January reading update

You guys are probably way ahead of me on these, but I thought I’d mention a couple of books that I’ve enjoyed recently. Both recommended.

First off is one I delayed reading while I was working on Wild Card because it covered sort of the same (but different) urban fantasy types, and that messes with my head. The book is

Arcane Solutions by Gayla Drummond  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0071R8F02/

And features a gal with the great name of Discord Jones 🙂 , who is a PI working in a supernatural detective agency… Whoa! Anita Blake? No. Not a necromancer, not a sex magnet. Having said that, there are some similarities in the setup, and if you enjoyed the early Anita Blake, you’ll love Discord.

The book has plot twisting fun—there are two main threads—find the missing teenager who appears to have been kidnapped by vampires and also retrieve a stolen grimoire for the elf who’s too sexy for his own good. Of course, nothing is quite what it seems. There’s a romantic sub-plot (not with the elf) which stays very much in the background, and made me feel uncomfortable for the love interest (whatever that says about me).

Cue the other denizens – witches, demons, shifters and some very engaging familiars. The world building is good, and I think some information is being held back for later in the series.

Dialogue is snappy and there’s a good serving of humor in some of the situations Discord gets herself into. Drummond sells the protagonist’s jeopardies on the basis of Discord’s inexperience rather than the stupidity you find in some UF, and the hint of over-powerful characters at the start is countered neatly.

One of the sub-plots ended rather quietly, and I thought was a good candidate for being left up in the air as a hook for the next book, where it could have been used to ratchet up the tension, but I’m being picky.

On a parting note…*great* cover.

The second book is a collection of short stories, not something I go for much these days, but I got it for one particular story called The Skin Trade. The book is

Dreamsongs (Volume 2): A RRetrospective: Book Two by George RR Martin http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002U3CBKM/

Yeah him. GoT himself, as they say ever since the Starks and Lannisters first rolled across our screens.

As I say, I got it for one story, so let me start by covering the rest of the book.

A couple of okay SF stories about an intergalactic ecologist, ‘Tuf’. They worked in short story form, but I didn’t fully engage with the hero. Then a couple of TV screen plays. Got potential, but reading screen plays is like watching a book. Followed by a story from his Wild Card series (where did he get that name?) which is a smash up of dystopian / American 50s nostalgia / cartoon superheroes and leaves me stone cold. Then Fortress, which is a good SF story (and for me, it has to be very well written to deal with time travel and alternate universes).

Then The Skin Trade.

This is a novella that won the World Fantasy Award, and it shows. It’s urban fantasy. Smart female PI, 3 dimensional characters, werewolves, gothic American history, gritty detective noir, shock, blood, horror. Motherlode. I’m not even going to tell you any more. Get the book just for this novella. (I should in fairness point out that, being a short story, The Skin Trade does that short story thing of reaching a conclusion without reaching a conclusion, if you know what I mean).

Oh, also included another SF story about chess which was excellent. And The Hedge Knight – a very good prequel short story set in the Game of Thrones word.

Go on. Get them both. Sorted for the week. 🙂

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About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first book, 'Sleight of Hand' is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/Sa0D3n

3 responses to “January reading update”

  1. soireadthisbooktoday says :

    Thanks, Mark! I have added “Arcane Solutions” to my must read list. Of course, seeing as how the list is six pages long. . . LOL!!!
    Hope things are going well with you!!!

    Leiah

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Yes, reading lists are unmanageable at the moment! I picked up ‘Nothing is Negotiable’ on your recommendation and the Amazon sample.
      This week’s writing had been disrupted, but I will get back to normal soon. I have promised a long teaser of Bian’s Tale before the month end and that gives me something to focus on.
      The difficulty has been stepping from Bian’s 9 year old voice (as in the previous teaser) to her 12 year old voice. At 12, she is learning to be a young lady in a French colony while trying not to let go of her previous life, and…find her family, hide her true identity from Bo Hoang (leader of the Saigon criminal gangs) etc. etc. Great fun. 🙂

      • soireadthisbooktoday says :

        You are really busy! I am looking forward to the teaser, you have made my day. I hope you like NIN, I really did. And the Author is a really nice guy, which makes it even more fun to help him out. It is nasty cold here, lots of snow (which is beautiful but makes the roads miserable) but the cold is bone deep. Other than that? Not much! Hope all your writing is going well – and remember, if you need me, I am always here for you!

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