The Friends and Family


Second page. List starts with the most recent at the top.  Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Kay read: NEMESIS by Bill Napier
Nemesis by Bill Napier proved to be a very fast paced science fiction/political thriller.
   The United States is thought to be under attack by another country, which has found a way to nudge an asteroid into Earth's path in hopes to destroy all of North America and make it look like a natural disaster of massive scale. (Poor Canada and Mexico will be gone, too, as they share a continent with the intended target).
   Astronomers must race against time to find the asteroid. NASA must race against time to find a way to deflect it from its trajectory. The President must decide whether or not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack on the other country, before an entire continent is destroyed - to strike out at the enemy while his country and its armed forces still exist. And somehow, nothing rings quite true. There are layers upon layers of deception and plotting going on.
   Very fast paced and fun thriller from a Scottish astronomer now living in Ireland.

Kay read: TYRANNOSAUR CANYON by Douglas Preston
Now, right from the start - this book was pure mind candy, beach reading. But I thought it was fun.
   It begins with the astronauts of Apollo 17 finding a very unique and important rock sample, then skips forward in time to become both a murder mystery and a treasure hunt set in the canyons and mountains of New Mexico and also a scientific thriller set in the Museum of Natural History in New York.
   Throw in some rogue government agents and a rather nasty hired killer, and things kept moving pretty quickly, and stayed interesting.
   This author apparently often collaborates with another writer named Lincoln Child, and their website is at .

Todd read: THE DECAMERON by Giovanni Boccaccio
I couldn't get past Day 8 in the DECAMERON.  Or, as I call it, Boccaccio's hundred favorite sex fantasies.  I never knew you could get bored of naughty nuns.

Joy read: A FEAST FOR CROWS by George R.R. Martin
The extremely long-awaited 4th book of A Song Of Ice And Fire. Famously, the manuscript of the 4th book was so big that it had to be divided in half. That was done by including the personal story threads of only half the narrators, and saving the other half for the next book. It works, even though the generally most favorite characters are saved for the next book. Now we have more people whose fates we can't wait to learn. I'm most anxious to follow Jaime's development, and the story of Littlefinger and Sansa. And what is going to happen with wandering Arya?? Review.

Joy read: CASINO ROYALE by Ian Fleming
I got stranded without my book, and this 1953 James Bond was available. It's quite slow by today's thriller standards, and far from being as interesting as the David Niven/ Peter Sellers satire movie.

Carla read: WARRIORS OF THE DRAGON GOLD by Ray Bryant
A sprawling historical saga on a vast canvas, covering the half-century leading up to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Review.

Kay read: CRYSTAL RAIN by Tobias Buckell
I read Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell, a new science fiction writer. It is very good. It is set on a world inhabited by humans and two alien races. The two dominant human cultures represented (divided by a huge mountain range) are Aztec (complete with frequent human sacrifice) and Afro-Caribbean. The high tech culture which allowed the humans and aliens to settle this world was lost long ago in a war; when the Aztecs and their alien gods (who refounded the Aztec religion and culture on this world in the human settlers) mount a major invasion across the mountains, the other major human culture and their alien allies/gods have to try to desperately regain some of that technology to even have a ghost of a chance against the brutal Aztec invasion and occupation.
   I loved the Afro-Caribbean culture, infused with a bit of European and Hindu currents, on this world. I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed reading dialog in a book as much as this one. The dialog just sang off the page.
   Wonderful new book, from a wonderful new voice.
**Honorable Mention for Favorite Science Fiction read in 2006 **Honorable Mention for Favorite Debut Novel read in 2006
   You can read a good chunk of this very enjoyable novel here:

Joy read: INDRA'S NET by Moses Ludel
This family epic brings together in friendship people of two very different cultures, who are profoundly affected by generations of war in East Asia. The war devastation of Vietnam reminds me of France as it was described in A DISTANT MIRROR: THE CALAMITOUS 14TH CENTURY, during the Hundred Years War. Review.

