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Author: Cyn

Cynthia Armistead lives with her life partner Rick and their critters, Harpo the dog and Django and Tully (cats). They also foster a varying number of kittens from Lifeline Animal Project. Cyn is a Senior Technical Advisor for Apple. She is an avid reader, particularly of non-fiction and science fiction, fantasy, and mystery fiction. Music is another passion, particularly singing and hearing live acoustic performances. She indulges in knitting and tabletop roleplaying games.

Book Review: Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Ghost Ship (Liaden Universe, #14, Theo Waitley, #3)Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Theo Wait­ley has met her father’s Clan and been Seen by the Delm of Kor­val now, at the end of both I Dare and Salta­tion. She does not, how­ev­er, con­sid­er her­self of Kor­val — she is a Wait­ley, as is rea­son­able for a young woman raised in a matri­lin­eal cul­ture. She did, how­ev­er, take two issues to the Delm for solv­ing, and one has been resolved: she has been reunit­ed with her miss­ing father.

How­ev­er, she also car­ries the Captain’s key to the sen­tient ship Bechi­mo, and that ship is look­ing for her. The Delm chose to put that issue aside, trust­ing that it would solve itself, giv­en enough time. How much time, though, and in what man­ner?

In the mean­time, she acts as couri­er for Uncle, one obvi­ous­ly known to the Clan and not as an ally — although not nec­es­sar­i­ly as an ene­my, either. As his couri­er, she flies his ship, Arin’s Toss, which is hunt­ed by his ene­mies, includ­ing the Depart­ment of the Inte­ri­or.

Theo acquits her­self as well as any child of Kor­val could in meet­ing her chal­lenges. She con­tin­ues to expe­ri­ence more than the usu­al num­ber of them, though, because of her Ter­ran rear­ing and Liaden appear­ance. It seems to me that a father as duti­ful as Jen Sar Kila­di (or Daav yos’Phellium) would have giv­en her more prepa­ra­tion to encounter Liaden soci­ety.

Ghost Ship cer­tain­ly isn’t lim­it­ed to Theo’s sto­ry. We rejoin Val Con and preg­nant Miri as they move to Sure­bleak, and check in with Daav as he set­tles in to being Daav again after his long sojourn as Kila­di. There are also appear­ances by Pat Rin, Nate­sa, Quin, Padi, Shan, and oth­er fam­i­ly mem­bers. Def­i­nite­ly an ensem­ble cast this time out, and just as absorb­ing as fans have come to expect.

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Book Review: Saltation by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Saltation (Theo Waitley, #2) (Liaden Universe, #13)Salta­tion (Theo Wait­ley, #2) by Sharon Lee
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Salta­tion (Theo Wait­ley, #2) is good enough that I fin­ished Fledg­ling (Theo Wait­ley, #1), then read it in one sit­ting. It sim­ply has the sort of momen­tum that doesn’t allow for good stop­ping points — some­thing that is true of many of the Liaden Uni­verse nov­els.

At the end of Fledg­ling, Theo was spon­sored into pilot school by Scout Cho sig’Radia. Salta­tion begins with her time there, just as polit­i­cal­ly naïve as ever, but a much more con­fi­dent per­son than she was at the begin­ning of Fledg­ling. Many of the char­ac­ters from Fledg­ling reap­pear, includ­ing Win Ton, Kamele, and Jen Sar. There are new char­ac­ters too, though, such as Kara ven’Arith and Orn Ald yos’Senchul (who, by the way, also appear in a free sto­ry, Land­ed Alien, that has just been released at the Baen web site and should be read after Salta­tion).

Theo is a legal adult now, but a very young one, and she has plen­ty of grow­ing up left to do. That said, this is a young ADULT nov­el, not a children’s book — while it isn’t dis­cussed specif­i­cal­ly, Theo does take a lover. 

