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Saturday, October 30, 2004

Laura Anne Gilman's STAYING DEAD -- Appealing Realism (Lynn)
Staying Dead

I liked Laura Anne Gilman's STAYING DEAD a lot. The romance is very understated although that made it seem a lot more real to me. ("Real" people are always a plus.) The heroine, Wren, had been involved with Sergei as an employee/partner for ten years as a "Retriever"--a thief who steals things back, more or less.

Wren was very young--17 or so?--when they first became partners, and it is just a business/mentor relationship, at least overtly. It is clear very early in the book that Sergei and Wren both feel differently, but both display a healthy caution about changing the relationship. This persists even as the story develops. The duo takes a very appealing and sensible attitude that even if there is going to be a romantic relationship, stopping to delve into that when all hell is breaking loose around them may not be the smartest thing they could do.

In addition, Sergei has kept some pretty major secrets about who he is and about some of his motives for being involved with Wren over the years. I have a pretty strong sense that that may well be continued to be worked out in future books.

STAYING DEAD reads more like the beginning of a mystery series that will have a longer plot arc and further character development. Only the immediate mystery solved in this first book. I also found the particular "magic" stuff to be consistent and well thought out in a pleasant and competent sort of way.--Lynn

--STAYING DEAD (Retrievers Book 1) review page
--Luna Books feature page
--STAYING DEAD at Amazon

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Luna Books So Far? Few Good, Most Not So. (Preeti, Linda, Lynn)
Each Luna I (attempt to) read just makes me think they're a big, fat rip-off--books with lovely covers, shoddy paper, mediocre stories, and inflated prices. I'm becoming rather resentful of the line, actually. I want to give the C.E. Murphy a chance because she's a new author. Otherwise, I'm steering clear until the Laura Resnicks and Michelle Sagaras get published.--Preeti


As to the Luna books, I admit to being more careful and which ones I'm picking. I've been reading reviews or buying them used. although I'm going to try buying Susan Krinard's SHIELD OF THE SKY new. I might buy Rachel Lee's also...I'm still hoping for good things from the line. I like having a good choice of fantasy to chose from.--Linda


Well, I'm just spouting off, disappointed there hasn't been a real standout among the Luna books for me yet. I'm sure I'll read more of these, especially if they begin appearing in mass market paperback format.--Preeti


Fairy GodmotherLuna books are definitely a mixed bag. The only ones that get a strong positive so far for me are the Brennan, the Zettel, and the Gilman, which I don't think I posted about here. The Asaro and the Lackey I didn't mind having read and were OK, but I'd be a lot happier if I'd paid $6.99 for them. The Lackey was fairly typical "light Lackey" and not as good as what I consider her best, which is the Elemental Masters series. I'm also an easy grader, I think, if there are pieces of the story I like. And if I don't like things, I don't tend to finish them unless I'm committed to doing a review.

I've bought all the Luna books so far. What can I say, hope springs eternal. I don't actually disagree with Preeti's overall assessment, though, and I think they'd be a lot more enjoyable at mass market prices instead of overpriced trade paperbacks.

Camelot's ShadowWhat I've also noticed is that, in general, Luna books aren't succeeding in the romance/fantasy crossover in that at least at Borders they are being put in SF or Romance sections based on the author's history as much as anything. For example, Michele Hauf's and Deborah Hale's books went into the romance section.

I found Deborah Hale's THE WIZARD'S WARD and Michele Hauf's SERAPHIM so unreadable I didn't finish them, hence my lack of review of them. Anne Kelleher's SILVER'S EDGE has disappeared somewhere into the house. I hadn't really started it but am not inclined so far to look for it either. This is probably a bad sign. Christie Golden's ON FIRE'S WINGS I do know the location of. It is on the "give it another try" pile because I'm pretty tolerant. However, I've tried some other Goldens and she hasn't worked for me. I suspect this book will also go on the "unreadable" pile.--Lynn


On Fire's WingsI got close to reading Christie Golden's ON FIRE'S WINGS and Laura Anne Gilman's STAYING DEAD in their entirety but ended up succumbing to skimming both. The Gilman was OK, but I started keeping a whole page of notes on everything that was annoying me about the Golden as I was reading it. I am bummed that I can no longer find that piece of paper. So much for my attempts to be more organized about reviewing. :-)

You already know my feelings on Michele Hauf's Luna book. Ah, yes, I found my email note from back in June in which I said, "I began Michele Hauf's SERAPHIM and thought it was horrible, horrible. Just painful to read." I was unable to proceed further.--Preeti

--Our Luna Books feature page.

