Ari Marmell, The Conqueror's Shadow. Hey, guys, let's get the band back together! The horrible, flesh-rending, soul-eating, world-conquering band! Speaking of zipping and romping. And rampaging all over your grandmother's bones! Ahem. Perhaps I was not supposed to say that part out loud. Seriously, I think Marmell did a great job of balancing this book being fun and the main characters being genuinely not very good people. Even though the main character loves his family and has in some ways reformed? Still. Not very good people. Did not have to be.
Robin McKinley, Pegasus. And here we run into a problem. This is not a story. This is half a story. The other half comes later If you don't buy half a story, then editors will tell your friends who wrote a really long story that they have to chop everything out of it and make it a really short story instead because they're not selling two-volume stories very well. I mean, hypothetically. Not that this happens to your friends. But on the other hand, there you are with only half a story, and in this case, wham, the biggest cliffhanger she could think of. It is not a gentle severing, this middle of the story. If you're reading along thinking, well, this is going to be all right then, this waiting for the next bit, that's because you haven't gotten far enough in the book. I recommend waiting until there's the rest of the story. Truly I do. As for what it's like? Honestly it's like the cover. The title and the cover, right there, say what kind of book it is pretty much in a nutshell. Do you want to read a book about a princess who is not very well understood by her kind and well-meaning family and can talk to the flying horses no one else can understand? Only well-written because it's Robin McKinley and not somebody worse? This is that book. I just...felt that it was a very gentle book up until the cliffhanger.
Issui Ogawa, The Next Continent. Discussed elsewhere.
Freda Warrington, Midsummer Night (Discussed elsewhere) and Elfland. These stayed just on the right side of melodrama for me to enjoy them, but there was still a really high drama quotient. They are very, very vivid books, very emotional books. If you're in a situation where your life is high-drama and you're looking for something quiet, In This House of Brede this ain't. I don't mean that they're fast-paced--you can take quite awhile to get moving through either of them, but particularly Elfland--but there are constantly people making choices that fling the people around them into high relief. Elfland was initially brought to my attention as having a protagonist who is a landscaper and horticulturist, not an artist or musician or other standard choice for urban fantasy, and in fact her job was actually something that was going to have an effect on her life--her actions, magical and interpersonal, would have a bearing on how awkward or possible it was to go about her ordinary job day to day. All too rare to see that, and kind of neat.
I have just noticed that all of these--plus the two books I started and cast aside, plus the manuscripts I read at various lengths--were speculative. It's been a long time since I had a fortnight where my reading was all in-genre. Interesting coincidence.