Roni Reads Ravenously

Talk100 Books in 2019 Challenge

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Roni Reads Ravenously

1ronincats
Edited: Jan 1, 2019, 10:57pm

Hi, I'm Roni. I live in San Diego with one husband, one small dog and way too many cats in a small bungalow with a garden and lots of books. I'm retired these days, after a long career as a school psychologist.

I've been a member of LT since 2008 and an active member of the 75 Book Challenge groups for that long as well. I read mostly in genre, science fiction and fantasy, but also try to read some nonfiction and mystery.

Welcome to my thread. I love visitors and promise to visit you back.

Last year's thread may be found here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/280958

2ronincats
Jan 1, 2019, 10:56pm

My Best Books of 2019>/b> (in order read):



So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Olua
An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss (and its sequel is good, too)
the Murderbot quartet of novellas by Martha Wells
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal


I did a lot of rereading this last year, much of it rereading whole series. Of the new books I read, So You Want to Talk about Race is the most important for people to read. The Hugos book by Walton is an amazing compilation of information about the history of speculative fiction. The Goss and Wells books were the most fun, very entertaining and good. And The Calculating Stars is just amazing, as was Spinning Silver!

2018 Summary

Books read: 175
Pages read: 58359
Average pages per day: 160
Average pages per book: 333

New reads: 122
Rereads: 55
Library books: 50
Books off the shelf (ROOTS): 33
New acquisitions read: 4/0
Did Not Finish (DNF): 2

Genre:
science fiction 37
fantasy 102
children's 9
nonfiction 12
fiction 5
romance 6
mystery 6

Author gender: 145 female, 38 male

Country of origin: USA, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, South Africa

Medium: Kindle, Hardback, trade paper, mass market paper

Books acquired: 62
Source: Amazon; Costco; Mysterious Galaxy; gifts
Read: 33
Genre: science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, fiction
Cost: $379.25

Books out the door: 49

3wookiebender
Jan 1, 2019, 11:53pm

Looking forward to seeing what you're reading in 2019! (175 books in 2018! That's mighty impressive!)

I also enjoyed The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter and took a book bullet already for the Murderbot books (recommended by a friend who rarely steers me wrong). I've also had Spinning Silver highly recommended, so that's definitely going to be purchased asap... :)

I like the idea of keeping a running cost of how much my book buying is costing me, but you'll all be horrified by how expensive books are in Australia. :D (Maybe I should convert it to USD first...)

4ronincats
Jan 2, 2019, 12:27am

>3 wookiebender: Oh, I know. I have LT friends in both New Zealand and Australia and I am amazed by the cost of books there. Have you read the sequel to the Goss book yet--I really liked it as well.

5wookiebender
Jan 2, 2019, 12:50am

To summarise two things: the cost of books in Australia, and the sequel to the Goss book: I haven't read the sequel yet, I'm waiting for it to come out in smaller format so it's cheaper. :D

(And will fit neatly on the shelf next to its sister book.)

6jfetting
Jan 2, 2019, 8:22pm

Welcome back Roni! I'm looking forward to following your reading again this year.

7Foxen
Jan 2, 2019, 8:27pm

Happy new year! Looking forward to following along.

I'm on a fairy tale kick right now, so will definitely be adding Spinning Silver to my list.

8ronincats
Jan 10, 2019, 6:08pm



Book #1 Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep (467 pp.)

Fairly traditional other-world medieval-type fantasy well done and very readable. This pulled me right in and was a quick read. Evie is a believable character with strong character growth and the first-person narrative is handled very well.

Estep has evidently authored several series but this is my first encounter with her work.



Book #2 The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman (433 pp.)

When I started this series 2 years ago, I thought the first book had potential, was fun, but wasn't blown away by it. But here, at Book 5 in the series, I feel Cogman has really grown as a writer and, having gotten a lot of existential angst out of the way in earlier books, is able to concentrate on an intricate plot while still having a lot of fun. This is the best one yet, in other words! Not much about the Library, but an action-filled murder mystery that pushes Irene to her utmost. Go read the series.

9ronincats
Jan 10, 2019, 6:09pm



Book #3 Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher (230 pp.)

Heather (souloftherose) distracted me with her review of this book on her thread (https://www.librarything.com/topic/301686#6690573, third review in message), so I immediately picked up and read the shiny new distraction, only to discover that it's only the first part of the story. So then I had to read the second book as well (working on that now). Thank goodness for instant delivery via Kindle. Classic heroic fantasy, but with a twist to the tropes that calls them into question. Read Heather's review.



Book #4 The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher (318 pp.)

Well, this is the second 60% of the story started in Clockwork Boys, and it is as entertaining as the first. Given that I purchased the book this morning, I guess that's a given. I started the day with a headache as well, so got a late start, but once it started to dissipate, I didn't do much else than read. And this is the kind of book to read when recovering from a headache, lots of action and character exposition and action and some upbeat moments to carry it through. Thank you, Heather!

10ronincats
Jan 15, 2019, 10:13pm



Book #5 Swordheart by T. Kingfisher (426 pp.)

This story takes place in the same world as the Clocktaur books but it has a completely different feel to it, being a romantic comedy adventure. I loved Halla, the protagonist, completely--the author has a real talent for female characters.

11ronincats
Jan 20, 2019, 11:45pm



Book #6 Doorways in the Sand by Roger Zelazny (181 pp.)

This was one of the Book Club Editions under my desk, and as I usually enjoy Zelazny, I thought I would give it a quick read before putting it in the donation bag. Similar feel to Simak's The Goblin Reservation, we have our clueless protagonist in a university setting with a mystery, bad guys coming after him, aliens, government. Entertaining but dated.



Book #7 Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov (469 pp.)

I have completed Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov. I read and loved his Foundation Trilogy in the 60s and reread it several times. At some point around the turn of the century, I accumulated his later books in the series as well as the sequels to his original two robot mysteries with R. Daneel Olivaw with the intention of completing the series. These books were in my initial cataloguing in 2007. Obviously, over the ensuing 11 years I have not done that and, with the completion of this book for my challenge, I am now deaccessioning all of the later books, keeping only the originals, defined as those books published prior to the 60s. See below.

12LShelby
Edited: Jan 21, 2019, 10:16am

I love your thread title, Roni!

Nice to know the Invisible Library books grew rather than diminished.

Also, this T. Kingfisher clearly needs looking into. :)

13ronincats
Feb 2, 2019, 9:46am



Book #8 The Griffin's Feather by Cornelia Funke (432 pp.)

I was originally going to read the sequels to Funke's Inkheart to meet the series challenge this month (see >67) of reading a book in a series that has been translated into English. But as I read the jacket descriptions and looked at the thickness of the books, I decided that I was going to get the second book of the Dragon Rider series instead, even if it meant giving up the Books Off My Shelves mojo. I've now read 5 books by Funke: Inkheart, The Thief Lord, Dragon Rider, Igraine the Brave and The Griffin's Feather and I have to say that she is not one of my favorite authors. I know not if it is the translation or her writing itself, but there seems to be a distance in her stories, the protagonist in Inkheart annoyed the hell out of me by continuing to do STUPID things, and this book, while it has a great message, is too preachy about it. It's probably just me. These are adventure tales for kids, and they probably enjoy them. This book goes back to the library now, and Inkheart and its sequels, Inkspell and Inkdeath--well, they are going over to the middle school library. I am not going to read the sequels. No. Not. Another 13.5 centimeters of shelf space (five and a half inches)!

14ronincats
Feb 2, 2019, 9:48am



Book #9 Knife Children by Lois McMaster Bujold (148 pp.)

This novella is set in the world of the Sharing Knife quartet, featuring one of the minor characters from that story. Set almost entirely in a Lakewalker settlement, it deals with the ongoing interaction and frictions between lakewalkers and farmers. A welcome revisit to a fascinating world.



Book #10 Cast in Oblivion by Michelle Sagara (544 pp.)

You may recall that I love this fantasy series. This is book #14 and I have somewhat mixed reaction. There is a LOT of talk in this book. A LOT! Think My Dinner with Andre kind of talk for the first half of the book. On the other hand, there is also a lot of action in the second half of the book that should propel some big changes in the next book. And Kaylin has pretty much stopped whining and is ready to start learning what Chosen really means. Definitely not the place to start the series, my friends. But I can't wait for the next one (which will be a while because this one only came out on Tuesday).

15LShelby
Feb 3, 2019, 3:52pm

>13 ronincats: "No. Not. Another 13.5 centimeters of shelf space (five and a half inches)!"

Sad that you didn't enjoy the series enough to continue, but extra shelf space is a good thing, right? (I know I'm always looking for some.) :)

16ronincats
Feb 5, 2019, 7:17pm



Book #12 The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal (384 pp.)

This is the second book of the Lady Astronaut series and it is just as good as the first book. Really superb science fiction! Politics and paranoia on Earth, and the first Mars mission.

>15 LShelby: I was sad too, Shel, as I was expecting to love it.

17wookiebender
Feb 7, 2019, 5:38pm

Sad about you being unhappy with Funke's books, but hurrah for the silver lining of more bookshelf space!

I loved Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist Histories, I shall have to get started on this new series asap.

18ronincats
Feb 17, 2019, 9:53pm

>17 wookiebender: I liked the Glamourist books, but these are at a whole 'nother level!



Book #13 Darkness on his Bones by Barbara Hambly (250 pp.)

