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DragonCon & a Giveaway

September 9, 2012

Jonathan Maberry & Keith DeCandido

So, DragonCon was last weekend, which is why you did not have a blog from me.  I’ve got a few awesome pictures, although I didn’t take as many as usual.  I was sporting a new camera and I hadn’t quite gotten the hang of it yet.

I went to tons of panels, many of them book related.  Some of the highlights were the Vampocalypse panel in the picture.  There were several other awesome authors on the other side of the podium, but there was a hat in my line of sight that way so I didn’t get a photo.

I also got to see the Sword & Laser live podcast with special guest R.A. Salvatore.  That was pretty awesome.  For anyone who doesn’t know, Sword & Laser is an online fantasy and sci-fi book club.  They have an audio podcast and a video show on the Geek & Sundry youtube channel.  The hosts are Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont.  They get some pretty awesome guests on the show including Lev Grossman, Earnie Cline, Seanan McGuire, and (I think next show) LeVar Burton!  Veronica came to the panel in an amazing demon hunter costume from Diablo 3.  Image

I also got to go to a book club discussion of Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin, which I’ve discussed previously on this blog.  That was pretty fantastic.  There weren’t a ton of people there because it was at the same time as the parade, but that was actually good since everyone had a chance to talk and ask questions.  This leads me into the new giveaway!  Jonathan’s new book in the Benny Imura series, Flesh & Bone, comes out on Tuesday, which is also my birthday!  Because The Missing Volume bookstore is awesome and got with Simon & Schuster and made magic happen, I have a signed copy.  Which means, that the copy I pre-ordered from my bookstore is up for grabs!  I am therefore giving it away on the blog.  Leave me a comment below telling me what your zombie apocalypse weapon of choice would be.  I’ll announce the winner in one week!

BaronessBecause I know you care, I had four costumes this year.

1. a rêveur costume inspired by Erin Morganstern’s The Night Circus
2.  Miss Ivy Hisselpenny from Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series
3.  Steampunk Baroness from G.I. Joe inspired by Brian Kesinger’s amazing art
4.  a steampunked sari outfit, which I failed to get a picture of.  It involved a corset and bustle and was pretty awesome.

Total time in a corset this DragonCon: 47 hours.

Ok, enough of DragonCon.  We’re here to talk about books!  After the Giant Laurell K. Hamilton post we should be back on target and can continue down the list in order.

Image#51 The Darcys and the Bingleys by Marsha Altman
This book picks up right before the weddings at the end of Pride & PrejudiceMr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley chat as they await the arrival of their brides.  A rather entertaining conversation ensues as it becomes obvious that Mr. Bingley is feeling some trepidation about his marital duties.  Although titillating, the book never reaches the point of salaciousness.  I like that fine line in my Austen continuations.  I find out and out sex a bit shocking in these, whereas I’ll read a straight up regency romance novel with nary a blush.  I suppose it’s the contrast between that and the original material where ankles are covered, hands are only grasped when helping a lady over an obstacle, and kisses come at the conclusion of weddings.  The Darcys and the Bingleys do take things quite a bit further than Austen, but not quite so far as Linda Berdoll’s Darcy & Elizabeth books.

The first section of the book sets up the new families and establishes how married life is treating the sisters.  Mr. Bennett, unsurprisingly, seeks the solitude of his daughters’ homes fairly often.  Although, you do see a very real affection between Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, which is largely absent in the original work.  I like the idea that their relationship is not solely one of tolerant resignation.  The second portion of the book opens with the surprising news that Miss Caroline Bingley has a suitor.  Lord James Kincaid has been paying his addresses and she seems disposed to accept him.  However, Mr. Bingley is not easy in his mind and enlists Mr. Darcy’s assistance.  Things soon become much more complicated than either man could have anticipated.  With Darcy in London, Elizabeth and her father decide to do some investigation of their own and head up to Lord Kincaid’s Scottish estate.  What they find there is so shocking that in necessitates Elizabeth’s immediate presence in London.  Much like the Princess Bride, the second segment of The Darcys and the Bingleys is full of chases, escapes, revenge, and true love.

#52.  Od Magic by Patricia McKillipImage

I listened to this one on audio, and maybe that was a mistake.  I quite liked the characters, but found the story rather dull.  This is not something I usually find with McKillip’s books.  Several of her books rest on my
‘favorites’ bookshelf at home.  The Changling Sea is a book I have read probably ten or fifteen times and Ombria in Shadow is one that I consider heartbreakingly beautiful.  Od Magicwas nominated for Best Novel at the 2006 World Fantasy Awards.  But it just doesn’t resonate with me somehow.