Kay read: MARCH by Geraldine Brooks
I had some serious doubts about the premise of this book when I began reading it, even though I have previously read the same author's Year of Wonders and thought it was a gem. The book tells the story of Mr. March, the father from the classic novel Little Women, during the time he was offscreen in that book being a Union Army chaplain during the American Civil War. I had some more doubts when a huge coincidence from his past pops up in the early going. Yet, by the end, Brooks hauled me in. She tells the story of a good man who is changed by the savagery he sees and the horrid crimes committed by both sides during the course of the war. It ended up being very good and meaty stuff.

Kay read: UNDEAD AND UNPOPULAR by Mary Janice Davidson
Latest in her racy comic series about a vampire queen named Betsy Taylor who lives in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. In this book, Betsy is about to celebrate her 31st birthday, which will also mark one year of being a vampire. She wishes to stop drinking blood, faces a major crisis with one of her best friends, a mortal...and some powerful European vampires have finally gotten around to visiting her to pay tribute, only it turns out that there is some ugly past history between them and her American followers.

Dava Sobel is author of the enjoyable history book Galileo's Daughter. In the old days of sea travel, many ships and lives were lost because sea farers could not determine their longitude. This very short history book describes some of the rather whacky attempts at doing so, along with more serious scientific attempts using astronomy, and the final solution, invented by a talented clock maker named John Harrison. Also describes how the scientific establishment tried to deny proper credit (and prize money) to Harrison.

Kay read: CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
This is the graphic novel of a comic book series put out by DC comics to simplify their comic book universe, which once had many duplicate characters scattered on many Earths. Many Earths and characters die.

Kay read: HOUSE OF CHAINS by Steven Erikson
Fourth cinder block of a book in Steven Erikson's fantasy series Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Erikson was an anthropologist and archaeologist for many years before he became a writer; it shows in the complex world with its many tribes and societies and hominid races that he has created.
This continued the storylines he began in his second Malazan Empire novel, Deadhouse Gates. He introduced a very interesting new character in this novel, which made it (or at least the parts in which this character appeared) quite enjoyable. Another huge slab of a world, with many cultures and characters...another book which must be digested for awhile before continuing on with the fifth book, Midnight Tides. **Honorable Mention for Favorite Fantasy read in 2006 **Honorable Mention as part of my Favorite Fantasy Series read in 2006

Carla read: SEA WITCH by Helen Hollick
A rollicking swashbuckler set on the high seas, part historical, part fantasy, part adventure and part romance.  Sea Witch features a sexy pirate captain, a beautiful Cornish witch, a vengeful brother and at least two love triangles, one of which involves the goddess of the sea.
Incidentally, although Helen Hollick has had five historical novels published by Random House, she apparently had to self-publish this one with a company called BookForce.  Which seems absurd to me, as I thought it was a better, tighter read than her most recent historical (A Hollow Crown).  'Tis a mad world. :-) Review.

Joy read: ROMAN DUSK by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Vampire Saint-Germain braves Rome again, this time during the reign of Heliogabalus, and discovers that corruption has taken an even deeper hold of the society. A young woman is in danger from the people who should most keep her safe. Review.

Joy read: BLOOD GAMES by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Our gentlemanly vampire in the Rome of Nero. And through the Year of the Four Emperors. And into the reign of Vespasian. I did find it uncomfortable to see Vespasian committing injustice, no matter how unwittingly. This is the book in which Saint-Germain meets Rogerian and Olivia -- full of love, passion and tragedy. Cornelius Justus Silius is a horribly unstoppable villain.

Joy read: THE MOUNTAIN'S CALL by Caitlin Brennan
Every year the horse gods summon a new batch of potential Riders to the mountain for testing. Never a girl, though, until Valeria gets the call. The Riders are so set in their ways that they reject the will of the gods. It may be fatal.
   Beautifully envisioned and sweepingly written. When I learned that Caitlin Brennan is Judith Tarr, I immediately ordered the two titles she has released. I read till 2 AM to finish MOUNTAIN'S CALL. Don't be fooled by the beginning into thinking this is a youth book.

