snugglekitty: (bookbabe)
Title: Ash
Author: Malinda Lo
Series: There is a prequel out now (Huntress) but I don't know what the series is called collectively, if anything.
Genre: YA, fantasy, fairy tale retellings.
Setting: A kingdom where magic may be dying out.
Reason for Reading: This book was so critically acclaimed in YA circles that I couldn't NOT read it.
Finished In: Days.
Pages: 264
Copyright Date: 2009
Cover: Another beautiful cover. A girl in a petticoat and bodice lies curled up on the grassy earth, in lovely sepia tones. The word Ash covers her skirt in fuschia. Up top is the line "The fairy tale you remember."
First line: "Aisling's mother died at midsummer."
Themes: Cinderella, hunting, fey folk, abuse, royalty, dysfunctional stepfamilies.
Best part: I loved the small fairy tales inset into the larger text.
Worst part: In some ways the ending seemed too easy.
Imaginary Theme Song: "White Horse" by Taylor Swift is the obvious choice.
Grade: B+. A really wonderful book but I'm not sure it's a genre-changer.
Recommended for: Anyone interested in fairy tale retellings or LGBT young adult fiction.
Related Reads: Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner, Hero by Perry Moore, Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller.
snugglekitty: (dragon reading)
Title: Lt. Leary, Commanding
Author: David Drake
Series: Lt. Leary #2
Genre: Space opera, military sci fi
Setting: A galaxy far, far away...
Reason for Reading: In times of stress, space opera helps me cope.
Finished In: Days
Pages: 576
Copyright Date: 2001 (I can't believe these books were around for so long without me even hearing a whisper about them! It's tragic.)
Cover: A sallow woman in front of a computer, a man in a spacesuit.
First line: "Lieutenant Daniel Leary rolled his uncle's wheelchair to the end of the catwalk and paused, gazing back at the corvette Princess Cecile nestled in the center of the graving dock."
Best part: I enjoyed especially the further developments in Adele and Daniel's personal lives.
Worst part: I'll admit the transitions between on-planet and off-planet portions of the book were a little choppy.
Imaginary Theme Song: My creative juices aren't flowing. Sorry, I've got nothing.
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Space opera fans should really check out this series. I think it would even work to pick up with book two if that's how you roll.
Related Reads: The first book, With the Lightnings. Conflict of Honors by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. On Basilisk Station by David Weber.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: Crossover
Author: Joel Shepherd
Series: Cassandra Kresnov, #1
Genre: Space opera
Setting: The far future - a conflict between two interstallar empires.
Reason for Reading: [ profile] mrpet said it was good.
Finished In: Hours.
Pages: 457 nailbiters.
Copyright Date: 2009
Cover: A suited figure in midair exchanges gunfire with a small spacecraft. Everything is angular and monotone.
First line: "Sunlight lay across the bare floor of the hotel room, falling rich and golden upon the smooth white sheets of the single bed, and the exposed pale arm of its occupant."
Best part: Unputdownable action, yet still made time for some larger ethical questions.
Worst part: I wanted it to be twice as long. Is that so much to ask?
Imaginary Theme Song: "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Any fans of space opera and robots are going to need to check this out.
Related Reads: Carnival by Elizabeth Bear. Friday by Robert Heinlein. Also, the feeling of the new Battlestar Galactica series is definitely evoked.

Cassandra Kresnov is on planet Callay to settle down. She hopes to get a good job and live a quiet life. The interviews are going well and the capital city has lovely parks. But someone knows her secret - she began life as a robot. And the nightmarish plans they have for her will plunge her back into an intergalactic conflict that could determine the fate of the human race.