This is book 6 of Hambly's series about James and Lydia Asher (and she definitely gets equal billing) and their relationship with vampires. The first book in this series, Those Who Hunt the Night is IMHO the best vampire book out there (and I don't generally care for vampire books) and while the series veers closer to horror than I typically like, it's practical about vampires and the logical and scientific consequences of their existence in a way few others are. Lydia's character, in particular, makes the series stand out for me.



Book #14 Stars Uncharted by S. K. Dunstall (405 pp.)

I really enjoyed this adventure space opera. I had read Dunstall's Linesman books and thought they were okay, but I loved the world-building and the characters in this one much more. Yes, there are no hidden depths, but there is a lot of pure entertainment in the adventure. Recommended!

I want to encourage everyone that, yes, spring is coming. I know it is because it has arrived in San Diego. My personal indicator is the ornamental pear tree. All over town, they have burst into a cloud of white blossoms. Simply gorgeous. And from my front yard,

19ronincats
Feb 17, 2019, 9:53pm



Book #15 Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (527 pp.)

I'm copying this description from Hope, a librarian who reviewed the book on Amazon, as there isn't much of an official one.

"It’s a delightful adventure for us even as it’s a bewildering one for twelve-year old Morrigan when she takes a train to the mystical Wunderground and begins classes with eight others, all of whom have unique magical skills…except her. She’s been identified as a Wundersmith, but, what does that mean exactly? The only other person with that label is definitely not a nice person and he’s frightened many people with his abuse of his powers. Morrigan is worried; will she discover if she has any magic like her new classmates? Will others despise her when they find out what she is? Can she make friends? With strong echoes of Harry Potter and Hogwarts, we read about eccentric and difficult teachers, the challenges to learning magical arts, secrets that must be kept, and unexpected tests to see if Morrigan’s group can support each other. And Morrigan, who’s known her weaknesses all too well, starts to see she has strengths, too."

It's like Harry Potter only in that there is magic and school and friends--the world-building is completely different and original. This is the second book in the series--start with Nevermoor, but this juvenile fantasy series is well worth reading for the sheer entertainment.

Also the second book by Aussies in a row here!

20ronincats
Mar 20, 2019, 7:46pm



Book #16 Beyond the Empire by K. B. Wagers (390 pp.)

This is the third book of the Indranan War trilogy, a perfectly serviceable space opera adventure set in an interesting geopolitical structure. It was entertaining and decently written. I would read more by the author, although not right away, and indeed, the next book which is the first of a continuing trilogy is out.



Book #17 Last Friends by Jane Gardam (207 pp.)

This is also the third of a trilogy, following Old Filth and The Man in the Wooden Hat. I do wish I had read it more closely upon completion of the first two, but I recall the main details and Gardam's writing is, as always, a delight. A very satisfying conclusion, in all, to the story.



Book #18 Witches Incorporated by K. E. Mills (545 pp.)

This one had been on my shelves since March, 2010. I read the first, which started out a light-hearted fantasy and devolved into something much grimmer. This one stayed pretty much more in lighter range, with some fun squabbling amongst the 4 protagonists, but stayed at the entertaining level without much depth or investment. It goes in the "pass it on" box. I won't be continuing the series.

21ronincats
Mar 20, 2019, 7:48pm



Book #19 In the Vanishers' Palace by Aliette de Bodard (154 pp.)

This is my second story by de Bodard. The first was straight science fiction while this one is fantasy set in a post-apocalyptic world. This one is a lush mood piece--this lady can write!! It sucked me in immediately and I finished it the same day (well, yes, it is a novella so relatively short, but still...). I will continue to look for her work.



Book #20 The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (488 pp.)

I love this book so much, and more every time I read it. The character of Maia, his interactions with the other characters and the relationships he builds--this was the perfect book to read right now. How often do you have a book with someone you really, really like, and those characteristics are exactly what lead to his success? Not often. Cherish the moment!



Book #21 The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer (323 pp.)

Following up on Richard's warbling last week, when I needed another comfort read I immediately went to Heyer and this book. I love the writing and the interactions between the characters--so clever, so understated--and it also totally fit the bill for a comfort read. I cannot believe, Richard, that there are 1 star reviews on Amazon that call this boring or irritating!

Following that book, I was screening through my Kindle catalog trying to find something to read that fit in with my mood when I noticed a T. Kingfisher bought last April long before I heard about the Clockwork Boys. Bingo!



Book #22 Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher (207 pp.)

The perfection of this book for my next read was confirmed by the introductory note to the book, citing Robin McKinley's Rose Daughter as inspiration. I love both of McKinley's retellings of Beauty and the Beast, and this was another original retelling with the soul of a gardener (who is NOT fond of roses) and with great characters and conversation. Highly recommended. But now what shall I read?

22ronincats
Mar 20, 2019, 7:50pm



Book #23 These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer (386 pp.)

You know how it is...you can't read just one. So back to an old favorite. This is a fairly early book, one of the Georgians, and much of it takes place in France. There are a few things that put up the backs of modern readers, but I love the characters, the characterizations, and the movement of the plot.
Many modern readers deplore the 21 year gap in age between the two leads. This being a time when love was not typically the underlying reason for a marriage and when many even older widowers (Avon is only 40, after all) were marrying even younger women, it doesn't bother me in the least. And it's not forced into the plot.

Also, many modern readers find Leonie and her mannerisms irritating if not more. Sorry, I like her spunk and ingenuousness and think Heyer leavens it with her other characters sufficiently.

Finally, the underlying assumption that the nobility have inbred qualities that breed true and that the son of a peasant must necessarily have plebeian tendencies is one that we have striven to do away with in this age and it sits awkwardly as a major plot point to modern minds, no matter that it was believed in implicitly in the time in which it is set. This is the one point that sticks in the craw, nonetheless.




Book #24 That Ain't Witchcraft by Seanan McGuire (435 pp.)

This is the 8th book in the Incryptid series and follows up the previous one featuring Antimony directly. While the Incryptids aren't my favorite of McGuire's series, they are entertaining and this one does a good job of resolving the immediate crisis and adds a short novella featuring Alex as a bonus.

23ronincats
Mar 20, 2019, 7:50pm



Book #25 The Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean (316 pp.)

I got this book from the library because it was a Pamela Dean I hadn't read back when she was actively publishing (1985 through 1998 for novels). It's fantasy, supposedly related to her Secret Country trilogy which I remember liking (because I still have the books) but of which I remember nothing except it was a very traditional epic fantasy where kids from our world are thrown into a fantasy world. And in this book it is you who are thrown into a setting where you don't know the rules and have to figure it out as you go along. I liked that aspect but it does read as a rather old-fashioned fantasy (and it is nearly 25 years old).



Book #26 Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field by Melissa Nathan (280 pp.)

Katie featured this book on her 5th thread as a Book You Should Read, and I got hit. The library had it, the husband volunteered to go pick up my holds there today, and as a result I read it this afternoon. I am deservedly skeptical of P&P wannabes, but I have to agree with and thank Katie, because this was definitely very clever and well-done and enjoyable.



Book #27 Devil's Cub by Georgette Heyer (323 pp.)

Still love this in conjunction with the prior book. I adored it unreservedly in my 20s. Now there are a few problematic issues, but the characters carry it through.



Book #28 Roar of Sky by Beth Cato (427 pp.)

This is the third and final book of the Breath of Earth series, featuring an alternate history with Japan ascendant over the US (as in the US a subordinate province) and at war with China and Russia and with geomancers messing with the earth's energies. Cato sets the stories in the first decade of the 20th century, mostly along the West Coast, and has done an impressive amount of historical research not only on the physical and social geography but also the problems of race relations at that time and place. Both of these make it stand out from the mass of fantasy trilogies available and I definitely recommend it.

24ronincats
Mar 20, 2019, 7:51pm



Book #29 Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J. M. Bergen (352 pp.)

This was a book won through the Early Reviewers, a physical book signed by the author.

This is a children's fantasy about a boy who finds a magic bookshop and becomes a magician. Yes, there are lots and LOTS of elements in the story that are well-used fantasy tropes. Bergen does a nice job of updating the setting and having a diverse set of characters and I think many 12-13 year old boys may enjoy the story. However, there is not much depth to either the characters or the plot and I don't think most adult readers of children's fantasy will find much substance here.



Book #30 The Secret Witch (the Witches of London trilogy) by Alyxandra Harvey (403 pp.)

While I can access the work, I can't get the correct touchstone to appear using either the book title or the trilogy title. A Breath of Frost is evidently the title the book was published under in Canada, and now I have a touchstone! This was supposed to be a Regency-era fantasy and, when I checked it out at Amazon, the Kindle price was $6 but the trilogy was on sale at that time for $2.51. So I got the trilogy. The story is okay but the pacing is uneven and I didn't fall in love with it. Too much teen romance, cardboard characters, stock tropes. I may go ahead with the other two since I have them, but I won't be in any hurry.

25ronincats
Mar 20, 2019, 7:52pm



Book #31 The Exile and the Sorcerer by Jane Fletcher (314 pp.)
Book #32 The Traitor and the Chalice by Jane Fletcher (327 pp.)
Book #33 The Empress and the Acolyte by Jane Fletcher (313 pp.)

This was a decent secondary world medieval fantasy. The world-building was good and the characters okay. The most interesting components were the way it used cultures to question gender roles and the explicit lesbian relationship between the two main characters. Only one sex scene per book, so the overall relationships and plot were the main focus.



Book #34 Quatrain by Sharon Shinn (341 pp.)

I picked up this collection of four novellas set in the four settings of previous Shinn books/series when I first came out nearly 9 years ago and it's been sitting on my tbr shelves ever since. I like Shinn's writing, both her science fiction and her fantasy (although the Mystic books are my least favorite) and enjoyed revisiting her worlds in this book.