It took me a long time to get into this. At first, people I didn't like were doing crazy things with no prospect of accomplishing anything. That changed with our first glimpse of Valentina, the gold-digging bitch wife. From then on, it was a gripping necessity to get her out of the family's lives. Review.

Kay read: LEONARDO: THE ARTIST AND THE MAN by Serge Bramly, translated by Sian Reynolds
A rich and well written biography of one of the greatest geniuses who has ever lived. Da Vinci was a great paradox as well; he came to respect life so much he became a vegetarian yet he envisioned horrible war machines (including forerunners of tanks and machine guns and other modern machines). A sculptor and painter, architect, urban planner, military engineer, civil engineer & writer, he pushed the bounds of science to the absolute limits of his day in many different fields, up to doing many autopsies to teach himself anatomy. All through his life he was mad for learning. He even took rare science books in payment rather than money when he was in service to a Duke! In his middle age he taught himself mathematics and Latin to deepen his scientific and engineering studies. He rarely finished anything, as he was much more in the conception and the doing than the finishing and his mind could never stay still.
**Best Biography read in 2006

The World War II memories of the man who led the famous Easy Company, the company of paratroopers who were featured in Ambrose's Band of Brothers and the first-rate HBO miniseries of the same title. It tells the story of the men who parachuted behind enemy lines in Normandy to secure the beaches for D-Day; invaded Holland; endured the frigid winter-bound Belgian forests while cut off from Allied lines and being grossly out-numbered in the Battle of the Bulge; liberated a death camp in Germany; and captured Hitler's Alpine retreat. And somehow most of them remained human despite all of their losses and suffering as their company experienced a 150% casualty rate throughout the war.

Kay read: STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Robert A. Heinlein
Plugged away through the science fiction classic, uncut version. The parts that bothered me turned out to be one particular character's hangups rather than the author's, though I could not tell that from the text when I read it. So now I can honestly say that I enjoyed it. I originally had a love/hate relationship with the book when I read it; now I feel a lot more comfortable with it.


Joy read: LIEUTENANT KEEGAN by Todd Caldwell
A Star Trek: Voyager novel with an extremely interesting central character. I was telling my sister about it and that seduced me into reading it again. LIEUTENANT KEEGAN can't be offered to Paramount because some of the background isn't canonical, so it is available for free here.

Joy read: TRINITY by Nancy Kress
Nancy Kress considers big issues. Most of her novels that I have read look for ways to handle the effects of toxic waste, but this novella is about the scientific ability to see God. It's also about ways families relate to each other, and how fear acts when stirred in with the rest of it.
   Nancy Kress's intelligence is an imposing force, her talent a redeeming one.

Joy read: HEAVEN'S CENTER by David Williams
Fifth in the series. After two warring powers destroy most of the world, the protagonist finds there is still a pleasure in life. Goose bump time.

Joy read: THE NEW WORLD by David Williams
The end of the world from a druggie's point of view??? Wait a minute -- how can such an awful subject have flashes of brilliance? Fourth in a series of unpublished short stories.

During his visit to New York, Sigmund Freud tracks a killer whose prey is heiresses. A clever psychological labyrinth. Review.

Joy read: HOUSE OF WAR by Judith Tarr
Sequel to DEVIL'S BARGAIN. King Richard, after flatly refusing to use his magic to win Jerusalem, may be forced to it when a magical enemy returns and attacks his closest family and friends.
   The consistent message, throughout these books about the European Dark Ages, is tolerance. Always, Tarr's sympathetic Christian characters are those who use or show acceptance towards magic. In three of the books, including this, she shows marriage between Westerner and Muslim. The true battle is to push back the world of hate and dark magic.
   I'm sad to have finished this group of books -- until the next one comes out.

