A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

a-curious-beginning-by-deanna-raybournA Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell Mystery #1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: England, 1887
Published by NAL/Penguin, 2015
e-ARC (Release Date: Sep 1, 2015)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
352 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

Cheers

  • If you like historical mysteries set in the Victorian time period and maybe some romance for future books I think you’ll like this book.
  • I love the cover! Beautiful.
  • Veronica is a wonderful character. She’s outspoken and straightforward as well as intelligent. She reminds me a little of some of Amanda Quick’s heroines.
  • Veronica explains her name–Veronica Speedwell (both are names for the same plant) as her Aunt Lucy loved gardening!
  • Stoker is also a good character. He’s steadfast, honest and loyal, but also bad-tempered, gruff and sarcastic at times. However, Veronica has no problem holding her own.
  • After they learn the Baron was murdered they leave London. Stoker is sure the Baron was murdered because of Veronica or even by Veronica. But Stoker promised the Baron to keep her safe.
  • I love Professor Pygopagus’ Traveling Curiosity Show. Very quirky characters! Supposedly they’re Stoker’s friends, but with friends like these you don’t need enemies! It’s a very unique setting.
  • I like that Veronica is a butterfly enthusiast. And Stoker is a naturalist. They have both been on expeditions. Unfortunately, Stoker hasn’t been very successful.
  • To a certain extent this is a buddy book where Veronica and Stoker spend quite a bit of time traveling to try to get away from whoever might be following them.
  • Some of the book was obvious to me even if it wasn’t obvious to Veronica! However, I was quite surprised at the end.
  • The first mystery is more a personal mystery. Who is Veronica? Why are people after her? Who killed the Baron and why? I’m interested to know what mysteries future books have for Veronica.

Jeers

  • As smart as Veronica is I thought she would be more curious about who she is and why people are following her.
  • Veronica carries a flask of a South American liquor, but it seems to last until near the end of the book. That distracted me!

And a few thoughts . . .

  •  I read several of the Lady Julia Grey books and loved them. I’m excited to read more in this new series.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio where she met her college sweetheart. She married him on her graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. Deanna’s debut novel, Silent in the Grave, published in January 2007 featuring Lady Julia Grey.
  • Since that first book she wrote several more about Lady Julia Grey as well as other books and series. A Curious Beginning is the first in the Veronica Speedwell series and this book also takes place in Victorian England.

Reading Challenges

Sunday Post: Aug 30

rp_sundaypostmeme13.jpgThe Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

I like this meme because it gives me an opportunity to take a look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also like to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading. This is a great meme to take part in every week and I thank Kimba for hosting it!

Last Week

Home & blog

September begins! This is one of my favorite times of the year. Even though my children are grown and aren’t in school anymore I still have the excitement of this time of year. School is starting, the weather is getting cooler. It’s a time to work on new projects.

I’ve started thinking about changes I want to make on my I’m trying to decide what I want to do and trying to learn more about some of the background aspects of the blog–SEO, Google analytics and security settings so I can use and understand my blog better. I also want to make some design changes as well as creating a better blog identity. I enjoy tinkering though I’m not so good at some of the technical aspects.

Blog posts

Books

What I’m reading

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley (audiobook)

Tilt-A-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein (audiobook)

What I read last week

A Murder of Mages by Marshall Ryan Maresca

New–Books, E-books, NetGalley, Audiobooks–purchased or free or from library

NetGalley

The Bloodforged by Erin Lindsey

Library books

None

E-books

Sideswiped by Kim Harrison (short story)

Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz

Audiobooks

Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

Next Week

Home & blog

A dear friend is coming to visit! We haven’t seen her for several years so we’re planning for lots of conversation and fun times. She’s staying for a week so we’re happy about that. I’m trying to make sure I have my posts all ready for next week and the week after.

COYER Scavenger Hut is finishing up so I’m trying to get all the books I’ve read reviewed.

Blog Posts

  • A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • September books on my radar . . .
  • Review: The Last Colony by John Scalzi
  • Sunday Post

What did you do last week? What books did you collect? What are you planning?

