Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nebula Award Ballot

The 100th post in this blog.

If you're curious to find out who is in the running for the 2008 Nebula Award, the ballot has been made available at on their blog.

It's an interesting list, and there's definitely some good books on it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Black Powder War - Naomi Novik

Black Powder War
Naomi Novik
Ballantine Books
Copyright: 2006

From the back of the book:

After their fateful adventure in China, Capt. Will Laurence of His Majesty’s Aerial Corps and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, are waylaid by a mysterious envoy bearing urgent new orders from Britain. Three valuable dragon eggs have been purchased from the Ottoman Empire, and Laurence and Temeraire must detour to Istanbul to escort the precious cargo back to England. Time is of the essence if the eggs are to be borne home before hatching.

Yet disaster threatens the mission at every turn–thanks to the diabolical machinations of the Chinese dragon Lien, who blames Temeraire for her master’s death and vows to ally herself with Napoleon and take vengeance. Then, faced with shattering betrayal in an unexpected place, Laurence, Temeraire, and their squad must launch a daring offensive. But what chance do they have against the massed forces of Bonaparte’s implacable army?

Black Powder War is definitely a good sequel to Throne Of Jade, but this has become a series where you need to have read the previous books, starting with His Majesty's Dragon, in order to get all of the details, as this book starts almost immediately after the previous book ended.

With this third book in the Temeraire series, we return from China to the Napoleonic war in Europe. Along the way of the return, as this is mostly a traveling book, there are some fascinating descriptions of landscapes and cultures, along with some very ambiguous characters, such as the guide, Tharkay. Actually, I found his background, for all there are no details given, to be fascinating. Of course, I am rather partial to books set in Imperial India, such as The Far Pavilions and Shadows of the Moon, so that would catch my attention.

Naomi Novik has proven herself adept at writing scenes of desolation and abandonment. I could almost hear the wind whistling as I was reading this book, or feel the cold and thirst.

On the other hand, this was the most depressing of the Temeraire series so far. New enemies, betrayals, you name it. Nothing seemed to go right for the characters at all until almost the end of the book, and even then, it really is a matter of degree.

Temeraire himself is still fascinating, curious about everything around him, intelligent, determined (sometimes to the detriment and frustration of Will Laurence, which can be amusing as he tries to distract the dragon with little success).

Feral dragons have been mentioned time and again in the earlier books, but little is said about them. Now, in Black Powder War, we finally get to see a bit of what they are like, which is likely to have implications far beyond the ending of this book. At the same time, we learn more about dragons minds and emotions.

Unlike the first two books, the ending of Black Powder War doesn't really end the story as there are still a number of unresolved points, and the war is still going on. Both His Majesty's Dragon and Throne Of Jade, although they were part of series, had the feeling of an ending when I turned the last page. This one didn't, and the ending snippet only heightened that feeling. Instead of an excerpt from a book on dragons, this book ended with a letter from an English priest, which I suspect might have implications for the events (and Temeraire's hopes and plans) in the next book.

Overall, I really liked the book, and if you're a fantasy fan or simply like stories with dragons I have to recommend this series.

So far, the books in the series are:
His Majesty's Dragon
Throne Of Jade
Black Powder War
Empire Of Ivory
Victory Of Eagles

Other reviews of this book:
Strategist's Personal Library: Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
Cerebrate Contemplations: Throne Of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire Of Ivory

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Throne Of Jade - Naomi Novik

Throne Of Jade
Naomi Novik
Ballantine Books
Copyright: 2006

From the back of the book:

When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo - an unhatched Dragon's Eg - Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain's Aerial Corps, man and drgon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte's invading forces.

Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands - and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East - a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.

As with the last book in the series, His Majesty's Dragon, I found that I couldn't put this book down. I started it in the evening, and had the book half finished before bed, finishing the book yesterday afternoon.

Temeraire and the Chinese dragons in this book remind me of the two dragons in Mercedes Lackey's book One Good Knight from the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. Temeraire has, through the course of the book, learned to read and write, although in Chinese. However, I expect he's also either learned, or is going to learn, to do the same in English.

Will Laurence's attitudes certainly have changed throughout the previous book, too. Clearly it's not just duty that holds him to Temeraire by now, but also affection. Still, his honor and attention to duty continues to get him into situations, just as it did in the first book. He wouldn't be as interesting a character without it though.

The differences in attitudes towards dragons in the British and other western countries and in China is one of the main focuses of the book, and it clearly sets up one of the threads of the plot for the books that come after. It should be interesting to see how Temeraire reacts on his return to Britain (not a spoiler, I should hope, given that there are three more books already out after this one), having been exposed to the differences.

Throne of Jade isn't strictly an adventure/war story the way His Majesty's Dragon is, there is also somewhat of a mystery going on, which adds to the tension, and the complexity of the plot. Not to mention the politics and maneuverings of the various characters. Capt. Laurence's attitudes to politicians seem to be well justified given some of the other characters in Throne of Jade.

