Tuesday Reads: The Red Plague Affair

(Ooops! I thought I scheduled this as a Friday post, but I guess not!)

 The Red Plague Affair: Bannon & Clare book 2
by Lilith Saintcrow
(steampunk, historical fantasy)

I really enjoyed THE IRON WYRM AFFAIR, book one in this series, so when I saw book 2 on the shelf I had to buy it. And I’m glad I did! It’s another enjoyable romp through the alternate steampunk & sorcery world that Ms. Saintcrow has created.

About this book: first of all, it doesn’t pick up immediately after where the first book left off. Shortly after, I imagine, but not immediately. This is obvious due to the actions which start off the second book: Clare is hunting down his arch-nemesis (Vance) in the sewers, and there seems to be history between them which I do not remember reading about in book 1. However, the reader isn’t lost among this additional backstory. It merely serves as background, and is brought up when relevant to the current events.

Secondly, like the first book, it is nicely and evenly split between the two main characters. I appreciate having them get equal screen time. I still am not sure which of the characters I like better, Bannon or Clare. They have their own peculiarities, and I like each for different reasons.

In some ways, I wish I knew more of the real historical background so that I could better enjoy the changes made for this alternate steampunk history. However, even without knowing the real stuff, I still found that I enjoyed this book immensely, and I got enough of the references (and am quite capable of Googling anything I’m truly curious about) to be entertained instead of annoyed.

This book does make it clear that there is still plenty of room for more books in the series without ending on a cliffhanger or with an only partial ending. (I do appreciate complete endings in books, even when it’s clear that there’s plenty of room for a series. Thank you, Ms. Saintcrow!) And at least for now, I will be continuing with this series. It’s a nice world to play in. I do appreciate a good steampunk, where the steampunk part has a point other than “to look cool,” and it’s given purpose in this world. The steampunk is a nice balance to the magic, and works really well with the Holmsian geniuses that also populate the world.

This novel is definitely worth a read, if you haven’t yet, though I HIGHLY recommend starting with book 1. You could technically start with book 2, but there would be tons of book 1 spoilers, and the nuances of the world would make a lot more sense starting at the beginning. (Another thing I appreciate about Ms. Saintcrow’s work – she gives you the history of the prior book without babysitting you through a complete outline. But it does mean that if you miss a book, you will miss many details that would help your enjoyment of the current book.) Anyway, long story short: I am a fan of this series.

Ten On Tuesday ~ Home Sweet Home

The Ten on Tuesday topic for 6/30/2015 is 10 Things You Love About Your Home.
Have fun!

My home, huh? Cool, let’s see what I come up with:

1. It’s not a rental. It is nice to be building equity in a home.

2. We have a working AC and heater. After growing up without AC, and having lived in apartments with sketchy heating, this is major.

3. It’s in a nice town. (City? Whatever.) Doesn’t feel too huge, but it’s still big enough that I am happy. I’m very much a suburbs girl, and I feel very at home here.

4. We aren’t swimming in it. The size of the house is perfect for me and Mr. Wyrm.

5. Someone else does the landscaping. (We have an HOA that handles it.) Don’t get me wrong, I like gardening. But I never have/make the time for it these days, so it’s nice that I don’t have to.

6. We have a garage. And we can actually put a car in it. (I’m so used to either not having a garage – apartment living again – or having a garage that is full of stuff instead of cars, that this is a novelty.) It would be nice if it was bigger, since it’s only a 1-car garage, but better than nothing!

7. We have high ceilings. This makes heating sometimes annoying, but it shows off our artwork really nicely.

8. Modern kitchen! The person who had the place before us did a bunch of upgrades, and I love cooking in it.

9. Walking distance to our favorite local Mexican restaurant! We can have margaritas without worrying about who’s gotta drive home!

10. We have a good blend of carpet and hardwood floors. I love them both, and they’re in the right places. (For instance, unlike in a prior home, I don’t step out of bed and onto a hardwood floor. I do love having carpeting under my bed.)

I do love where I live. How about you?

Shuffling

HI there! It’s been nice having a blog break, but one thing that I didn’t pause during said blog break was the emails with the 10 on Tuesday prompts. And so, even though I wasn’t writing the 10 on Tuesday blogs, I was seeing the emails come through. And one of them in particular interested me:

The Ten on Tuesday topic for 6/2/2015 is List the first 10 Songs that play on your favorite Pandora station. Or Spotify, or whatever other music service you use. If you don’t use an online service then feel free to hit shuffle on your iPod and list the first ten songs that play. Or, if you don’t use any technology for music, go to your favorite radio station and list the first 10 songs that play. Get the idea?
Have fun!

It does sound like fun! And that’s why I saved this prompt to use as a random, non-Tuesday blog later, once I came back from my blog vacation.

Well, I use my iPod to listen to music. And I currently have a lot of random stuff on it — lots of Disney, 7 years of Eurovision, and even some Christmas music that accidentally carried over when I added all my jazz music to my iPod. So, let’s see what comes up, shall we?

1. “Candy” by the Manhattan Transfer

2. “Help!” by the Beatles

3. “The Girl From Yesterday” by the Eagles

4. “What About My Dreams” by Kati Wolf (Eurovision 2011)

5. “The Battle” by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (Aladdin)

6. “P.S. I Love You” by the Beatles

7. “Joseph Smith American Moses” from The Book Of Mormon (original Broadway cast)

8. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” by Michael Bublé

9. “Need You Tonight” by A C Rock

10. “More Than A Feeling” by Boston

And that’s my ten! I’m always amused by hitting shuffle on all of my music and seeing what I get. Yes, playlists are fun and have their time and place, but it’s sillier when you don’t limit the music to anything.