26ronincats
Mar 20, 2019, 7:54pm



Book #35 Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones (390 pp.)

Sandy just reread this and inspired me to reread it as a reward to myself for crossing 4 ROOTS off my TBR list. This is a sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm, featuring Elda, one of Derk's daughters, and her adventures at the University. This is a totally fun farce, just the thing to entertain a convalescent. Thanks, Sandy.



Book #36 A Bachelor Establishment by Isabella Barclay (207 pp.)

Lucy just listened to this book and enjoyed it, so I downloaded the sample and at the end of it, purchased the entire book for my Kindle. It is a Regency romance, with all that entails, but imho come the closest I have seen to a Heyer in the repartee, ridiculous situations, side characters, and overall fun that it generates. Barclay is the alter ego of Jodi Taylor of time traveling book fame and she really does an excellent job here.



Book #37 Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana White (240 pp.)

I really enjoyed White's book How to Manage your Home Without Losing your Mind last year, and when this popped up on Amazon Prime as a book free to borrow, I downloaded it on my Kindle. I started the first chapter to see if it was that much different from the other, and ended up reading the book straight through. Yes, this book focuses solely on decluttering, a narrower topic, but it is just as practical and powerful as the other book. I've done a lot of decluttering this year, but this inspires me to continue and even (gasp!) tackle the attic.

27ronincats
Edited: Mar 20, 2019, 7:55pm



Book #38 Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (373 pp.)

This is a reread to prepare for Cho's second book, which is on order at the library and I am first in line. On the second reading, I was more comfortable with the book realizing that, despite the title, Prunella gets equal attention as a protagonist and anticipating the pacing issues. I'm looking forward to seeing if Cho has improved her writing in the second book.

28ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:44am



Book #39 Heartland: A memoir of working hard and being broke in the richest country on earth by Sarah Smarsh (290 pp.)

I had a very personal reaction to this memoir, one that perhaps only Benita of all of you can relate to. I felt in many ways that the author’s journey was similar to mine a generation earlier. Kansas—yes, just a hundred miles from where I came up. German Catholic farming family—check. First to go to college—check. Work hard at school to make sure I could pay for college because my family couldn’t—check. But there were also major differences. My family history was much more stable than hers, with her history of young single mothers over several generations. There was much less violence, which in her case mostly accrued to those young mothers. I had much more stability, growing up in the same home and schools in my childhood, and my family valued education much more than hers, both my parents being intelligent but frustrated in their desire for higher education and imbuing me from toddlerhood with the goal of Kansas University (and the need for scholarships)—oldest child, can you tell? And her base families actually had quite a bit more money and possessions than mine. Grandpa Arnie still had the 160 acres of homesteaded property and loads of machinery—my grandpa had disposed of his and Dad only had 5 acres around the house and sharecropped farms until all the old people died off and their children didn’t want him any more. In her family, the women all worked; my mom didn’t work until I went off to college and both my younger siblings were old enough to be fairly independent. Still, I have to agree with her basic premise that there is classism in the US and that it can be pervasive and pernicious and largely unrecognized. Definitely an interesting book.



Book #40 Snake Agent by Liz Williams (412 pp.)

This reread was to celebrate picking up the first three books of the series as a Kindle bundle. I very much enjoy this fantasy set in Singapore 3 with its diplomatic relations with a Chinese Heaven and Hell as Inspector Chen seeks to solve a murder mystery where the murdered girl's shade ends up in Hell instead of Heaven where it was supposed to go.



Book #41 Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik (431 pp.)

This is science fiction of an increasingly common type; female kickass protagonist on the run meets up with sexy bad boy and they team up to outwit their enemies as they careen around the universe. That is not to say that this is not entertaining or interesting world-building, but come on now, THREE explicit sex scenes? One is more than enough. More action than character development, in all senses of the word. I got this from the library on the basis of Tor's summary of books coming out in February. I'm not sure that I'll continue with the series.

29ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:44am



Book #42 Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones (295 pp.)

Mary (bell7) put this on my wishlist, but Cassie (cassiebash) motivated me to check it out of the library after she read it earlier this year.

The year is 1818, the city is London, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy. ?? Annis always suspected that her father was himself a spy, and following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England's current spymasters-not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely. ?? Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can earn a living, maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer. ?? It can't be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?.

This was slightly improbable but so much fun that I was glad to ignore that and concentrate on the shenanigans. Would be a delightful beach read.

30ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:46am



Book #43 A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White (447 pp.)

This is the second book now where I thought I had gotten the book from the library because it was on the Nebula nominee list, and wondered why it was there, then realized I'd gotten the title from another source. This is science fiction with magic, space opera adventure other than the magic. It was okay, adequately done, but never really pulled me in.

First Quarter of 2019 Summary

Books read: 43
Pages read: 15116
Average pages per day: 168
Average pages per book: 352

New reads: 37
Rereads: 6
Library books: 18
Books off the shelf (ROOTS): 8
New acquisitions read: 2/5
Did Not Finish (DNF): 0

Genre:
science fiction 7
fantasy 28
children's 2
nonfiction 2
fiction 1
romance 5
mystery 0

Author gender: 38 female, 5 male

Books acquired: 27
Source: 3-Amazon; 0-Goodwill; 0-Mysterious Galaxy; 1-PBS; 1-Early Reviewers
Read: 10
Genre: 2-science fiction, 12-fantasy, 1-childrens, 4-nonfiction, 7-fiction, 1-romance
Cost: $94.17

Books out the door: 104

31ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:46am



Book #44 The Queen's Gambit by Jessie Mihalik (159 pp.)

After I finished Polaris Rising from the library, I realized I had downloaded this onto my Kindle earlier this year. It's a novella, a quick read. Like the other book, the action is non-stop, the character development minimal, and the heroine's survival improbable, but what the hey, this is space opera and her intentions are pure--mostly.



Book #45 Alliance Rising by C. J. Cherryh and Jane Fancher (346 pp.)

This book is set in the early days, before Finity's End and before Sol has reestablished FTL contact with the rest of the human universe settlement. Situated entirely on the Alpha space station, this is a tense story of political realignments. A very good review on Amazon claims that the personal character development is much poorer than in early Alliance books by Cherryh. It's been long enough since I reread those that I really can't tell, but this person sounds like they know what they are talking about. Others have complained that there is too much telling and not enough showing, and the relatively slow pace of the book would tend to substantiate that. Still, it is classic Cherryh shenanigans and I enjoyed it.

32ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:47am



Book #46 Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace (229 pp.)

I ran across this series when the 6th book was featured somewhere and the description sounded interesting, as in "Gluttony Bay is the penultimate Sin du Jour affair, Matt Wallace's funny foodie series about the New York firm that caters to the paranormal, which began with Envy of Angels." I ordered this first book from the library, and downloaded samples of both the sixth novella and this one onto my Kindle.

Okay, this will appeal to Christopher Moore fans and Stross' Laundry Archives fans for sure. Weird, non-stop action, but no real nuance or character development. While that may happen, (I accidentally read the sample for the sixth book and not this one and it sounded like one of the lead characters was trying to detach herself from the firm, so maybe some angst), I don't think I will continue with the series.



Book #47 The Collected Kagan by Janet Kagan (347 pp.)

This book of collected short stories by Janet Kagan, who died at age 62 a decade ago, is delightful. Since I don't read the genre magazines, I had only read one of them before, The Nutcracker Coup, but very much enjoyed almost all of them. They resonated with me, and were generally positive in mood, not always a given in science fiction.

33ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:48am



Book #48 The True Queen by Zen Cho (371 pp.)

This is the second book in the "A Sorcerer to the Crown" series. It takes place in Malaysia, England, and the Unseen Realm. We follow one of two sisters through their adventures after surviving a storm but with no memories, as they seek the source of their curse and the means to destroy it. Once again we meet Prunella and Zacharias Wythe as they seek to protect England from the fury of the Fairy Queen over the theft of her Virtu talisman. But all is not as it seems.

I thought there was a slow spot in the middle of the book, when it all seemed a bit too farcical, but the story picked up again and gave good entertainment through the end. Don't read it expecting high fantasy, though, as the story does not take itself seriously.



Book #49 The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (278 pp.)

I enjoyed this quite a bit. It is written as a children's book, with short chapters and descriptive chapter headings, but I think adults will get even more out of it. Boy wants to be normal, not a monster with a hunchback, and so when the pilgrim Secundus drafts him as an assistant, he is eager to reach Rome in this year of our Lord 1350 in order to have the miracle performed and his desire granted. But does he really know what he wants? A quick read and an intriguing story.

34ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:48am



Book #50 Mirabile by Janet Kagan (288 pp.)

Since I enjoyed The Collected Kagan so much, I wanted to also read the ebook Mirabile which collects short but connected short stories about an ecologist's adventures on the colonized planet Mirabile. Kagan has created a fascinating ecosystem partnered with great characters, making for a very enjoyable read.



Book #51 The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (319 pp.)

This has been a favorite of mine since childhood, despite its sentimentality. I had the chance to pick it up for free the other day for my Kindle, and took the chance for a reread. The ebook copy is not particularly well done--the text seems to break into all caps at random throughout the book and I am sure there are some editing errors. But it was fun to revisit.

35ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:49am



Book #52 The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien (398 pp.)

This reread is for the group read in Category Challenge. It's been over 12 years since I've done a reread, because I haven't done one since joining LT, and I enjoyed it as much as ever!

