Today has been stressful in a lot of ways, so I was glad to have the chance to relax into Lindsay Buroker's new book, Balanced on a Blade's Edge. I'm still working my way through Buroker's backlist after my book club read The Emperor's Edge last year as part of our ebook experiment (hey, go try it, that one's free). She writes fun steampunk books with romance in the background -- they aren't really romances although that's clearly an important part of the characters' lives.
This new book was a bit of an experiment; Buroker apparently had a fun idea when she was surprised by a few weeks of free time, so she converted her ideas into a book at full speed. So this one is fairly short -- about 200 pages, and also fairly direct -- we have the two strands of the main character and don't bother to dive into long flashbacks or twists along the way. But it also has Buroker's strengths -- fun dialogue, both internal and external, interesting, slightly flawed characters that I enjoy cheering on, and a vibrant setting that never overwhelms the story. Oh, and characters with a good bit of common sense, a characteristic that I may add as one of my favorite story element. Especially as I like a lot of genre stuff, where authors sometimes feel like throwing out common sense really liberates the story.
Anyway, this book has flying machines, different flying machines, magical owls, a snarky magic sword, a few call backs to Bujold (I don't know if the author meant them, but when you exile an intelligent military guy in an frozen outpost, I go there), powerful light bulbs, and a perfect book for an airplane ride. Too bad I liked it so much I finished it the day before my trip.