Joy read: PRIDE OF KINGS by Judith Tarr
Maneuvering among the rulers of Europe: Richard Coeur de Lion, Philip of France, Holy Roman Emperor Henry, and Richard's family. Tarr's fantasy interpretation of historical events is unique, as usual. She is such a moving, visual writer that she made me eager to go along with her transformation of King John into a magical pillar of Britain. His friend Arslan, son of a nobleman of Outremer and a fire spirit, is a bright delight. A lot goes on in 450 pages.
   PRIDE OF KINGS and DEVIL'S BARGAIN both show King Richard and his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine on Crusade, but they are entirely different stories. This one shows the Crusade as it was, with Richard spearheading the Crusade, alienating all the other leaders, and being captured and imprisoned on the way home. In DEVIL'S BARGAIN, published a year later, Richard overcomes all and his mother gives him sinister help; he is able to stay in Jerusalem because his covetous brother John has been left at home locked away. Tarr is so skilled as an enchantress that I went willingly along with both stories.

t's about the 102 minutes it took for the World Trade Centers to fall after first being hit. It's all about the people: in the towers, the firemen, the policemen, the troubles with communications...all about the common heroes, workers who stayed with others, people who helped one another. It's a wonderful, wonderful book, very sad though that a lot of those who died did not need to. I recommend it to anyone....great read.

Joy read: KING'S BLOOD by Judith Tarr
Another in her historical fantasy series. This one covers the reign of William Rufus, and his brother Henry waiting for his chance. Saxon forces are determined to stamp out magic from the world, and it looks as if William supports them. My favorite character is Edith, descendant of Saxons and future queen, destined to help make Britain whole again.

Joy read: RITE OF CONQUEST by Judith Tarr
William the Conqueror, born of magical blood; and Mathilda of Flanders, ordered to teach William how to control his magic before it destroys him. England is his destiny. The Old Things are slowly dying in the iron prison of the Saxon version of Christianity, but William and Mathilda can heal them once William is bonded with the land. The Saxon Christian church reminds me of the one in Marion Zimmer Bradley's THE MISTS OF AVALON.
   At first it was disconcerting to see the Saxon king, Harold the Wise, as a tool overmastered by heartless social forces, and William the Conqueror as a savior, but RITE OF CONQUEST is so well written, the characters so well developed, and the magic so seductive, that I willingly suspended my bone-deep disbelief.

Kay read: MALICE DOMESTIC 1 edited by Martin Greenberg
A great little anthology of short mystery stories. I really loved many of the stories, especially one by Charlotte and Aaron Elkins called "Nice Gorilla" where a gorilla in a zoo must be defended from an accusation of murder.

Kay read: THE OCTOBER COUNTRY by Ray Bradbury
While many of the stories are from as far back as the 1940's and 1950's, they have aged well. Some are deliciously creepy in content. Others are atmospherically creepy. A couple of them are about this great character called Uncle Einar, a winged man with a big, kind heart. A story called "The Small Assassin" really freaked me out.

Joy read: KINGDOM OF THE GRAIL by Judith Tarr
I rarely read Grail books; Judith Tarr was the attraction here. That is, she was until I found Roland, the faithful protector of Charlemagne, who learns that something greater needs protecting. A deeply involving, human yet magical hero.

Sunnie read: THE FOREST OF SOULS by Carla Banks
Really enjoyed it. A contemporary mystery with a backdrop of Eastern European refugees from WWII and the question about how many war criminals hid among them to flee justice. Terrific stuff. Review.

Joy read: DEVIL'S BARGAIN by Judith Tarr
Alternate-history fantasy about Richard Coeur de Lion's (non-existent) half sister, who follows him on Crusade. Sioned has magical powers; so do others of Richard's family -- and some among his enemies. I reread this now that I have a little more background about the Third Crusade, to see what changes Tarr made from history. Aside from the magic, the most obvious change is that in this book, Richard takes Jerusalem. The one I object to is the demonizing of Conrad of Montferrat. Alan Gordon's Conrad in THE WIDOW OF JERUSALEM makes more sense because Conrad earned such strong political support in the area. Review.

Kay says:
Since it has been a rough week at work, I have been rereading my favorite passages of the Novik books. Apparently they have managed to dislodge Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small YA series as my comfort reads.

