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Monday, April 25, 2005

LOCAL CUSTOM audiobook

New publisher Buzzy Multimedia has announced the upcoming release of Sharon Lee & Steve Miller's LOCAL CUSTOM as an audiobook. The book will be released on June 27th and will be read by Michael Shanks from "Stargate SGI". Buzzy has also done audiobooks for the Dresden files by Jim Butcher and ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT by Sarah Hoyt. Readers for Buzzy include Jason Carter ("Babylon 5"), Nigel Bennett ("Forever Knight"), Ben Browder ("Farscape") and James Marsters ("Buffy, The Vampire Slayer"). More info.

Posted by rebekah [Link]

Friday, April 22, 2005

Charlaine Harris' DEAD AS A DOORNAIL--Placeholder Volume (Leila)
Dead as a Doornail

I obviously missed a great deal of the continuing adventures of Sookie Stackhouse--books 3 and 4 to be exact. This became clear as I read the first page of this latest installment where her brother, Jason, is about to shapeshift at the full moon, having apparently been bitten by a werepanther during one of the previous books. As I had last seen him as a very human lout with no hint of the supernatural to him, this development surprised and almost put me off the book.

DEAD AS A DOORNAIL has our intrepid heroine confronting the possibility of her brother's death as an unknown sniper is targeting shapeshifters. Let's add her house being torched by an apparent cult-member/arsonist, an evil vampire or two, werewolf pack politics, Sookie's former vampire boyfriends, shapeshifter politics, and I was beyond exhausted--not to mention all these wild adventures taking place in the space of three days if I'm not mistaken.

Sookie's love life is getting messy. Both ex-boyfriend vampires still appear to be in the running, in some fashion. Let's add an ambiguous relationship with her werewolf friend Alcide (When did readers discover this friend of hers was born a werewolf??), a potentially ambiguous relationship with the leader of the werepanthers, an acknowledgement of sexual attraction between her and Sam her boss, the sometime Collie (sigh--another supernatural!), and an erotic interlude with a remarkable weretiger.

All this amazing voyage of self-discovery while the sniper shoots friends of hers, an evil vampire is being particularly ugly with another friend of hers, and she's dealing with the aftermath of her house being partially burned down. One of the reasons I never could get into the Anita Blake series was the profusion of supernaturals of every kind who seem irresistibly attracted to that heroine. I'm finding myself with the same reservations concerning Sookie.

That said--I much prefer Sookie's voice to the Anita Blake kick-ass-and-ask-questions-later persona. There is a certain sweetness in her prosaic acceptance of other-ness that appeals immensely. While she herself is discovering the various aspects of vampire and shifter ("two-natured"?) natures and politics, we receive a clear understanding of her wonder and dismay, but always with that underlying note of acceptance. There's also a refreshing balancing act between her sweetness and her working-class toughness which the author manages with great mastery. I found myself continuing to read with interest.

I found the ending not entirely satisfying, and the entire book appears to be just a placeholder for further adventures and love affairs, perhaps. Reserve it at your library and enjoy it. It's light, but all in all a bit disappointing, leaving me with no particular desire to hunt up the two books I have missed, and only a mild curiosity about what comes next.--Leila

--DEAD AS A DOORNAIL review page (book 5)

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Monday, April 18, 2005

LKH's A STROKE OF MIDNIGHT--Er, Where's the Rest of the Story? (JW, Shelley)
A Stroke of Midnight

I devoured this latest volume in the Merry Gentry series. A STROKE OF MIDNIGHT takes place the day after the last book, SEDUCED BY MOONLIGHT, and covers less than one full day in the life of our heroine. During this period, she investigates a murder, survives several attacks (both physical and political), has amazing and magical sex with several new partners, and gains and shares new magical powers. In other words, a typical day.

I both loved this one and was disappointed in it. I loved it because I love spending more time with Merry & Co. (all those gorgeous men!) and there are some moving emotional moments. I would prefer the sexual encounters to deal more with character and emotion and a little less with continually increasing everyone's magical powers, but there is still a lot of emotion to be had. And like I said, there are absolutely wonderful character bits. So I loved reading this book.

But...I'm disappointed because this feels very much like an unfinished work. I see from checking out reader reviews at Amazon that I'm not the only one feeling this is only half the book, that there was a longer book that was arbitrarily divided up. None of the threads left hanging from SEDUCED BY MOONLIGHT are addressed in A STROKE OF MIDNIGHT, and I notice that some of the press releases for this book describe things that are not in it. Specific things, such as a visit to the Goblin court and Merry sleeping with Sholto to finalize the alliance.

