE for a daughter to take Batiya as a role model, as opposed to certain rather angsty teen heroines we have all encountered.

This would be very easy to pigeonhole as a YA romance fantasy--and that would simply not do it justice at all. This is a quick and entertaining read but the characters give it depth and interest beyond the plot. And don't skip the glossaries at the end of each book--there's a lot of entertaining and snarky detail there that makes them well worth reading. Recommended!

29ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 6:40 pm



Book #38 The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski (265 pp.)

This book is the first in a fantasy trilogy that came to my attention when Richard said something about the author in the context of her new book, The Winner's Curse. Since my library had all three of these, I thought I'd see how I like her writing.

The books are aimed at middle school kids--the heroine is 12 when the first book starts. The setting is pretty much medieval Europe with a little bit of magical steampunk involved (small mechanical animals are created that run on oil, for example). I'm going to read the entire trilogy before I pass judgment on the series, as the story in this book is clearly just the opening movement even though, and this is definitely a plus for me, it wraps up a story in book one with no overt cliffhangers. So far interesting but it hasn't swept me away yet.

30ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 6:42 pm



Book #39 Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code by Bart Ehrman (197 pp.)

I picked this up from the library sale table for 25¢ out of curiosity. I read TDVC back when it was all the talk at the urging of a friend, and hated how it was written (short, hyperactive chapters and jumping all over the place) but thought the premise was interesting. Ehrman has nothing new to say--since I’ve read fairly extensively on the early history of Christianity--but this is a nice summary and does really make clear what, as he says, IS truth and fiction in the book. Very readable.

31ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 6:42 pm



Book #40 What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton (446 pp.)

I’ve had a lot of fun with this over the last week. This is a collection of Jo’s blogs from tor.com from 7/08 to 2/11, about 20% of what she actually wrote, but the ones where she is talking about what she is re-reading. So the first one is titled “Why I Re-read”.

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who re-read and those who don’t. No, don’t be silly, there are far more than two kinds of people in the world. There are even people who don’t read at all. But there are two kinds of readers in the world, though, those who re-read and those who don’t.

This is something, of course, that has come up numerous times on LT, and Jo hits the divide right on the money: “There are so many books, they say, and so little time.” But Jo, like me, is a re-reader, and I love her rationale and discussion here. “When I read, I know what I’m getting. It’s like revisiting an old friend.” “A re-read is more leisurely than a first read...Because I know what’s coming, because I’m familiar with the characters and the world of the story, I have more time to pay attention to them. I can immerse myself in details and connections I rushed past the first time and delight in how they are put together. I can relax into the book.” Ah, Jo, as Anne Shirley would say, you are a kindred spirit.

And it doesn’t hurt that during this time span, Walton reread the entire Vorkosigan series and Steven Brust’s Dragaera series and wrote about her reactions to the books.

32ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 6:43 pm


Book #41 The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer (272 pp.)

Speaking of re-reads, I was feeling a little under the weather today and not like any of my ongoing reads, so I picked up this month’s Heyer book (well, actually I think it may have been last month’s) to distract myself. This has never been one of my favorites but any Heyer beats most other books hands down.



Book #42 The Celestial Globe by Marie Rutkoski (272 pp.)

This is the middle book of the trilogy started with The Cabinet of Wonders. So there's little I can say without spoilers. This is a middle-school level book and so far, it doesn't rise above that level for me. Petra is not a particularly likable character and the villain is batshit insane. Still, I'll finish the third book to see if it can redeem the series.



Book #43 Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor (293 pp.)

Most of you have probably heard Richard book-warbling about this one, but I first heard of it from Peggy (LizzieD). I'd say it owes a lot to Connie Willis' time travelers, but certainly takes it off into a new direction. It's light and entertaining and FREE! Can't beat that.

33ronincats
Abr 16, 2014, 7:04 pm



Book #44 Hiero's Journey by Stirling E. Lanier (318 pp.)

Hiero quests across a post-apocalyptic North America is much the same tone as John Carter traipsed across Mars--there is the same sense of adventures and encounters with new societies and strange comrades. Although old-fashioned in tone (the book is 40 years old), it was entertaining to see the predicted changes some 5000+ years in the future and just good fun with the many adventures.

34ronincats
Maio 21, 2014, 3:02 pm



Book #45 Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett (381 pp.)

This is the first Pratchett I've bought on Kindle and it's the one I've been reading sitting in waiting rooms for all the routine doctor visits over the last three weeks. I must confess, it was a slow starter for me as it built up the development of the steam locomotive, although I did take some enjoyment in the fact that Harry King seemed to be modeled in part on Noddy Boffin in Our Mutual Friend. However, once the stage is set, the last part of the book is a thrilling dash across the landscape of Discworld that pulled me in entirely and left me satiated at the end!

35ronincats
Maio 21, 2014, 3:03 pm



Book #46 The Jewel of the Kalderash by Marie Rutkoski (320 pp.)

This is the last book of the trilogy of The Kronos Chronicles. All in all, I think it's a good middle-school adventure, with a nice mix of ethnicities, but adults would probably not be able to suspend belief enough to gloss over the more improbable parts of the story. And there are no hidden depths--what you see is what you get.



Book #47 The Unforsaken Hiero by Sterling E. Lanier (240 pp.)

This sequel has Hiero separated from his love and deprived of his mental tools, in dire straits indeed. Our hero, however, finds unlooked for allies and makes it back North to take the battle to the Unclean. As noted for the first book, fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Andre Norton are sure to love these books, set in the far future in a post-apocalyptic savage world. But fans have been waiting for over 30 years to see if Hiero can successfully find Luchare, driven into the wilderness, and restore her to her kingdom, and find and defeat the true source of the Unclean...

36ronincats
Maio 21, 2014, 3:04 pm



Book #48 Brothers In Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold (338 pp.)

Comfort reading has been the order of the day, and so I read the next book in the Vorkosigan series for the group read. Miles is on or above Earth for the whole of this book, with issues of accounting (getting paid) and Komarran insurgency complicate his life greatly. And an important new character is introduced. More great Miles, but not the place to start. Still, a very important book, directly leading into the next book which is perhaps the most important of the whole series.



Book #49 Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer (304 pp.)

Keep in mind that the worst Heyer romance is better than 95% of all the other romances out there. That said, this is one of my least favorite of her Regencies. It is a farcical comedy of manners in which we see many elements that later in her writing career Heyer handles much more deftly and smoothly. Ravenscar is much like Rule in Regency Buck--an alpha male of such perfection, except for his atrocious manners, that one cannot identify with him enough to see the attraction. Deb (and why here is everyone referring to her by not only her first name, but a familiar version of it, when everywhere else it would be Miss Grantham? Either she is still a lady by birth, or she has "ruined" herself and Ravenscar would not even consider a liaison.) is too high-spirited for me--the extremes she goes to to avenge Ravenscar's initial opinion of her seem outré and disproportionate. Heyer's side characters, however, already show her skill at creating interesting people. It's a battle royale of wits, best not taken too seriously and simply enjoyed for the farce it is.

37ronincats
Maio 21, 2014, 3:05 pm



Book #50 The Normans: From Raiders to Kings by Lars Brownworth (210 pp.)

This was an e-book for Early Reviewers.

This was an interesting book on how Viking invaders became the Normans and then fanned out from Normandy into Britain, southern Italy, Sicily and even Antioch. The author follows different strands of the Norman families, but especially the Hautevilles in Italy and Sicily. It was easy reading--almost too easy, it felt like history-light. And when I looked at the page count, I could see why! The author focuses on the military engagements and politicking, not on the personal lives--except then at the end of a chapter, he'll comment on the size of one king's harem or the number of illegitimate children he had, for example, leaving one curious and unsatisfied. This could have been so much richer. It makes me want to go to some of the books in the bibliography and get the full story instead of reading this book.



Book #51 The Warlock's Curse by M. K. Hobson (398 pp.)

This author created a very interesting alternate history of the US in the late 1800s in her first two books, The Native Star and The Hidden Goddess, where magic is incorporated into historical detail. This book takes place some 40 years later in 1910 in that same world.

First of all, this book ends in the middle of the story with no closure. That is frustrating, and it was unexpected as the author had created closure for her earlier books. Secondly, the book seemed divided into two halves, with the first being fairly rational and interesting and the second devolving into over-the-top horror. And I did not like the big reveal at the end at all. I may still read the sequel just to find out what is really going on here, and it may integrate back into the first part of the book to improve my rating. But I really do not like horror for horror's sake, which is what this felt like.

38ronincats
Editado: Maio 21, 2014, 3:06 pm



Book #52 A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (353 pp.)

I've been itching for a Nina Kiriki Hoffman read for over a week now. Hoffman writes these completely unique fantasies that are unlike anyone else's (well, doh, that's what I just said, right?). They dig into your gut and yet they tend to be beautiful. My first Hoffman was her novella The Skeleton Key, which you can find online if you search for it--much darker than most of her stuff but still...life-affirming, I would say, which is surprising considering the narrator is dead. This book is about the ordinary one in the family, the one who didn't develop special powers as her siblings did, and what happens when finally her power emerges--and it isn't a positive one. But it's more about the person than the power, really. And the good thing is that I have the sequel, unread, in my TBR pile and now I will read it and get another BOTS (Book Off The Shelf) for the year.



Book #53 Fall of Light by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (307 pp.)

