Bound, by Donna Jo Napoli

Donna Jo Napoli is a linguistics professor at Swarthmore College and an author of children’s books. She used to have a cat named Taxi, for the sheer joy of calling the cat and watching the neighbors make faces. She takes modern dance and yoga classes for fun, and bakes bread. She has also coauthored a scholarly paper on frogs. I’ve reviewed a couple of her books before — here and here — and while they aren’t always my favorite, I seem to keep coming back for more.

The Cinderella story is a common one throughout many cultures, and Ms. Napoli has chosen to set her variant of the tale in Ming-Dynasty China. Xing Xing’s mother dies when she is very small, and her father remarries, to a woman with a daughter close to Ping’s age. The stepmother (called Stepmother) has decided to bind her daughter (Wei Ping)’s feet, in order that she will be able to attract a man of a much higher social status. And of course, once the father dies, Stepmother treats Xing Xing as if she’s the lowest kind of servant, even so far as to sending her off to try to sell green dates as some sort of false miracle cure to raise money. One day, there is a fair in town, and Xing Xing finds some of her mother’s old clothing (including shoes) to wear into town . . . Continue reading Bound, by Donna Jo Napoli

Cybele’s Secret, by Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier is the author of a number of books, one of which was Wildwood Dancing, which I read and reviewed earlier. This novel is a companion (not a direct sequel; it follows a different character) to that one, and continues the story of the Transylvanian sisters. Ms. Marillier is a musician by training and a writer by vocation; she has been a full-time writer since 2002. Her family emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand many years ago, and she lives in a cottage in Perth, Australia.

Paula is Jena’s younger sister, the scholarly, studious one. She has been helping her father with many of his business matters, and dreams of starting her own rare-book collection. When he mentions that he is going to travel to wherever-it-is, Paula immediately clamors to go along — and is allowed. For in the city, there is a woman named Irene who has her own scholarly haven for women, and Paula would like to study there. They get to town, hire a bodyguard for Paula, and she begins her studies — but something is strange about the piece they have come to town to buy, called Cybele’s Gift. Many people are after it, and things are starting to happen — attacks, sudden withdrawals from the bidding, and the involvement of strange individuals including a pirate . . . Continue reading Cybele’s Secret, by Juliet Marillier

The Smoke Thief (The Drakon, book 1), by Shana Abe

I saw this book and the second (review forthcoming) in a bookstore recently on a shelf much too high for me to reach, so I asked my husband to retrieve them for me, thinking, “I’ve seen someone recommend these recently.” Well, it turned out that it was one of the Ja(y)nes at Dear Author who recommended it, so not exactly something Ben would be interested in — but he read them anyway. Shana Abe, for those who are wondering, lives in Colorado, has five rescued house rabbits and a dog, and majored in drama in college.

Kit (Christoff Langford) is the Marquess of Langford and the head of the clan of drakon in England; the drakon are eldritch beings of long life and magical abilities including transformation to smoke or the form of a dragon. They hide in plain sight among the eighteenth-cenuty English ton, and there aren’t very many of them left — especially powerful ones. Clarissa Rue Hawthorne is half-drakon, half-human, and as such doesn’t fit in with the rest of the young women particularly well. When she disappears around her eighteenth birthday, no one searches very hard for her. However, when a thief in London is reported to be able to turn into a mist, Kit listens — and goes to investigate. Continue reading The Smoke Thief (The Drakon, book 1), by Shana Abe

The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, by Mario Acevedo

Mario Acevedo apparently, when he was four years old, told one of his aunts that he wanted a machine gun for Christmas. A stint in the army — where he also flew helicopters — apparently cured him of that, and provided him with fodder and knowledge for a series of books about a vet — these books, as a matter of fact. When not in the army, he has worked as an engineer and an artist, including being a combat artist and working with children. He has apparently been writing since he was young, and has published (so far) four novels in this series, all with . . . interesting . . . titles. A member of the Rocky Mountain Writers Group, he credits joining the group with his success in the publishing world.

