Sunday, October 31, 2010

Excuses, excuses

I know I've been really, really bad about updating and posting here recently. If you think I've just been making excuses for it, then this one's going to be really inventive. But true. My laptop computer got broken last week. While I have a second (and faster) computer, I don't find it as comfortable to type on. Therefore, I've been procrastinating, getting things set up better, etc. And working. It doesn't help that I haven't been doing much reading in recent weeks.

The only book I've finished lately is Magic's Pawn by Mercedes Lackey. Which, I'm about to write up right now.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted over at One Person's Journey Through A World Of Books where we get to see what everyone has read, is reading and are planning to read. It's a lot of fun too.

I have to admit to having been slacking off a bit in recent weeks (busy with other things, such as Thanksgiving Dinner and cooking in general), so I haven't been reading as much lately.

In the last couple of weeks I read (going back to the beginning of October):
Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey: Fantasy, and the sequel to Foundation.

I Want To Go Home by Gordon Korman. A kids book I remember reading years ago.

The Exile by Diana Gabaldon: The retelling of the story of Outlander from the point of view of Jamie Fraiser. I have to admit it made me want to re-read Outlander.

Brain Ships by Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey and Margaret Ball. An omnibus edition of two science fiction novels: The Ship Who Searched and Partner Ships.

Scourge of God by S. M. Stirling. Set in the world of The Change, this book picks up where The Sunrise Lands left off.

Books I'm reading:

Sword of the Lady by S. M. Stirling: The sequel to Scourge of God.

Magic's Pawn. The first book of the Last Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Crave by J.R. Ward. The sequel to Covet.

Books I'm intending to read:

Magic's Promise and Magic's Price the other books in the Last Herald Mage trilogy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I Want To Go Home - Gordon Korman

I Want To Go Home
Gordon Korman
Scholastic Canada
Copyright: 2004? (I know the book is older than that, but that's the date the bookstores are giving me)

The product description:
Rudy Miller has tons of ideas on how to escape the camp he''s been sent to "for his own good." The problem is - none of them work. Rudy teams up with Mike Webster, a quiet guy who''s almost as happy to be there as Rudy is, and many "great escapes" are carefully planned and hilariously attempted. Chip, their counselor and nemesis, is just as determined to keep them there as they are to leave.
I remember reading I Want To Go Home when I was about ten and absolutely loved it then. When I saw it in the bookstore, I couldn't quite remember what the title was, so I took a look inside to see which novel this one was. I couldn't put the book down again. Guess I'm still a kid at heart, because I honestly found I Want To Go Home to be just as funny now as an adult as I did when I was a kid.

Elias Warden. Parent's Day, the letters, the scavenger hunt... All of them will bring at the least a smile to your face, if not outright laughter. Oh yes, can't forget about the cooks rebellion. Rudy Miller is a kid that just about anyone will love reading about, both boys and girls, though this is definitely a book suited for boys.

But not just kids will love reading this. I'd bet any adult looking for a trip down memory lane will get a laugh out of Gordon Korman's books. I know that I Want To Go Home and No Coins Please were two of my favourite books when I was a kid.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Intrigues - Mercedes Lackey

Intrigues: The Collegium Chronicles Book Two
Mercedes Lackey
Daw Books
Copyright Date: October 2010

The description:
Magpie is a thirteen-year-old orphan chosen by one of the magical Companion horses of Valdemar and taken to the capital city, Haven, to be trained as a Herald. Like all Heralds, Magpie learns that he has a hidden Gift-the Gift of telepathy.
But life at the court is not without obstacles. When Mags is "recognized" by foreign secret operatives whose purpose is unknown, Mags himself comes under suspicion. Who are Magpie's parents-who is he, really? Can Mags solve the riddle of his parentage and his connection with the mysterious spies-and prove his loyalty-before the king and court banish him as a traitor?
This is a book I've been looking forward to reading for a while now. Intrigues is the sequel to Foundation, which came out a couple of years ago. As with most of Mercedes Lackey's books, this is a novel that's well suited to older teens as well as adults. Mags is an interesting and somewhat believable chararacter, but somewhat typical of Mercedes Lackey's writing. He follows the type of Talia especially, but also Skif - rather a cross between them.

It's definitely interesting seeing the evolution of the Collegium into the form we know so well from the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy, Take a Thief, the Mage Winds books as well as the Mage Storms. There's also a good look into Healers and Bardic Collegia too, which is neat, given the focus on Heraldic through most of the books.