This story is about the oldest sister of the protagonist in A Fistful of Sky. Okay, but not nearly as interesting or original as the first. But don't let this put you off the ones I recommended above!

39ronincats
Maio 21, 2014, 3:08 pm



Book #54 The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper (381 pp.)

This is the first book of a purported series about the Clockwork Empire. Steampunk. Secret societies, mechanicals, Queen Victoria, and zombie plagues. No supernaturals, though. So, it's okay. But little of the charm that imbues the Gail Carriger books throughout, and very little of true originality. If you love all things steampunk, it is harmless and entertaining. But there is nothing to make it a book you want to devote your precious time to. I'll not be continuing with the series.

And I've Pearl-ruled the free Kindle book Her Wicked Ways by Darcy Burke after 15 pages. A supposed Regency romance, the opening situation is SO ridiculous and unrealistic that I can't wast any more time on it.



Book #55 Eight Million Gods by Wen Spencer (355 pp.)

About 40 or 50 pages in, I considered Pearl-ruling this book. I'm glad I didn't. What I was afraid would turn out to be teen angst turned out to be a fair portrait of the combination of OCD and being a Sensitive, and the interaction with Japanese gods and culture was fascinating.

40ronincats
Maio 21, 2014, 3:10 pm



Book #56 Cinder by Marissa Meyer (390 pp.)

After waiting over 5 months on the hold list at the library, I read this in one day. It is eminently readable YA science fiction, with well-drawn characters that capture your affections (or not, as the case may be). Although the "bad" characters tend to be one-dimensional, they are gloriously nasty. My one caveat is that most of the plot points are clearly telegraphed quite early in the story--but this is YA and the story is so very readable, I can forgive it. Besides, the fairy tale framework fills in a lot of the plot points on its own.

Cinder ends at a pause point in the story, and now I have to decide whether to go straight on to Scarlet and Cress or to pace myself so as to be wrapping them up about the time Winter comes out. Evidently there is no waiting list for Scarlet at the library, amazingly enough.

41ronincats
Maio 21, 2014, 3:10 pm



Book #57 A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (334 pp.)

When Kriti had a contest on her blog to win this book, I immediately entered, since she was the one to put it on my wish list. I had read Brennan's Doppelganger books, which were traditional fantasy. This book is original with a distinctive voice (Lady Trent) set in a world where dragons are among the natural fauna. This chronicles the beginning of her career as a naturalist and is an adventure/mystery--quite enjoyable!



Book #58 Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach (330 pp.)

This started out as a really interesting space opera adventure with a kick-ass heroine and an interesting set-up...and unfortunately devolved into a romance with sex--only once in this book, the first of a trilogy, but it takes the focus off the action and onto the relationship instead. I'm undecided as to whether to bother with the other two books.

42ronincats
Maio 21, 2014, 3:12 pm



Book #59 A Change of Heart by Candice Hern (276 pp.)

It's a Regency, it's a romance. The female character is interesting. The plot is predictable.



Book #60 Disenchanted & Co. by Lynn Viehl (417 pp.)

Meh. Fantasy romance that has the biggest McGuffin ever for a resolution.



Book #61 Hunted by Kevin Hearne (384 pp.)

You may recall that I was less enamored of the last book, Trapped, than I had been of the first four. I am glad to report that I am back on track with this book. Atticus is starting to pull together again and settle some of his feuds, at least temporarily. Now I have to wait for the seventh, and that is being published first in hardback. Why do publishers do that? Everyone in the world has the first 6 books in paperback, and wants the 7th to fit on the shelf with them. I'm going to make sure the library orders it and put myself on the hold list pronto.

A nice bonus was discovering the novella Two Ravens and One Crow at the back of this book--I am so glad I didn't break down and order that separately for my Kindle. Another bonus is that I just noticed that the copy of Hunted I picked up at Mysterious Galaxy is signed by the author! Woot, I'm on a roll!!

43ronincats
Maio 21, 2014, 3:13 pm

And now I'm all caught up for now, and off to check the other threads in the group.

44ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:40 am



Book #62 Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal (364 pp.)

This is the third book in The Glamourist Histories, where Jane Austen meets Susanna Clarke. After the first book, which although it caught the tone of the language ended in melodramatic crises, the books have settled into mild mysteries set in the affairs of the time. Truly, in this book, only the professional work of our protagonists as glamourists makes this fantasy at all--it is really not substantive to the plot. Enjoyable escape fiction.



Book #63 Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear (336 pp.)

This is the first book of a highly regarded epic fantasy series by Bear. It took me a while to get into it (books that start out with war and violence often do) but I have been captured by the characters. Also, the cultures (based on eastern Asian models) and their skies are very interesting. I like Bear's writing in general, in the other series of hers I've read, and this is no exception. This is a novel take on a well-established fantasy template, and I look forward to the next two books, which I also have home from the library.

45ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:40 am



Book #64 Limits of Power by Elizabeth Moon (492 pp.)

This is book 4 of the 5 book series that is a sequel to Moon's trilogy, The Deed of Paksenarrion. I loved that trilogy, and I am loving this sequel. It's not for everyone, but if you love world-building and wonderful characters and complex plot lines with multiple viewpoints--definitely give it a try. Start at the beginning, though, with Sheepfarmer's Daughter and finish the original trilogy.



Book #65 Crown of Renewal by Elizabeth Moon (503 pp.)

So, other than a midday trip down to the bay at the fishing wharf, guess what I spent today doing! Yes, reading Crown of Renewal, climax of Moon's 5 volume Legends of Paksenarrion series. And a worthy finale it is. Any specifics would be spoilers for earlier books, but we see almost all the issues resolved, and those that aren't, we can see the direction they are headed. So I'm happy.

46ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:42 am



Book #66 The Sea of Time by P. C. Hodgell (395 pp.)

This is book 7 of Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath. The first book, Godstalk, was published in 1982 and is one of my all time 5 star fantasies. In the intervening 32 years, Hodgell has continued to chronicle Jame's history and the history of the Kencyr on Rathillien. The world-building is fantastic. The plots are convoluted, to match the characters and their relationships, but it's just so much fun to be along for the ride.



Book #67 Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear (333 pp.)

Book 2 in the trilogy that began with Range of Ghosts above, I stayed up until 11:30 last night to finish it. As the middle book, this advances the plot lines that span this fantasy world through multiple viewpoints, but of course resolves none of them. Fortunately, I also have the third book here from the library, so I'll be able to start right in on it. Bear is a good writer, creating vivid worlds and characters in this epic fantasy.

47ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:43 am

May Summary:



14 books read, 5290 pages
average book length=378 pages
average pages per day=170

New books = 13
Rereads = 1

Owned by me = 9
Books off the Shelves = 3
Library books = 5

Format: 2 mmpb, 3 tpb, 6 hb, 3 kindle

Genre:
science fiction = 2
fantasy = 11
romance = 1

Author gender: female - 10, male - 2

All published from 2011 to 2014, 2 published this month.

Acquired 15 books.

31. Forging the Sword by Hilari Bell (608 pp.)
32. A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (352 pp.)
33. The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan (331 pp.)
34. Summerland by Michael Chabon (500 pp.)
35. China Court by Rumor Godden (304 pp.)
36. Super Finishing Techniques for Crocheters by Betty Barnden (128 pp.)
37. Hunted by Kevin Hearne
38. Grunt Life by Weston Ochse
39. Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
40. Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire
41. Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
42. The Hidden Queen by Alma Alexander
43. Getting Schooled by Garrett Keizer
44. Crown of Renewal by Elizabeth Moon
45. The sea of Time by P. C. Hodgell

NO books out the door.

48ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:44 am



Book #68 The Arabian Nights II: Sindbad & Other Popular Stories by Husain Haddawy (266 pp.)

This is the second of a two volume set that I started at the beginning of the year with the Arabian Nights group read. The first was Haddawy's new translation of the oldest and most verifiable collection of tales that made up the original Arabian Nights. As these only made up about 266 nights, European authors threw in whatever folktales and oral traditions they could find from the Middle East, India and the Far East to bulk up the collection, so this second volume collects the most popular of these--Sindbad the Sailor, Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, and Aladdin (this last apparently created by the Frenchman who compiled one of the earlier European editions). This makes the second book much more readable to the current Western reader, imo, but what the Victorians found amazing and titillating soon becomes passé for the modern reader due to the overload of disaster and coincidence. Still, I'm glad to have finally read the grown-up version.



Book #69 Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear (429 pp.)

The third and final book of this epic fantasy trilogy, Bear finished off the multifaceted, multiple-viewpoint tale in good form. I admire her well-defined characters, her multiple cultures, and her management of a tortuously convoluted plot.

49ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:45 am



Book #70 Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel (290 pp.)

This is book 1 of "The American Fairy Trilogy". Starting out in Kansas in the middle of the Dust Bowl years, this story features a mixed-race girl "passing" as white with her white mother until her mother disappears and her dad's relatives start hunting her. And they aren't who, or what, she expected. Zettel was inspired by Woody Guthrie's music and other 30s music (she includes a partial list at the back of the book). By the end of the first book, we still don't know a lot about what is going on but it's been one heck of a ride so far. I feel this book is aimed at young teens as the primary audience, but I'm perfectly willing to find out what's going on, and so am on my way to the library website to order the next two books (the third and final book just came out last month) to my local branch.