Felix Gomez is in the U.S. military, and while he is in Iraq, he comes back with what he tells people is “Operation Iraqi Freedom Syndrome.” Except it’s nothing of the sort; he got vampirism instead. Fortunately, some of the weaknesses of being a vampire can be mitigated by 21st-century technology, such as Dermablend and high-octane sunscreen. Now Gomez is a P.I., and one of his old friends from college has called him up to find out why something very strange has happened at his DOE base (i.e., somewhere where they do nuclear research) — the women appear to have been infected with something that is causing them to be, ahem, hyper-interested in a certain sort of physical activity. Can Gomez figure it out? And why are vampires in the area dying? Continue reading The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, by Mario Acevedo

The Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic, book 1), by Patricia C. Wrede

Patricia C. Wrede is one of my auto-buy authors. Based in Minnesota, she’s probably most well-known either for the Sorcery and Cecelia series of YA epistolary Regency-set fantasy novels co-authored with Caroline V. Stevermer, or for the quartet of YA books starting with Dealing with Dragons. Less well-known are her Lyra novels, set in a fantasy world during various eras and containing such obscure titles as Caught in Crystal, The Harp of Imach Thyssel, and The Raven Ring. She has also written two novels set in roughly the same world as the Sorcery and Cecelia books, Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward, neither of which features any of the main characters from the YA series. Another obscure work of hers is Snow White and Rose Red, a contribution to the Fairy Tales series (like Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin).

The Thirteenth Child is set in an alternate universe, where North America wasn’t settled by Asians via the Bering Strait, and mammoths, dragons, and other various megafauna still roam most of the country. Eff Rothmer is the second-to-last child in her family — the thirteenth, to be precise — and the twin sister of Lan, who is the seventh son of a seventh son. He is considered particularly lucky and possessed of an amazing ability to do magic, and it was suggested to her parents by more than one relative that they should have drowned her at birth. When the twins are still young, the entire family moves out to Mill City, which is just on the edge of the frontier. Mr. Rothmer has gotten a job as a professor at the brand-new college there, and besides, it would be best to move somewhere where no one knows that Eff is the thirteenth child and Lan is a double-seven. Out there, they find all sorts of adventure — on both sides of the Great Barrier that keeps the rest of the country safe from the frightening flora and fauna that characterizes the wilderness. Continue reading The Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic, book 1), by Patricia C. Wrede

Angelic, by Kelley Armstrong

A little over a year ago, I decided to read everything that Kelley Armstrong had published at that point, being that I’d been recommended her works by so many different places so many times, and in general I quite enjoy the genre she writes (urban fantasy, whatever you’d like to call it). So I read all eight available Women of the Otherworld books, and reviewed them. All the titles can be found either in this review, or this one. Ms. Armstrong is a full-time writer and presumably a full-time Canadian; I think I’m behind on this series by one book, and she started a YA series when I wasn’t looking.

This particular volume, a slender 98 pages, will be a Subterranean Press publication in December of this year. It concerns Eve Levine, the star of book five, and the mother of Savannah, a common character in the other volumes. Eve is dead (seriously, that’s not a spoiler) and is currently working part-time for the Fates as an avenging angel. Or something like that. The djinn have been behaving poorly recently — torturing those who have summoned them — and just when Eve is about to get some time off, the Fates decide to make her investigate. Alone. Well, she’s never been one to follow rules, and usually, that gets her into trouble . . . Continue reading Angelic, by Kelley Armstrong

Nights of Blood 2: More Legends of the Vampire, edited by Elyse Salpeter and Bob Nailor

I was sent this book by a member of my former writers’ group (where we talked about anything but writing) who happens to have a story published in the anthology; he and a couple of the other writers, including one of the editors, are all residents of my home region. The book, however, was published by a small press located in Texas called 23 House, and is, as one may plainly see, the second volume of stories about vampires. Mr. Nailor and Ms. Salpeter are experienced editors and writers, and both have been published in other short-story anthologies. They have both been nominated for Eppie Awards, as well.

