Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber

A series of three linked novellas. I like the two heroes, both in their own stories (the first two) and even more together (in Ill Met in Lankhmar). Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser interact well, and the world– particularly Lankhmar– is rich. Their incredible expertise and youth are a little hard to buy [I mean, we didn’t see Fafhrd train with a sword at all in his background story; the same goes for the Grey Mouser.)

The final story is tragic and well done and certainly drops the two into the fire. I’ll keep an eye out for some of their other novels to continue enjoying their partnership.

Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels

An interesting review and defense of romance novels. The book moves easily between topics, occasionally seeming disjointed and some elements (like the coloring pages and choose your own adventure) felt like padding.

Overall, it was a nice glance at books that I’ve experienced only tangentially. The writing didn’t convert me– I’m not eager to abandon SF&F for romance on the basis of this one book– but their realistic appraisal of the genre means that I won’t groan if a good looking book is labeled romance either. Like everything else, there are well done books and dross– and “even in romance”, well done books sound well done.

The financial and sales numbers were surprising– I wonder how they stack up to YA. It sounds like romance blows everything else out of the water.

Valor’s Trial by Tanya Huff

The fourth (and for now, final) book in Torin’s series. It’s an interesting book that puts a very interesting twist on the recent history of the universe, and provides some impetus towards change. It might be okay as a stand alone book, but it’s an excellent conclusion to the series.

Heart of Valor by Tanya Huff

The third book in the series; Torin is back for more. There’s some nice character evolution at the start, with Torin having scored a promotion and continuing a relationship with Ryder. The overall plot is good and interesting– what’s going on Crucible? There are lots of red herrings and alternate valid lines of thought to keep your brain engaged throughout. If you liked the first two books [and I did], the third’s a nice continuation.

Uglies by Scott Westerfield

A very fast read, the author does a great job of building a plausible world with interesting issues. The idea of Pretties, a vapid beautiful people as a class or role you pass through in life was fascinating. There are a lot of good ideas buried in here about attraction, physical attribute manipulation, freedom and individuality, and more. For a long time I thought he was going to skip over the Rusties altogether after teasing, but I like the end he cooked up for them.

It looks like it’s at least a 4 books series; I look forward to tackling the next in line soon.

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card

A straight up interlude story– it ties up the loose ends from the Shadows series and performs as a nice bridge between Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, but it isn’t a story so much as a series of events. It’s kind of nice to wander around with Ender again, but there’s nothing here that felt necessary.

The major subplot was neat; not quite a romance, but very true to Ender. The rest seemed… necessary– you knew he wrote The Hive Queen, so he does it here. Tasks that you already knew he tackled (because they’re mentioned in other books) make up a major portion of this book. It wasn’t a bad book by any means… it just didn’t have much of a point, other than getting to wander around in young Ender’s head again. At that, it succeeded well.