Although both this series and the Anita Blake series are very episodic in nature, I've found that each book does have a feeling of concluding the episode. Even the last one had a nice conclusion despite the hanging threads. This one really does not. You simply get to the end of a chapter, with the characters about to go off and deal with something, and that's it. The end. I have to assume that either LKH wrote a really long book that the publisher decided to split up or that she was running late on the deadline and the editor said, "Okay, we'll take what you have and call it finished."

Even with that complaint, I still loved it. I'm at that place now when I can't settle down and pay attention to another book because I really want to have about a dozen more of this series to go through so I can stay in that world. :-) --JW


I agree with J. I just finished A STROKE OF MIDNIGHT yesterday, and it was fun--a great read--but the story just ends abruptly and before the entire day is finished. There's lots of stuff left unresolved--Merry still has to spend her time with Sholto, she still has to spend time with the goblins, and she still has to go to the Sidhe court. This book had a lot of character and relationship development, but it felt like it got chopped off early. Like seeing the first two episodes of a mini-series and missing the finale.--Shelley

--A STROKE OF MIDNIGHT (book 4) review page
--SEDUCED BY MOONLIGHT (book 3) review page
--A CARESS OF TWILIGHT (book 2) review page
--A KISS OF SHADOWS (book 1) review page

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

News from April 2005 Locus

The April 2005 Locus includes interviews with JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL writer Suzanna Clarke, Fantasy writer Laurel Winter and Tor editor Beth Meacham.

Also in this issue is the obituary and many appreciations of the much loved Andre Norton who died on March 17th at the age of 93. Norton wrote over 200 books and short stories - her first novel published in 1934 and last to be published this month. She was also a tireless editor and collaborator. She will be missed. (Norton requested before her death that she not have a funeral service, but instead asked to be cremated along with a copy of her first and last novels. More information, including where to send memorials.)

Some news:
--Anne McCaffrey has been named the 22nd SFWA Grand Master. Her award will be presented during the Nebula Awards Weekend April 28 - May 1, 2005, in Chicago.
--Octavia E. Butler sold vampire novel FLEDGLING to Seven Stories Press.
--Melanie Rawn sold contemporary fantasy SPELLBINDER to Tor.
--Sarah Hoyt, writing as Sarah D'Almeida, sold three books in a Three Musketeers mystery series to Berkley/Jove.

Posted by rebekah [Link]

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Lee and Miller's CRYSTAL SOLDIER--Thumbs Up (Suzanne)
Crystal Soldier

I read CRYSTAL SOLDIER over the weekend and was greatly entertained. I already knew it was the first of two books, so I wasn't bothered by the cliff-hanger ending.

I always enjoy Miller and Lee's intricate plotting and well-developed characters. And let's face it--even though there is just one love scene (that takes place off stage) the whole book is a love story as these two intensely private and independent people grow to trust each other.

Edith, I too was amused by the constant little thread about Jela's shoulders. And it was fun to see all the little touches that explain the origins of some of the traditions, artifacts and language we see in the later-set Liad books. I liked the mention of the newly bioengineered X-Strain soldiers--as opposed to the older, now obsolete we know the origin of the Yxtrang!--Suzanne

I missed that! It's been so dang long since I've read the books that I'm missing lots of other stuff, I'm sure. Some terms strike faint chords of memory, but I can't quite place the significance. I can't quite remember what a dramliza is. Some magic power? That's the problem with their books. Their world is quite complicated, and all the books need to be read in order to really get them. And there are so many books I want to read, I'm not sure I'll ever get to re-reading them.--Edith

--CRYSTAL SOLDIER review page
--CRYSTAL SOLDIER at Amazon, The Great Migration Duology, Book 1

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

The nominees are out for this year's prestigious Hugo awards. Romantic SF isn't as well represented as it was last year, but Lois McMaster Bujold's story "Winterfair Gifts" is a nominee for Best Novella. This long-anticipated story takes place during the wedding of Miles and Ekaterin. "Winterfair Gifts" was released in the recommended anthology IRRESISTIBLE FORCES, edited by Catherine Asaro. The winners will be announced on 7 August 2005 in Glasgow as part of the annual World Science Fiction Convention. Bujold has previously won four Hugos and two Nebulas for books and stories in the Miles Vorkosigan series.