I have had a copy of Swords' Masters, a book club edition, on my tbr shelves for a number of years. This month's SFF challenge is Swords and Sorcery and Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series is considered THE set of books that set off a craze for this type of story in the late 60s. Yes, there were earlier examples, but Leiber invented the term. This book is an omnibus of books 4-6 of the series. I know I read the first and maybe another one or two in the 70s.



Book #53 Swords Against Wizardry by Fritz Leiber (188 pp.)

I'm only going to read this one book in the volume. These books were never meant to be read for more than swash-buckling entertainment, and they haven't, imho, aged that well. There are others of Leiber's books (e.g., Gather, Darkness) that are complex and layered and that pull you in, but this one isn't meant to be those things and isn't. So I'm not going to use my time reading the other two. That's one more for the Books off my Shelves category and one more physical book off of my shelves!

36ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:51am



Book #54 The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey (245 pp.)

Anne recommended this children's fantasy book and my library had it, so I ordered it. Anne rarely leads me astray and this was a good fantasy for children ages 8 through 12. As I worked my way through it, I thought strongly of The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, and so I was delighted to see a homage to Le Guin in the acknowledgements at the end of the book.



Book #55 Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper (301 pp.)

This was a Santa Thing gift from 2016. I read it for the nonfiction challenge for April, a comfort read, and positive books about cats fit right into that. This memoir covers Gwen's adoption of a 4 week old kitten whose eyes had had to be removed due to a severe infection, up until 12 years of age. Not fascinating, but interesting.



Book #56 Agent of Change by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (324 pp.)
Book #57 Conflict of Honors by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (327 pp.)

Umpteenth reread, always a great escape from reality!

37ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:52am



Book #58 Plan B by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (334 pp.)
book #59 I Dare by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (471 pp.)

I skimmed Carpe Diem (reading all the stuff that didn't happen to Val Con and Miri) and then plunged into the last two books of the sequence. Continuing with the comfort reads but I need to get back into some of my library books, like Early Riser.



Book #60 Early Riser by Jasper Fforde (407 pp.)

Started slowly, but the pace improved and it was fun in a Fforde sort of way, although if I were Welsh or even British I'm sure I would have picked up on even more of the humor.

I read my new Kindle version of an old favorite last night.



Book #62 The Thread That Binds the Bones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (320 pp.)

I fell in love with this first book of Hoffman's back in the mid-90s and have read all the adult books she's produced since. (Not her R. L. Stine or Sweet Valley Jr. High series works) She writes some seriously weird fantasy and even when it doesn't make sense, I love it. The only book I've not loved was a seriously weird science fiction book titled Catalyst: a novel of alien contact, but her weird fantasy I love.

38ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:55am



Book #63 Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia McKillip (290 pp.)

This is an ebook of McKillip's shorter works that I picked up in 2017 and finally got around too. McKillip's writing is beautiful and atmospheric as always, and I enjoyed following her imagination through various stories.



Book #64 By Demons Possessed by P. C. Hodgell (283 pp.)

This book came out today, and is the 9th in the Chronicles of the Kencyrath. In it, Jame returns to Tai-tastigon to lay some ghosts (and gods and demons). I love the city and the people there, but I have to say that the city is in such a mess and the action moves so rapidly that I don't get that much of the sense of place that I loved in God Stalk. But as always, it is the people who are important and we get to at least touch base with everyone there important to Jame. And there are developments that move the story along.



Book #65 Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie (265 pp.)

Gale (Narilka) mentioned this on her thread recently and it sounded like light fun, so I picked it up for my Kindle.And that's exactly what it is, light undemanding entertainment in an urban fantasy setting.

39ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:55am



Book #66 Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear (502 pp.)

A space salvager and her partner make the discovery of a lifetime that just might change the universe in this wild, big-ideas space opera from multi award-winning author Elizabeth Bear.

Halmey Dz and her partner Connla Kurucz are salvage operators, living just on the inside of the law...usually. Theirs is the perilous and marginal existence—with barely enough chance of striking it fantastically big—just once—to keep them coming back for more. They pilot their tiny ship into the scars left by unsuccessful White Transitions, searching for the relics of lost human and alien vessels. But when they make a shocking discovery about an alien species that has been long thought dead, it may be the thing that could tip the perilous peace mankind has found into full-out war.
Amazon

Elizabeth Bear is pretty amazing. She has written a ton of stuff, all of it very different from her other work. Hard SF, fantasy Asian epic, urban fantasy with a time trip back to Elizabethan times, 18th century vampires, wild west fantasy, and that's just the stuff I've read! There are at least three series and three stand-alones that I haven't. And it is consistently GOOD.

And this book is excellent! Not everyone likes it (see the Amazon reviews) but the two LT reviews are positive and I agree with them. Big idea space opera with interesting characters and a fair amount of introspection/philosophizing. Sucked me in all the way!

And her Author's Notes thanks "Andre Norton, Iain Banks, C. J. Cherryh, and James White, whose works grew me into the person who would want to write this book."



Book #67 The Origins of Constantine by D. C. Gomez (88 pp.)

This novella narrates the origins of Constantine, a talking cat who is Death's companion in the Intern Diaries series. I haven't read any of them but couldn't resist a free Kindle book about a talking cat. Based on this book, I probably won't read the series--it wasn't bad, but nothing inspired either.

40ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:56am



Book #68 The Hub: Dangerous Territory by James H. Schmitz (473 pp.)

Call it preparation for the group read next month! And that cover is an illustration from our target book...although I think I'll see how many I can convince to move on to The Witches of Karres or Legacy if they like Demon Breed.



Book #69 Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson (232 pp.)

I read this because it was nominated for best novella of 2018 for both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards. In the dystopia of 2267, a team travels back in time to look at the ecological structure of the Euphrates valley in 2024 BCE, with unintended consequences. This pulled me right in, but the ending seemed abrupt. Still well worth reading.

If 232 pages is considered a novella these days, then Demon Breed is a novella.

And the Nebula Award winners were announced Saturday and can be found here:
https://locusmag.com/2019/05/2018-nebula-awards-winners/

Kowal won in the Novel category with The Calculating Stars, definitely a worthy winner, and Aliette de Bodard's The Tea Master and the Detective won for best novella.

41ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:57am



Book #70 The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz (344 pp.)
Book #71 The Wizard of Karres by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, Dave Freer (447 pp.)
Book #72 The Sorceress of Karres by Eric Flint and David Freer (416 pp.)

The Witches of Karres (1966) is widely considered Schmitz' masterwork. I differ, but it is still a fun romp and well worth reading. Definitely in the space opera genre, our bumbling hero gets in well over his head before developing the abilities to work with the eponymous witches to deal with space pirates, giant vatches, and aliens seeking to conquer the universe.

The next two books are sequels written in 2004 and 2010 by the guy who put together those collections for Baen of Schmitz' work and collaborators. They actually aren't bad. They do a pretty good job of being true to the spirit of the original. You'll find plenty of disagreement about that on the reviews pages on various sites, but if you don't try to take them seriously, the shenanigans are entertaining.

42ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:58am



Book #73 Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas (247 pp.)

This was a book bullet from Suzanne (Chatterbox) a year ago February, and she was hit by a BB from Kerry in New Zealand. It's a time travel novel and the jacket says for those who like Jasper Fforde and librarians so it seemed like a natural for me, and the library had a copy.

This is a tongue-in-cheek farce, and must be read that way to be enjoyed, because otherwise the heroine is too stupid to endure. Definitely clever, but in the way that lets you know it's being clever rather than inherent in the story.



Book #74 Telzey Amberdon by James H. Schmitz (436 pp.)

This is the first book of the re-issued Baen editions, featuring Telzey in six of her adventures as her psi abilities are awakened and then develop. Very enjoyable!



BOOK #75 TnT; Telzey & Trigger by James H. Schmitz (403 pp.)
Book #76 Trigger & Friends by James H. Schmitz (474 pp.)

Continuing through reread of the Baen compilations, TnT is book 2 containing 7 more shorter works about Telzey, with several also featuring Trigger Argee. These take place chronologically AFTER the Trigger stories in book 3, Trigger & Friends. This latter book contains only 5 works, but one is the full-length novel Legacy, which is a 1979 re-title of the original work A Tale of Two Clocks first published in 1962. And this is also the one available on Gutenberg.

These first four books of the five-book compilation put out by Baen in 2000 and 2001, along with the novel The Witches of Karres, are considered the best of Schmitz' work. The fifth book, Eternal Frontier, is a collection of Schmitz' earlier short works and generally considered to be his journeyman works.

43ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:58am



Book #77 The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien (327 pp.)

I finished this on Saturday, pre-headache. This is a reread as part of the group read over in the Category Challenge of Lord of the Rings. https://www.librarything.com/topic/304831

I read through Book 3, the first half, very quickly--always love the Ents! But Book 4 is always a slow read for me as a reread, at least up until the cliffhanger end! Moving on to The Return of the King for June.



Book #78 St. Paul: The Saint We Love To Hate by Karen Armstrong (143 pp.)

This short nonfiction book was a non-demanding and quick read.



Book #79 The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay (290 pp.)

Joe read this and gave it a positive review last year, and so when it came up at the library, I ordered it. It was fun "chicklit" full of love for Austen and just the thing for an entertaining read with no demands that my migraine hangover required yesterday!



Book #80 The Rose Legacy by Jessica Day George (263 pp.)

George is a very successful writer of fantasy for the intermediate grades (roughly ages 9 to 13), many of them fairy tale retellings. This tale, not a retelling, will especially appeal to horse-mad girls of that age. George always brings a freshness and cleverness to her tales and this one does not disappoint. Foggi (foggidawn) read it recently and again, my library had it!

