Book Review: Steerswoman Series- Rosemary Kirstein

The Rolling Writer

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy. I must be cursed, because I choose only unfinished series to start. Maybe it’s karma for all of the angry thoughts I’ve harbored towards George R.R. Martin, or my devious plan to find out where he lives, become his neighbor, “befriend” his wife so I can hover anxiously in their kitchen and nag him about getting back to writing. Yes. Surely I’m being punished for all of that.

The Steerswoman The Steerswoman

On the plus side, I’ve read some pretty good stuff lately, and this series was one of them. First published in 1989, The Steerswoman gained a small but devoted following. These poor people had to wait ELEVEN YEARS between books two and three, so I should probably quit whining.  Published as ebooks in 2013, they seem to be gaining in popularity, as well they should.

Rowan is a steerswoman, a guild…

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Book Review: Firethorn Series- Sarah Micklem

The Rolling Writer

Firethorn_coverTo continue in my current tradition of reading unfinished fantasy series, I picked up the beautifully titled, covered and written Firethorn, Sarah Micklem’s debut novel. Luck is an orphan who was fortunate enough to be raised in the household of the Dame, a noblewoman who taught her weaving and herblore. When the Dame dies, Luck runs away rather than deal with an oppressive new master. She spends a year alone in the woods, and nearly dies of exposure and starvation. In desperation, she eats the poisonous berries of the firethorn tree, but doesn’t die. Instead, she has a kind of revelation that leads her to believe she’s become a servant of the gods and change her name to Firethorn.

Upon returning to civilization, Firethorn meets Sire Galan, a young knight on his way to war. They become lovers and he takes her along with him as his personal camp…

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Book Review: Chalion Trilogy- Lois McMaster Bujold

Another recent review

The Rolling Writer

I guess it’s just my luck that I finally find a completed series, only to learn that it’s not truly a series. The three books take place in the same world, and the first two share a few characters, but that’s about it.That’s not a bad thing, since they each stand on their own, and don’t leave you with any annoying loose ends. This trilogy has been on my to-read list forever, since a number of my fellow Game of Thrones/Dune/Lord of the Rings fans have recommended them.

Overall, I liked, but did not love. The world- a kind of fantasy Renaissance Spain- was pretty intriguing, and the protagonists of the first two books were very compelling. The writing was good, though the pace was rather slow and it took me quite a while to get into each book.  I have a high tolerance for slow pacing (I’ve been known to read…

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Book Review- Europe’s Tragedy: A New History of the Thirty Years War- Peter H. Wilson

I’m still reviewing books! Just not on this blog right now.

The Rolling Writer

If you’re looking for a readable pop history version of the Thirty Years War, do not read this book. I started this back in April, so it may very well have set a record for book that’s taken me the longest to read. In my life. Previously, my go-to Thirty Years War history was C.V. Wedgwood’s  influential work, but I thought it might be a good idea to  try something more up-to-date. As it turns out, I don’t need anything more up-to-date for my purposes.

europes tragedyDifficult as it was, it wasn’t a waste of time, since I gleaned a ton of useful information from it. In fact, it was packed with facts of all kinds, just not presented in a very readable form. Wilson takes a good 300 pages just to get to the beginning of the war. This isn’t entirely unreasonable, because the reasons for the war…

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The Science of Happily Ever After- Ty Tashiro

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Originally posted on The Elffington Post. I’ve been reading a lot- 58 books so far this year! I just haven’t had much time to update here (too much reading, or something). I’ve reviewed a few non-fiction books on my other blog. Here’s one:

the science of happily ever afterYes, I’ve been doing a lot of reading! After the relatively tough slog of The Female Brain, Ty Tashiro’s The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love was a quick, enjoyable, informative read.

Dr. Tashiro has conducted extensive academic research on the psychology of relationships and now consults for the Discovery Channel. Using real-life examples combined with the latest research on relationships, Tashiro explores why so many of us make poor choices in choosing a partner, and offers some solutions.

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The Light and Shadow Trilogy- Moira Katson

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5 Stars

The pattern here seems to be: if I’m reviewing a whole series at once, I probably loved it. It’s pretty unusual for me to finish one book and immediately buy the rest of the series. I have to be really impressed.

shadowbornI have to confess to being a bit reluctant to pick up Shadowborn. It was probably the fourth book I started after trying three others that looked similar, only to put them down after twenty pages or so. There are so many fantasies out there, and frankly, most I see are pretty mediocre.

So I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the writing from the first sentence, the fascinating world and characters, and a story that sucked me right in.

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So Say the Waiters- Justin Sirois

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4 Stars

so say the waitersHow’s this for an idea? There’s a new app making its way out of the hipster scene. Called KidnApp, it lets you arrange your own kidnapping. Just for fun, of course. You get to decide how long you’ll be gone and what – if anything- will be done to you.  Looks like there’s some potential for things to go wrong, eh? You’d be right about that!

So Say the Waiters is the first installment in a series focused on the people using and making the app. It’s weird, wonderful, and au courant, with a grimy window into the life of Baltimore hipsters.

Dani is a tattooed bartender who was one of the first users of the app. She’s still one of their best “customers.” In the “kidnapping” we get to experience with her, she has a guy play the viola for her for several hours, while she’s tied up and blind-folded. Hmph.  I have to confess I was relieved that while kinkier kidnappings were hinted at, they never materialized in any graphic way.

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Forbidden the Stars- Valmore Daniels

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3.5 Stars

forbidden the starsForbidden the Stars started out well, but didn’t quite live up to the promise. It begins intriguingly, on an asteroid, which is being surveyed for valuable metals. The only people present are the surveyors- a married couple- and their ten-year-old son, Alex. Alex is left to his own devices while his parents are working, being tutored by a computer, and slacking off playing space-pirate games.

Then, there is the spaceship captain Justine, who has just landed her ship on Pluto. The first thing her team finds is a large pyramid-like object inscribed with runes that turn our to be ancient Mayan. What?

Simultaneously, we see what’s happening on the moon- Luna station- as a disabled renegade Chinese dude takes over with a sophisticated criminal enterprise, populated with teenage hackers. We also spend time with the head of the Canadian space mining corporation who is in charge of the asteroid surveying operations.

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148 Books in 2014!

photo by Gualberto107

photo by Gualberto107

Well, it’s pretty far from 200, and 40 shy of last year’s accomplishment, but that’s still a lot of books!

I had a very busy year, publishing our first book, starting on the second one, starting a novel, while blogging about it, and working more steadily on our other blog. So yes, three blogs, two books in process, and 148 books read. Not bad.

My favorites? In fiction, I fell in love with Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora. I eagerly read the next two in the series, and though both were terrific and I can’t wait for the rest, they didn’t quite do it for me like the first one.

In non-fiction, I was blown away by Salman Rushdie’s memoir:Joseph Anton. I’m a huge fan of Rushdie’s to begin with, and usually find his novels to be life-changing experiences. Joseph Anton was no different.

Honorable mentions:

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