Stories of the Raksura, Vol 1 by Martha Wells

stories-of-the-raksura-by-martha-wellsStories of the Raksura, Vol 1
by Martha Wells
Series: The Books of the Raksura #1
Genre: Fantasy
Setting: The Three Worlds
Published by Night Shade Books, 2014
E-book, purchased
206 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: In The Falling World, Jade, ruler of the Indigo Cloud Court, has travelled with Chime and Balm to another Raksuran court. When she fails to return, her consort Moon, along with Stone and a party of warriors and hunters, must track them down. Finding them turns out to be the easy part; freeing them from an ancient trap hidden in the depths of the Reaches is much more difficult.

The Tale of Indigo and Cloud explores the history of the Indigo Cloud Court, long before Moon came to Court. In the distant past, Indigo stole Cloud from Emerald Twilight. But in doing so, the reigning Queen Cerise and Indigo are now poised for a conflict that could ruin everything.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted, and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With two brand-new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of Raksura has many more stories to tell…

“The Falling World”

Stone hissed in more than his usual level of annoyance. “You’re good at feeling sorry for yourself, but I don’t want to hear it just now.”

Moon snarled and pushed to his feet. Stone caught his arm and yanked him back.

  • As soon as I opened this book I was happy I was back in the world of the Raksura. It’s so much fun to read about Moon, Jade, Stone and all the others from the three books.
  • In this novella, Jade and Moon are separated for much of the story. The story is told from Moon’s point of view and once the Indigo Cloud Court realizes Jade and her entourage are missing Moon is determined to find them.
  • I like Moon’s determination and interactions with the other Raksura especially Stone. Stone is the line grandfather of the Indigo Cloud Court and the Raksura who found Moon.

“The Tale of Indigo and Cloud”

Raksuran life was all about living without killing each other.

  • So happy to read the story. The three books (The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea and The Siren Depths) all have given hints about Indigo and Cloud (who started a new Court when they led Raksura to a new home).
  • The Raksura have lots of rules for interacting with other Courts, but Indigo turns that on its head when she steals Cloud from another court.
  • However, it’s not as simple as that. Whether or not it’s a simple abduction or not this could mean war between the Courts.
  • Some of this story is about Cerise (Indigo’s birthqueen). She must try to figure a diplomatic way out of the problem Indigo has caused. I like the cunning and intelligence she shows.
  • Indigo is also very strong and intelligent. She realizes what she wants and goes after it.
  • Cloud isn’t the usual shrinking violet that consorts are.
  • My favorite part: Stone is a child during the story!

The book also has a short story, a prequel and appendices:

“The Forest Boy”

  • Moon as a boy wandering the Three Worlds after he is orphaned. Shows that he never was able to fit in anywhere.

A Prequel to The Cloud Roads

  • The story of Chime’s change from mentor to warrior.

Appendices.

  • Appendix I provides names and information about the members of the different Courts.
  • Appendix II tells about the two breeds of Raksura and the castes in each group.
  • Appendix III explains about the Fell (who are mentioned very little in these stories, but are very important in the three novels).

And a few thoughts . . .

  •  I really enjoyed these stories. So much fun to read the two novellas. My favorite is “The Tale of Indigo and Cloud.”

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Martha Wells is the author of over a dozen science fiction and fantasy novels, including the Books of the Raksura series, Star Wars: Razor’s Edge, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer, as well as short stories, nonfiction, and YA fantasy. Her books have been published in seven languages.
  • Her first novel, The Element of Fire, was published by Tor in hardcover in July 1993 and was a finalist for the 1993 Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Award and a runner-up for the 1994 Crawford Award. The French edition, Le feu primordial, was a 2003 Imaginales Award nominee.

Reading Challenges

Dark Ascension by M. L. Brennan

dark-ascension-by-ML-BrennanDark Ascension
by M.L. Brennan
Series: Generation V #4
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Setting: New England–mainly Rhode Island
Published by Roc, 2015
E-book, purchased
308 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: After a lifetime of avoiding his family, Fort has discovered that working for them isn’t half bad—even if his mother, Madeline, is a terrifying, murderous vampire. His new found career has given him a purpose and a paycheck and has even helped him get his partner, foxy kitsune Suzume, to agree to be his girlfriend. All in all, things are looking up.

