rhienelleth: (Default)
Newest J.D. Robb, Treachery in Death = purchased and downloaded.

Newest Kim Harrison, Pale Demon = also purchased and downloaded. 

Dragon Age II demo = downloading as I type.


Plus, I am sipping my coffee and still in my pajamas.  How I love thee, technology!

ETA: although, DA2 is taking forever to download!  *sigh*

Bullet.

Jun. 1st, 2010 06:02 pm
rhienelleth: (australia seduce)
[livejournal.com profile] kistha made me do it; she insisted I post it, that is. 

My writerly thought on LKH's latest Anita Blake book, Bullet:

When your MC's [polyamorous] relationships have become so complicated, it takes you five chapters in the beginning of the book just to review all of the characters, and how they relate back to the MC - just in case you have any new readers on Book 18 in your ongoing neverending series - you're doing something wrong.

For how to do it right, see J.D. Robb.  Okay, so there is no polyamorous stuff in J. D. Robb.  The principal problem here is actually the complexity of all the MC's relationships - lovers, friends, family, et al - and how ridiculous it is that it really did take approximately five chapters for her to review all the principal players.  And spending pages devoted to Micah's eyes, which we already know aaaaaall about, while glossing over Vivian the female were-leopard, whom we haven't seen in roughly...six? Seven books?  Really.  Not helpful.

e-readers

Oct. 21st, 2009 11:33 am
rhienelleth: (masterharper)
Because I know it's going to come up at some point and time, let me just weigh in on the new B&N Nook device, as a Kindle user and lover.

It looks good. It looks like B&N put some serious thought into it, not just as a device, but also as competition for the Kindle. It's the same basic size and shape, but instead of the Kindle's keypad, it has a cool looking color touch screen - with a black and white e-ink screen above it, so you aren't sacrificing your eyes for a cool factor. The only other cool thing it has over the Kindle, you can apparently "lend" books to friends for 14 days. Two caveats:

~ initial reports on this feature suggested you'd only be able to "lend" books to people you'd willingly share your credit card info with. Um, no thanks. Can't find reference to it in the new literature, so maybe they got rid of that requirement?

~ reports now say "not all books will be available for lending" - makes you wonder if the publishers get to pick and choose whether or not to allow their books to be lent out.

The Nook also sports the ability to download books directly from B&N, however, articles I have read intimate that initially, this feature will only be available in the store, although they expect it to open up to any "hot spot" soon. (Um, ok.)

By contrast, Kindle can now be used to d/l books anywhere in the world, if you have the International version.

I do think the Nook looks cool, and has some excellent features. It's a solid entry into the e-reader world. I think it's the most direct competition Kindle has had, actually, and that's a good thing. More competition = Amazon stepping it up with future versions of the Kindle.
rhienelleth: (beauty)
The Mermaid's Madness

Jim C. Hines

Buy through Amazon
, or the local bookstore of your choice.

Description:

What would happen if a star writer went back to the darker themes of the original fairy tales for plots, and then crossed the Disney princesses with Charlie's Angels? What he'd end up with is The Mermaid's Madness-a whole new take on The Little Mermaid. And with Jim C. Hines, of Jig the Goblin fame, penning the tale, you can bet it won't be "They lived happily ever after."


Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty - the three princess heroines of The Stepsister Scheme are back in this much (for me) anticipated sequel! What happens after the fairy tale ends? That's the essential question that Hines's series attempts to answer. The first book tells us the fates of Cinderella (Danielle) after she's married her prince, of Sleeping Beauty (Talia) after she's awakened from her long sleep, and of Snow White (Snow), after she's escaped the murderous intentions of her stepmother. Hines takes the darker versions of these tales, and twists them into something highly original and new. The three familiar princesses now serve Danielle's mother-in-law, Queen Beatrice of Lorindar, going on secret missions to aid diplomacy, stop wars, save princes, and protect the kingdom, where Danielle is now Princess.

I've been waiting for The Mermaid's Madness literally since I finished the last page of The Stepsister Scheme. It was the sort of book that made you want to keep reading, that made you want to stay in the world and find out what happens next. The title alone, but virtue of the fairy tale roots of this series, lets us know right where we're starting off. With the tragic tale of the little mermaid. But with Hines at the helm, the tragedy of the story is twisted into something much more complex.

We begin with Princess Danielle on a mission of diplomacy with Queen Beatrice, their yearly tithe and renewal of peace with the merfolk, who prefer to be called undine. Since the undine are usually a matriarchal culture, it makes sense for the Princess and Queen to take the lead. Unfortunately, things go very wrong, very quickly. For instead of the King they are expecting, they are greeted by his mad daughter, Lirea, wronged by her human lover and looking for vengeance against all humans. In the ensuing conflict, Queen Beatrice is grievously injured. This leaves Danielle and her friends Talia and Snow to find both a cure for her ailment, and to find a way to stop Lirea from making war against their kingdom - and all of humanity.

Of course, it's much more complicated than that, as the girls quickly discover.

Once again, Hines gives us excellent world building and characterization. We get to see a bit more of Danielle's Prince Armand in this one, which I appreciated quite a bit. We feel so much of her love for him in the last book, but in this one we actually get to see them interact as a couple. New characters are introduced, as well - the mad Lirea and her sister, Lannadae, and a new Prince of a neighboring kingdom, who I'm guessing just may return for future books. But the heart of the series is the relationships between our three princesses, and Hines does an excellent job portraying the myriad ups and downs of the bonds of love and friendship so important between a woman and her best friends. The girls argue, fight together and for each other, and hold each other up when needed. We find out a few more details from each of their stories, though most particularly Talia's and Snow's. Hines does a particularly good job of this. I love reading the little details of how Snow's mother raised her, or how Talia escaped from her homeland. These are the details that make the books come alive.