As with the previous book, at the end of this one, there is an excerpt from Edward Howe's (the expert whom Will Laurence has consulted a couple of times concerning Temeraire) works on dragons, this time focusing on the abilities of the Eastern dragons. These extracts add to the story without slowing it down I find, and being tucked away at the end, it means that anyone disagreeing can easily skip over them without missing much.

I should have noted this in the review for His Majesty's Dragon, but so far anyway, the series is equally friendly to older readers of the young adult section as it is to adult readers. It's books like this that make me consider the fantasy section of the bookstore a good stepping stone from the Teen section.

Anyway, I'm now half-way through Black Powder War and enjoying it nearly as much.

So far, the books in the series are:
His Majesty's Dragon
Throne Of Jade
Black Powder War
Empire Of Ivory
Victory Of Eagles

Other reviews of this book:
Mikko Reads: Naomi Novik: Throne Of Jade
No Middle Name: Throne Of Jade
Strategist's Personal Library: Throne Of Jade by Naomi Novik
Medieval Bookworm: Throne of Jade

Vampire Challenge at Secret Dreamworld of a Bookaholic

Just found this neat challenge at the blog Secret Dreamworld of a Bookaholic. It seems easy enough, according to the rules post, all you have to do is read two vampire novels within the year. And, they can be from any category: Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Romance, anything. The rules post is here.

Count me in, although I'll bet I'll read more than two this year. Heck, to fill the requirements, I could just (finally) read Laurell Hamilton's Blood Noir, then the new book, Skin Trade, when it comes out this summer.

For some reason, I can't seem to comment at the original blog post right now.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Paperback Releases

Here are some of the upcoming paperback releases:

Tangled Webs
Anne Bishop
Release date March 3, 2009 (

This book came out last year in hardcover. Now the time is coming to get it in paperback if you decided to wait.

Tangled Webs is set after the events in the Black Jewels trilogy and the anthology Dreams Made Flesh. It appears that the main character is Surreal. I can't say more, as to my shame although I bought the book some months back, I haven't gotten around to reading it yet, although it is on my tbr pile/list.

Viewpoints Critical
L. E. Modesitt Jr.
Tor Books
To be released April 14, 2009 (

Viewpoints Critical is a book of Modesitt's short stories set in various worlds - some connected to his bigger series, and others not. There are a couple of stories set in the world of the Corean Chronicles, one Recluse Saga story, and several science fiction ones. The story that sticks in my mind, even several months later is the one where Modesitt wrote the story entirely in the form of newspaper stories over a period of time. There's no characters at all, but the story works, and works well.

I've enjoyed reading it in the hardcover, but I'm waiting for the paperback edition myself.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

His Majesty's Dragon
Naomi Novik
Ballantine Books
Copyright: 2006

From the back of the book:

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain's defense by taking to the skies...not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future - and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarefied world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Termeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France's own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte's boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

This is an incredible book. I started reading it two days ago, intending to only read the first chapter before I went to bed. One chapter ended up being the first third of the book. Same thing last night as well, letting me finish the book this evening. His Majesty's Dragon is rather a quick read (at least in comparison with the books I've been reading recently), but that doesn't impair the story in the slightest.

Dragons are a popular (and long lasting) theme in fantasy, fiction and myth, ranging from the dragon in Beowulf to Tolkien's Smaug, to more recent stories such as the Pern books and the Aerie series by Mercedes Lackey. On first thought, when I glanced at the series I thought it would be something like the last of the above list, but I was completely wrong. It reminded me more of the part of the one Patrick O'Brien book I read last summer. I think it's set at about the same time so the similarity is not unexpected.

Where I found the former book to be jargon-heavy to the point where it interfered in the story for me, that was certainly not the case here. This is an original concept and well done. The fighting, for all it's done in the air, seems to resemble more the naval action of the period (although I'm no expert in the subject), and makes sense with the way the dragons are described.

For once, the hero character isn't a teen or one new-come to adult-hood, he's an older man swept from a desired and stable career into something completely new, making this a change from so many contemporary fantasy stories, and the maturity of the characters makes for variety.

Although the dragons reminded me, at least at first, of the Pern books, I soon found them to be completely different, able to speak aloud, for one thing. Although this seems to be a common dragon-trait in fantasy, I've only seen it in the evil dragons such as Glaurung, Smaug and Maur (from The Hero And The Crown, by Robin McKinley). It was also different to see the way the dragons had such different capabilities from each other, breed to breed and individually.

His Majesty's Dragon may be the first in the series, but the plot isn't left trailing off for the next book to resolve, although as I'm finding, there is plenty of story to be picked up in Throne Of Jade from the hints in this book.

