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Friday, July 30, 2004

A Smattering of News - Caine, Tor, Smith, Harrison

-"Rachel Caine" is the latest pen name of Roxanne Longstreet Conrad, who has published about a dozen books since 1990. See her website for more about her.

-Tor's new RomSF line was originally planned to launch this summer with 4-5 books a year, but has since moved to 12 books per year and a tentative launch date in October 2005. Tor editor Anne Genoese has posted the submission guidelines.

-The sequel to Deborah Smith's ALICE AT HEART has been renamed from TWO IF BY SEA to DIARY OF A RADICAL MERMAID and is now available at bookstores.

-Kim Harrison, author of DEAD WITCH WALKING, announced that "if all goes as planned, there will now be -- bare minimum -- of six books in the series."

Posted by rebekah [Link]



Tuesday, July 27, 2004

BIO RESCUE and RAVEN'S SHADOW -- two "me too"s (Linda)
Bio Rescue

BIO RESCUE by S. L. Viehl

Shelley did such a good job of describing the plot, I'll just add my comments. This is a definite recommend for me also. I've always been fascinated with the idea of alien life, and Viehl does a wonderful job creating aliens of all kinds, thus the Zangians and their watery way of life were totally fascinating to me. I would have liked to see a little less miscommunication between Dair, the heroine, and Onkar. But then again, Onkar was acting like a jealous, possessive Zangian male in his prime, so maybe I'm trying to put human feelings into my alien romance! I truly enjoyed reading about a romance in which the characters don't look human, although there was the human/Zangian mating of Dair's father and stepmother to add to my interest. I really enjoyed the plot but also agree the ending relied more upon a miracle than I would have liked. --Linda

***

Raven's Shadow

RAVEN'S SHADOW by Patricia Briggs

A high recommend for me. I agree with everything Preeti said. I loved the plot, but the true thing that grabs you are the characters. Tier is so decent that even when he's a prisoner, he can't help trying to teach the young men to be good men; Seraph is so strong but full of emotions that she tries to keep hidden and under control; Jes is so sweet and simple but with such a dangerous alternate side; and Lehr is so dependable and responsible. I could go on and on. I came to care about the whole family so much. And the romance that started between Jes and Hennea is the icing on the cake!

I've only read Patricia Briggs' MASQUES, WHEN DEMON'S WALK and THE HOB'S BARGAIN. I've enjoyed them all. THE HOB'S BARGAIN was a personal favorite with its unusual romance :-) but her writing has improved even more here. She's taken a plot that isn't totally unusual to me and changed it into something I couldn't put down. :-) That doesn't happen to me much anymore. This book made my day! --Linda

--BIO RESCUE review page
--BIO RESCUE at Amazon
--RAVEN'S SHADOW review page
--RAVEN'S SHADOW at Amazon

Posted by rebekah [Link]



Sunday, July 25, 2004

IN CAMELOT'S SHADOW by Zettel -- Too many problems ... Spare me! (Margaret)
In Camelot's Shadow

I was delighted to find this book in the Library but my delight did not survive the first chapter. I know this book has been recommended, and I don't wish to hurt anyone's feeling, but I was Not Impressed. The book is so easy to put down that I'm only half way through.

Problems:
1) I don't really care about any of the characters.

2) Too many Americanisms/modernisms. Also, although "cadre" is used in its technically correct sense, it jarred--too much associated with Communism.

3) Awkward overlay of standard romance story over Arthurian tale. One example: in romances I get irritated by the heroine's persistent musings: "I love him but there is no hope for me because how could such a rich/ important/ wealthy/ handsome/ tall/ powerful/ intelligent man possibly fall in love with/marry such a poor/ lowly/ plain/ tall/ short/ young/ old/ serious/ frivolous girl/ woman/ lady as I am?" and I really, really don't want them popping up in my fantasy as well. Yes. I know it is sometimes reasonable for the heroine to think this but must they go on about it?

