The Aeronaut’s Windlass

Courtesy of jim-butcher.comOne of my all time favorite authors wrote a steampunk story. I fan girled. I got to meet him and get an autographed copy of said book. I fan girled. Then I read the book…and I sighed. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass.

It isn’t what I would properly call steampunk. It had a lot of the same themes as steampunk: a highly stratified society, aeroships, aether, copper/brass doohickies. It was not clear whether this was some sort of alternate earth time line or some alternate planet. A no point were any recognizable human countries from the Victorian age mentioned.

All humans, and cats, live in these giant Borg cubes (and yes, that is straight from the horse’s mouth) called Spires. They are 10,000 feet high by two miles wide. Each level in the cube is 50 feet in height and referred to as a habble. The top habble occupied mostly by the top families, who are rather like the English nobility.

The main power source seems to be crystals rather than steam, which I thought was cool and not nearly as noisy. It doesn’t seem like women are at all treated like arm candy, which is pretty opposite of Victorian England, you must admit.

Cats can communicate, but only if the human is “smart” enough to realize that they’re talking. They’re also assholes but…so are real cats. There is also a caste (not really a caste system but the best word I can come up with at the moment) of humans called warriorborn. From what I can tell, they’re some sort of half-human, half-cat like creature as cats call them half-souls.

I think my favorite characters are the ethrealists, which are mad to a one. And by mad I mean Mad Hatter sort of mad.  They’re powerful but doofy. Master Ferus, one of the ethrealists, has a problem with door knobs. He can’t open them. It’s a nice little running gag.

Since the book only came out about a week or so ago, I’ll just give a brief overview. So possible SPOILERS here.

This book features five people other than the ethrealist Master Ferus: Captain Francis Madison Grimm (often called the grim captain by Ferus), Gwendolyn Lancaster of House Lancaster (who control the crystal vatteries in Spire Albion), her cousin Benedict Sorellin-Lancaster, Bridget Tagwynn (who speaks cat) and Folly (apprentice ethrealist).

Gwen and Bridget are new inductees into the Spirearch Guard of Spire Albion (there are several Spires, not just this one). The Spirearch is like the king and the guard are his, well, guard. They’re the police force and the fighting force  for the spire. Benedict has been a guard for two years already and is enjoying being one up on his cousin on the reg.

Grimm is the aeronaut with a bad past. He was drummed out of Fleet for cowardice, even though it clearly wasn’t him. He was the patsy. Still, he has his own ship, The Predator, no matter how badly damaged so he’s his own man.

Due to a surprise attack from Spire Aurora, our unlikely allies are gathered together by the Spirearch as the only people he can really trust. Mostly because they’ve all given them lip at some point, I think. At any rate, he has a mission for them to Habble Landing, where the majority of the Spire’s commerce takes place. Habble Landing, naturally enough, houses the docks and is the likely place for any further Auroran attacks.

The writing is good. If I didn’t know who had written it, I probably would have guessed Jim Butcher. But. It wasn’t what I would term a good steampunk novel. I would really classify this as just a fantasy novel. I think that’s where my disappointment stems from. I’ve read and enjoyed so much steampunk that I have an expectation of what it should be like, and this book isn’t it.

I would say that if you want to read this one, go into it thinking of it as a fantasy novel and not a steampunk novel. Don’t box yourself into a set of expectations. However, I would also say, wait until it comes down a little in price if you want to buy it. Rating: B-. I’ll probably read any follow up books, but I’m not sure if I’ll read this one again.

Dangerous Women

Courtesy of Goodreads.comSo I just picked up volume 3 of the George R.R. Martin edited Dangerous Women anthology. You can pick this up as a single volume on Amazon for Kindle but it’s kinda expensive for an anthology (probably Martin’s name being tagged to it) and I really only wanted this for one story, which I got in volume 3 (paperback). As its title indicates, these stories feature kick ass women. There is at least one sci-fi story in the whole series, which I found in book 3 here, but its mostly fantasy.