I have to say that I preferred Intrigues to Foundation in several ways, but mostly that the book didn't seem to come to such an abrupt end, The last book didn't feel resolved in any way, the climax came out of nowhere and ended too suddenly. Intrigues tied up some of those loose ends, but did so a bit more gradually. I found myself quite satisfied with the flow for Intrigues and I'll be reading it again soon. Probably right after re-reading Foundation.

Overall, Intrigues proved itself to be another good read from Mercedes Lackey, and added itself to the world of Valdemar very well, and I really enjoyed the read.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Exile - Diana Gabaldon

The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel
Diana Gabaldon
Hoang Nguyen (Illustrator)
Del Rey

The product description:
Diana Gabaldon’s brilliant storytelling has captivated millions of readers in her bestselling and award-winning Outlander saga. Now, in her first-ever graphic novel, Gabaldon gives readers a fresh look at the events of the original Outlander: Jamie Fraser’s side of the story, gorgeously rendered by artist Hoang Nguyen.

After too long an absence, Jamie Fraser is coming home to Scotland—but not without great trepidation. Though his beloved godfather, Murtagh, promised Jamie’s late parents he’d watch over their brash son, making good on that vow will be no easy task. There’s already a fat bounty on the young exile’s head, courtesy of Captain Black Jack Randall, the sadistic British officer who’s crossed paths—and swords—with Jamie in the past. And in the court of the mighty MacKenzie clan, Jamie is a pawn in the power struggle between his uncles: aging chieftain Colum, who demands his nephew’s loyalty—or his life—and Dougal, war chieftain of Clan MacKenzie, who’d sooner see Jamie put to the sword than anointed Colum’s heir.

And then there is Claire Randall—mysterious, beautiful, and strong-willed, who appears in Jamie’s life to stir his  compassion . . . and arouse his desire.

But even as Jamie’s heart draws him to Claire, Murtagh is certain she’s been sent by the Old Ones, and Captain Randall accuses her of being a spy. Claire clearly has something to hide, though Jamie can’t believe she could pose him any danger. Still, he knows she is torn between two choices—a life with him, and whatever it is that draws her thoughts so often elsewhere.
Step into the captivating, passionate, and suspenseful world of The Exile, and experience the storytelling magic of Diana Gabaldon as never before.
 I know what I've said about graphic novels before, here and here. Before this one, I'd never managed to finish one, either. However, I did finish reading The Exile, and quite enjoyed it, although I do feel like I need to reread Outlander to understand a lot of the subtleties of the plot.

Essentially, The Exile is the story of the first half (give or take, my memory is a bit foggy) of the book Outlander from the perspective of Jamie Fraiser. The illustrations are spectacular too. On the other hand, aside from the two main characters, I still had trouble telling characters apart sometimes. But, unlike some of the other reviews I've read, I didn't find that the depictions of the characters jarred with my mental images. The read was certainly an interesting experience, given that it's just the dialogue and thoughts that is actually read. Everything else is contained in the picture panels.

The story is coherent, even without recent knowledge of the story as told in Outlander. Overall, I quite liked it, but graphic novels are probably not likely to become my favorite format anytime soon.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Upcoming Books

There are a lot of neat looking books coming up over the next few months. I know I'm waiting eagerly for a bunch of these:

Intrigues: The Collegium Chronicles Book Two
Mercedes Lackey
Daw Books
Release Date: October 5, 2010

The description:
Magpie is a thirteen-year-old orphan chosen by one of the magical Companion horses of Valdemar and taken to the capital city, Haven, to be trained as a Herald. Like all Heralds, Magpie learns that he has a hidden Gift-the Gift of telepathy.
But life at the court is not without obstacles. When Mags is "recognized" by foreign secret operatives whose purpose is unknown, Mags himself comes under suspicion. Who are Magpie's parents-who is he, really? Can Mags solve the riddle of his parentage and his connection with the mysterious spies-and prove his loyalty-before the king and court banish him as a traitor?
I'm counting this as upcoming, simply because I haven't gotten my hands on it yet. Intrigues is the book I'm really waiting for right now.

Trio Of Sorcery
Mercedes Lackey
Tor Books
Release Date: November 9, 2010

The product description:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mercedes Lackey presents three exciting short urban fantasy novels featuring three resourceful heroines and three different takes on the modern world and on magics both modern and ancient.

