Help Wanted: What to Read/Recommend in July

I received the honor of selecting the Member’s Choice reading selection for July 2012 at the GoodReads Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club.  I reviewed the bookshelf of read books for the club (over a hundred since January 2008) and then reviewed my five star rated books.  I narrowed the selection down to just three, two of which I’ve read (multiple times) and one I have wanted to read for many months.

Choices Three

The Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly

The group has only read one other book written by Barbara Hambly, but she is a prolific fantasy author that deserves more attention.

I honed in on The Silent Tower because it remains one of my favorite Hambly novels.  Here’s a brief synopsis to tease you:

In a world where wizards are relegated to ghettos, it is no surprise to see one murdered in the street. But for Stonne Caris, a young warrior monk who sees the killing and gives chase to the culprit, there is nothing ordinary about seeing a murderer disappear into a black, inky portal. The Archmage sends him in search of Antryg Windrose—a half-mad mage who understands the nature of these passages between dimensions.

On the other side of the Void is Joanna, a programmer as mild as Caris is deadly. She has spent her life in cubicles, staring into computer terminals, as far from heroism as she can get. But when the power that is crossing between dimensions draws her through the Void, she finds herself battling to save a world she never even knew existed.

Average GoodReads Rating:  3.92 stars (on a five star scale) based on 819 ratings

Availability:  Only the ebook edition is currently in production (I found the best price at Kobo for $7.69; not DRM-free).

The Diamond Throne by David Eddings

It shocked me to learn that the SF&F book club had not read any of David Eddings‘ works; not even from his hugely popular Belgariad series. He also happens to be one of the two fantasy authors I can get my husband to read and I give full credit to the voice of Sparhawk.


Sparhawk, Pandion Knight and Queen’s Champion, returned to Elenia after ten years of exile, only to find his young Queen Ehlana trapped in a block of ensorcelled crystal. Only the great sorcery of Sephrenia, ageless instructor of magic, kept her alive — but the spell would only last a year, and it’s cost was tragically high.

Now a Prince Regent ruled Elenia, the puppet of Annias, ambitious Primate of the Church who planned to seize power over all the land.

As Sparhawk and Sephrenia set out to find a cure for Ehlana, Sephrenia revealed that there was only one person in the west who could defeat the evil plots against Ehlana. That person was Sparhawk.

Average GoodReads Rating:  3.83 stars (on a five star scale) based on 8,983 ratings

Availability:  A mass market paperback edition is still in production.  No ebook edition is available.

Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay

And last, but definitely not least, I settled upon a novel I have wanted to read for months, but can never seem to squeeze into my reading queue:  Guy Gavriel Kay‘s The Last Light of the Sun.

I’m not sure of the protocol with respect to recommending and leading the discussion of a book that I haven’t actually read yet, but Kay has never disappointed me.  In fact, he always inspires me and leaves me awestruck.


From his very first books, the trilogy known as the Fionavar Tapestry, Guy Gavriel Kay was recognized as one of the world’s finest and most innovative writers working with the fantasy tradition. In later works he has taken on, with striking success, an alternative history of Europe, which reached a pinnacle with 2004’s The Last Light of the Sun. Set at the hinge moment of Britain’s Alfred the Great’s enlightened reign (he’s known as Aeldred in Kay’s parallel Europe), Last Light is a drama of cultural clash and change in a world shadowed by the presence of faerie but deeply engaged with human questions of ethics and honour.

Average GoodReads Rating:  3.79 stars (on a five star scale) based on 2,291 ratings

Availability: Several versions are in print, including mass market paperback and trade paperback editions.  An ebook edition is also available, but quite pricey at $12.99.

Selection Conundrum

My dilemma remains.  I cannot decide which of the above novels to put forth to the group for next month’s Member’s Choice selection.  I selfishly lean towards the Kay novel, because I really would rather read something new.  But I equally yearn to introduce more readers to either Hambly or Eddings (at least his less well known Elenium series).  I have a few days (less than a week) to make up my mind, so I’m soliciting your opinion through this blog post and the poll below.  Votes and comments welcome.

