Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (29)

"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 very much looking forward to: Royal Airs, by Sharon Shinn (November 5, 2013, from Ace).

Josetta is a princess of one of the Five Families. But she is far from the throne, so she is free to spend her days working in the poorest sections of the city.

Rafe Adova, an outcast since he was born, lives the life of a career gambler in those slums. He has no ambition other than cheating at the card tables—until the night he decides to help a girl named Corene, who looks like she's stumbled into the wrong bar.

She, too, is a princess—sister to Josetta, who finds her with Rafe. He fascinates her. Josetta has never encountered anyone like him—someone seemingly devoid of elemental blessings.

He is drawn to her, though he thinks they are unlikely to ever meet again—but their connection grows strong when she nurses him back to health after he is assaulted by foreign mercenaries. And when they learn the reason he's being hunted, they know that the truth about his history could endanger not only their love but also their very lives…

I grinned like a fool when I saw this book on Fantastic Fiction.  I really loved the first one, Troubled Waters. And Sharon Shinn tends to write the kind of series that I like best: the kind where every volume presents its own standalone story, and there are no cliffhangers to speak of. I'm very much looking forward to finding out more about this setting.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (28)

"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 find I'm looking forward to: Sense and Sensibility, by Joanna Trollope (October 29, 2013, from HarperCollins).

John Dashwood promised his dying father that he would take care of his half sisters. But his wife, Fanny, has no desire to share their newly inherited estate. When she descends upon Norland Park, the three Dashwood girls—Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret—are faced with the realities of a cold world and the cruelties of life without their father, their home, or their money.

Reimagining Sense and Sensibility in a fresh, modern new light, Joanna Trollope spins the novel’s romance, bonnets, and betrothals into a wonderfully witty coming-of-age story about the stuff that really makes the world go around. For when it comes to money, some things never change.... 
Not exactly the author's name you expected to see paired with that title, is it? I hadn't heard of this project until I ran across this book in the "Coming Soon" section of Fantastic Fiction, and I was immediately intrigued. I've never read anything by Joanna Trollope before, but I'm a big fan of Jane Austen, and I agree that her work is broadly applicable to this day. 

I'll also be quite interested to see what Val McDermid makes of Northanger Abbey, the next title up for reimagining.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (27)

"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: A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-fiction, by Terry Pratchett (October 22, 2013, from Doubleday).

A collection of essays and other non fiction from Terry Pratchett, spanning the whole of his writing career from his early years to the present day.

Sir Pterry won't be with us much longer, one way or another, and that makes me sad (though I did read an interview with him not too long ago where he remarked that his Alzheimer's isn't as bad as either he or his doctors expected it to be by this point, so maybe we've got a little bit longer; I live in hope). I've read a previous essay collection of his, Once More* with Footnotes, and while it wasn't as consistently hilarious as the best of his novels it was still pretty entertaining.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A to Z Bookish Survey

I saw this at The Ladybug Reads (who got it from Respiring Thoughts) and thought, Hey, I haven't done one of these surveys in a really long time.

Author you've read the most books from:
I don't really keep track, but I know for sure I've read 20 books by Jim Butcher, 27 by Tamora Pierce, 50 or so by Anne McCaffrey, and 77 (!) by Mercedes Lackey (counting those where she was a co-author, including one with Anne McCaffrey).

Best sequel ever:
The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. LeGuin. We won't talk about some of the later books in that series.

Currently reading:
The White Princess, by Philippa Gregory. I have to finish that one by the 23rd; there are people waiting for it at the library so I won't be able to renew it.

Drink of choice while reading:
Ice water, usually. Occasionally iced tea or iced coffee (black).

E-reader or physical book?
I was having this very discussion with some coworkers the other day. They both agreed that now they hate holding a physical book, and will go with the Kindle version if there is one available. I've had a Nook for a year and a half, but I haven't gotten to that point; I find it more annoying to swipe a screen than to turn pages, and still prefer a physical book if I can get my hands on one.

That said, it's really about the story for me rather than the format, and if the ebook is what's available I'll cheerfully charge up the Nook.

Fictional character you would probably have dated in high school:
I didn't date in high school, purely through lack of interest, so I don't think I'd've dated anybody I read about in books. Besides, the fictional characters I imprinted on were much older men who were far too sophisticated to be interested in an awkward, socially inept teenager, and in any case they would have been arrested for going out with me when I was underage. (I did have a huge crush on Lord Peter Wimsey when I was in high school.)

Glad you gave this book a chance:
World War Z, by Max Brooks. I hate zombie stories, but I loved, loved, loved this book. I proselytize about it all the time at the library where I work; these days my pitch for it usually includes the phrase "it's really not much like the movie."

Hidden gem book: 
King Hereafter, by Dorothy Dunnett. It will change the way you think about Macbeth.

Important moment in your reading life:
The moment I decided that life is too short to read boring books, and that I am in no way obligated to finish a novel just because I started it.
Just finished:
The Sandman: Worlds' End, by Neil Gaiman. I read that whole series a long, long time ago, and have recently embarked on a reread.
Kinds of books you won't read:
Boring ones. Not a big fan of horror (though I've read some Stephen King) or westerns (though I've read a good bit of Louis L'Amour).
Longest book you've read:
Battlefield Earth, by L. Ron Hubbard. Or maybe it just felt like the longest.
Major book hangover:
Coming out of The Lord of the Rings is always difficult. Every damn time.
Number of books you own:
I have about 400 catalogued at LibraryThing, but I know there's more than that in the house.