I like anthologies because I can be introduced to new authors and sometimes new series. I started reading the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews because of an anthology and I love that series. Kate Daniels is another kick ass lead woman. The story I most wanted to read was Bombshellsby one of my all time favorite authors, Jim Butcher. I’ve gotten to meet him and he is just as awesome and geeky as you’d think. 🙂

To give you a taste of what this anthology is like, here’s the drill down of Bombshells:

This story is set in the Dresden verse, between Ghost Story and Cold Days. It features Harry’s apprentise, Molly Carpenter, eldest child of Michael and Charity Carpenter. At this point, Molly is in bad shape mentally. She feels guilty for Harry’s apparent death (SPOILERS, he’s not dead) and has taken it upon herself to fight the Fomor and keep Chicago safe. This most definitely includes Harry’s brother Thomas Raith, a member of the White Court of vampires.

When Thomas’s girlfriend Justine comes to Molly for help when Thomas goes missing, Molly agrees although a little reluctantly. She doesn’t trust many people these days and Justine isn’t really on that list. But Harry would have done anything for Thomas, so Molly takes the case. She tracks him down easily enough but is stymied by her adoptive Aunt, the Leanansidhe. Lea has taken Molly under her training wing. Naturally, this isn’t an altruistic thing for Lea to do. Lea had promised Harry’s mother that she would watch out for Harry. Since Harry promised to care for and train Molly, Lea has taken his duties over until he’s able to return. That’s just how things work for faeries.

Lea points out that Thomas is being held by svartalves. If you know anything of Norse mythology, you’ll know svartavles are the magical blacksmiths. They are the ones who created shackles strong enough to hold Fenrir when all other attempts had failed. They’re incredibly powerful and extremely high on honor. Molly can’t just bust the door down. Lea couldn’t bust the door down and live and the Leanansidhe is second in power only to Mab in the Seelie Court.

So, an undercover mission it is. The svartalves are holding a party that night to celebrate the signing of a treaty with the treacherous Fomor. Thankfully Molly, Justine and werewolf Andi just happen to be three drop dead gorgeous gals. Thanks to Justine’s White Court credit card, they get kitted out in identical little black dresses and shoes. Butters (one of my favorite characters in the Dresden Files and Andi’s boyfriend. Go Butters), is playing Bosley to their Angels by providing intel via the paranet though a communication crystal provided by Molly.

The three girls successfully gate crash and not only manage to find Thomas (not that hard when he’s doing his incubus thang), but to totally submarine the non-agression treaty between the Fomor and the svartavles. They do it in an honorable way that gets Molly a favor. Favors are huge in the supernatural Dresden verse, especially from powerful folks like the svartalves.

There are some great lines in this short story. I enjoyed the hell out of it and it is was definitely worth picking up this book. The other stories are pretty good too, so if you want something with a little variety, pick this up. Though I do recommend getting down to your local bookstore and looking for the three volume paperback set. Yes, they’re 7.99 a piece but you also don’t have to spend a lot of money for a ton of stories, only some of which might be up your alley. That way, you can peruse all the stories and pick up one or all three volumes. Rating: A

And we’re back!

I’m sorry for the long delay folks. Its been a rough few months for me. But I’ve decided to actually do a New Years resolution for 2015 (normally I don’t bother). I’m going to try and publish one review a week, likely on the weekends (yay laundry time!). First some news!

courtesy of goodreads.comFor those of you who are fans of Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files (<3), the man himself is doing a steampunk series! Holy crap, I am so excited about this! He’s calling this the Cinder Spires and according to his twitter (@longshotauthor), its off to the editors! Of course, it’ll be a long while going through polishing before it gets released, but its written!

Second, for the Simon R. Green lovers among you (me included), we have found out that there are three more Secret Histories novels on the books, the last of which will be a war between the Droods and the Nightside! Go Nightside. 😀 The titles are: Dr. DOA, Moonbreaker and Night Fall, in accordance with his James Bond themed books. Apparently we are getting just three more Secret Histories because Mr. Green has diabetes and is worried that he would leave us all hanging, should complications arise. After that he’ll be writing single novels or trilogies. I hope he continues writing for a very long time.

