alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark.

Goldenhand by Garth Nix.

Tremontaine season 2 episode 11: In the Shadow of Riverside by Tess Gratton. Kindle.

Tremontaine season 2 episode 12: Smoke and Ashes by Mary Anne Mohanraj. Kindle.

Tremontaine season 2 episode 13: Dissolution by Ellen Kushner. Kindle.

Huntress by Malindo Lo. Kindle.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. Kindle. Highly recommended.

To Hold the Bridge by Garth Nix. Short stories.

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin.

A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers 2) by Becky Chambers. Kindle.

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin. Kindle.

Fables volume 2

Three Parts Dead (Craft sequence volume 1) by Max Gladstone.

Fables volume 3

Fables volume 4

Fables volume 5

Fables volume 6

Two Serpents Rise (Craft sequence volume 2) by Max Gladstone.

Sleeping with the enemy (Adventures in the Liaden Universe Book 22) by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Kindle.

Change Management (Adventures in the Liaden Universe Book 23) by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Kindle.

Folk'd by Laurence Donaghy

Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett

The Gathering Edge by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

Currently reading:

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. Kindle.
alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
Tremontaine episode 10: Shadowroot by Joe Derfner & Ellen Kushner. I thought this guy was the weakest of the ensemble writers after his first couple of episodes but this one was much better actually. [kindle]

Tremontaine episode 11: Go And Tell The Morning Star by Alaya Dawn Johnson & Ellen Kushner. A secret is revealed and Kaab chooses between her family and her friends. Great stuff, a really good episode for seeing into the characters heads and hearts.[kindle]

Dark Eden by Chris Beckett. Random recommendation from a work colleague. Lost colony SF with some really lovely world building and interesting musings on how society develops when the tribe gets too big to stay one happy family.

Tremontaine episode 12: A Tale of Two Ladies by Malinda Lo & Ellen Kushner. Ooooh, cannot wait for the final part now, the battle of wits between Kaab and Diane is marvellous.[kindle]

The Wicked and the Divine: The Faust Act (volume 1) by Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson and Cowles. [re-read]

The Wicked and the Divine: Fandemonium (volume 2) by Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson and Cowles. Cliff-hanger!! Did not see that coming.

Tremontaine episode 13: Departures by Ellen Kushner. Season 1 finale. Great stuff![kindle]

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie. I couldn't imagine this guy writing YA but the reviews are glowing so I thought I'd give it a go. Turns out there is less violence and no sex but it's still very much Abercrombie. I didn't see where it was going at all and rather enjoyed that but I think I'm more excited about the other two in the series which have female POV characters.

Ash by Malinda Lo. Charming retelling of Cinderella complete with inscrutable fairies and the heroine saving herself and finding belonging, perfect sickbed reading.[kindle]

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Great little graphic novel based on a web comic. I had a tear in my eye when I finished it, really lovely character piece.

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold. A very grown up Vorkosigan book about mortality, duty and legacy. I sniffled a fair few times.

The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett. Lymond is sent to help the Knights of St John against the Turks, putting into the path of Graham Mallett, known as Gabriel, but who is the angel and who is the demon? As usual in Dunnett books, some people are very much not who they seem and secret agendas will only gradually be revealed.

The Wicked and the Divine volume 3: Commercial Suicide by Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson, Cowles et al. I'm really not sure where they're going with this and am slightly concerned they are going to end up with no characters I actually like left but it continues to be a thought-provoking read. Some of the guest artists are more successful than others.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Finally bought this at xmas having been planning to read it for years. Kind of sad I didn't read it as a teenager because teenage-me would have adored it. I did still really enjoy it, but I was aware, especially once she fell in love, that it would have meant so much more to me at that age.

Saga volume 2 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples. Mostly enjoying this although it still has points where it make me go 'hmmm'.

The Sandman Overture by Neil Gaiman, J.H. Williams III and Dave Stewart. Very good and very pretty. I want to re-read the rest of Sandman now, really must complete my collection!

The Traitor by Seth Dickinson. A griping read, I ended up staying up til 1am to finish it. The best sort of SF - a thought-provoking read (a commentary on Imperialism and colonialism in this case) combined with a great character story that takes you on an emotional journey. [Kindle]

Saga volume 3 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples. I just wish they would stop using misogynistic slurs. That aside, I'm rather enjoying it.

Rat Queens volume 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch. Gory, irreverent and very funny.