There are some bittersweet moments in this one. I won't spoil them for you, but suffice it to say, things are not all happily ever after for everyone in the kingdom of Lorindar.

In the end, I was sad to come to the last page for a second time. I stayed up late to finish reading, because I could not wait to find out how it all turned out, and then I was sad to be finished. What will the girls do next? With a title like Red Hood's Revenge, I can only imagine. :D

The Mermaid's Madness
could stand on its own, but if you haven't read the first book, The Stepsister Scheme, I still recommend starting there - plus, I enjoyed it just as much.  :) 


rhienelleth: (masterharper)
Shadowlight

Lynn Viehl


Pre-Order through Amazon or your local bookstore of choice.

Back cover blurb:

With a single touch, Jessa Bellamy can see anyone’s darkest secrets. She’s tried to hide her psychic ability from everyone, but a biotech company called GenHance has discovered her talent, and intends to take her, kill her and harvest her priceless DNA to sell it to the highest bidder.

A mysterious photographer named Gaven Matthias is also interested in Jessa; he’s been trying to find her for months. When GenHance makes their move, Gaven has no choice but to kidnap Jessa himself so he can protect her and convince her to join him in helping protect others like her. Jessa discovers that she can’t see any of Gaven’s secrets, so she doesn’t know if he’s telling the truth, but as a monstrous assassin created by GenHance’s experiments closes in on them, she must decide if the strong attraction they share is proof enough that Gaven is her greatest ally — or is a smokescreen hiding a terrible secret.


When author Lynn Viehl announced that Stay the Night would be the final book in her popular paranormal romance series, the Darkyn, I won't lie - I was disappointed and unhappy. I loved the series and really wanted to see it continue - it seemed to me there was plenty of room for more stories involving the immortal vampires, the Darkyn, and their something-more-than human lovers, which we've come to learn are often Kyndred, people with special abilities, like Jessa, whose powers are related to the creation of the Darkyn. (I won't say more about the how and why of that, and I'll just tell you that if you haven't yet read the Darkyn books, go pick up the first in the series, If Angels Burn, and start. You'll find all the answers I'm not saying in that series, which is a very unique and refreshing take on the paranormal romance 'vampire' sub-genre.)

But as it turns out, Lynn ended the Darkyn series, but only to pick up a spin off series focusing more on the Kyndred (or Takyn). But don't be fooled. The Darkyn are still there. In fact, some of my absolute favorites make an appearance in Shadowlight. (More on that later.)

I'm seeing an awful lot of reviews from people who have never read Lynn's work before. People picking up Shadowlight, devouring it, and saying "how am I just discovering this author??" Answer: I don't know, but I'm glad you've found her! The more people who read and buy her books, the more contracts she gets to write more! I've been following Lynn's writing since I discovered Stardoc, an SF series she writes under the name S. L. Viehl. (I recommend them, too. Just be warned they are definitely SF, though not without their own romantic elements.)

But let's talk about Shadowlight. I'll be honest; I loved her Darkyn series, and I went into this new series fully expecting to love it to pieces. I wasn't wrong.

It starts off with a character who isn't mentioned on the cover blurb: Min, a young woman with the ability to see happy glimpses of the future. She's mourning the death of her adoptive father, and starting a future at a new job, and also with the love of her life, a young man she knew she was fated to love from the moment she met him (with that gift of hers.) Unfortunately, tragedy strikes.

From there, the story picks up with Jessa - a young woman who has the unique gift to touch people and see, not happy things, but the dark things they want to hide. She calls this stepping into shadowlight. You might see some parallels between Min and Jessa, and there are reasons for that. They are part of the Takyn, a secretive organization of people who have found commonalities together - people with special gifts, who were adopted at a young age, and are now hunted by people like GenHance who want to take their gifts and DNA to make super soldiers.

Those who have read the Darkyn books will recognize the backgrounds of people like Min, Jessa, and the other Takyn. We already know that these special people are related to the Darkyn, and that they have enemies. But the Takyn know they're hunted, too, and they take huge precautions to protect one another and avoid detection. But Jessa can't ignore the terrible things she sometimes sees, and so she reports them anonymously to the FBI, a routine that has earned her GenHance's attention, as well as that of the mysterious Gaven Matthias.

Matthias is a sexy enigma, a gorgeous man with a mysterious past, and he's determined to save Jessa from capture by GenHance. To this end, he saves her life and kidnaps her at the same time. But GenHance isn't about to give up, and they send a man-turned-monster after them, a real world test of their super soldier serum. Jessa doesn't trust Matthias, or his motives, but neither can she deny the fact that she's attracted to him, and he's wanted her from nearly the first moment he sees her. But the monster on their trail doesn't leave them a lot of down time to either develop trust, or explore their attraction.

In the midst of their story, we also get to see two of my favorite characters from the Darkyn series, the assassin Lucan and his cop heroine, Samantha. Their story interweaves around Jessa and Matthias's, and it's interesting watching them parallel, and then finally intersect, peripherally. Also, Lucan and Samantha aren't just a stagnant glimpse; we get to see their relationship progress. It should be engaging for both old readers, and new.