It was THE WIDOW OF JERUSALEM that stimulated me to push GOD WILLS IT! toward the top of my tbr's. Now, stimulated by this book, I am watching Kingdom of Heaven, the recent movie set between the Second and Third Crusades. (I was interested to learn there really was a Balian of rank, influence, and honorable character at the fall of Jerusalem, though his life story in the movie obviously couldn't have been the same as the real Balian.) GOD WILLS IT! is a clear description and analysis of an interesting series of events, no matter how open to interpretation the contemporary sources are. I will definitely keep this one as a reference book. **Most enjoyable Nonfiction I read in 2006

Kay read: DANSE MACABRE by Laurell K. Hamilton
The latest installment of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. This book continues the trend in the later books of that series of not much plot and lots of sex scenes. The series started out as tightly plotted and fun little mystery books and have really changed direction as time has gone by. While I am not usually bothered or offended by explicit sex scenes (except if violence is involved), I would prefer that they go along with a plot and good characterization. That's just doesn't seem to be happening in these books right now. **Worst Sex Scene/s in any book read in 2006

Kay read: ON THE WAY TO THE WEDDING by Julia Quinn
Eighth and final book in her Bridgerton Regency romance series. Each book tells the love story of one of the eight Bridgerton siblings. Some of the books in the series are frothy and amusing, and some are more serious and dark ~ as a series it has ups and downs. This one sort of fell in the middle, with some amusing moments, and some pretty serious ones.

Joy read: INGELD'S DAUGHTER by Carla Nayland
When the author offered me this, it only took a few paragraphs to show me that I had to fit it into my schedule somehow. An heiress and a mysterious swordsman set out to free her lands from her evil cousin. A little humor, a charge of excitement, and we're off and running. Review. Book for download.

Kay read: THOMAS THE RHYMER by Ellen Kushner
Recently I have found a talented fantasy writer named Ellen Kushner. I read a novel of hers called Thomas the Rhymer, which is the retelling of some old Scottish legends and ballads, and I am delighted with it.
   The old legends tell of a handsome young harper/bard who is taken to Elfland to be the consort and harper to the Elfqueen. He leaves behind a sweetheart in our world (Middle Earth) and has to win his way back to her.
   In the novel the story is told through a variety of points of view - an elderly crofter who raises sheep, his wise old wife, Thomas himself, and the mortal girl who loves him.
   The story is elegantly told, and very pleasant to read.

Kay read: SWAN SONGS by Brian Stableford
Grainger has finally earned his freedom from the indentured servitude. But fate pushes Grainger back to the Hooded Swan for one last very dangerous mission - a rescue operation in another universe! **Part of my Favorite Science Fiction Series read in 2006

Kay read: THE FENRIS DEVICE by Brian Stableford
Grainger and the Hooded Swan are forced to travel to a hell world in search of a ship with an extremely powerful weapon that was hidden there by an alien race. **Part of my Favorite Science Fiction Series read in 2006

Joy read: COTILLION by Georgette Heyer
When Kay mentioned reading COTILLION, I had to go back to one of my favorite Georgette Heyer rereads. Freddy is a delightful hero, unique in my experience.

Kay read: MAYFLOWER by Nathaniel Philbrick
It tells the story of the colonization of Plymouth by the Pilgrims, beginning with their roots in England, and then following them to first Holland and then to Plymouth in the new world. It especially concentrates on the relationship between the English and the local Native Americans. From what was a beneficial mutual relationship in the beginning, things devolved in the space of two generations to the bloodiest fighting (per percentage of soldiers killed in battle) ever seen on North America (yes- in percentage of the population King Phillip's War even outstrips the American Civil War). **Honorable Mention for my Favorite History Book read in 2006

Kay read: THE YEAR OF PLEASURES by Elizabeth Berg
A beautifully written novel. It tells the story of the fifty-something Bette Nolan, a recent widow. Bette and her husband had no children, and they had been so close to each other that they didn't really have many friends, either. He had been a mental health professional, and on his deathbed he had urged Bette to pursue their dream of leaving Boston, moving to the Midwest, and finding new careers. So she sells the brownstone at a huge profit, and moves to Illinois. She then has to learn how to live again, how to regain old friends and make new ones, and how to find pleasure in life. **Favorite Contemporary Novel read in 2006

Kay read: COTILLION by Georgette Heyer
A Regency era romance. A lovely young girl is the ward and heiress to a very crotchety old man. He tells her that she must marry one of his nephews in order to get the money when he passes. She has a variety of nephews to choose from, and her final choice surprises both the reader and the family. Very charming story.