A long way to a small, angry planet by Becky Chambers. Character-driven space opera, not quite Bujold or the Liaden Universe but a satisfying read.[Kindle]

Runaways volume 1: Pride & Joy [Re-read]

Runaways volume 2: Teenage Wasteland [Re-read]

Phonogram: Rue Britannia by Gillen & McKelvie. Recognisably the same team as The Wicked and the Divine but I think their writing has come on since and my 'Unknown Armies' issues may not help its case. So, not really my thing.

False Colours by Georgette Heyer.

Rat Queens volume 2

Rat Queens volume 3

Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett. Well, that's a chess game I'm never going to forget.

Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie. A master class in writing fantasy short stories.

Trade Secret by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb. The story of how Wit magic came to be stigmatised in the Six Duchies. Unfortunately now I've started noticing how she treats her female characters, I keep being disappointed by it.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. Utterly charming, Victoriana magical realism. Quite lovely.

Saga volume 4 by Brian Vaughan & Fiona Staples. Sadly, I think I might give up on this here - I know it's intended to be offensive but really, the rest of it is creative, why do the trolls have to use such graphic sexist language?

Half the World by Joe Abercrombie. I would never have thought when I was struggling through 'The Blade Itself' that Abercrombie would become one of my favourite fantasy authors but he has - this is full of great female characters

Alliance of Equals by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. The main Korval storyline of the Liaden Universe continues - we get a bit of Daav but this is mostly The Dutiful Passage and the AIs, and happily no Theo ;)

Fables collected 1-10 "Legends in Exile" and "Animal Farm" by Bill Willingham, Lan Medina, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha and Craig Hamilton. Somehow I'd never got around to this before but it's definitely worth a read if exiled fairytale characters trying to make their way in New York sounds like your sort of thing.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. Fun alternate world fantasy set in a Victorian London full of vampires and fae.

Half a War by Joe Abercrombie.

Tremontaine season 2 episode 1: Convocation by Ellen Kushner. Kindle.

Rivers of London:Body of Work

Whitehall season 1 episode 1:Embarkations by Liz Duffy Adams and Delia Sherman. Kindle.

Tremontaine season 2 episode 2: Old in Mischief by Tessa Gratton. kindle.

Tremontaine season 2 episode 3: Fireworks by Mary Anne Mohanraj. kindle

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Kindle.

Tremontaine season 2 episode 4: All that glitters by Joe Derfner. Kindle.

Tremontaine season 2 episode 5: Alive, and home here by Alaya Dawn Johnson. Kindle.

The Ringed Castle by Dorothy Dunnett.

The Hanging Tree (Rivers of London 6) by Ben Aaronovitch.

Tremontaine season 2 episode 6: Blood and Silk by Mary Anne Mohanraj. Kindle.

Tremontaine season 2 episode 7: The Duchess Gambit by Joe Derfner. Kindle.

Tremontaine season 2 episode 8: A Rushing of wings by Paul Witcover and Racheline Maltese. Kindle.

The Mazarinette and the Musketeer by Heather Rose Jones. (short story) Kindle.

Mother of Souls by Heather Rose Jones. I do love this series but the problem with trying to continue the two existing storylines plus add another one and two new narrators is that this ends up feeling very bitty indeed in places, like she's shoved odd bits of a different book into it because the events are all on the same timeline. Kindle

Tremontaine season 2 episode 9: The Heart a Liability by Tessa Gratton. Kindle.

Tremontaine season 2 episode 10: The Coming Night by Joel Derfner. Kindle.

Currently reading:

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark.

To Hold the Bridge by Garth Nix.


Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard by Kim Newman
alithea: (Windswept Francine)
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy. Entertaining adventure story which is about as close to the TV adaptations I remember as Disney's Three Musketeers is to the original, I wasn't expected it to be narrated by his wife for a start. It does however, rely on classic case of telling rather than showing - we're told she's regarded as the cleverest woman in Europe but she spends most of the book being remarkably dense!

Foxglove Summer (Rivers of London book 5) by Ben Aaronovitch. Yet another thoroughly entertaining instalment. I love how these books manage to be both really funny and yet also feature quite dark urban fantasy that never resorts to popular stereotypes [Kindle]

A Liaden Universe Constellation 1 by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Short story collection. Some gems here, especially the story of how Ren Zel comes to be dead and flying with the Dutiful Passage, and the one about the scout stranded on the world that is killing him at the end, which made me teary.

A Liaden Universe Constellation 2 by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Another short story collection, mostly Plan B and Surebleak era stuff this time although also Miri backstory, which I enjoyed.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. Yeah, I see why this won so many awards, and it's so nice not to have to qualify that with anything problematic (Wind-up Girl this is not, in a good way).

