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Etiquette & Espionage

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Sophronia Temminnick is more interested in machines than fashion and etiquette, so she's concerned when her mother packs her off to finishing school to - apparently - learn to be a lady. However, with an airship as a school, immortals for teachers, and classes in poisoning alongside classes in dance, it isn't quite what Sophronia was expecting.Etiquette & Espionage is great fun and absolutely charming. I can't wait for the sequels!
Wolf-speaker

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Daine's wolf pack from her former home asks her to talk to humans about the destruction of the land, the water, and the hunting grounds in the new valley they have moved to, but it turns out that the situation is much different - and much worse - than anyone could have guessed.Wolf-Speaker is one of my favorite Tortall books. Although the main characters are (as usual in Pierce's books) just a touch too good to be true, Daine grows and learns and makes mistakes throughout the story, and people besides her play roles vital to the plot. I particularly like Maura, a young noblewoman who is terrified but brave, and Tkaa, one of the immortals that Daine meets and befriends.Margaret Strom is an inconsistent reader. Often she's fine, even pleasant to listen to, but she also mispronounces words and pauses at odd times, especially during dialogue, which sounds awkward or even changes meaning. I recommend the Full Cast Audio version instead.
The Realms of the Gods

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Daine and Numair go up against a group of magical creatures of a kind they've never seen before and when it turns out that neither Daine's wild magic nor Numair's Gift can effect them, rescue comes from a surprising direction. But now they're stuck in another realm while war threatens Tortall.There are a lot of new and interesting characters introduced in this last book in the Immortals series, including various gods, dragons, and other immortals and magical creatures, and Daine's prejudices against Stormwings are tested. The realm of the gods itself is an intriguing place to read about, with different rules from the moral realm and wonders and dangers all its own. It's a fitting end to the series.I'm not fond of Margaret Strom as a reader. I would prefer the Full Cast Audio version, but this is what I have.
Emperor Mage

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Daine and her friends are sent to Carthack, to meet with the Emperor. Daine's duty is to see if she can heal the Emperor's pet birds and otherwise to stay out of trouble, but unfortunately for her, the god-touched don't have a choice about where and when they're called on to intervene.Emperor Mage is another thoroughly enjoyable Tortall story. The Immortals series really improves with each book. I love Daine's interactions with the gods and how she chooses to use her borrowed power in a way that reflects her so very well (and which is not precisely the way she is expected to use it).Margaret Strom is an inconsistent reader. Her odd pronunciation of some words, including common names like Alanna and Gary, threw me out of the story. I recommend the Full Cast Audio version instead.
Simon's Cat in Kitten Chaos

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Adorable and laugh-out-loud funny, as expected. If you're familiar with the Simon's Cat youtube videos, then you know what to expect in this book - and it doesn't disappoint. If you're not familiar with them, check them out! You won't regret it.
Book of a Thousand Days

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Dashti is trained as a lady's maid and meets her lady, Saren, on the day she is to be imprisoned for seven years for refusing her arranged marriage. Together they are sealed into a tower, and it's up to Dashti to keep them alive and sane.This is a retelling of a fairy tale that I am unfamiliar with, presented as Dashti's journal including both text and drawings. It's a great story. Dashti is a wonderful character and it's refreshing to read about a character who doesn't magically become beautiful at conclusion. Saren is a more difficult character but still achieves a degree of growth by the end.
Among Others

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This is a world where faeries live, and ghosts exist, and magic happens. But it's hard to tell, because it isn't a flash-bang sort of magic, but a subtle twisting kind. Like if you want an industrial plant to stop polluting the land - this would be a spoiler, except it happens at the very start of the book - you cast a sort of spell, and then last week the decision was made to close it down. But if you hadn't done anything, that decision wouldn't have been made. It's impossible to tell what sort of ripples are caused by that kind of magic.I love Morwenna, the main character. She reminds me in some ways of myself at that age (without the familial complications and physical limitations), devouring books after book, mostly science fiction and fantasy. Books are better, more reliable companions than people, and then of course finding people to talk about those books with is amazing. Among Others is Morwenna's journal and in it she talks openly about her life, her family, her friends, and of course her books. Her life revolves around her books and her reading.I don't think you have to have read the books she discusses to enjoy Among Others (I haven't read them all), but it certainly helps to be familiar with fantasy and science fiction from the 70s.
Machine

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Celia has been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. While waiting for a cure, her body is put in stasis and her brain is copied into a bioandroid duplicate. The body is supposed to look and feel exactly the same, to let her live a normal life while she waits - but from the moment she wakes up in her new body, her life is anything but normal.This book reminded me in some ways of Skinned by Robin Wasserman. Both books deal with potential consequences of putting a human mind into a new body. One of the most interesting differences is that in Skinned, Lia feels detached from her new body and everything around her and does the things she does in order to feel, while in Machine Celia feels too much and deliberately seeks detachment.I didn't quite buy the speed of the plot. Most of the book takes place over the course of only a few weeks, and it didn't make sense to me that, for instance, Celia would drop into depression and then instantly start scouring the net for information. Depression is paralyzing, not motivational. Also, there was a lot of sex.It was an interesting book, but not one I would go out of my way to recommend.
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