This book is a fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping ride. Check it out.
snugglekitty: (kiki flying)
Title: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Series: The Penderwicks #2
Genre: Children's stories.
Setting: The imaginary small town of Cameron, Masschusetts. Although no specific year is mentioned it seems to be before cell phones.
Keywords: Astrophysics, pizza, football, date, play, soccer, roof, sisters.
Reason for Reading: I wanted a pick-me-up and I enjoyed the first book.
Finished In: Days.
Pages: 308
Copyright Date: 2008
Cover: A woodcut illustration, similar to the one used for the first book. It shows three girls chasing a boy in a football uniform. Behind them is a dog pulling a wagon containing a fourth girl.
First line: "Their mother had been here in the hospital with the new baby for almost a week." (This is from the prologue.)
Best part: Really sweet.
Worst part: Over too quickly. She says on her website she is working on a third book, and five are planned all together - but what if she gets hit by a bus?
Imaginary Theme Song: "Goodnight My Someone" from The Music Man
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Children, and other fans of childrens' books.
Related Reads: The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay. The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright.

The further adventures of Martin, Rosalind, Jane, Skye, Batty, and Hound Penderwick is a delightful picture of childhood, while still being real and full of real uncertainties.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: The Storm Witch
Author: Violette Malan
Series: Dhulyn and Parno, #3
Genre: Classic fantasy.
Keywords: Mercenary Guild, weather magic, vision, king, Crayx, pipes.
Setting: Principally the Long Ocean, a mysterious sea in a distant land. The weapons are medieval.
Reason for Reading: I enjoyed the previous two books and wanted to see if Malan could move beyond their limitations. The answer? She could.
Finished In: Days.
Pages: 312
Copyright Date: 2009
Cover: The lead characters spar on the deck of a ship, Mercenary Guild tattoos visible. Dhulyn wears her famous grin, Parno's eyes are intent.
First line: "Parno Lionsmane pulled the hood of his cloak down over his forehead and hunched his shoulders against the rain."
Best part: The author moved past the basic plot formula she used in the past two books and did something original.
Worst part: We still haven't gotten the story of how Dhulyn and Parno found each other.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Sunglasses at Night." Although sunglasses are anachronistic for this book, the song has an edgy quality that matches the characters' mindsets for much of the book.
Grade: B+. I originally gave it a B- but it really renewed my interest in the series.
Recommended for: Any fans of fantasy with mercenaries in it would probably enjoy these books. And this would not be a bad place to start the series.
Related Reads: The Sleeping God by the same author. Saber and Shadow by SM Stirling and Shirley Meier. The Stealing Magic series by Tanya Huff.
snugglekitty: (door)
Title: The Grand Sophy
Author: Georgette Heyer
Genre: YA Victorian goodness.
Setting: Various parts of England.
Reason for Reading: December is my least favorite month, so I try to find a book that will make me smile and read a chapter every day.
Pages: 372
Copyright Date: 1950
Cover: A woman in an upsetting hat looks down at her dog. The pair stand in front of a tall green door. She has a basket of flowers in her hands.
First line: "The butler, recognizing her ladyship's only surviving brother at a glance, as he afterwards informed his less percipient subordinates, favoured Sir Horace with a low bow, and took it upon himself to say that my lady, although not at home to less nearly-connected persons, would be happy to see him."
Best part: Oh, the tangled, funny web we weave.
Worst part: Parts of the book struck me as racist.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Hello Dolly!" by Louis Armstrong
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Those who enjoy fictional romantic tangles with a lot of complications and silliness.
Related Reads: Cotillion by the same author. Romances under the pen name Amanda Quick are pleasingly similar, but with more explicit sex and violence.

