I shouldn't have... I really shouldn't have. For a start I didn't have time and there's the fact that I've already read it and there are so many otherI shouldn't have... I really shouldn't have. For a start I didn't have time and there's the fact that I've already read it and there are so many other books waiting for my attention... But I went along to the Baen Free Library site and...well it was there. Even so I could have just downloaded it and kept it for later... but I read the first sentence and I was hooked.
Yes, I've read this before but it remains one of my favourite Miles Vorkosigan books and a perfect introduction to the maddening, hyperactive, totally brilliant little runt. Miles is 17, trying to get into the trying to get into the Barrayaran military academy on his own merits, which means competing against, or training with, the perfect physical specimens who are ideal for the Barrayaran war machine. Miles, barely four feet six tall, crook-backed and brittle boned due to a Soltoxin gas attack on his mother while he was in her womb, doesn't stand a chance of passing the physical, but he's petitioned for his test results to be aggregated, so if he can score close to 100% on the written, he's in. All he's got to do is get round the obstacle course without breaking anything.
He falls at the first hurdle, literally, and washes out with two broken legs.
So his parents send him off to visit his Betan grandmother with the faithful (if psychopathic) Sgt Bothari and Bothari's daughter, Elena, in attendance.
You've just got to love Miles. Things HAPPEN to him... or happen because of him. Firstly he picks up a couple of strays, Baz, a Barrayaran deserter on the skids and Arde Mayhew a jump ship pilot who is holding out in a siege, trying to preserve the last working jump ship that his implant will fly. Then he picks up a ship... the same said jump ship... on an impulse to help Mayhew keep flying. Once he's got a ship, a pilot and an engineer (Baz) he needs a cargo, because of course he's now also got a debt, which he's secured against some land that he owns back on Barrayar. Unfortunately the land is still radioactive and likely to be so for the next few hundred years at least, but that's a minor point.
With me so far?
So the only cargo available is a load of agricultural implements (OK, they're weapons really) destined for the losing side in a turf-war. In order to deliver then he needs to get to the other side of a blockade run by a bunch of mercenaries.
It's all going do well... and then Elena is threatened and the whole plan starts to swirl down the toilet. But Miles is in overdrive. One thing leads to another and a small untruth turns into a colossal lie and then the whole thing escalates into a huge bloody fantasy. Miles, using his mother's surname, Naismith, finds himdelf in charge of a mercenary fleet, flying the whole operation by the seat of his pants, manipulating people cleverly to cover the gaps in his knowledge and searching for a way out that will allow him to retain some semblance of personal honour while not letting down his crews.
This book is a wild ride, at times laugh out loud funny and at other times heartbreaking. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't read any Vorkosigan books. It's a superb introduction to one of Bujold's best characters. ...more
I didn't enjoy this as much as I expected to given the number of good reviews it's garnered over the years.
Nita has problems with being bullied at schI didn't enjoy this as much as I expected to given the number of good reviews it's garnered over the years.
Nita has problems with being bullied at school and while trying to escape them she hides out in the library where she finds a book on wizarding, seemingly meant only for her. It's the start of her wizarding career. She soon meets Kit, also taking his first steps in magic. Together they end up on a quest to an alternate New York City, accompanied by a miniaturised white dwarf star called Fred, battling an ancient evil that invented death itself.
Predictably they not only succeed, though not without sacrifice and loss, but also the changes wrought in both children enable them to withstand the bullying at school.
I don't know wether it was the American setting, but somehow I just didn't find this convincing. Initially they are led to New York City and the magic portal between worlds just so that Nita can get her favourite pen back from Fred who has accidentally swallowed it. That seems a bit of a lame entry into peril. The peril when it does come in genuine, for the alternative New York they find themselves in is dark and scary with helicopters and cars turned into ravening mechanical beasts. Kit has an Androcles and the Lion moment, helping an 'injured' car and they, in turn, are helped on account of their good deed.