Only, just as Fort is getting comfortable managing a supernatural empire that stretches from New Jersey to Ontario, Madeline’s health starts failing, throwing Fort into the middle of an uncomfortable and dangerous battle for succession. His older sister, Prudence, is determined to take over the territory. But Fort isn’t the only one wary of her sociopathic tendencies, and allies, old and new, are turning to him to keep Prudence from gaining power.

Now, as Fort fights against his impending transition into vampire adulthood, he must also battle to keep Prudence from destroying their mother’s kingdom—before she takes him down with it….

“That’s different,” she noted. “That’s us being our own buddy cop movie, and it’s awesome. I mean, jeez, I got to punch a seal in the face. That was basically a lifetime achievement unlocked right there….”

and

I’d never exactly wanted a reputation–frankly, I’d spent most of my life just trying to fade into the background of almost every situation I was in–but I’d apparently, despite my best efforts, secured one for myself. Fortitude Scott–Holy Shit, We’re Glad You’re Not Your Sister.

Cheers

  • Has quickly become one of my favorite series! One of my most anticipated books this year.
  • The title Dark Ascension hints at the events which happen during this book. That, along with earlier books gives some ideas about what the book is about. I like that anticipation before I even start!
  • I started out savoring the first half of the book and then racing through the second half! Have I mentioned I love this series?
  • I love that Fort tries to stay true to his beliefs even through difficult times and as heads ever closer to vampire adulthood.
  • Fort has to make hard choices and in some cases there just aren’t any “good” choices.
  • I love Fort and Suzume. Great characters and I like how they’ve changed since the first book. Their interactions with each other and their care for each other are highlights in this book.
  • Suzume continues with her kitsune awesomeness!
  • Fort’s brother and sister–Chivalry and Prudence–are interesting characters. Each is a vampire, but they’ve chosen different paths to deal with that.
  • The way Fort’s mother tries to have Prudence, Chivalry and Fort work together is interesting, funny and irritating for the three of them.

Jeers

  • I’m not sure how Fort can realistically hold onto his ideals. But this whole series is about his growth into adulthood. So we’ll see how he handles that.
  • Is there a future for Suzume and Fort?

And a few thoughts . . .

  • So much happens and changes in this book. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
  • I didn’t see anything about when another book will come out in this series–I hope it’s in the next year.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • M. L. Brennan lives in Connecticut with her husband and three cats. Holding a master’s degree in fiction, she teaches basic composition to college students. After spending years writing and publishing short work in other genres, Brennan decided to branch out and write the kind of book that she loved to read, resulting in the Generation V novels (Tainted BloodIron Night, and Generation V).

Reading Challenges

Review: The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

the-ghost-brigadesThe Ghost Brigades
by John Scalzi
Series: Old Man’s War #2
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Published by Tor Books, 2007
E-book, purchased
356 pages
Grade: A
Synopsis: The Ghost Brigades are the Special Forces of the Colonial Defense Forces, elite troops created from the DNA of the dead and turned into the perfect soldiers for the CDF’s toughest operations. They’re young, they’re fast and strong, and they’re totally without normal human qualms.

For the universe is a dangerous place for humanity – and it’s about to become far more dangerous. Three races that humans have clashed with before have allied to halt our expansion into space. Their linchpin: the turncoat military scientist Charles Boutin, who knows the CDF’s biggest military secrets. To prevail, the CDF most find out why Boutin did what he did.

Jared Dirac is the only human who can provide answers – a superhuman hybrid, created from Boutin’s DNA, whose brain is uniquely able to access Boutin’s electronic memories. But when the memory transplant appears to fail, Jared is given over to the Ghost Brigades.

Jared begins as one of these perfect soldiers, but as memories begin to surface, he begins to intuit the reason’s for Boutin’s betrayal.

As Jared desperately hunts for his “father”, he must also come to grips with his own choices. Time is running out: the alliance is preparing its offensive, and some of them plan worse things than humanity’s mere military defeat.

Not for the first time, Cainen reflected that evolution didn’t do this particular species any great favors, physically speaking.

It just made them aggressive, dangerous and damned hard to scrape off a planet surface. A problem, that.

. . .

“Fucking humans,” he said.

and

…to the extent that Special Forces had any reputation at all beyond its military prowess, it was that its members were profoundly lacking in tact and patience. Being three-year-old killing machines didn’t leave much time for social graces.