--A CIVIL CAMPAIGN review page (about Miles' courtship of his future wife)


Posted by rebekah @ 02:46 AM ET [Link]

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Miller and Lee's CRYSTAL SOLDIER -- Enjoyed It, But... (Edith)
Crystal Soldier

CRYSTAL SOLDIER by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Finished this yesterday and enjoyed it but.... (see below!)

It's the story of M Jela Granthor's Guard, a soldier who's trying to prevent the annihilation of the worlds by the shierekas, a race which does not believe in conquering or oppression, but in obliteration and destruction. By chance he has dinner with Cantra, a Pilot trader. After dinner, the adventures begin as they're chased from world to world by a murderous bunch of people.

Jela doesn't know who is trying to capture or kill him or why, which sort of forces Cantra and him to stick together because her assocation with him has marked her as a target as well. As they save each other from one attack to the next, the relationship develops nicely from extreme caution and distrust to trust, friendship, then something more. I liked the relationship developing so gradually.

The world Lee and Miller created was interesting and seemed quite a bit different from the Liad books. At the end of the book they had a list of characters, ships, worlds, etc. That will be handy in the NEXT book for those of us with short memories.

What I didn't like is that CRYSTAL SOLDIER ended in the middle of freaking nowhere. I can't believe no one's complained about it. This is as bad as the ending to CARPE DIEM, which, if I remember correctly, ended with "PLan B is now in effect." Well, thank yew very much for Nothing. This is the reason I avoid trilogies and decaseptologies until all the books are out. I WISH SOMEONE HAD WARNED ME so I could have waited till the next book came out. Really. One of the things I like about the latest Bujold (which I haven't read yet) is that it's part of a series but can be read on its own.

One last thing about CRYSTAL SOLDIER: I was amused that Jela, the hero, was shorter than Cantra, the heroine. Those of you who have seen Miller and Lee will remember that she is taller than he is. I can't remember, though, does Steve have a terrific set of shoulders, which appears to be Jela's most notable feature?--Edith

--CRYSTAL SOLDIER review page
--CRYSTAL SOLDIER at Amazon, The Great Migration Duology, Book 1

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Stevermer's A COLLEGE OF MAGICS--Should Have Read Years Ago (Preeti)
A College of Magics

I feel like I'm the last person in the world getting around to reading this gem! In an alternate Edwardian era (although set in Europe instead of England), Faris Nallaneen--strong-willed, unpolished Duchess of Galazon--is accepted into Greenlaw, a college of magic for women. She very reluctantly left her beloved Galazon, where her uncle-guardian may well be plotting to keep rulership of the duchy from her. But although she doesn't expect to learn much, Greenlaw does end up shaping her into a force to be reckoned with. And when she's recalled back to Galazon, she comes fully into her own.

This was just a really good story, fitting into the "fantasy of manners" sub-genre. Faris had to navigate the world of Greenlaw and then make her way in the world, which includes a stop in Paris before heading back to triumph over the tricky politics of Galazon and her neighbors. Along the way, her feelings for her loyal bodyguard take her hopelessly by surprise.

The story felt like it was taking a stroll through Faris' college years (half the book?), but it became more heart-pounding once Faris is called upon to leave Greenlaw (i.e., the story became more unputdownable.) The ending was surprising, with a tinge bittersweetness, but all the more moving for it. I could have spent much more time in this world and with these people.

A COLLEGE OF MAGICS was subtle and witty and formal as befits this type of book. But that thread of Faris' deep longing for the things she loves and stands to never have within her grasp--i.e., her land and the man she's falling in love with--catapulted the book from a cerebral delight to a more emotionally gripping one.

I hadn't realized I was thirsty was a book like this to make for a change from all the flashier contemporary fantasies starring kickass heroines that has become more standard fare for me these days.

Like Rebekah, I bet people who love A COLLEGE OF MAGICS also like Stevermer and Patricia Wrede's SORCERY AND CECELIA and maybe even Patricia McKillip's ALPHABET OF THORN. I'm hoping the sequel to COLLEGE, titled A SCHOLAR OF MAGICS is also a winner. It apparently features Jane, Faris' sophisticated best friend and traveling companion for much of COLLEGE, and is set at Glasscastle, which is the magic college for men.--Preeti

--A COLLEGE OF MAGICS review page
--A SCHOLAR OF MAGICS review page
--A COLLEGE OF MAGICS at Amazon, Book 1
--A SCHOLAR OF MAGICS at Amazon, Book 2

Posted by Preeti [Link]


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