Before I finished reading the book, I was wishing the author had included more of the information and history of the dragons, but there is a big chunk at the end of the book, in the form of excerpts from existing books (in the world of Temeraire) on the breeding and character of the dragons.

In terms of the story, there's a bit of everything, from battle, to society, to politics and beyond. The pacing seems to be well done, and this is a book where all the positive hype on LibraryThing and elsewhere seems to be correct.

So far, the books in the series are:
His Majesty's Dragon
Throne Of Jade
Black Powder War
Empire Of Ivory
Victory Of Eagles

Other reviews can be found at:
Books And Other Thoughts:The Extraordinary Temeraire
Libritouches: His Majesty's Dragon: Temeraire
Naomi Novik: Temeraire / His Majesty's Dragon
Strategist's Personal Library: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novak
Cerebrate's Contemplations: His Majesty's Dragon
Confessions of a Bibliovore
Outside of a Dog: Kate Nepveu's Book Log: His Majesty's Dragon
Tamaranth's Non-Ephemera: Temeraire
ReadingAdventures: Temeraire (His Majesty's Dragon) by Naomi Novik

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Upcoming Book - The Shadow Queen - Anne Bishop

The Shadow Queen
Anne Bishop
To be released March 3rd, 2009 (

This is apparently the seventh book in the Black Jewels series, which is made up of The Invisible Ring, Daughter Of The Blood, Heir To The Shadows, Queen of the Blood, Tangled Web and Dreams Made Flesh (a book of shorter stories set in the same world).

The series is a good one, although it is rather explicit, so not for younger readers. Apparently, The Shadow Queen is set after the destruction wrought in Queen Of the Blood in the realms decimated by the death of Dorotea and the majority of the other Queens ruling. There's not too much other information available on the page, unfortunately.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Meeting At Corvallis - S. M. Stirling

A Meeting At Corvallis
S. M. Stirling
Copyright: 2006

From the back of the book:

In the tenth year of the Change, the survivors in western Oregon live in a world without technology. Michael Havel's Bearkillers hold the lands west of Salem in peace and order. To the east, the Clan Mackenzie flourishes under the leadership of Juniper Mackenzie, bard and High Priestess.

Together they have held Norman Arminger - the warlord of Portland - at bay. With his dark fantasies of a neofeudal empire, Arminger rules much of the Pacific Northwest, spreading fear with his knights, castles and holy inquisition. Even more dangerous, and perhaps Arminger's most powerful weapon of all, is his ruthlessly cunning consort, Lady Sandra.

These factions haven't met in battle because Arminger's daughter has fallen into Clan Mackenzie's hands. But Lady Sandra has a plan to retriever her - even if it means plunging the entire region into open warfare....

One of the reviews on the back of the book calls A Meeting At Corvallis "a rousing finale to a strong trilogy" (Alternative Worlds) and although there are now two more books in the series, The Sunrise Lands, and Scourge Of God, there is definitely a sense that this book is the ending of one phase of the story. Where this book picks up almost immediately after the end of The Protector's War, I suspect that there will be a gap of several years before The Sunrise Lands starts.

The research Stirling has done for this book and series is impressive: medieval history and warfare, different weapons and the like, but also the Society for Creative Anacronism terminology and Sindarin. The books and authors mentioned in this series are, to the best of my knowledge, also all existing ones. That is just one example of the levels of detail Stirling has included, which I've enjoyed greatly. The author has included not just sights and sounds in his descriptions, but touch, taste and scent as well.

As with The Protector's War, Stirling has made mention of real, living people and people who only died recently as well. In this book it was Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict (I think), as well as Prince Charles. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about authors doing that. I don't know how frequently it happens, but I don't think I've seen any other authors doing so.

I've enjoyed reading the series to this point, and I'm looking forward to starting The Sunrise Lands, but I think I'm going to take a bit of a break first. A Meeting At Corvallis was over six hundred dense pages, and took the better part of the last several weeks to read. Some of the other books on my Unread Books List are calling my name, such as His Majesty's Dragon and Moon Called.

The Change series is (so far):
Dies The Fire
The Protector's War
A Meeting At Corvallis
The Sunrise Lands
Scourge Of God

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mr. Bliss - J.R.R. Tolkien

Mr. Bliss
J.R.R. Tolkien
Copyright: 1982

From the back of the book:

Mr. Bliss, a man notable for his immensely tall hats and for the girabbit in his garden, takes the whimsical decision to buy a motor car. But his first drive to visit friends quickly becomes a catalogue of disasters. Some of these could be blamed on Mr Bliss's style of driving, but even he could not anticipate being hijacked by three bears...

J.R.R Tolkien invented and illustrated the book of Mr Bliss's adventures n the 1930's when his own children were very young. This imaginative tale of eccentricity is faithfully reproduced here exactly as he created it - with lots of detailed and uproarious colour pictures.