Book #71 The River Kings' Road by Liane Merciel (431 pp.)

Okay, rarely have I read a book that pushed me so many ways at once. Oh dear, yet another fantasy set in a medieval, brutal society with good and bad magic systems, and with betrayal at its core. Oh, wait, never before have I felt such sympathy and support for the betrayer. Oh dear, the pure knight has a weakness. Oh, wait, the evil knight has a good core. Oh dear, the old substitution caper. Oh, wait, the way it's done is unusual and clever. And just when I decide that, yet, I need the sequel, the reviews on Amazon says that that book devolves from fantasy into pure horror, and I can't do that!

50ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:46 am



Book #72 The Daemon Prism by Carol Berg (498 pp.)

This is the third and final book of the Collegia Magica series. Berg is a good writer and a skilled plot entwined, and in this book she untangles all the snarls from the first two books and brings them to a satisfying conclusion. Recommended series for fantasy lovers.



Book #73 Getting Schooled: The reeducations of an American teacher by Garret Keizer (302 pp.)

I enjoyed this. Despite the fact that Keizer was in a Vermont high school, about as far as you can get from a South Bay, San Diego County school district, I saw lots in common with his experiences and his concerns. I'll have to write a more thorough review for ER, but the brain is still dead from yesterday.

51ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:46 am



Book #74 Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer (333 pp.)

This is one of my favorite Heyers. Half-a-dozen plot lines move along in total syncopation, some of her very best secondary characters play major roles, and the male character shows growth. I think the characterization overall is excellent, and it's just plain fun!



BOOK #75 The Martian by Andy Weir (369 pp.)

Well, I don't need to worry about finishing this book before it is due at the library! I read 2/3 of it last night and reluctantly stopped when my husband turned off the news, and finished it this afternoon after we got done with all our errands. I couldn't believe how fast it moved. As others have said, the book just pulls you along, and along, and along! You don't want to stop.

As I was reading, and Mark was halfway to Schiaparelli, the thought repeatedly crossed my mind--the author must truly be a super-nerd to work all this out! And there it was in the author bio--"He is a lifelong space nerd..." But highly entertaining. I loved the voices of the different characters. Mark has the most air time, of course, but even the others are clearly differentiated. This keeps it from being a dry narrative of survival or a monotonous series of journal entries.

Loved it!!

52ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:47 am



And book #76 My Real Children by Jo Walton (320 pp.)

This could be simple literary fiction about a woman's life in England from 1926 to 2015. It could be--except this woman has two separate lives in two different alternate histories. Walton always works outside the box, refusing to be penned within a genre. If you liked Old Filth, try this to stretch your boundaries. The ending definitely sticks with you.



Book #77 The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (446 pp.)

Due to an airship accident that wiped out his father the Emperor, his three half-brothers and nephew--in other words, all the heirs to the throne, Maia, the half-breed son who has been raised in total isolation from the court is now coming to the Untheileneise Court as the new and totally unprepared Emperor. When I picked this up, I wondered if I was up to yet another tale of court intrigue and a young man finding his feet. However, Maia is a really neat person to spend over 400 pages with, and the world-building is superb! I enjoyed this one a lot.

53ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:48 am



Book #78 Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard (348 pp.)

This is well-written and builds a eerie atmosphere, but despite a riveting story line, the focus on the romance between the two main characters overwhelms the story. This is too bad, as the instant attraction/love detracts from two strong mature characters.

So, time for the June summary and then the half-year numbers:

June
68. Arabian Nights II translated by Husain Haddawy (266 pp.)
69. Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear (429 pp.)
70. Dust Girl by Saray Zettel (290 pp.)
71. The River Kings' Road by Liane Merciel (431 pp.)
72. The Daemon Prism by Carol Berg (498 pp.)
73. Getting Schooled by Garret Keizer (302 pp.)
74. Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer (333 pp.)
75. The Martian by Andy Weir (369 pp.)
76. My Real Children by Jo Walton (320 pp.)
77. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (446 pp.)
78. Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard (348 pp.)
79. Spirits That Walk in Shadow by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (306 pp.)
80. Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold (392 pp.)

13 books read, 4730 pages read.

Average book length=364 pages
Average pages read per day=158 pages

3 rereads, 10 new reads
6 library books, 3 ROOTS

3 science fiction
8 fantasy
1 nonfiction
1 regency romance

6 of the books were published in the current calendar year, 4 others in this decade.

3 male authors, 10 female authors, mostly US but one Iraqi and one English.

Half-Yearly Stats for 2014

Books read = 80
Pages read = 26,522 pages
Average # of pages per book = 331.5
Average # of pages read per day = 146.5

Books first-time reads = 61
Books rereads = 19

Books from library = 22
Books off my shelves = 15
Books acquired and read this year = 19

Science Fiction = 19
Fantasy = 42
Children's = 6
Nonfiction = 6
Fiction = 2
Romance = 7
Mystery = 0

Books acquired = 53
Total spent = $185.65

Books out the door = 11

54ronincats
Editado: Jul 19, 2014, 12:50 am



Book #79 Spirits that Walk in Shadow by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (306 pp.)

This is a reread of one of the Chapel Hollow books, the newest and the one I've read the least. Don't start here but read The Thread That Binds the Bones first. In this book, Jamie is trying to get away from the repercussions of that book and to explore the outside world by going to college, but what she encounters when she meets her roommate brings her cousins in to support her.



Book #80 Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold (392 pp.)

This was the first Bujold where the first edition was a hardback instead of a mass market paperback. I compromised and got the Book Club Edition hardback because I couldn't wait for the paperback.

This book together with Memory comprise the linchpin in the Miles books. Events are set in motion here that will completely change his trajectory. I had forgotten how much of the book is seen not through Miles' eyes, but new outsider eyes and how much of it takes place on Barrayar. We get the most extensive view of Aral and Cordelia that occurs after those first two books, and appreciate it greatly. In addition, we have several events that reverberate in a much later book, Cryoburn. Although these two are pivotal, they are also the two I have reread the least, and I really appreciated this reread with the perspective of having read the later books. I'm going straight on to Memory.



Book #81 Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold (462 pp.)

Lois' blurb for this book in the timelines is "Miles hits 30; 30 hits back." and boy, does it big time! The pivotal book in the series, this book sends the storyline careening off in a different direction.

55ronincats
Editado: Jul 19, 2014, 12:51 am



Book #82 On Basilisk Station by David Weber (432 pp.)

The first and second books of this series are free for Kindle, and so I've loaded them on even though I have the original paperbacks. I'd read some negative criticisms over on the science fiction fans group lately and wondered if I would still get caught up in the story. The answer is yes. Yes, Weber does his characteristic major info dumps, at least three, but hey, skim over them if you aren't into the subject. While later in the series Honor emerges as a pretty classic Mary Sue and the plots get entangled even more heavily in politics, this is still a good mil-sf yarn.



Book #83 Shattered by Kevin Hearne (332 pp.)

The seventh book in the Iron Druid series revolves among viewpoint chapters from Atticus, Granuille, and his old Archdruid, as some issues are resolved to a degree and others (surprise!) escalate. Still clever and eminently readable!

I unfortunately missed my Kindle Daily Reads yesterday, when one of my favorite fantasies was one of the specials. Today, The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs is back up to $7.99. Fortunately, I have it in venerable paperback, but I would wish to have pushed it off on all of you at the lower price--for that book, I willingly warble! Today I picked up both Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George and What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan, both of which have been on my wish list for some time. In fact, for the last 2 hours, I've been browsing through the latter on the back deck.

56ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:52 am



Book #84 What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan (353 pp.)

Heather put this book on my wish list when she reviewed it, and so when I saw it on the Kindle for $1.99 I grabbed it. It was a quick but very interesting read, organized around chapters with specific topics that really made me think about what Austen is doing with words.



Book #85 The Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner (319 pp.)

Mystery is not really my genre, although I do enjoy an excellent mystery wrapped up in science fiction (e.g., Deadly Silents, Wrapt in Crystal). This is the first of a series that Caro and Richard have been devouring like potato chips and enjoying greatly. For me, it was okay, light entertaining reading for all that the protagonist is really not at all light and entertaining as a half-pay officer, injured and subject to depression. While not steeped in Regency details, I didn't pick up any errors. I think the Blind Justice series is a much more meaty series set in the same era but for summer reading this promises to be an interesting journey.



Book #86 Legacy by James H. Schmitz (346 pp.)

Schmitz is a woefully under appreciated science fiction author of the 60s, best known for his whimsical The Witches of Karres. However, his Telzey Amberdon and Trigger Argee stories, and most especially his Nile Etland book, are among the first in the genre to feature strong women characters. The Demon Breed and many of his other short stories are serious speculative science fiction while the Telzey and Trigger stories and Witches are more light-hearted romps of adventure stories. Legacy is the latter, with Trigger Argee as the protagonist, AND I am giving my extra copy FREE to the first person requesting it!

57ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:53 am



Book #87 The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde (289 pp.)

This is Book 2 in The Chronicles of Kazam. While I am a big Fforde fan and love his Thursday Next books, for some reason this children's series just doesn't suck me in. Don't get me wrong--these are quirky and entertaining, but I don't get immersed in them. 16-year-old Jennifer Strange is still trying to manage Kazam Mystical Arts Management in the absence of its director, and both King Snodd IV and iMagic are throwing wrenches in the works. The world-building is a lot of fun, but I think the plots appeal more to the 12-14 year olds the books are aimed at.