44ronincats
Jun 9, 2019, 10:59am

I finished my reread of LOTR for the group read.



Book #81 The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien (302 pp.)

Just as satisfying as the first time I read it 53 years ago, and all the multitudinous times since!

45wookiebender
Jul 8, 2019, 9:52pm

I haven't re-read LOTR since the movies came out. I should add it to the book pile again. :)

46ronincats
Jul 9, 2019, 12:23pm



Book #82 A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (462 pp.)

I thought this was very good! It's space opera with a political twist with a murder mystery thrown in. Majit is the new ambassador from her polity of space stations to a powerful empire with a history of accessioning weaker surrounding territories. No one at home knows what happened to the previous ambassador and Majit is thrown into a complex bureaucratic culture with Aztec overtones with everything at stake. Nonstop action but with plenty of thoughtful meat to balance it. Strongly recommended.



Book #83 Thornbound by Stephanie Burgis (186 pp.)

Foggi called my attention to this sequel to Snowspelled earlier this month and I immediately picked it up on my Kindle. Liked it just as much if not better than the first!

Cassandra Harwood scandalized her nation when she became the first woman magician in Angland. Now, she's ready to teach a whole new generation of bright young women at her radical new school, the Thornfell College of Magic...

Until a sinister fey altar is discovered in the school library, the ruling Boudiccate sends a delegation to shut down Thornfell, and Cassandra's own husband is torn away from her.




Book #84 A Liaden Universe Constellation: Volume 4 by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (324 pp.)

This is another collection of shorter works set in Lee and Miller's Liaden Universe. I probably would have liked it better if the best of these, the novella Due Diligence, had not been one that I had picked up very recently in Kindle format and just read. I forgot to count it here when I did so, however, which works out nicely now. Most of the others were okay but not absorbing. Only for fans.



Book #85 The Hidden City by Michelle West (755 pp.)

This was well-developed fantasy and the writing was good, but the pace was excruciatingly slow. I realize this 754 page book was essentially a set-up for the rest of the series, getting all the set pieces in place, but for me it dragged out in interminable detail.

I wrote the above before looking at other reviews on Goodreads and here and discovered two things. One--that I was not alone in characterizing the pace as glacial. Two--although I had known that West had a trilogy and a duology set in this world prior to writing this House Wars series, I did not realize that this was a prequel to those books involving characters that showed up later in them. I always have a problem with prequels even when I love the series, because the plots have to follow certain developments to end up where the previously written books are and so they often feel curiously flat. After reading this one, I rather think it's spoiled the entire story arc for me and I probably won't continue even though I love the author's Elantra series.

47ronincats
Jul 9, 2019, 12:24pm



Book #86 Fractured Symmetry: Blair MacAlister & Terendurr the Black Stone by Fernando Salazar (337 pp.)

Blair MacAlister is an expert at Judo, a credible AI hacker, and a certified pilot of craft atmospheric and interstellar. Her favorite weapon is sarcasm, or failing that, her ever-present blaster. Her boss is Terendurr the Black Stone: technical wizard, expert in the ethnography of myriad races, fancier of rare foods and wines, and even rarer fractalites. An Entharion Quadromorph, exiled from his homeworld and under constant threat of assassination, he is also somewhat irritable.

Together they investigate mysteries based on science, in a setting that brings them into contact with all the main races of Civspace: The mysterious Junn, the affable but biologically intense Raylics, the chaotic and powerful Oro-Ka, the commercial minded Keret, and the cynical Phair. At the center of their cases are transformative genetic therapies, unlikely fossils, the linked neurology of symbiotes, and more. Terendurr is over 300 years old and has seen and endured the worst and strangest the galaxy has to offer. Will Blair prove as durable as her boss?
Amazon

I can't get the touchstones to come up for this--I appear to have the only copy on LT. It is a Kindle book I picked up. This was published in 2017 but mimics the style of classic science fiction where a novel is a series of adventures featuring the same cast (very similar to the Telzey books by Schmitz, for example). This is pure entertainment, but it IS entertaining, which is what I have needed with everything else in my life. If you are a fan of classic SF you might want to give it a try. It was a freebie when I picked it up; it's now $4.99 or free with Kindle Unlimited.

48ronincats
Jul 9, 2019, 12:25pm

Last book for June--



Book #87 Pawsitively Poisonous by Melissa Erin Jackson (201 pp.)

Amber Blackwood, lifelong resident of Edgehill, Oregon, has earned a reputation for being a semi-reclusive odd duck. Her store, The Quirky Whisker, is full of curiosities, from extremely potent sleepy teas and ever-burning candles to kids’ toys that seem to run endlessly without the aid of batteries. The people of Edgehill think of the Quirky Whisker as an integral part of their feline-obsessed town, but most give Amber herself a wide berth. Amber prefers it that way; it keeps her secret safe. But that secret is thrown into jeopardy when Amber’s friend Melanie is found dead, a vial of headache tonic from Amber’s store clutched in her hand.

Edgehill’s newest police chief has had it out for Amber since he arrived three years before. He can’t possibly know she’s a witch, but his suspicions about her odd store and even odder behavior have shot her to the top of his suspect list. When the Edgehill rumor mill finds out Melanie was poisoned, it’s not only the police chief who looks at Amber differently. Determined to both find justice for her friend and to clear her own name, Amber must use her unique gifts to help track down Melanie’s real killer. A quest that threatens much more than her secret …
Amazon

This is pretty much a cozy mystery with a touch of paranormal thrown in. Despite the additions of fantasy and cats, this is pretty much run-of-the-mill for the genre. At least the police chief isn't a romantic interest, as in so many cozies. I'll not be continuing, but I've been reading a lot of mindless fiction to deal with anxiety over the rental situation when I've not been playing online puzzle games and this did fit that bill!!

June Summary

Books read: 12
Pages read: 3715
Average pages per day: 124
Average pages per book: 310

New reads: 10
Rereads: 2
Library books: 5
Books off the shelf (ROOTS): 0
New acquisitions read: 4/4
Did Not Finish (DNF): 1

Genre:
science fiction 3
fantasy 5
children's 1
nonfiction 1
fiction 1
romance 0
mystery 1

Author gender: 8 female, 4 male

Country of origin: 8-USA, 3-England, 1-Wales, -Scotland, Australia, -Canada, France, Germany, South Africa, 0-Malaysia, -Dominican Republic

Medium: 3-Kindle, 6-Hardback, 2-trade paper, 1-mass market paper

Books acquired: 3
Source: 2-Amazon (2 Kindle, 0 hb); 0-Goodwill; 1-Mysterious Galaxy; 0-PBS; 0-Early Reviewers
Read: 3
Genre: 1-science fiction, 1-fantasy, 0-nonfiction, 0-fiction, 0-romance, 1-mystery
Cost: $23.98

Books out the door: 7 (Middle school library)

49ronincats
Jul 9, 2019, 12:25pm

Mid-Year Summary

Books read: 87
Pages read: 29550
Average pages per day: 163
Average pages per book: 337

New reads: 65
Rereads: 22
Library books: 32
Books off the shelf (ROOTS): 12
New acquisitions read: 6/6
Did Not Finish (DNF): 1

Genre:
science fiction 27
fantasy 46
children's 5
nonfiction 4
fiction 2
romance 5
mystery 1

Author gender: 63 female, 25 male

Books acquired: 39
Read: 21
Genre: 7-science fiction, 17-fantasy, 5-nonfiction, 7-fiction, 1-romance, 1-mystery
Cost: $159.07

Books out the door: 114

50ronincats
Jul 9, 2019, 12:26pm



Book #88 The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold (512 pp.)

Every time I read this, I note more of the tight plotting and foreshadowing in the story and am amazed all over again. One of the great fantasy reads, imho.



Book #89 March: Book One by John Lewis (128 pp.)

Finally got around to this nonfiction graphic novel, and while GNs still aren't my favorite, this is definitely an important story in an approachable format.



Book #90 The Women's War by Jenna Glass (546 pp.)

In a feminist fantasy epic, a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility-with consequences that rock their patriarchal society to its core. When a nobleman's first duty is to produce a male heir, women are treated like possessions and bargaining chips. But as the aftereffects of a world-altering spell ripple out physically and culturally, women at last have a bargaining chip of their own. And two women in particular find themselves at the liberating crossroads of change. Alys is the widowed mother of two adolescent children, and the disinherited daughter of a king. Her existence has been carefully regulated, but now she discovers a fierce talent not only for politics but also for magic-once deemed solely the domain of men. Meanwhile, in a neighboring kingdom, young Ellin finds herself unexpectedly on the throne after the sudden death of her grandfather the king and everyone else who stood ahead of her in the line of succession. Conventional wisdom holds that she will marry quickly, then quietly surrender the throne to her new husband. Only, Ellin has other ideas. The tensions building in the two kingdoms grow abruptly worse when a caravan of exiled women and their escort of disgraced soldiers stumble upon a new source of magic in what was once uninhabitable desert. This new and revolutionary magic-which only women can wield-might well tear down what is left of the patriarchy. The men who currently hold power will do anything to retain it. But what force in the world can stand against the courage and resolution of generations of women who have tasted freedom for the very first time?

I put off picking up this library book for several weeks because I feared it would be too didactic, but was pleasantly surprised at how approachable the characters were. Despite its length, I read it in just a couple of days. I thought it a very interesting thought experiment, one that hasn't been addressed often enough in fantasy, and I liked the characters and the world-building. While I liked almost everything about it individually, however, for whatever reason it never gelled into a riveting and cohesive story for me--perhaps due to the three different viewpoint characters, and perhaps because, as the first of a series, the ending of the book, while shocking, is unfinished. Definitely worth reading, however.

51ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 9:52pm



Book #91 Sunshine by Robin McKinley (482 pp.)

Comfort reads being the order of the day, I reread another favorite McKinley. A very interesting take on a dystopian world and the nature of vampires, what I enjoy most is being inside Sunshine's baker head!



Book #92 Bibliophile by Tom Bruno (39 pp.)

Foxen mentioned this science fiction series of short works featuring librarians and I picked this one up for my Kindle. Short but well-done!



Book #93 The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer (338 pp.)

With the exception of Faro's Daughter (which I think too farcicial), I love Heyer's Georgians and this is not an exception! I love Prudence and her mountain, and the old gentleman has all my admiration! Another comfort read.



Book #94 Chalice by Robin McKinley (263 pp.)

And yet another comfort reread, this of one of McKinley's later works that is a little unusual for her and that I think I had previously read only when it came out. A medieval type set-up with an unusual magic-system, again, it's living in the head of her characters that really showcases McKinley's writing.

52ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 9:52pm



Book #95 The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer (351 pp.)

Heyer is always a good choice when under stress, and I definitely enjoy Sir Waldo and Anthea dealing with the horrible Tiffany.



Book #96 The Oathbound by Mercedes Lackey (302 pp.)
Book #97 Oathbreakers by Mercedes Lackey (318 pp.)
Book #98 Oathblood by Mercedes Lackey (394 pp.)
Book #99 By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey (492 pp.)

Although I have some good books home from the library, and many more in my tbr collection, I simply haven't been able to read any new books lately. So I've turned to rereads where I know what to expect, and I've been meaning to reread these. Back when they came out, they were among my favorites from Lackey, once I'd gotten Valdemarized out. So, has the Suck Fairy visited? A little. The first two books, 31 years old now, have very prosaic prose and are very much Sword and Sorcery traditional format, as the female duo go around having a series of adventures. Kudos to Lackey for having an asexual heroine, though. I'd forgotten the third was a series of short works about the two, rather than a novel. The best of the lot is the last, which is a coherent novel featuring Kethry's granddaughter, but which still suffers from all the weaknesses of the Valdemar books--lots of suffering and wish-fulfillment.

ETA: And the newest of the four, the third one published in 1998, is the one that cracked off both the front and back covers during this read of my original DAW mass market paperbacks.

53ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 9:53pm

So, Bujold has a new Penric and Desdemona novella out.



Book #100 The Orphans of Raspay by Lois McMaster Bujold (128 pp.)

This occurs some years beyond the last book and away from any familiar settings. Penric's ship is captured by pirates as he returns from a mission for his prelate, and he strives to rescue two orphan girls who are fellow captives. Overall entertaining but perhaps a lesser effort, imho.

I still have been unable to read anything new. Every time I pick up a library book, I think, do I really want to start the first book of an unfinished epic fantasy right now? And as I've been hiding out in the bedroom to keep cool, I've been rereading with a vengeance!



Book #101 The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (374 pp.)
Book #102 Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (399 pp.)
Book #103 The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde (375 pp.)
Book #104 Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde (385 pp.)
Book #105 First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (363 pp.)

I've been wanting to go back and reread this series for a while now. I know some find Fforde to be too precious in his book puns/allusions but I love his stories. I still have two more to go but took a brief diversion the other day.



Book #106 Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones (375 pp.)
Book #107 The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones (515 pp.)

These are the final two Chrestomanci books and as such, had been read only twice before each, and so long ago that I did not remember the details at all. As always, delightful fanciful fantasy!

54ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 9:54pm



Book #108 One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde (362 pp.)

This book features the written Thursday and a lot of skullduggery in Bookworld!



Book #109 The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde (385 pp.)

And this eighth book in the Thursday Next series has Thursday, older and wiser, once again fending off Goliath as well as a vengeful Deity. Fforde went on to other things after this book, although he at least once had another planned...

And Susan mentioned just reading this fun little gem on her thread, which fit my mood exactly, so I went and read it just now.



Book #110 Water Witch by Cynthia Felice and Connie Willis (216 pp.)

A delightful little romantic fantasy that doesn't take itself too seriously and yet carries you along like a flooding river.

55ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 9:55pm

Well, I've gotten away from the rereads, but only by going back on my Kindle and picking up mediocre fantasies that were offered for free and so ended up on my Kindle.



Book #111 Forsaken Kingdom by J. R. Rasmussen (352 pp.)

This is the first of an epic fantasy trilogy. Magicians persecuted. Mountain kingdom, site of final magic school, conquered, prince leaves school (age 12) to protect it and evil conquering king uses magic to take away his memory of his past. When the magician sustaining the spell dies, Wardin's memory starts to come back and he escapes back to his home kingdom and helps beat off an attack on the school. At the end of the book, winter is coming, but the king will be back with an army in the spring...

Not terrible, but not good enough to continue with imho.



Book #112 Justice Calling by Annie Bellet (154 pp.)
Book #113 Murder of Crows by Annie Bellet (163 pp.)

Jade Crow is a sorceress who has been on the run from a sorcerer who had been her mentor with the aim of devouring her (and her powers) when he had developed them sufficiently. Currently she is hiding out in Idaho in a community rich with shifters and ley linens, running a comic book/gaming shop and posing as a hedge witch, when a Justice shows up accusing her of murder. Then her best friend's mother is discovered frozen into her fox form, and a human warlock appears to be responsible. This is fairly pro forma, with lots of shape shifters and Jade having to work some major magic, which will be sure to attract the attention of her pursuer. In the second book, Jade has to return to her Native American roots in eastern Washington to find out why the Crow shifters there are being murdered.

This had some potential, which is why I ended up reading two of them, but by the end of the second book, the direction of future books seems pretty predictable.

56ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 9:56pm

And two DNF to report. The first is another Kindle freebie, Scrapyard Ship by Mark Wayne McGinnis, and 44 pages in I'm just going to stop because it is too, too loaded with cliches and awkward plot elements.

The second is a DNF for right now. Sherwood Smith is a fantasy writer whose books I enjoy and A Sword Named Truth is the first in a new series. At 650 pages it is a tome. But two chapters in I'm going to stop. The fact of the matter is that the Inda series is several hundreds years ago history in this one, and it reads like knowing that world structure is going to be important in this one. Since I haven't read the Inda series yet, despite the first book being on my bookshelf and besides LT readers I trust implicitly who have raved about it, I'm going to put this series off until I do read it.



Book #115 The Uplift War by David Brin (638 pp.)

Still my favorite Brin. I just love how all the parts come together.

57ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 9:56pm

58ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 9:57pm



Book #116 Prostho Plus by Piers Anthony (217 pp.)

Thomas (SirThomas) had just read this one and it inspired a nostalgic reread of this retro adventure of a mild-mannered dentist who is kidnapped by aliens to deal with an emergency toothache and who goes on to have multiple dental adventures around the galaxy. By no means great literature, it is good for chuckles even if, like me, you have basically given up on Piers Anthony by this point.



Book #117 The Price of the Stars by Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald (440 pp.)
Book #118 Starpilot's Grave by Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald (442 pp.)
Book #119 By Honor Betray'd by Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald (407 pp.)

Twenty-five year old classic space opera. At the time, said to be too Star-Trek derivative, but since I never read those books, just enjoyable no-depth, all action space opera. Three books off my shelves, new reads to me!

59ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 9:57pm



Book #120 Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher (181 pp.)

I do enjoy Ursula's works as T. Kingfisher!! This is a shortish children's fantasy, nothing too deep or developed but just enjoyable to read.



Book #121 Best of British Fantasy 2018 edited by Jared Shurin (226 pp.)

I received an electronic copy of this book through Early Reviewers. Although I am not a big short story fan, I do like to keep up on fantasy and this "Best of British" collection seemed a good way to do it. This was quite a spectrum of stories and there were only a few I really liked, while recognizing the quality of the writing and the "out-therness" of many of the stories. My favorite was a re-telling of the movie Godzilla in epic verse (rhyming couplets), which was both inspired and hilarious. And it can be found online here:
http://amechanicalart.blogspot.com/2018/11/the-godziliad.html

Go read it and chuckle!

60ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 9:59pm



Book #122 Starfarers buy Vonda M. McIntyre (280 pp.)

Hard to believe this book was published 30 years ago. It's got Trump, it's got the Muslim Sweep (both are offstage but important action drivers), it's got a middle-aged African-American Canadian woman as the main POV character in this near-future story about the preparing of an interstellar spaceship for launch. And it ends in the middle of the story, so on to the next in the series, Transition.



Book #123 Heirs and Graces by Rhys Bowen (295 pp.)

I love Georgie's adventures during the Depression as she deals with finances, family, and of course murder. This one was quite entertaining.

img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/P/0765377616.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg">

Book #124 Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan (413 pp.)

I decided to go with the hardback version, as I have all 5 Lady Trent books in dead tree format, and it arrived on Tuesday. In contrast to the Lady Trent books, we never leave Scirling, but this epistolary novel featuring Lady Trent's granddaughter Audrey is a fine adventure and mystery in its own right! One of the strengths is how much the voice is distinctive among Audrey, Kudshayn, and Cora in their writing. This is a stand-alone, but one benefits from having first read the Lady Trent books.

N. K. Jemisin has a new series coming out! Here is a preview of the first book.

https://ew.com/books/2019/08/29/nk-jemisin-city-we-became-preview/?fbclid=IwAR0e...

61ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 10:00pm



Book #125 Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix (291 pp.)

