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Sunday, August 29, 2004

LKH's INCUBUS DREAMS--Loads of Sex, Little Plot (Suzanne)
Incubus Dreams

It's a big book. Lots of words. Lots of sex. Not much plot.

I was hoping for better from Laurell K. Hamilton's INCUBUS DREAMS. I've been sticking with the Anita Blake series, and finding the last few books still readable if not up to the level of the first books in the series (up through BLUE MOON). Unfortunately, I'm seeing a big decline in quality in this one.

In past books Hamilton has created some core characters that we get to know and care about. Instead of concentrating on this core group, she has Anita in way too many sexual situations with characters who are strangers to us (and to Anita!), and then these characters are never developed further in the book. Except for a very sweet and sexy scene with Jean Claude, most of these sexual situations in the book are weirdly unerotic to read. Even the big Jean Claude, Richard and Anita three-way (that many of us have been looking forward to!) is a dud.

The plot is an afterthought, or at least it seems so, since it takes up relatively little page space in a long book. There is a group of serial killer vampires who move from community to community preying on strippers, and Anita is in the thick of things as usual. There are hints and portents of trouble to come, and a master vampire of tremendous power who never shows up (I assume he or she will turn up in the next book).

Cerulean Sins
Anita's emotional state is...well...undescribable since it's all over the map. In CERULEAN SINS it seemed she was at least moving forward and coming to grips with her powers and her sexuality, but I'm now having trouble seeing who Anita really is in the arc of this book. One of the things I used to like about the series was Anita's sarcastic and wry sense of humor. In this one, there are just too many Anitas warring with each other, and waaaayyy too much whining going on.

There were an amazing amount of spelling and syntax errors in this advance reader copy. "Wretch" for "retch". "Loose" for "lose". I wouldn't mention this, expecting the errors would be corrected in the hardback, except I seem to remember there were lots of problems like this in CERULEAN SINS. These errors just drive me nuts and can really cut down on my enjoyment of a book.

There are some of us so invested in Anita that we will probably continue reading the series, but not with the anticipation of former years. I certainly won't buy the hardbacks--I'll put my name on the hold list at the library for the next one.

I'll be very interested to see if any of you have a different response to the book.--Suzanne

--INCUBUS DREAMS at Amazon (release date: 27 Sep 04)
--INCUBUS DREAMS review page


Seduced by Moonlight

I'm not sure if I read more than one Anita Blake book. However, I've been following the Merry Gentry series with its Seelie/Unseelie courts, politics, etc.

My reaction to the last one I read SEDUCED BY MOONLIGHT struck me in the same manner as what you describe. Enormous amounts of sex or sexual scenes, with a plethora of partners, and our heroine morphing into some sort of goddess personality...

Bizarre fantasies at best. The irony is still there, but there's something vaguely repulsive about the violence and sex and their intermingling...--Leila


Posted by Preeti [Link]

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Romantic SF authors to be at Boston Worldcon

The 62nd World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) will be held in Boston, MA next week from September 2nd through 6th. Not only can you mingle with bunches of fellow fans, debate the most obscure topics with panel guests, and scour the massive dealer's room for that longed-for item, you can also meet many romantic SF authors.  Those include:
Catherine Asaro,
Hilari Bell,
Carol Berg,
Lois McMaster Bujold,
Neil Gaiman,
Charlaine Harris,
Laura Anne Gilman,
Tanya Huff,
Ellen Kushner,
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller,
Chris Moriarty,
Tamora Pierce,
Laura Resnick,
Michelle Sagara (West),
Wen Spencer,
Terry Pratchett,
Sarah Zettel,
and many others.
Most authors will have book signings, readings and/or appear on panels.

Also, three of us from this site are going to be in Boston for the fun. Please drop us a note if you're going too and would like to say hello!

For more info ...