She con­tin­ues to flex and stretch into an admirable hero­ine. She isn’t per­fect, by any means, being some­times short-tem­pered and not under­stand­ing social cues eas­i­ly. She’s some­one read­ers can relate to, though, and that is impor­tant. We were brought up con­cur­rent with the end of I Dare, which was vast­ly sat­is­fy­ing. I will go right on with read­ing Ghost Ship, because I def­i­nite­ly want to know more!

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Review: Fledgling by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Fledgling (Theo Waitley, #1) (Liaden Universe, #12)Fledg­ling (Theo Wait­ley, #1) by Sharon Lee
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I half-lis­tened to part of this book as Sam Chupp pod­cast it, chap­ter by chap­ter. For some rea­son, it just didn’t catch my fan­cy back then. I think I didn’t let it catch my fan­cy, because of know­ing that I would have to wait for each chap­ter to be released. Now, though, hav­ing it all fin­ished and edit­ed, it’s clear­ly a pol­ished Lee and Miller nov­el of the Liaden Uni­verse, and I love those.

It’s also some­thing of a young adult nov­el, but don’t let that put you off. Theo is an inter­est­ing char­ac­ter who begins grow­ing up in Fledg­ling (Theo Wait­ley, #1). She’s 14, and she has nev­er been off Del­ga­do, a Safe World. Her own world is made up entire­ly of the Uni­ver­si­ty and acad­e­mia, with both par­ents being pro­fes­sors. The fact that her par­ents live out­side the Wall, in a house rather than in Uni­ver­si­ty hous­ing, is unusu­al.

As the book opens she has to deal with major life changes. For the sake of her career, her moth­er, Kamele, has cho­sen to leave her father’s house and move back to the Uni­ver­si­ty with Theo. Del­ga­do is a matri­ar­chal soci­ety, and Theo is expect­ed to stop acknowl­edg­ing her father as any­one but Pro­fes­sor Jen Sar Kila­di.

To make mat­ters worse, Theo is con­sid­ered “phys­i­cal­ly chal­lenged,” with too-fast reflex­es that cause fre­quent acci­dents. The Uni­ver­si­ty wants Kamele to agree to drug Theo “for her own good,” but the sup­pos­ed­ly safe drugs have unac­cept­able and per­ma­nent cog­ni­tive effects. (Those famil­iar with the Liaden Uni­verse nov­els will rec­og­nize Theo’s “prob­lems” as com­ing of grow­ing into pilot reflex­es.) Kamele’s career sit­u­a­tion has polit­i­cal ram­i­fi­ca­tions that blow back onto poor Theo as well, which the girl doesn’t need.

Theo deals with all of the above and more in believ­able and admirable ways. She stretch­es and shows her­self to be grow­ing into a remark­able young lady, fit to be the sub­ject of a Liaden Uni­verse nov­el. I’m glad I have Salta­tion (Theo Wait­ley, #2) on hand, because I look for­ward to see­ing more of who she grows up to be.

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Book Review: Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong

Thirteen (Women of the Otherworld, #13)Thir­teen by Kel­ley Arm­strong
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Well, Arm­strong def­i­nite­ly closed the series with a bang. I enjoyed this vol­ume so much that I’m tempt­ed to go back and re-read the entire series just to have more right now.

All the char­ac­ters we’ve got­ten to know are back: Clay, Ele­na, Jaime and Jere­my, Hope and Karl, Paige and Lucas, Eve and Kristof, Adam, Sean, Bryce, and Beni­cio. Savan­nah, how­ev­er, is the cen­ter of this nov­el while the oth­ers weave in and out of the action.

Savan­nah Levine was a child when she was intro­duced in one of the ear­li­est books of the series, Stolen. She is def­i­nite­ly a full adult now, capa­ble of hold­ing her own with or with­out spells. She is also an incred­i­ble nexus of influ­ence — and those who want to use or influ­ence her just don’t take “no” for an answer no mat­ter how force­ful­ly she says it.