Book #88 Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold (304 pp.)

Lindskold is another author for whom I have a lot of admiration. I recommend her Changer all the time over Gaiman's American Gods as a treatment of the European gods in America and her Child of a Rainless Year is fantastic. This book is a straight science fiction book, unlike those. The premise is interesting--a young man thinks he has discovered one of the most fascinating and lost planets of a long dead Galactic Empire, but promptly crashes when he comes to be sure. The three major characters are not teens and not angst, but definitely young adults. Again, I liked the world-building a lot, but thought the story, though imaginative, did not break any new ground, nor was it particularly complex. This appears to be the first in a series, and if so, the ending leaves plenty of room for growth in these areas. Good summer reading in the sense that it is entertaining but not challenging.

58ronincats
Editado: Jul 19, 2014, 12:54 am



Book #89 A Taste of Poison by Aaron Kite (234 pp.)

This e-book was received through LT's Early Reviewer Program.

This is a story of a poison princess that should appeal to the 8-12 year girl audience. The romantic elements of a girl and her best friend struggling against the evil king and his captain, and a reluctant prince who is in danger of her poisoned touch if they wed, were overshadowed for me by the degree of abuse involved, and her true impotence except for a lucky coincidence. There are no depths to this story--it is a fairy-tale wannabe--and the unrelieved evil of the villains and their plan over the entire life of the princess seem not only unrealistic (doh!) but improbable. The abuse keeps the tale from being charming while the format keeps the story from being gripping.

59ronincats
Jul 19, 2014, 12:55 am



Book #90 Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold (311 pp.)

Lois does characters so beautifully! And her plots aren't bad either. This is a combination mystery involving both dead bodies and mangled equipment in the skies above Komarr. Politics, technology and personalities collide. Has Miles met his match?



Book #91 A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold (405 pp.)

Continuing on with the Vorkosigan Saga for the year, I went straight into this one from the previous book, and I am going straight into Diplomatic Immunity next. I'll take a breather from Miles then, before the last two books.

While the books started coming out in hardback first, instead of straight to paperback format, I fudged on the first couple and got the Science Fiction Book Club editions. This is the first one I sprang for the first edition, AND got it signed by Lois when she came by Mysterious Galaxy promoting it. There are at least 4 different plots going on here--five if you count the preparations for Gregor's wedding--and about all I can say is count on the Koudelka girls to pull it all together. It takes place completely on Barrayar and is somewhat of a romp from beginning to finish. Bujold dedicates the book to Jane (Austen), Charlotte (Bronte), Georgette (Heyer) and Dorothy (Sayers), and those are some mighty fine influences!! Read it! But read all the previous 11 books first to savor it most completely.



Book #92 Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold (307 pp.)

Well, I just went ahead and powered through this one today. They are like Lay's potato chips--it's hard to do just one. I will take a break now, before the last two. NONE of this book takes place on Barrayar, in contrast to the last book. Twisty little mysteries in Quaddie space with galactic implications--trust Miles to be in the middle again! Ah, such fun story-telling.

60SouthernBluestocking
Jul 26, 2014, 1:01 am

I read What Matters in Jane Austen last summer and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've read most of the novels for class, so have studied in depth-- I was still amazed at how much I didn't know! The economics! The card games! The gossip!

61wookiebender
Ago 16, 2014, 1:44 am

Ack! Took a few book bullets there! And a good reminder that I must get back to Miles.

62ronincats
Ago 17, 2014, 3:05 pm

>60 SouthernBluestocking: Thanks for stopping by, Beth. Yes, I know quite a bit about the period and still learned a lot.

>61 wookiebender: Definitely get back to Miles, Tania!

So, some more catch-up!

Well, somehow I forgot to add Memory to my reading spreadsheet and here! I was catching up my list in message 3 that has all the books read this year by month for my July books this month and realized there was no Bujold between Mirror Dance and Komarr in my list, and that's just plain wrong. So, I'm not sure exactly WHEN between July 1 and July 16 I read it, amongst the other 8 books between the above; I'll just have to add it here.



Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold (462 pp.)

Lois' blurb for this book in the timelines is "Miles hits 30; 30 hits back." and boy, does it big time! The pivotal book in the series, this book sends the storyline careening off in a different direction.

63ronincats
Ago 17, 2014, 3:06 pm



Book #93 The Vorkosigan Companion edited by Lillian Stewart Carl and John Helfers (469 pp.)

The first article by Bujold about her writing history and process is the most interesting. This could be a useful resource for those wanting to keep track of all the details--lines of descent from the emperor, wormhole linkages, synopses of all the books (full of spoilers), and a concordance of all the characters and sites mentioned in the books. Overkill for all but the most devoted and compulsive of Bujold fans.



Book #94 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (273 pp.)

I had put a hold on the large-print copy, as there was no line like there was for the regular copies. When I first opened it, the large, dark font seemed really strange, but once I started reading, I didn't notice it at all.

I enjoyed this--must have, since I read it all in one setting. Yes, it's sentimental, yes there are cliches, and yes, I enjoyed the book talk. It was an enjoyable light summertime read, chicklit from the male side with lots of book talk.

64ronincats
Ago 17, 2014, 3:07 pm



Book #96 Of Darkness, Light, and Fire by Tanya Huff (513 pp.)

This book is a repackaging of two early fantasies by Huff, first published separately in 1989 and 1990. I found it at a library sale in April and picked it up because Huff's fantasy is always entertaining at a story level. The first book, Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light, is urban fantasy set as usual for Huff in Canada, her own country. In this case, it is in Toronto, and is a typical urban fantasy with some nice touches, including having a intellectually disabled character for one of the main characters, and for having a couple of Toronto police trailing along on the edges of the action. I actually liked it better than her latest urban fantasies. The other book, The Fire's Stone, is a traditional quest fantasy again helped along by some fun characters. My enjoyment of these is nudging me to reread Huff's Summon the Keeper trilogy or to reread Sing The Four Quarters so that I could finally read the three sequels that I have at long last managed to acquire in the last few years. The latter is probably the way I will go, and my enjoyment of these suggests that it will not be overly arduous.

65ronincats
Ago 17, 2014, 3:08 pm



Book #96 A Marginal Jew: Vol. IV Law and Love by John Paul Meier (667 pp.)

As you see, this is the fourth volume of Meier's epic work on the search for the historical Jesus, and this one deals with searching for the elements that go back to Jesus in the scriptures related to divorce, oaths, the Sabbath, the purity commandments and the love commandments. As always, Meier is thorough and comprehensive about explaining his reasoning and citing his references while being understandable and clear. But don't start here--start with Volume 1.



Book #97 Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey (388 pp.)

The first four volumes of this series were on sale for the Kindle for $1.99 each, and that finally motivated me to pull this first book out of the tbr pile to see if I'd be interested in the others. It was a fast moving story on steroids for action--in fact, the action never stops at all. A quick read, obviously, and good for entertainment value, but I don't really see anything in it that makes me want to continue the series. Perhaps the violence and lack of any internal life in the characters contribute to that decision.

66ronincats
Ago 17, 2014, 3:09 pm



Book #98 Across the Great Barrier by Patricia Wrede (357 pp.)

This is the second book of Wrede's Frontier Magic series, an alternative history frontier America after the Civil War that includes magic. Eff's first person voice has the laconic quality we associate with the Western as she joins a scientific expedition to explore the wilds across the Mississippi.



Book #99 Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff (410 pp.)

After reading some other early Huff fantasies above, I was motivated to reread this book so that I could then read the other three books set in this same world which I only recently picked up through PaperBackSwap.com. This is a typical medieval fantasy world with an interesting magical system and set apart from many by the healthiness of the interpersonal relationships where there is the potential for alienation and tragedy. Cute, not deep, a great beach read. I'm going to read my new ER book, The Ripper Affair by Lilith Saintcrow, before starting the next in the series, Fifth Quarter.

67ronincats
Ago 17, 2014, 3:10 pm



Book #100 Quest for Kim by Peter Hopkirk (273 pp.)

Eric (Oberon) reviewed this book recently. Since I love Kim and the library had this book, I immediately requested it. I would say that it is really only for Kim aficionados, a chronicle of Hopkirk's attempt to identify the prototypes for the characters and places in the book. Interesting but not outstanding.



Book #101 The Ripper Affair by Lilith Saintcrow (386 pp.)

This was a June Early Reviewers book. I had read the first book in the series, also as an ER selection, but missed the second book. This is the third of the "Bannon and Clare Case" series. Best described as fantastical steampunk, the series pairs the Prima sorceress Emma Bannon with the logical, rational mentath, Archibald Clare in the solving of threats to Britannia, the underlying spirit of Britain. Clearly, dark and momentous events occurred in the second book which soured Emma's relationship with Britannia and stressed Clare's logical capacities. Still, they are both pulled into the mystery of a series of murders in the Eastron End of Londinium, ones that appear to be weakening the ruling spirit of Britannia.

These books portray a murky and haunted London in the best of times, and they are dark in atmosphere. The narrative maintains a distance and reserve around the protagonists even as we access their innermost thoughts. This would not be a comfortable place, and it is not a comfortable read. The author builds suspense and develops a coherent plot, and many will love it much more than I do, who prefer a more intimate connection.