Posted by rebekah [Link]

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

TIME SCOUT Robert Asprin and Linda Evans -- Rebekah liked it
Time Scout

Kit Carson is a time scout enjoying his retirement when an unknown granddaughter suddenly appears and demands to be trained as the first female time scout. Time travel has become possible, though unpredictable, because of a not-really-talked-about global disaster. Time scouts are people who go through unknown and unstable gates, a gate that can open into any time in the past and may or may not open back to current time. It's darn hard to be prepared for all possibilities.

The book deals with time travel paradox in an interesting way--by basically saying it can't happen. That the Universe or whatever won't allow it. For example, if you tried to go back and assasinate a young Hitler, your gun would jam, you'd be discovered, you'd get caught in traffic, something which would thwart any attempt to alter history in any significant way. And since you can't really know what is significant--if that thug in the back alley is the great-grandfather of Lincoln--you have to tread very lightly. And if you miscalculated and exist in two times at once, you go *poof*. People who go back in time then are more in danger themselves than anything else. But this doesn't stop time travel from becoming a huge tourist industry! The tourists go through the known gates with guides and tour groups and a whole industry grows up around prepping and chauffering these tourists. The book also deals in a real and pragmatic way with the problems of being a female time traveler throughout most of human history, especially if you're going through an unexplored time gate.

So...after all all that explanation, what is the book actually about? It's about Margo (the granddaughter) trying to get Kit to train her as the first female time scout and her trying to prove herself. At first, it seemed like the romance might be between the grandfather and granddaughter (ick), but it's between Margo and another time scout. Margo comes across as really irritating at first, but she's never as stupid or foolhardy as the back blurb makes her sound. There's a mysterious deadline pressure to her training that drives most of her actions. While it's eventually explained, it's sort of an offhand conclusion. Then again, there are three more books in the series (though Margo isn't the main character in the others) and it might deal with it more later.

I enjoyed TIME SCOUT though it got pretty heavy in historical detail at times. Lots of info dumps. Still, a good romance and exciting action. Margo grew on me and I liked Malcom (her love interest).--Rebekah

--TIME SCOUT at Amazon (1995, Baen)

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Upcoming books by Smith, Zettel and Lee & Miller

--Sherwood Smith has signed a two book contract with Daw books for two adult books. She's still working on WREN JOURNEYMAN. More info at her website.

--Sarah Zettel's upcoming Luna book is the second in her "Camelot" series, called FOR CAMELOT'S HONOR. It's based on the epic of Geraint and Enid from the Mabinogian and should be out in early 2005. More info at her website.

--The next two Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller will be "The Great Migration Duology", comprised of CRYSTAL SOLDIER and a yet unnamed one. Book 1 is due out in February 2005 and book 2 February 2006. Their next non-Liaden project which was mentioned earlier on this site will be called SWORD OF ORION. A number of more Liaden stories are also in the pipeline. More info at their website.

Posted by rebekah [Link]

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Contemporary Vamps, Djinns, Witches -- Suzanne's Recent Reads
Dead to the World

DEAD TO THE WORLD by Charlaine Harris

I enjoyed this latest Sookie Stackhouse installment. She's the thinking woman's Anita Blake. Because Bill is gone, Sookie was able to indulge her little fantasy about what things would be like with Eric, and interesting adventures commence. I didn't miss Bill, and feel that the variety of possibilities that open up because he's out of the picture will be good for the series. I don't think we've seen the last of Bill, though. I predict he'll be back. I highly recommend.--Suzanne


Ill Wind

ILL WIND by Rachel Caine

There is an interesting premise behind this new series. In the world we know, the weather is really controlled by magic, and 'weather wardens' are responsible for keeping weather from doing great harm. Joanne is our kick-ass weather warden heroine who is accused of killing a fellow warden, and who goes on the run to find help from an old friend.