The Super­nat­ur­al Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment (SLM) wants to use Savan­nah in their quest to bring super­nat­u­rals into the open, but she isn’t inter­est­ed. She’s been fight­ing their agents since Wak­ing the Witch, but some of the plots their pri­ma­ry mem­bers are asso­ci­at­ed in go all the way back to Stolen. These are the peo­ple who killed Eve, so why would Savan­nah help them?

Arm­strong has done a mas­ter­ful job of weav­ing lit­tle threads togeth­er from all the dif­fer­ent books so that they wind up in one neat pack­age. I was enthralled from the first word through the last, but sat­is­fied with where she left the char­ac­ters. I look for­ward to read­ing any new sto­ries she choos­es to tell in the Oth­er­world, but I can see that this round is fin­ished. Kudos to her for a job well done.

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Book Review: Mouse and Dragon by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Mouse and DragonMouse and Drag­on by Sharon Lee
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I’m so pleased that Lee and Miller decid­ed to give us the sto­ry of Daav and Ael­liana after Pilots Choice. (Ear­li­er they had claimed that there was noth­ing to tell there.) 

The sto­ry is a love­ly one, def­i­nite­ly roman­tic, told almost entire­ly from Aelliana’s point of view. Those who have read the oth­er Liaden nov­els know how it will end, but the details are well worth read­ing. It fills in some details that are help­ful to know lead­ing up to Fledg­ling (Theo Wait­ley, #1).

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Book Review: Enthralled edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

EnthralledEnthralled by Melis­sa Marr
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

Jour­neys, lit­er­al or oth­er­wise, are the theme of this young adult anthol­o­gy. Appro­pri­ate­ly enough, it was con­ceived as the result of a book tour.

“Giovanni’s Farewell” by Clau­dia Gray is a sweet, com­ing-of-age sto­ry of sorts. The twist is that it fea­tures a broth­er and sis­ter, twins, rather than just one per­son. They vis­it Rome with a school group while deal­ing with major changes in their lives. There was too much back­ground crammed into a short sto­ry, but it was inter­est­ing.

Car­rie Ryan’s “Scenic Route” is a dis­turb­ing, post-apoc­a­lyp­tic sto­ry set in the world of The For­est of Hands and Teeth about two young sis­ters try­ing to sur­vive in an iso­lat­ed cab­in. The old­er sis­ter keeps the younger one occu­pied with the plan­ning of a road trip that will nev­er hap­pen, always hop­ing against hope that the girl won’t real­ize what their real­i­ty is. How long can they stay iso­lat­ed enough to sur­vive? Bloody, fright­en­ing, and vis­cer­al.

“Red Run” by Kami Gar­cia is the sto­ry of a girl who has lost the only per­son she loves in the world, and the trip she takes to avenge his death. How do you hunt a ghost? Maybe it isn’t fair, com­ing right after Ryan’s sto­ry, but I didn’t tru­ly feel the main character’s feel­ings.

Jack­son Pearce’s “Things About Love” is a sweet sto­ry involv­ing a jinn research­ing love. I felt like I’d come into the mid­dle of some­thing, so I checked and found that she’s writ­ten a nov­el, As You Wish, in the same set­ting. While this sto­ry tech­ni­cal­ly stands on its own, it would prob­a­bly be enriched by hav­ing read As You Wish.

“Nieder­wald” by Rachel Vin­cent is the first sto­ry I’ve read in her Soul Scream­ers series. Sabine, a macha (night­mare), takes a road trip with a human acquain­tance and detours to Nieder­wald, Texas, home to the harpies. No, there’s no way that could go wrong. Of course you know from the moment they hit the park­ing lot that it will go wrong, but at least it’s an inter­est­ing sort of wrong.

Melis­sa Marr’s “Mere­ly Mor­tal” feels as though it’s prob­a­bly set in the same world as her Wicked Love­ly series.

