Monday, July 16, 2012

Book of the Week - Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

I am a sucker for novels of the weird west and I like steampunk. Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill have written some terrific books so I was excited to see they had done a teen novel with those elements. Best of all, it did not disappoint. The year is 1867 and Jett Gallatin (an alias), late of Orleans Parish, Louisiana, is a dressed in black shootist, wondering the Texas plains in search of her missing twin. She escapes a zombie attack in a town where she stopped to make inquiries and escaping to the wide open spaces meets two other travelers who have just met up. One is Gibbons, a Yankee scientist who is searching the west for flying machines in her steam powered Auto-Tachypode and the other White Fox, a young Army scout who had been raised by Indians. Together they uncover a diabolical plot that could lead to a zombie apocalypse. Authentic western feel, great pacing, delightful characters made this read extremely enjoyable even though I am not fond of zombie books. Readers who like smart characters, steam punk, kick ass heroines and zombies will also enjoy Cherie Priest's Boneshaker

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Book of the Week - A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix

In a far distant future an enormous empire controls countless worlds inhabited by the descendants of Earth. It is ruled by an emperor and overseen by ten million Princes. A Princes has “vast power and seemingly limitless authority” but may never know his or her parents. Imperial Prince Khemri spent the first ten years of his life in a vat of Bitek gloop where he was bioengineered and educated via downloads. The next six years he was educated by priests and finally on the sixteenth anniversary of being selected as a Prince Candidate he was assigned an assassin priest and discovered the possibility of dying was much higher than that of safely linking with the Imperial Mind. From that point on his life is filled with danger. 
This fast paced coming of age adventure pits Khemri against other Princes, powerful families, academy politics, and alien dangers, throwing him into situations that require a rare combination of skill, intelligence, heart, courage, and intuition to survive as he discovers what being a Prince really means and who he really is. 
This is outstanding space opera. Not to be missed. The world building is superb with the combination of bitek (biological technology), psitek (psionic technology), mektek (mechanical technology), and multiple deaths with rebirths. The space battles are cinematically real.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Book of the Week - As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson

In a world filled with mystery series, the Walt Longmire series stands out with its tough but appealing Wyoming sheriff, settings that are real enough to smell and taste, and gentle humor even in the face of horrific crimes. In the eighth book of the series (don't worry if you haven't discovered this series yet, you don't have to have read the previous books to love this one), while Walt and his buddy Henry Standing Bear are visiting the Cheyenne Reservation in Montana, working out the details for Walt's daughter's imminent wedding when they see a woman plummet to her death from a remote cliff. Walt's dog, Dog, finds a blanket wrapped baby who survived his mother's fatal fall. The abrasive new tribal police chief, Lolo Long, an Iraqi war veteran, begrudgingly learns from Walt as the murder investigation proceeds with a realistic view of Rez life. Lolo is tough but she needs some polishing to succeed in law enforcement. Her depiction as a wounded warrior who feels unworthy to mother her child, and has taken on a job she feels totally unprepared for, is masterful and complex. I hope she becomes an ongoing part of the series. Longmire's interactions with Dog and the recalcitrant truck, Rezdawg add bits of humor. As a Westerner, a love how Johnson captures the spirit and reality of the rural West and its people.

Some of the books I think about when looking for other reads to satisfy Longmire fans include the novels of Thomas King especially the (tongue in cheek humorous) mysteries he pens as Hartley GoodWeather and Tony Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee mysteries.