[polldaddy poll=6308298]

The Twenty-Third

What? The twenty-third what you ask? 

Well, obviously (to me anyway) the twenty-third anniversary of the birth of my daughter, Rachelle, that’s what.

I want to take this opportunity to stroll down memory lane and share a few memories with you.

Rachelle ‘climbing’ the ‘mountain’ … one of my favorite early photos of her (c. 1990)
Silly family photo (c. 1989 or 1990)
Flower girl, Rachelle, and ring boy, Derek, at my brother’s wedding.

We’ll skip ahead a few years (the years during which I took mostly video to VHS-C tape and not film photos), to the time when Rachelle perfected ‘the look’ of exasperation because I loved taking candids of her with a digital camera.

Rachelle giving me the ‘look’ during vacation Bible school (c. 2005)
On the tennis court (c. 2004)

Of course, there was the ever changing (sometimes by the week) hair color:

Blonde, First day of School as a Freshman (c. 2004)
Reddish Blonde (c. Sumer 2004)
Black and Teal (c. Summer 2005)

Rachelle played various team sports, including soccer at a young age (and I can’t find any of those photos, probably because they are in a box in the basement with the videotapes of the games).  She also learned some judo and jujitsu, but never competed.  Besides tennis (shown previously above), she also played fast pitch softball for a couple of years:

Rachelle on the field during the season opener (May 2003)

Rachelle played lacrosse for three years, the only female in an all-male league, who went undefeated that last year and she earned the Player of the Year award from her coaches.

Bulldogs Goal Tender (c. 2005)

But singing became her first love and most beautiful talent, joining a youth choir in third grade and continuing to perfect her voice through a succession of choirs and voice instructors.

Performing her solo at the Honor Recital (c. 2006)

Rachelle graduated from high school with honors.

Graduate Rachelle (May 2007)

Rachelle received two full scholarships (one academic, one music) to attend a local community college, where she continued her pursuit of vocal performance in various choirs and voice studios, including the Jazz Choir (notice the dark hair color).

Rachelle performing with the Jazz Choir (Mar 2008)

She gradauted with honors, but declined to attend graduation, so I have no photos of that non-event. In August 2009, just three months after graduating, she moved to North Texas (as did her brother and his wife). Rachelle enrolled at the University of North Texas and Derek joined the Guildhall at SMU.  Terry and I found ourselves empty nesters rather abruptly. 

Funny Face (Apr 2010)

Rachelle studied abroad in Europe (Germany mostly) during the Summer of 2010.

Rachelle with her Dad before leaving on the plane for Europe (May 2010)

For the last three years, Terry and I have made the annual Thanksgiving trip to North Texas to visit them.

Rachelle transfers the ‘look’ to her boyfriend (finally, I’m spared) (Nov 2010)

But she still tries to hide from my camera.

Rachelle and Terry hiding from my camera while tailgating at the UNT v KSU football game (Nov 2010)

And both my kids know how to ham it up for a photo.

Rachelle (smiling sillily) with Derek (Dec 2010)

For Christmas, Rachelle comes home (usually by plane) and Derek and Royna rent a car and drive up to visit.  Usually, she helps me trim the Christmas tree.

Setting up the Christmas Treet (Dec 2010)

This past spring has taken us to North Texas twice. First to visit for Easter and second to attend Rachelle’s graduation (again with honors – manga cum laude) from UNT. 

Seventy Eggs and One Ham
Rachelle hamming it up with the Easter eggs (Apr 2012)
Derek congratulating Rachelle with a bear hug (May 2012)

Rachelle really needs to overcome her shyness problem when I point a camera (any camera, including my cell phone) at her.

Future Graduate Student of Vocal Performance
Soon-to-be Graduate Student of Vocal Performance (May 2012)

And so I reach the twenty-third photo featuring my daughter, on this her twenty-third birthday.

Between Sets
Rachelle performing at her Senior Voice Recital (UNT, May 2012)

Happy Birthday Rachelle!