Catching up – mini reviews #11

Ahem. So it seems that the updatery has been rather light on for the past few weeks. It’s partly blamed on pregnancy tiredness (18.5 weeks right now), partly on True Blood (I’m caught right up to where Season 2 is and LOVING it!), partly on general life busyness. And, it seems, a LOT of reading! The books just keep piling up! Aurealis nominations seem to be finally rolling in, review copies keep turning up, and a bookfair at work last week and a trip to Planet Books a couple of weekends ago certainly didn’t help! Other than that, I’ve not achieved too much, but was pretty productive today, with both kids’ bedrooms getting a much needed sort out (they were fine before the painting, but I hadn’t had a chance to put them back in order since it’s finished – looks great!) and me finally finding the last three boxes for my main bookshelf – ah books, I had missed thee! Funny how the shelves still managed to fill up even with those boxes missing… 🙂 And I kicked some butt today – well, did a whole heap of zeroing and filled in a bunch of stories that I HAD read! Decided to order some anthologies from Better World Books too – I’m really not cut out for reading onscreen methinks…

So, what have I been reading?

The Prodigal Mage (Fisherman’s Children Book One), Karen Miller, 600pp. – I enjoyed reading this, but it seemed to take a good while to really get into the story. I haven’t read The Innocent Mage sequence, and found myself feeling a bit left out because of it, as the characters are clearly still quite entrenched in those books. For me, the second half of the book, when it really started to focus on the younger generation (the Fisherman’s Children of the series title), was when I truly became engaged, but at the same time, the first half really made me want to go read The Innocent Mage books!

New Space Opera 2, Jonathan Strahan (ed) – another very fine collection from the editor we aspire to, Jonathan Strahan – this collection is excellent, with stand out stories (for me) from Sean Williams, John Scalzi, Elizabeth Moon and Bill Willingham, among many others!                       
The Last Stormlord (Random Rain: Book One), Glenda Larke – I’m a Glenda Larke fan, and her new world is intricate and unusual. It’s a desert land, where rain is controlled by Cloudmasters, Stormlords and rainlords. But when those with power seem to be a dying breed, the conflict created is fascinating, and Larke manipulates characters and conflict well. A thoroughly enjoyable read, with engaging characters who I want to see more of – only problem is the wait between books, as I read a proof copy!

Fire, Kristin Cashore  – Sequel (or more appropriately, prequel!) to Graceling, this wonderful novel builds on the debut effort Cashore made (with great success) and weaves a beautiful and fascinating story. I fell in love with it instantly, and can’t wait for the next installment.
Best Served Cold, Joe Abercrombie, 534pp – Despite not having read the series that precedes this booj, I found I became completely immersed in the world and characters very quickly, and while I really want to READ that series now, I didn’t feel I was missing out for lack of having done so. Not an easy thing to achieve as an author! I enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot, and the intricacies of character. Recommended!

The Hedge Knight, George RR Martin et al –  I’ve never been able to get into George RR Martin, but thoroughly enjoyed this graphic novel version of his short story, set in one of his worlds.

The Hedge Knight: Sworn Sword, George RR Martin et al – And this one was enough to convince me to try the Big Fat Fantasy series of Martin again…

Other Earths, Nick Gevers & Jay Lake (eds.), 308pp – Very US-centric, and not entirely my thing, but some interesting stories here.

Masques, CSFG, 281pp – A good local collection, with enough diversity despite the theme and very big TOC. Stand out for me was Cat Sparks’ "Seventeen", but there were many very good stories in the book.

Dragon Bones
, Patricia Briggs – Absolutely devoured this – great characterisation, awesome plot, brilliant writing. I fell in love with Briggs’ paranormals a while back and didn’t KNOW about the fantasies!

Dragon Blood, Patricia Briggs, 275pp. – Just as good as the first one, and I think I read it even quicker. Could not put it down, and really enjoyed every bit of it.

Halfway to the Grave, One Foot in the Grave, At Grave’s End, Destined for the Grave
, Jeaniene Frost  – These paranormals were just marvellous – engaging characters, fast paced writing, intriguing plot, some really sexy sex, and just plain good fun reads. All quality! I read all four in a week! Came from a recommendation over at Dear Author.
Kushiel’s Justice, Jacqueline Carey, 880pp – I simply could not put these down, and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to buy them! Well, it may be that I DID read this one when it first came out (some bit seemed familiar!) but I read too fast, I know, and I forget these things! But love! I love the Kushiel books, and Imri and his castmates are wonderful to read about. And the spicy bits are pretty darn hot too!

Kushiel’s Mercy
, Jacqueline Carey, 880pp  – I didn’t want it to end, I love these characters so much! But I was pleased with the outcome, and would be satisfied if Carey doesn’t revisit this particular cast, as it was well completed.

Naamah’s Kiss,
Jacqueline Carey, 645pp. – It was hard going from Kushiel to this book, set some 100 years after the events of the last Kushiel trilogy, particularly as Carey uses first person for her narration – leaving Imriel and going straight to Moirin was a bit hard, but I soon got used to it, and enjoyed this almost as much as the other books.

Strange Brew, P.N. Elrod (Ed.), 371pp. –  I like to catch as many of my favourite paranormal writers’ shorts as I can, because they often introduce new characters or story arcs that are built on in the novels, and when I don’t know all the other authors included, I frequently find someone new to pursue! I was a bit disappointed by this collection though, as no really familiar favourite characters (of mine) appeared and none of the stories really popped for me. I usually find at least one new series I want to explore thanks to these anthologies, but I don’t think I’ll be seeking out any authors here that I didn’t already know – that said, it could be just that I’ve nearly reached my saturation point of paranormal fantasy!

Phew! That’s taken me all afternoon to write up (and I think I may have missed some!). Note to self, keep spreadsheets up to date!

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