4) As in all Arthurian stuff you just know it will all end in tears--well, betrayal and death, anyway--but I thought it a real downer having a preface that rubbed it in.

5) In the preface, Kai, in Ireland, writes of going to the seashore looking for anyone coming from the west, from his old home. This struck me as rather odd as America, not Britain, is to the west of Ireland.

6) Also in the preface, Kai comments on all the exaggerated, if not false, stories that had arisen about Arthur etc. Well, there may have been stories but there is no contemporary written indication of them. All the Arthurian trappings--knights, round tables, distressed damsels, Merlin, Morgan, Gawain, magic etc are Medieval additions, hundreds of years later.

7) Risa's bow and arrows. She couldn't be using a crossbow (takes too long to load) or a longbow (not invented yet) but could any other bow have been effective in the siege?

Good points:
1) Arthurian setting in correct period.

2) Links to Justinian and Theodora--this is the first book I've come across that notes that Arthur and Justinian were contemporaries.

3) No Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot love triangle (so far anyway)

****[and later]****

I made a real effort and finished this book. I even managed to find a good bit: Risa's experiences while a captive. I thought that was interesting and well done. Otherwise... Oh dear.

For a start the cover is silly. She is definitely holding a longbow 500 years before its invention, and what's holding the point of the arrow up? It should be her fingers, but they are too far down. And what's she doing with a loose scarf flapping round her face? A serious hazard and it will certainly get in the way at a critical moment.

S
P
O
I
L
E
R

I really objected to the mangling of the stories of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and "The Loathly Lady". The author has taken what she wants while completely disregarding the significance of the stories. I get the distinct impression that she hadn't read either of these stories before deciding to write the book and then only read them with an eye to what would be useful. The central point of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is that Gawain does something shameful. To mangle the story to turn this shameful act into an honourable one is deplorable. The story of the Loathly Lady hinges on the question "What do all women want?" and her transformation comes from the answer to the question, not from being recognised by her lover, which is another story entirely.

I am bothered by Risa's father. OK, I can understand his agreeing to sacrifice his as-yet-unborn child to save his wife's life. I can understand why he didn't tell his wife or daughter about it. I can understand why he wasn't loving towards his daughter. However, we have a man prepared to allow a horrible act in order to keep his wife's life and love, who then spends the next 19 years behaving in a way guaranteed to lose his wife's love. And why doesn't he ask Arthur for help? A good king with a powerful magician seem just the thing. Anyway, surely it's his duty to mention there's a sorcerer around? Also, why did the sorcerer insist that Risa's father retrieve her? It wasn't as if that was the only way he could get her, either by the terms of the agreement or because it was too difficult otherwise, because he was perfectly willing to grab her when she left home and ended up extracting her from among a group of court ladies. So why did he insist her father get her back? Bloody-mindedness?

No, as far as Arthurian retellings go, spare me from Sarah Zettel. However I can strongly recommend Gerald Morris and Robert Newman, although their books are aimed at younger readers.--Margaret


--In Camelot's Shadow review page
--Other Luna Books
--In Camelot's Shadow at Amazon

Posted by rebekah [Link]



Wednesday, July 21, 2004

McKillip short story collection on the horizon

According to Sharyn November, senior editor at Viking and director of the Firebird imprint, there will finally be Patricia McKillip short story collection! McKillip is a regular contributor to anthologies near and far, but has never had a collection of her own. The book will be coming out from Ace, probably sometime next year. November said that she has forwarded numerous emails and letters from fans requesting such a collection to McKillip and her agent, and those requests are a big part of what made it happen.

Some McKillip novels we've reviewed:
ALPHABET OF THORN
CHANGELING SEA
FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD
RIDDLE-MASTER OF HED

Posted by rebekah [Link]



Sunday, July 18, 2004

RAVEN'S SHADOW by Briggs -- a "sink-into-the-story" read (Preeti)

Either Patricia Briggs is becoming a better writer with every book or my tastes are changing quite a bit. As much as I'd liked her previous work, DRAGON BLOOD, it wasn't a "sink-into-the-story" read for me. With RAVEN'S SHADOW, I sank!