First published in 1982, fifty years after it was written, this definitive edition has been newly reproduced from the original notebook. With the complete text printed alongside Tolkien's distinctive handwritten pages, the comical story and colourful illustrations are sure to delight readers of all ages.

I bought the book just over a year ago now, and finally got around to reading it yesterday. Well worth it. Although the book is somewhat expensive, at least as a children's book at $38 in Canadian dollars, when everything is considered, the price isn't as extravagant as it first seems. This edition is in a beautiful red slip-case, and the book itself has a stitched binding and is cloth-covered (I've been told that a stitched binding is the best type there is).

Not having ever seen the standard edition of Mr. Bliss, I can't say how the illustrations in this facsimile edition compare, but I've got to say that I like them. You can see each mark used in making the pictures, and I love the variations in tone from differing shades and pressures. According to the book Artist and Illustrator by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, the illustrations were done in pencil, ink and coloured pencil.

I noticed quite a few similarities to The Hobbit, of course, seeing as Tolkien was writing this one in the 1930's as well - things like calling the hill by the village 'The Hill' etc, and the attitudes of some of the other characters. Also names. Some of the names, I have to wonder if they were in-jokes of sorts. Harper-Collins calls this the definitive edition, and it is, however I'd love to see an edition edited by someone like Flieger to look at the parallels, society of the time, other fairy-tales and also some of the stories and myths about Mr. Bliss that have built up, such as the ones I remember hearing about somewhere that compare it to Tolkien's own driving.

Amusingly, I believe I found an error on the text page for page 44: the text says: "It was as very expensive time." However, as best as I can make out the handwriting, it says "It was a very expensive time." Perhaps someone with a different edition or who is better at picking out Tolkien's handwriting could double check?

Mr. Bliss seems to have been written for children slightly younger than The Hobbit is marketed to, but this edition is definitely geared towards adults. I call it full of charm, both in the story and the illustrations. Love it!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner - David Bach

The Automatic Homeowner Millionaire
David Bach
Doubleday Canada
Copyright: 2006

From the back of the book:

Imagine this. You buy a home, live in it, then buy another. You build your wealth through real estate - and then retire rich. It may sound too good to be true. But it's not. It has happened, it's happening now, and it will continue to happen for millions of people over the next few decades. The question is, will it happen for you?

If you want the answer to be "yes", then stop what you are doing and open this book. Read a few pages. Bach's simple strategies make you rich where you sleep. All you have to do is follow his easy program to go from tenant to owner, and from owner to Automatic Millionaire Homeowner. The rest is automatic!

I will admit to being somewhat biased towards David Bach's books, having read two of his others and found them helpful: The Automatic Millionaire and Go Green Live Rich.

In some ways this book has been made badly outdated by the financial crisis of the previous and current year. However, it still has some good advice and some very helpful information.

Not owning my own home (yet), I don't know that all of the advice he gives is valid given things such as costs, but it makes sense, and David Bach explains terms and the like in a way that is easy for someone without a financial background to understand. There are some basic grids demonstrating how much a monthly mortgage payment is likely to be given a particular size mortgage, interest rate and length of time, things I didn't see in some of the other books I glanced through. There's also some advice on ways to pay off a mortgage faster (along with warnings of possible penalties).

The author explains what many of the terms: sub-prime, amortization rate etc. all mean in ways that I could understand, which is something I really liked, along with explaining the processes a person needs to go through when applying for a mortgage. All of that is helpful, and unlikely to be outdated in the near future.

On the other hand, he's suggesting things like buying with no down-payment or going sub-prime, things that may have been easy to do when the book was published, but not now. That's what I meant when I said the book is now outdated.

Still, it's a fun and educational read for someone who's thinking of buying their own place in the relatively near future. Read it as you're thinking and planning, then find something newer as the time comes closer to make decisions.

I will note that this is the Canadian Edition. I don't know how much of a difference there is between this one and any other edition.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Upcoming Books (Mostly New Ones)

The Serrano Succession
Elizabeth Moon
Baen Books
Release Date: September 8, 2009 (

This is an omnibus edition of the third and fourth books about Esmay Suiza and Barin Serrano. The first two books in the series were Once A Hero and Rules of Engagement. This volume is comprised of Change of Command and Against The Odds.

I remember enjoying the series when the books first came out, so to be honest, I'm eagerly keeping an eye out for this one when it's released. I can't exactly give details about the storyline however as it's been long enough since I read the books that rereading is going to be like reading the series for the first time. Elizabeth Moon is one of my favorite authors for military science fiction (the other one being David Weber).

By Heresies Distressed
David Weber
Tor Books
Release Date: July 21, 2009 (

This is, going by the title and the cover image, going to be the third book in the series beginning with Off Armageddon Reef. Going by the previous book, By Schism Rent Asunder, this is going to be a book that will keep me up all night reading it. At the moment there is very little information about the book available on the page, and no blurb on the page either.

