February 2022


I noticed that Worlds Without End has a Star Trek reading challenge:

Space – what many unread Star Trek books occupy on my book shelves. Read 3, 6, 9, or 12 Star Trek books from any series in the Star Trek Universe. Review your favorite and comment about the other books you’ve read in the Challenge thread. Twelve books won’t make a dent in my pile, but it’s a start! Live Long and Prosper.

My situation isn’t quite that bad, but I have three shelves full of Star Trek books, mostly from my favorite Trek, TNG. I do have Star Trek books I’ve owned several years without reading them. But that’s going to change.

I’m starting carefully so I chose the lowest level, 3 books which is the Janeway level. Of course, I’m hoping to read more.

Books read

1, Carmen Carter, Michel Jan Friedman, Peter David, Robert Greenberger: Doomsday World

2,

Top 5 Wednesday is GoodReads group where people discuss a different bookish topic each week.

I think ALL books take us on wonderful adventures, but what are some books where you enjoyed the adventure the character went on? These could be adventures that the character(s) physically went on or maybe it was more of an emotional adventure. Let’s talk about all those kinds of adventures!

I read a lot of adventure stories so it was very hard to pick just five. Here are five which I think are more focused on adventure rather than violence.

1, Marie Brennan: A Natural History of Dragons

Lady Isabella of Trent was obsessed with dragons from an early age. But studying the natural form of anything isn’t proper for a young lady. She must make her life an adventure to do what she wants.

2, Lois McMaster Bujold: Paladin of Souls

Ista dy Chalion is a middle-aged woman, a former queen, and now the mother of the queen. She’s a widow and has lived under a curse for decades so many people consider her mad. Now, the curse is gone and Ista goes on an adventure, trying to win back her own life.

3, Genevive Cogman: the Invisible Library

Irene Winders is a Librarian (and a spy) working for the Library that exists between alternate worlds. She retrieves rare books for the Library.

4, Elizabeth Peters: Crocodile at the Sandbank

Amelia Peabody is an intelligent, strong-willed young woman. The limitations that the Victorian culture places on women, and specifically on her, frustrated her. When her father dies and she inherits his money, she leaves England and goes to the land that fascinates her, Egypt, and to the adventure of her life.

5, Connie Wills: To Say Nothing of the Dog or How We Found the Bishop’s Birdstump Again

Ned Henry is an Oxford historian who has done too many time jumps between the 1940s and the current day. So that he can recover, his superior sends him to the Victorian era… and an unexpected adventure.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, the topic is Top Ten Dynamic Duos.

I chose to list two persons who work very well together. A few are lovers, most are best friends.

1, Batman and Robin

The obvious one, of course. 🙂

2, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

One of the most iconic crimefighters in literature.

3, Robin Hood and Little John

Another famous duo who works very well together.

4, Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan by Lois McMaster Bujold

Both Aral and Cordelia are some of my favorite characters ever.

5, Irene Winters and Kai by Genevive Cogman

Our intrepid Librarian/spy and her apprentice aren’t on the best of terms in the first book, but grow to a very effective team during the series.

6, Vlad Taltos and Loiosh

Vlad is a witch, an assassin, and a thief. Loiosh is his familiar. They get out of many scrapes together and I love their sarcastic banter.

7, Temeraire and captain William Laurence

Temeraire is an exceptional dragon and is best friends with his captain Laurence. Of course, if a dragon can’t trust his or her captain, it’s very hard to work as a team.

8, Amelia Peabody-Emerson and Radcliff Emerson

The best archeologists and amateur detectives in the literary world.

9, Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin by Peter O’Donnell

The iconic best friends from the Modesty Blaise comics and books.

10, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg by Terry Pratchett

Pratchett wrote such wonderful characters that it’s hard to choose just two. But I adore the witches. Granny and Nanny are old witches who are very set in their ways and opinions. They’re best friends who bicker quite a lot.

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A stand-alone weird fantasy novel that is also a homage to Sherlock Holmes.

Publication year: 2019

Format: Audio

Running time: 9 hours, 13 minutes
Narrator: Nicholas Boulton

Captain John Wyndham writers a serialized story in the Strait magazine about how he first met Ms. Shaharazad Hass, the infamous consulting sorceress who has a dark and ruthless temperament. Wyndham writes the story years after it happened, indeed after Ms. Haas has (seemingly at least) died.

Wyndham had been fighting in a war in another dimension for five years. When he returns to the city of Khelathra-Ven, he needs a place to stay and ends up at 221b Martyrs Walk. Ms. Haas is his new housemate and she seems a very quirky character indeed. But Wyndham has no choice. Soon enough, Miss Eirene Viola comes to Ms. Haas to ask her to find out who is blackmailing Miss Viola to break out her engagement with Cora Beck.