I found this book to be a lot like If Angels Burn - a very solid set up to a new series, with good worldbuilding and engaging characters, many of them side characters we'll be seeing in future books. (Matthias's assistant - Sidekick? Personal chef? - Rowan almost leaps off the page, she's so vividly drawn.) But it probably won't be my favorite book in the new series. There's almost too much going on, too much being introduced. But it has to in order to really do its job as book one - and it works quite well overall. I enjoyed it so much I literally inhaled it over a period of about a day and a half. I can't tell you how excited I am for the next book (Rowan's, as it turns out). Maybe if we're very lucky, we'll get to see glimpses of all our favorite Darkyn couples in future books. I certainly won't cry if we see Lucan and Samantha a few times more. :)

And if this series follows the pattern of the last, we'll be seeing Jessa and Matthias's relationship unfold and grow over the next several books in the series, something I look forward to a lot. That's one of the things I love about Lynn's books - characters don't disappear just because their "story" is done, and their stories aren't really over - they evolve. They grow as people and as couples, and it gives them an edge of realism that can sometimes be missing in romance. It's part of what assures these books have a place among my "most waited for". :D

Shadowlight releases October 6th. If you're intrigued, and you just can't wait, I highly recommend picking up her other series and giving it a read. :D
rhienelleth: (masterharper)


On the Edge

Ilona Andrews

Pre-Order through Amazon or your local bookstore of choice. (May I suggest Borders? Let's help keep B&N's competition going. I, for one, would very much miss my local Borders if it wasn't there.)

Back cover blurb:

Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, between two worlds: on one side lies the Broken, a place where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is nothing more than a fairy tale; on the other is the Weird, a realm where blueblood aristocrats rule and the strength of your magic can change your destiny. Only Edgers like Rose can easily travel between the worlds—but they never truly belong in either.

Rose thought that if she practiced her magic, she could build a better life for herself. But things didn’t turn out the way she'd planned, and now she works an off-the-books job in the Broken just to survive. Then Declan Camarine, a blueblood noble straight out of the deepest part of the Weird, comes into her life determined to have Rose (and her power).

But when a terrible danger invades the Edge—a flood of creatures hungry for magic—Declan and Rose must overcome their differences and work together to destroy them—or the beasts will devour the Edge and everyone in it . . .


Many readers will be familiar with husband and wife writing duo Ilona Andrews through their very successful Kate Daniels series. (If you're not, I highly recommend them, but that's another review.) On the Edge is the start to an all-new series from the writing team, one that many readers might view as "something to fill the time while I wait for the next Kate Daniels book". This would be an erroneous view to take.

I received my ARC of On the Edge in the mail from Penguin Monday afternoon. I picked it up Monday night, just to read a bit before dinner, and stayed up far too late that night reading, because I could not put it down. When I did finally have to put it down (work, what a pest!), I thought about it when I wasn't reading. I couldn't wait to pick it up again and get back to the characters and the world. From the moment Rose and her two young brothers, changeling Jack and necromancer George appear on the page, I'm completely hooked. By the time blueblood Declan makes his first appearance, I'm letting my husband fend for himself with Totino's party pizzas, instead of cooking dinner (don't feel too sorry for him - as anyone who knows him can attest, his preferred eating habits mirror those of a ten-year-old boy most of the time.)

More behind the cut, including some very mild spoilers. )
rhienelleth: (azula)
[livejournal.com profile] dragonsinger asked for the top five books I've read this year.

I read a lot. This was a tall order. Luckily, when scrolling through the reading list on my kindle, there were some definite stand outs for 2009 that made themselves clear. These are listed in the order in which I read them:

1. The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines ([livejournal.com profile] jimhines)

I love fairy tales, and I particularly love retold fairy tales that expand on them in unexpected, delightful ways. This was one of those books that made me feel all warm and fuzzy, and wanting more when I was done turning the last page. I liked it so well, I wrote my first ever amazon review of it. Here's a snippet: Unable to put it down for long, I finished it in one day, and at the end, I turned the last page hoping for more. Very real, well drawn characters draw you in to the story, and fantastic descriptions, world building, adventure, and emotion keep you glued to the pages. At times, I was reminded of movies like Labyrinth or the Dark Crystal (for setting). Shades of Ever After, as well, but I say these only as a passing feeling of nostalgic warm fuzzies (all movies I liked or loved to one degree or another). This book stands completely on its own. Touches like Snow's snowflake "throwing stars" or Danielle's glass sword are unique and perfect for the story Hines is telling. I kept turning pages, not only for the story, but to see what lovely little bits of scenery Hines would include next.

2. Bone Crossed, Mercy Thompson, book 4 by Patricia Briggs

This is one of the most stellar, consistently high quality urban fantasy series out there. Each book gets better than the last, and the characters grow and change naturally as they go through some pretty traumatic things. Briggs isn't afraid to put her characters through really bad stuff, and treat her characters very realistically in the process. Particularly in this fourth book, the main character, Mercy, could easily have turned down one of those roads I loathe - doing something stupid for the sake of the story, or for the sake of keeping two characters apart to create more tension. It's a pet peeve of mine that some authors do in long running series. I was sure, when I started reading Bone Crossed, that we were headed to a place just like that. But it didn't. The character surprised me, and acted like a rational, thinking, 3-dimensional human being! This fourth book could have been a turning point to mediocrity, and instead was my favorite so far in the series. :)

As for what it's about, Mercy Thompson is an auto mechanic who shape shifts into the form of a coyote. Her next door neighbor, Adam, is the local werewolf pack alpha, and might be the love of her life, when he's not irritating the crap out of her. Her childhood sweetheart, another alpha wolf by the name of Samuel, isn't about to just step aside and let Adam have her without a fight, and Mercy's relations with the local fae and vampire groups are complicated, to say the least. you obviously want to start with the first book in the series, Moon Called.