Storm From The Shadows
David Weber
Baen Books
Release Date: March 3,2009 (

This is, I'm sure the book all David Weber fans are looking for: It's the next book set in the world of Honor Harrington. According to the page blurb, the book is the prequel to The Shadow of Saganami. It looks as though a third (or, is that fourth?) side is going to start getting involved in the war between the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the Havenite forces. I can't wait. Weber is one of those authors that keeps me up far to late at night when I'm reading his books.

Skin Trade
Laurell K. Hamilton
Berkley Hardcover
Release Date: June 2, 2009 (

The seventeenth book in the Anita Blake series. Going by the hints on Laurell K. Hamilton's blog, this looks like it's going to be a really good book (of course, I've got to get around to finishing the previous book, Blood Noir, first). It's certainly got some stunning (and creepy) cover art displayed. However, at the moment, there's no blurb about the book on either or

Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's Press
Release Date: March 31, 2009 (

This is the awaited mass-market release of Sherrilyn Kenyon's book Acheron. I know I've been waiting for it even though I've already read the book in hardcover.

Born of the Night
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's Press
Release Date: September 29, 2009 (

I can't even guess whether this is a Dark-Hunter novel or one of her other series. I'd have said Dark-Hunter, but there's Phantom in the Night which came out last year, which I believe is one of the B.A.D. novels. Unfortunately there's no blurb available yet. I'll be posting a note when I do discover a blurb for the book. Simply consider this an early warning to start saving for more Sherrilyn Kenyon novels. In addition, Amazon seems not to have this item even listed yet. All the information here is off of

Bad Moon Rising: A Dark-Hunter Novel
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's Press
Release Date: August 4, 2009 (

This one is definitely a Dark-Hunter novel, and I think, the next major one. It's certainly the next hardcover issue, and as a result, I don't think there will be any complaints about the book being too short. Unfortunately, as with the previous Kenyon listed, there's no blurb to say who the book is about. Still, I can't wait, as given the cliff-hanger in Dream Warrior, the book should definitely be a good one. I'll be keeping an eye out for the blurb, at which time I'll post an alert. Not only is there no blurb yet, but no cover display either.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Book Review Meme

This looks like fun, and it will be interesting to keep an eye on the blog. I find that I often find interesting blogs I hadn't seen before through these. Instructions for joining in can be found at Grasping For The Wind (along with a whole lot of interesting looking reviews)

I'm going to be adding this blog to the blogroll of All Booked Up.

The Book Review Meme @ Grasping for the Wind

1. Grasping for the Wind - INFOQUAKE by David Louis Edelman
2. Age 30+ ... A Lifetime of Books - A COMPANION TO WOLVES by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
3. Dragons, Heroes and Wizards - ASSASSIN'S APPRENTICE by Robin Hobb
4. Walker of Worlds - THE TEMPORAL VOID by Peter F Hamilton
5. Neth Space - TOLL THE HOUNDS by Steven Erikson
6. Dark in the Dark - GHOST STORIES OF AN ANTIQUARY by M.R. James
7. A Dribble of Ink - THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
8. Fantasy Book News & Reviews - EMPRESS by Karen Miller
9. Fantasy Debut - ACACIA by David Anthony Durham Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Overall Review Afterthought
10. All Booked Up - THE BLUE SWORD by Robin McKinley

Friday, February 13, 2009

A series of series

These are most of the series that I'm following (some more avidly than others I'll admit).

Mercedes Lackey:
The Mage Wars
Black Gryphon
White Gryphon
Silver Gryphon

The Last Herald Mage
Magic's Pawn
Magic's Promise
Magic's Price

The Collegium Chronicles

Brightly Burning

Vows and Honor

By The Sword

Exile's Honor
Exile's Valor

Take A Thief

Heralds of Valdemar
Arrows of the Queen
Arrow's Flight
Arrow's Fall

The Mage Winds
Winds of Fate
Winds of Change
Winds of Fury

The Mage Storms
Storm Warning
Storm Rising
Storm Breaking


Sword of Ice
Sun In Glory
Moving Targets
Changing The World

Five Hundred Kingdoms
The Fairy Godmother
One Good Knight
Fortune's Fool
The Snow Queen
The Sleeping Beauty 
Beauty and the Werewolf

The Elemental Masters
The Fire Rose
The Serpent's Shadow
The Gates of Sleep
Phoenix And Ashes
Reserved For The Cat
The Wizard of London

The Dragon Jousters

Laurell K. Hamilton
Anita Blake
Guilty Pleasures
The Laughing Corpse
Circus of the Damned
The Lunatic Cafe
Bloody Bones
The Killing Dance
Burnt Offerings
Blue Moon
Obsidian Butterfly
Narcissus in Chains
Cerulean Sins
Incubus Dreams
Danse Macabre
The Harlequin
Blood Noir
Skin Trade