The stories in this volume include: “The Night Garden,” by Mark Onspaugh; “Debts,” by Amanda Pillar; “Under the Chocolate Tree,” by David E. Hilton; “Floaters,” by Michael S. Bumagin, M.D.; “Burden of Proof,” by Jennifer Graham; “A Rustle of Curtains,” by Henry Leon Lazarus; “Pas de Deux,” by Edward McKeown; “Defender,” by Garry Ward; “Expiration Date Not Required,” by A. D. Nailor; “Lazuli,” by Christine Rains; “1-800-VAMPYRE,” by Bob Nailor; “The Vampire Doll,” by Joette Razanski; “Days and Nights,” by Elyse Salpeter; “Down in the Cellar,” by Joe McKinney; “Barney,” by James R. Cain; “Tales of the Vampire,” by Mitchel Whitington; and “Give Until it Kills,” by Joe Sergi. Continue reading Nights of Blood 2: More Legends of the Vampire, edited by Elyse Salpeter and Bob Nailor

Moonspeaker, by K. D. Wentworth

This was a Del Rey Discovery book some fifteen years ago, and my copy is a paperback that gleefully splashes that information all over. Ms. Wentworth’s first novel was The Imperium Game, published in 1994, but for some reason it was decided that this second book would be a good Discovery. Apparently she got her start via the Writers of the Future contest, and now is an editor for it. Her short stories “Tall One” and “Burning Bright” were Nebula finalists. Apparently a couple of her novels are available via the Baen Free Library, and she has made some contributions to Eric Flint’s giant 1632 complex.

Haemas is the only child, daughter, and heir to the Tal’ayn house; she and her father have a difficult relationship, and just before her Testing and Naming (where she would be tested for psionic talent, mostly telepathy, and then officially given her title in the community), it appears that she has attacked and killed her father. She gets dumped outside, all her mind-senses terribly hurt, and runs away to be among the non-telepathic beings. Unfortunately, she had gotten caught in the middle of a conspiracy, and her father wasn’t actually killed. Now her cousin — a conspirator — and a searcher from a house of something like a college are trying to find her, either to kill her or to save her life. Will she survive? Continue reading Moonspeaker, by K. D. Wentworth

Goose Chase, by Patrice Kindl

Patrice Kindl was born in Alplaus, New York, which is outside Schenectady, the youngest of four daughters of a mechanical engineer and a stay-at-home mom. In college, which she attended in St. Louis, she studied acting, before dropping out to go to a drama school in New York. After four years of less than success, she moved back upstate, got a job, got married, and eventually — in her late 30s — decided to become serious about writing. Her first novel, Owl in Love, was published to a fair amount of success, and she’s published several more since. Apparently, in the realm of odd trivia, her son is in a band, and the lead singer of that band is one of the few female master falconers in the world.

Alexandria used to be a Goose Girl, until she grudgingly did a good turn for an old woman who turned out to be a fairy godmother. Now she is as beautiful as the dawn (much more beautiful than many dawns, she reassures us), her tears turn to diamonds, and when she combs her hair, gold flakes appear. Of course, this means that the prince of one country (Dorloo) and the king of another (Gilboa) both are desperate for her hand in marriage, so they (well, really the king) lock her in a tower and attempt to convince her that she should marry one of them. Fortunately, her geese — twelve of them, all female — rescue her from that situation — but now she’s on the lam. What can she do? Will she ever get back to her simple life? Continue reading Goose Chase, by Patrice Kindl

Fire Study (book 3), by Maria V. Snyder

Maria V. Snyder, author of the two previous novels in this trilogy (Poison Study and Magic Study), is a native Pennsylvanian, and possessed of a bachelor’s degree in meteorology. Unfortunately, despite all the study, she proved not to be talented at forecasting the weather, and went on to study writing popular fiction at Seton Hall. She has a husband, a son, a daughter, and a yellow lab, and has just (April 28) published another novel, Storm Glass. It’s set in the same world and about a minor character from the second and third volumes, and involved more extensive research into glassblowing — prompting even more misshapen paperweights, as her bio says. Sea Glass, the second volume, comes out in September.

Since this is the third volume, I’m kindly cutting here. Continue reading Fire Study (book 3), by Maria V. Snyder