November hasn’t been a fantastic reading month for me. More because I’ve been distracted with so many other things, which means I’ve not really been able to sit down and finish a book in a single sitting.
I’ve just finished Catherine Asaro‘s UNDERCITY, which is technically a December release, but Baen releases the ebook edition on its own website a couple of weeks early. UNDERCITY is a spin-off of her main Skolian Empire series – same universe, different characters, and set fairly early in the overall series timeline, I think. The first part of the book is actually a novella (“The City of Cries”) written back in 2005. I didn’t realise that until a good way in, and I’m not entirely sure using the novella as part of this book was a good decision as I thought its age showed. Hard for me to pinpoint exactly why – perhaps it was that the world-building felt somewhat old-fashioned? It’s funny how some stories date so quickly, while others don’t.
The story picked up once we moved to the more recently-written section of the book, and I was impressed by how she spun out additional story threads from the original novella. Overall though, I have to say this was not a particularly exciting nor innovative SF novel – a decent mystery/adventure, yes, but it’s a story I’ve read before. It made me realise that my fondness for her books is very much because of the emotional investment I have in the original Skolian Imperialate characters (I gave the most recent “proper” Ruby Empire book 5 stars on Goodreads…), which I’ve been reading since way before I started blogging.
Oh, and random fact: the first ebook I ever read was Catherine Asaro’s THE RUBY DICE on my now-retired Sony Reader.
I also finished Tanya Huff‘s THE FUTURE FALLS. Well, to be honest, I finished it a while back, but hadn’t quite figured out how to talk about it. Partly because it’s one of her Gale Girls books, which is her kind-of-incestuous-if-you-squint-at-it fantasy series, what with family and magic and interfering aunties pairing up cousins left, right, and centre. But also because… that ending.
Right, I did like TFF – okay, I really liked it – but I suspect a lot of it was because I read it with my romance hat on and therefore totally wallowed in Charlie and Jack’s star-crossed lovers situation all the way through. I didn’t completely get Charlie in the previous book, but was surprised with how much I bonded with her in this one. I loved the older woman-younger man dynamic as well (and Jack in his Dragon Prince guise was just plain adorable). But the ending – I had to read the final chapters several times because I had no idea what happened the first time round (was that just me?). However, the fact I took the trouble to re-read the ending should tell you how much I enjoyed the story. Because I really wanted to get it. And I did figure it out eventually… Now you see why I haven’t written about it before, right?