Virtual: Rockin' Re-Read Convention
THE VINEYARDS OF CHAMPAGNE by Juliet Blackwell

This book came out only a year ago. In fact I just found my Jan 20, 2020 purchase order. But I have NO memory of reading this book. I blame quarantine brain.

Rosalyn is a wine rep for a small 'house' in Napa. She is traveling to Champagne to try to get some of the smaller vineyards to sell their champagne direct to her company in California. On one hand: she doesn't like travel, or champagne. On the other hand: she is beholden to her boss, who gave her a job when her husband died and left her deep in dept. On the flight over she meets an Australian, Emma, a bit brash and a little pushy, who is researching a series of letters her Great-Great Aunt wrote to a French solder during WW one as a sort-of godmother. Despite herself, Rosalyn is intrigued.

So begins a series of chapters. Interwoven: the story of Rosalyn, the story of Emile (the soldier), the story of Doris (the woman received the letters, and Lucie (a woman of Reims).

The stories are interwoven, there is some romance, some sadness, and a lot about life in a small village in France.

PS: This might be a good e-book read, if your e-reader does some translation from French to English. My French is OK, but won't win me any rewards. Luckily most of the French is translated into English in a nice way. But there are a few cases where it is not.
Irene
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HERE ABIDE MONSTERS by Andre Norton

Nick is about 17. The year is 1973 when the book was published. He is felt old enough to spend a long weekend at the family lake cabin. He is dissatisfied with his step-mother, who he thinks is taking his dad away. But in one more year he should be free. He motors up on his bike. He stops at the small convenience store on the way, and stocks up on fresh bread and other easily portable fare. Linda has also stopped her jeep on the way to a cabin property, and has loaded several cases of soda, and a couple of watermelons. Both Nick and the store keeper, share an uncomfortable feeling. The only road to the lake is also a pass that has had a history of disappearances. So Nick offers to lead Linda, and her trusty dog down the road so that she doesn't get lost.
But, lost they are. Wonderfully lost. Lost into another world, where there are unicorns, uncut forests, creatures of fairy, and people from several places and times on earth. They join up with a band of 6 people from WWII England, who help them survive for a while. But this is no long term solution. That is only through accepting Avalon.
Irene
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A COLLEGE OF MAGICS by Caroline Stevermer

This is a brick of a book. Trade Paper, 468 pages. I suggest reading on ebook, even if just to prevent reading the ending first.

You need the long book to follow the life of Faris, future Duchess of Galazon. The duchy of Galazon being one of 4 aligned countries someplace in Europe. I put it someplace to the East of France and where Alscanze & Loraine would be if they bordered on the Ocean to the North. They describe it as being shaped roughly like a cork being drawn from a wine bottle. The bottle bottom (to the North) has a sea port. Galazon is roughly where the cork would be.
Faris is kind of wild. Her uncle rules Galazon, and has sent her to school, to Greenlaw. A finishing school for women. Graduates are called, witches. But is this a slur, or reality? The school is certainly unorthodox. But they will try to mold Faris into their model. [Graduates often go into diplomatic service.]

Don't skip ahead. I only did so because I was foolish. Read all the way through. There is magic, including "Your hat is ticking.", dark windy stairs up, and dark windy stairs down, and a satisfying ending.
Irene
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YURTH BURDEN by Andre Norton

I'm reading these in the order that Judith Tarr has reviewed them for TOR. I'm falling behind, but I'm reading lots of other good stuff.

It is true that any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic. Also, the cover art for the DAW paper edition, though by Jack Gaughan is wrong. Enough that it might be a cover from another book, that DAW had in their files.

There are two groups of men living on this planet. the Yurth, of the title, and the Raski. The planet is harsh, with hard winters, and dry plains. The Raski live in villages. But at the mud hut, and scrabble farming level. They are a feudal society with a central king. The Yurth live at a similar level, choosing to live in caves and stick (withie?) low bildings. The Yurth say that they have chosen to live this way, and as a rite of passage to adult hood, all go on a pilgrimage. They take plain trail bread, and a walking stick, and a single word of power. Passing through a Raski town causes black looks, and a feeling of hate that Elossa of the Yurth can feel. In fact the Yurth have trained themselves to mind power, which can cause illusions, and mind reading to the unwary. Elossa senses that she is being trailed, and so meets Stans of the Raski, and of a family that once ruled the major city. As Elossa follows where she is pulled, it is across a ruined city, and to a strange half buried globe. She uses the word of power, and she, and Stans, are able to enter, and find out the Burden of the Yurth.

