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Wolves of the Calla
Bernie Wrightson, Stephen King
(re)Visions - Alice
Anthology;Kaye Chazan;Hilary Thomas;Amanda Ching;Christian Young
Progress: 129/220 pages
Blackout (All Clear #1)
Connie Willis
The Well of Ascension
Brandon Sanderson
Children of Dune
Frank Herbert

Throne of the Crescent Moon (The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, #1)

Throne of the Crescent Moon  - Saladin Ahmed My full review can be found at SFF Book Review.The short version is: I liked the book, although it didn't live up to its hype for me. I loved the characters and would have liked more focus on the "original" three - Adoulla, Raseed, an Zamia. It really bothered me that mid-book, two more view point characters were introduced. They slowed down the plot and took away "screen time" from Zamia whose character development suffered in turn.Qualms aside, this was a fun adventure with a cool setting that I recommend for a quick read in between chunky epic fantasies.7/10

Glamour in Glass

Glamour in Glass  - Mary Robinette Kowal This review can also be found on SFF Book Review.Why did I read this? I had mostly lukewarm feelings about Shades of Milk and Honey, the first part in this series. But Mary Robinette Kowal is so likable and seems so clever in her interviews and podcasts that I wanted to give her a second chance. If the first novel was – and such a thing is possible, I’ve learned – too much like Jane Austen and read like all the characters were ripped off, this one has its own voice and mood to it. Unfortunately, it was a mood that bored me almost to death.GLAMOUR IN GLASSby Mary Robinette KowalPublished by: Tor, 2012ISBN: 1429987286ebook: 213 pagesSeries: Glamourist Histories #2My rating: 6/10First sentence: There are few things in this world that can simultaneously delight and dismay in the same manner as a formal dinner party.Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey, a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel. Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon…to escaping it. Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison . . . and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country’s war.dividerAfter Shades of Milk and Honey, I was hoping for many things to happen in the second novel. I wished Mary Robinette Kowal would be a little less like Jane Austen (who but Jane Austen can really pull it off, after all?) and more like herself. Check. I was hoping that the characters weren’t such obvious copies or amalgamations of Austen’s own Elizabeth Bennet or the Dashwood sisters. Check. I was hoping that her magic system, Glamour, would be further developed. Check.Despite all of these good things that were delivered as per my personal order (or so it seems), there was one element this book was missing. Badly. It was drive, it was that thing that makes you go “wow” and get really immersed in a story. Frequently, the five-year-old that I secretly still am on the inside, wanted to shout out “This is BOOOORING” while I was reading. I shushed her and everything, pointed out the nice writing and the depth of research that must have gone into the novel. But five-year-old me didn’t care. She wanted a good story. And that’s where Glamour in Glass was truly lacking.It opens on a dinner scene where Jane, who, with Vincent, has just finished a magnificent glamural commissioned by the Prince Regent, describes the dinner conversations, all the rules of propriety that go with such and the separation of the sexes once the whisky and cigars are brought and the discussions start going in a political direction. This may be very interesting from a historical point of view but it lacks any wit that Jane Austen always provided in her work. And the plot (if you can call it that) meanders along in the same manner until the last quarter of the book, when finally something happens that requires action. I am by no means averse to slow-moving books that focus on characters. But let’s take a look at the characters we meet here.Jane, for the most part, is incredibly sulky and passive throughout the novel. Until said event in the last bit makes her come out of her shell and become pretty awesome. I liked her a great deal in Shades of Milk and Honey, but here I found myself not caring very much about her and actually being annoyed with her a lot of the time. Vincent has lost his brooding mystery and what little we see of him didn’t excite me either. This may be entirely my fault or it may be due to the inconsequential conversations the newlyweds have. I don’t know. It just didn’t grab my attention at all.What Mary Robinette Kowal does brilliantly is paint a picture of the era. I’m no expert, not even an amateur, in the field, but everything just feels right. The way people behave, the differences between England and France and Belgium, the clothing, the carriages and horse-drawn carts… simply guessing from what I’ve read in her two Glamourist Histories, I would say, Mary has a firm grip on her research. The afterword gives us a clue of how thorough she has been, creating a list of words with all the words Jane Austen used in her works, and eliminating or rephrasing any words Mary used to fit the vocubulary of 1815.I was also very happy to learn more about Glamour and see Jane come up with new ways to use it. It is like reading steampunk – you read about inventions that could have been made in the past. Only this is glamourpunk. The scenes where Jane and Vincent work on their theory and try to put it into practice were the first ones that got me really hooked and that offer a myriad possibilities for future novels in the series.What did I think? In the end, the story left me rather cold. The fact that I didn’t particularly like Jane or Vincent for most of the book is surely a large factor in this. The lack of a driving force behind the plot made this, to say it in my five-year-old self’s words, simply boring. I need something to want to read on, be it characters, action, magic or world-building. None of these things were interesting enough to hold my interest. I am somewhat surprised to see this on the Nebula shortlist and I have the strong suspicion that, like with the Hugos, sometimes authors just make it onto that list because they are very present. Or because “it’s kind of their time to get an award”. Mary is a great writer, no doubt, and has a firm grip on her research and craft. But for this second Glamourist History the elevator pitch “Jane Austen with magic” does not work anymore. There may be magic in the shape of Glamour, but there is none of Austen’s wit or clever critique, there are none of her ridiculously funny characters. And so, for me, there wasn’t really much magic at all.The Good: Well-researched, with perfect French (that made me squee a lot) and an ending that redeems some of the earlier problems I had.The Bad: Three quarters of the story were painfully boring, except for one scene involving Glamour. Lacks the Austenesque humor and fun characters.The Verdict: Slow burning historical piece with threads of magic woven into it.My Rating: 6/10 – OkayThe Glamourist Histories: Shades of Milk and Honey Glamour in Glass Without a Summer