Zero by J.S Collyer. Space opera by a friend of the Boy's. This went somewhere I really wasn't expecting half way through but was a pretty good space action/thriller story. My only complaint would be that she cut too much of the character stuff - several of the background characters end up being names and jobs, and the characterisation of the two main characters suffers somewhat from having relationships with characters that are not explored in quite enough depth for you to really get the emotional impact of everything that happens to them. Oh, and I was somewhat annoyed by one of the three female characters disappearing half way through too. Overall, it read a bit too much like she'd cut half of the interpersonal stuff out. [Kindle]

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie. I think I actually enjoyed this more than the first one in the end. She continues to build on and explore her setting and while the plot becomes arguably less sweeping, I liked the more personal edge and focus on the characters as Breq develops from single-mindedly pursuing a goal she assumes will kill her to working out how she can make a difference to the lives of the ordinary people caught up in the machinations of those so distant from them. Maybe less radical in terms of ideas than the first book (although I'm not sure how she could have avoided that really) but more engaging character-wise for me.

Goddess by Kelly Gardiner. When I found out someone had written a novel in English about Julie D'Aubigny, La Maupin, the 17th Century swashbuckling bisexual opera singer, I knew I had to read it, especially as I've been vaguely contemplating doing similarly (as an exercise at least, I doubt it would ever have seen the light of day!). Unfortunately, it's rather disappointing as the author has obviously done her research but her decision to structure the novel with every other chapter being Julie monologuing from her deathbed makes the entire thing a tragedy, from the abused child to the grief-stricken lover left behind when the love of her life dies, the love of her life who only features in last few chapters. Some of the third person chapters are quite entertaining once she gets going and there's no doubt that it's readable but her characterisation of Julie tends more towards the pathetic than the sympathetic (understandably really given she's dying but it seems an odd choice of style for someone who apparently wants to celebrate her life). Plus the narrative style means none of the other characters are very well realised and we are mostly told the relationships rather than seeing them in a light where they make much sense. This is particularly glaring at the start because although the same sex and mixed sex relationships get more equal treatment later in the story, we are supposed to believe that Clara and Julie are so obviously enamoured of each other that one of them gets banished to a convent without them speaking to each other(!), but then they apparently can't manage to invent lesbian sex between them, and that all they do is gaze into each other eyes and hold hands, and daydream about what would happen if Julie woke up as a man, and only kiss once *because it scares them too much*. All in all, what I wanted to read was the version of La Maupin's life Ellen Kushner might write and this is very much not it.[Kindle]

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. Rather entertaining comedy of errors involving a bunch of mostly bumbling historians time travelling back to Victorian Oxford in pursuit of what turns out to be a hideous urn which disappeared when Coventry Cathedral was destroyed during WW2. Laugh out loud funny in places and the time travel is delightfully twisty - can our heroes fix the time line so events unfold as they are supposed to, and who really broke things in the first place?

The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett. After reading the House of Niccolo books, I am firmly of the opinion that there is no pleasure quite like a Dunnett novel and this did not disappoint. Lymond seems to be a charismatic villain but of course, nothing is as it seems and gradually his plotting and other people's is revealed for what it really is. As usual, her historical backdrop is rich in detail (mid 16th Century Scotland at war with England) but the real joy of the book is the character studies and the way her masterful use of point of view gradually reveals their plotting and scheming and who we can really trust. I laughed and cried and was gripped to the end - what more can you ask for?

Necessity's Child by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. In which we meet some hidden inhabitants of Surebleak. I love Lee & Miller's world building, the little glimpses of where the Bedel have come from and how their society has evolved are wonderful. Entertaining as ever.

Queens' Play by Dorothy Dunnett. Politicking and politicking and yet more politicking, I see why some reviewers suggest you read this twice! The examination of the personal responsibility of leaders is fascinating.

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan. A watery dystopia that reads like a fairy tale. Very atmospheric.

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman.

Ms Marvel: No Normal

The Wicked and the Divine, volume 1

Saga, volume 1

Dragon in Exile by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb.

Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones. Regency-esque lesbian romance set in a fictional European country and filled with inheritance-related intrigue and mystic ritual. Thoroughly enjoyable, my only complaint is that the romance is treated with too light a touch in places - I wasn't expecting erotica from the reviews but the scene where they finally confess their feelings falls a little flat because she cuts scene without even allowing them a passionate embrace on screen.[Kindle]

The Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones. The blurb for this only refers to the romance storyline between two of the background characters from the first book but actually this also picks up Barbara and Margerit's story 2 or 3 years later. The intrigue plot is engaging and she's a bit braver with showing the romance on screen this time, very enjoyable if you're into regency-esque society intrigue and romance, I'd happily read another one if she writes more in this setting. [Kindle]

Ms Marvel volume 2

Ms Marvel volume 3

A Liaden Universe Constellation 3 by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie.