Merry Gentry
A Kiss of Shadows
A Caress of Twilight
Seduced by Moonlight
A Stroke of Midnight
Mistral's Kiss
A Lick of Frost
Swallowing Darkness
Divine Misdemeanors

Sherrilyn Kenyon (Not including various short stories in different anthologies)
Fantasy Lover
Night Pleasures
Night Embrace
Dance with the Devil
Kiss of the Night
Night Play
Seize the Night
Sins of the Night
Unleash the Night
Dark Side of the Moon
Fear the Darkness, free e-book
The Dream-Hunter
Devil May Cry
Upon the Midnight Clear
Dream Chaser
One Silent Night
Dream Warrior
Bad Moon Rising

Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris
The Adept Series (completed)
The Adept
The Adept: Lodge of the Lynx
The Adept: The Templar Treasure
Dagger Magic
Death of the Adept

Diana Gabaldon
Dragonfly In Amber
Drums of Autumn
The Fiery Cross
Breath of Snow And Ashes
An Echo In The Bone

Tanya Huff
Blood Ties One
Blood Ties Two
Blood Ties Three

Tamora Pierce
The Immortals
Wild Magic
Emperor Mage
The Realm Of The Gods

Protector of the Small
The First Test
Lady Knight

Trickster's Choice
Trickster's Queen

Becka Cooper

S. M. Stirling
The Change
Dies The Fire
The Protector's War
A Meeting At Corvallis
The Sunrise Lands
Scourge Of God
Sword Of The Lady

The Nantucket Trilogy
Island In The Sea Of Time
Against The Tide Of Years
On The Ocean Of Eternity

Marion Zimmer Bradley
Darkover (Out of reading order, I'll admit)
Darkover Landfall
Two To Conquer
The Bloody Sun
The Winds of Darkover
Star Of Danger
The Spell Sword
The Forbidden Tower
The Shattered Chain
Thendara House
City Of Sorcery
The Heritage Of Hastur
Sharra's Exile
The Fall of Neskaya (With Deborah J. Ross)
Zandru's Forge (With Debroah J. Ross)
A Flame In Hali (With Deborah J. Ross)
Exile's Song
The Shadow Matrix
Traitor's Sun
The Alton Gift (With Deborah J. Ross)
The Hastur Lord (With Deborah J. Ross)

David Weber
Honor Harrington
On Basilisk Station
The Honor Of The Queen
The Short Victorious War
Field Of Dishonor
Flag In Exile
Honor Among Enemies
In Enemy Hands
Echoes Of Honor
Ashes Of Victory
War Of Honor
At All Costs

A Beautiful Friendship

More Than Honor
Worlds Of Honor
Changer Of Worlds
The Service Of The Sword
In Fire Forged

Crown of Slaves (With Eric Flint)
The Shadow Of Saganami
Storm From The Shadows
Torch Of Freedom (With Eric Flint)

Off Armageddon Reef
By Schism Rent Asunder
By Heresies Distressed

Naomi Novik
His Majesty's Dragon
Throne Of Jade
Black Powder War
Empire Of Ivory
Victory Of Eagles

Anne Bishop
The Black Jewels
The Invisible Ring
Daughter Of The Blood
Heir To The Shadows
Queen Of The Darkness
Dreams Made Flesh
Tangled Webs
The Shadow Queen
Shalador's Lady 
Twilight's Dawn

Patricia Briggs
Mercy Thompson
Moon Called
Blood Bound
Iron Kissed
Bone Crossed
Silver Borne 
River Marked

Alpha And Omega
Cry Wolf
Hunting Ground

J.R. Ward
The Black Dagger Brotherhood
Dark Lover
Lover Eternal
Lover Awakened
Lover Revealed
Lover Unbound
Lover Enshrined
Lover Avenged
Lover Mine 
Lover Unleashed

Anna Elliott
The Avalon Trilogy
Twilight of Avalon
Dark Moon Of Avalon
Sunrise Of Avalon

Friday, February 6, 2009

Upon The Midnight Clear - Sherrilyn Kenyon

Upon The Midnight Clear
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's Press
Copyright: 2007

From the back of the book:

Ever think Scrooge had it right before the ghosts ruined his life? Meet Aidan O'Conner.

At one time he was a world-renowned celebrity who gave freely of himself and his money without wanting anything in return...until those around him took without asking. Now Aidan wants nothing to do with the world - or anyone who's a part of it.

When a stranger appears on his doorstep, Aidan knows he's seen her his dreams.

Born on Olympus as a goddess, Leta knows nothing of the human world. But a ruthless enemy has driven her from the world of dreams and into the home of the only man who can help her: Aidan. Her immortal powers are derived from human emotions - and his anger is just the fuel she needs to defend herself...