One book you have read multiple times:
I like to reread favorite books, though I don't do that as much as I used to. I've read The Lord of the Rings about fifteen times.
Preferred place to read:
On the sofa. I'll also make do with the bed, the armchair, the kitchen table, the hammock chair in the back yard, a cushion on the floor, the break room at work, the bench under a tree outside the library, the bus, the passenger seat of a car, the gate area of an airline terminal, the deck of the vacation cabin, or, you know, anywhere really. Not while I'm driving, though.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels:
"Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he chooses to think and talk about other topics than jailers and prison walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it."  J.R.R. Tolkien on escapism, and the best possible answer to anybody who sneers at you for reading what they consider trashy books.

Reading regret:
That it took me three volumes to give up on The Wheel of Time series, instead of just the one. 

Series you started and need to finish:
I just take a deep breath and repeat to myself, "George R. R. Martin is not my bitch."
Three of your all-time favorite books:
The Hundred and One Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith. The Virgin in the Ice, by Ellis Peters. Small Favor, by Jim Butcher. 

Unapologetic fangirl for:
Doctor Who tie-in novels. Just about to get started on Harvest of Time, by Alastair Reynolds, a third Doctor story.
Very excited for this release:
The next thing by Sharon Shinn, whatever that is. Her books all have that quality of IWantToReadItosity for me.
X marks the spot: 27th book on your shelf: 
When We Were Very Young, by A.A. Milne. At least, that's the one on the top shelf of the bookcase that's nearest at hand.

Your latest book purchased:
An almanac, I think.
Zzz-snatcher book: 
I'm getting too old for that. Guy Gavriel Kay used to get me every time, though.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Elysian Fields

by Suzanne Johnson (third in her Sentinels of New Orleans series).

DJ Jaco, Green Congress wizard and Sentinel of New Orleans, has a lot on her plate. A series of murders apparently copying the crimes of the 1918 serial killer known as the Axeman turns out to be the work of the actual Axeman, back from the Beyond, and DJ hears from her other contacts among the historical undead that an unknown necromancer may be aiming the Axeman at her. Meanwhile, her friend Jake Warin's loup-garou curse, acquired when he got mixed up in Sentinel business two books ago, is spiraling out of control, to the point that he may become a danger to DJ herself. DJ's best friend's boyfriend is paying far too much attention to DJ, and getting creepier about it by the day. The Council of Elders is insisting DJ take some lessons in elven magic, and their chosen elven expert is her least favorite wizard on the Council. And to top it off, Jean Lafitte has discovered Coca-Cola, and is probably already making plans to smuggle it into the Beyond.

Suzanne Johnson's Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series is a lot of fun, especially for those of us who are a little familiar with NOLA. In this third volume, DJ's life gets a lot more complicated, partly due to circumstances beyond her control; political machinations within and between the various components of the preternatural community play a large role there, and the involvement of the Elven Synod and the Regent of the local vampires does not help make everything crystal clear.

But DJ's own actions also contribute to the mess she finds herself in by the end of the novel; her tendency to jump forward and make major decisions affecting others besides herself, with less than complete information, introduces a good deal of tension into her personal relationships, and the repercussions are going to need at least another book to play out.

The glimpses of elven society and the vampire hierarchy are both pretty interesting (even though I'm not a big fan of vampires generally), especially in the light they shed on the backstage jockeying for power on the coalescing Interspecies Council. I was also really entertained by the scenes set at the abandoned Six Flags (if only because I personally know someone who snuck in there to take a series of Slender Man photos); and I've never liked the undead Jean Lafitte (normally too smarmy for me) more than at his first taste of Coke!

I recommend this series all the time to people at the library where I work. Newcomers to the series would be well advised to start with the first book, Royal Street. But there are only three so far and they move pretty fast, so it shouldn't take long to catch up.

Elysian Fields will be released on August 13, 2013. Thanks to Tor Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (26)

"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 foward to: The Men Who United the States, by Simon Winchester (October 15, 2013, from Harper).

How did America become "one nation, indivisible"? What unified a growing number of disparate states into the modern country we recognize today? To answer these questions, Winchester follows in the footsteps of America's most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators, such as Lewis and Clark and the leaders of the Great Surveys; the builders of the first transcontinental telegraph and the powerful civil engineer behind the Interstate Highway System. He treks vast swaths of territory, from Pittsburgh to Portland, Rochester to San Francisco, Seattle to Anchorage, introducing the fascinating people who played a pivotal role in creating today's United States.

Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree.


I don't remember seeing a rule that I can't be eagerly anticipating a work of nonfiction. I'm a big fan of Simon Winchester; I just read his book The Man Who Loved China a few weeks ago, and enjoyed it very much even though it was about a person I'd never heard of before and a subject that I previously had only marginal interest in. So I'll definitely pick this one up.