Have a great day!

Friday Reads: Tinker

  Tinker: Elfhome book 1
by Wen Spencer
narrated by Tanya Eby
(fantasy, futuristic urban fantasy, slight romance)

This author has been on my radar for a while, but I don’t recall hearing about TINKER until it showed up in an Audible book sale. I think it was part of a recent “two books for one credit” sale that I took advantage of. And now? Now I’m hooked. And after I finish the Elfhome series, I’ll be looking into Spencer’s other novels.

To start with, this novel takes place in Pittsburgh, in the future. If a date is given, it isn’t important. The future is at some point after humans have designed hoverbikes, good AI, and transportational gates. (Well, one human has designed a gate. But that’s a plot point, and I don’t want to get too spoilery.) The only problem with this gate is that it has a side effect: when it’s turned on, it sends Pittsburg to Elfhome. (Elfhome, as you may have guessed, it the land where the elves live.)

The novel’s plot is both simple and relatively complicated. Part of the complicating part is avoiding spoilers. Even discussing the main enemy in the book comes close to spoilery. However, I can say that at the beginning of the story, the main bad guy tries to kill Wind-Wolf, our Hero. (I’m not sure how it’s written, since I listened to the audio version, but I always heard Wind-Wolf as a hyphenated name. It’s an elvish translation, and made sense to me that way.) And Tinker, our Heroine, saves Wind-Wolf instead, saving him first from some of the physical damage he faces, and then keeps him alive until she can get him to proper elvish healing.

I love the fact that this is both a high fantasy and an urban fantasy story. It somehow manages to be both by virtue of being set BOTH in a futuristic Earth, and a fantasy elven world. The blend of the two styles intrigued me, and made me very envious of the author’s worldbuilding.

The narration was good as well. Some of the male characters seemed very similar, and the narrator sometimes said “yes” and “no” more like a question than I thought it should have been. However, I did enjoy hearing the book read, and some of the elvish words would have been tongue-twisters if read by a less competent narrator. I will not necessarily go searching out other books read by this reader, but I will not shy away from them, either. I haven’t determined if the similarity of the male voices – mostly elven male voices – was intentional (since the book is from Tinker’s POV and Tinker is a human) or not, so this may not be an issue with her other readings. Besides, this was really only for the smaller characters. The main characters were all more recognizable than the minor ones. And her female characters were all ready with a lot more distinction to their voices, without becoming caricatures, which I appreciate.

All told, this is a good book. Worth picking up either the audio version or the text version. I have the paperback of book 2 on its way to me now, and will be starting it when I am done with my current book.

All Good Things

So, I needed a blog break. And so I took one! And it was full of wonderful things.

For instance, one wonderful thing is that I found a new EDJ which will hopefully be a nice change. One thing that will definitely be a nice change will be turning my previous 2+ hour daily commute (there and back) into about 40 minutes per day. Much better.

Another wonderful thing was lots of good knitting time.  

And yet another wonderful thing was the reason for the knitting time. I got to knit here:   

So amazing. There will not be tons of information about the trip, because that would get too personal. But it was a great vacation.

And the last wonderful thing to mention at the moment (since family being wonderful goes without saying on the blog) is that I got in some writing time. It’s been way too long.

I hope this has been a great few weeks for you as well!

Blog Break

Just a quick FYI to let you know that I’m taking a short break from the blog. Nothing’s wrong, I just have been using my energy on other things and the blog has been getting neglected. Instead of feeling guilty about it, I’m going to plan for it. Don’t expect to hear from me for a couple of weeks or so, but I’ll be back when I have a chance to get refreshed.

Cheers!

Friday Reads ~ The Spiritglass Charade

The Spiritglass Charade: Stoker & Holmes #2
by Colleen Gleason
narrated by Jayne Entwhistle
(steampunk, historical fantasy, vampires)

(First of all, can I just say that “Entwhistle” is an awesome last name? Makes me think of Tolkien every time I read or hear it.)

This is the second book in the Stoker & Holmes series, and is nearly as much fun as the first book in the series. Part of the joy of that first book was discovering the world for the first time, and that will never be duplicated no matter how good subsequent novels are. That’s not my sole complaint with this second book, however. There are – as you might have guessed from the name “Stoker” – vampires in this novel. (There was only a small mention of them in the first one.) And while I did enjoy the plot and I think that vampires would have needed to show up in the series eventually, I got a bit tired of “vampires” being Miss Stoker’s answer to just about everything. I mean, yes. Hunting vampires is her reason for being, essentially. But she had no interest in the investigation the pair was hired to look into, and was only interested in sneaking away to search for the undead. It made me favor Miss Holmes of the two heroines in this book. (It was essentially even in the first book.)

Don’t get me wrong – there was plenty to like in this book as well. Since this was the audio version, I’ll start there. I really enjoyed the narration. I found it easy to tell the two main characters apart, and most of the secondary characters had distinct voices, too. Ms. Entwhisle did a great job of sounding like she fit the era, as well. Very well done.

And while I felt that the vampires were maybe too much a focus, I did enjoy the plot – and they were necessary to said plot. It just felt like there were two plots: Miss Stoker’s and Miss Holmes’, which were then merged at the end. A few more connections between the two early on would have been helpful.

I also enjoyed the interactions between our heroines and the rest of the cast of this book. Most of them were new characters, and it was fun to see how they behaved among young people about their age and social standing. (In the first book, when they were among other young people, they were mostly sneaking around and not truly interacting with them.)

I’m assuming there will be more of these books, since there are still plenty of loose series threads. And – at least for now – as long as they keep getting published, I will keep reading (rather, listening to – these are worth the audio version) them.