Sophy's careless father has sent her to stay with her London cousins while he enjoys a trip to Brazil. He hopes his sister will find her a husband while he's gone. But all is not well at Berkeley Square. The father Lord Ombersley spends as much time away from home as possible. The eldest son Charles is bullying everyone in the house, and engaged to a bluestocking girl as well. The beautiful daughter Cecilia is in love with a poet. They haven't counted on Sophy, though - or her plan to set things right.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: Dies the Fire
Author: S. M. Stirling
Series: Emberverse #1, spin-off from the Nantucket series
Genre: Apocalyptic fiction
Reason for Reading: [ profile] mrpet read and liked it, and the cover appealed to me.
Pages: 573
Copyright Date: 2004
Cover: A man is walking down a road carrying a sword. There are two horses on the road behind him, along with an abandoned bicycle and rubber tire. A city is burning in the background, but he doesn't look. The tagline at the top reads, "What happens when the lights go out...for good?.
First line: "Michael Havel pulled his battered four-by-four into the employees' parking lot, locked up and swung his just-in-case gear out of the back, the strap of the pack over one shoulder and the gun case on the other."
Best part: I was pleasantly surprised that a whole group of surviving protagonists in this book is neopagan. It gave things an interesting flavor and a new perspective.
Worst part: Though it's clear he did a lot of research, I'm not sure Mr. Stirling has actually spent all that much time around pagans. A whole coven and nobody's gay? The midwife and the Wiccan herbalist can't suggest any contraceptive alternatives to the rapidly diminishing supply of condoms and birth control pills? I find both of those rather improbable.
Imaginary Theme Song: "We're Gonna Make It" by BB King and Irma Thomas
Grade: B
Recommended for: Anyone interested in a different take on apocalypi. Pagans who feel underrepresented in sci fi.
Related Reads: Psalm of Herod by Esther Friesner. Crystal Dragon and Crystal Soldier by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. The Giver by Lois Lowry. Here be Dragons by John Ringo (more on that one in a moment).

Where will you be when the world loses power? Electricity has faltered. Gasoline is no longer explosive. Guns don't work anymore. Everything that we have taken for granted for the past hundred years is no longer true. Our modes of transportation and communication are out of commission, and most of us can't even grow our own food. What's next?
This book follows two protagonists as they build groups of followers that will help them survive the ongoing crisis. One, Mike Havel, is just who you'd expect in a book like this - ex-Military guy who knows how to survive in the wilderness and is an all-around badass. The other, Juniper McKenzie, single mom, witch, and folk singer, is what made the book really fascinating for me.

So, above I mentioned Here Be Dragons. That book was similar in some ways - re-enacting sorts become very important, their archaic skills are what help people survive. However, HBD had a lot of creepy gender role stuff, not to mention moralizing about what the author thinks it takes to survive.

I think this is a really good example of the genre. Grade of B.

ETA: This book inspired me to start thinking about emergency preparedness, so I am changing the grade to B+.
snugglekitty: (reading bench)
Title: The Fox
Author: Sherwood Smith
Series: Inda #2 (Court Duel prequel series)
Genre: Epic fantasy, pirates!
Reason for Reading: The first one had a cliffhanger ending. I couldn't wait long.
Pages: 772
Copyright Date: 2007
Cover: A swashbuckling young man holds a long curved sword perilously close to the rigging he leans on for balance. Black sails and a blue sky are behind him.
First line: "In Sartorias-deles' long history, only once have we seen pirates enjoy the protection of the strongest naval power in the world."
Best part: Girl pirates! Gay pirates! That's pretty much always going to be an easy sell for me.
Worst part: It was hard to have two plotlines separated by lots and lots of miles, with no direct contact between the characters of one and the characters of the other.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Eye of the Tiger"
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Epic fantasy fans. Anyone who loved Pirates of the Caribbean. Warning: you should read Inda first or this book is going to be very confusing.
Related Reads: Inda, first book in the series. Land of Mist and Snow by Debra Doyle and James MacDonald, another pirate book with magic, set in the civil war. The Element of Fire by Martha Wells, another complex and funny epic fantasy.

This book is too complicated for a plot summary, and I don't want to give away the events of the first volume - but you will never lose track of what's going on. Rather a testament to the author's skill, wouldn't you agree?