68ronincats
Ago 17, 2014, 3:11 pm



Book #102 A Symphony of Echoes by Jodi Taylor (334 pp.)

I actually finished this the night before the show, and just haven't gotten around to posting it. I'm not raining on the St. Mary's parade, but this book seemed more to me like a succession of novellas rather than a tightly plotted novel. Still, a series of adventures with the St. Mary's crew continues to be entertaining.



Book #103 A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin (464 pp.)

For the first forty pages of this book, I was unsure of my response. The descriptive prose was in sensory overload and I was having to read sentences and paragraphs several times over to make sense of them.

As the static blue shock of my wakening, if that is the word, passed, little worms of it digging away into the floor or crawling along the ceiling back into the telephone lines, the hot blanket of their protection faded from my body. The cold intruded like a great hungry worm into every joint and inch of skin, my bones suddenly too long for my flesh, my muscles suddenly too tense in their relaxed form to tense ever again, every part starting to quiver as the full shock of sensation returned.

This first section of the book is very disconcerting, with the hero and the reader being completely off balance. Fortunately, it is done for a reason and the readability soon settles down to a comfortable density.

This book is extremely similar to Sandman Slim, recently reviewed with the decision not to continue with the series. Like SS, Matthew Swift is returned to the world with his friends and belongings reft from him, a terrible anger seeking revenge, and an enemy immediately on his heels. And violence, ongoing violence. Let me tell you why I think this book is far superior to SS. Here are the main contrasts.

The magic system is much more sophisticated, nuanced, and well-developed. It is interesting and intriguing of itself. And it is integral to the story.

The villain is also nuanced, well-developed, and all the more villainous for that.

The Order plays the same role that the angels and Homeland Security do in Sandman Slim, but even if the majority are just as hate-filled and paranoid, again, they are not monolithic, and produce a very nuanced character who adds to the mix.

The mythic characters arise from the concept of magic that underlies the book, and are fascinating.

London itself is an important character in the book, adding greatly to the atmosphere and magical intensity.

Matthew Swift, although just as bent on revenge as SS, has much more depth to his personality and, again, nuance to his character.

So all these factors make this series one I will continue as opposed to the Sandman Slim books.

69ronincats
Ago 17, 2014, 3:13 pm



Book #104 The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross (359 pp.)

I read the first two books of the Laundry series, The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue, when they first came out in the US. I was intrigued by the premise but underwhelmed by the product. They were okay but I felt Stross could have done so much more with them. This is my first visit back to The Laundry, having missed books 3 and 4, and this is the book I hoped those first two would be. Not just a homage to geekdom or Lovecraftian horror, but an actual story with some depth.



Book #105 Sorcery & Cecilia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (320 pp.)

Back in 1988, Wrede and Stevermer published a mmpb of this little fantasy set in Regency England, the result of a Letter Game where the authors exchange letters advancing the plots, each writing a separate story line that integrates at key points. At the end of the game, they realized they had a book and worked together to edit and realign the book to make a novel.

Description (from Amazon):
A great deal is happening in London this season.
For starters, there's the witch who tried to poison Kate at Sir Hilary's induction into the Royal College of Wizards. (Since when does hot chocolate burn a hole straight through one's dress?!)
Then there's Dorothea. Is it a spell that's made her the toast of the town--or could it possibly have something to do with the charm-bag under Oliver's bed?
And speaking of Oliver, just how long can Cecelia and Kate make excuses for him? Ever since he was turned into a tree, he hasn't bothered to tell anyone where he is!
The girls might think it all a magical nightmare . . . if only they weren't having so much fun.

This is lightweight romantic comedy with an imagination, lovely summer reading!



Book #106 The Grand Tour by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (469 pp.)

Taking place very shortly after the conclusion of Sorcery & Cecelia, this book takes the two couples across Europe in time to thwart a conspiracy to create a new magical Emperor of Europe in this alternate history set in the early 1800s. Just as entertaining as the first.



Book #107 The Mislaid Magician by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (328 pp.)

Ten years later, a mysterious disappearance possible affecting the nation's security lead to Prime Minister Lord Wellington sending Cecelia and James to investigate while Thomas and Kate take care of the kids and fend off mysterious intruders of their own.

70ronincats
Ago 17, 2014, 3:13 pm



Book #108 Blood Red by Mercedes Lackey (312 pp.)

This is book 10 in Lackey's Elemental Masters series, a loose collection of re-imagined fairy tale retellings mostly (all?) set in Victorian Europe. This one is inspired by Red Riding Hood and is set in Germany, Romania, and other eastern European settings.

By this point in time, Lackey is a "find at the library" author for me. Her stories are not unimaginative, but her story-telling seems prosaic and ordinary to me.

There, all caught up for now!!

71ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:36 pm



Book #109 Buried Deep: A Retrieval Artist Novel by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (372 pp.)

This was a fascinating science fiction book that's been on my shelves since before 2011. Dealing with events on Mars and the Moon, humans have to interact with the alien Disty in a cultural crisis that is resulting in many deaths.



Book #110 The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan (336 pp.)

Being the second book of Lady Trent's memoirs, this was won from Kriti's blog a while ago. I read the first book, A Natural History of Dragons, immediately, but saved this one for a while. Still, it is going to be next year before the third book comes out, so I decided to go ahead now and get it read. I enjoyed this as much, if not more, than the first book. Although set in a fantasy world, that world is organized on the principles of our world during Victorian times, with Lady Trent's Scirling roots modeled on those of colonial England. While much of her story is concerned with dragons and the geography and societies she encounters outside of Scirling, the limitations on women of her time and her struggles against those limits form an essential part of her story and imho strengthen and deepen the story. Modeled on the stories by intrepid Victorian explorers into strange countries and cultures, but from a woman's experience and with dragons!

72ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:36 pm



Book #111 Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce (310 pp.)

Lucy put this book and author on my wish list back in June. Joyce writes beautiful descriptive prose, and pulls one directly into the middle of these people's lives. I liked all of it except Joyce's depiction of the other reality--it just seems tacky to me, and other than the sensory enrichment I see no reason to prefer it. Probably my own biases coming to roost.



Book #112 The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney (385 pp.)

Book summary from Amazon:
For two years, Oriana Paredes has been a spy among the social elite of the Golden City, reporting back to her people, the sereia, sea folk banned from the city’s shores....

When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris. But before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown. Trapped beneath the waves, Oriana survives because of her heritage, but she is forced to watch her only friend die.

Vowing vengeance, Oriana crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.

Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone....

I read this for my book group. I really liked the world-building in this alternative Portugal in 1902. The mystery and its resolution were interesting. My only quibble is that this book followed the romance novel tropes a little too closely in the relationship between the two protagonists--I could have done with a little less instant physical reaction and enhanced awareness of the other. Otoh, no sex in this book, so that was a plus. Recommended for fantasy lovers who like books rooted in mythology and alternate histories.

73ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:37 pm



Book #113 Stray Souls by Kate Griffin (438 pp.)

Because the library didn't have the 3 other Matthew Swift books after A Madness of Angels, I ordered a book from a companion series. The viewpoint character (mostly) is Sharon Li, who's just discovered she is a shaman. Someone is stealing the spirits of London, evil creatures are breaching the walls because a major guardian spirit is missing. The Mayor of London (Matthew Swift) and the second best shaman in the world, Sammy the goblin, enlist her to solve this problem.

This is all staccato-style, quick spurts of information from different sources. Sharon is what we Americans would style somewhere between a hippie chick and a Valley Girl--her voice is amazing. Not comfortable for me, but Griffin's ability to maintain her voice consistently is amazing. Finally, we settle into more of a steady plot line, and have a lot of silly fun getting through a rather serious situation. I mean, an almost-Druid who has sneezing fits when around magic, an OCD vampire obsessed with hygiene, a gourmand troll...what's not to like?



Book #115 House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones (404 pp.)

Okay, this is the third book involving Howl and Sophie. The three books were published in 1986, 1990, and 2008 respectively, and this is the first time I have read all three straight through. I think when this one came out, I reread Howl's Moving Castle but not Castle in the Air, which was a mistake, not because the plots connect that much, but because of the way characters from the second book reappear here.

Of the three books, I think HMC is the best. It is totally original, even arising as it does from the fairytale trope that if there are three brothers or sisters, it's always the youngest who has the successful adventure. It is whimsical without being frothy. The characters are delightfully developed and, as noted above, original. There is absolutely no one like Howl anywhere else in literature. It is a classic for good reason.

The second book, CitA, is a variation of the Aladdin tale, with its southern climate and genies and sultan and princess and poor lazy handsome man. But just as you are thinking you know where this is going, it gets all jumbled up and the denouement is absolutely hilarious! HoMW is another original, with a protagonist who loves books and has never had to do any work at home at all suddenly put in charge of a wizard's house in his absence. All she wants to do is read, but real life is suddenly interfering with that in a big way.

All in all, a delightful retreat from real life for me over the last few days, and recommended to all of you who loved fairytales as children.

74ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:38 pm



Book #116 Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron (315 pp.)

I discovered that Rachel Aaron is also Rachel Back, whose Fortune's Pawn science fiction I reviewed in May. This is light urban fantasy, aimed at young teens, imho. Cute, entertaining, but no substance.