Wyndham is an entertaining first-person narrator. Of course, since this is a first-person POV, a lot depends on if the reader likes the voice. He’s from Ii which is a Puritan society so it has much more rigid sexual and social mores than Khelathra-Ven in general and Ms. Haas specifically. So, he’s forced to downplay cursing that the other characters constantly do. He’s also easily shocked by the behavior of Ms. Haas and the other characters. He also throws in meta-commentary since he’s telling the story a couple decades later. He’s loyal and too truthful for his own good. Haas takes a little bit of personality from Holmes but she’s far more morally gray character, being drug-addled most of the time, not just when she’s bored. She insults everyone and is very sure of her own power and skills. She’s also bisexual. Miss Viola is her former lover and so are quite a few other characters we meet.

The world is wildly imaginative and the blackmail plot is just an excuse to take a tour in and around the city and even to the lost Carcosa. The characters are very entertaining, such as the long-suffering Augur Lawson who is trying to rein in his too enthusiastic collages while trying to uphold the laws of the city, which forbid the use of magic. And Eirene who was a thief and an adventurer before she fell in love with Cora.

I enjoyed this book a lot. The only thing I didn’t really care for was the horror aspect which came quite late in the story.

“Co-tenant required. Rent reasonable to the point of arousing suspicion. Tolerance for blasphemies against nature an advantage. No laundry service. Enquire S. Haas, 221b Martyrs Walk.”

“To be reprimanded by one’s landlady is never pleasant, but when the censure in question is delivered in an atonal buzzing from within a partially skeletonised cadaver, within which a teeming mass of insects swarms and moves with ungodly purpose, it can be quite disheartening.”

Top 5 Wednesday is GoodReads group where people discuss different bookish topic each week.

Tomorrow is Random Acts of Kindness Day and thought it would be fun to talk about kind book characters! Whether they do big or small acts of kindness, those acts can affect not just one character, but the whole cast! What are some books you’ve read that have a really kind character?

A very interesting topic. I love kind characters.

1, Superman

He’s always ready to believe in the best in people.

2, Robin Hood

He and his Merry Men often help people in addition to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

3, Penric by Lois McMaster Bujold

Penric is a scholar and curious about the world. Unlike most fantasy protagonists, he’s not violent at all.

4, Halla by T. Kingfisher

Halla is the female main character in the “Swordheart”. She often tries to help people and worries about her sisters’ children.

5, Julius by Rachel Aaron

In “Nice Dragons Finish Last” Julius is the smallest dragon in his family. He’s also kind and considerate while the other dragons are ruthless and scheming.

The seventh book in the fantasy series the Invisible Library.

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Publisher: Pan MacMillan

Publishing year: 2020

Format: Print

Page count: 318

Another delightful addition to the series! Assassins are after Irene, her former apprentice Kai, and their friend the detecive Peregrine Vale. The assassination attempts are most likely related to the new peace treaty between the chaotic Fae and the orderly Dragons, because Kai is the Dragons’ representative and Irene is the neutral party in that treaty.

Irene is also dealing with a new Fae apprentice Catherine who is resenting the attention that Kai gets from Irene, so Catherine wants to prove herself and her value to Irene. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean following orders to the letter, but instead coming up with her own ideas and following them.

The book is set in Vale’s world, which has magic, werewolves, and steampunk gadgets. However, the steampunk elements aren’t prominent. Indeed, one plotline revolves around artificial intelligence.

The plot is fast-paced, but it still has time for quieter moments between the characters. Most of the cast is familiar, but we also get new characters. Most prominent of them is Kai’s elder brother Shan Yuan who has his own interests and schemes to protect. Shan Yuan is a lot more rigid dragon than Kai and very aware of his status as the son of a dragon king. We also get some revelations which I’ve suspected for a while now.

The next book is the last one in the series. On the one hand, I’m sad to see the series end, but it’s great that Cogman is finishing while the series is still good. A lot of plot threads are left dangling so I’m very interested to see how it will end. Of course, given the vast number of alternate worlds and characters, it’s very possible that we’ll see a book or three focusing on another character. I’d love to see that, either from the Dragons side or Fae or someone else.

Top 5 Wednesday is GoodReads group where people discuss different bookish topic each week. Today the topic is red covers.

Let’s spotlight some red covers this month! These could be red books you own, red books you’ve seen, or a mix of both!

These are some of the books I’ve read in recent years with red covers:

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The first book in the Heartstrikers urban fantasy series where the main character is a dragon.

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Publication year: 2014

Format: Audio

Running time: 13 hours, 31 minutes
Narrator: Vikas Adam

Julius is the smallest dragon in the ambitious Heartstriker clan. He’s also very undragon like. True dragons are cold schemers who use anyone and anything to further their own aims and the aims of their clan. But Julius just wants to get along with everyone and has no interest in using anyone. So, he keeps his head down and doesn’t interfere with the affairs of the more powerful dragons.