Let me make it clear that I liked the first book in this series. Really, I did. But this blew it out of the water, pun intended. It would have been worth it to read the first book if it was a piece of trash, which it wasn't at all, just so you could get to this one. The complexity - the wit - the emotional moments. Characters at their best and worst moments. In this book, everyone gets a chance to shine. If you like fantasy and ESPECIALLY if you like pirates, this book is well worth a look. A strong B+, and I'm looking forward to the sequels.
snugglekitty: (reading in bed)
Title: Maisie Dobbs
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Series: Maisie Dobbs #1
Genre: Historical mystery
Picked it up because: I find the time period between the world wars interesting.
Pages: 294, plus an interview with the author and a reader's guide at the back.
Copyright Date: 2003
Cover: A woman in a smart suit and a hat, carrying an umbrella, watches a couple embracing.
First line: "Even if she hadn't been the last person to walk through the turnstile at Warren Street tube station, Jack Barker would have noticed the tall, slender woman in the navy blue, thigh-length jacket with a matching pleated skirt short enough to reveal a well-turned ankle."
Best part: This is like the best parts of Night Watch mixed with the best parts of An Unsuitable Job for a Woman.
Worst part: I became very impatient to know more about Maisie's past before it was revealed, and then I wanted to know what was going on with the present while we were still in the past - the chunks of past and present were, in my opinion, too large.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Hungry Heart" by Bruce Springsteen
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Fans of WWI fiction, fans of historical mystery writers like Elizabeth Peters.
Related Reads: This book was compared to #1 Ladies' Detective Agency on the cover, though it is more series. But that's a good book too. I already mentioned Night Watch by Sarah Waters and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by PD James so I guess I'll leave it with three.

Maisie Dobbs is unique. She began life as a costermonger's daughter, worked as a maid and then a nurse. Now she is a private investigator with a degree in ethics. She doesn't search only for the truth, but also for healing for the people that she meets in her work. Will she ever find healing of her own?

This book is really absorbing and different. Mystery fans, especially those who enjoy cozies, shouldn't miss it.
snugglekitty: (lionness photo)
Title: Santa Olivia
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Genre: Thriller, contemporary.
Pages: 341
Copyright Date: 2009
Cover: A woman with long black hair stands in shadow. She is wearing a very, very sexy blue coat. There is mist behind her.
First line: "They said that the statue of Our Lady of the Sorrows wept tears of blood the day the sickness came to Santa Olivia."
Best part: A short book by Jacqueline Carey? Stand alone? I love it!
Worst part: It's a lot harder to keep a secret in an isolated small town than is presented here.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Fans of Carey, fans of girls kicking butt.
Related Reads: Maximum Ride by James Patterson, Fearless by Francine Pascal, though this is better than either.

Things have changed in Santa Olivia. Since the plague came, the town has been occupied by soldiers and the rules get stricter all the time. There's only one way to leave - to win the boxing tournaments that feature matches between townspeople and soldiers. No one has ever done it. Loup Garron is the child of a soldier and a woman from town. Her fearlessness, strength, and fast reflexes could change everything for the people of Santa Olivia. But what will happen when her secret becomes common knowledge?

This riveting book by the author of the popular Kushiel series shows what Carey can do when she writes a short book set in modern times. The main character is still an adolescent at the end, putting it on the edge of being young adult, though some sex and violence are part of the story. Deeply satisfying, worth every minute you will stay up late to finish it, and I hope she writes a sequel.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: The Thin Man
Author: Dashiel Hammet
Series: Nick and Nora Charles, #1
Genre: Classic mystery
Pages: 201
Copyright Date: 1933
Cover: Above, a man wearing gloves and holding a cane lights a cigarette. Below, an elegant woman reclines on a pillow behind a liquor bottle and a cocktail shaker.
First line: "I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fifty-second Street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me."
Best part: None of the things that annoyed me about the movie were in the book. Yay!
Worst part: Too short.
Imaginary Theme Song: "She's a Lady" by Tom Jones
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Fans of manners comedy and mystery mixed together.
Related Reads: Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers. Other books I haven't read yet.

Nick and Nora Charles are taking a vacation from their usual San Francisco home to spend time in Nick's old city. (I'm not sure we know what city it actually is.) Then a young woman approaches Nick. He's been out of the private detective business for years, but she doesn't know that. She wants help in finding her father. Nick isn't sure he wants to get back into the game - it might cut into his cocktail time - but Fate has other plans.