Rogues edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. A mixed bag as these things usually are but some very enjoyable stories in amongst the selection.[Kindle]

Lucia's Progress by E.F. Benson. Lucia invests in the Stock market and uses the profits to buy her way into the affections of the town, having failed in her attempt to get elected to the council. Delightful social backstabbing. [Kindle]

Tremontaine, episodes 1-3 by Ellen Kushner et al. Prequel to Swordspoint being published via Serial Box in weekly instalments but also available via Amazon for Kindle. Diane, Duchess Tremontaine is playing a dangerous game with her family's fortune, will the chocolate traders be her allies or part of her downfall? Meanwhile, her husband has started an affair with a tempestuous student who wants to start his own school for commoners and a farm girl is discovering the wonders of mathematics. Great stuff, I eagerly await the next instalment![Kindle]

The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal. Very well done short story about the choices we face especially as we get old. Recommend having tissue or two handy. [Kindle]

Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler. I see why this won so many awards, it packs a real punch for such a short piece.[Kindle]

Tremontaine, episode 4-6 [Kindle]

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. [Kindle - free from Project Gutenburg]

Tremontaine episode 7 [Kindle]

Trouble for Lucia by E.F. Benson. [Kindle]

Tremontaine episode 8 & 9 [Kindle]

Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. [RE-READ]

2015 plans

Jan. 1st, 2015 11:58 am
alithea: (Being human (base by ahlai))
Reading
- Manage more than 30 books this year
- Read To Kill a Mockingbird and Great Expectations
- Read the rest of the Jacqueline Carey Terre D'Ange books
- Read Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles

Writing
- Start making notes for my novel
- Keep up with my Storium games

Knitting
- Make myself a top/cardigan/jumper
- Try colourwork
- Actually knit something for my mother

Exercise
- Try historical fencing
- Manage the MTB skills trail at Templeton without going around any of the obstacles
- Swim outdoors
- Start running again

Other
- Institute monthly date nights
- Finally make our wedding photobook
alithea: (Starbuck bang (made by amiyuy))
I'm glad I persevered with Joe Abercrombie books despite being in two minds by the end of the First Law trilogy because I finished reading 'The Heroes' the other night and it's his best book yet. An anti-war war novel with engaging, incredibly human characters. And best of all, he has strong female characters who have agency and achieve things in different ways according to their strengths and he doesn't resort to sexual violence to make his point that the world is a grim place. I'm not quite sure what the world of mainstream fantasy fiction has come to when I feel the need to celebrate an author for writing dark fantasy without raping anyone but maybe I'm just sick of people defending GRRM with endless excuses about historical realism.
alithea: (Books)
Minette by Melanie Clegg. Story of Charles II youngest sister growing up in exile in Paris and her Cinderella-style rise to a match with the Sun King's younger brother. Charming, slightly YA in tone as the narrator is only 13 when it starts but does still have touching emotional depths.(Kindle)

A Trail of Fire by Diana Gabaldon. 4 short stories/novellas. The Lord John one set in the West Indies was my favourite but mostly this suffered from me having forgotten an awful lot of what happened in the Outlander series. Don't know if the title of the story about Roger's father is a nod to Firefly but it would be nice to think so.(Kindle)

City of Dragons by Robin Hobb. Eminently readable fantasy, looking forward to the next book.

The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer. More of a mystery than I was expecting. Entertaining enough but not a favourite.

Broken Homes (Rivers of London 4) by Ben Aaronovitch. Another entertaining instalment in this well characterised series with lovely world building and attention to detail. (Kindle)

Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer. Entertaining Georgian melodrama.

Queen Lucia by E.F. Benson. 1920s social one-upmanship comedy, had me roaring with laughter in places. (Kindle)

Miss Mapp by E.F. Benson. More hilarious social escapades, think this was funnier than the first one.

Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb

Lucia in London by E.F. Benson

Mapp and Lucia by E.F. Benson. Just a tad far-fetched but entertainingly so!

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch. Slightly frustrating but entertaining over all, and I approve of his assumption of sexual equality in his world and kick-ass women pirates even if some muppets think it's feminist overkill and unjustified because sexism is human nature (I'm sure you can imagine what I think of that nonsense!).

The Ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman. I did really enjoy this, he's definitely found his novel writing voice these days, it was a bit Graveyard Book, a bit 'Book of Lost Things', and very much it's own magical realist thing. But my reaction to it was much based on my current mental state I think, so I'm not sure I could put my finger on its general appeal other than the fact that the Hempstock family are marvellous and work in a way the gods in American Gods just didn't quite for me somehow.

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie. Abercrombie continues to confound me, I find the violence and torture in his books decidedly uncomfortable but on the other hand, it's always written to be so and he's an equal opportunity torturer who isn't obsessed with raping his female characters to prove how harsh the world is. And there is no denying the man can write engaging characters. I enjoyed this one more than the 1st Law trilogy, mostly because the characters don't spend the entire book being manipulated by the world's most infuriating magician.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. By turns utterly beautiful and utterly horrific, highly recommended if you haven't read it - wonderful characters and well-thought out alien society (you can tell she's an academic), hard to put down.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. 1st book in one of the Boy's favourite childhood series. Charming but childish, I'm assured that like the 'Dark is Rising' series, they improve after this!

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie. Further write-up on my journal.

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie. His latest is a take on a Western and another good read with redemption being a strong theme.

The Bee Keeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King. I've been jokily referring to this as Sherlock Holmes fanfic but that isn't really fair because it's its own thing which happens to feature an aged Holmes, Watson and Mycroft. Rather enjoyable.

The Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb. Gah, I can't really say anything about this without spoiling anyone, can't wait for the next installment though, Fitz and the Fool again is like being reunited with old friends.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch. Thoroughly enjoyable fantasy yarn, I particularly enjoyed the 7th Sea (RPG) influence here, subtle as it was.

Clariel by Garth Nix. Abhorsen series prequel. About the choices you make and the ones you don't and Fate. Another great addition to the series.

Kraken by China Mieville. Incredibly imaginative, deeply, deeply bizarre and occasionally horrific and deeply creepy. Gritty London gang warfare where the gangs are mages and cultists, and the war is over the end of the world. Mostly I enjoyed it but as his other stuff I've read, it's an ideas book not a character book. I am not going to read the new Rivers of London book straight after this because I think it would break my brain!

Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill. A redemption story set up as ghost story. Not my usual fare but the Boy assured me I'd enjoy the character journey and he was right although I did have to get over the fact it includes hideous cruelty to dogs.

Let Down Your Hair by Fiona Price [Kindle]

The Scarlett Pimpernel by Emma Orczy.

Currently reading:



From Whitechapel: A Novel of Jack the Ripper by Melanie Clegg. [Kindle]


Given up on:

IQ84 by Haruki Murakami. Oh dear, I'm struggling with this. It isn't graphic the way that 'The Windup Girl' is but the plot does revolve around sexual abuse and I've kind of had it with struggling through uncomfortable things for the sake of it this year :(

By Light Alone by Adam Roberts. The development of photosynthetic hair sounds like an interesting idea but all he's done with it by the middle of the book is to parade a bunch of awful rich people who hate the poor and make clear that removing hunger doesn't solve anything on its own. Apparently it becomes a totally different book later on but I'm past caring. If this is 'worthy' SF, I'll stick with my space opera thanks!

Last of the Amazons by Steven Pressfield. I get that he made a conscious decision to reflect the style of ancient sagas, and it's very well done because it totally reminds me of translating The Iliad, but when it comes down to it, I want to read the characters' stories and not pages and pages of description of battles including entire paragraphs of lists of the tribes involved!
alithea: (Books)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Okay, so I'll confess that I did enjoy this, although the pacing was rather slow and then everything happening at once, and the heroine was annoyingly wet and too perfect to live. I was very amused by how every single person we met turned out to be connected to the plot - Dickens really didn't believe in coincidences, did he?

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch. This very British urban fantasy mystery series continues to be entertaining, this one even featured magic pottery which amused me, especially as the area I grew up in got a name check :)

Local Custom by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Having devoured all but the most recent Vorkosigan book, I've moved on to the next SF adventure romance series I was recommended by people around here. Of course, the problem with that is comparisons are a little hard to avoid and while I enjoyed this, my favourite character wasn't central to the story and the main romance didn't capture me like Cordelia and Aral did. A good solid introduction though.

Scout's Progress by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Ah now, this is more like it - Daav as a central character and more plot. Really enjoyed this, will be ordering the sequel.

