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One of many nice things about getting away for vacation earlier this month was the chance to catch up on some reading.

It began with Nnedi Okorafor‘s Binti: Home [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound], the sequel to her award-winning novella Binti (reviewed here). The new novella will be coming out from Tor.com in early 2017, but I got the chance to read an early copy and provide a blurb. The story has Okorafor’s trademark imagination and creativity and wonderful worldbuilding. Binti (the character) is once again caught in the middle of cultural conflicts, both between humanity and the alien Meduse, and among her own people and family.

I loved getting to see more of Binti’s home and family, as well as the additional background and history. In some ways, this felt a bit more introspective than the first novella. We don’t get the same level of world-changing conflicts and resolution. The focus is more personal, and I thought that worked well.

My one complaint is that this is part two of a trilogy, and had a bit of a cliffhanger ending. But that’s just more reason for me to put the third Binti novella on my To Be Read list, and to hope Okorafor writes and publishes it soon!

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Wickedly Powerful coverNext up was Deborah Blake‘s Wickedly Powerful [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound], the third book in her Baba Yaga paranormal romance series. “Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world.”

This book follows the third of the three U.S.-based Baba Yagas, a woman named Bella Young with a fiery temper and magic to match. An accident with her power when she was young led her to isolate herself so she wouldn’t hurt anyone else. Her only company is the dragon Koshka, who lives disguised as a Norwegian Forest Cat.

Enter scarred (inside and out) former Hotshots firefighter Sam Corbett, who works the fire watch tower in a forest plagued by magical blazes. Blazes Bella has been sent to investigate.

These books are fun. I read this one in about two days. Bella, Sam, and Koshka are all quite likeable, even as their insecurities lead them through the usual romantic stumbles and misunderstandings. The villain is unapologetically evil. It’s a nice wrap-up to the three Baba Yaga books, and a good bridge into Blake’s next set of stories.

My only minor complaint is that the confrontation with the villain felt like it ended a bit too quickly and abruptly.

This one does rely a bit on events that happened in book two, so there might be a few minor moments of confusion if you’ve not read the earlier books, but you can still read, follow, and enjoy this one on its own if you so desire.

In short, I’d call this a good old-fashioned comfort read. With a cat-who’s-really-a-dragon. But then, aren’t most cats?

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Finally, my son and I finished reading Mirable [Amazon | B&N], by Janet Kagan.

I’ve talked about Janet’s books a few times before, but I’m happy to say my 11-year-old really enjoyed this one. It’s set on the planet Mirabile, in the early days of a human colony. The geneticists back on Earth really wanted to make sure the colonists had redundant copies of various species, so not only did they provide frozen embryos, they also backed up genetic codes in different creatures. So your dandelions might suddenly give birth to a swarm of bumblebees, or a cat might have a litter of raccoons. And then there are the Dragon’s Teeth — hybrids like the Kangaroo Rex or the Frankenswine…

The book is made up of six stories. We were reading the old print edition, which has bridge sections between each story, but I’ve been told the new ebook edition lacks those. Regardless, its a lot of fun.

Annie Jason Masmajean is a wonderful character, a gruff, fierce, loving older woman devoted to the people and wildlife of her new home. She also knows her way around a shotgun, gets a lovely romance with lots of making out, and is just generally awesome.

The secondary characters are great as well, and Kagan obviously put some thought into the cultural norms and makeup of the colony. And if some of the science strains credulity a bit, it’s all in the service of creating an imaginative, creative, and shamelessly fun world.

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Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
paragraphs
Jul. 18th, 2016 02:08 pm (UTC)
Sounds like buying an older version of Mirable would be the way to go (though hmm, maybe I should buy kindle too - money in the author's pocket and all). I read Uhura's Song YEARS ago, and remember it well - I haven't read many Star Trek novels but I love Uhuru so grabbed that one and remember it fondly. Mirable sounds like a lot of fun so I think I will just go get it and start reading it at lunch. I needed a new read. :) Oh edited to add - will get the first as well and read that. Thanks!