“Fac­ing Facts” by Kel­ley Arm­strong is set in her Dark­est Pow­ers uni­verse. I read the first of those books, but obvi­ous­ly a lot has passed since then, and there were spoil­ers in this sto­ry. It real­ly cen­ters around Chloe and Tori, with a lit­tle Derek tossed in. Tori learns some­thing she doesn’t want to know and reacts bad­ly, run­ning off on her own, which is dan­ger­ous. Chloe goes after her and they get into trou­ble. That seemed rather pre­dictable to me, but at least the type of trou­ble wasn’t what I expect­ed. Tori doesn’t seem to have changed since the first book, but Chloe is com­ing into con­trol of her abil­i­ties.

Sarah Rees Bren­nan’s “Let’s Get this Undead Show on the Road” is about a boy band that fea­tures a vam­pire, Chris­t­ian. He’s an unusu­al vam­pire, all alone with­out a nest or a sire. His jour­ney seems to be about his iden­ti­ty as a vam­pire, although the band is on tour and has anoth­er sort of jour­ney to make, as well.

“Bridge” by Jeri Smith-Ready is told from a ghost’s point of view, 233 days after death. It’s frus­trat­ing being a ghost, because most peo­ple can’t see or hear you. There are things you have to accom­plish before mov­ing on, though, that require com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the liv­ing. Find­ing a “bridge” and work­ing things out takes a lot of effort. This was a touch­ing sto­ry, bit­ter­sweet and well-told.

Kim­ber­ly Dert­ing’s “Skin Con­tact” near­ly broke me. Rafe is look­ing for his girl­friend. He knows where he needs to go, and he’s guid­ed by dreams. This sto­ry near­ly broke me. It’s told spar­ing­ly, and some­thing feels per­fect­ly right about it, but it hurts. Accord­ing to her author biog­ra­phy, Rafe was intro­duced in her nov­el Desires of the Dead.

“Leav­ing” by Ally Condie is a very lit­er­ary sto­ry, about a girl left behind after her moth­er dies and her father leaves. She spends the sto­ry prepar­ing to go after her father. It’s hard to describe much more than that, or to have much of an opin­ion. It was well-writ­ten and I think I’ll prob­a­bly remem­ber it for a long time.

Jes­si­ca Ver­day’s “At The Late Night, Dou­ble Fea­ture, Pic­ture Show” is a dark­ly fun­ny sto­ry about a girl from a fam­i­ly of mon­ster hunters. She’s usu­al­ly the bait, but tonight she has decid­ed to be the hunter — with­out back­up. I’d like to read more from Ver­day.

“IV League” by Mar­garet Stohl just didn’t hit me right. It’s the sto­ry of a bunch of south­ern vam­pires on a col­lege tour, which could have been fun­ny but wasn’t writ­ten that way. The whole thing just didn’t sit well with me, per­haps because the main char­ac­ter seemed too unre­al­is­ti­cal­ly out of touch for some­one who obvi­ous­ly had access to tele­vi­sion and the inter­net.

Mary E. Pear­son’s “Gar­gouille” is the most touch­ing love sto­ry in the col­lec­tion. Just read it.

“The Third Kind” by Jen­nifer Lynn Barnes is, on the sur­face, about a road trip to San Anto­nio. The real jour­ney is much deep­er, one of com­ing to under­stand­ing one’s call­ing.

Rachel Caine’s Mor­ganville is the set­ting for her “Auto­mat­ic.” I think I’ve read a Mor­ganville novel­la, but my mem­o­ry of it is dim. The Mor­ganville Blood Bank intro­duces an auto­mat­ed with­draw­al machine, essen­tial­ly a soda can dis­penser. Michael Glass is ordered to try it first, as a demon­stra­tion for the old­er, more tra­di­tion­al vam­pires, with unex­pect­ed results. His jour­ney is one of self-knowl­edge. I didn’t real­ly care much about him, his jour­ney, his girl­friend, or any­thing else. The set­ting and char­ac­ters do noth­ing for me, but your mileage may vary.

Alto­geth­er, the anthol­o­gy was worth read­ing. There were some low spots, but that’s true of any col­lec­tion. To be fair, I’m sure some­one who is more enthu­si­as­tic about young adult fic­tion would also be more enthu­si­as­tic about the works here.