One cold winter's night will change their lives forever...

Trapped together in a brutal winter storm, Aidan and Leta must turn to the only power capable of saving them - or destroying them both: trust.

This is one of the two Dark-Hunter books so far that especially irritates me, thought I still like the story a lot. The other is Dark Side of the Moon. The reason for this one has nothing to do with the story though. It's more that I feel cheated: $8.99 for a book I can easily read in three hours or less. I know I'm a fast reader, but still... In this case the font is about twice normal size (I think to expand the book and make it look like more).

Upon the Midnight Clear is more or less the book version of the Christmas episode of so many T.V. shows: Short, set at Christmas and full of fun.

This is also a bit of a different story as the woman isn't a mere human as compared to the male Dark-Hunter, Were-Hunter and the other Dream-Hunter heroes. Instead the story is somewhat reversed, with a human male and a goddess of a woman/heroine. Also, there are none of the other familiar characters in even a walk on role in this book.

The pattern for the story is typical of the Dark-Hunter series/romance.

I did like the short stories in the back of the book a lot though. All three of them are Christmas stories with the old familiar characters: Nick, Fang, Fury and the like. Also Stryker, Acheron and Simi.

Entered Another Challenge

I've decided to do another challenge. This one is the Fantastical Challenge from The Nattie Challenge blog. Essentially, the challenge is to read between one and three fantasy novels in the months of February and March. Should be fun.

Laurell K. Hamilton's next book title

According to this blog entry, the next book by Laurell K. Hamilton will be titled 'Divine Misdemeanors'. It's to be the next Merry Gentry book and it's going to be a somewhat different story from the other books in the series. Which makes sense, as the goal of those first books was for Merry to get pregnant. Now that's been achieved so Laurell is going to have to come up with something new. According to Indigo Books, Divine Misdemeanors is to be released at the end of October.

I know I'm looking forward to it (along with the other book she's working on, currently titled 'Skin Trade', which is to be released at the beginning of June).

Dream Warrior - Sherrilyn Kenyon

Dream Warrior
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's Press
Copyright: 2009

From the back of the book:

We are the Dolophoni. Diligent. Vigilant. Fierce and inescapable. Servants of the Furies, we are the right hand of justice and no one stands before us...

The son of Warcraft and Hate, Cratus spent eternity battling for the ancient gods who birthed him. He was death to any who crossed him. Until the day he laid down his arms and walked into self-imposed exile. Now an ancient enemy has been unleashed and our dreams are his chosen battlefield. The only hope we have is the one god who swears he will never fight again.

Dream Warrior

As a Dream-Hunter, Delphine has spent eternity protecting mankind from the predators who prey on our unconscious state. But now that her allies have been turned, she knows that in order to survive, the Dream-Hunters need a new leader. Someone who can train them to fight their new enemies. Cratus is her only hope. But she is a bitter reminder of why he chose to lay down his arms.

Time is running out and if she can't win him to her cause, mankind will be slaughtered and the world we know will soon cease to exist.

Dream Warrior, the latest of the Sherrilyn Kenyon novels and the sequel to One Silent Night is the most recent book set in the Dark-Hunter world. It is also the third in what I'm calling the 'new' series, where the events of the previous books play a serious role in the current one. Previously (up to about Acheron), it was easily possible to read the books in any order and not get too confused. Now, half of the characters have been introduced in previous books and the events certainly have been. I'm starting to feel like I need a chart of who's who for the characters, both good and evil.

I enjoyed the read, even though it was over a bit sooner than I'd have liked: the font size in Sherrilyn Kenyon's latest two has been a bit larger than normal, although not as bad as in Upon The Midnight Clear, which is more like a large-print book. I'm also waiting for the next book as, other than the obligatory happy ending, none of the issues raised in this book were resolved. Certainly not the victory against the current evil!

Nick, the Squire turned Dark-Hunter back in the earliest books is starting to reappear in the most recent couple of books, which is neat. Now, if only we'd get some updates on how the other characters from the early books, such as Fang and family are doing. There've been some hints in the early books that there's quite a story there, and I for one am waiting to read it. For now, though it seems as though Kenyon's focus has shifted from the Dark-Hunters and the Were-Hunters to the Dream-Hunters.

One thing I've got to say about this world is it's always growing. Each book opens some new aspect for our reading pleasure (and most of the time it is a reading pleasure with this series). It's interesting to see the characters of the Greek pantheon as they were characterized in myth in the modern day. They certainly don't seem to have changed much!