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Monday, October 25, 2004

No Hot Novels About Werewolves?
Shattered Glass

There's an article about horror author Elaine Bergstrom, an author whom some of us read, over at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website. This paragraph from the story caught my eye.

But why vampires at all? Why not, say, werewolves? Any fans from the crypt will agree with Bergstrom's answer. "Because vampires are sexy. They have that mental power to sweep you away. Have you ever read a hot novel about werewolves?"

Hello! Not that I disagree about the vampires, but she seems to be missing out on recent trends. I've encountered plenty of hot novels about werewolves. Admittedly, they're more likely to be from the romance/mainstream/ebook imprints--and they're outnumbered by vampire novels--but still!

Can you guys come up with some titles, or do you think Bergstrom is essentially correct?

--SHATTERED GLASS review page (bare bones)

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Mountain's Call

I hate to say it, Lynn, but despite your enthusiasm, nothing you describe about Caitlin Brennan's THE MOUNTAIN'S CALL makes me want to read it. All the many pitfalls of the book that you've laid out aren't balanced by what is truly special about the story to you?--Preeti


I have to agree too. I wasn't massively interested in the plot anyway, but description of the near rape and the sexual relationship with the two men vying for her attention was a real turn off for me. I guess I prefer one hero and if there're two, I don't want her involved deeply with each. Except for in the LKH Meredith Gentry series. :-)--Linda

--THE MOUNTAIN'S CALL review page
--Our Luna Books feature page


The problem is that most of what makes Brennan/Tarr's book better than any summary is what Tarr does in developing the plot. Since the spoiler-adverse would really be upset in this case, not to mention the romance convention adherants, I'm going to talk more details after some spoiler space.

So, now the spoilers for THE MOUNTAIN'S CALL, (with the acknowledgement that it may not be Preeti's cup of tea) and also that some of what I describe may *really* put some people off.


Posted by Preeti @ 03:08 PM ET [Link]

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Clare B. Dunkle's THE HOLLOW KINGDOM--Edith Concurs
Hollow Kingdom

I read this book a couple of weeks ago and want to add my enthusiastic recommendation to Preeti's and Margaret's. I thought Dunkle did a fabulous job making an initially physically repulsive "hero" appealing. He's smart, engaging, and has a sense of humor.

I also want to add that there's a character at the end of the book, the Queen's Charm, who steals the book. I wish she'd write a book where Charm has a larger role.--Edith

--The HOLLOW KINGDOM review page
--CLOSE KIN, Book 2, at Amazon

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

THE HOLLOW KINGDOM--"Solidly" Good, har (Preeti, Margaret)
Hollow Kingdom

A site visitor suggested we should note Clare B. Dunkle's THE HOLLOW KINGDOM as the winner of the 2004 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature since it has a romance. So I checked this book out of the library and find that the strange courtship between the goblin king and a young girl in rural Regency England is central to the story. While in some ways unsettling all the way to the end, this was a very good read indeed. Thanks, site visitor!

Kate, a very young woman, and her even younger sister go to live with relatives in the countryside. There the older catches the eye of the goblin king in the woods, and he begins his pitiless (I like that word--it's used in the book and it's a perfect descriptor) mission of stealing her away to become his bride.

Marak is a king, but he's really no prince. He's old, misshapen, a widower, and generally kinda scary. And yet Dunkle makes him grow on you. He's almost good-naturedly amoral. By the end he's weirdly appealing and downright heroic and the romance not quite as bizarre as it should be.

I loved that Dunkle didn't make the heroine the victim, didn't make this book a captive/captor romance. Instead, as ruthless as Marak is in his pursuit and as reluctant as Kate to be captured by him, there is a battle of wits that's actually quite exhilirating to witness. The resolution to the battle is a little bittersweet but really satisfying, too.

What didn't grab me was the fact that the goblins are ugly because they value strength over beauty. Didn't quite get why Marak was attracted to pretty young girls, then. Anyway. There were some underlying disturbing things that never went away, but they made the story rich and interesting.

The goblin character novelty was great, too, i.e., having goblins at the forefront instead of the elves, whom they scorn as weak. Kinda reminds me (and =only= in the sense that goblins and elves play a major role) the Meredith Gentry books. I obviously don't read enough folklore-based stories.