RAVEN'S SHADOW begins in the aftermath of war, when a young soldier making his way home to a baker's life saves the life of a Traveler girl from murderous villagers. The wandering clans of Travelers are persecuted and killed because their magic powers are feared. This particular Traveler, a mage named Seraph, is alone in the world, so Tier takes her home to his mountain village, where he marries her and embarks on a farmer's life.

Tier immediately captures your heart with his open mind and generous heart. He's a trademark Briggs hero--based on the two Briggs books I've now read, anyway--quietly heroic, loyal, gentle, loving, easy-going, yet a fighter when he needs to be. Seraph is proud, strong, and fierce.

Fast forward twenty years and they have three kids, two almost full-grown, and are somehow making do as farmers. But when Tier goes missing and dark magic is involved, Seraph knows that she cannot deny her own heritage as a shadow-fighter or keep her kids in the dark about their own magical natures. The family sets out to save Tier. Tier, meanwhile, is caught in a dark, magical conspiracy involving the throne and is managing to save the land and its ruler through his own unique strengths, magical and otherwise.

Really, you care about these people so much. They are strong and decent, each unique and interesting in his or her own right. The feelings between husband and wife were lovely to see, and the budding romance between Seraph and Tier's oldest son and another Traveler mage was sexy and amusing. Briggs' strength is in her characterization, but I appreciated the pace of action and the worldbuilding in RAVEN'S SHADOW too. She writes gritty yet not graphic stories.

I've only read one other Briggs book in full, the aforementioned DRAGON BLOOD, but already I can see she has an affinity for certain themes and characters that fans will find familiar. Well, I'm a fan now, too, and look forward to revisiting the characters. RAVEN'S SHADOW is the first book of a duology, but it stands well on its own. Recommended. --Preeti

--RAVEN'S SHADOW at Amazon
--RAVEN'S SHADOW review page

For more about Patricia Briggs, check out our feature article and interview.

Posted by rebekah [Link]



Friday, July 16, 2004

I THIRST FOR YOU by Suzan Sizemore -- Irresistible! (Leila)
I Thirst for You

l really like Susan Sizemore. The occasional sarcasm, the gentle irony, the wonderful vampires she creates in this latest set are irresistible. In this one our vampire is escaping an experimental lab. He's in pain, hungry, etc. in the middle of the desert, and while reaching out with all his senses, his mind encounters HER. The woman he can bond for life with. But first, she's a snack for a desperate vampire. She's recovering from a plane crash, and the guilt of being the only survivor and the pilot. She's an empath, and her talent is too difficult to handle around other people. He kidnaps her, woos her, and the lab people aren't giving up on him, and now her. A very very good read, that I'd recommend to anyone looking for (yet another) vampire romances.--Leila

--I THIRST FOR YOU at Amazon

Other Susan Sizemore we've reviewed:
GATES OF HELL
LAWS OF THE BLOOD:
Book 1 - THE HUNT | Book 2 - PARTNERS | Book 3 - COMPANIONS | Book 4 - DECEPTIONS | Book 5 - HEROES

Posted by rebekah [Link]



Sunday, July 11, 2004

News from July 2004 Locus

The July 2004 issue of Locus Magazine includes this year's Locus Poll results, info on the various best-of-the-year anthologies, a report from last month's grand opening of the SF Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, and a new section devoted to reviews of audiobooks, including one by Jasper Fforde.