Kay read: PRIDE AND PRESCIENCE by Carrie Bebris
I was a bit alarmed at the prospect of seeing some of my all time favorite characters in a short mystery novel by an author I am not familiar with, but as soon as I realized that these were only loosely based upon the beloved characters of Pride and Prejudice I was able to read the book on its own merits. (I mentally treated them as new characters with the same names and backgrounds). It was set in Regency England, in both London and the countryside. Much of the plot revolves around the marital adventures of Bingley's unpleasant sister.

Kay read: THE PARADISE GAME by Brian Stableford
The Hooded Swan and her crew travel to a world called Pharos. It genuinely seems to be a Garden of Eden, a world where there is no violence and where carnivores never developed - until people suddenly start to die. Paradise, but at what cost? **Part of my Favorite Science Fiction Series read in 2006
   There are two additional books, called The Fenris Device and Swan Songs which I have not had time to read yet.

Kay read: PROMISED LAND by Brian Stableford
Grainger and the Hooded Swan travel to a world called Chao Phrya to track down a little alien girl who has been kidnapped. Neither the world, the aliens, nor the kidnapping are what they appear to be. **Part of my Favorite Science Fiction Series read in 2006

Kay read: RHAPSODY IN BLACK by Brian Stableford
Grainger and the Hooded Swan and her crew are sent to a dark mining world inhabited solely by religious fanatics. They are supposed to find out what has so many wild rumors of a treasure of some sort being found there. Grainger faces great dangers in the tunnels of the ironically named planet Rhapsody. **Part of my Favorite Science Fiction Series read in 2006

Kay read: THE HALCYON DRIFT by Brian Stableford
The Hooded Swan is probably the most impressive space craft ever built in her galaxy. She is built like a massive bird, can maneuver at twenty times the speed of light, and can cruise at fifty times the speed of light. She is beautiful, and when attached to a pilot's neurological implants, she reacts as the pilot's body, and the pilot can see through her sensors like eyes, and can feel her skin as the pilot's own. She is an amazing marriage of human and alien technology, designed by the world of New Alexandria, library and research center for the galaxy.
   In The Halcyon Drift we get to meet the Swan's pilot. When we first meet the human Grainger, he is a legendary pilot who has been stranded on a God-forsaken planet at the edge of known space, where he has picked up a mental parasite. He is an extreme smartass, and a loner (other than the permanent guest in his head). He is eventually picked up by another ship, but they get a court judgment against him for the costs of his rescue. He has to become an indentured servant of sorts to pay off the huge debt, and so becomes pilot to the Hooded Swan. He and the ship and crew are sent on a treasure hunt in one of the most dangerous areas of space.
**Part of my Favorite Science Fiction Series read in 2006

Kay read: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UNDEAD by Kim Harrison
In The Good, the Bad, and the Undead Rachel attempts to track down the person murdering the dark witches of Cincinnati.

Kay read: DEAD WITCH WALKING by Kim Harrison
Kim Harrison has written a series of novels about a witch living in an alternate Cincinnati. On that world, there was an apocalypse of sorts when a genetically engineered virus wiped out a lot of the humans. Humanoids like vampires, witches, and other supernatural beings, none of them affected by the virus, then came out of the closet, so to speak, and helped out in the huge crisis. In the Cincinnati area most of the humans live in the city, and most of the other species (who came to be called Inderlanders) live in the Kentucky suburbs, which is called the Hollows. The humans have their police force, and the Inderlanders have their own.
   In Dead Witch Walking Rachel Morgan, a beautiful young red haired witch, works for the Federal Inderlander Service as a runner. She brings in criminals of all sorts of species who have been accused of crimes. She is proud of being a white witch, and proud that she has never killed anyone in her dangerous line of work. But she doesn't get along with her boss, and decides to quit. Her problem? You can't get out of the Service alive, unless you have a hefty bribe. Undaunted, Rachel decides to leave anyway, and sets up a PI firm in the Hollows with a living vampire and a testy pixie. the novel tells of her struggle to survive and her search for evidence of one of Cincinnati's leading citizens being involved in iilegal drugs.