It was great to read a romantic fantasy that eschews the vampire/werewolf motifs and goes for something new. The romance is quite well done, and I really enjoyed the twist at the end. Loved the djinn. I give this one high marks for keeping me interested, in suspense, and intrigued all the way through.--Suzanne


Dime Store Magic

DIME STORE MAGIC by Kelley Armstrong

I'm recommending this one. I think it's the best yet in this supernatural series she's writing. I enjoyed the fact that our heroine is just your average, ordinary, slightly frumpy leader of a witches' coven who is sucked into adventure in spite of herself. There's a nice romance and I think better characterization in this one. It seems to have a bit more humor and empathy than her previous books, too. Looking forward to the next one!--Suzanne

--ILL WIND at Amazon

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Sherwood Smith's "Duel" Books in Brief -- Margaret

I finally got round to reading the Sherwood Smith "Duel" books. I enjoyed both books, the second more than the first. I think this was because the heroine was a bit irritating in the first book--mainly faults of youth. Also she spent most of the first book cold, wet and uncomfortable, which made me feel uncomfortable too. I enjoyed the romance in the second book--I've always had a soft spot for courtship by letter.--Margaret

--CROWN DUEL, Bk 1, review page
--COURT DUEL, Bk 2, review page
CROWN DUEL pb (both books combined) at Amazon

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Friday, August 13, 2004

SUNSHINE wins Mythopoeic Fantasy Award

The Mythopoeic Society has announced the winners for its annual Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, which honors books of fantasy and mythic literature. For Adult Literature, the winner is Robin McKinley's SUNSHINE, a surprising vampire novel from an author more known for fairy tale themes. The society also has a list of past years' Mythopoeic Fantasy Award nominees and winners, which is an excellent place to find quality Fantasy you've missed.

--website forum discussion about SUNSHINE
--SUNSHINE at Amazon

Posted by rebekah [Link]

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

News from August 2004 Locus

The August 2004 issue of Locus Magazine includes the results of this year's Locus Survey, coverage of the opening of the new SF Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, and interviews with writers Neal Stephenson and Stephen Baxter.

Some news:
--Laura Anne Gilman sold YA "Grail Quest" trilogy to Parachute Press.
--Juliet Marillier sold YA novel WILDWOOD DANCING and an untitled second novel to Knopf & Crown Books for Young Readers. Pan Macmillan will publish in Australia.
--Cecilia Dart-Thornton turned in THE IRON TREE, first in "The Crowthistle Chronicles", to Tor.

Posted by rebekah [Link]

Sunday, August 8, 2004

Rachel Caine's HEAT STROKE -- page turner (Preeti)
Heat Stroke

Rachel Caine's HEAT STROKE had me turning the pages. This story continues the adventures of Joanne Baldwin as she figures out life as a new-made genie with help from her lover and fellow genie, David. But David did something forbidden by saving Joanne's life and the price to be paid is coming due. We get the skinny on the origin of genies, their powers, and some more about genie culture.

The inter-personal stuff in HEAT STROKE was as aborsbing as in ILL WIND. Plumbing the world of genies in this one was as fascinating as all the weather and demon-mark stuff in the last. But the actual magical problem in HEAT STROKE involving a rip in the ether (or something) and little floating lights (or something) completely failed to engage my interest (obviously.) Additionally, multiple characters in the story all talking like they're escapees from a Buffy the Vampire Slayer script can get a little wearying. But the sassy, contemporary, funny, angst-filled, paranormal nature of HEAT STROKE, perhaps also influenced by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is very welcome.

I liked the story enough to eagerly await the next volume, CHILL FACTOR. Caine is a natural storyteller.--Preeti

--ILL WIND (Weather Warden 1) review page
--HEAT STROKE (Weather Warden 2) review page
--HEAT STROKE at Amazon

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

DIARY OF A RADICAL MERMAID -- A gentle discommend (Lynn)
Diary of a Radical Mermaid

I just finished Deborah Smith's DIARY OF A RADICAL MERMAID, which I think was the final title of TWO IF BY SEA. I normally adore Deborah Smith, but I found one of the two main female characters so annoying that I would give this book a gentle discommend.