August Statistics

Books read: 17 Pages read: 5989

Average pages per book: 352
Average pages read per day: 193

New reads: 11 (5 library books, 1 Book Off the Shelf, 3 Kindle purchases, 2 paper books acquired this year)

Re-reads: 6 (2 favorite fantasy trilogies, the Sorcery & Cecilia books by Pat Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, and the Howl/Sophie books by Diana Wynne Jones)

Genre:
Non-fiction: 1
Science Fiction: 1
Fantasy: 15

Format:
Hardback: 10
Trade paper: 1
Mass Market paper: 3
Kindle: 3

Author gender: Male=3. Female=14
Country of origin: British=8, US=9

Year of publication:
1980s=1
1990s=8
2000s=0
2012=1
2013=2
2014=5

Books Acquired: 6

PBS: 1
Library free shelf: 2
ER: 1
Kindle: 2 (cost $8.48)

Books out the door: 6

PBS: 3
Library donation: 2
School library donation: 1

75ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:39 pm



Book #117 The Seat of Magic by J. Kathleen Cheney (384 pp.)

This is the sequel to The Golden City, book #111 above, and finishes off the story quite nicely. Most of the world-building of this alternate Victorian Portugal was done in the first book--this one is also a mystery with political consequences.



Book #118 The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness (561 pp.)

Okay, I wasn't sure about this one at the start--it had been enough time I'd forgotten a lot from the first two books. But it sucked me in and I thoroughly enjoyed the last two-thirds of the book.

ETA And I visited Mysterious Galaxy yesterday and picked up both the new Seanan McGuire, The Winter Long, and Libromancer by Jim Hines. I have read two Hines books with meh results, but this one has been recommended and Hines might be getting better, so we shall see.

76ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:41 pm



Book #119 The Far West by Patricia Wrede (378 pp.)

I thought I had read this, but I hadn't! This is the third of Wrede's Frontier Magic trilogy. Interesting but not her best work, imho.



Book #120 California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout (302 pp.)

Shades of early Tim Powers! This evokes memories of Dinner at Deviant's Palace--that same gritty macabre feel and the southern California setting. Set in an alternate LA in the nation of Southern California, where the traffic goes by canal rather than freeway and magic is ingested by the bones from the La Brea tar pits (and other sources), this blends actual LA history and geography with fantasy in a coming-of-age/heist story. It has a YA feel to the story from the people's point of view--this is the author's first book for an adult audience--but the world-building is superb.

77ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:41 pm

science fiction/fantasy/horror meme:

What was the last sf/f/h book you finished reading? California Bones

What was the last sf/f/h book you did not finish reading and why? Off to Be the Wizard--seemed flat and I wasn't getting into it. I will give it another try.

What was the last sf/f/h book you read that you liked but most people didn’t? Raising Steam

What was the last sf/f/h book you read that you disliked but most people did? Sandman Slim

How long do your 1-sitting reading sessions usually last? 90 minutes

What are you currently reading? The Winter Long

Do you like it so far? Just started it, but expect to love it like the rest of the series, especially after the author's foreword saying that all the books so far were just to get to the story in this one.

How long ago did you buy the book you are currently reading (or the last book you read)? last Tuesday

What was the last physical sf/f/h book you bought? The Winter Long and Libriomancer on 9/2/14

What is the sf/f/h sub-genre you like the most and why? character-driven space opera and fantasy

What is the sf/f/h sub-genre you dislike the most and why? military science fiction--not into war and destruction

What is your favorite electronic reading device? my Kindle

What was the last sf/f/h eBook you bought? The Paper Magician

Do you read books exclusively in 1 format (physical/electronic)? no

Do you read eBooks exclusively on a single device (eBook reader/ smartphone / tablet)? Yes, pretty much only my Kindle.

78ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:42 pm



Book #121 The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire (358 pp.)

Okay, this is book 8 of the series, and there is absolutely NOTHING I can say about it other than what I did above, about the author's foreword saying this was the first part of the plot for the series to be developed, that all the previous books were just to get to this point. Hang on for a ride, and prepare to have everything change. Need to have read all the previous books first, but McGuire keeps making this better and better.



Book #122 Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines (359 pp.)

This is my third book by Hines. The first was his Goblin Quest, which was very predictable and rather boring except for the ending. The ending was fantastic, but that one page was not worth plowing through the book for. Pick up the book in the store and rifle through the last few pages instead. It's not subtle. The second book was The Stepsister Scheme. Yay, a riff on fairy tale tropes. Except it's glued together by some very trite pop psychology that irritated the hell out of me. So I wouldn't have tried this one if it hadn't been recommended by an LTer (and no, I didn't note down who), been a book about books, and had a blurb by Seanan McGuire (see previous message) on the cover.

The magic system allows libriomancers to pull objects out of books if they are described in enough detail and have a large enough readership to "believe" in them. Lots of science fiction and fantasy books are mentioned in the book--I've read almost all of the real ones--and Hines includes a list at the end. Sadly, however, Hines' writing and characterization continue to lag behind his "one big idea" and I doubt I will be reading any more of him. The reviews on the review page by the Wallflower and Shimmin pretty much capture my opinion.

ETA a lot of the reviewers loved it though, so your mileage may definitely vary.

79ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:43 pm



Book #123 Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire (307 pp.)

Ethereal, haunting, evocative...yes, this is another McGuire, but totally different from anything she's written before. It's a ghost story. Rose is a ghost, we know that right off, but the whys and wherefores come together in dribbles and dribbles throughout the book as we follow Rose through the twilight roads and up into the sunlight in a marvelously detailed world of roads and truckstops like we've never encountered before. Don't expect complete resolution, as this is the first of a series, and don't rush through this one. Take the time to immerse yourself in the atmosphere and be willing to let Rose disclose herself a bit at a time.

Highly recommended!!



Book #124 A Second Chance by Jodi Taylor (292 pp.)

Oh no, she didn't really do that!!!



Book #125 Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (304 pp.)

I always enjoy George's imaginative fairy tale retellings, and this one is no exception.



Book #126 Buffalito Contingency by Lawrence M. Schoen (274 pp.)

I had the first two books of this series on my Kindle, and accidentally read the second book first. This is just fun, ridiculous space opera.



Book #127 Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (400 pp.)

Shades of Charles Dickens' London meeting Maleficent in a children's tale! Entertaining but not great.



Book #128 Second Star by Dana Stabenow (208 pp.)

This was the author's first book, which she says fell with a mighty thud never to be heard from again. Then she became successful in another genre and so this, with two sequels, was reissued for Kindle. This one is free. Actually, it's decent near future science fiction--nothing outstanding but entertaining with interesting venues and fun characters.



Book #129 Ike: An American Hero by Michael Korda (802 pp.)

Nonfiction is good for vacations, where you can put a book down and pick it up again later. This biography was a Kindle special some time ago, and since Ike's home town is also mine, I picked it up. It was a good read. There are some critiques on the Amazon review pages that are probably valid, but it still was interesting to read about, and I learned a lot more about Ike's war years than I had even known.

80ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:44 pm



Book #130 Vengeance in Death by J. D. Robb (388 pp.)

I usually read two of these a year, one for Mystery March and one for September Series, although I missed the March one this year, and that timing suits me to a tee. The books are far enough apart that I can appreciate each as an individual without being so close they are repetitious. And it will take me 12 years to reach the end of the currently published ones. Sounds about right!



Book 131 Aunt Dimity: Snowbound by Nancy Atherton (257 pp.)

Ditto. These gentle cozies are amusing but not nutritious and I wouldn't want a constant diet, but the occasional one is charming.



Book #132 Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (464 pp.)

This is really a fresh and original approach to fairy-tale inspired YA fiction. I'm still enjoying it in book 2 and wish there were not a waiting list at the library for Cress. Of course, I would still have to wait for Winter to be published.

81ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:45 pm

September Summary:

For September Series and Sequels, I posted this at the beginning of the month.

Okay, I have some plans for September.

I'm going to read these library books that I have out now that are parts of series:

The Book of Life (All Souls 3) by Deborah Harkness
The Far West (Frontier Magic 3) by Patricia Wrede
The Seat of Magic (The Golden City 2) by J. Kathleen Cheney

Mid-month, I will be reading

A Second Chance (St. Mary's 3) by Jodi Taylor
The Winter Long (October Daye 8) by Seanan McGuire

plus I have a bunch of series books on my Kindle that I will likely access.

At the end of the month, I will continue these series with library books:

Love Songs from a Shallow Grave (Dr. Siri 7) by Colin Cotterill
A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia de Luce 3) by Alan Bradley

So, at the end of the month, this is what happened:

The Book of Life (All Souls 3) by Deborah Harkness
The Far West (Frontier Magic 3) by Patricia Wrede
The Seat of Magic (The Golden City 2) by J. Kathleen Cheney

A Second Chance (St. Mary's 3) by Jodi Taylor
The Winter Long (October Daye 8) by Seanan McGuire

Libriomancer by Jim Hines (book 1 of series)
Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire (book 1 of series)
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (book 1 of series)
Second Star by Dana Stabenow (book 1 of series)
Buffalito Contingency by Lawrence Schoen (book 2 read first by mistake)

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (book 2 in quartet)

Aunt Dimity: Snowbound by Nancy Atherton (book 9 in series)
Vengeance in Death by J. D. Robb (book 6 in series)

Love Songs from a Shallow Grave (Dr. Siri 7) by Colin Cotterill

A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia de Luce 3) by Alan Bradley continues to be on hold at the library for me.

