Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

Kristin Cashore, a graduate of Williams College and Simmons College, has lived in quite a few of the major cities of the world. Recently she’s settled in Cambridge, MA. She’s apparently been writing for the children’s educational market for a while, and she’s published two YA fantasy novels under her own name: this one and its companion, Fire (review forthcoming). There is a third book, Bitterblue, which is still in the process of being written, also set in the same world, to be published, well, some time after it’s finished, and I have no date on that yet.

In the land of the Seven Kingdoms, some babies are born with eyes that are both the same color, but by the time they are toddlers, their eyes change to be two different colors, such as blue and green or silver and gold. If so, they are said to have a ‘Grace,’ to be possessed of some sort of gift. It may be as innocuous as being able to make the best bread ever–in which case they will probably go work for the kitchens in the royal castle–or it may be like Katsa’s: killing. Katsa is the niece of one of the kings of the Seven Kingdoms, and she has been used as an assassin many times over the years. This is the story of Katsa coming to terms with, well, being gifted at killing. Continue reading Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

Counterfeit Magic, by Kelley Armstrong


Once upon a time I went through all the Women of the Underworld books that Kelley Armstrong wrote. That was back when there were only eight plus a novella. Um. I think she’s up to eleven novels in that series, with a twelfth to be released later this year. There are also two short-story collections and four novellas, one of which is this one, published by Subterranean Press some time last year. Also another series, the first of which will be reviewed shortly. She’s still Canadian. I checked.

Anyway, Counterfeit Magic is narrated by Paige Winterbourne, the main character of Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic. It features her and Savannah Levine, the daughter of Eve Levine, narrator and star of both Haunted and Angelic (the latter also a Sub Press book). Savannah is also the narrator of books 11-13 of the series, apparently. Paige and her husband run a private investigation business, and Savannah works for them as well. They receive an invitation to investigate a case that involves the existence of underground supernatural fight clubs, and Paige and Savannah have to infiltrate them. Continue reading Counterfeit Magic, by Kelley Armstrong

Fledgling, by Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler–described by Vibe as “do[ing] for people of color” what William Gibson did for “young, disaffected white” speculative fiction fans–unfortunately passed away in 2006. But before she did that, she wrote a dozen or so novels and a couple collections of short stories, primarily science fiction. She described herself as primarily a novelist at one point, although she started as so many authors do with a short story publication in the early 1970s. Over her career, she won a handful of major awards, including Hugos, Nebulas, and a MacArthur Genius Grant. She is primarily known for tackling social issues unflinchingly through her works, and Fledgling, a solo novel published about a year before her death, is no exception.

Fledgling is Ms. Butler’s foray into the vampire-novel genre. The main character–also the narrator–is Shori, a young vampire who survived a vicious attack on her family that left her very much injured and suffering from amnesia. The rest of the story details her fight to save her family, and her re-learning of what exactly she lost by not remembering the rest of her life. Continue reading Fledgling, by Octavia Butler

Spock’s World, by Diane Duane

Yes, it’s a Star Trek book. I thought I’d already established my nerdiness prior to this. However, note the author: Diane Duane not only wrote an episode or two of Star Trek: The Next Generation but I think even a couple episodes of Gargoyles (a cartoon that no one under the age of 20 probably remembers, but it was Disney and most of the voice actors were from ST:TNG (1)) and at least one other ST:TOS book other than this one. Oh, and also So You Want to be a Wizard? and its myriad sequels, a standard of the YA fantasy genre. She lives in Ireland with her husband, fantasy author Peter Morwood, who apparently writes big ol’ Irish-inspired epics.

The plot’s pretty simple: Vulcan is having a debate over whether to stay in the Federation or leave it. Spock, Kirk, and McCoy have been called to Vulcan to assist in the debates on the side of staying in the Federation (obviously) but Sarek, Spock’s father and the Vulcan Ambassador to the Federation/Earth, is called to speak on the side of withdrawing from the Federation. Continue reading Spock’s World, by Diane Duane

Mastered by Love (The Bastion Club, final volume), by Stephanie Laurens

Stephanie Laurens lives in a completely different hemisphere from me, and hits best-seller lists with pretty much every book she produces. She has written, oh, approximately 40 volumes of historical romance, including the sprawling Bar Cynster series, which has expanded to include in-laws, friends, and people who are almost entirely unrelated to the original six Cynster cousins. She started a side series, based on an old novel called Captain Jack’s Woman, regarding seven or so gentlemen, all friends, who have come back from the Napoleonic Wars and realized that, well, they need wives. Neatly sidestepping any possibility of PTSD, each of these gentlemen has either recently come into a large fortune, a title, or both (generally both), and would be a major catch on the Marriage Mart, if they weren’t almost entirely certain to avoid it. This is the last book in the Bastion series, and kind of a bonus story: the boss of the other gentlemen, the mysterious Dalziel.

I’m cutting plot discussion, just in case Dalziel’s identity isn’t known to those reading this review. Continue reading Mastered by Love (The Bastion Club, final volume), by Stephanie Laurens

The Rake and England’s Perfect Hero, by Suzanne Enoch

Suzanne Enoch loves Star Wars to a rather unreasonable degree, which I very much appreciate. She writes primarily historical, Regency-era romance novels, with a second contemporary series floating around. I discovered her from an anthology of stories related to Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, called Lady Whistledown Strikes Back. These are two books that bookend the “Lessons in Love” trilogy, but they form an interesting pair, being that the heroes are a pair of brothers, and what happens in the second volume isn’t necessary to know to read the third. They even come after a related volume whose title I’ve forgotten, but I’ll Google it when I’m not in Torts class. (Ahh. A Matter of Scandal.)