Arcanum 101:  Diana Tregarde, practicing witch, romance novelist, Guardian of the Earth. Studying at Harvard, Diana is approached by Joe O’Brian, a young cop who has already seen more than one unusual thing during his budding career. The distraught mother of a kidnap victim is taking advice from a “psychic” and interfering in the police investigation. Will Diana prove that the psychic is a fake? Unfortunately, the psychic is not a fake, but a very wicked witch—and the child’s kidnapper.

Drums:  Jennifer Talldeer, shaman, private investigator, member of the Osage tribe. Most of Jennie’s work is regular PI stuff, but Nathan Begay brings her a problem she’s never seen before. His girlfriend, Caroline, is Chickasaw to his Navaho, but that’s not the problem. Somehow, Caroline has attracted the attention of an angry Osage ghost. Thwarted in love while alive, the ghost has chosen Caroline to be his bride in death.

Ghost in the Machine:  Ellen McBridge: computer programmer extraordinaire, techno-shaman. The programmers and players of a new MMORPG find that the game’s “boss,” a wendigo, is “killing” everyone—even the programmers’ characters with their god-like powers. A brilliant debugger, Ellen discoveres that the massive computing power of the game’s servers have created a breach between the supernatural world and our own. This wendigo isn’t a bit of code, it’s the real thing . . . and it’s on the brink of breaking out of the computers and into the real world. 
A new Diana Tregarde story and a new story with Jennifer Talldeer? Both are stories I'm looking forward to. And the third story in this book definitely looks intriguing.

Finding The Way and Other Tales Of Valdemar
Ed. Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Release Date: December 7, 2010

The product description:
In March 1987, a young author from Oklahoma published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. This modest book about a magical land called Valdemar was the beginning of a fantasy masterwork series that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles. Now readers can take a journey to the world of Valdemar-including Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Fiona Patton, and Judith Tarr-each adding their own special touches.
Now I see the cover image for the first time, I'm recognizing it. The background is based on the one from Oathblood, the book of Tarma & Kethry short stories, and the Companion's head is the one from Magic's Pawn.

Invasion: Book One of the Secret World Chronicles
Mercedes Lackey, Steve Libbey, Cody Martin & Dennis Lee
Baen Books
Release Date: March 1, 2011

The product description:
The world had become used to the metahumans—people sometimes perfectly ordinary,but sometimes quite extraordinary in appearance—who mostly worked with their governments as high-powered peace officers, fighting crime, and sometimes fighting rogue metahumans who had become super-criminals. Then that comfortable world ended in just one terrifying day.
       Suddenly, all world governments were simultaneously attacked by soldiers in giant mecha robotic suits with the swastika symbol of the Third Reich on their metal arms. If these were Nazis, where had they been hiding since the end of World War II? And where had they gotten armor and weapons far in advance of anything on the planet? Weapons against which even the metahuman heroes seemed to be helpless . . .  
 A couple of the stories from this (I'm guessing, anyway) book are available in places like Kobo Books for reading. I have to say this looks really good.

River Marked
Patricia Briggs
Ace Books
Release Date: March 11, 2011

The product description:
Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She's never known any others of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father's people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help...
I absolutely love this series, so of course I can't wait for River Marked to come out.

Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Del Rey
Release Date: December 7, 2010

The product description:
In Catalyst, award-winning authors Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough introduced readers to the beguiling Barque Cats: spacefaring felines who serve aboard starships as full-fledged members of the crew. Highly evolved, the cats share an almost telepathic bond with their minders, or Cat Persons—until, suddenly, there is no “almost” about it, and a particular Barque Cat, Chester, learns to exchange thoughts with his human friend, Jubal. Other cats soon gain the same ability. 

Behind the seeming miracle is a mysterious cat named Pshaw-Ra, who possesses knowledge and technology far beyond anything the Barque Cats—or their humans—have ever seen. When fear of a virulent plague leads the government first to quarantine and then to kill all animals suspected of infection, Pshaw-Ra—with the help of Chester, Jubal, and the crew of the starship Ranzo—activates a “mousehole” in space that carries the refugees to a place of safety: Pshaw-Ra’s home planet of Mau, where godlike cats are worshiped by human slaves. 

But Pshaw-Ra’s actions are less noble than they appear. The scheming cat plans to mate the Barque Cats with his own feline stock, creating a hybrid race of superior cats—a race destined to conquer the universe. Yet right from the start, his plans go awry.

