Tuesday, May 01, 2012


I just got told that the piles of books lying around my room are actually contributing to my health problems, because of all the dust they collect. And to be fair, poor health (and burnout) is why I haven't been blogging anywhere near the amount I used to. So, in an effort to get rid of the piles and decrease the dust pollution, I am going to stop hoarding the books I have read and not blogged about from the past 3 or 4 years and instead make a series of blog posts on the subject with a very truncated "What they are about and if I liked them" here. I'll start with the ones from this year. In no Particular order...

Lenobia's Vow by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast- a bastard daughter flees the estate of a French Nobleman at the behest of her mother on the death of her half-sister from the plague, because her mother can no longer keep her safe from her half-siblings, her father's wife, and a lecherous clergyman who has his eyes on her. She pretends to be her sister, falls in with a lot of nuns on the ship who are going to the new world, but also finds the same lecherous clergyman on board, who is being censured for his sins by being sent to the New World "for penance". During the voyage, the future Lenobia falls in love with a half breed nobleman who shares her love for horses, but the clergyman soon finds out she is aboard, and he has powers over fire, while she is only a human. Will she and the boy-man she loves be able to be together? I loved this book, because while it's in the same sort of sad mold as Dragon's Vow, Lenobia is more humble and less of an ass than Dragon was, and thus, engaged my sympathy.

Jim Henson's The Storyteller by various retells several famous stories from myth and legend, with a framing device of a man telling stories to his dog. Each story has a separate artist or artist and writer, and in one case, the dog tells the story to the man. It's not a bad collection of stories, but this could have been told in any number of ways, and while I never watched the "Storyteller" series, it's actually enjoyable for those who like fairy tales. Recommended for early teens, some kids, and those who enjoy reading fairy tales.

The Sisters Grimm- A Very Grimm Guide by Michael Buckley is a Guide to the World of the Sisters Grimm stories, the town of Ferryport Landing and the history of the Grimm family and other similar tellers of Tales like Hans Christian Andersen, Washington Irving and Andrew Lang. Helpfully (not really) marrated by Puck, the Trickster King, it gives the history of the series, introduces the Grimms, their allied and enemies and a map of the town. Good for those who want to catch up on the series or see more pictures of the various characters, and what they look like. Cute and funny, but only really of interest to those really interested in the series.

The Bride Wore Black Leather by Simon R. Green. John Taylor, now about to be married to Suzie Shooter and also now the new face of the authorities, the people who run the Nightside, has one last adventure before he settles down into a life of happily married bliss and asskicking. The case involves a man who had a vision, during the sixties, of enlightenment for everyone, and went away to study with the enlightened ones. But now he's back and his years away haven't been kind to him. Does he still want the same things, or has his time away realigned his priorities? I enjoyed this book very much, and while I haven't been enjoying the Eddie Drood/Shaman Bond books quite so much, it was simply wonderful to return to the Nightside, even for one last gasp. The ending should have felt sad, but it was more triumphant, and it was a complete and fitting end to the series. Well done.

The Wolf Who Loved Me by Lydia Dare takes Madeline Hayburn, an heiress uninterested in men because they might really be out after her fortune instead, and has her accidentally witness the transformation into a wolf, Weston Hadley, the brother of her next door neighbor during a house party at her estate. Since only other werewolves and those related to the clan can know their secret, and he doesn't want to kill her, he's forced to carry her off to Gretna Green in Scotland and hope he can convince her to marry him along the way, as well as overcome her fear of him for turning into a wolf. They are pursued by her father, and she cares for him enough by the end of the trip that she agrees to marry him- but that isn't the end of their problems, either with their relationship or their families. I liked the idea of a urban fantasy-type romance in regency times, but was unimpressed with the execution, and didn't feel that they really had enough time to get to know one another by the end of the journey and their marriage. It gets a bit better towards the end, but the whole never made it out of "meh" territory for me.