At the ends of their wits, one day three young women become frustrated with the general quality of the young, eligible men in the ton, and determine to teach three of them — one each — lessons. In The Rake, the first volume, Lady Georgianna Halley decides to instruct Tristan Carroway, Viscount Dare, with whom she has had an adversarial relationship for the last eight years. Of course, their adversarial relationship is masking the fact that there’s a deep attraction there. A year or so later, Lucinda Barrett, the last of the three friends, realizing that the other two ended up marrying the objects of their lessons (oh, come on, not a spoiler), chooses Lord Geoffrey Newcombe. Lord Geoffrey, aside from being handsome, is safe and her father, General Barrett, likes him. Unfortunately, Robert Carroway, Tristan’s younger brother, has sort of gotten in the way . . . Continue reading The Rake and England’s Perfect Hero, by Suzanne Enoch

Brighter than the Sun, by Julia Quinn

This is one of Ms. Quinn’s earlier works; it was published quite a long time before Mr. Cavendish, I Presume? and The Lost Duke of Wyndham I reviewed a few weeks ago. It’s actually a sequel to Everything and the Moon, featuring a Miss Victoria Lyndon and the Earl of Macclesfield. Ms. Quinn is an Ivy League graduate; her husband seems to find her career as a best-selling romance novelist both cool and highly amusing, evidenced by his random suggestions for titles. Her main series of books was the eight-volume Bridgerton series; I strongly suspect I can not only name the titles for each volume but the main Bridgerton involved, but I don’t think I’ll try.*

This is, as the introductory note says, Julia Quinn’s marriage-of-convenience story. Two weeks before his time runs out, Charles, Earl of Billingsley, falls out of a tree onto Miss Ellie Lyndon, the sister of Miss Victoria Lyndon and a vicar’s daughter. Due to some vague attraction and the determination that she might not be so bad to be married to, he explains the situation — if he doesn’t marry in the next two weeks, he loses all of the monetary portion of his inheritance. Ellie understands this, being that she’s in her own monetary difficulties — she’s been investing her pocket money and cannot get to it. (Also, there’s an Evil Stepmother involved.) So they have a go of it. Will it work? Continue reading Brighter than the Sun, by Julia Quinn

The Enchantment Emporium, by Tanya Huff

Ahh, Tanya Huff. Author of the Blood books, turned into the short-lived Blood Ties series. Author of the Smoke books, starring a character who was from the Blood books but got cut from the TV show. Author of the Valor’s Choice series of novels that I haven’t actually read, but I know they’re SF with a nice strong female lead. She also wrote The Fire’s Stone, Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light (one of my favorites), the Keeper books, and the novels of Crystal, together in a volume called Wizard of the Grove. Also a bunch of collections of short stories. Seriously, with this much published, it’s kind of amazing that there are spec-fic fans who haven’t read SOMETHING of hers.

The Enchantment Emporium is set in a new universe, just a bit removed from our own (or maybe it IS our own) where there’s a family of powerful women, surnamed Gale, who nudge the universe around by immense personal ability. Alysha Catherine Gale (Allie), our heroine, is twenty-four, jobless, and single when her grandmother (the family’s black sheep) gives her a store to run — the eponymous Enchantment Emporium. However, that means moving away from the family, out to Calgary. Obviously they can come visit, but apparently everyone is too busy actually to come with her. And then the strange things start happening — a tabloid reporter (very attractive, by the way) comes by, dragons start flying over the store, and faerie beings start showing up. What has Gran gotten Allie into? Continue reading The Enchantment Emporium, by Tanya Huff

Delicious, by Sherry Thomas

Sherry Thomas is a relatively recent entrant into the world of historical romance; her first published novel, Private Arrangements, I reviewed a mere year and a half ago, here. She’s a current resident of Texas, but she moved to the US from China at the age of thirteen and apparently had a taste for historical romance even then. This work is her second novel; she’s since published a third, entitled Not Quite a Husband. A fourth, called His at Night, is to be released next May. I believe that the secondary lead in Delicious and the lead in Not Quite a Husband are brothers, but it doesn’t seem to be necessary to read one before the other.

Verity Durand is the most famous — and infamous — chef in England. Famous, because her food makes angels weep and grown men slaver; infamous because, well, she had an affair with her last employer, Bertie Somerset. Of course, Mr. Somerset has since died and his younger half-brother, Stuart, has inherited the entire place, including Verity’s services — as a chef, of course. Stuart Somerset is a politician; originally a barrister, he’s now an MP and holds the ear of the Prime Minister; he works twenty-four hour days trying to get bills past. He rarely has time to eat, let alone enjoy his food. Oh, and he’s engaged to a Miss Lizzy Bessler. However, ten years ago, he had one amazing night with a lady he’s never seen since, despite searching. Only a totally crazy situation would throw them back together . . . wouldn’t it? Continue reading Delicious, by Sherry Thomas

Blood Noir (Anita Blake, vol. 15), by Laurell K. Hamilton

Yes, I’m reviewing the 15th (arguably; I don’t count Micah) volume in a series without reviewing the previous volumes. For one thing, everyone else has dealt with the series quite adequately. Second, I can gloss the plot up to this point in about three sentences. Laurell K. Hamilton arguably perfected the genre of the kickass chick with serious emotional issues who sleeps with various supernatural beings (vampires, werewolves, oh my) with a gun under her pillow. She started writing these books in the early-to-mid-1990s and while the last, say, five or six volumes have been of varying quality, there’s still a new one every year or so. This year’s release is Skin Trade (vol. 16).

Here’s the general setup of the series: We have Anita Blake, the short, assertive, overly-weaponed necromancer (zombie-raiser)/vampire hunter. More under the cut, actually, in case there’s a person left in the world who hasn’t read these books who wants to. Continue reading Blood Noir (Anita Blake, vol. 15), by Laurell K. Hamilton