Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Brief thoughts on - Cold Fire

Cold Fire, by Kate Elliot

Cold Fire is the sequel to Cold Magic (which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago). I have to say that I agree completely with Kristen at Fantasy Cafe: I really liked Cold Magic, but I LOVED Cold Fire. It has all the great things about the first book, with a lot more story and character. I really felt like I got to know Cat and Bee and Vai (and even James Drake, that b*^&#$!). I like that the characters make mistakes and bad decisions at times, and that life throws them curveballs. Sometimes people and situations aren't what they seem, and sometimes they are EXACTLY as bad or good as your gut told you.

I guess this isn't so much a review as a statement of you-should-go-read-this-now-because-it's-awesome! If you want to read more coherent and in-depth reviews check out Fantasy Cafe or the ladies over at Book Smugglers.

Bottom line: I'll probably now read anything Kate Elliot writes!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A little light reading

These days it seems my reading happens in short bits of time. I'm either finding myself too busy for a large chunk of reading, or I just get distracted with odds and ends: cleaning the kitchen, laundry, dusting, playing on the internet...you know. So I found myself in the mood for books that you can get into and enjoy even when you don't have hours at a time to read them. Two authors that I've found who are perfect for this type of mood are romance novelists Kristan Higgins and Julie James. They are definitely two different styles of romance, but both authors have a very readable, breezy writing style that pulls you in. The characters are well-drawn and likeable, and the romances are sizzling. Higgins' books tend toward funny, small-town, boy-next-door kinds of story-lines. James writes sophisticated, big-city heroines who are smart, savvy and sarcastic (and the men who match).

So if you find yourself in the mood for contemporary romance, pick up a book by Kristin Higgins or Julie James.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review - Cold Magic

Cold Magic, by Kate Elliott

Cold Magic is the first in a fantasy trilogy set in a alternate-history version of Europe sometime similar to the beginning of the industrial revolution. Science and magic are beginning to butt heads, as are the ruling class and the the people who want freedom from both the politically powerful princes and the magically powerful mages. Cat Barahal and her cousin Bee are part of a poor, but in some ways influential and valuable family of information brokers. They spend their days attending University and learning to take their place in the family business. Until one day powerful mages come to claim Cat as part of an old agreement, and Cat finds herself in the middle of political intrigue. She also discovers that nearly everything she knew about herself, her family, her history and the world aren't what she thought; that the truth's she thought she knew are actually pretty far from reality.

I really loved this book. First off, alternate histories are fascinating to me; I've always loved the "what-if" game. And it makes the world familiar, yet exotic at the same time. Elliott really did a great job of setting up this alternate world, giving it depth and color. I also loved the characters. Cat was tough and strong, but believably so. The supporting cast of characters were also interesting and diverse. And I felt like everyone was going somewhere. The plot was intriguing and well-paced. There were several facets of it as well -- the politics, Cat's discovery of magic, her journey with the mages, her relationship with her family -- but it never got too confusing or muddled. Although I will admit I did get a little lost in the political history and background, but that's more me than a fault of the book, I think. And I think the set-up was an important part of this being the first of a trilogy.

Bottom line: I can't wait to read more! The perfect book for readers who like their fantasy with a side of adventure, a little bit of history and a dash of romance.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's a New Year

Looking back on my previous year of blogging is an exercise in humility. I started off this blog with the best of intentions: I had a schedule, wherein I could easily post once a week. I signed up for a challenge, which I hoped would keep me motivated. But you know...life happens. New jobs, new responsibilities, new schedules, new priorities. I didn't complete my challenge, and I didn't meet my 2011 blogging goals. But you know what -- who succeeds the first time? It is what it is, and the important thing is to move forward and set more goals. Evaluate and adjust. So for 2012, I'm sticking with an old goal and adding a new one:

1. Post once a week. A thought on books or libraries or writing....or just a thought.

2. Finish my novel by Dec. 31. It's scary to me to say this one out loud. That's a lot of pressure. But it's pressure I need. I've even promised a few friends that on January 1 they need to put their hands out with the expectation of receiving a fully completed draft of said book.

I hope your 2012 is a year full of adventure and laughter and good stories.