First published in 1983 this book seems to have been updated and reissued a number of times. I read the millennium edition. ...more
Radio presenter Kitty Norville, outed publicly as a werewolf in ‘Kitty and the Midnight Hour’, is called to Washington to testify before a Senate CommRadio presenter Kitty Norville, outed publicly as a werewolf in ‘Kitty and the Midnight Hour’, is called to Washington to testify before a Senate Committee on werewolves and other supernatural beings. To her dismay she finds that the committee is chaired by antagonistic, right-wing, ultra Christian Senator Duke who is trying to start a witch-hunt. She's already crossed paths with him before and he’s dangerous. She soon realises he's determined to make sure that she won't be called to testify until the full moon (her time of the month and then some) in the hope that her control will slip and that she'll confirm his assertions that werewolves (etc/) are dangerous and need to be controlled.
With her lawyer, Ben, in tow and Cormac the bounty hunter making a welcome reappearance Kitty makes new friends and enemies in the capital, including the vampire queen Alette and her mate Leo, a sexy Brazillian were-jaguar, Luis, a psychic called Jeffrey and Stockton, a pushy reporter who’s out for the main chance. Cult leader Elijah Smith reappears, invulnerable except to groceries; and then there’s Flemming, a scientist who will go to any lengths to make sure the funding isn’t cut for his paranormal biology study. Suddenly Kitty finds that the anonymity of radio is about to give way to being a recognisable TV face.
The problems I had with the dangling plot threads in ‘Kitty and the Midnight Hour’ are not so obvious here – or maybe I’m now in the mindset of reading this as an ongoing soap-opera with ongoing characters and multi-book story arcs. Both the Elijah Smith and the Flemming threads started in the previous book, but were left dangling inconclusively. In this book, however, they’re both wrapped up – which helps the overall satisfaction levels enormously. On the whole I’m liking Kitty and very happy to read on. ...more
This is werewolf Kitty's third outing and after the traumatic happenings in Washington Kitty feels as though she needs a break, so since she has a memThis is werewolf Kitty's third outing and after the traumatic happenings in Washington Kitty feels as though she needs a break, so since she has a memoir to write she takes a sabbatical from her radio show and heads for the hills. Trouble is close behind, however. Someone is using magic to put a curse on her. The locals obviously don't like having a werewolf in their midst. But they've got much more than a werewolf to worry about.
When Cormac the werewolf hunter shows up on her doorstep with an injured man, Kitty's problems escalate. The injured man is Ben, her dishy lawyer, and he's been bitten by a werewolf. Kitty has to ease him through his first full moon and try to persuade him not to kill himself before the wolf takes over. It means getting closer to Ben, but what about Cormac. There's definitely a spark there, but Cormac won't do anything about it.
And there's something out there in the woods, something that's wolf but not werewolf, something that smells of death. Kitty's caught between a vengeful sherrif, a local witch, a skin walker and a prosecuting attourney out to make his mark when Cormac falls foul of the local law.
This is a light, fast read and I trust Carrie Vaughn's writing enough to believe that she'll resolve the ending of this in a future book. ...more
Ah, good, a satisfying ending to the second Merchant Princes book without tying up all the loose ends. Miriam is now settling into the idea of being HAh, good, a satisfying ending to the second Merchant Princes book without tying up all the loose ends. Miriam is now settling into the idea of being Helge, the long lost countess with a whole heap of money at her disposal courtesy of the Clan who walk between worlds and who are settled in an alternate America that's pretty well stuck in the medieval period. (Castles, mud, poor sanitation and dienfranchised peasants.)
This story opens immediately after The Family Trade finishes and really the two books are one continuous story. At the end of book one Miriam had gone to ground in the regular American world, hiding out with her friend and business partner, Paulette, trying to keep from getting killed by two separate factions from Other America. At the same time she's trying to move her own plans forward for separating the Family from its trade in liiegal drug smuggling by proving to them that there are better ways of making more money. She suspects there's a third world and finds it via a locket taken from a dead assassin.
This book is mostly about Miriam finding that third world, New Britain, and starting up a priftable business in a world with a level of technology that thinks steam-driven motor cars and airships are the ideal method of transportation.
Miriam spends a fair amount of this book trying to be a wheeler-dealer whilst putting together clues to see who her wannabe assassins are. This races to a confrontation where Miriam must face the whole Clan in a Special General Meeting (more like a courtroom drama) while at the same time, the mole on the Clan's power base is moving against them all.