Runaways: Dead Wrong by Terry Moore & (artist). Hmmm, Runaways has never returned to the heights of its first
couple of runs, I still miss Gert :( I know TM can write good interpersonal relationships but this has too much crammed into it to let them shine and I don't like the new art work.

Caprice and Rondo (House of Niccolo Book 7) by Dorothy Dunnett. The revelations are building, am torn between being desperate to read Gemini and wanting to wait because once it's done there is no more (canon) Niccolo...

Mouse and Dragon by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. I did enjoy this but I can understand why people coming to it having already read the books either side felt a little disappointed, it jumps in time rather randomly and the last section definitely feels like filler and set up for later stories.

A Conflict of Honors by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. I was very relieved to thoroughly enjoy this despite the fact we have now skipped to the next generation. More lovely character driven storytelling plus a good bit of action and adventure and I enjoyed seeing more of the varied cultures in the Liaden universe for the first time.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. It's amazing how much emotion you can convey with simple B&W drawings and captions - a moving memoir about growing up in Iran and the real people behind the veils. This is exactly why I have no time for people who think comics aren't proper literature.

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliffe. I can't remember if I read this as a kid or not, I certainly read a bunch of her books, but either way, we picked up a lovely Folio edition in our local Oxfam bookshop the other week and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Agent of Change by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

Carpe Diem by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

Plan B by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

I Dare by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. The fact I read all 4 of the books in this story arc in quick succession probably tells you all you need to know about how good these are. If you are a fan of space adventure novels with romance, great characters, engaging world building and gripping plots, and you haven't read these already, you are in for a treat!

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie.

A Curse for Gracie Daylittle by Amber Fisher.

Crystal Soldier by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

Crystal Dragon by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

The Balance of Trade by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers.

Fledging by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

Saltation by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie.

Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie. Clever, well-written and engaging, but when it comes down to it, I prefer my fantasy a little less bleak.

Devil's Cub by Georgette Heyer. Marvellous fun, thoroughly enjoyable.

Gemini (House of Niccolo book 8) by Dorothy Dunnett. Utterly brilliant, see more in this post on my journal.

The Lies of Locke Lamorra by Scott Lynch. Thoroughly enjoyable fantasy. A little graphic for some in places I suspect but much more satisfying than the 3rd Law Trilogy. My only niggle is it could have done with a couple more female characters really.

Captain Vorpatril's Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold. Marvellous fun, I laughed out loud a good few times.

Dragon ship by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. The problem with this is that it's a Theo Waitley book when what I want is another main Korval plotline book. So enjoyable but frustrating!


The Wind Through the Keyhole (Dark Tower) by Stephen King. Another Dark Tower book that fits between 4 and 5 and is Roland telling more tales from his younger life. High hopes for this because 4 and 5 are my favourite of the previous volumes. Actually more like two novellas but good anyway.

Heavy Ice by Ankaret Wells. A Requite novel set 200 years after the original ones. The Founders find Requite again and neither of them will ever be the same again - great stuff, see the longer review in a separate post.

The Maker's Mask by Ankaret Wells. Re-read as I was suffering Requite withdrawal after running out of Heavy Ice to read!

The Hawkwood War by Ankaret Wells. Re-read as above.
alithea: (Warrior River (made by brokenharlequin))
Probably no-one around here has missed me raving about the Requite books by our very own Ankaret Wells, but in case you weren't aware the latest one, Heavy Ice came out on the 1st of December and if you are a fan of SF with plenty of Adventure and romance, you are in for a treat! It's like the ultimate girl and her pony story, where the girl is a foul-mouthed bandit with the honour of the most pragmatic family of bandit royalty on her shoulders, and her pony is a 12 ft dinosaur with the most realised personality of any non-speaking animal character I've read for a long time. In keeping with its very different heroine, the tone of this book is altogether earthier and sexier than The Maker's Mask and The Hawkwood War, but the wonderful world building and background plots and intrigue are still there in spades, and if I have any complaints , it would be that I loved some of the secondary characters so much, I was disappointed it wasn't longer so we could see more of them. The lost colony main plot line is handled with wonderful attention to detail and, despite being set over 200 years after the other two, there are some lovely touches for fans of previous characters to squee over too. I finished it a couple of nights ago and am now going to have to read the other ones again over the holidays because I'm suffering Requite withdrawal symptoms.

My new motto when someone is trying to take advantage of my good nature is What Would A Hawkwood Do?
alithea: (Books)
I had flu last week, which was incredibly annoying (especially as I had to soldier on working at home for the 1st three days because we had a software release to get out which I had put stacks of works into the website for and I couldn't bear to let anyone else mess up in my absence), but it did mean I got to spend Thursday in bed with Gemini, the final volume of the House of Niccolo series by Dorothy Dunnett.

