REVIEW: Hotblood! vol. 1 & 2 by Toril Orlesky

REVIEW: Hotblood! vol. 1 & 2 by Toril OrleskyHotblood!: A Centaur in the Old West (Hotblood! #1-2) by Toril Orlesky and Toril Orlesky (Illustrator)
Pub: Self-Published (2014), eBook, 185pg
Filed under: Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, GLBTQ, Historical Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Source: Freebie
| Shelve it: Goodreads

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"Hotblood!" follows the adventures of James Evander Leicester Rook (a total washout Civil War vet who happens to be a centaur), Asa Langley (America’s most irreverent steel industry icon and Rook’s employer), and a great deal of money. The year is 1871.

I think I found this series through Tumblr? Maybe? It’s a historical fantasy crime Western with centaurs, and it’s available free online. All things I enjoy! I ended up accidentally reading the equivalent of two volumes (plus a bit more) over the course of one evening.

The art is so lovely. The limited color palette makes it kinda dreamy-looking, in a stark kind of way It’s a nice mix, and the pages are very pretty to look at. And then…

Currently reading: Enchantress from the Stars

March is not going so well for me, outside of my fun new job. Last week I had the flu, which meant all I wanted to do was stay in bed and star at Netflix for hours on end. And then this week I pulled something really badly in my neck which meant more laying around watching Netflix. I had about one afternoon of perfect health in the last two weeks which is when I wrote these two reviews. Bleh.

Anyway, I’m kinda feeling better now! My cough is almost all gone and my strained neck-whatever isn’t as painful as it was on Monday, so that means back to blogging! Huzzah!

My new school library is a treasure trove of old children’s books– I keep finding loads of books I’d read when I was a kid, plus even older ones just hanging out between copies of newer books. I’ve been having a great time digging through the collection to see what’s there,1 and I found a bunch of (newly released) copies of Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl. enchantress from the stars

I’d never heard of it, but there’s like six copies of it (in that weird paperback size2) which, in my library, means it’s a pretty important book. Turns out it’s a Newbery Honor book from 1971! I snagged a copy and took it home for the weekend.

It’s about aliens and anthropologists and part of it sounds like a fairy tale and it’s very exciting so far. I’m thinking it’s kind of a scifi-fantasy mix? Maybe? Here’s the summary:

Elana, a member of an interstellar civilization on a mission to a medieval planet, becomes the key to a dangerous plan to turn back an invasion. How can she help the Andrecians, who still believe in magic and superstition, without revealing her own alien powers? At the same time, Georyn, the son of an Andrecian woodcutter, knows only that there is a dragon in the enchanted forest, and he must defeat it. He sees Elana as the Enchantress from the Stars who has come to test him, to prove he is worthy. One of the few science fiction books to win a Newbery Honor, this novel will enthrall teenage and adult readers.

What are you reading this weekend?

REVIEW: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

REVIEW: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette KowalShades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Pub: Tor Books (2010), eBook, 304pg
Filed under: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Romance
Source: Bought
Buy it: Amazon (affiliate info) | Shelve it: Goodreads

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Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a version of Regency England where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right–and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

I’m pretty sure I added this to my wishlist years ago because of Fyrefly‘s review way back in 2011, which is suffeciently long ago that all I remembered about it was that it a) is a historical fantasy, b) has Jane Austen-ish elements, and c) the Doctor shows up as a character in every book.

All good things! So when I saw Shades of Milk and Honey go on sale earlier last month, I bought it and ended up reading it almost immediately. And then…

REVIEW: Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer

REVIEW: Bloody Jack by L.A. MeyerBloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack #1) by L.A. Meyer
Pub: HMH Books for Young Readers (2002), eBook, 320pg
Filed under: Action, Adventure, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
Source: Scribd
Buy it: Amazon (affiliate info) | Shelve it: Goodreads

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Life as a ship's boy aboard HMS Dolphin is a dream come true for Jacky Faber. Gone are the days of scavenging for food and fighting for survival on the streets of eighteenth-century London. Instead, Jacky is becoming a skilled and respected sailor as the crew pursues pirates on the high seas.

There's only one problem: Jacky is a girl. And she will have to use every bit of her spirit, wit, and courage to keep the crew from discovering her secret. This could be the adventure of her life--if only she doesn't get caught. . . .

Bloody Jack has been on my to-read list for years and years; it’s an adventure novel set in a historic time period with a female protagonist who runs away to have adventures. Exciting!

I went in thinking it’d be something like my ultimate favorite “adventure novel set in a historic time period with a female protagonist who runs away to have adventures” book, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Bloody Jack has the same sort of trappings as Charlotte (setting, learning how to be on a ship, building friendships, etc.) BUT it’s actually way darker and deals with more emotional complications than just “the captain is crazy.” And then…

REVIEW: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

REVIEW: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet MarillierDaughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1) by Juliet Marillier
Pub: Tor Books (1999), eBook, 455pg
Filed under: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fantasy
Source: Scribd
Buy it: Amazon (affiliate info) | Shelve it: Goodreads

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Lord Colum of Sevenwaters is blessed with six sons: Liam, a natural leader; Diarmid, with his passion for adventure; twins Cormack and Conor, each with a different calling; rebellious Finbar, grown old before his time by his gift of the Sight; and the young, compassionate Padriac.

But it is Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter, who alone is destined to defend her family and protect her land from the Britons and the clan known as Northwoods. For her father has been bewitched, and her brothers bound by a spell that only Sorcha can lift.

To reclaim the lives of her brothers, Sorcha leaves the only safe place she has ever known, and embarks on a journey filled with pain, loss, and terror.

When she is kidnapped by enemy forces and taken to a foreign land, it seems that there will be no way for her to break the spell that condemns all that she loves. But magic knows no boundaries, and Sorcha will have to choose between the life she has always known and a love that comes only once.

This was the second book for the #SFFWomen book club! I picked it partly because I love fairy tale retellings and partly because of a book friend’s review which said I wouldn’t be able to put it down once I started it.

She was totally right! I ended up reading Daughter of the Forest in one day, staying up way too late to finish it. I had so much emotional investment in Sorcha’s story that the there was no way I COULDN’T read it all in one day– I had to see if everything turned out okay. And then…

Currently reading: Sheepfarmer’s Daughter

The first week of my new job is at a close and, y’all, my new library is completely adorable and the school is great and I really like it! I’m completely exhausted and there’s a lot of work to do in the next few months (inventory!), but I’m super excited to be starting this new chapter in my life.

My commute is about half the length it was for my previous job. YAY! But I now I don’t have a single long stretch of time on one bus, which means it’s tricky picking up a paper book/my Kindle. I might miss my stop!

However! This means I can finally take advantage of all those audiobooks I’ve been stockpiling over the past year. Sheepfarmer's daughter

For my first audiobook, I picked Sheepfarmer’s Daughter by Elizabeth Moon, an adventure/fantasy novel with a female soldier. I’m very much enjoying it, though it took me a while to get used to the narrator’s reading style. She pauses in weird places, like: “Did you put…it in the breadbox?”

The plot, for a book about soldiers, is also kinda slow. But I’m about halfway through now and it seems to be picking up– there’s been a betrayl or something by a villain called Honey Cat, if you can believe it.

I’m also almost done with an ebook, which I’ve been reading at home between marathoning episodes of the Dick Van Dyke Show. Threshold by Jordan L. Hawk is the second book in the Whyborne & Griffin series, the first of which I’d reviewed earlier this year. It’s super fun, with Lovecraftian insect monsters bothering a mining town. And like the first book, it’s plagued by unfortunate word choices during the sex scenes. So awkward.

What are you reading this weekend?