This is a clever Regency romance with all the mannerisms along with a dash of fantasy. Not poorly done at all, but just doesn't measure up to a Heyer. On the other hand, nothing else does!



Book #126 The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire (368 pp.)

Book #13 in the series, this is not the place to start, but it continues to explore fresh and new aspects of the interaction between fae and mortals. This IS a good one!



Book #127 Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster by Jonathan Auxier (358 pp.)

Anne (AMQS) recommended this one in July, and the library had it. Rather a strange hybrid between a middle grade historical fantasy and some serious issues around death, loss, and the cruel treatment of chimney sweep children in Victorian England. Definitely worth reading.

62ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 10:01pm



Book #128 Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: Three Adventures by Garth Nix (136 pp.)

Recommended by Ron (RBeffa) and written by an author I enjoy, I picked this up on Kindle and read it during my trip. Harking back to the picaresque adventures of early sword and sorcery, this has a bite and a wryness of humor that makes it stand above.



Book #129 A Key, an Egg, an Unfortunate Remark by Harry Connolly (294 pp.)

I thought this was recommended here on LT but this is the only conversation the book shows up in. It's urban fantasy, but with an older woman as a protagonist and the story centers around the mystery of who murdered her unlikeable nephew. I liked a great deal about it, but it didn't carry me away.



Book #130 The Vine-Witch by Luanne G. Smith (263 pp.)

This is one of the First Reads offered on Amazon Prime for free. It is set in the vineyards of a place remarkably like Italy, but with witches/magic available, and in this area it is the vine witches who can make the success of a vineyard. When our protagonist sheds the toad hex that has kept her a toad for the last 7 years, she returns to her vineyard bent on revenge only to find major changes there as well. It has some very original twists in magic welded onto a Harlequin Romance framework.

63ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 10:02pm



Book #131 The Heiress of Linn Hagh by Karen Charlton (325 pp.)

This was a Kindle First, free, historical mystery I picked up in April of 2018.

Northumberland, 1809: A beautiful young heiress disappears from her locked bedchamber at Linn Hagh.

The local constables are baffled and the townsfolk cry ‘witchcraft’.

The heiress’s uncle summons help from Detective Lavender and his assistant, Constable Woods, who face one of their most challenging cases: The servants and local gypsies aren’t talking; Helen’s siblings are uncooperative; and the sullen local farmers are about to take the law into their own hands.

Lavender and Woods find themselves trapped in the middle of a simmering feud as they uncover a world of family secrets, intrigue and deception in their search for the missing heiress.

Taut, wry and delightful, The Heiress of Linn Hagh is a rollicking tale featuring Lavender and Woods—a double act worthy of Holmes and Watson.


Perhaps not quite as delightful as the blurb writer claims, but this was an entertaining mystery with a few extraneous plotlines. Love the era, but this is set up in Northeastern England in a small village far away from the Heyer aristocracy.



Book #134 Dark Currents by Lindsay Buroker (320 pp.)

Book 2 continues Amaranthe's misadventures with her ill-assorted crew. Talk about a Mary Sue! I'm undecided as to whether to continue...

64ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 10:03pm

Year-to-Date Summary, first three quarters

Books read: 135
Pages read: 45,155
Average pages per day: 165
Average pages per book: 334
Average pages per month: 5017

New reads: 90
Rereads: 45
Library books: 36
Books off the shelf (ROOTS): 15
New acquisitions read: 34/54
Did Not Finish (DNF): 1

Genre:
science fiction 34
fantasy 81
children's 6
nonfiction 6
fiction 2
romance 7
mystery 3

Author gender: 101 female, 44 male

Books acquired: 54
Read: 34/54
Genre: 8-science fiction, 27-fantasy, 5-nonfiction, 7-fiction, 1-romance, 1-mystery
Cost: $234.52

Books out the door: 114

65ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 10:04pm



Book #135 Nine Goblins by T. Kingfisher (147 pp.)

Excuse me?!? Publishers thought Minor Mage had too much violence to be marketed to juveniles and yet published THIS book as a T. Kingfisher book??? WTF? Still, I think Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher is becoming one of my go-to authors. Here's the blurb from Ammy:
When a party of goblin warriors find themselves trapped behind enemy lines, it'll take more than whining (and a bemused Elven veterinarian) to get them home again.

Nine Goblins is a novella of low...very low...fantasy.


Vernon deals with some very serious issues about war and the worth of beings irrespective of species and responsibility within this format, and it is a worthwhile read, but that one episode near the end, pretty much the climax, almost gave me nightmares. The positive ending made it better.



Book #136 Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee (507 pp.)

I bought this last year for my Thingaversary when it came out in hardback and finally picked it up to read after a prompt from Jim (magician's nephew) reminded me that it was still on my shelves. This is only for science fiction fans, but for such fans it is a fascinating piece of history of one man's influence on the pulps and the development of the genre.

66ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 10:04pm



Book #137 Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle (275 pp.)

Narilka in The Green Dragon group made me aware of this Beagle book. I had read, of course, the famed The Last Unicorn as well as The Innkeeper's Song and Giant Bones, but not this one. It was a lovely (without being sentimental or soppy) evoking of British mythology in the spirit of Susan Cooper or Alan Garner.

Arriving in the English countryside to live with her mother and new stepfather, Jenny has no interest in her surroundings until she meets Tamsin. Since her death over 300 years ago, Tamsin has haunted the lonely estate without rest, trapped by a hidden trauma she can't remember, and a powerful evil even the spirits of night cannot name. To help her, Jenny must delve deeper into the dark world than any human has in hundreds of years, and face danger that will change her life forever. . . . Amazon

I loved Jenny's voice and her interactions with her stepbrothers and friends and the whole new experience of Dorset after growing up in New York City.



Book #138 The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch (169 pp.)

This novella follows Peter Grant's counterpart in Germany as he investigates a mystery compounded by magic. I love the Rivers of London series and think this installment is just as delightful as the rest, despite the change in setting and characters. But I don't know where the title comes from. ?!? Did I miss something?

67ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 10:05pm



Gonna have to work on this one a while. I don't think I've ever met a book model or watched Passionflix, whatever that is, and I haven't read Fifty Shades of Grey even once. Pretty much everything else.

68ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 10:05pm



Book #139 Accepting the Lance by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (448 pp.)

Jenn (jjmcgaffey) reminded me that Baen sells eARCs of its publications and this one is out now, while the book isn't out until early December. So I cancelled my order for the physical book and bought and read the eARC today! Thanks, Jenn. This is far along in the series and even I, a devotee, had trouble keeping all the sideplots and characters straight at the beginning of this (I really need to go back and read the previous book to get the full impact) but this brought several important plot lines to a culmination while setting up at least one major ongoing line. I love these, but have to agree with critics that the authors can be sloppy and self-indulgent this year, but...well, cats. You can't go wrong with cats.

69ronincats
Nov 6, 2019, 7:31pm

Book #140 The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith (382 pp.)

An intriguing concept, a library in Hell with a mortal as Librarian.

Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing-- a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil's Bible. The text of the Devil's Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.


It does start slowly and a bit choppy, due to the multiple viewpoints presented in clearly marked chapters, but I ended up being pulled into this universe and coming to care for the characters, even if character development was pretty surface. This is the first of a series, although the book reads well as a stand-alone with a satisfying ending, so probably more character building will come after this introductory book got all the pieces in place.

70ronincats
Nov 6, 2019, 7:32pm



Book #141 These Truths: A history of the United States by Jill Lepore (792 pp.)

Started back at the beginning of the year, this went slowly for several reasons, despite my enjoying reading history. First, the book was too big and heavy to read in the bathtub, where I crank out a lot of my nonfiction. Second, the closer the book got to the present, the more difficult and depressing it was to read. Third, neither of those factors made it prime for my other major reading time, the hour before bedtime. Nonetheless, I finally finished off the last two chapters (not counting the pages of notes/references in my reading count) and Lepore did an excellent job. It's not her fault that none of us seem able to learn from history.



Book #142 The Rat Catchers' Olympics by Colin Cotterill (304 pp.)

Okay, the opening put me off, but then it got into stride with the antics of the Lao delegation at the Moscow Olympics and I enjoyed it. Book #12 in the series--definitely don't start here.



Book #143 The Orc of Many Questions by Shane Michael Murray (266 pp.)

I picked this up as a free ebook because the sequel has just been released. I picked it up between books and it pulled me in so I just kept reading to the end. I'm not sure why--the story is somewhat novel but the orc culture (or lack thereof) is just so depressing that I can't really said I enjoyed the book, but the main character kept me wondering what was going to happen to him. Lots of violence, not much in the way of writing style but adequate, not really something I'd recommend. Teenage boys will probably love it.



Book #144 The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury (126 pp.)

This showed up at the library yesterday just in time for me to squeeze it in on Halloween! It's a Bradbury I had never read and showcases his rather lush, lyrical prose in a children's tale about a sick friend and the different historical traditions feeding in to a modern Halloween. Not going to be one of my favorites by Bradbury, but quick and entertaining enough.

71ronincats
Edited: Dec 26, 2019, 10:56pm



Book #145 Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling (297 pp.)

This is absolutely a most important book to read and think about. This Swedish doctor and researcher has a global view (and first-hand knowledge) that rises above our parochial knowledge bases and biases.

72haydninvienna
Nov 7, 2019, 7:07am

>71 ronincats: Enthusiastically seconded. It’s a terrific book. Even though he’s gone now, Rosling is one reason I still have some hope.

73ronincats
Edited: Dec 26, 2019, 10:56pm



Book #146 A Shift in Time by Lena Einhorn (242 pp.)