I love Molly Revere's part of the story (she's a JK Rowling-like writer of children's books about mermaids who discovers her own mermaid heritage and falls in love with a man driven to avenge the death of his sister.) Her self discovery is marvelous.

I had a hard time with the other main character, Juna Lee Poinfax. Smith is normally very good at sulky, bratty characters with redeeming features, but I just found Juna Lee tiresome, and the chick-lit voice of that character overdone. I wonder if I would have liked the story better with the former title, which would have--in my mind--put Molly Revere more at the forefront. She seemed to me to be a much more attractive and interesting character. Thinking of Juna Lee as an annoying, but secondary, character might have made me more tolerant. I know this is an arbitrary distinction, but I'm used to certain narrative structures.

Juna Lee is finally redeemed, and the book partially so, by a very strong entry late in the book that does justify the "Radical Mermaid" title, but I'd almost completely given up on her by then.

Smith fleshes out the Waterlilies world in this book and gives us a little glimpse of the characters from the first book, ALICE AT HEART. In the Waterlilies books so far, Smith experiments more with form and style, as well as the actual story, in a way she doesn't in her mainstream fiction. These books aren't as good in absolute terms as her mainstream works, but I'd rather see an author take chances even if some parts don't quite succeed. --Lynn

--ALICE AT HEART (Waterlilies 1) review page
--DIARY OF A RADICAL MERMAID (Waterlilies 2) review page

Posted by rebekah [Link]

Monday, August 2, 2004

TO WEAVE A WEB OF MAGIC - 3 out of 4 ain't bad (Preeti)
To Weave a Web of Magic

To summarize, this anthology of romantic fantasy stories had three good entries and one that made me go, "huh?" Sharon Shinn's "Fallen Angel" was my clear favorite. Set in Samaria some 18 years after the events of ARCHANGEL, "Fallen Angel" tells the story of the teenage daughter of a rich merchant and her encounters with the bad-boy angel Jesse. Eden's feelings towards him grow from a forbidden crush to love. It almost read like a YA-high-school-romance story to me, with the good girl becoming infatuated with the rebellious boy and redeeming him. I've always been partial to these types of stories and Shinn's was wonderful.

My second favorite story was Lynn Kurland's "The Tale of Two Swords," set in a fantasy medieval-like setting. A young boy bored and having to stay indoors begs his father to read the family their favorite story of daring and romance again. So the father tells of a woman who escapes an odious arranged marriage on a fiery steed and sets out to find the king's mages to help her. She reaches the king's castle to find it run-down and inhabited by an unassuming guy who is more than he first appears. This is the first Lynn Kurland story I've ever really liked; I found it charming. Kurland is a romance author whose style transfers nicely to the fantasy genre.

Patricia McKillip's "The Gorgon in the Cupboard" is about a sweet and clueless artist who learns to see women as more than objects for his paintings or to be put on pedestals. The heroine's plight in this one was really moving--the plight of all the women in the story was moving, actually. I'll admit that I didn't quite get what was going on with the gorgon, but thought the story was nice nonetheless--I liked what it had to say.

Claire Delacroix' "An Elegy for Melusine" told the story of Melusine (ignorance alert: is that a "real" mythical figure? Arthurian?), a cursed half-human, half-fey creature who needs to get a guy to keep his word to her in order to get rid of the curse, I think it was. This was a dark and bitter story--not bad, but not what I was expecting from this anthology at all. It might be considered romantic if you consider, say, the romance of Jason and Medea romantic. I've never read Delacroix' romance novels, and now I'm not sure I'd ever want to.

All in all, an very good anthology. I hope the publisher, Berkley, does more along these lines.--Preeti

--TO WEAVE A WEB OF MAGIC review page

Posted by rebekah [Link]


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