Gail Carriger has recently released Wasitcoats & Weaponry, the third installment of her Finishing School series. The next generation of the Parasol Protectorate will kick off in March. Featuring Prudence, the daughter of Lord and Lady Maccon. Apparently this series will be christened the Custard Protocol, the name of which made my husband decide it was the best series ever without having read any of Ms. Carriger’s awesome books. 🙂

Skin Game-Jim Butcher

Skin Game

Skin Game cover courtesy of Jim Butcher’s own website: Visit it!

Oh Jim. Jimmy Jim, Jimmy Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim!* You have done it again. Absolute brilliance. Parkour! In case you needed to be told specifically, there be SPOILERS here.

Lucky old me got to meet Mr. Butcher (ish) at a signing just days after Skin Game came out and I got my copy signed! *fangirlsquee!* I hadn’t quite finished it by the time that I got to the signing but I did shortly thereafter and I have to say, I was not disappointed. Holy cow what a great book.

So we start out with Harry on his island/prison working out to keep in shape. He’s doing his own version of parkour among the creatures that are locked away in there. While shouting PARKOUR at the top of his lungs. Like ya do. His workout is cut short by the appearance of Queen Mab.

She has an assignment for Harry as the Winter Knight. She owes someone a favor. A very large favor. And that person has called in his chit because he has a very tricky assignment to be done and he needs Harry for part of it. Harry is suspicious and he’s right to be. The person Mab wants him to work for: Nicodemus  of the Knights of the Blackened Denarius.

At first, Harry refuses but Mab tells him that dire consequences would be fall him and the whole of the mortal world. Convinced but not happy, Harry and Mab meet with Nicodemus. After the meeting, Harry realizes that Mab wants Harry to be, well, Harry. Harry, who is known for fighting to thwart Nicodemus (among others) and just generally thumbing his nose at those who should make him cower.

Harry agrees to this whole scheme so long as he can bring in one person that he trusts to watch his back. Nicodemus is desperate enough to agree and Harry pulls in Karin Murphy to help. They aren’t the only players and soon enough they’re meeting with a number others who all have special, magical sneak thief talents. We get reintroduced to Binder from Turn Coat, along with several new people including a warlock that the White Council had been after for years.

We also get to see Michael and Maggie and Mouse. Special appearance by Hades himself and Butters. Oh magnificent Butters. I’ve always loved him but he was magnificent in this book. I do hope we get to see Thomas in the next book. Miss him.

I won’t go into too much detail since this book is in print but it is a brilliant, brilliant book. One of my all time favorite Dresden Files. I highly, highly, highly recommend this book. And, well, all the Dresden Files books really. Rating: A++

Cold Days, Review

Where can I start? How about with a HOLY SHIT! Or a {(#{U%{#JR!! This is an awesome book. Awesome doesn’t even cover its awesomeness. Transcendent maybe? Argh. I wish I’d been an English major!

So I won’t get too into details because this came out Tuesday (yes, I am Speedy Gonzales when it comes to reading). Harry comes back from the dead (so to speak) and Mab “nurses” him back to health. That is, she tries to kill him every day until he gets better. He gets presented to the Winter Court as their new Knight and then gets his first ever official assignment (as a Knight that is).  I won’t say what because SPOILERS.

So Harry troops off to Chicago to try and fulfill his knightly duty. He runs almost immediately into one of my favorite Dresden characters, Toot-Toot. Or more properly, Major General Toot-Toot. 🙂 He meets up with apprentice, Molly Carpenter, who helps him convince his brother Thomas that he (Harry) isn’t dead. He gets Mouse back (for a bit) and Bob (for a bit).

He discovers what Demonreach really is and discovers that someone (or something, more accurately) is out to get it. Unfortunately, if Demonreach is destroyed, most of the mid-west goes Bolshevik Muppet. 😉 So on top of his knightly duty, he has to protect his friends, family and innocents from going kaboomsky.