3. Promises in Death by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts)

What can I say? This series is almost 30 books strong, and I still love it to pieces. The newest book is always my most anticipated read of the season, each and every time one hits shelves. Eve and Roarke are strong, compelling main characters, both separately and as a couple. I think where Roberts really excels, even after 28 books, is in her characters. They grow and change. Old conflicts get laid to rest, and new conflicts come about naturally in their wake. They don't feel contrived, or put there to create tension. They are created by the characters and their personalities and experiences. The side characters are just as compelling as the main characters, and they change and grow as the books progress just as much. In particular, Promises in Death does a lot with some of those side characters, as the murder this book investigates is one of their own, a character we have grown somewhat familiar with in the last few books, romantically linked with a character we've known since the beginning of the series. It gave this entry in the series a deeper impact. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend the first book, Naked in Death.

4. Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

Like the In Death series, the Dresden books do not suffer from ongoing series lag - in fact, Book 11 is my favorite to date, although I'd say I've loved the last five or six books nearly as much. The Dresden books are different from a lot of urban fantasy out there - first, the main character is a guy - Harry Dresden, wizard. Second, they hit the shelves at the very start of the urban fantasy trend. You could even say, they helped spark it. They start out fairly simple - a wizard PI helps the police with supernaturally affected cases. But as the books progress, Harry's life gets dramatically more complicated, and so does the series in general. Also like the In Death books, the side characters here are just as compelling as the MC. And you never quite know what's going to happen next, or to who. (I got teary eyed at the end of this one, but I won't tell you why.) I anticipate the next Dresden book with almost as much glee as the next Eve and Roarke. I hope Jim never gets tired of writing them. The first book is Storm Front.

5. Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews ([livejournal.com profile] ilona_andrews)

I reviewed an ARC of this one on my journal here. Here's a snippet:

I've thoroughly enjoyed both of the previous books in this series, but this was by far my favorite. Truthfully, I've been waiting on pins and needles for it since I finished Book 2. The characters are nicely established now, and the relationships Kate has with others in her sphere are deepening and getting more complicated, despite her need to keep secrets. (There are parts of Kate's origins that even the reader doesn't know yet, an ongoing plot thread that winds through the entire series.) The banter between Kate and Curran, in particular, was full of tension, humor, and unresolved feeling. I won't lie - following how their relationship progresses is my favorite part of the series, although all of Kate's interactions keep you reading. Her mentoring of Derek the werewolf, the odd contest of wills she continues with the dangerously powerful Samain. All of these things are woven nicely into the plot; in fact, it is her friendship with Derek that starts the plot rolling in this book.

Much like when I finished Book 2, finishing the third book in the Kate Daniels series left me wondering when we can expect book 4. The writing is strong, the characters fascinating, and the tension keeps ratcheting higher. The first book is Magic Bites.

So that's it, my favorite five books thus far in 2009! It was tough, cause I easily could have done a favorite ten. :D
rhienelleth: (coffee)
Storm Glass, by Maria V. Snyder



Are you a fan of YA fiction? Looking for something different from the vampires, werewolves, and/or fairies so prevalent in recent years? You should give the excellent YA fantasy Storm Glass a read.

Maria Snyder returns to the world of her popular Study series (Poison Study, Magic Study, Fire Study), weaving another tale of intrigue, power, and romance. (Note - If you haven't read the Study series yet, I heartily recommend them. It isn't necessary to do so before diving into Storm Glass, but they're great books set in a truly unique fantasy world, with characters you fall in love with.)

In this tale, we focus on Opal, a young girl with an amazing natural talent to work with glass. But Opal's not so good at magic. She struggles with it, where her fellow students at the Keep seem to excel. As a result, she's something of an outcast - too good at one thing, not good enough at everything else. I love this sort of coming-into-your-own story when it's done well, as Storm Glass is.

Lacking confidence in herself and her abilities, Opal needs to find it fast when Stormdancers start dying. It seems someone is sabotaging their orbs, which are shattering. Here, Opal's incredible gift with glass may be the only way they'll find the answer and stop it from happening. Opal is sent by her masters to investigate the deaths, and very quickly Opal's gift distinguishes her - unfortunately, it also makes her a target. The glassmakers who know the secret to crafting Stormdancer orbs are being murdered, and because of her ability, Opal may be next. She has to figure out what's actually happening to the globes, and who's responsible for killing glassmakers, before they end her life as well.

Meanwhile, she's caught romantically between two young men - Ulrick, the fellow glassmaker who loves her, and Kade, the dark and mysterious Stormdancer she is powerfully attracted to. I'm a sucker for a good romantic triangle (*cough* Kade! *cough*) The push-pull here worked for me, felt very real for Opal, and tied in well with the overall plot. I kept reading as much to find out what happened next with Opal, Ulrick and Kade, as I did to find out who was killing glassmakers and Stormdancers.

Snyder has solid worldbuilding, and her descriptions, particularly of the glassmaking and the unique role glass plays in her world, are absolutely beautiful. I'm a jewelry artist, and while I don't personally make glass, I have friends who do, and Snyder's imagery of this process is very real, and for me at least, evocative.