For one thing, there’s a new queen on Mau: Pshaw-Ra’s daughter Nefure, a spoiled brat—er, cat—with a temper as short as her attention span. Pshaw-Ra’s other daughter, the rightful queen Renpet, is exiled, running for her life in the only direction available to her—down into the vast catacombs beneath the Mauan desert. Far from receiving the hero’s welcome he expected, Pshaw-Ra must use every bit of his considerable cleverness just to survive.

Meanwhile, as usual, Chester and Jubal stumble right into the middle of things, in the process uncovering the lost secrets of the Mauan civilization. But that’s not all they uncover. In the forgotten catacombs deep below the Mauan capital, something has awakened. Something as old as the universe. Something that hungers to devour all light and life—and that bears an undying hatred for cats.
This looks like a really good series, although I have yet to read the first book, Catalyst. There's something about the descriptions that reminds me both of the SCat series of short stories by Mercedes Lackey and the Solar Queen books by Andre Norton.

Kings Of The North
Elizabeth Moon
Del Rey
Release Date: March 22, 2011

There is no description on yet, but this is to be the sequel to Oath of Fealty. Definitely a book I'm looking forward to reading.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Brain Ships - Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey & Margaret Ball

Brain Ships
Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey & Margaret Ball
Baen Books
Copyright: 2003

The product description:
Combines the texts of two sequels to the best-selling The Ship Who Sang in a single volume, following the adventures of Tia and Nancia, who overcome paralysis by becoming starship-controlling "brains" that protect other young people from suffering a similar fate.

Brain Ships is an omnibus edition containing The Ship Who Searched (Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey) and PartnerShips (Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball). Both books are set in the same world as The Ship Who Sang, as are a number of other books.

Of the two books in this edition, I have to admit honestly that the first one, The Ship Who Searched is my favorite. In fact, it's my favorite of the whole series. It may also have been the first one that I read, picked up because I've loved most (if not all) of the books by both Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey.

I remember absolutely loving The Ship Who Searched when I first read it, with the many ancient history and archaelology references. Even then, those were two interests of mine, interests I've kept ever since. The two authors worked well together to create a world that worked and characters of interest.

On the other hand, PartnerShips is not as interesting to me, although the moral dilemmas the characters go through are rather captivating as was the growth they got out of it. I think the thing about the book that I didn't care for was that there were too many viewpoint characters. Something like six or eight of them, I believe.

Overall though, it was definitely a good read, and one I'll read again, as I have it on my Kobo e-reader.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What Would You Recommend? - Magic Tree House

This is a question I get asked all the time working in the bookstore: "What would you recommend for somebody who loved "_________"? (fill in the blank)" Usually I can come up with something, but that something can be a bit of a wild guess if it's not a book or genre I normally read. This is where you helpful people come in. If you have a suggestion, I'd love to hear it.

I know it's a couple of weeks late, but things have been hectic in my life. This week, I'm asking a question I've been asked about three times in the last month or so. Everyone seems to think the Magic Treehouse series for younger readers is coming to an end, and I keep getting asked what else their kids will like to read. I have to admit that I really don't know to be honest. I do know that the books have an interesting mix of history and fantasy, but I can't think of any other books that have the same.

So, what would you recommend?

Scourge Of God: A Novel Of The Change - S.M. Stirling

Scourge of God: A Novel Of The Change 
S. M. Stirling

The product description:
Rudi MacKenzie continues his journey toward Nantucket, where he hopes to learn the truth behind The Change that rendered technology across the globe inoperable. But one fanatical officer in the Sword of The Prophet has been dispatched on a mission-to stop Rudi from reaching Nantucket by any means necessary...
Scourge Of God is the sequel to The Sunrise Lands, and picks up right where that book left off. This is the middle book of the second storyline. If that doesn't make any sense, what I mean is that Dies The Fire, A Meeting At Corvallis and The Protector's War all focussed on the original characters, where the newer books are following the next generation more: Rudi and Matilda, although there's still plenty of time spent on the older characters. One of the neatest things about this series is the way the two generations think. It's very clear that they have different mindsets on life.

In my opinion, this is the book that proves that the Change series is not science fiction at all, despite that being where the series is shelved. There's too many definite moments of fantasy as gods and goddesses move in and out of the story.

We're also seeing more hints that this series and the Nantucket trilogy are connected coming out of this book and the previous one. How that works, I still don't have a clue, but they're both sets of good books.

Overall, a book that kept me up far too late reading it. I highly recommend the whole series.


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