This would have been an even shorter work (it is 158 pages), if the story ends there, but no there are more mysteries to solve, people to free, things to do.
Irene
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FROM AWAY by Jessica Shay

Reviewed October 10, 2020

I am related to Jessica, and she gave me special permission (and a pdf file) to print the book in a Large text version so that my Mom can read it.
I just finished reading the printed copy to make sure that the pages were there, and in order. I only had to reprint one page to correct the Even-Odd order.
This is a long book 400+ pages, but it reads, in the book version, of the Universal Jurassic Park ride. It starts out as gentle as a slow ride through the everglades and then.... I was late for an on-line class, and put off lunch (and again dinner) until I finished a chapter.
Irene
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VOORLOPER by Andre Norton il. Alicia Austin First published 1980 Ace mass market.

I often read this book when I read YURTH BURDEN. Possibly because the stories, are similar. Or perhaps because I feel that the cover from Yurth should go with Voorloper.

The cover, which my Norton Notes say is by W. Studmak, doesn't quite go with the book. It shows a Plesiosaurus like creature, ut with claws, a crest, and more snake tail., This is facing down a bare backed man holding a long arm rifle. If I look carefully it is holding a covered wagon in it's claw. Alicia Austin has a similar monster (p. 72) . Perhaps this is one of those publisher cases where Ace had paid for a cover illustration for a book that died, and used the cover on the Andre Norton book. OR Ace just gave Studmak just the monster scene for use in creating the cover.

The story is really thus. On the planet Voor, named after the Survey man who found, and later settled, There is the Port, a few mining enclaves and many small towns. In the north there is the tangle, a place where radios do not work, and thorned bushes prevent an entry. In the second generation of the planet, one northern town dies. It is thought to be a plague. then several years later another town dies, again no survivors. Then a third town is hit, and a man who had been away, returns to find all dead save one 5 year old boy, his son, with no memory. So Bart is raised as a Voorloper, meaning a small trader, who with covered wagon, and Gars to hitch to the wagon, never stay in one place. The father & Son take on a load of parts for a northern mining location, and unusually a passenger. The passenger is a woman, who as a girl survived the death of her own northern village and is now a healer.

I like this book. The illustrations from Austin help tell the story, with descriptions of the Gar (like Large Bison with three horns), and people clear. I like the growth of the two youngsters into Adults. Finding themselves, and some of their memories.

My only problem is the lack of bathrooms, or even mention of stopping to rest and refresh. I would have thought that this would have been more mentioned ["All in the Family" had the first toilet flush in 1971.] Maybe I find this omission only now that I cannot contemplate a trip of 2 hours without a rest stop
Irene
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BROTHERS TO SHADOWS by Andre Norton copyright 1993

I like this book. I even like the cover by Daniel Horne

Jofre is the least of the brothers, raised in the hall of the ishta. (I think of this as a Temple raising young ninja's.) The Master had found him in an escape pod, and chose to raise him, rather than send him to the port. But the Temple is dissolved, the Master, and the second tier brothers suicide, and the young sent to other temples. All except Jofre, the outsider. Him the temple's priest banishes. Jofre leaves the temple, stripped of his tools, given only emergency supplies, and sent out into the late fall weather. His only path over the mountains to the port. But the priest has him followed, and through the birds eyes sees him take something from the disbanded temple used as Jofre's refuge during a storm.
Jofre does make it to the port and becomes blood oathed to a Zacathan. Pursued by enemies, aided by other non-friends, the two leave the only world Jofre remembers for the stars and more adventures.
Irene
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THE ICKABO'G by J. K. Rowling

I paid $27 for this hard cover, and it was too much.