Finally, his mother has had enough. So, she seals Julius in his human form and sends him to Detroit Free Zone to either succeed gloriously, and bring honor to his clan, or fail miserably – and then his mother with eath him. DMZ is the only city on Earth where dragons aren’t welcome. The powerful spirit that rules the DMZ will destroy them if she sees any. While Julius is sealed in his human form, he can’t shift to this dragon form so he can’t fly or breathe fire. He’s also broke. Luckily, one of his brothers has a job for him: to track down and capture a dragon from another clan. That dragon’s family wants her back. Julius has his doubts, but he doesn’t really have a choice. Luckily, while in the club, where he met his brother, he meets a mage Marcia who is also down on her luck. Julius hires her to find the other dragon.

Not so luckily, Julius’ eldest brother, Bob (yeah, that a nickname) the family seer has taken an interest in him. And there are mobsters after Marcia.

This is a fun mix of magic, technology, dystopia, and myth. DMZ is a capitalistic dystopia where the only thing that matters is if you have money. The underside of the city is a hive of scum and villainy while the rich live in the upper levels in security and comfort.

Julius’ family is also quite chilling: they use humans as tools and anyone else, too. Julius is the opposite of them. He’s one of the kindest and most considerate characters I’ve read lately which was nice. He also has a geeky side to him, as well. He starts to like Marcia and helps her simply because Marcia is kind to him.

We get to meet quite a few of Julius’ family. Beside his ruthless, power-hungry mom, there is Ian the suave businessman who is courting a dragon from another clan, Bob the insane seer (or is he? His antics made me laugh, though), Justin the dragon with more brawn than brains, and Chelsie the family assassin. And Jessica who is a snob. Of course, we meet dragons from another clan, as well.

I really enjoyed the writing style. With a cast full of ruthless dragons, it could have been dour or black, but instead it’s light and fun. Bob has hilarious antics and Julius has a nice sense of humor.

I also enjoyed Marcia. She’s in a tight spot and making the best of it. She has a mercenary side to her which balanced out Julius well. It seems that they’re fated to have a romance, which is too bad. I would have loved for them to be friends.

I listened to the audiobook version and it was very good.

Since this is the first book in a series, some things are left open at the end.

Top 5 Wednesday is GoodReads group where people discuss different bookish topic each week. Today, the topic is Five Star Reads

Let’s kickoff the “month of love” with some gushing! What are some books you’ve read and gave five stars? Could be recent reads or a book(s) you read a long time ago and want to remind everyone how amazing it is!

Lovely topic! I had a hard time narrowing this to just five but here goes:

1, Connie Willis: To Say Nothing of the Dog

This is one of my comfort reads. It’s a funny time travel story, mostly set in the Victorian times.

2, Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Buried Deep

The fourth book in the Retrival Artist series. I love the whole series that has a couple of very interesting alien species. They coexist with humans but sometimes the aliens’ laws aren’t sensible to humans. This book is set in Mars that belongs to a fascinating aliens called the Disty.

3, Robert Jackson Bennett: City of Blades

The second book in the Divine Cities trilogy. I also rated the third book five stars. This is set in a world where gods used to be active, but now they are dead and they’ve left behind quite a lot of surprises. The main character is a spy looking for her predicesor who has disappeared.

4, T. Kingfisher: Swordheart

A wonderful humorous fantasy romance between a 36-year old housekeeper and a soldier who is tied to a magic sword.

5, Lois McMaster Bujold: Barrayar

The second book in her SF Vorkosigan series. One of my favorites in her long-running series.

Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan is a former exploration ship captain from Beta Colony, but is now married to Admiral Lord Aral Vorkosigan who has been appointed the Regent of planet Barrayar. Cordelia comes from a very different culture and she’s still trying to navigate the strange Barrayaran culture. She’s especially lost among the high military caste Vor who have some pretty strange attitudes and customs, from Cordelia’s point of view. When some of the high Vor stage a coup, she’s trapped in the middle of it.

I just have to also list five of my favorite comic books.

1, Wendy and Richard Pini: Elfquest

A long-running fantasy series about elves. Wolfriders are a small tribe. When humans burn down the forest, the elves are forced to the wide world where they meet other elf tribes.

2, Neil Gaiman and various artists: Sandman

Dream is one of the seven Endless, powerful humanoids which represent various myths and also sides of the human psyche. Gaiman weaves a lot of myths, legends, and characters from them into the series.

3, Chris Claremont and John Byrne: X-Men: Days of the Future Past

X-Men is the first superhero comic I really liked and this is one of the best. The Days of the Future Past is just two issues long, but it was a powerful vision of a bleak future for both humans and mutants.

4, Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco: Avengers Forever

As a long-time Avengers comics reader, this was a treat! Busiek made a valiant effort to tie together the various threads of Avengers history from different writers and decades. Immortus kidnaps a group of Avengers from different times and asks them to fight against Kang the Conqueror.

5, John Byrne: Fantasic Four Visionaries

Byrne’s FF is still one of my favorite FF adventures. They traveled in space and time and alternate realities.