27 September 2009

The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer

"... the most buffleheaded clunch I ever saw in my life!"

Sir Waldo Hawkridge, a paragon of masculinity, comes down from town with his cousin, Lord Julian Lindeth, to turn a recently inherited ramshackle estate into an orphanage. Yes, he's rich, handsome, educated, and philanthropic -- no wonder the ladies are all a-twitter!

Being quite the catch, the two men are invited to various parties hosted by the local fashionable set. And so they make the acquaintance of the local Beauty, Tiffany Wield, and her wrangler Miss Ancilla Trent, a somber-minded young woman of impeccable breeding who is the perfect foil for Tiffany's spoilt and reckless ways.

Waldo and Ancilla fall in love from afar. Of course, there are obstacles in their inevitable path to matrimony (Tiffany Wield, for one), but everything works out as it ought to in the end.

All of Heyer's romances are enjoyable reads, but Nonesuch takes the cake. 'Pon rep, its witty repartee and use of cant make it one of the most enjoyable bags of moonshine I've read in a long time (well, since Sprig Muslin).

The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2009).

22 September 2009

Cue Unnecessary Subplot(s) ...

What Happens in London by Julia Quinn (Avon, 2009).
Sir Harry Valentine works for the boring branch of the War Office, translating documents vital to national security. He's not a spy, but he's had all the training, and when a gorgeous blonde begins to watch him from her window, he is instantly suspicious. But just when he decides that she's nothing more than a nosy d├ębutante, he discovers that she might be engaged to a foreign prince, who might be plotting against England. And when Harry is roped into spying on Olivia, he discovers that he might be falling for her himself...
Read this on the train going down to D.C. and it was ripping good fun ... right up 'til the end when the story just tapers out. Olivia's deflowering on the couch during the ball struck me as bit icky and the "suspenseful" kidnapping subplot seemed tacked on and unnecessary.

18 September 2009

Zombies and Necromancers, Oh My

Magic in the Blood by Devon Monk (Roc, 2009).

I know I'm not enjoying a book when I spend more time analyzing its cover than I do reading it. I know prospective readers aren't going to want to see cover art of a woman looking pretty beat to shit, but really could Cover Allie just look a little bit more like Story Allie? Toward the end of Magic to the Bone, she describes her banged up body pretty clearly:
The image in the mirror was a shock. Whorls of metallic ribbons marked me from temple to fingertip on my right, rings of black banded my fingers, wrist, and elbow on my left. The blood magic scars on my left deltoid were slashes of red.

A ragged, pink scar as wide as my hand puckered just below my ribs on the left, and a thumb-sized circle sat just below my collarbone.

Wow. So much for wearing a bikini.
So not how I would describe the worryingly thin babe with the sexy metal tats on the cover of Magic in the Blood (and she gets even more beat to hell in Blood).

I do not think I will read the third installment in this series -- I am getting tired of the secrecy, there are too many plot-threads to keep track of, Allie and Zayvion's love thing doesn't interest me, and the memory-damage is getting annoying. Oh my god, Allie and her forgetting! If only I could forget, too!

17 September 2009

Oh, Baby, You're My Soul Complement

Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk (Roc, 2009).

Thirty years ago, magic was (officially) discovered and commercially harnessed. Besides doing great good, magic can be used for Very Bad Things and the cost of using magic -- for good or ill -- can be high. "Good" users pass the cost off to a Proxy (creepily, this seems to include prison inmates) or Disburse the cost to themselves at a later date. Less scrupulous users Offload the cost on to innocents. It is Allison's job, as a Hound in Portland, to trace the source of illegal spells or Offloads and bring the baddies to justice.

Of course, Allison isn't just a Hound -- she is also the recalcitrant daughter of the man who pretty much holds that patents on everything magic. Or held. Dearest Daddy is dead and Allie's signature is all over his murder ...

Good times, good times.

An interesting premise and Monk really tries to make her world work, but there was a just little too much story packed into Magic to the Bone for it to form a coherent whole. While I'm not dying to read the rest of the series, it seems the only way to reach a satisfactory conclusion -- Where did the magic "coins" go? Are Cody and Allie Savants? Who is Zayvion? Who is Vitamin Man? Where is the first Mrs. Beckstrom in all this? And why is a girl who just inherited over half her father's incredibly lucrative corporation so worried about money?

12 September 2009

Vay-kay Picsies

collage of Washington DC photosWhile we enjoyed many of the D.C. museums we visited, I must give a shout out to the National Postal Museum and United States Government National Archives and Records Administration -- two institutions which deserve much better coverage in travel guides.

The Postal Museum's exhibit "Alphabetilately" was highly enjoyable and covered many fascinating topics like v-mail and railway post.

As for NARA ... I know everyone goes there to see the Big Three (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights) but many of the exhibits were far more compelling -- Charles P. Ingalls's application for a grant of 154 acres in the Dakota Territory under the 1863 Homestead Act was on display, for pete's sake!

(And let's not forget bit about Virginia Hall of the OSS who, despite an amputated leg, organized numerous sabotage operations against German forces in France).

01 September 2009

Vay-kay, Dahlings

Packed my laptop, laminated map, Michelin Must Sees Washington D.C., and Pauline Frommer's Washington D.C. ... off to see the Library of Congress and *swoon* National Archives.

(I'd previously posted that we would be attending the First Annual North American Discworld Convention this week, but we decided we'd rather not risk it).

View D.C. 2009 in a larger map