The Drowning Girl

The Drowning Girl - Caitlín R. Kiernan Full review posted at SFF Book Review.This was a gem of a novel! It was scary and disturbing, filled with magic and myth and magnificent prose that rivals any of the classical Gothic ghost stories. Caitlín R. Kiernan takes well-known tropes of speculative fiction, blending horror, fantasy and psychological thriller elements, and creates something entirely new. I have not read any of the other Nebula nominees for 2012 yet, but it’s going to be damn hard to keep up with this one.The Good: Fantastic prose, the best use of an unreliable narrator I have yet seen, an atmosphere as creepy as it is intriguing.The Bad: If you need to know where you’re at in a story, if you like to follow a red thread or a clear story arc, then this may not be for you. I urge you to give it a try anyway.The Verdict: Like a siren song, this book sings you into a trance and won’t let go until you’ve turned that last page.Rating: 9/10 Close to perfection

Hook and Jill

Hook and Jill - Andrea Jones I wrote a full review over at SFF Book Review.As a long-time fan of the original Peter Pan, I love reading alternate versions, retellings, sequels, prequels, spin-off and what have you. This book promised a dark tale where Wendy wants to grow up and ends up with Hook - it's not a spoiler, it's the book's title!It's the getting there that comprises the bulk of this story. Wendy, wanting to grow up and live her own romance, feels herself drawn more and more to the dark and well-mannered pirate captain, and away from the eternal boy who has always owned her heart. Hook's plotting manipulates almost all of the characters and pushes them in the direction he wants them to. Following them was fascinating, not only because they grow up but because they each grow up in a different way. In Wendy's case, it has a lot to do with sexuality and I should warn those of you who want their books "clean". There is a fair bit of sex in this story, although usually very subtly hinted at or described in a way that makes it obvious only to those who know what to look for (maybe I'm just filthy-minded...). I loved the idea and the incredible atmosphere but there was one thing that put me off. Andrea Jones' writing style was a severe case of trying too hard. It could have been poetic, except every paragraph tries to be so poetic that it oversaturates and ends up clunky. For a book with not too many pages, it took me a while to finish and I usually struggled with the dialogue and the clunky descriptions, had to re-read entire pages because of logical mistakes - all things that could be remedied by a nice edit. Which is why I'll read the second in the series - and also because I'm curious to see where the author leads our heroine, now that there are literally all the oceans of the world open to her.6,5/10 - Quite good read.

Etiquette & Espionage - Free Preview (the First 3 Chapters)

Etiquette & Espionage  - Gail Carriger Gail Carriger is back!The Finishing School series is set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, only 20 years earlier. We follow 14-year-old Sophronia Temminnick (don't you love that name?) through her first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing School, where she learns to finish... everything.I adored the writing, Gail's quick wit and humor are fantastic, the characters are lovable and get themselves into exceedingly ridiculous situations. There are new gimmicks and old friends, there are mechanimals and eyelash fluttering classes. Whether you know Gail Carriger's writing or not, pick this up. It's a lot of fun.My full review can be found at SFF Book Review.