Lastly, what luck. I read this book a month ago, just in time for the sequel, CLOSE KIN, to have come out. CLOSE KIN also promises a romance in the next generation of characters. I liked THE HOLLOW KINGDOM enough to order CLOSE KIN new in hardcover from Amazon.--Preeti


Close Kin

[Margaret's review contains SPOILERS! but does correct the numerous mistakes I seemed to have made in my review.--Preeti]

After Preeti's interesting review I checked out the local library and found a copy which I read last night. I found it well-written and enjoyable. There's not much I can add to Preeti's review except a few comments:

Kate is 18 at the start of the book and her sister Emily is 11. Emily will be the heroine of the next book.

I didn't find Marak amoral. True he was determined to make Kate his wife, regardless of her wishes, but that was for the survival of his race and he did her as little harm as he could, in the circumstances, although he did tease her dreadfully. After the marriage he treated her kindly and did all he could to make her happy, apart from letting her leave.

I, too, appreciated the fact that Kate was not a victim. She resisted Marak to the best of her abilities and was more successful than either he or she expected.

Preeti commented that, as goblins valued strength over beauty, it was odd that Marak went for a pretty young girl. I didn't find this odd as it's mentioned, more than once, that Marak was part elf and this accounted for his appreciation of beauty. Also, although Kate isn't physically strong, she's very strong in a number of other important ways.

The library has the sequel on order and I've requested it.--Margaret


Thanks for correcting my mistakes, Margaret. I wrote this review in about five minutes yesterday after having read the book a month ago, and the sloppiness showed (although I hope my enthusiasm for it did too!)--Preeti

--CLOSE KIN at Amazon

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Poll: What other SF do you read?
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Other than Romantic SF, what is your favorite type of SF?
High/Heroic Fantasy 36 24%
Social Science SF 6 4%
Supernatural Horror 14 9%
Humorous Fantasy 16 11%
Adventure SF 22 15%
Psychological Horror 0 0%
Magic Realism 7 5%
Hard Science SF 10 7%
Alternate History SF 4 3%
Contemporary/Urban Fantasy 33 22%
Other 1 1%
Total votes: 149
Start date: 10/13/04
End date: 10/20/04

Posted by rebekah [Link]

Sunday, October 3, 2004

INCUBUS DREAMS--Anita "Does" St. Louis (Shelley)
Incubus Dreams

I was torn when thinking about INCUBUS DREAMS and finally realized why: this book is both a discommend and a recommend from me. It is discommended to anyone who has not been following the series. Without the last several books in the series, INCUBUS DREAMS is more like "Anita Does St. Louis", i.e, lots of sex and perhaps not enough context without the back story.

And that is the main flaw with INCUBUS DREAMS. For readers who have been following the story arc, INCUBUS DREAMS pulls together alot of the relationship threads that have been developing. This is definitly a relationship book; Anita is forced to deal with her relationship with the men in her life and also her relationship with her new powers and the fact that so many of them are channeled through sex. But INCUBUS DREAMS does not stand on its own within the series, this book definitely requires the books that are before it for a framework.

Most of the Anita Blake books have a strong action or mystery plot that goes along with the character developement. In INCUBUS DREAMS, the action part, involving a serial killer who targets strippers and may be a vampire, is rushed and short-changed. In fact, it reads as if the book should have been longer (and it is already a very long book) but the author had to compromise in order to get it to a reasonable size. Not being psychic, I could be wrong on this, but I kept thinking the mystery had gotten squeezed out, and indeed, it is left with a bit of a cliffhanger and the feeling that it will be revisited in another book.

There is a lot of sex in this novel--to the point where it is tiring. But I think part of that was deliberate. While some of the sex is sweet (like a wonderful scene with Anita and Jean-Claude) and some results in Anita growing and realizing things about her relationships, some is necessary work brought about by the powers Anita is gifted (burdended?) with. Anita is not quite comfortable with the demands that power makes on her, nor is she comfortable with the fact that she is definitely not living the white-picket fence, monogamous existence she had been brought up to believe in, and her discomfort carries over to the reader.

INCUBUS DREAMS was interesting and kept me turning the pages, but it was not a stand alone novel, and I would not recommend it to someone new to the series.--Shelley

--INCUBUS DREAMS review page

Posted by Preeti [Link]


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