Cheers

  • I like how this book starts out from an alien’s point of view.
  • Oh, I like this series! The world Scalzi has created is interesting, detailed and dangerous to humans.
  • Humans have made it off Earth and have colonized a number of planets, but they’ve had to fight for every scrap. The universe is full of other races and they don’t really like humans.
  • John Perry who was the protagonist in the first book isn’t in this book and I missed him, but Jane Sagan whom we met briefly in the first book is in this book as well as a great cast of other characters.
  • I really like the way Scalzi shows the human response to the threat humans face: Taking older humans off Earth to re-make them into young, green bodies to fight wars is inspired. And to create special forces from the DNA of the dead and then have them born adults who very quickly become fighting and killing machines even though they would be considered babies by the “Realborn” as the Ghost Brigades call the humans actually born as babies.
  • The way the Ghost Brigades–special forces–are created is very interesting. It’s interesting to read about their creation, training, thoughts and purpose.
  • The Ghost Brigades and other humans must figure out why one of their scientists faked his own death and now is helping the enemy. What made him turn into a traitor?
  • I like that they give the special forces the last names of famous scientists.
  • This book (especially the early part) explores what it means to be human. Reminds me of Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • This is science fiction which explores ideas, but is also very human and entertaining.

Jeers

  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I began reading John Scalzi’s books in 2014 and since then he has become one of my favorite authors.
  • I’ve already read the third book in the series and hope to read the fourth book soon!

Awards

  • Prometheus Award for Best Novel ( Nominee 2007)

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • (From Wikipedia): John Michael Scalzi II (born May 10, 1969) is an American science fiction author, online writer, and former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is best known for his Old Man’s War series, three novels of which have been nominated for the Hugo Award, and for his blog Whatever, at which he has written frequently on a number of topics since 1998. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2008 based predominantly on that blog, which he has also used for several prominent charity drives. His novel Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. He has written non-fiction books and columns on diverse topics such as finance, video games, films, astronomy, and writing, and served as a creative consultant for the TV series Stargate Universe.

Reading Challenges

WoW: The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas

I’m participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m Waiting-on-Wednesdaylooking forward to coming out in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

 

 

 

The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas

Series: The Elemental Trilogy #3

Publication Date: October 13, 2015

Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis (from Goodreads): In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort….

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

……………………………..

Why I want this book

  • I’ve read the first two books in this trilogy and loved them. Really want to know how it ends.
  • I don’t read a lot of young adult books, but this is one series I’ve really liked.
  • Awesome cover!

Syllabus: Sci-fi & Fantasy 101

toptentuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme I take part in when I can think up answers! It’s a great meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog. Every week they suggest a new book-related topic. It’s not only fun to think about my list, but to read what other people come up with!

This week we talk what class we would teach if we could and what our syllabus would be along with the books the class would read. I chose Sci-Fi & Fantasy 101 for an intro class into the genres.

Sci-Fi & Fantasy 101

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Science fiction and fantasy are two related genres with a number of sub-genres. Realistic world building is an important aspect of both science fiction and fantasy and there’s often overlap between the two genres.

Science fiction–speculative fiction dealing with “plausible” scientific ideas. Sub-genres include: military SF, space opera, cyberpunk, dystopian and post-apocalyptic, time travel.

Fantasy usually deals with magic and/or supernatural creatures and may take place in imaginary worlds. Some sub-genres: epic or high fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, steampunk, magic realism.

This class gives an overview of both genres. Some of these books are fantasy, some are science fiction. Some blend the two. We will read both old and new books as well as a number of sub-genres. I’ve included two short works since many of the early works were short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.

Important to remember: have fun reading these books, come to class ready for discussion and continue to read books in both genres.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold

Angelica by Sharon Shinn

The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal

“Nightfall” by Isaac Asimov (from The Complete Stories, Vol 2)

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

The Lord of the Ringby J.R.R. Tolkien

The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin

Two bonus books for extra credit–Young Adult 

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

What books would you add to this syllabus? What class did you write a syllabus for?

Sunday Post: Aug 23

rp_sundaypostmeme13.jpg

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

I like this meme because it gives me an opportunity to take a look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also like to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading. This is a great meme to take part in every week and I thank Kimba for hosting it!