Kay read: PUSHING ICE by Alastair Reynolds
I recently read my first novel by the former astrophysicist Alastair Reynolds, and I was very impressed by Pushing Ice.
   The plot reminded me somewhat of Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series, but I found this story to be more gritty and realistic, with better developed characters.
   In the year 2057, humans have begun to move out into our solar system. A huge ship called the Rockhopper, under the command of Captain Bella Lind, pushes ice - they mine comets for ice and they push the ice to the thirsty colonies of Mars. The ship and crew are good at their difficult job, and they are proud of being tough as nails.
   Then all hell breaks loose when Janus, one of the moons of Saturn, suddenly breaks orbit and starts heading out of the solar system at high speed - apparently towards a fuzzily seen artificial object 265 light years away. It is clear that this is not a moon - it is a massive space ship.
   The only human ship with any chance of approaching Janus (and even then with a window of only a few days to study it) is the Rockhopper. Lind orders her ship on an intercept course - but no one could ever guess at the surprises ahead of them!
**Honorable Mention for Favorite Science Fiction read in 2006

Kay read: DATES FROM HELL by Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Kelley Armstrong, and Lori Handeland
What girl hasn't had a really bad date or a really poor relationship in her time? Who hasn't wondered at some point in time if her date has wandered into this world from some weird dimension of hell?
   Well, this anthology features true dates from hell - vampires, werewolves, mad scientists, and demons!
   The tale by Kim Harrison is a prequel of sorts to her novel Dead Witch Walking which features the character of Ivy Tamwood, a living vampire and one of the main secondary characters in the novels. She was exposed to the vampire virus in the womb, but will not be a true vampire until she dies. In the meantime, she is stronger than a human but not as strong as a vampire, can endure sunlight, and craves blood though she does not have to drink it in order to exist. In this story she is trying to straighten out her intertwined lusts and longings for love, blood, and sex. She is also having to try to get ahead in her job without having to sleep with her loathsome boss. This story, while very dark, does help you understand the Ivy we meet later in the novels.
   The novella by Lynsay Sands was a funny romantic story involving scientists and what was truly a double date from hell for one of the participants. I can't get more into it than that or I will give away too many spoilers. This story gave me lots of giggles. She has written a series of vampire novels called The Argeneau Vampire Series.
   The novella by Kelly Armstrong was about a halfbreed demon trying to catch a jewel thief who happens to be a werewolf when he breaks into a museum. The story was filled with surprises and twists, and I will be keeping my eye open for more from this author. She has written a series of novels called Women of the Otherworld.
   Last but not least came Dead Man Dating by Lori Handeland. A New York woman is being hunted by a demon who wears dead bodies. She develops an interesting relationship with the demon hunter. This one was also fun. Cool bookworm heroine.

Joy read: MESSENGER OF TRUTH by Jacqueline Winspear
Book Four of the Maisie Dobbs detective series. Maisie investigates an upperclass family with a Bohemian life style. The previous books of this series have been loaded with deserved awards and nominations. In this book the author gives less emphasis to Maisie's empathic awareness of others and more to her attempts to work out her own path in life. Review.

Kay read: KUSHIEL'S SCION by Jacqueline Carey
Coming of age can be difficult for anyone. But if you are the son of two of the greatest traitors your country has ever known it can be even more difficult. And making it even worse is having spent some of your formative time as a boy in the harem of a sadistic madman. Not to mention being descended in blood from the angel Kushiel, the hand of God's justice. That can give you rather dark sexual urges...
   That Imriel, prince of the blood and third in line for the throne of the nation of Terre d'Ange (the France of an alternative Earth) is sane at all is due to his loving adoptive parents. Yet the constant suspicions of his countrymen and the prospect of an unwanted dynastic marriage inspire the young man to leave his native land for the university in Rome. In Italy he will face great difficulties and dangers and will begin to have to grow into his manhood, away from the loving protection of his adoptive parents...
   This is the fourth novel in Carey's
Kushiel series.