After the events in Firestorm Joanne Baldwin has been left without her memory. She doesn't even recognise her Djinn lover David or her friend Lewis anAfter the events in Firestorm Joanne Baldwin has been left without her memory. She doesn't even recognise her Djinn lover David or her friend Lewis and she certainly doesn't believe it when Lewis tells her he can control the weather - and so can she. And on top of all that her firnd Cherise has been taken over by something nasty. Oh yes, and there's a demon on Joanne's trail, trying to steal her life.
Jo's sister and her skanky boyfriend, Eamon, last seena few books ago, reappear causing all manner of problems and Jo eventually finds her daugfhter Imara again - but not as she'd ever hoped or imagined.
There's a big Djinn showdown and - yes -once again this closes on a cliffhanger - this time a save-the-world one.
This book has all the pace of the previus ones, but after six books I'm beginning to wonder how long this series can stretch. Nine books in total as it turns out. While each book, individually, is really great reading, I can't help but think the overall shape of the series is beginning to drag out a bit at this point. It's a decent nine book series but it would have been a terrific five book one and that's why the later books in the series have dropped from a four or a three star rating for me; from 'super brilliant' to 'good'....more
A short story - or maybe novelette (hard to judge the length on a kindle where progress is marked in percentages not pages) - set in a universe whereA short story - or maybe novelette (hard to judge the length on a kindle where progress is marked in percentages not pages) - set in a universe where time travel is changing the past. The future is percolating backwards so that 1975 is futuristic. James lives in 1898 in rural Utah, but his father is an ambassador to 1975 and during a visit to the future Dad disappears. With his mother about to remarry James is left to figure out his own life, combining lessons learned in both time periods to work out what he really wants to do. He's a child of both worlds, but doesn't really belong in either
I didn't intend to read this right now, but the first paragraph dragged me in and wouldn't let me go. It's a gentle story about identity and finding your place in the world with some neat forays into the potential effects of time travelling....more
A far cry form Discworld, this is supposedly a book for children and I guess the success of it is that it can be read on different levels – each readeA far cry form Discworld, this is supposedly a book for children and I guess the success of it is that it can be read on different levels – each reader taking away what they want or expect from it. On the surface it’s a story about two young people, Mau and Daphne, thrown together on a desert island after a tsunami washes away his people and wrecks her boat, leaving her as the only survivor. The setting is ‘somewhere in an alternative South Pacific’ and ‘somewhen roughly in the (probably) early nineteenth century. The storyline is simple and centres on rebuilding the Nation (the island) after the devastation, taking in drifting survivors to make a new community.
Underneath this it’s the story of the rebuilding of both Mau and Daphne, and through them a re-examination of ideas about spirituality, philosophy and tradition. It’s also a book about practical culture-clash – or rather culture-bump as Daphne discovers that Mau is not a savage and Mau tries to understand Daphne’s strange ‘trouserman’ ideas. There are some wry misunderstandings and some misconceptions, but in the end Mau and Daphne and the rest of their growing Nation reach an amicable understanding, but then the real savages arrive and most savage of all is a dangerous mutineer set adrift from Daphne’s own ship before the tsunami hit.
It’s a gentle book, almost restrained, but it doesn’t hold back from darkness, especially for Mau’s character, deeply damaged by the loss of his people and railing at both the gods who let them die and the dead ancestors who won’t leave his thoughts alone. In the end Mau and Daphne together find a way to protect the emerging Nation from the biggest threat, the well-intentioned trousermen who come looking for Daphne. ...more
I was biterly disappointed when I read this, I had so wanted to love it. I'm a huge fan of the Tam Lin story, but I bounced of this so hard that I'm sI was biterly disappointed when I read this, I had so wanted to love it. I'm a huge fan of the Tam Lin story, but I bounced of this so hard that I'm still in motion. Being a Brit I found the American campus setting totally alien (and not in a good way) and I just couldn't work up any sympathy for the characters. Sorry. I know it has a great following out there, but this is really not for me. I much prefer Diana Wynne Jones' Fire and Hemlock or Anne Rundle's Tamlane or the Fairport Convention song or just reading the original ballad as printed in FJ Child's ballad book....more