I also read three books that were not in series--yet, although with two, there is definitely a possibility.

So the numbers:

Books read=17 Pages read=6364
Average pages per book=374 Average pages read per day=212

No rereads this month, all books were new for me. There was ONE book off the shelf.

7 books were library books, 6 were Kindle books (vacation!), and 4 were books I had purchased this year.

There was one massive nonfiction biography, 3 mysteries, 1 children's fantasy, 4 science fiction and 8 fantasy.

5 books by males, 12 by females.

Only one published prior to 2000. 6 published this year.

82ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:46 pm



Book #134 The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason (353 pp.)

I received this book from the Early Reviewer program.

This was a fun YA steampunk adventure. In alternating chapters, we follow Mina Holmes, daughter of Mycroft and niece of Sherlock, and Evaline Stoker, sister of Bram Stoker, as they are asked by Irene Adler to solve a mystery involving the deaths of other 16 year old society girls on behalf of Princess Alexandra, daughter in law of Queen Victoria. It is interesting as each struggles with their own issues involving their families and heritages, as well as figuring out how to work with each other with such disparate styles, to the predictable reaction of 16 year old girls to personable males in the course of their investigation. The case is solved, but there are still hanging threads to be resolved in one or more sequels. This would be appreciated by most teenage girls, although ones who have read both Sherlock Holmes and Stoker's Dracula would appreciate the character traits and hangups the most.



Book #135 The Midnight Mayor by Kate Griffin (553 pp.)

This is another action-filled episode in the second life of Matthew Swift, following A Madness of Angels. It is also a love song to the City of London. Griffin writes her action scenes in dense descriptive stream of consciousness that can be hard to get into at times--however, these episodes also contribute to the depth of feeling evoked by and for the characters, of which the City is a primary one. Don't let it put you off getting into the entire story.

83ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:47 pm



Book #136 A Red Heart of Memories by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (329 pp.)

Making good on my promise in >98 ronincats:! Hoffman is the mistress of combining totally original kinds of magic with damaged, ordinary but very decent people, and this is one of her best. (Although my heart will always be with The Thread That Binds the Bones as her very best.)



Book #137 Past the Size of Dreaming by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (342 pp.)

While A Red Heart of Memories is a complete story in itself, this is an immediate sequel as Matt and Edmund continue to contact his old high school friends who were involved with the house in order to face a new threat. Perhaps a bit more scattered in plot than the first book, the characters are just as individual and well-drawn and original.

84ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:48 pm



Book #138 Hawk by Steven Brust (320 pp.)

It's the new Vlad book, and it doesn't disappoint. Vlad's taking on the entire Jhereg again...



Book #139 The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White (358 pp.)

As those who have been paying attention know, I had been reading this Brust collaboration when Hawk arrived on my porch. It has just come out in paperback, and I waited for it, unlike the Dragaera books. I've heard mixed reviews but, although it's totally different from the Vlad books (I suspect there's a LOT of the second author in it), I found it an enjoyable exploration of an idea and relationships.

Now, all three of my library books on hold have arrived. I'll read A Red Herring Without Mustard next, before moving on to Bitter Greens and Cress.

85ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:50 pm



Book #140 A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (417 pp.)

I find myself becoming somewhat less tolerant of Flavia's attitude and situation with each successive book. However, as others have noted a major change in process further on in the series, I will probably continue with the series to see what happens. And, as the book moved along, I got caught up in it again, improbably as it seemed.



Book #141 Clariel by Garth Nix (383 pp.)

This is a prequel to the Abhorsen trilogy, set about 600 years earlier. It's fun to get back into that world again, but Clariel is a harder character to identify with than Sabriel or Lirael. Recommended, but read the other books first.



Book #42 How We Learn: The Surprising Truth about When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey (228 pp.)

This Advance Reader's Edition was provided by Random House through the Early Reviewers program on LibraryThing.

As a professional in the field (graduate school in cognitive psychology back in the days when it was first being called that, and a life long interest in information processing and learning during 35 years of working as a school psychologist), I was very interested in seeing how this long-time science reporter conceptualized and documented this topic. And I was very pleasantly surprised. Without getting technical, Carey succeeds in taking a broad view of a diverse range of psychological research and presenting it in understandable and applicable language. I'll definitely be sharing this with some of my fellow educators.

Two errors were noted in the ARC: an incorrect image was used on page 206 and "non-trategy" on page 219. Hopefully, both were corrected for the published edition.

86ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:53 pm



Book #144 Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (495 pp.)

This book took me a while to finish, because of its multiple viewpoints. I find I can’t read this type of book straight through (Downbelow Station, I’m looking at you!). Rather I read a section and then set it down and come back another day. Another reason I couldn’t read it straight through is that the story is set in the 1600s for the most part at a time when life was often still short and brutal, and women were oppressed in all strata of society. Although these things slowed my reading down, the stories conveyed in this book remain fascinating and well-developed, both the historical and the fantastical. In fact, this book reads like high-quality historical fiction in its main setting, with fantastical substories in historical Venice in the previous century.



Book #145 Sunshine by Robin McKinley (389 pp.)

This was a reread for Halloween. In a world where the Others are all too real, Sunshine lives a very ordinary life as a baker in her stepfather's coffee shop/cafe, until the day she is kidnapped by vampires.

What I find most interesting in this book is McKinley's communication of how alien a vampire really is, even if one is trying to work with one to save one's own life. I think this is where the book stands out. No sparkly vampires here. And of course, I like her character development.



Book #146 A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny (280 pp.)

and illustrated by Gahan Wilson! Bluesalamander mentioned this book as possible October reading, and it was a Zelazny I was totally unfamiliar with, it being one of his later ones. It sounded totally delightful and it is. Snuff the dog, is the WATCH dog for his master Jack, as a collection of strange characters converge on a spot in England, all of them very familiar to genre readers. So many lovely allusions. If you love classic fantasy, you will enjoy this.

87ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:53 pm

October Summary

Books read: 13
Pages read: 4956
Average pages per book: 381
Average pages per day: 160

New to me: 10 3 new mmpb, 2 ER books, 2 new hardbacks
Re-reads:3 1 hardback, 2 tpb, all mine
NO Books Off The Shelf
Library books: 3 2 hardback, one electronic, all new to me

fantasy: 11
nonfiction: 1
mystery: 1

Authors:

English: 3
Australian: 2
USA: 8

Female: 7
Male: 5
Female/Male pair: 1

Publication date
1993-1
2000-1
2001-1
2003-1
2011-3
2012-1
2013-1
2014-4

ETA
Books acquired: 10
7 physical books (2 Early Reviewer, 1 Amazon, 4 Mysterious Galaxy)
3 hardbacks, 3 mmpb, 1 tpb
3 Kindle books

1 science fiction, 1 children's, 6 fantasy, 1 romance, 1 nonfiction

Books Out the Door: 10 Look at that, books in = books out!

1 pbs
3 free giveaway to Lucy
6 sent to Richard

88ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:55 pm



Book #147 A Trail Through Time by Jodi Taylor (250 pp.)

I am missing our Long Island Satanic Book Warbler right now, as I finally read the fourth book of the St. Mary's series. I think this one is the best constructed yet, and thoroughly enjoyed it.



Book # 148 Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger (298 pp.)

This book moves the storyline along quite a bit. It's getting closer to the world we find in the Parasol Protectorate books, and I'm anxious for the rest of it so as to reread that series and make all the connections. Lots of fun, as usual, but don't expect anything serious.



Book #149 Thursdays With the Crown by Jessica Day George (210 pp.)

This is the third book in a delightfully fanciful children's fantasy series. Book 2 ended somewhat in the middle of things and this one brings us back home, so to speak. If you like whimsy and children's fantasy, definitely check this series out!



Book # 150 Cress by Marissa Meyer (550 pp.)

Wow, what a tome! But with at least four different points of view, and a lot of stuff happening, it was an entertaining tome. Now I'm in the same position as everyone else, waiting for the fourth and final book to come out next year.

89ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:56 pm



Book #151 Soulless by Gail Carriger (384 pp.)

After reading Waistcoats & Weaponry, which takes place 20 years earlier than this one, I wanted to reread to see what characters show up again. Unfortunately, only Lord Maccon (who we never actually meet) and Lord Akeldama appear in this book, which was rather disappointing. However, I know at least two of the characters show up in the next book--do I continue my reread, while so many other books clamor for my attention?



Book #152 Zombie Elementary: The Real Story by Howard Whitehouse (244 pp.)

This was a book I received through the Early Reviewer program. It's intended for boys aged 9 through 12, I would say, and is trying to be Diary of a Wimpy Kid but with zombies. It's cute and I would guess that its target audience will enjoy it. Nothing to recommend it to adults, however.

90ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:58 pm



Book #153 Changeless by Gail Carriger (374 pp.)
Book #154 Blameless by Gail Carriger (355 pp.)
Book #155 Heartless by Gail Carriger (374 pp.)

These are SO much fun, and even more so when re-reading one after another. Pure enjoyment!



Book #156 Timeless by Gail Carriger (386 pp.)

And so the Parasol Protectorate series concludes. There are several references in this book to the events of 20 years prior which will climax in the 4th Finishing School book due out next year--you can tell Carriger already has a pretty good idea of what she wanted to do with that series. And then we'll be waiting for her books about Prudence and her adventures some 20 years in the future. Can't wait!