Joy read: ERAGON by Christopher Paolini
Book One of the Inheritance trilogy. The world is ruled by an emperor who is all ambition and cares for no one. Anyone who opposes him meets his evil, inhuman allies. Young Eragon finds a dragon egg by accident. It will be his task, with the help of the dragon Saphira, to set the world back to rights.
   A friend loaned me this. It's an appealing teen story and much of it is exciting, even though I had an occasional itch to prune excess words. This kid has scheduled a book tour through foreign countries for his second book while a movie is being made from his first one. Shows what home schooling can do, especially when it has a good brain to work with.

Joy read: THE VANISHING POINT by Mary Sharratt
Two very different sisters emigrate separately to America. How much can freedom cost? Review.

Joy read: BLACK POWDER WAR by Naomi Novik
Third in the Temeraire series. It was hard to put down, especially when I was rolling with laughter over the antics of Iskierka, a new dragon character. Naomi Novik has so many talents, and characterization is one of the best of them. Like J.K. Rowling, she is also very good at ratcheting up the suspense, as Temeraire and Laurence try to make it back to England past Napoleon's triumphant armies. Review. **Part of my most enjoyable Series of 2006

Doctor Doolittle hears an old friend is in trouble. He packs up his household, animal and human, and they all trek into Darkest Africa to the rescue. The old friend is old enough to remember Noah and the Great Flood, so Stubbins learns turtle language to be able to write down his story as he tells it. Listening to the tale among the ruins of an antediluvian city gives it special atmosphere.
   I've been intermittently looking for a copy of this out-of-print book for years, so I was thrilled when my sister found it at a library discard sale. The Doctor Doolittle books are in that gray area of wonderful but disapproved children's classics, because they were written before the era of political correctness.

Joy read: GHOST HUNTER by Jayne Castle
When I went to review this, I discovered I needed to refresh my memory. It came naturally to read the whole thing again. Review.

Kay read: THE COURSE OF HONOR by Lindsey Davis
I also read the book about Vespasian that Joy recommended, the novel Course of Honor by Lindsey Davis. It was very well done, following the lives of Vespasian and of his greatest love, a freed slave whom he had a relationship with for decades but whom it was illegal for him to marry.

He covers some of the same ground as Suetonius - Tiberius through Nero, though some years (such as all of Caligula and part of Claudius and a part of Nero) have been lost through the centuries.

Joy read: CONGRATULATIONS, YOU'VE JUST WON by Jayne Anne Krentz
I'm writing reviews and researching authors. Found another short story, a few minutes long and as predictable as they come. It's cute, though, and has a worthwhile message. You can read it here.

Joy read: FEAST OR FAMINE by Naomi Novik
A short story that takes place before THRONE OF JADE. When the incident was mentioned in TOJ, I roared with laughter. Feast Or Famine is for those with a ticklish funny bone. You can find it on Novik's website. **Part of my most enjoyable Series of 2006

Joy read: THRONE OF JADE by Naomi Novik
An independent-minded dragon, Temeraire can't be expected to give up his lifelong companion Captain Laurence and go meekly back to China. Yet that is what the British Admiralty orders. A 20-ton dragon is not easily balked. When Temeraire goes to China, so does Laurence.
   THRONE OF JADE is the sequel to HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON, which is an absolute charmer of an adventure. THRONE OF JADE focuses less on the charm and more on the excitement. Temeraire's personality is still an irresistible combination of intense intelligence and innocent directness. In China he finds a new purpose in life. Review.
**Part of my most enjoyable Series of 2006

Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13


To Site Map


All cover art used at Spinoff Reviews is copyrighted by the respective publisher. All reviews and articles found at Spinoff Reviews are the sole property of the contributor and are copyrighted by the same. The Friends And Family Book Blog is hosted by Joy Calderwood.