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Nov. 5th, 2012 | 12:22 pm

I realized the other day that I’ve been on a bit of a winning streak as far as reading goes. A bunch of books have come out lately that are either by people I know (and which I knew I’d like) or that sounded interesting from reviews or recommendations, and none of them have disappointed.  I thought I should share….



Jo Graham, The General’s Mistress. It’s part of her Numinous World series that includes her previous novels set in the ancient world (Black Ships, Hand of Isis, and Stealing Fire, all also highly recommended if you haven’t read them), but in The General’s Mistress, she makes a huge jump forward in time.  This novel takes place during the Directory, the period between the end of the Terror and the rise of Napoleon, and tells the story of Elza Versfelt — also known as Elzelina Ringeling, Ida St. Elme, and Charles van Aylde — who abandons her unsatisfying marriage for one of Napoleon’s generals, only to find far more than she had bargained for.  It’s a grand adventure, pitch perfect for time and place, and with some of the best battle scenes this recovering military historian has ever read.  





Geonn Cannon, Railroad Spine.  This is steampunk, of sorts, American rather than British, set in a world in which the flow of information is tightly restricted — no one is ever allowed to learn more than the minimum they need to do their job, and sharing information is punishable by death. Airship captain Candice Bodger has no particular interest in learning until she begins an illicit affair with her engineer, himself a member of the resistance.  She is pregnant with his child when he is caught and executed; the government takes the child and only the midwife who helped her through the pregnancy stands between her and despair.  Now Dice joins the resistance in earnest, hoping to find her stolen child, but the cost of that search may be dangerously high….  It’s lovely world-building, complex characters with complicated lives and sexualities, and hair-raising adventures.  (Full disclosure:  this one may be a little bit my fault. I read one of Geonn’s short stories, and kept telling him what a great novel it would make….  And it did.)





Diana Dru Botsford, The Drift (SG-1 #21).  Ok, I’ve only read a few chapters of this (after downloading it last night), but I can tell I’m not going to be disappointed. The Ancient weapons chair in Antarctica is newly a center of controversy, and Daniel Jackson is sent to Antarctica to — hopefully — smooth over diplomatic tensions while Jack O’Neill is put in charge of a new training program.  (And we all know how much Jack loves Ancient technology.)  But nothing is ever simple when the Ancients are involved…. It’s a sequel to last year’s excellent Four Dragons, and, as always, Diana captures the characters’ voices and the overall feeling of the show perfectly.  





Lee Jackson, Daily Life in Victorian London (and victorianlondon.org).  Brilliantly chosen collection of Victorian source material — diaries, guidebooks, newspapers, magazines, and memoirs — that really does provide a window into not just the facts of London’s everyday existence but how those facts were interpreted by their contemporaries. When he calls it an extraordinary compilation, he's not indulging in hyperbole. And if you want more, Jackson’s website has the full texts of most of his quoted sources, as well as useful items like omnibus schedules and restaurant bills of fare.  I discovered this while researching Death By Silver, but it’s fascinating reading on its own.  





Joe Jackson, Atlantic Fever: Lindbergh, His Competitors, and the Race to Cross the Atlantic.  Fascinating new history of the competition for the Orteig Prize, the $25,000 reward offered for the first non-stop transatlantic flight.  Lindbergh’s victory became so overwhelming in the popular imagination that his competitors — most of them far more famous than he — have been almost entirely forgotten, while Lindbergh’s victory seems utterly inevitable.  Jackson does an excellent job of putting Lindbergh into contemporary context, and makes the technical details and problems both completely clear and tremendously exciting.

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