But ultimately, I'm all about the characters. Snyder's Opal reminds me of Menolly of the Harper Hall trilogy, or Talia of the Heralds of Valdemar. Like these others, Opal has to embrace who she is, and learn the true depths of her talent in order to save those she loves, and survive the plot she becomes embroiled in. An enthralling good read, and a nice break from the usual YA fare. It's tough to find YA fantasy these days - urban fantasy, sure, but I'm talking good, old fashioned otherworld fantasy. Storm Glass is one of the best books I've read lately, YA or adult, and that's saying something from someone who reads as much as I do. A solid and fulfilling read, I give it 4 1/2 - 5 stars. I think teens will enjoy it, and if I were still working in a bookstore, I'd be handing it to anyone looking for something to read in that genre. I can't wait to read the sequel in September!

Storm Glass comes out on Tuesday, April 28th. You can pre-order from Amazon, or look for it at your local bookstore a week from today.
rhienelleth: (australia)
New Ilona Andrews today.

This would be Book 3 in the Kate Daniels series. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy, and I totally meant to post this review yesterday, the day before its release. I spaced the date and failed, so now I'm posting this the day of its release. :)

I like to keep these as spoiler free as possible.

If you haven't read the first two books in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Bites and Magic Burns, you should. They are also both available in ebook form.

In the plethora of urban fantasy books out there these days, this series is a stand out. Ilona blends technology with magic in her world, linking the two and making each the other's flaw. Magic fluctuates and makes technology unreliable, but when the magic fades, it's good to have tech as a back up. Hence the use of swords and horses in a modern world. It's a great bit of worldbuilding that gives the books a unique feel.

Kate, the POV character, is a strong, independent woman with her own secrets to protect. She tends to be a bit standoffish to that end, and has a hard time opening up to people. Not to mention, her mouth sometimes gets her into trouble, especially when she's talking to Curran, a were lion with a serious case of 'alpha male'. And no wonder - he's the Beast Lord, leader of all the were-creatures. The two have a very strong push-pull attraction going on, and Kate is often forced to deal with him in the performance of her duties as a member of the Order of Merciful Aid. (Not to mention her friendships with certain members of the Pack.) She used to be a mercenary, but now she works to help and protect people for the Order.

I've thoroughly enjoyed both of the previous books in this series, but this was by far my favorite. Truthfully, I've been waiting on pins and needles for it since I finished Book 2. The characters are nicely established now, and the relationships Kate has with others in her sphere are deepening and getting more complicated, despite her need to keep secrets. (There are parts of Kate's origins that even the reader doesn't know yet, an ongoing plot thread that winds through the entire series.) The banter between Kate and Curran, in particular, was full of tension, humor, and unresolved feeling. I won't lie - following how their relationship progresses is my favorite part of the series, although all of Kate's interactions keep you reading. Her mentoring of Derek the werewolf, the odd contest of wills she continues with the dangerously powerful Samain. All of these things are woven nicely into the plot; in fact, it is her friendship with Derek that starts the plot rolling in this book.

Much like when I finished Book 2, finishing the third book in the Kate Daniels series left me wondering when we can expect book 4. The writing is strong, the characters fascinating, and the tension keeps ratcheting higher. You really need to read the first two before sitting down with this one, but I will say this is my favorite of the three. Each book seems better than the last, which is how you want a series to progress. Tiny not-quite-a-spoiler: Fans of Kate/Curran will finally get a little bit of pay off for all the teasing and tension we've had.

I eagerly await the next book to see what Ms. Andrews has in store for Kate. :-)

(For those that have read the snippets in [livejournal.com profile] ilona_andrews' LJ, the hot tub scene does not disappoint!)

As a bonus, I'm going to give away a single copy of the book to people who comment on this review. I'll draw the winner at random, and send you a brand new, hot-off-the-presses copy of Magic Strikes, which has beautiful cover art of Kate and Curran. Just comment with your name between now and midnight on Thursday , and I'll do the drawing and post the winner Friday.

Books

Jan. 6th, 2009 09:36 am
rhienelleth: (masterharper)
Some good books release today!

Lynn Viehl's Stay the Night, the 'last' of her Darkyn books, and Robin's story. I was lucky enough to get to read an advanced copy, and I gave a non-spoilery review here.

[livejournal.com profile] jimhines releases the first book in his fairy tale based series, The Stepsister Scheme, also available on Kindle. I've been excited to read this one for months - sometimes it feels like years! I love fairy tales, retold fairy tales, and, as I'm betting is the case here, fairy tales turned backwards and upside down and retold in a refreshing and new way. [livejournal.com profile] dragonsinger, I know you like fairy tales as well - I've read the first chapter and definitely recommend this one!

(Also, the third book in his very entertaining Goblin series, Goblin War is released in ebook form today. Another one for me to buy on Kindle!)

Also, not to be left out, Plum Spooky released today, but as has been the habit for Janet Evanovich's books, not for the Kindle as yet.

In other book news, Orbit is introducing a $1 ebook every month, the idea being to bring readers together with new authors they might not have read before. I went ahead and bought this month's book, The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. I mean, why not? It might be a great fantasy series, and I haven't tried it yet.

Book review

Oct. 6th, 2008 10:45 am
rhienelleth: (masterharper)
I was fortunate enough to win an ARC of Lynn Viehl's latest (and last in this particular series) Darkyn novel, Stay the Night. This review won't contain any spoilers, so I won't bother cutting it.

Anyone familiar with the series probably knows this was Robin's book. Here's the Amazon blurb:

Outlaw, immortal vampire, and art thief, Darkyn Lord Robin of Locksley has evaded authorities for the last 700 years. At the moment, he’s falling for undercover federal agent Christina Renshaw, who has no time for an affair. She hopes to snag an elusive art thief, but soon has no choice other than to join forces with Robin.

When the chase becomes dangerous, both will have to choose between losing each other and losing everything they value...