The Doctor and the Kid by Mike Resnick is a wild west steampunk tale. Doc Holliday, at the end of his life, afflicted with consumption, finally has enough money to ensure a comfortable end in Leadville, Colorado, and the sanitarium there. But when he loses everything he has in a card game, he's forced to take on Billy the Kid for the Bounty. But Billy has been made invulnerable by an Indian Shaman, and Doc is going to need not only help from his own Indian Chief, Geronimo, and Thomas Alva Edison's inventions if he wants to take the Kid down. And even then, it isn't going to be easy. I read this feeling sorry for Doc Holliday. There is a real feeling of the time of the Wild West passing by, and the West itself is being tamed and even neutered. Billy the Kid is a cocky, snot-nosed smartass who genuinely looks up to Holliday while being a cold-blooded killer, and Doc feels bad about killing the Kid when Billy looks up to him. But it takes the Kid's killing of a minor character before Doc can bring himself to bring Billy down. An interesting take on steampunk, and one I'd like to see more of.

American Pickers Guide to Picking by Libby Callaway with Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and Danielle Colby tells the story of the two guys who star in the History Channel series "American Pickers"- how they got interested in picking and collecting, how they got started, and some of their greatest scores in Picking since they have been in the business. It's more about their excitement of the history of the things they buy and the people they buy from that drives the book, but it's also about making a profit from what they do buy or pick. If you like the series, you will definitely enjoy this book. Otherwise, it's about people getting excited by things many people would consider garbage. Cool, maybe, but garbage. I enjoy history and the series and I did like it.

Mastiff: Beka Cooper Book Three by Tamora Pierce. Beka Cooper is the ancestress of George Cooper, the man that Alanna marries in the first Tortall book series. In this last volume, the Provost himself seeks Beka's aid to find the missing Prince, kidnapped by people unknown. Beka, along with her cat, Pounce, her scenthound Achoo and her old partners, have to track the Prince and the kidnappers until he is found. Along with the help of a mage who looks more like a farmboy than a mage, Beka must deal with politics, rogue factions, magic and betrayal to find the kidnappers and the conspirators behind them. This was an unusual book, dense but incredibly good, and the betrayal at the ending really shocked me in a way that many books haven't. This is the last book starring Beka, but she is a well-loved character I'd like to see more of. Highly recommended.

How Firm a Foundation by David Weber- The church of God Awaiting, the main faith of Safehold, has been fighting the Charisian-Chisholm alliance and their allies for several books now. Realizing the futility of a war on water, and having brutally dealt with any dissent in their own ranks, the Church, and Zhaspar Clintahn are finally ready to unleash a real war on the Alliance, one that the Alliance may not be ready for, and which may wipe out several of its leaders in a rash of assassination. Can the Alliance deal with that, and the threat of lies and disinformation spread by the church and the nations under its control about the members of the Alliance? Or will Cayleb and his wife Sharlayan be able to ride out the wave and use the weaknesses of the Church to cut it apart from within? Wow, this book was huge, and took me a few days to read, but the stuff within it is all excellent and excellently written. It's starting to remind me a bit of some of the Early Stuff in the Honor Harrington series, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The main problem with this series is how it's mainly talky political stuff until there is a big battle at the end. This one mixed that up a bit, and was better for it.

Flight: My Life in Mission Control by Chris Kraft explores the life of the man who was Mission Control throughout the Space Race and into the Space Shuttle Era. Growing up in a less than rich family, he studied engineering and was so good at it that he ended up working on atmospheric planes, and when the first space flights were planned, he was put in charge of running them. Along the way, we meet the real astronauts, some good, some extremely good, and some very, very bad. From Gemini to Apollo and beyond, he was in charge, and describes each flight, including Apollo 13 and the horrible fire in the capsule that saw three astronauts dead before they even left the ground. Amazing stuff, and while it might seem like this book could be boring, nothing is further from the truth. Recommended.

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