Last Week

Home & blog

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I was tired all week so I didn’t do too many things other than resting and a little reading! It’s nice to be home and great to spend time with my husband and cats! My cats took a little time to show their displeasure that I was gone!

It was so good to spend time with my daughter Karen and her dog Bailey. Hard to believe I was in Iowa just a year ago to help with her new puppy. She sure has grown!

Blog posts

Books

What I’m reading

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley (audiobook)

Tilt-A-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein (audiobook)

What I read last week

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

New–Books, E-books, NetGalley, Audiobooks–purchased or free or from library

A Darker Shade final for Irene

NetGalley

None

Library books

None

E-books

None

Audiobooks

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab (free Audible book)

Next Week

Home & blog

It’s hard to believe August is almost over. Lots I want to do this week–we’ll see how well I do.

Blog Posts

  • Top Ten Tuesday
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • Review: The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
  • Review: Dark Ascension by M. L. Brennan
  • Sunday Post

What did you do last week? What books did you collect? What are you planning?

Review: The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca

the-thorn-of-dentonhillThe Thorn of Dentonhill
by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Series: Maradaine #1
Genre: Fantasy
Setting: Archduchy of Maradaine
Published by DAW, 2015
E-book, purchased
400 pages
Grade: B-
Synopsis: Veranix Calbert leads a double life. By day, he’s a struggling magic student at the University of Maradaine. At night, he spoils the drug trade of Willem Fenmere, crime boss of Dentonhill and murderer of Veranix’s father. He’s determined to shut Fenmere down.

With that goal in mind, Veranix disrupts the delivery of two magical artifacts meant for Fenmere’s clients, the mages of the Blue Hand Circle.  Using these power-filled objects in his fight, he quickly becomes a real thorn in Fenmere’s side.

So much so that soon not only Fenmere, but powerful mages, assassins, and street gangs all want a piece of “The Thorn.” And with professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might just fall apart. Unless, of course, Fenmere puts an end to it first.

Veranix took a bite. It was good. Not perfect–too much mustard, not enough pepper–but it was quite good. Almost how his mother would make it.

Almost, but not quite right at all.

Quietly, he kept eating, every bite delicious. Every bite wrong. Every bite driving home the inevitable point that had never crossed his mind before.

He would never eat his mother’s Chickin Thalin again.

Cheers

  • It took me a month to read this book. I had a hard time getting into it. But it did get better for me by the end.
  • This isn’t my favorite book of the year, but it does have a lot of strengths.
  • I don’t think it is the fault of this book so much as me. I could see where this book was going…that Veranix is going to have a confrontation with Fenmere. Fenmere is a scary bad guy. There’s not much that he won’t do. So I didn’t want him to get his hands on Veranix. Also as I say in the “Jeers” Veranix keeps going into danger without thinking it through.
  • I understand why Veranix is intent on putting Fenmere out of business…especially the drug running business.
  • There’s a lot of Robin Hood or Zorro in this book–Veranix gives any money he gets from the criminals to charity and tries to help people.
  • The world building is really good.  The world is complex and interesting and gives lots of opportunities for stories.

Jeers

  • Veranix Calbert annoyed me at times. He kept rushing into things without thinking them through–and that goes badly for him lots of times.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I have the second book set in this world. It’s not a sequel to this book. Instead A Murder of Mages is the first book in the Maradaine Constabulary series. I think I might like this book better since I didn’t really connect with Veranix.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Marshall Ryan Maresca is a fantasy and science-fiction writer, author of The Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages, both released by DAW Books in 2015.  He grew up in upstate New York and studied film and video production at Penn State. He now lives Austin with his wife and son. His work appeared in Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas. He also has had several short plays produced and has worked as a stage actor, a theatrical director and an amateur chef.