Some of you might be aware that I fell in love with Robin when he was introduced in Evermore. I love flawed heroes and complicated villains, and Robin is one of the best examples of the former...or maybe of both. He is, after all, a thief.

I have been a loyal reader of Lynn's since I nabbed Stardoc off the SF shelves, and have thoroughly enjoyed her Darkyn series as one of the best paranormal romance series out there. Well written, it lacks the "cheese" factor that some paranormals have, and rides that line between 'urban fantasy' and 'paranormal romance', which all the best of both genre's do, IMHO. She threads her entire series with an ongoing arc, begun and continued by her first couple, Alexandra and Michael. Alex continues to search for a "cure" for her condition, and to treat those Darkyn who need the help of an expert surgeon. I love her continued irreverent attitude toward the arrogant and domineering Darkyn, particularly Richard.

I admit I was a bit skeptical as to how the author was going to wrap up so many ongoing plot points and storylines in one volume, but I shouldn't have been. I absolutely applaud Ms. Viehl, who not only gave us a very fulfilling 'main story' between Robin and Chris, she also expertly wove those other plot points into one fantastic whole, in and around the main story. They fit together seamlessly, and revealed answers that have been a mystery since the first book. I was left feeling extremely satisfied as a reader, but also hoping for more, as there is definitely a window or three of opportunity for more books beyond this first series arc. Meaning, while this book did tie up all those threads, it also left room for the story of the Darkyn as a whole to continue. Which I believe the author plans to do, in one form or another.

A few non-spoilery specifics:

~ Robin's supernatural "charm" avails him very little with his heroine. And gee, when you've literally been able to have any woman falling at your feet for a few hundred years, it seems it is very unexpected when one doesn't. I laughed and laughed, in those early chapters with Rob and Chris. :-)

~ For those of you who may have wondered, we do see Luisa's story continued in this book, and...well, one door closes and another opens...

~ One thing I really enjoy about Lynn's books - the secondary characters always feel like there is much more to them than what we see. Like they have their own stories going on, just not through the necessarily limited lens of this story. It makes them come off as three dimensional, rather than archetypes.

I love Robin, did I mention that? This was, unquestionably, my favorite Darkyn book. Not just because I love Rob, but I thought how everything came together to be resolved was fantastic as well. I was always turning the page to find out where things were going next, utterly captivated.

I hope some of these characters will make appearances in future books. :)

!!!

Sep. 12th, 2008 03:06 pm
rhienelleth: (masterharper)
Dune is FINALLY available as an e-book - well, for Kindle, anyway. I have looked everywhere for an ebook version since getting Kindle, and sure, they have other books in the series, but not THE book that started it all.

Despite a very strong dislike for some of the later books, Dune remains one of my favorite books of all time. I'm pretty cynical about a lot of books and their supposed layers of meaning and depth - the college English track pretty much burnt me on a lot of that. Not that books aren't layered and deep, but come on, how many times can a person read Heart of Darkness?? (blech!)

Dune, however, is one of those books that impresses the hell out of me every time I read it. It's literary genius, and I don't care who wants to argue the point. That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it! Anytime someone talks about "genre" books as somehow lesser, it pisses me off - duh, i'm a genre writer. All of my favorite books are genre books. But I often tell them to read Dune - which is taught in several college literary courses throughout the country, snap! (I have no idea if I just used that properly, but it felt right at the time.)

Anyway. Dune. On my Kindle. Available to me to read, whenever the hell I get the urge to crack it open. Reason #47 to love my Kindle. :)

Back!

Aug. 19th, 2008 09:17 am
rhienelleth: (Default)
Camping was fun and good and relaxing - other than the dirt and thunderstorms, but hey, camping, right?

I finished reading a historical fantasy based on The Aeneid - Black Ships by [livejournal.com profile] jo_graham. It was really, really good. I loved how she took the episodic stories of Aeneas and his crew and made them a continuous, living, breathing story that might have actually happened in history.

It reminded me a bit of some of David Gemmell's more historically based work, like Dark Prince (Alexander the Great), except this had a more feminine touch, possibly because the narrator was female. It was told in first person POV through the eyes of Gull, a young girl who becomes Pythia as she grows up, seer and oracle to Prince Aeneas. It had a great voice, a good story, and an ending that made me tear up and smile both. What more could you ask for, really?

I admit I'm a sucker for things like this. I love the old stories - Beowulf, The Odyssey, The Aeneid (I like to read those last two back to back and make comparisons!) I'm the sort of person who has shelves that include everything from The Complete Works of Shakespeare and The Three Musketeers (I should read that again, hmm), to Janet Evanovich's latest Stephanie Plum.

Books like Black Ships sort of straddle the two lines. The story is old, but the writing is (even though the voice is appropriate and perfect for its setting) more modern, the characters for accessible, and thus, easier to just read and be entertained. As much as I love the story of Aeneas, for example, reading The Aeneid for fun is something I don't want to do too often.

In less fun news, I am sick, or stressed, or both. Everyday for the past week I've had a damn headache. I'm getting really tired of having them. But I tend to get them when stressed, and well, things haven't exactly been stress free of late.

I'm fairly certain I had another miscarriage last week. Cut for possible TMI women stuff )Oh, and joy. I just found out I am required to go to an all day training thing today. Fabulous. *sigh*

I'll check in again around lunch time.
rhienelleth: (Default)
Because I am obsessive like that...

