Miles Errant – Lois McMaster Bujold

3f2e94c1de3a4a0593865705451434f414f4141This omnibus consists of the short story “The Borders of Infinity”, and the books Brothers in Arms (which I’d previously read) and Mirror Dance. All the stories deal with Miles Vorkosigan’s alter ego Admiral Miles Naismith, commander of the Dendarii mercenaries. More importantly, the two books deal with his clone brother, Mark.

In Brothers in Arms, Miles deals with having a clone with a great deal of equanimity, welcoming him as a brother – which makes sense when you remember his mother is a Betan, and has very liberal views about such things. At the end of that book, Mark escapes, but Miles wants to find him, and convince him that he really does consider him family.

Mirror Dance is Mark’s story of how that happens, mostly because Miles is dead for most of the book. (Which makes sense with the level of technology in this universe.) Mark has a pretty complicated (one might even say horrific) journey to even accept that he might want to be Lord Mark Vorkosigan. It’s an amazing story – absolutely typical of why I love these books. Bujold really makes you think about a lot of things in the course of these stories.

Defying Mars – Cidney Swanson

1939543010-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_This is technically the second book in this series, but I’m starting to get the feeling the author pulled apart one (maybe two – the series is young) books to make more parts.

In the last book, Jess and her brother were among the crew of a Mars ship sent to Earth to get the food they need to survive. Officially, there’s no one on Mars – they’ve been considered dead by Earth for years, but there have black market support back on Earth. Their mission went terribly wrong, and only Jess and the mechanic make it back to Mars. In this book, Jess pretty much steals the ship almost as soon as they get back, and returns to Earth. That’s it.

Yes, there’s a some action on Earth where her brother Ethan is getting used to his new body (long backstory), and other things happens (with characters you won’t understand unless you’ve read book one). That’s why this seems very incomplete to me – the whole book is a transition act. I can’t even say it’s good or bad- it just is.

Clean Sweep – Ilona Andrews

372e3dfc12eab8d597355586941434f414f4141Well here’s an interesting idea – vampires and werewolves as aliens, and only some people on Earth know that they exist. Earth is neutral, so there are a number of Inns here, and their Innkeepers have incredible powers as long as they’re in the Inn.

Dina has been given an Inn that was abandoned, so she’s in the process of establishing her bond, and rebuilding the Inn’s reputation. She only has one permanent guest (and there are a lots of other aliens than just werewolves and vampires.)

When Sean Evans arrives in town, several of the neighborhood dogs are killed, and Dina immediately suspects him, because he’s a werewolf, and though it’s rather impolite, that could have been him establishing his territory. Naturally, this gets them off on a very bad foot, but they do quickly establish that it’s not Sean, but something else rather nasty is in the neighborhood.

Naturally, the vampires end up being involved. (While the werewolves were genetically engineered to fight in a war on their home planet, the vampires are members of a religiously based empire). They end up with Arland, a rather attractive vampire Marshall, at the inn, tending to this dying uncle, who tried to take out the assassin that’s ended up in the neighborhood.

This is a really interesting set up – the universe has a lot of potential. There’s definitely a possible love interest (or two), which is par for the course of this kind of book, but also doesn’t seem like it’ll be so distracting as others in the genre can be. There are mysteries to solve (Dina’s parents are missing), and I definitely am looking forward to seeing what happens next.

 

The Nonesuch – Georgette Heyer

b441b20a63fbb28596e564a6c51434f414f4141I must first note that the back cover blurb on the modern edition of this book is terrible – it gives away the climax of the book, and doesn’t really give you a flavor of what came before it.

Here, we have Sir Waldo Hawkridge, lately having inherited a Yorkshire estate from an eccentric cousin. Sir Waldo is known as the Nonesuch, one of the most eligible bachelors in the Ton. With his younger cousin, Lord Lindeth, he rides to Yorkshire to investigate the new estate.

There, Lord Lindeth is enamored of Tiffany Wield, the local heiress, who is also quite possibly the most spoiled girl on earth. Tiffany has a companion, Ancilla Trent, a gently reared lady just about ready to be officially over the line into spinsterhood, who’s really there to try and control Tiffany’s wilder outbursts. Sir Waldo is enamored of her.

It’s no great mystery where this story is headed. And it’s fine, except Tiffany is so over the top spoiled, I kept getting pulled out of the story. No gently bred young lady of that time period could have gotten away with that behavior for so long. It’s a little too anachronistic for my tastes.

The Medieval Underworld – Andrew McCall

22dded172de0c8c59354f585277434f414f4141I honestly don’t remember what added this book to my reading pile – it’s a scholarly work. It’s also very readable, and has some great information.

Sadly, I was a little disappointed, because most of the crime in this book was against the church, and I guess I was expecting something a little more interesting than various forms of heresy. Which is to say, I am a child of the twentieth century, and far enough out of school that I just wasn’t in the right mood to appreciate this book on its scholarly merits.

The Secrets of Wildflowers – Jack Sanders

26353c2debdb73659724e576f67434f414f4141I picked this book up at the Kancamagus Trail visitor’s center at the start of our Northern New England/Montreal trip. Originally published in 2003, it’s pretty much what I’ve been doing with my wildflower blog – write ups of various flowers he’s run into, but with less pictures than I would have gone with.

He has gone with a heck of a lot more text, which is interesting reading – lots of historical detail, details of relatives, and how you might be able to bring plants into your garden (assuming they make a good fit). It’s a nice addition to my wildflower reference collection.

The Pilgrim of Hate – Ellis Peters

95e514747efe615597061796a67434f414f4141Here’s a Brother Cadfael book where the murder doesn’t occur in Shrewsbury (which is probably a good thing – all those murders in one town can’t be that good for civic moral).

At the same time as the festival of the Translation of Saint Winifred to the monastery, while pilgrims are arriving, the Abbot is returning from London, where a shocking murder of a partisan of the Empress Maud has shaken both sides of the Civil War. It’s only known that the killer was a young man, and that he may have headed in the general direction of the Shrewbury.

Naturally, he does come through Shrewsbury, and Brother Cadfael helps solve the crime, but this is a also a story about Brother Cadfael. The first book of this series was when the monks went to Wales to fetch Saint Winifred, and it was Brother Cadfael who ended up leaving her in Wales, substituting another body into the casket they transported. He believes she approved of this choice, and is still watching over them, but he would like some sort of sign that he did the right thing. And into this story returns his son, who he met several books ago, and does not know that Cadfael is his father. He is able to see Olivier again, and even tell his friend Hugh that he does have a son, even though he never intends to tell Olivier. And thus ends this book – feeling very much a transitional story, but still very enjoyable.