For those of you who have managed to miss me raving about this series, it's a historical saga following the fortunes of Niccolo and his friends, family, and enemies, as he trades, plots and schemes his way through 20 odd years of political upheaval across Europe (mostly), in the second half of the 15th Century. It's something of an obsession in the Turret - spawning our choice of Bruges as honeymoon destination so we could visit locations from the story, which begins there, and inspiring the much-missed 7th Sea game.

You know a series is good when you finish it and immediately want to start reading it over to spot all the bits you missed without the aid of hindsight. It really is something of a masterpiece, I would wonder why it isn't more famous except I think I can guess. She doesn't make any effort to spoon-feed her audience - they are written from a very particular point of view so you mostly don't get to see inside the characters heads, allowing them to keep their secrets until the big reveals. The main character is something of a genius and she never tries to make his plotting easier to follow, although it usually makes sense by the end. But the other reason is probably that a major theme is how far the shadow of one man's inappropriate lusts can fall and whether your childhood defines who you are as a adult, or whether overcoming abuse is possible and a matter of nature or nurture. And the answers aren't all the easy ones, some of the characters are only ever victims... She has a real talent for writing very human characters though, some of them appear to be pantomime villains at times but it never lasts. By the time it comes to it, you feel a pang when anyone dies, even if you thought you'd celebrate beforehand. Having said all that, she also has a talent for describing physical comedies of errors, some of the set pieces are side-achingly funny, so it's not all heavy emotional stuff.

Anyway, much recommended if you like a good twisty historical saga to get your teeth into. And I now know how it connects to her other historical series, the Lymond Chronicles, so they are on my to-read list next. Well, when I track down copies anyway.

What I'm actually reading at the moment is 'The Lies of Locke Lamorra' by Scott Lynch, a rather delightful fantasy about gentleman con artists set in a city somewhat reminiscent of medieval Venice.
alithea: (Being human (base by ahlai))
I think I spent more of my long weekend watching the Tour de France and reading Ghost Ship from cover to cover, than I did tidying but I only have 2 plastic crates and 2 document boxes left to go through and the cupboard is looking fairly civilised (a lot of what we've kept is actually packing materials, but it seems silly to throw out bubblewrap and tissue paper when we are planning on moving next year). And I went swimming in the North Sea on Friday afternoon, which was very pleasant indeed. I should definitely get back into swimming, even if it's in the uni pool next time.

I also caught up with 3 friends, although it should have been 4, and didn't come last in 'Ticket to Ride' by screwing over the Boy which was a bit mean of me, but Brad had already blocked me from 2 routes and it was soo obvious where he was going and that it would mean a huge score... Bad wife ;)
alithea: (Alicia)
My evening's procrastination is not in vain for I have discovered that Ellen Kushner is writing a Jessica Campion story.
alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
You can always rely on a Poliakoff drama to look ravishing if nothing else. I'm enjoying this one rather more than the last (Glorious 39) so far and Angel Coulby has a beautiful voice. Is it just me though, or is he a bit obsessed with sinister government bureaucracy?

In other news, the Boy found a copy of English Costume - painted and described by Dion Clayton Calthrop in our local Oxfam bookshop the other day, which has caused squeals of joy in the house. It was originally written in 1906, although our edition is from 1931, and covers 1066 to 1830 arranged in chapters by the ruling monarch of the time, and is utterly utterly charming, with its delightful turns of phrase and beautiful illustrations. She finishes with some observations about the lack of colour and pomp in 'modern' dress and I can't help wondering what on earth she would make of the clothes in evidence on a London street today!
alithea: (Books)
Because there is more to life than books, but not much more )
Witch Light by Susan Fletcher. More 17th Century, this time set in Scotland. A witch witnesses a massacre but will her knowledge save her? Love the description of what it means to be a witch at the beginning, chimes very true with me. Further comment here on my LJ

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner (RE-READ). Perfect comfort reading - swashbuckling, intrigue, angst, sexual awakening and a happy ending!

Purity of Blood (Captain Alatriste book 2) by Arturo PĂ©rez-Reverte. No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Swords of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. John Carter hijinx - good fun if you can manage to judge its treatment of the female characters by the time it was written in. Slightly bizarre pacing.

Jack Cloudie by Stephen Hunt. Another madcap steampunk novel, shame about the new covers which don't match my existing collection!

