I’ve had a lot on my mind this month, which means I’ve been reading a lot to distract myself. Eight books! Some of them have been/will be reviewed at Debuts and Reviews, but I’m short on time, so I’ll add the links later. Anyway, here they are.
Shadow Fall, sequel to Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison, is one of those rare Katie-approved urban fantasies. With its ventures into the fey’s brooding and beautiful Twilight woods, the wolf stalking the beautiful ballerina, and one man’s quest to save her, it reads like a New York fairy tale. Reviewed on Debuts and Reviews.
Illusion by Paula Volsky is a sweeping epic set in a world strongly based on real-world history with strong echoes of the French and Russian revolutions. Some of the descriptive passages were a little long and I had to skim, but for the most part, it was a very interesting book, which follows a rich aristocratic girl’s descent as the world around her is thrown into chaos. It may be a little hard to find (I managed to find a used copy), but it’s worth a look. It also has a couple light steampunk elements.
Continuing Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series about spies in the Napoleonic era, I read The Temptation of the Night Jasmine (#5), The Betrayal of the Blood Lily (#6), and the forthcoming The Mischief of the Mistletoe (#7). (I love ARCs!) One of the great things about these books is thht beloved characters from previous novels still turn up in later books, though the protagonists never repeat. Another great aspect of the Pink Carnation series: You might think it would get old, reading about Napoleonic-era spies one volume after another, but it doesn’t. Changes in location, character, and adventures continue to keep the series fresh. Review forthcoming at Debuts and Reviews.
Mansfield Park is not as celebrated as other Jane Austen favorites like Pride and Prejudice, but like all her works, it is a fascinating study of human nature and romantic love. It didn’t find it as bitingly witty as her other works, btu that’s because sweet Fanny Price doesn’t have the nature to think such cutting things, even about the many people who do her so terribly wrong. Mansfield Park‘s highlight for me is a famed Austen quote which sums up her entire writing philosophy: “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.”
I’ve been awaiting The House on Durrow Street by Galen Beckett, sequel to The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, with nail-biting suspense since the day I first finished the first book a year and a half ago. Well, it’s finally here…and I’m not sure what I think of it. Parts of it are unsettling to my religious sensibilities, but even overlooking that, The House on Durrow Street just doesn’t have teh charm of its predecesor. With the latter, I was captivated from the first line, and completely engrossed in the promising (or so I thought) exchanges between Ivy and Rafferdy. I know it’s a little unfair to jusde the book’s worth against the one that came before rather than on its own merits, but then again, that’s just the way it is with a series; it can’t be helped. And with The House on Durrow Street, the witticisms are more sparse, and the gripping Ivy/Rafferdy storyline doesn’t exist. So it was a bit of a let-down for me. (But I still love Mr. Rafferdy.)
Steampunk in the Old West, a fantasy novel of Witches and Warlocks steaming cross-country by train, horse, and flying machine, and an artifact that may kill Emily Edwards–if the evil men chasing her don’t kill her first. M.K. Hobson’s debut novel The Native Star is a fantastic addition to the growing steampunk subhenre. It, too, unsettled by religious sensibilities, but only very slightly–a minor annoyance, nothing more. One of my complaints about several of the steampunk novels I’ve read has been that they lack the wonder and discovery I love in a speculative novel. But The Native Star captured all of that. I definitely recommend it. The American setting is such a breath of fresh air in a genre that’s so often inspired by England. I love England as much as the next person, but America is a great place to set a fantasy book, too!
I highly doubt I’ll be such a prolific reader in October, but regardless, I’ll be back for October Reading, and hopefully before.
PS: Sorry about any typos. I’m in a rush right now; will fix them later.