This book is considered a classic with good reason. I really enjoyed it. The things I find most annoying about the book - women getting patronized to, everyone who is a criminal has a disfigurement of some kind - didn't show up in the book. Rather than telling Nora not to worry her pretty little head, people compliment Nick all the time on what a smart wife he has. I highly recommend it for those who would like to know more about the origins of mystery but would rather not read really sexist books. It's smart and funny, just like its heroine.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: Julie and Romeo
Author: Jeanne Ray
Series: Julie and Romeo #1
Genre: Romantic literature, pastiche
Pages: 241
Copyright Date: 2003
Cover: The storefront of a flower shop with "Julie and Romeo" in gold letters. Gorgeous cover, actually.
First line: "The first time I heard the name Cacciamani I was five years old."
Best part: Laugh-out-loud-on-the-bus funny.
Worst part: The characters are pretty harsh to each other in places.
Imagined Theme Song: Jesse McCartney, Beautiful Soul.
Grade: B+
Recommended for: [ profile] supercheesegirl, and anyone who likes flowers, retellings, or love.
Related Reads: My Husband's Sweethearts, The Godmother by Elizabeth Scarborough.

The Rosemans and the Cacciamanis have an intense family feud. They own rival flower shops in the town of Somerville, MA. Thirty years ago, the families forcibly separated two teenage members who claimed to be in love. But now, Julie Roseman and Romeo Cacciamani have been brought together by a seminar for struggling small business owners. Can the aging divorcee and widower resist the attraction between them? Why do these families hate each other so much anyway?

This book will make you laugh and tug at your heartstrings too. Love, and family, both make us do the wacky. This would be a great summer read for the plane or beach.
snugglekitty: (book magic)
Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author: Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrow
Genre: Historical fiction, epistolary
Pages: 278
Copyright Date: 2008
Cover: A woman stands looking out over the ocean. We see only her profile, from the back. She is leaning on a railing, and an old-fashioned lamp is next to her.
First line: "Dear Sidney, Susan Scott is a wonder."
Best part: Incredibly sweet.
Worst part: It should have been twice as long. There should be a sequel. No, now I'm just being greedy - it was perfect, I just wish there was MORE!
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Fans of the letter style of novels. Fans of the period after WW2.
Related Reads: The Night Watch by Sarah Waters, Sorcery and Cecilia by Patricia Wreded and Caroline Stevermer.

Synchronicity puts the book of one person - Juliet, a successful London writer - into the hands of another - Dawsey, a man-of-all-work living on the isolated Channel Island of Guernsey. Through their letters we come to know them, and their friends and associates. Juliet begins to believe that the seeds of a new book might be found on Guernsey Island - but what else might she find there? Will reality live up to the letters?

This book is just delicious. So wonderful. If you enjoy somewhat literary fiction, you should pick it up immediately, if not sooner. Run, do not walk to your local bookstore.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park
Author: Steven Kluger
Genre: YA, GLBT, fiction
Pages: 416
Copyright Date: 2008
Cover: A baseball bat serves as the stem of a blue umbrella. There are pink sparkles all around it.
First line: "[Note to Ms. LaFontaine: I didn't mean to give you a hard time about the title of this assignment, but "My Totally Excellent Year" would have been like so 1995, we'd have been laughed out of Brookline if anybody found out."
Why it was in my hand: One of the many awesome things about my relationship with [ profile] trouble4hire? We recommend and lend books to each other all the time. She really liked this one and I did too.
Best part: So, so sweet.
Worst part: The main characters are all ethnically diverse, well-off teenagers living in Brookline - and none of them are Jewish? For real? Nothing Jewish is even mentioned, which strikes me as weird if you know that part of town.
Grade: B+
Recommended for:
Related Reads: Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger, Hero by Perry Moore. This book really reminded me of one other book, but I haven't been able to think of it yet. I'll get there.