Currently available titles that would be "musts" on Rhien's Kindle:

Anne McCaffrey's entire Pern bibliography, but most notably The Dragonriders of Pern and The Harper Hall Trilogy

(Why in the hell do they have Dune Messiah available for kindle, but not the original Dune? Also, no Harry Potter as yet. FAIL, Amazon!)

J.D. Robb's ...in Death series

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books.

Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books.

Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series.

Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books.

Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series.

Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody series.

Anything and everything by Neil Gaiman.

So many, many more.

Also, there are free places to d/l Kindle compatible Jane Austen, Alexander Dumas, Shakespeare and other "classic" must-haves. Free is good.

Apparently Coinstar offers amazon gift certificates in place of actual $$ - this may necessitate rounding up of all the copious loose change in my house. I don't know how long the siren lure of the Kindle can be denied. Blast and dang that this has hit halfway smack in between my birthday and Christmas, or you can bet I'd be hitting up family and friends for Amazon gift cards.
rhienelleth: (gambit-rogue-rain)
There's something kinda slick about simultaneously posting to three different journals. Huh. Go, technology.

So, I picked up and subsequently finished the new SK Dark-Hunter book, Devil May Cry yesterday. It was awesome. Her best book since the one about Val and Tabby where all the bad things happened. And, for the record, I was so totally right in my theory about Katra and who she is! Score!

Spoilers and such )
rhienelleth: (Default)
Shamelessly stolen from [personal profile] celli, tell me which book each first line is from - most of mine are too easy, dang it.  Too many first lines contain buzzwords that are dead giveaways to anyone remotely familiar with the book.  *sigh* 

It was really hard to narrow my choices down.  I love so many books, so very, very much.  But these are all extra special to me, for one reason or another.  In a couple of cases where the first line was particularly short, I quote the first two lines.  In no particular order:

1.  In the week before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul. Correctly guessed by [personal profile] vaznetti, Dune by Frank Herbert, IMO one of the greatest SF books of all time.  I get something new out of it every time I read it, and if I was an English professor, I'd teach it in one of my classes.

2.  Lessa woke, cold. Cold with more than the chill of the everlastingly clammy stone walls. Correctly guessed by [personal profile] vaznetti, Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, the SF/F book nearest and dearest to ym heart, as it single handedly converted me from horse books to being a fantasy reader. :D 

3.  All children, except one, grow up. Correctly guessed by [profile] notasalmon and [profile] rez_lo, Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie.  An excellent book, and not just for kids.  There are quite a few adult themes to Peter, and I highly recommend it if you've never read it.  Also, Finding Neverland is a great look at how it ended up being written. 

4.  The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex. Correctly guessed by [personal profile] vaznetti,Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - because it's my second-favorite book by her, and everyone and their brother knows the first line of P&P by heart. :D

5.  When I first set eyes on Evelyn Barton-Forbes she was walking the streets of Rome-- Correctly guessed by [profile] aka_paloma, The Crocodile on the Sandbank, by Elizabeth Peters.  I no longer remember how I discovered the Amelia Peabody mysteries, but I do remember devouring them all one summer several years ago, then anxiously awaiting the next book.  I love the tone, the feel, and of course, Ramses!  (Who doesn't?)

6.  It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance.  Correctly guessed by  [personal profile] kistha, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  I have compared these books to a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day - I love them.  I love reading about Jamie and Claire and Roger and Brianna, and when a new book comes out I get all giddy and excited. :D

7.  The nurse walked out of the room, closing the door behind her, and Mrs. Pollifax looked at the doctor and he in turn looked at her. Correctly guessed by [profile] aka_paloma, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman.  My grandmother first introduced me to the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries, and they remain among my favorites - Mrs. Pollifax, the unassuming little old lady who also happens to work for the CIA. 

8. The first thing the boy Garion remembered was the kitchen at Faldor's farm. Correctly guessed by [personal profile] vaznetti, Pawn of Prophecy, the first book of the Belgariad, by David Eddings.  Among the first epic series fantasy I ever read.  Robert Jordan doesn't hold a freakin' candle. 

9.  She woke in the dark.  Through the slats on the window shades, the first murky hint of dawn slipped, slanting shadowy bars over the bed.

10. As I left the Kenya beanstalk capsule he was right on my heels.  Correctly guessed by [profile] auburnnothenna, Friday by Robert Heinlein.  I don't like all of Heinlein's books, but Friday is without question one of my favorite SF novels.  I noticed recently they've introduced a new print run with a different cover, which is really unfortunate.  Firstly, because Michael Whelan's cover rocked - he is the cover artist I have long dreamed of having do my books one day - and most importantly, because Heinlein once said what a shock it was when he received the cover art, for Whelan's version of Friday so closely matched his own mental vision, it was as if the picture had been pulled from his head.  What more could an author ask for?  The line I most remember from this book is not the first line, but the oft repeated "My mother was a test tube, my father a knife."

11. There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire. Correctly guessed by [profile] shadawyn, Stardust by Neil Gaiman.  Sandman is actually my favorite Gaiman work ever, but this list is supposed to be 'books', and wouldn't have been complete without him.  And I loved Stardust. :)

12. She sat by the creek, half-hidden in lush grasses.

13. I am Tersa the Weaver, Tersa the Liar, Tersa the Fool. Correctly guessed by [personal profile] kistha, Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop.  A great series of books about power and corruption, and the relationships between men and women.  Sort of dark fantasy. :D
rhienelleth: (masterharper)
Dude!  Peter Jackson has optioned Tremeraire!