Interesting consideration of the possibility that the authors of the Gospels and Acts shifted the time frame in which Jesus actually lived and acted by comparing the events there with those documented by Josephus.



Book #147 The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (335 pp.)

Beth (blbera) put this on my radar a couple of weeks ago and I immediately ordered it from the library (I was 20th in line). When it came in over the weekend, I picked it up Tuesday and immediately gobbled it down. Very clever, lots of book allusions, quirky and funny, light and entertaining!



Book #148 How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason (408 pp.)

Rory Thorne is a princess with thirteen fairy blessings, the most important of which is to see through flattery and platitudes. As the eldest daughter, she always imagined she’d inherit her father’s throne and govern the interplanetary Thorne Consortium.

Then her father is assassinated, her mother gives birth to a son, and Rory is betrothed to the prince of a distant world.

When Rory arrives in her new home, she uncovers a treacherous plot to unseat her newly betrothed and usurp his throne. An unscrupulous minister has conspired to name himself Regent to the minor (and somewhat foolish) prince. With only her wits and a small team of allies, Rory must outmaneuver the Regent and rescue the prince.


This is also handled cleverly by an omniscient narrator (a putative historian) whose asides are NOT irritating. I was drawn into the world(s) immediately and loved the details about the different settings and the science (magic--this is space fantasy--with scientific labels) and the characters are delightful in their distinct depictions and their personalities. Totally an enjoyable space opera with a dusting of fantasy!

74ronincats
Dec 26, 2019, 10:39pm



Book #149 The Three Christmases of William Spencer by Derek Blount (58 pp.)

I put it on my Kindle for Christmas reading last year and never got around to it. I guess my birthday signals the start of the holidays for me, so that's good. It's sweet, not too gooey, but nothing that rocks my boat.



Book #150 The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher (237 pp.)

A retelling of the Blackbeard's wives fairy tale with Kingfisher's patented eerie touches. Her characters just come alive for me. I discovered this author (pen name for Ursula Vernon in January with her Clockwork Boys and have read six of her books this year.

And that makes 50,143 pages read in 2019, also meeting that goal.



Book #151 The Art of Biblical Narrative by Robert Alter (189 pp.)

Stephen (sirfurboy) recently recommended the revised and updated version of this book on his thread. My library, unfortunately, only has the original publication of 1981. I am curious as to the changes made in the newer version but still learned a lot about the literary construction of the Bible stories from this one.

75ronincats
Edited: Dec 26, 2019, 10:55pm



Book #152 An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (300 pp.)

This is a library book recommended by Natalie (curioussquared) and I enjoyed it very much. It has a relatively unorthodox view of the Fae, while still conforming to the general outlines of the mythology, and Rogerson writes very well. I particularly enjoyed the POV character Isobel, who reminds me a lot of another favorite character, Janet in Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Gard, with her common-sense approach. Highly recommended!



Book #153 Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (456 pp.)

This is the second book by Rogerson, following her first that I read up above. We have a naive orphan girl who grew up in a library of magical books, caught up in power struggles that throw her out of her library home and make her a pawn. I loved the obvious love of books and libraries and it's a good fantasy. I just didn't make the connection with the heroine that I did in An Enchantment of Ravens, so that remains my favorite of the two.



Book #154 Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes (416 pp.)

This should have been a sure-fire winner: bad-ass heroine, telepathic cats, space opera. But it wasn't. Definitely nonstop action, but lots of haphazardly thrown together elements with no character development, and the cats were basically non-actors. Ha, cats, Merlin of Korval looks down his nose at your impotence! This is supposed to be the first of a series and it may be that, having gotten the kitchen sink and all its contents out of the way in this first book, the author will settle down and develop a more cohesive story. I will try it.

One element that kept throwing me out of the story involved the copious Spanish phrases thrown in by the main character--not that the Spanish was there but that I didn't recognize most of it. Turns out to be mostly Cuban idioms of an impolite nature. Natural since the author is Cuban-American but I kept trying to make sense of it.



Book #155 The Spirit in the Clay by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (51 pp.)

This is basically a short story in the Chapel Hill series, not recommended if you haven't read the novels. I love Hoffman's imagination, so I'd recommend you start there.

76ronincats
Edited: Dec 26, 2019, 10:53pm



Book #156 Emergency Skin by N. K. Jemisin (33 pp.)

This is one of Amazon's Forward collection of original stories, and Jemisin does her usual quality time in this story about a space traveler returning to Earth (excuse me, Tellus) from a long-established colony.



Book #157 God is Not One by Stephen Prothero (342 pp.)

The subtitle says it all. The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter. Very interesting.



Book #158 Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron (336 pp.)

I do think that Barron channels Jane Austen as well as anybody and I have enjoyed her mysteries, although I haven't sought them out lately. I ran across this one as an ebook available immediately from the library and so tried their newest ebook system, which I can read on my Fire but not my Kindle. Also, I like to read Christmas Regencies during the season and this mystery fit that bill as well. I enjoyed the voice of Jane and the playing out of the mystery quite a bit.



Book #159 The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (470 pp.)

Here's one that's been sitting on the tbr shelf for 3 years. Fantasy, fairy-tale referential, coming of age, but not particularly enjoyable. I appreciated it and liked the reference materials on folk tales at the end, but again, didn't enjoy it.



Book #160 The Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (353 pp.)

This is the second book in the Book Scavenger series for middle-school students (ages 9-13). I enjoyed the first mystery and so picked up this second one when I saw it. The mysteries are focused around books and codes and puzzles, with an evident love for them all, and a system somewhat like Book Crossing but where books are hidden and clues posted to lead people to find them, with points for being the first to locate one. This one started a little slow for me but soon picked up and I totally enjoyed it.

77ronincats
Edited: Dec 26, 2019, 10:51pm



Book #161 The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol (323 pp.)

This was an easy-reading middle-grade fantasy with a strong young woman character, just when I needed something light and positive!



Book #162 Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (338 pp.)

This book makes ample use of Mayan mythology in a 1920's setting as the characters move from Yucatan to Mexico City to El Paso to Baja California in a quest to reseat the Lord of Death on his rightful throne in Xibalba. I really liked the character of Casiopea and was immediately pulled into her world at first. Later I felt more apart from the story, but I still admire the author for her use of the mythology, the historical elements of the 20s, her refusal to do the easy resolutions, and Casiopea's stubbornness. The author was born in Mexico but is a Canadian by choice, living in Vancouver.



Book #163 Winning Lady Jane: A Christmas Regency Romance by Isabella Thorne (356 pp.)

https://www.librarything.com/work/24009272/book/176547865

This was an adequate if quite predictable regency romance that I picked up for free for my Kindle as I was in the mood for light and Christmasy! There are numerous homonym errors in the text--better editing would have been nice, but it is what it is and worth what I paid for it.

78ronincats
Edited: Dec 26, 2019, 10:50pm



Book #164 Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (212 pp.)
Book #165 Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (242 pp.)

Always delightful, also addictive so I will undoubtedly read the next two as well.



Book #166 Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (272 pp.)

This is probably my least favorite of the four books, not that the characters aren't as delightful as ever, but the entire book is simply a set-up for the fourth book, which was actually written first, and so a number of specific things have to happen and it has to end in an open-ended fashion.



Book #167 Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Since this was the first book written, by 5 years no less, I think it makes most sense for someone new to the series to read this book first. It allows the reader to discover the world of the Enchanted Forest first along with Daystar, and then it is great fun to go back and fill in what happened before to set this up.



Book #168 Book of Enchantments by Patricia C. Wrede (256 pp.)

Only the last of this book's short stories involves the Enchanted Forest, but they all are enchanting.

79ronincats
Edited: Dec 26, 2019, 10:48pm



Book #169 Reticence by Gail Carriger (343 pp.)

I've never been able to get into the Custard Protocol books, and the same is true for this fourth and final book of the series. I can see that this youngest generation is having awesome adventures and finding love along the way--but it doesn't really move me. That said, this is an adequate finale to the series and I do like the tip of the hat to the mavens from the Finishing School quartet, but the original Parasol Protectorate quintet is really the only series that I truly loved.



Book #170 The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson (366 pp.)

I had seen this book on several threads, including those of Joe, Meg and Lori, and requested it from the library. I loved the literary riddles but have to agree that elements of the plot seemed a little too obtuse. Still, it kept me reading and was entertaining.

80ronincats
Edited: Dec 26, 2019, 10:48pm



Book #171 Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep (417 pp.)

Second book in a YA trilogy, this continues to be original enough to keep me reading. Those who enjoyed the Queen of the Tearling series should definitely like this.

I was looking for some holiday reading yesterday and found these three Kindle novellas that I put on my ebook at Christmas time back in 2016 and never finished. Sappy holiday romance-type reading--they were free, what can I say? The first was the best of the lot. The last was the worst (Ple-e-a-s-e-e!!) And now they can come off the Kindle.



Book #172 A Dangerous Nativity by Caroline Warfield (90 pp.)
Book #173 All She Wants for Christmas by Amy Rose Bennett (89 pp.)
Book #174 Holiday Heat by Noelle Adams (85 pp.)

81Foxen
Edited: Dec 22, 2020, 8:47am

>51 ronincats: Oh hey! A book I recommended! Glad you liked it (eventually I will catch up and see if you read the rest of the series... they're nice little short one-offs. :) ) 2020 sapped all my energy for tracking my reading and keeping up with things, but I'm doing a bit of catch-up and adding to the recommendation pile. I hope you're having a good holiday!

Edit: Aaaand, this is your 2019 thread. :) I'm not that far behind, I just haven't had enough coffee yet! Anyway, happy holidays!