Augie and TC have been friends since childhood. At the age of eight they declared themselves brothers. Now in the ninth grade, another joins their circle - Ale, the ambassador's daughter. This book, in the form of journals, emails, and letters, is a happy mayhem of putting on shows, getting together and breaking up, baseball history, missing relatives, finding new relatives, grassroots activism, coming out in more ways than one, finding love, and finding yourself.

Highly recommended.
snugglekitty: (psychedelic library)
Title: The Gate of Gods
Author: Martha Wells
Series: Fall of Ile-Rien, Book Three
Genre: Steampunk fantasy
Pages: 409
Copyright Date: 2005
Cover: Two figures overlook a waterfall. Below the waterfall are broken statues.
Best part: I can't choose just one... okay, the plot was an amazing culmnination of the previous two books.
Worst part: It ended. Seriously, for me, that was the worst part.
Grade: B+.
Recommended for: This series would be great for anyone who likes steampunk fantasy, but you should start with the beginning, The Wizard-Hunters.
Related Reads: The Wizard-Hunters and Death of a Necromancer by the same author. Heart of Light by Sarah A. Hoyt.

Tremaine and her friends are still trying to stop the Gardier. They have new allies, but new enemies and challenges too. Could a mysterious circle hold the key to victory?

This book was everything I wanted it to be. It was awesome. It would be worth reading the first two books, even if you didn't like them, just so you could read this book. Srsly. B+.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club

(Wait, you want more than that?
Okay, fine.)

Author: Virginia Ironsides
Genre: Fiction, fake diary
Pages: 231
Copyright Date: 2008
Cover: A cheerful yellow with a bold, fun font. In the corner, you see feet on a bed, with a cat between them. The end table holds a mostly-empty glass of wine and a pair of glasses.
First line: "Okay. This is it. About fifty years too late, but better late than never."
Best part: Really, really funny.
Worst part: Sometimes the diary format feels a little forced.
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Anyone who is sixty, older, or afraid of being sixty.
Related Reads: A Round-Heeled Woman by Jane Juska, Miss Melville Regrets by Evelyn Smith. (I wish I knew more books about feisty older women. Maybe you know some?)

Marie is delighted to turn sixty. Finally, she thinks, it's too late to learn a new language, go bungee jumping, or try to find a man! Hurrah! She just wants to enjoy a quiet life - time with her cat, drinking wine in front of the TV, sharing gossip with friends. But life has a few surprises left in store for her.

This book is funny and engaging. I think that when I am older, I will be a woman like Marie. I loved it.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: Get Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdo
Author: Bucky Sinister
Genre: Self-help, recovery
Topical Arc: Models of recovery
Pages: 169
Copyright Date: 2008
First Line: "This is a recovery book written by a guy who never thought he'd read one all the way through."
Best part: It's easy to read, hard to put down.
Worst part: No alternatives to the twelve steps are mentioned.
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Anyone that is uncomfortable with "one size fits all" approaches to recovery and needs some new ideas.
Related Reads: Dharma Punx by Noah Levine, Sober for Good by Ann Fletcher.

"My advice to you is simple: Get up. You're not going to get any better lying there like that. I know, it hurts, but you have to get up and walk it off. Get up. No one is going to help you. Get up. You have a whole life to live." p 40

If you have a problem with alcohol or another substance, but think AA might be a cult, and definitely is not for people who are cool, hip, or edgy, this is the book for you. Sinister speaks as one who has been there. He is funny, blunt, and to-the-point. He talks about his own experiences and the experiences of people he knows, and he also has a lot of good advice. Figure out what you want from life. Find your inner A-Team. Find a support community.

My only real problem with this book as a book is that Sinister does not even mention recovery alternatives to AA, like Rational Recovery and Women for Sobriety. He talks about AA and he says that it is very difficult, maybe even impossible to stay sober on your own. I agree with this, but the thing about AA that I find the most frustrating is that it pretends to be the only game in town when it's not.