Reading Challenges

TBR Review: Tea with the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy

tea-with-the-black-dragonTea with the Black Dragon
by R.A. MacAvoy
Series: Black Dragon #1
Genre: Fantasy Mystery
Setting: San Francisco
Published by Open Road Media Sci-Fi and Fantasy, 2014 (originally published 1984)
E-book, purchased
162 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: Martha Macnamara knows that her daughter Elizabeth is in trouble, she just doesn’t know what kind. Mysterious phone calls from San Francisco at odd hours of the night are the only contact she has had with Elizabeth for years. Now, Elizabeth has sent her a plane ticket and reserved a room for her at San Francisco’s most luxurious hotel. Yet she has not tried to contact Martha since she arrived, leaving her lonely, confused and a little bit worried. Into the story steps Mayland Long, a distinguished-looking and wealthy Chinese man who lives at the hotel and is drawn to Martha’s good nature and ability to pinpoint the truth of a matter. Mayland and Martha become close in a short period of time and he promises to help her find Elizabeth, making small inroads in the mystery before Martha herself disappears. Now Mayland is struck by the realization, too late, that he is in love with Martha, and now he fears for her life. Determined to find her, he sets his prodigious philosopher’s mind to work on the problem, embarking on a potentially dangerous adventure.

She wished she had brought her fiddle. How invigorating to sit down next to the pretzel vendor and play a Bach passacaglia, or maybe a slip jig. Put out the hat. Liz would hate that! Liz behaved with propriety.

and

“Everyone wants to be a wizard. Every engineer, that is. Goes with unicorns and dragons: but with technical people it’s particularly wizards–a secret fantasy that lies behind all the pin diagrams. It’s really silly, don’t you know? Wizards! But engineers can be really naive about themselves; they think because they can design a pc board and it’s right and it works, that everything they do or believe is going to be just that right.”

Cheers

  • Martha comes to San Francisco to see her daughter after her daughter Elizabeth asks for help. Martha and Elizabeth aren’t close (Elizabeth doesn’t approve of her mother) so Martha wants to help her, see more of her, but her daughter has disappeared when she arrives in San Francisco.
  • Elizabeth (Liz) is an engineer, very intelligent and she wants to be a power player. So she gets in over her head.
  • This book contains quite a bit about computers which was fun to read about especially since the book was written so long ago (1984).
  • I like that the two main characters are older. Both Mayland and Martha are interesting and fun characters. (I kept calling Mayland “Maryland” in my head–since I live in Maryland that’s what my brain kept trying to tell me…lol)
  • Martha is a free spirit. She’s a happy person though in this book she’s worried about her daughter. She loves music and poetry and isn’t afraid to sleep on someone’s floor.
  • Mayland is something of a philosopher. He has spent years seeking “Truth.”
  • This book has some fantasy elements as well as mystery elements. To me it’s more mystery than fantasy, but it was classified as a fantasy. That is the genre the awards and nominations are from.
  • I like that I could read the book in a day since it’s quite short–Goodreads shows the page count anywhere from 128 to 166 pages. The book felt complete and didn’t need more words!
  • I like that Martha plays the violin. She trained classically, but stopped playing when she had a child. Now she plays a fiddle in an Irish-American band.
  • This is a nice, uncomplicated book. Even though there’s fantasy and mystery and action and Liz is missing, then Martha disappears it’s still mostly a book about Martha and Mayland meeting and falling in love. The computers, mystery, fantasy and action are all fun, but they’re there so the two main characters can get to know each other.

Jeers

  • I would like to know more about Mayland and black dragons.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I hadn’t heard of Ms. MacAvoy before coming across this book a couple of years ago. I hope to read the second book she wrote in this series.

Awards

  • Locus Award for Best First Novel (1984)
  • Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (1984)
  • Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (1984)
  • World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (1984)
  • Philip K. Dick Award Nominee (1984)

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Roberta Ann (R. A.) MacAvoy is a fantasy and science fiction author in the United States. Several of her books draw on Celtic or Taoist themes. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1984. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Case Western Reserve University and received a B.A. in 1971. She worked from 1975 to 1978 as an assistant to the financial aid officer of Columbia College of Columbia University and from 1978 to 1982 as a computer programmer at SRI International before turning to full-time writing in 1982. She married Ronald Allen Cain in 1978. (from Wikipedia)

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • COYER Scavenger Hunt–hosted by Fantasy is More Fun, Because Reading, and Books, Movies, Reviews.Oh My!
  • COYER–The Scavenger Hunt–#34, Read a book with BLACK in the title (3 pts)
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • TBR Challenge–hosted by Wendy @ The Misadventures of Super Librarian (Impulse Read (The book you bought because of the cover or The book you bought on impulse–I bought it because of the title!)
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (A book you can finish in a day)