This book is freaking amazing. Have you gotten that yet? 🙂 So go out and buy it. Right now. Rating A++

Cold Days, Harry Dresden

I love, love, love Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books. I have all the novels and all the novellas. I even have a “Polka will never die” tee shirt. Yes, I am a geek. At any rate, if you are anything like me and you just can’t WAIT for the latest book Cold Days to come out, check out Jim’s website. He has decided to pre-release the first few chapters. Come on Thanksgiving (for us U.S. folks at least) because it comes out a few days after! 😀

Latest Dresden

Oh holy crap! I just finished the latest Dresden Files book, Ghost Story, last night. After a few extra months waiting, it was well worth it! This book was great.  While I had pretty much figured out who had shot him at the end of Changes, I didn’t know the why until the end of this book. And I was pleasantly surprised to not see it coming!

All my favorite characters make an appearance except Toot Toot. Hopefully the leader of the Za Lord’s Army will return in the next book. And considering the way the book ended, there will be more of Harry Dresden. Yay!! This post will be a little short. Because the book is so new and so awesome, I don’t want to give out spoilers.  But you must read it. Now. I’ll wait. 🙂 Rated: A++

The Dresden Files

Since reviews of the books I’ve read will take a while, I decided to get the ball rolling with some recommendation blog posts.

First up is Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series.  I LOVE this series!  I used to hate books that were written in first person, but I’ve come to enjoy them thanks to this awesome series.  Butcher starts out with book one, Storm Front and just gets better from there.  I highly, highly recommend this series.  Harry Dresden is talented, irreverent and has a chip on his shoulder the size of Chicago.  On the whole I give the series an A+. It hooks you and reels you in so that you just can’t wait for the next book (trust me, right now I am lamenting the fact that the next Dresden novel doesn’t come out until March 2011).

The nice thing about the series is, you don’t necessarily to have to read the books in order to understand what happens in them.  It’s easier if you do, true, but Butcher does a good job of briefly recapping the previous bits of story line in each successive novel.

  • Storm Front: This is the first novel of the series and it’s pretty solid, even with introducing the main characters.  It isn’t quite as excellent as the later books, but I think that’s to be expected for a first novel. Magic, fairies and warlocks oh my! Overall, it’s a solid B novel.
  • Fool Moon: This novel focuses on werewolves and the many varieties thereof.  The series is stretching it’s wings, so to speak, and is introducing more recurring characters.  B/B+
  • Grave Peril: Introductions to Butcher’s view of vampires. Being a vampire story enthusiast, I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued by Butcher’s ideas of vampires.  Also introduces recurring character Michael Carpenter. The series really starts getting better from here. B+
  • Summer Knight: Good fairies, evil fairies and possibly evil exes (aren’t they all). A-
  • Death Masks: The Red Court returns just at the worst possible time, as the Blackened Denarians are in town.  A-
  • Blood Rites: This is one of my personal favorites in the series.  I love, love, love the character of Thomas the incubus half-brother of Harry Dresden.  A+
  • Dead Beat: Necromancy! Yay! But seriously, who doesn’t think that riding a resurrected T-Rex through Chicago is awesome? Polka will never die! A+
  • Proven Guilty: Introduction of Molly Carpenter as Harry’s plucky side kick.  Very good story, a little darker than the previous Dresden books maybe. A
  • White Night: Who’s killing off Chicago’s minor magic users? That’s what Harry wants to know! But no one wants to talk with him.  What else is new?  A-
  • Small Favor: Return of Ivy the Archive and one of my favorite characters, Kincaid. A
  • Turn Coat: Ah! A little bit of “I told you so” for Donald Morgan! Very good story. A+
  • Changes: Oh. My. God. Amazing, amazing book. But SOOOOOOOO frustrated with the end! A little spoiler: It is definitely going to leave you hanging…and not on a good note! I cannot wait for the next novel. A++
  • Short stories: Jim Butcher has an anthology of his Dresden short stories due out around October 2010. I’m definitely going to get it, but I have read some of them already from other anthologies.  As I am waiting, patiently, for this book Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files.

I recently recommended Storm Front to my father-in-law and he has gotten just as hooked as I have.  Butcher is a good, witty writer who can do a comedic scene just as well as an angsty scene or an action scene.  If anyone out there has read and enjoyed this series, I would love to hear from you on any authors/series that you would recommend along the lines of the Dresden Files.