Naomi Novik must be beside herself. :)
rhienelleth: (plum)
Dude, Twelve Sharp comes out today!  How could I have spaced that?  Ranger!  Joe!  Stephanie!  (You see how these characters prioritize for me, right?)  I was thinking how Danse Macabre doesn't come out until we're in TX, and it never even occurred to me that the next Plum book comes out this month. 

PS: How in the frak do you insert a link with this new stupid interface?  I mean, I get the little icon you click on and paste the link, but unlike a cut or username, it doesn't give you a spot to write the name of the link in, and when I click "ok" nothing happens.  My cursor blinks at me from the exact same position as though I've done nothing...hence why the book titles above are bolded rather than linked to amazon.

Book Rec

Apr. 11th, 2006 12:38 pm
rhienelleth: (Default)
I'm an eclectic reader, reading a little bit of everything, really. No genre is taboo, and I even dip into mainstream literature occassionally, or whatever it's being labled as these days. But at heart, fantasy is my genre. The touchstone I always return to, the home of many of my most favorite authors of all time, and what I prefer to write myself 99% of the time. But as the years have gone by, it's become more and more difficult for me to pick up a new author and/or series and read it, and love it as much as some of my old school favorites. I tend to pick up a new author, read a bit, and think "Oh. This is David Eddings/Terry Brooks/Weis and Hickman, only badly written." or "Sigh. This is Anne McCaffrey, but with horses instead of dragons. And mediocre writing." Every once in a while, I find a gem, and am thrilled beyond measure to have something new, and original (or with an original twist), and well written to love in my genre.

Anne Bishop was one. So was Terry Goodkind, once upon a time and several books ago. Jacqueline Carey. George R.R. Martin.

Naomi Novik is one of those gems. I knew I was going to love the book before I ever cracked the cover, because [livejournal.com profile] dolphin__girl, one of the writers/readers whose opinion I most respect, told me I would. When Sarah writes something, I know I'm going to love it, and when she recs something she loves, I have likewise yet to be disappointed.

Still, when I walked into the bookstore and picked up His Majesty's Dragon, I wavered for a moment. The cover blurb wasn't what I was expecting:

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

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


Of all the historical time periods that interest me, I've never really been intrigued by the Napoleonic Wars (blame my college history professor, who brought new meaning to the term 'monotone'.) I almost put the book back. It sounded entirely too historical for my taste, despite the inclusion of dragons. Dragons, after all, will always belong to Pern as far as I'm concerned. Beyond that, they tend to be the most often used cliche in fantasy. But I hesitated, because Sarah had raved about this book, so I knew it had to be good despite my misgivings. And there on the cover was a quote from, of all people, Anne McCaffrey herself. I figured it the Dragonlady could recommend this new twist on dragons, it was worth checking out. So I bought it.

Reading the first page told me three things right off:

1. I was right, this was definitely historical fantasy, with an emphasis on historical.

2. The writing style not only suited the chosen genre well, but also managed to pull me right in, which meant:

3. The writing was good. The narrator's voice was clear, believable, and very suited to the premise of the book.

By the end of the first chapter, I was completely hooked, and by halfway through the book, I knew this was my favorite fantasy involving dragons since McCaffrey and Pern. Now that I've finished the first book, I can hardly wait for book two to come out at the end of the month. One of the best, most original fantasy books I've come across in years. I highly rec this to anyone who reads the genre. Go and buy His Majesty's Dragon and fall in love with Temeraire yourself.

To wet your appetite and give you a taste of what I'm talking about, here's the online excerpt you can find on Noami's website, or at amazon.com. Follow the link to read it. You won't be sorry.

Book Rec

Mar. 30th, 2006 11:13 am
rhienelleth: (Evil)
Ok, so if you're at all into paranormal romance that's well written with great worldbuilding, good characters, an actual new spin on vampires, and hot sex scenes (which, usually, I can take or leave in my romance. A sex scene has to be somethin' special to catch my attention anymore, otherwise I skip on past. A lot of well written fanfic porn, believe it or not, works a lot better than most professionally written romance sex, IMHO. I could go on a whole spiel here about what constitutes well written vs. poorly written or merely "meh" sex, but this is about a book rec, so I'll shelve that for now.)

If yes to the above, then you must check out J.D. Ward and her dark brotherhood series. Yes, there are moments of cheesiness. I have resigned myself that all "romance" is going to have elements of it. (For instance, I doubt I would have chosen to name my characters things like Tohrment and Rhage.) But her characters rock despite all that, and she has quite a complex world she's built and a very different spin on vampires in general. Ok, one of my favorite moments so far happened in book #1 Dark Lover. I'm paraphrasing because I don't have the book in front of me, but the reason I loved it so much was because I could actually see two men full of themselves fighting exactly like this. Her men talk like actual men would! (which, btw, is one of the things I love and adore about Suzanne Brockmann. Yes, men say fuck. A lot. Even the nice ones, especially in the company of other men.)

So the scene is, these two men (vampire warriors with waaaaay too much testosterone for anyone's good) are arguing because one of them, God forbid, made a comment that the other (the Protag) is all dressed up in a suit - which he never wears - for a date with this chick he likes, and the one, being happily married and in love with his wife, is pleased to see his friend might be falling for someone. Scared shitless, the protag of course takes umbrage at this, and a back-and-forth argument ensues, which rapidly disintigrates into schoolyard tactics. The end of the argument goes something like this, with the Protag speaking first (he's already made some other comments disparaging marriage at this point):

"At least I'm not pussy whipped."

"Nice. Fucking. Suit."

Heh. I laughed out loud at that.

Anyway, I have finished the first two books in record time, and am eagerly awaiting the third. I highly recommend them.

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