Book #157 The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde (405 pp.)

This is book 3 of the Chronicles of Kazam and finds Jennifer and company journeying into a neighboring kingdom on a search. After an interesting time has been had by all and they are returning home, we have an emergency situation and a cliff-hanger ending. Not my favorite scenario, but the rest of the book was as usual clever and entertaining. This series is intended for intermediate readers (5th through 8th grade) so these books aren't for everyone.

91ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 9:59 pm



Book #158 Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (339 pp.)

Have I mentioned how much Bujold's books respond to rereading? I suppose in part it's because when I first get a new one I gobble it down whole without chewing, but when I reread I slow down and savor all the tasty tidbits underlying the main action. This is the final book in the series. Lois might write other books set in this universe, or stories that happen prior to this one, but I don't think she'll write one about the Vorkosigans set after the book.



Book #159 The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester (284 pp.)

This was a very interesting biography of Joseph Needham, a British don who journeyed in China during World War II and ended up writing a multi-volume history of the development of science and technology in China. He clearly was an interesting character and was at the center of many important happenings in the 20th centery. However, and I've not read any of Winchester's other work, the language and the tight third-person focus make it all seem pretty prosaic--he did this, read that, went here. I don't think that it gave me any insights, just information.

92ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 10:00 pm

November Summary

Books read: 13
Pages read: 4453
Average pages per book: 343
Average pages per day: 148

Books new to me: 7, 4 from the library.
Rereads (all from my shelves): 6

Genre:
science fiction: 2
fantasy: 7
Children's: 3
nonfiction: 1

Author Gender:
female: 10
male: 3

Format:
Kindle:1
Hardback: 7
Mass market paperback: 5

Books acquired: 3 dead tree books from Mysterious Galaxy
1 Kindle special--Don Quixote

Books out the door: 2 via PaperBackSwap.com

93ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 10:01 pm



Book #160 The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan (166 pp.)

This was a Kindle freebie, a harmless little tale of how the Christmas Spirit uses a village bakery in Scotland to bring happiness into the lives of 4 of its residents. It would make a good Lifetime movie. Quick light read that fit my mood.



Book #161 Uncharted Territory by Connie Willis (149 pp.)

Great send-up of how a PC corporation might handle first contacts with indigenous natives of an unexplored planet!



Book #162 Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal (401 pp.)

This is book 4 of the Glamourist Histories, and I think the best yet. Kowal's debut was a purported Jane Austen pastiche which caught the language but not so much the spirit. In the following books, she has moved to her own voice and her true gift for adventure stories. The story here is a complex mystery which succeeds in being totally true both to the period and her fantastical overlay. Recommended, but the reader would still would benefit from reading the earlier books first.

94ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 10:03 pm



Book #163 Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen (324 pp.)

This is combo checklist/mystery set in the early 30s in Britain and featuring Georgie, great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and 34th in line for the throne. The problem is that she is penniless and unmarried. Her father lost all his money in the Depression, she's stuck in her half-brother's castle in Scotland (with its tartan bathrooms and ever present drafts), and she's had enough. So she escapes to London, living in the family House with no servants and trying to come up with ways to earn some money. Except then there is a claimant to the family Castle who ends up dead in the bathroom of Rannoch house, her half-brother is arrested for the crime, and someone seems to be trying to knock Georgie off. This was fun, as much for the contacts with the queen and cousin David and Mrs. Simpson as for the adventures with her friends.



Book #164 The Awakened Kingdom by N. K. Jemisin (124 pp.)

This is a new novella set in Jemisin's The Inheritance Trilogy world, after the third book. There was a special deal where you got all three books and the novella for $8.88, and I wanted the novella. I was also unhappy with my print copies because the first book came out in mmpb format and then they published the next two in trade pb format, and I hate having mismatched sets, especially with the size differential! So I will send off my dead tree copies via PaperBackSwap and keep the Kindle copies. I enjoyed the novella, dealing with the aftermath of the conclusion of the third book. Jemisin has a distinct vision and voice in fantasy, very non-traditional, and I recommend her work.



Book #165 Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis (228 pp.)

My 21st book off my shelves this year, this book embodies Willis' statement that she essentially writes historical books with a science-fictional frame. The frame in this instance is the dreams of a young woman, which seem to reflect the experiences of Robert E. Lee in the Civil War. Definitely not a comedy, more of a tragedy, but very gripping.

95ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 10:07 pm



Book #166 Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis (336 pp.)

I am so glad that someone in the Connie Willis thread this month prompted me to reread this book of short stories. It truly put me in the Christmas spirit.



Book #167 Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery (217 pp.)

foggidawn just read this and commented on it on her thread, and it's been ages since I last read it, so I pulled it off the shelf and read it. Like Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon, we are exposed to the delights of Prince Edward Island and a young female character who works through difficulties into happiness, and we love it.



Book #168 A Regency Christmas IX by 5 Regency authors

I have at least 9 of these collections, and since I have reread many of them at Christmas each year, some are very familiar. This one, however, I know I have read, but I didn't remember most of most of the stories, which was nice. 3 stories were very good, one very silly and one okay, but they still evoked the Christmas spirit!

96ronincats
Editado: Dez 31, 2014, 10:30 pm



Book #169 The Future Falls by Tanya Huff (326 pp.)

Huff is a Canadian writer of fantasy and science fiction. Her fantasy is contemporary with settings primarily IN Canada, and this is the third book of her Enchantment Emporium series about the Gayles and anchored in Calgary. Her characters are good and I'd rate her writing above average but not in my top tier of writers. Enjoyable urban fiction, but start with the first book--they build.

Book #169 The Viscount's Christmas Temptation by Erica Ridley (148 pp.)

Book #170 A Grosvenor Square Christmas by Shana Galen etal. (168 pp.)

Book #171 Once Upon a Christmas Carol by Pamela Fryer (217 pp.)

These were freebie Kindle books downloaded to read during the Christmas season, part of the ritual of decorating the house and the mind in preparation. None of them were of particularly good quality--the first of these being the most entertaining and the last by far the weakest and most frivolous.

Final review of the year!



Book #172 The Green Man by Michael Bedard (304 pp.)

This book was provided to me by the Early Reviewers program.

Bookstores, poets, ghosts, magic--all the ingredients for an enchanting tale. Although I liked many things about this story, I felt that especially in the middle of the book, there were too many instances of telling, not showing, which took away from the flow of the narrative. I think it will be well-received by the target YA audience.

97ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 10:09 pm

December
Books read: 13
Pages read: 3108
Average pages per book: 239
Average pages read per day: 100

New books: 11
Rereads: 2
Library books: 3
Books Off the Shelf: 2

Genre: Science fiction-2, fantasy-5, children's-1, romance-4, mystery-1

Format: Kindle-5, hardback-3, trade-1, mass market pb-4

Author gender: women-12, male-1

Books acquired: 4
Books out the door: 14

98ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 10:09 pm

2014 SUMMARY

Books read: 172
Pages read: 58,563
Average pages per book: 340
Average pages read per day: 160

New reads: 128
Rereads: 44
Library books: 48
Books off my shelf (acquired prior to 2014): 22

Genre:
Science fiction: 33
Fantasy: 94
Children's: 12
Nonfiction: 13
General fiction: 3
Romance: 11
Mystery: 6

Books acquired: 88

Books out the door: 40

So, goal-wise, I met my goals for books and pages read and stayed under my cap for books acquired (by 2 books!), but failed to meet the goal for reading books off my shelf (22 of 35) or books out the door (40 of 100).

99ronincats
Dez 31, 2014, 10:12 pm

2014 SUMMARY

Books read: 172
Pages read: 58,563
Average pages per book: 340
Average pages read per day: 160

New reads: 128
Rereads: 44
Library books: 48
Books off my shelf (acquired prior to 2014): 22

Genre:
Science fiction: 33
Fantasy: 94
Children's: 12
Nonfiction: 13
General fiction: 3
Romance: 11
Mystery: 6

Books acquired: 88

Books out the door: 40

So, goal-wise, I met my goals for books and pages read and stayed under my cap for books acquired (by 2 books!), but failed to meet the goal for reading books off my shelf (22 of 35) or books out the door (40 of 100).



I'm finally ready to talk about my top reads of 2014. Although I'll finish at least one more book and probably two, none of them with reach that rank.

My top five fiction, all in genre oddly enough:
The Martian by Andrew Weir--nerdy, clever, unputdownable.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie--original, between the stars adventure.
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan--a delightful alternate steampunk history.
A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin--Set in London, unconventional and original.
Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire--a highly atmospheric ghost story, with delightful echoes from the 50s.

All but the first book are the first in a series.



Best Non-fiction:
What Makes This Book So Great? by Jo Walton--This is also genre, as Walton collects her blogs on her reactions to books, including many from two of my favorite series.


Speaking of which, best continuations of favorite series in 2014:

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger--book 3 of The Finishing School
Crown of Renewal by Elizabeth Moon--book 5 of The Legend of Paksennarion
The Sea of Time by P. C. Hodgell--book 7 of the Chronicles of the Kencyrath
The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire--book 8 of October Daye
Valour & Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal--book 4 of the Glamourist Histories



Best YA series:
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Best Short Stories:

Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis

Best Re-reads:

The Vorkosigan series
The Parasol Protectorate series
The Red Heart of Memories and Past the Size of Dreaming by Nina Kiriki Hoffman