Part of my problem may be that there are too many sub-plots moving at the same time.  The story opens with Brenden Vetch, a young man who lives in the country very quietly and uses a plant based magic to heal the people and animals in his village.  After his personal life takes a turn for the worse Brenden is persuaded by a giantess named Od to go to the capitol and take up the position of gardener at her school of magic.

Brenden goes to Kelior, but finds the school a very strange place.  He simply wants to garden and nurture the plants in his charge, but everyone around him seems to want something from him.  All magicians in Kelior are closely monitored by the crown.  The teachers spy on one another, the crown either controls mages or banishes them for nonconformity.  Students are not allowed in certain parts of the city for fear that they may be swayed into a rebellion.

Other threads of the story are held by Valoren; the king’s personal mage who is concerned with power and position; Princess Sulys who has been learning forbidden magics from her grandmother; the wizard Yar who has begun to question the traditions and restrictions; Yar’s lover Ceta Thiel, an historian researching Od; the stage magician Tyramin and his beautiful daughter Mistral; the guard captain who might be in love with Mistral; and Elver, a rebellious student who seems to know more magic than he should.

It becomes difficult to hold all these threads together and to devote enough attention to each one.  Perhaps if I had been reading the book instead of listening to it I might have had an easier time of it.  As it was, I was left feeling disappointed and a little unfulfilled.


#55 The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

This is a steampunk story about three unusual young women in early twentieth century London.
Cora is a laboratory assistant to a wealthy, but secretive member of Parliament.  Cora has lived as his ward since he plucked her from the streets of Whitechapel as a child.  She is content with her life until the advent of an arrogant new laboratory assistant disrupts her routine.  He is brash and annoying, but somehow attractive nonetheless.  Cora’s world is further disturbed when she finds out that girls in Whitechapel are being brutally attacked and murdered.  These are girls she once grew up with, but the forces of law and order don’t seem to care.
Michiko is a young Japanese woman who trained under a traditional samurai.  When her teacher refused her anymore training due to her sex Michiko struck out on her own.  She ended up as the assistant to an Englishman who gives fencing and self defense to ladies.   He is not nearly as good with a sword as she is, but Michiko needs the position an so keeps her head down.  Michiko’s world is turned upside down one day at the market when a master smith recognizes her for what she is, a samurai.  He gives her a sword fitting her training.  Michiko feels that she must live up to the honor he has done her.  She must expand her life beyond mere survival.
Nellie is a magician’s assistant.   Her master is kind and caring.  Nellie’s world is rarely troubled by darkness until the day a man stumbles into their apartments and dies.  Suddenly, Nellie is catapulted into a world of danger and deception.  Soon, a second man is killed and Nellie cannot turn her back on the mystery.
The three girls end up coming together by happenstance, but quickly form a bond that overcomes class distinctions and even language barriers.  They set out initially to solve the murders, but quickly stumble on a much darker plot that threatens all of England.

This book was entertaining, but contained one jarring note for me.  This is the kind of minor think that might not bother most people, but I read lots and lots and lots of period literature.  Kress uses a fair bit of modern slang in the book, especially in Cora’s chapters.  I’m assuming this is to make her feel more like someone the reader can relate to, but for me it kept knocking me out of the flow of the book.  However, that is my only complaint, so all in all, I give it a thumbs up!


I hope you enjoyed these reviews, and remember, you’ve got one week to enter my Flesh & Bone giveaway.  Leave me a comment below with your zombie apocalypse weapon of choice.  In a perfect world, mine is the lightsaber.  However, for the real world, I’ll go for something like Tom’s katana or even a baseball bat.  Keep an eye on the post next week for the winner.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Jackson permalink
    September 10, 2012 8:24 am

    Not entering the giveaway (I have yet to read Rot & Ruin, but it’s on my list!), but I wanted to comment anyway. I love your costumes! I’ve always wanted to go to DragonCon, but it’s never worked out for me to go. I don’t think I could handle 47 hours in a corset, though. Eek.

    Have you read Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip? I’ve had a copy of it for years, but it’s always been at the bottom of my massive TBR pile.

    Hoping to make it to book club this month! Was sorry to have missed the last meeting – I bet it was a lot of fun. Love the reviews!


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