It's been a long time since I first read this book, and I can't begin to explain how over the moon I am that it's finally going to reach readers other...moreIt's been a long time since I first read this book, and I can't begin to explain how over the moon I am that it's finally going to reach readers other than Rick Robinson's betas. And yet, this is not the kind of book I write, for the most part.
Catherine of Lyonesse is heir to her country's throne, but her mother took her children and fled to her homeland of Aquitaine, where she passed away. Catherine spent years in a convent, until she got to be a bit too much for the rule the sisters lived by. Now she has lives at court, under the tutelage of the king's former mistress and her husband. This unusual couple is determined to teach Cat all sorts of interesting things, from royal graces to intrigue.
To this end Cat has been given two ladies-in-waiting, two lovely, intelligent young things with an eye to the future, and the main chance: a princess who might just become a great queen. They will need all their wits, because the court is filled with spies, people who would murder and/or romance their hot-headed young princess, and plotters who would be happy to take their own places. And that's just the Aquitainian population! Things are stirring in Lyonesse, and people there are starting to think about their princess, who is being raised by their enemies, and wonder if it's time to bring her home . . . in a box.
There are lovely ladies with plenty of smarts, lovely clothes, handsome men, lovely weapons, a smidge of magic to make things interesting, sword fights, gallops on horseback, and spies galore! The publication date is August 14, 2014. You may have to get it in e-format in the US until an American publisher snags it, but don't wait if you don't have to! (less)
At last Callie, the Dust Girl and Golden Girl of the previous two books, is reunited with her mortal mother, her unSeelie father, and her mortal frien...moreAt last Callie, the Dust Girl and Golden Girl of the previous two books, is reunited with her mortal mother, her unSeelie father, and her mortal friend Jack, but they're still on the run from her uncle, who wants to use them to take the unSeelie throne. They hope to take a train to New York, but are forced to stay in Chicago, due to Papa's sickness when he travels in what is basically an iron box. (Fairies are famously unable to tolerate iron; Callie can deal with it thanks to her mortal blood.)
Problems beset them in Chicago as Jack disapproves of the the way Papa manipulates human beings, including his own family, and Callie discovered a whole new branch of fairy, called the Halfers--half fairy, and half wood, or paper, or iron, or stone--anything goes. Will they be enemies or friends when war between the Seelie and unSeelie courts begins? And what side will Callie be on, Callie, the only opener of gates between the two realms, once she steps through and discovers her true, enchanting heritage?
I found this one a knuckle-biter, and I read it in a day. Friends become enemies, enemies friends, and nothing is what it seems to be.(less)
This has to be the most maddening book I've ever read, and that includes books on the Vietnam and Second World Wars. As AIDS arrives in the world in t...moreThis has to be the most maddening book I've ever read, and that includes books on the Vietnam and Second World Wars. As AIDS arrives in the world in the late 1970s, it strikes Africa first, then the American gay scene. Shilts documents the search for the virus in all its muddled, politicized, under-funded, disregarded insanity, during which gay men died quickly or slowly, without drugs that did more than eased their passing for years, in their homes or in facilities that had no more notion of how to care for them than they did, cared for by each other and, slowly, by medical personnel who knew they might be risking their own lives.
Here in the U.S. local, state, and national government issued claims of aggressive pursuit of the disease while doing the opposite. Agencies supposedly committed to the discovery and treatment of the new disease fought one another for credit for any advances in treatment and in finding the virus. Pharmaceutical companies kept to the years-long proving process for drugs which might buy years of life for sufferers, including seeking out pools of subjects who could get placebos, when in the case of this disease the receipt of the placebo was certain death, instead of the possibility of a few more years with an experimental drug. Doctors, blood banks, and drug companies vied to make money as gays, drug users, and recipients of blood transfusions who got blood while blood banks argued against testing blood for the disease because it was expensive died.
And the politicians who could have created hospices, units in hospitals, and information programs, did nothing.
It's a brilliant book about a heartbreaking time. HBO's movie "A Normal Heart" was written in 1985 by activist Larry Kramer, and you'll recognize some of his characters here: this is the story of what went on before, after, and in the rest of the world. If you're prone to fits of rage, you might want to warn those around you as you read. I lived in NYC during this time, and I had a lot of gay friends. I knew they were being ignored. I didn't know it was this pervasive, or this completely and utterly inhuman. (less)
I keep an eye open for every book Sherri L. Smith publishes, and I'm never disappointed. This is the story of a young woman of color, the daughter of...moreI keep an eye open for every book Sherri L. Smith publishes, and I'm never disappointed. This is the story of a young woman of color, the daughter of a flyer, who passes as white to join the WASPs and fly for her country during WWII. Her goal--to serve her country--is admirable, but can she find peace with herself and her color as well? You'll have to read to find out, and you'll be glad you did.(less)
A tense story about a father and daughter who are both trying to deal with post traumatic stress disorder, the father from his military service, and t...moreA tense story about a father and daughter who are both trying to deal with post traumatic stress disorder, the father from his military service, and the daughter from living with a man who struggles with demons, liquor, unstable partners, and his own inability to hold down a job and home with his child. Reading this book, I felt like I was living on the edge of a cliff, and I was terrified that no one would be able to work out a way to live--you will feel the same way.(less)
Callie and Jack find that Hollywood, governed by the lovely and glittering Seelie Court (better known as movie stars and moguls), is a hard place to l...moreCallie and Jack find that Hollywood, governed by the lovely and glittering Seelie Court (better known as movie stars and moguls), is a hard place to live, and the forces that it brings to bear on their friendship are driving them apart. They do make new friends, including the great actor Paul Robson, but will they be enough to keep the pair from being destroyed by their enemies.