The City & The City by China Mieville. Intriguing SF thriller which I thoroughly enjoyed - the plot is tight and gripping, and the setting is fascinating. I started off thinking maybe only the characters let it down a bit but by the end I was emotionally engaged too.

Firebrand by Ankaret Wells. Wonderful steampunk romance with great characters and intriguing world-building. Can't wait for the xmas freebie story set in the same world on www.ankaretwells.wordpress.com

Currently reading:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. A classic for the holidays, A Christmas Carol would have been a step too far!

Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow. Urban fantasy short story collection
alithea: (Books)
Is it just me, or are the Dresden Files books a bit sexist? I started reading the Harry Dresden short story in Naked City* last night, having never actually got around to reading any of the novels as yet, and there's something a tad 'I'm a New Man, honest, *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*' about the tone of it somehow. Or maybe it's just me...


*Which I did buy solely on the basis that it has an Ellen Kushner Riverside short story in it that I hadn't read, set during and after Swordspoint, because I'm a hopeless Riverside fan girl like that ;)
alithea: (altar candle (please do not take))
I finished reading Witch Light by Susan Fletcher last night. This book was a bit of revelation for me. The plot is engaging and heartbreaking in places but the real triumph is the witch's voice narrating it. In Corrag, Fletcher has created exactly the sort of witch Marian Green is trying to teach people to be in her A Witch Alone and Natural Witchcraft books. To my mind, this book is to natural/green witchcraft what The Mists of Avalon is to Goddess worship. Corrag is exactly the witch I want to be and hers is the Craft that spoke to me as a child, the reason that finding paganism was like coming home.

I'm very amused by the interviewer in the extra features at the end of my edition, who thinks the crazy Seer woman is the only 'real witch' in the book. Corrag might not be the 17th Century version of a 'real witch' but she's certainly one by modern pagan standards.
alithea: (Arty thoughtful)
I'm tempted to start a sweepstake on how long we are going to have to put up with everyone who likes to think they are in touch with popular culture cramming references to Fifty Shades of Grey into their TV and radio appearances before the damn novelty wears off. Seriously People, it's not the only book that's ever been written with sex or BDSM in it, why is it suddenly the way to prove you're not a prude?!

Go read the Kushiel's Legacy trilogy - it has plot and decent writing too.
alithea: (Books)
The new edition of Kim Newman's Anno Dracula: the Bloody Red Baron has a new Genevieve* novella included called Anno Dracula 1923: Vampire Romance. I've only read 3 chapters so far but I'm very amused. In the 2nd chapter we meet the other narrator Lydia, a young vampire devotee, who is thrilled to finally be meeting some of her idols, who are coming to her Aunt's country estate for a weekend party. Discussing her thoughts on vampire fiction, we get the following gem:

"Otterbourne's Nitelite Saga novels had so much swooning Lydia wondered if the authoress was prone to fits. Her hero glittered like a Christmas tree and her heroine was unconscious for at least seven chapters in each book, even though she was supposed to be telling the story"

Thinly veiled versions of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and the True Blood series get similar treatment.




*Newman has two versions of Genevieve Dieudonne - this one, a 400 year old elder vampire in his alternate history/fantasy/literary mash-up series that started with Anno Dracula, and another who lives in the Warhammer fantasy setting. His The Vampire Genevieve collection of Warhammer stories (written under the name Jack Yeovil) is also well worth a read, no previous knowledge of the setting necessary.
alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
The Boy met an over-sized cairn terrier with fangs called Sgt Taura and a cat with brittle bones called Miles today. Apparently even little old ladies in their 80s are not above Vorkosigan fangirling. This fills me with joy.
alithea: (Books)
Having finished Cryoburn and mostly resisted temptation to howl at length, I'm enjoying some comfort reading just now. My book of choice is The Maker's Mask, Book 1 (of 2) of Requite by Ankaret Wells. Ankaret is a very talented friend of mine, I've waxed lyrical about her wonderful writing before but I have new victims converts in the making now so if you are a fan of good old fashioned sci-fi adventure stories with wonderful characters and a bit of romance, you should check out her blog and read some extracts to see if it's your sort of thing. The adventures of Tzenni Boccamera, the ever-practical engineer who wishes people were as simple to understand as plumbing systems, and her blue-haired hermaphrodite bodyguard with a sharp tongue to match its sharp sword, await ;)

And in the interests of fairness, because I know several talented writers around here, for those of you who are e-book enabled - Ros Clarke writes fun modern romance, and Melanie Clegg writes historical romance and a wonderful blog about historical women, art and stuff.

Go forth and find new books to enjoy ;)

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