Honestly, I can't wait for the next book in the series, and this seems to be a series that isn't going to be ending soon. There's always another character Kenyon can focus on and come up with a new story. Sure the characters follow a particular pattern, but this is a romance series after all. It doesn't get in the way of the story.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Crusades: A Very Short Introduction - Christopher Tyerman

The Crusades: A Very Short Introduction
Christopher Tyerman
Oxford University Press
Copyright: 2004

A very short introduction describes this book very well, considering it's only 167 pages including index and 'further reading'. As a result, I found it to be too short in many ways, mostly in that the author would make a mention of something interesting, and then leave it, without giving any further information. It made it feel like the book wasn't really written for people without any knowledge of the period. Examples include: on page 8: a mention that the oath crusaders took was structured very like that which a pilgrim took, for one. So, what was the oath a pilgrim would take? Also, mentioning that in Outremer after a certain date clothing laws were put in place to differentiate between Christian, Muslim and Jew, mentioned on page 116. More information please, or at least a source where I can find more information myself?

My other issue with this book is, it seems, one with the entire series: a lack of quotes and citations, the latter being especially annoying to me. I like knowing that I have the option of having more information I can find, even if I don't generally go to the cited sources.

That is my general complaint with the book, and also with the other book in the series that I've read, the Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction. They just don't have the room to go into any details.

If what you're looking for is a book of dates, origins of the Crusades and holy war and the like, not to mention various interpretations and iterations of the same over the centuries, without a lot of the details in a more specific work, this is a potentially useful book.

I found it useful as an introduction to Christopher Tyerman's style, as I also have Fighting for Christendom (which is apparently the same book as this one) and his more recent book God's War. I think, based on Tyerman's writing in The Crusades: A Very Short Introduction, I'm going to enjoy reading his other books, always assuming he's going to go into more detail. I think though, he'll have the space to do so.

Other medieval history books I've reviewed:
Pilgrimages - John Ure
The Worlds Of Medieval Europe - Clifford R. Backman
Reading The Middle Ages - Barbara Rosenwein
Life In A Medieval Village - Francis And Joseph Gies
1215: The Year Of The Magna Carta - Danny Danziger and John Gillingham
By Sword And Fire - Sean McGlynn

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Guilty Or Not?

Are you guilty of regularly reading more than one book at a time?

I know I am. Currently I'm reading A Meeting At Corvallis by S. M. Stirling, Dream Warrior (Sherrilyn Kenyon's latest), as well as A Very Short History of the Crusades by Christopher Tyerman. On top of those three, I've just started William Gibson's classic science-fiction novel Neuromancer.

The thing is, although I typically am reading more than one book at any one time, I don't really like doing so. It's too easy to put a book down because I'm not getting into it that day, and not pick the book up again, letting it fall further and further along by the wayside, leading to abandoned books. Have I ever got too many of those. A lot of them are on my 'to read' list so I can give them another chance.

Not to mention the way reading this way slows down actually completing a book or remembering the details of the beginning of the book in question for reviewing once I've finished reading it. If I was just reading the one book at a time, I'd probably have Dream Warrior finished and reviewed by now.

Given that at least one of the books I'm currently reading (and this is typically true right now) is a textbook for classes, I find I don't have a choice about reading multiple books at a time. I tend to excuse the others in the same way, as in 'this one's for reading at home' and 'this one at work on breaks'. Usually it's the one I'm reading at home that falls out of the rotation as I get caught up in one of the other books.

There are some trends I've noticed on my reading. Generally, it's the hardcovers and trade-paperbacks that get dropped from the rotation first. Probably because they're more awkward to carry around. Mass-market books fit nicely in coat pockets making them the more convenient to read by far, especially on the bus.

Oddly enough, it's usually the books I haven't read before that get abandoned, but not always. I'm far more likely to finish a book on a re-read a lot of the time, although I'm not exactly sure why. Perhaps it's because often the books I re-read are ones I consider to be 'old friends'. I'm familiar with them and they take little mental energy to focus on and enjoy. Do you find this to be the case as well?

How do you plead? Do you have the self-control to only read one book at a time? Resist the temptation of starting the book you've been waiting for and just got until what-ever book you've been reading is finished? Even if you say yes, I'm not entirely certain I hear the needed conviction in your voice for me to believe it. After all, the newest Sherrilyn Kenyon novel, Dream Warrior, came out two days ago, and I hear it calling your name (or at least mine).

In a related vein, what does it take to get you to abandon a book partway through, and if you abandon a book once, do you go back and try reading it again later?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Blogs with February's fantasy/science fiction/paranormals lists

If you're wondering what's coming out this month, the best sites to get the monthly list are:

Walker of Worlds: Sci-Fi Book Releases for February 2009
Fantasy Book Critic: Books of February
Sci-Fi Guy's list

Sometime in the next few days I'm going to have a review of the latest Sherrilyn Kenyon novel up. I just bought it tonight. However, I can already note that as with the last one, One Silent Night, the book has a larger than normal font size, and is rather thin. At least for the price I payed. Still, I'm enjoying the story.


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