This and its predecessor are great for people who are looking for American diversity in their fantasy. Callie has to endure the treatment that blacks faced in Hollywood: different doors, different jobs, no respect. It nearly killed me to read how Paul Robson, one of the greatest opera singers and actors of his day, was treated. The characters are completely believable, with no one too saintly or too despicable, except for the fairy characters who are single-minded in their pursuits.(less)
Tossed out on her ear by her uncle when she refuses to marry a young man who assaulted her the night before, Peggy is recruited by a mysterious gentle...moreTossed out on her ear by her uncle when she refuses to marry a young man who assaulted her the night before, Peggy is recruited by a mysterious gentleman and his crew to take the place of a lady-in-waiting at the royal court, to spy on nearly everyone. She even has to find out who tried (and succeeded) to murder the girl she's supposed to be.
As in all good spy novels, Peggy learns she really can trust no one, not the dour maidservant who is assigned to her by her masters, not any of the other servants, not the other ladies-in-waiting to Princess Charlotte, daughter-in-law to King George I (and a very intelligent cookie herself), and perhaps not the two young men who are romancing her. (Peggy, not the princess.) There are all kinds of ins and outs, appalling descriptions of fashion, and tension that gets sharper and sharper throughout the book.
A splendidly well-written book, set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Callie's mom has gone missing, but a mysterious stranger points her to the golden c...moreA splendidly well-written book, set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Callie's mom has gone missing, but a mysterious stranger points her to the golden country around Hollywood, if she can get there somehow. Traveling with her is Jack, a hobo boy who knows how to survive in the cruel world of the Great Depression and who doesn't mind that Callie obviously has Negro blood--or is it blood from a people far more outside human experience even than the blacks of the 1930s?
Callie and Jack have embarked on a wild ride, one that includes the Seelie and Unseelie (fairy) courts, giant humanoid locusts that eat everything in sight, the old spirits known by the Native Americans, and some things that defy description (and spoilers)! I think this is one of the most unique fantasies I've ever read, written by one of my favorite adult writers who is now turning her hand to YA. Give it a try and see if you can't pick up that jazzy beat!(less)
Most people grew up with stories of the girl on the side of the road, the girl who was killed on prom night, the girl in the diner, the girl who wants...moreMost people grew up with stories of the girl on the side of the road, the girl who was killed on prom night, the girl in the diner, the girl who wants to get home. Seanan McGuire, aka Mira Grant, who's also what's called a filksinger on the science fiction/fantasy convention circuit, has strung together a number of short stories about Rose, a ghost of the road who goes where she's called to help those who need her very special set of skills.
She lives in a world populated by rulers of the crossroads, routewitches, and other supernatural creatures who have sprung up for and around the roads. They all have stories and agendas, and very few can be trusted--if any. Rose finds her way through this world with brains, sass, and sheer courage, always returning to home, always fleeing the monster who killed her, and always missing the boy she was going to meet the night she went off the road.
I put this in the same company as Neil Gaiman's AMERICAN GODS, Jane Lindskold's CHANGER and CHANGER'S DAUGHTER, and Roger Zelazny work, in the way it creates a whole new mythology on a very specific part of America. I read it in basically one sitting. and I can't recommend it enough. If you like ghost stories, if you like contemporary fantasy, if you like stories about cars and roads, if you like Seanan/Mira's work, give it a try. It's fun; it's tense; and it's beautifully sad, all at once!(less)
Solveig, her beautiful older sister and her younger brother, heir to the throne, have been sent to an isolated fort to be safe while their father batt...moreSolveig, her beautiful older sister and her younger brother, heir to the throne, have been sent to an isolated fort to be safe while their father battles an enemy who wanted to marry her sister. With them are a skald, or bard, some family servants, and some soldiers, including a berserker. Solveig thinks that as the middle child she has nothing to offer--she is plain, she is a girl--but the skald tells her she could learn to be one of the few female skalds. Thus, over the long winter when they are closed in by the winter, Solveig studies the craft of the skald.
But danger is everywhere. Solveig dreams of enemies coming to attack. Someone else is sharing the snowy land with them--and they may be housing a traitor, or more than one. More and more Solveig feels she is walking on very thin ice as danger and death stalk each of them.
If you're interested in Norse history and their way of life, this is a great book to read. The many small mysteries keep the tension building through the book until it's almost unbearable. I also read Kirby's THE LOST KINGDOM and liked it. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for his books!(less)
This is a gut-wrenching, beautiful, scary tale of three friends, a Storyteller, a Hunter, and a Binder (she ties knots that tie things together, and s...moreThis is a gut-wrenching, beautiful, scary tale of three friends, a Storyteller, a Hunter, and a Binder (she ties knots that tie things together, and sometimes release them), whose village is surrounded by the ghosts of the dead. Most of them can be dealt with, but the horrifying White Hands will devour the spirits of the living, and return to trap others. Only a Binder can bind the newly dead so they won't return as White Hands. And the most terrifying White Hand of all is one who was once a Binder.
This is, quite literally, a book that will haunt you.(less)