Edited at 2016-07-18 02:09 pm (UTC)
jimhines
Jul. 18th, 2016 05:07 pm (UTC)
My work here as book enabler is done :-)

(At least for today...)
paragraphs
Jul. 18th, 2016 05:45 pm (UTC)
Indeed, as I did get the kindle version right then!
starcat_jewel
Jul. 18th, 2016 05:11 pm (UTC)
FYI, Janet Kagan died several years ago, so the "money in the author's pocket" argument isn't really applicable. I had always hoped she'd write more in the HellSpark universe, but it wasn't to be. :-(
jimhines
Jul. 18th, 2016 05:17 pm (UTC)
The money would go to her husband, Ricky Kagan. (And to the publisher, of course.)
paragraphs
Jul. 18th, 2016 05:46 pm (UTC)
Oh no, I am very sorry to hear that. Damn.
offcntr
Jul. 18th, 2016 03:06 pm (UTC)
Mirabile and Hellspark are two of my reliable comfort rereads. (Margaret Lord Lynn may be the best AI ever.) And now I want to go digging in my wife's Trek novels for Uhura's Song.

We lost Janet way too young...

Edited at 2016-07-18 03:06 pm (UTC)
jimhines
Jul. 18th, 2016 05:06 pm (UTC)
"We lost Janet way too young..."

We really did.
tanyareed
Jul. 18th, 2016 04:37 pm (UTC)
Mirabile sounds fun! I'll have to check it out. :)
jimhines
Jul. 18th, 2016 05:06 pm (UTC)
Yes! Hope you like it :-)

Have you read any of Janet's other work?
tanyareed
Jul. 18th, 2016 05:08 pm (UTC)
No. I'd never heard of her, but I'm always on the lookout for good authors and fun books.

I couldn't find it at my library website, so I think I'm going to order a used copy from Amazon (I don't do the electronic book thing). Thanks for the recommendation, Jim!

ckd
Jul. 18th, 2016 06:03 pm (UTC)
Read it all. She's still one of my favorite authors, and I wish she'd had time to write many more stories.

(Your userpic on this comment is perfect for her work, too; her characters are the core of her appeal to me. Annie, Leo, Tocohl, Maggy, Evan Wilson, etc....)

Edited at 2016-07-18 06:04 pm (UTC)
tanyareed
Aug. 19th, 2016 07:19 pm (UTC)
I finished Mirabile the day before yesterday, and I really liked it! Thanks for the recommendation. I think my favorite story is the fire one. Also, the copy I bought was from 1992, so it's got the little story telling snippets between the stories. My favorite character is Mabob. :)
jimhines
Aug. 19th, 2016 07:24 pm (UTC)
Mabob is great!

After we read the book, my son spent the next week gronking at everything :-)
codyne
Jul. 18th, 2016 05:59 pm (UTC)
You know, I am old and my memory's dodgy, and I generally forget books immediately after reading them anyway, but when you described Hellspark before, I said to myself, Huh. That sounds really familiar. I must have read it back when it came out, and I remember really liking it. So I got a copy from the library and read it and sure enough, while I'd forgotten details and plot twists, I remembered reading it before, and it was just as good as I'd thought.

Now, your brief description of Mirabile sparks my memory in just the same way. I'm sure I read it as well. And just as surely, I'm going to have to go dig up a copy and read it again.
deborahblakehps
Jul. 18th, 2016 06:50 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you liked Wickedly Powerful! I feel honored to have gone on your vacation with you. (And a little stalker-y.)
joycependle
Jul. 18th, 2016 06:54 pm (UTC)
One novel, Hellspark.
One Star Trek novel, Uhura's Song (available only in Kindle format).
One fix-up, Mirabile.
One book of short stories, The Collected Kagan.

There are three Afterwords to Hellspark that explain, among other things, how it came about that Uhura's Song, Kagan's first novel, was written after Hellspark.

What a wonderful author!


ckd
Jul. 18th, 2016 07:43 pm (UTC)
Uhura's Song is also available on Nook. (ETA: and Google Play Books.)

Edited at 2016-07-18 07:43 pm (UTC)
cissa
Aug. 1st, 2016 12:49 am (UTC)
I adore "Mirabile"! One that I reread every few years, and enjoy more each time.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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