TBR pile

I am slowly starting to master my To Be Read pile. And will be doing more reviews as a result. Yes, most of those books will have been out for a year or so, but better late than never. And as I am not well known enough to start getting ARCs, I can only review the books I purchase myself.

See? This is what happens when you get busy with other things IRL and neglect your blog. Bad Kat! Do better!

Books I have read recently that I cannot say enough good things about:

I will try and get reviews out about them, but I hope the ‘good recommendation’ will hold you for now.

Review: The Protector’s War, S.M. Stirling

Review
S.M. Stirling is one of the the best writers of alternate history fantasy out there. I also greatly enjoy Andre Norton and Rosemary Edghill’s Carolus Rex series, as is Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire series. I admit to some occasional confusion about what alternate history is versus what urban fantasy is (and don’t even get me started on paranormal romance). After all, urban fantasy does re-write history to some extent; making it include vampires, shapeshifters and zombies. I guess my definition is that if it is something that happens in the past (even if just 1998, as in this series case) that makes things spin off in a different tangent, well that is alternate history. If it is vampires, fairies and other supernatural beings doing stuff in modern, mostly-urban settings then it is urban fantasy. Just don’t ask me what happens in situations where in the past, vampires, fairies and other supernatural beings come out and make things spin off in a different tangent… that is just too confusing (though I’ll read those books, don’t get me wrong. Will just avoid classifying them).

Still, this trilogy is a great example of what a truly gifted writer can do: take the current world, change one thing and create a new world that is as believable as the one we currently live in (is this one real or is it just aliens playing marbles… you decide). Stirling provides us with descriptions of a land gone wild, complete with ruined cities and towns so convincingly crafted we can almost see them. He does dip into the usual writer’s foible of having the good guys be just so darn good, but his descriptions of land, man and beast are so authentic you can almost smell the woodsmoke and see all of those kilts flapping.

Despite its title, this is more of a set-up to the war between the Bearkillers/Mackenzies and the Portland Protective Association, than the actual war. It is like watching the chess pieces being moved about the board; setting up for the final moves. Sorry, I don’t play chess so will have to leave that analogy at that.

If you don’t have this trilogy (Dies the Fire, The Protector’s War and Meeting at Corvallis), I suggest you get them as soon as possible. They are intricately woven tales about how the world could be, and maybe even will be.

Rating
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Man, I am just rolling through books…

Already started on my 8th of the year and I still haven’t touched the stack of new books I bought while in the States pre-Christmas (read a bunch of them while I was there, but still have lots to go through).

5) The Sunrise Lands, S.M. Stirling. Well, duh! Kind of hinted that in my last post on this subject. Enjoyed it… but really wanted it not to be the start of another trilogy. Love trilogies and all… but only once I have all the books in hand and can read them all right away. Patience? Moi? NON! So now I am waiting for the next one…

6) Falling Woman, Pat Murphy. Must have picked this one up at a garage sale or something because it was written back in 1983; you can really tell that in some of the phrasing, things talked about and the fact that everyone is smoking up a storm, LOL. I didn’t think it was quite the ‘psychological thriller’ that the cover promised it to be, but it was an interesting read.

7) The Dog is Not a Toy, Darby Conley. Hey, a cartoon book still qualifies as a book in my mind! I love Get Fuzzy… Bucky is so evil and Satchel is so trusting… yet so often disappointed (with comedic results).

More reading

Here are two more:

3) The Protector’s War, S.M. Stirling – I had read this one a while back, but wanted to re-read the series as I say that a new book was out. Unfortunately the library sent me this one (2 in the series), the next one and then the new book… while the original book (Dies the Fire) has yet to arrive. And I have no patience, lol. Fortunately I remembered things well enough to pick this one up and run with it.

S.M. Stirling is one of the the best writers of alternate history fantasy out there. Andre Norton and Rosemary Edghill’s Carolus Rex series is also one of my faves, as is Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire (isn’t that a hot sauce? LOL) series. I am not really sure if folks like Charles de Lint or Laurell Hamilton would fit in a ‘alternate history’ classification; I think of them as ‘urban fantasy’. Really, the lines between those two classifications are very bleary. So I guess my definition is that if it is something that happens in the past (even if just 2000, as in this series case) that makes things spin off in a different tangent, well that is alternate history. If it is vampires, fairies and other supernatural beings doing stuff in modern, mostly-urban settings then it is urban fantasy. Just don’t ask me what happens in situations where in the past, vampires, fairies and other supernatural beings come out and make things spin off in a different tangent… haven’t figured out a classification for that yet, LOL.

Still, this trilogy is a great example of what a truly gifted writer can do: take the current world, change one thing and create a new world that is as believable as the one we currently live in (is this one real or is it just aliens playing marbles… you decide). Other than the whole ‘all the good guys are always so darn good’ thing (which every writer does to some extent), reading this I can almost smell the woodsmoke, and see see all those kilts flapping…

Despite its title this is more of a set-up to the war between the Bearkillers/Mackenzies and the Portland Protective Association, than the actual war. It is like watching the chess pieces being moved about the board; setting up for the final moves. Sorry, I don’t play chess so will have to leave that analogy at that…

4) Meeting at Corvallis, S.M. Stirling. Yep, you guessed it… the final book of the trilogy. Where the war that was foretold finally gets to happen. And once again, Stirling does a wonderful job of creating characters that catch your attention. Here, for example, creates a character that you just can’t wait to get killed… and turns said person into someone you not only feel for, you add to your list of ‘good guys’. Or at least I did… if you are reading those books I leave it to you to figure out who I mean.

When the final clash comes it comes in a way that, honestly, I sort of expected considering the characters involved. But that does nothing to detract from the tension of the story. Excellent work!

Okay, off the read The Sunrise Lands (another in this series… new!) now…