One thing that I loved about the Harry Potter books is that the author did not talk down to children. The universe was the same as our own, just British and where Magic worked via a set of rules.

This book is written in a "once upon a time" mode, in a country. A small country with a King ruling 4 cities. The names are perhaps trite. Try pronouncing them out loud. the land is Cornucopia, the main city Chouxville which excels in baking, to the north is Kurdsburg and Baronstown famous for Cheese and Hams respectively. Still north is Jeroboam famous for wines, and a bit further north is the Marshlands. Using your google, you get Choux is a type of pastery, Curd is the first step in cheese making & Jeroboam a size of wine bottle. Perhaps Barons is a joke on a brand of Ham dressing.

These are the most interesting thing in the book. The king (King Fred) is weak, his two advisers are venal, and a rumor of a monster in the marshland, has the king traveling north to find it (in 3 over nights for what later is a day's trip comping south). The army, more the size of a mounted patrol has swords and blunderbuss, and manage to get lost in the Fog over the marsh. The most of the book is about how a lie about what happens, leads to high taxes, and people being murdered or imprisoner to cover up the lie. Even the children age 6 years before they can do anything about this.

The best part of the book are the illustrations, done by children 8 to 12 as part of the illustration contest for the on-line chapters published in 2020.

This goes on the to-be-donated pile.
Irene
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GARAN THE ETERNAL by Andre Norton

I find the style, sort of story teller saga, kind of awkward.

The stories are OK. The first is a pilot finding a "Shangri-La" like place in Antarctica. The second is about a civilization that is half horseback transportation, but with flying cars for short city hops, ray guns and the rapid development of space travel (in a matter of months). There are also the two short stories "One Spell Wizard" and "Legacy of Soren Fen", which are both short stories of Witch World, with styles similar to stories that might be told in a tavern by a very good bard (which Andre Norton could be).
Irene
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reread TO SIR PHILIP WITH LOVE by Quinn

review posted: Jan 31, 2021
Irene
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Re read
THE FALCON ALWAYS WINGS TWICE by Donna Andres
reviewed August 9th, 2020
Irene
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SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS by Mollie Cox Bryan
copyright 2012, Kensington Books

Annie and her Husband and two children have moved to a small town in Virginia (from Maryland). She gave up her journalist job for the move and is a full time mother. It is made clear that Annie, being Jewish, is an outsider in a small town, that considers a person an outsider if they were not born in the town.
Vera teaches ballet, and feels that the students are her surrogate children. She's about 42.
Sheryl, is the "head" of the Scrapbook group. She has teenage children, and sells Scrapbook supplies out of her basement (and work room). There are other scrapers, including one woman who is the pastry shop owner.
Bea is an 80 something, retired from her job in Physics. Her sister is a herbalist in a hollow in the hills. And Bea still has discussions with her dead husband.

The day the book begins, Bea brings an extra item back from the grocery. A knife in her neck.
Then we learn that a young mother in the neighborhood appears to have shot herself.

It is quickly determined that she did NOT shoot herself. But what did happen?

This is a good book. A fast read. I didn't try to keep the characters straight. I got the important characters straight before the books end. That is what matters.
Irene
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MERLIN'S MIRROR by Andre Norton

It took me a while to read this book. It is a Science Fiction version of the story of Arthur.
People from another planet have left a "beacon" on our world. Their planet is falling to war, and they want to plant their seed on another planet..... literally. So Myrddin is born. And he finds a cavern with working machines, a mirror for teaching, and a healing box. His purpose is to bring to life another of the "star born", and this child is to be the one to bring all of the island (England) together. This he manages to do as the renamed Merlin, he fosters the child with a family of kin. But there is no light without darkness and the girl, Nimue, traps him in his cave for 16 years.

This follows most of the "Mort d'Arthur" story, save no Lancelot. It just reads slowly, and is much less cheerful that the books I've been reading lately.... Hmmm maybe I shouldn't say that as I'm also reading a C.S. Harris Period Piece Mystery (Regency), with lots of gore. I think I'll re-read a Danna Andrews book.
Irene
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MYCode Guide

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