Still, if you have a hard-living playboy of a friend who is too cool to get sober, this is the book to give them, and it provides an entertaining perspective on a different way to view recovery. B+.
snugglekitty: (PFP)
Title: Tempting Fate
Author: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Genre: Historical fiction with vampires.
Series: Saint-Germain (#5 in order of publication, #25 chronologically!)
Pages: 690
Copyright Date: 1982
Cover: An elegantly dressed couple stands before a curving staircase, wearing furs. He has a hair helmet. She has a hairstyle which is just as dated but more difficult to describe. There is a castle in the background.
First Line: "Text of a letter from the American journalist James Emmerson Tree, to his cousin Audrey in Denver."
Best part: I couldn't put it down.
Worst part: I couldn't stay with it for too long without getting sad. What a bleak time in human history!
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Fans of vampire fiction looking for something a little different. Anyone interested in German history between the World Wars.

He has had many names, many titles, many homes. The noble vampire Saint Germain travels the world searching for love and safety. He rewards those around him with riches, protection, and understanding. But to be immortal in a mortal world is to live always with tragedy and danger.
In this installment in the award-winning series, Saint-Germain escapes from a Russian prison and returns to the schloss in Germany he left behind years ago. On the way, he finds a traumatized young girl with no memory of her origins, and makes her his ward. He makes friends - the rowdy Schnaubel family, whose religion puts them at risk, the gently-born Gudrun Ostneige, married to a disabled war veteran, and the Russian duchess Irina Andreivna, mourning the loss of her family. But Weimar Germany is in a time of great change and volatility. Can anyone survive the coming conflagration?

A word to those who have not read Yarbro before - this is not your typical vampire story. Yarbro excels in realistic historical fiction that just happens to have a vampire in it. Most of the biting happens off the page, or is only alluded to briefly. There's some action and sex, but the plot is driven by people and history. Extensive correspondence related to the plot is included in her novels, and the many references to history and art in these works are not spoon-fed to the reader. The books are slow, intellectual, but very satisfying.

This book is beautiful, delicious, wonderfully written. When you come to page 690, and feel sad rather than relieved or accomplished, then you have found an author who truly excels in writing long works. I wanted the story to continue. I loved the characters. I almost want to start reading it again right now. I wish there was a sequel. My B+ is gladly given.
Up until now, Hotel Transylvania, set in France in the 1700's, has been my favorite Saint-Germain, but Tempting Fate gives it a run for its money - I will have to reread HT to be certain about which one I like more.
snugglekitty: (Default)
Title: The Wizard Hunters: Book One of The Fall of Ile-Rien
Author: Martha Wells
Genre: Fantasy, alternate history
Pages: 392
Copyright Date: 2003
Cover: A girl wearing a truly outlandish outfit in the foreground - bright purple tunic with bright yellow trim and maroon leggings with turquoise diamonds on them. She is holding a metallic sphere, looking at it with an air of expectation. Behind her is a purple dirigible flying over a lit city.
First Line: "It was nine o'clock at night and Tremaine was trying to find a way to kill herself that would bring in a verdict of natural causes in court when someone banged on the door."
Best part: Well's effortless wit.
Worst part: Some of what is left unexplained is rather maddening.
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Fans of fantasy, and especially those who have read Death of the Necromancer.

I have long been a fan of Martha Wells. I read Death of the Necromancer for the first time when I was in college. My favorite work of hers to date is The Element of Fire. Her books tend to be fantastical, with comedy-of-manners elements.
I saved this book for a while. I had loved the previous two in the Ile-Rien series, which I mentioned above, so I waited to read the third.

Ile-Rien is an island, a center of arts, learning, and magic. But maybe not for much longer. Strangers in airships are attacking the city. Their assaults have come and gone for years. They are untraceable, unwilling to negotiate, and seemingly invincible. But not everyone has given up. The sorceror Gerard has enlisted the help of the depressed Tremaine, heir to a fortune of secrets. And in another world, two young men are fighting the strangers in their own way. Can they join forces before it's too late?

This book is set in an alternate WWII England, at least of a sort. There are lots of blackout curtains and an Aid Society. It's an engaging read, neither too light nor too dark. If you enjoy fantasy, you should seriously consider this series. B+.


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August 2011

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