Some news:
--Catherine Asaro sold SF novel ALPHA to Baen.
--Patricia Briggs sold WOLFSBANE to Ace. (yay!)
--Susan Wright sold TO SERVE AND TO SUBMIT plus a second erotic fantasy to Roc.
--Jim Butcher turned in DEAD BEAT to Roc. [Next Dresden book?--Preeti]

Posted by rebekah [Link]



Friday, July 9, 2004

BIO RESCUE by S.L. Viehl--a "different" romance (Linda)
Bio Rescue

BIO RESCUE, by S.L. Viehl, is a definite recommend with its interesting characters, abundant action, and a "different" romance.

BIO RESCUE takes place on Kevarzangia Two, the same planet as the first of the Star Doc novels, but set some years after the events of that series. The main character, Dair mu T'resa, is a native of the planet, one of the water-dwelling 'Zangians.

Dair was damaged at birth by a plague that killed her mother and was surgically altered to save her life. Because of the alterations, she can spend more time out of the water than many of her people. She has joined a military group called the SEAL squadron and is active in defending Kevarzangia Two.

Kevarzangia Two has two major issues at the moment. The first is the influx of the lupine Skartesh, who are fleeing from their war-torn world and have developed into a fanatical cult that is close to exploding. The second is the need for faster rescue of many of the species who are fleeing the war zone in space and coming to Kevarzangia Two for shelter. Dair's team is chosen to help in this latter endeavor. They need to learn skills that are alien to them and to their culture.

Throughout the novel, Dair has to deal with how different she is from her people and whether she wants to follow a path that will cause even more alienation. She also needs to decide if she wants a mate of her own species. The romance in BIO RESCUE is fascinating, and S.L. Viehl does a wonderful job of portraying a non-human heroine and an alien courtship.

My only quibble with the book is that it has little bit of the "and then there was a miracle" at the ending, but even so, I found BIO RESCUE to be a great reading experience.--Shelley


--BIO RESCUE at Amazon
--Review of BLADE DANCER, Viehl's previous book

Posted by Preeti [Link]



Monday, July 5, 2004

Kim Harrison's DEAD WITCH WALKING -- Two Views (Shelley and Linda)
Dead Witch Walking

I enjoyed DEAD WITCH WALKING, by Kim Harrison. It was very interesting. As with DIME STORE MAGIC, another recent read with a contemporary witch, it was told from the first person point-of-view. Very interesting world building. Not a lot of romance--just the possibility of one towards the end of the novel. Lots of action and interesting magic and a lot of interpersonal stuff as the heroine figures out who to trust and starts building a new life. I am hoping that there is a sequel soon--the book does not end on a cliff-hanger, but does leave several loose ends, mainly in the personal relationship area.--Shelley

Well, Shelley, I hope that means I'll enjoy it if I ever manage to start reading it again. I got kind of annoyed with the heroine of DEAD WITCH WALKING. She's portrayed as being so tough, but I wasn't impressed. Seemed like everyone else was saving her. I like her sidekicks but thought she went too far with her distrust of her female vampire friend. And I was wondering if there ever was going to be a love interest. And the one that started by the time I quit the second time was kind of quick and strange. RATS!?--Linda


--DEAD WITCH WALKING at Amazon
--DEAD WITCH WALKING review page

Posted by Preeti [Link]



Thursday, July 1, 2004

Lee & Miller News - Upcoming non-Liaden book
Balance of Trade

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller report work is already "well under way" on a "midsize" old-fashioned space opera/space adventure after signing a contract with Phobos Entertainment for a novel in a new, non-Liaden setting. The deal is for a single novel of under 100,000 words and includes options for additional books. The novelís working title is SWORD OF ORION, and itís part of what Phobos Senior Editor John Ordover is calling "Beneath Strange Skies," a group of books coming out from Phobos starting around September of 2005.

Some Lee & Miller we've already enjoyed:
The Liaden Series--
CONFLICT OF HONORS | PARTNERS OF NECESSITY
AGENT OF CHANGE | CARPE DIEM | PLAN B | I DARE
PILOT'S CHOICE | BALANCE OF TRADE
Other--
TOMORROW LOG

Posted by rebekah [Link]


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