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Social Sunday

I had a love­ly day. This after­noon I went to Fud­druck­ers with James, Steve and some oth­er folks. We went by Phoenix and Drag­on on the way home.

Then I spent sev­er­al hours chat­ting with an old friend online. We got all caught up and he taught me some­thing, too. We shared some great mem­o­ries. I’ll be going to be remem­ber­ing a cer­tain vel­vet and satin dress and Maroc, the per­fume I wore when I met him.

Review: Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance

Hunt the Moon (Cassandra Palmer, #5)Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

Chance must have thought read­ers were bored with the Cassandra/​Mircea match, because much of this book is spent with Cassie falling for Pritkin with­out real­ly being aware that she’s get­ting into dan­ger­ous ter­ri­to­ry.

Palmer isn’t one of my favorite char­ac­ters. She isn’t an ass-kick­er, but she’s prob­a­bly some­what more real­is­tic than most para­nor­mal hero­ines for that fact. She’s com­ing into her own by stand­ing up to Mircea more in this vol­ume, but she does it in child­ish ways. I find her annoy­ing par­tial­ly because I’d hate to try pro­tect­ing her from her­self, much less any­one else. 

I don’t hon­est­ly under­stand why Mircea and Pritkin are attract­ed to her, either, but part of the romance for­mu­la is the hero­ine has to be irre­sistible to at least one, prefer­ably more than one man. I do find Mircea and Pritkin inter­est­ing (they just have bad taste in women), so they and the plots hold my inter­est.

To be fair, Cassie seems to be grow­ing up a lit­tle bit. Not entire­ly, but she’s grow­ing a lit­tle. She does vehe­ment­ly claim to care about whether or not oth­er peo­ple get hurt try­ing to pro­tect her.

This book also serves as back­sto­ry time for Mircea and Pritkin, as we learn a lot more about their pasts. Things drag a bit while they relate their sto­ries, and in fact there seems to be lit­tle point in what we hear from Mircea (read­ers of the series already know a lot about his fam­i­ly and his­to­ry).

Alto­geth­er, I wouldn’t have read it if I weren’t already so far into the series. I do wish Chance would switch focus to anoth­er char­ac­ter. (I’m aware of the Dori­na Basarab series set in the same uni­verse, and con­sid­er them to be bet­ter books in gen­er­al). I sup­pose that’s unlike­ly, see­ing as it’s the Cas­san­dra Palmer series.

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Review: Spellbound by Kelley Armstrong

Spell Bound (Women of the Otherworld #12)Spell Bound by Kel­ley Arm­strong
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

Wak­ing the Witch and Spell Bound should tru­ly be read back to back. In fact, they should be read with 13 on hand, almost as a tril­o­gy with­in the series.

At the end of Wak­ing the Witch, Savan­nah silent­ly thought that if it would reunite an orphan with her grand­moth­er, Savan­nah would glad­ly give up her pow­ers. Some­thing heard her and took her up on that unin­tend­ed deal, and she finds her­self pow­er­less for the first time in her life.

Savan­nah has always been so very pow­er­ful that she has count­ed on her spells more than most witch­es or sor­cerors do, so she finds liv­ing with­out them to be very dif­fi­cult — espe­cial­ly since a witch hunter and oth­ers are after her. There’s a Super­nat­ur­al Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment that wants to use her as one of its fig­ure­heads, with or with­out her coöperation, in their quest to bring super­nat­u­rals out of the clos­et and into the spot­light. She has to do some seri­ous soul-search­ing and growth in the process of avoid­ing ene­mies and get­ting cre­ative about stay­ing alive.

The plot moves extreme­ly quick­ly, so much so that I couldn’t keep track of what day it was in the book. In fact, it moves right into the plot of 13. I’m hav­ing fits because I don’t have it on hand, and I just can’t wait for the library to get around to me on the hold list — I might have to break down and buy it instead.

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