Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (16)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.  So here's a thing I'm looking forward to: Dragonwriter: A Tribute to Anne McCaffery and Pern, edited by Todd McCaffery (from Smart Pop, August 6, 2013).

Science fiction Grand Master Anne McCaffrey and her work, particularly her Dragonriders of Pern series, are beloved by generations of readers. She was one of the first science fiction writers to appear on the New York Times bestseller list, the first woman to win the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and an inductee to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Her death in November 2011 was met with an outpouring of grief and memories from those whose lives her stories had touched.

Edited by her son Todd, Dragonwriter collects McCaffrey’s friends, fans, and professional admirers to remember and pay tribute to the pioneering science fiction author, from the way her love of music and horses influenced her work to her redefinition of the SF genre.

I've been a fan of Anne McCaffrey for a long time, since I ran across the Harper Hall series in my local library when I was twelve or so. I haven't reread any of her work in a long time, mostly because I'm afraid that the Sexism Fairy will have visited while I wasn't looking, but that doesn't change how much I absolutely loved Pern when I was a teenager. I'll read this for the nostalgia value, if nothing else.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Out of the Black Land

by Kerry Greenwood.

Ptah-hotep is snatched from the school for scribes to become Great Royal Scribe to the co-regent Pharaoh Akhnamen, not because of any particular merit of his own but because it pleased the prince's whim. Then he has to learn very quickly how to survive the poisonous atmosphere of the royal court, which only grows more dangerous after the king renames himself Akhnaten and prohibits the worship of all other gods besides the Aten, the disc of the sun. The Lady Mutnodjme, half sister of the fabulously beautiful Nefertiti, asks so many questions as a child that she is sent to the Temple of Isis to become a scholar. She returns to a royal court where the name of her goddess must not be mentioned, and the Pharaoh is dangerously uninterested in anything other than his religious reforms.

Although this book says "A Mystery" on the front cover, it's really more of a straight historical novel about the Amarna period of ancient Egypt. Lots of political intrigue, but not much investigation, and though there is a rather shocking confession to murder, no one had been looking for a murderer. So I can recommend the book as a historical novel, but if you're looking for a mystery comparable to Lynda Robinson's wonderful Lord Meren series, this is not it.

If you do read it, by no means should you skip the author's afterword on the state of Egyptology. She rises to majestic levels of snark.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (15)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. So here's a thing I'm looking forward to: The White Princess, by Philippa Gregory, the latest in her Cousins' War series of historical novels, due out from Touchstone on July 23, 2013.

 When the King of York, Richard III, is murdered in battle at the hand of Henry Tudor, Henry claims the crown and demands Elizabeth wed him, knowing that it's the only way to weaken the claims of other surviving members of the House of York.
Elizabeth begrudgingly agrees. As impostors claiming to be the last York heir begin to come forward, Elizabeth's mother, the former White Queen Elizabeth of Woodville, concocts a plan for revenge.
 What only she knows is that her son Richard, in hiding since he was smuggled out of England during the usurpation of Richard III, is now a young man prepared to take his rightful place as king. Holding the interest of her clan close to her heart, Elizabeth Woodville supports an uprising against Henry, placing her daughter, now Queen to Henry's King, between two loyalties.

When Henry learns of their plan, he imprisons his mother-in-law and orders Richard to live with them at court as the Queen's brother, keeping him close while attempting to prove that he is merely another impostor. But when Richard attempts to escape from court, Henry locks him in the tower alongside a York supporter, and the two prisoners escape - only to be recaptured and sentenced to death.
 Elizabeth must respect her husband's order and witness her brother's execution, torn once again between family and crown...

For a while there the end of June and all of July was looking like a vast wasteland for books to look forward to, but I finally found one at the end of July! I've been a fan of Philippa Gregory since I first read The Other Boleyn Girl on an airplane years ago, and this series is my favorite of hers. I thought the last couple of installments kind of went over the same ground she'd already covered, so I'm glad to see that this one advances a little farther into the early Tudor period.

Coincidentally, Alison Weir has a biography of Elizabeth of York coming out this year, so I'll probably pick that up after I've read this novel.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. So here's a thing I'm looking forward to: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman (coming from William Morrow, June 18, 2013).

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. 

His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

I have a complicated relationship with Neil Gaiman's books; I have to be in the right mood. I picked up American Gods and put it down in bafflement; I picked it up again some years later and sank right into it. On the whole I like his novels better than his short stories, so this is definitely something I would be looking into even if I hadn't been warned months ago by one of the ladies in my book club that we will be reading this one for our July meeting.

Pictured are two covers in two countries. Yes, that's a girl on the cover for the US market, and a boy on the cover for the UK; according to Neil's blog, both are accurate.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. So here's a thing I'm looking forward to: Limits of Power, by Elizabeth Moon, fourth in the Paladin's Legacy series (from Del Rey, June 11, 2013).

The unthinkable has occurred in the kingdom of Lyonya. The queen of the Elves—known as the Lady—is dead, murdered by former elves twisted by dark powers. Now the Lady’s half-elven grandson must heal the mistrust between elf and human before their enemies strike again. Yet as he struggles to make ready for an attack, an even greater threat looms across the Eight Kingdoms.

Throughout the north, magic is reappearing after centuries of absence, emerging without warning in family after family—rich and poor alike. In some areas, the religious strictures against magery remain in place, and fanatical followers are stamping out magery by killing whoever displays the merest sign of it—even children. And as unrest spreads, one very determined traitor works to undo any effort at peace—no matter how many lives it costs. With the future hanging in the balance, it is only the dedication of a few resolute heroes who can turn the tides . . . if they can survive.

To be honest, it's been so long since I read the "Deed of Paksennarion" that I don't remember it very clearly. This sequel series is a lot of fun, though, with all kinds of cool politicking and intrigue, and threads that tie into the earlier books are explained well enough in context.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. So here's a thing I'm looking forward to: Steadfast, by Mercedes Lackey (coming from DAW Hardcover, June 4, 2013).

Fire takes flight when a magician's assistant meets a magician who uses real magic to control the air during his illusions. While Lionel Hawkins may be an Elemental Magician, his assistant, Katie Langford, is actually a still-growing Fire Magician. Katie must find a way to use her magic in time to stop the vicious husband who's looking to put her fire out for good. 

I've been a fan of Mercedes Lackey since I stumbled across her first novel in a library book sale when I was in college, and no, I won't mention how long ago that was. I like this particular series a lot, especially when I can't immediately tell which traditional fairy tale she's riffing on, and even though the cover kind of gives this one away (and even though I was a little disappointed in the last installment) I'll still pick this one up quite soon after it comes out.

For a while there I thought I might have to publish this entry with no book description; all I could find at Amazon or Fantastic Fiction was "more information about this upcoming title coming soon from Penguin Books." I finally ran across a snippet in a library wholesaler's catalog; thanks, Brodart!