Havemercy

Havemercy - Danielle Bennett, Jaida Jones My full review can be found at SFF Book Review.This was a pleasant surprise. The cover and blurb are misleading - because this is neither a steampunk novel, nor is it epic fantasy about raging wars and bloodshed. It is a beautiful fantasy of manners, it contains a wonderful romance between two men, and - yes - it features mechanical dragons that are fuelled by magic. However, the dragons stay very much in the background.It is the characters that really drive this book and it was because of the characters - with all their intricacies and relationships - that I wanted to follow. At a certain point this became one of those books you simply can't put down. There isn't a lot of plot but simply watching Thom struggle to understand and put some manners into the impulsive Rook, was an immense pleasure. Or Royston, the exiled magician, who is fascinated by this countryboy Hal who hands on his every word... I cannot say how much I grew to care for them and how much more thrilling this was than epic battles.A highly recommended fantasy novel that is well-crafted and features some of the most intriguing characters I have read in a long time.8/10

Cursor's Fury

Cursor's Fury (Codex Alera, The #3) - Jim Butcher My favorite Codex Alera novel so far. My review can be found at SFF Book Review

Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was

Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was - Barry Hughart My full review can be found at SFF Book Review.I had a lot of trouble finding into this book. My suspicion is that it is much more accessible for people with any knowledge of ancient Chinese mythology. Since my knowledge was limited to a movie adaptation of "Journey to the West" I am sure I missed at least half the tongue-in-cheek references to other tales and legends.But even without knowing anything about Chinese mythology, this can be enjoyed purely for the fun. Master Li, a wise man with a slight flaw in his character, and Number Ten Ox, travel around China, meet a delightful group of people, solve mysteries, break curses, and get almost killed more than once. Despite the slimness of this novel, there were edge-of-your-seat momentso f action, little moments of depth and many, many quotable bits.Once I knew what kind of story I had stumbled into, I could thorougly enjoy it. I laughed, I was shocked, and I tried guessing along with Master Li. A highly recommended, wonderfully fresh fantasy novel (despite its publication in 1985) that should be enjoyed by any fantasy fan who likes fun.8/10 - Excellent

Across the Universe   [ACROSS THE UNIVERSE] [Paperback]

Across the Universe   [ACROSS THE UNIVERSE] [Paperback] - Beth'(Author) Revis Full review at SFF Book Review.Another one of those over-hyped YA books that have no substance.There are a lot of things wrong with this and since I just wrote a long review on my blog, I don't feel like going into detail again here. It was just a bad book. It's insta-love, the characters are flat and incredibly stupid, there was not much plot to begin with and what little there was turned out to be badle written. The narrative doesn't work.After finishing this, the book goes on my stack of books that have been churned out because there was a hype going on and the marked wanted more of the same. Lazy writing, no real story to tell, and the blandest characters on and off Earth do not make a good book.The two star rating is based solely on the first chapter - which was good - and some sparks of ideas that could have been good, had the author (or her editor) put a little more work into it. Instead, I suppose all the money went into marketing to make all the young girls run out and buy yet another piece of bad YA literature.

Tender Morsels

Tender Morsels - Margo Lanagan A fantastic and disturbing book. My review can be found at SFF Book Review.

Aldebaran, tome 3 : La Photo (French Edition)

Aldebaran, tome 3 : La Photo (French Edition) - Léo My review of the five Aldebaran comic books can be found at SFF Book Review.

Aldebaran, tome 4 : Le Groupe (French Edition)

Le groupe - Léo My review of the five Aldebaran comic books can be found at SFF Book Review.

Aldebaran, tome 5 : La créature

La créature (Aldebaran, #5) - Léo My review of the five Aldebaran comic books can be found at SFF Book Review.

Aldebaran, tome 2 : La Blonde (French Edition)

La blonde - Léo My review of the five Aldebaran comic books can be found at SFF Book Review.

Silently and Very Fast (Signed)

Silently and Very Fast - Catherynne M. Valente Full review at SFF Book Review.Catherynne Valente doesn't take single wrong step. On the one hand, I am shocked it took me until the first Fairyland book to discover her, on the other hand, I am happy about the amount of unread Valente books I have sitting on my shelves.This novella (which you can read for free on the Clarkesworld Magazine page - or even listen to on audio) creates a sort of mix between a science fiction story about an AI and mythology. There has to be mythology! It's beautifully written and even though it took me a while to get into, it paid off in the end. If you've never read Catherynne Valente, I'd suggest you start with [b:The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making|9591398|The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)|Catherynne M. Valente|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1317793528s/9591398.jpg|6749837]. But if you want a little bite-sized book that will leave you melancholy and thinking for yourself, you may as well choose this one.

Aldebaran, tome 1 : La catastrophe (French Edition)

La catastrophe - Léo My review of the five Aldebaran comic books can be found at SFF Book Review.