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Monday, October 31, 2005

Talking About Reviewing VALIANT (Preeti)

I had to laugh when it turned out that Holly Black's VALIANT stymied more than one review attempt on this site. Here's the conversation...maybe we'll have an actually review to post soon!

I just finished VALIANT, by Holly Black, and will try to send a review tomorrow. It won't be whole-heartedly positive because there were a few disturbing things that the heroine did. Otherwise I would have enjoyed it a lot. I haven't read TITHE yet so I can't compare them.--Linda

I read VALIANT when it came out and didn't know what to say. Linda, if you review it, I'll probably riff off your review and get my own conflicted feelings down in print.--Preeti

I've had the same problem. I've tried about three times to send a review off but it's a strange book and I couldn't come up with anything brief that caught the flavour.--Margaret

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Touched by Venom

I hated TOUCHED BY VENOM, written by an apparently new fantasy author, Janine Cross. It was a relentlessly depressing, strange book. Here's what I remember from reading it two weeks ago: young peasant girl in brutal ancient land has her situation go from bad to worse to awful over the course of several years. And then the book ends. I don't care to read any more in the saga and have never been more grateful for my poor long-term memory.


Zarq is the daughter of peasant potters. Her mother is descended from the reviled green-mottled aboriginal people who have been conquered by the invaders who now rule the land. The little I remember is that the land is politically organized around lords who own dragons. Women have few rights. I can't even remember why the dragons are a big deal, but they are. A brutal, patriarchal religious and political system revolves around these dragons (presented for most of the book as non-sentient.)

Zarq's father ends up being killed by aristocrats, her elder sister ends up a slave, and her mother slowly goes mad over the loss of her eldest daughter. She becomes obsessed with finding her, leading to more tragedy for Zarq, as she is driven from place to place, eventually ending up at a poor convent where old bull dragons are taken to live out the ends of their lives.

The injustice of the world Zarq lives in was just too maddening. In stories set in oppressive societies, heroes are usually underdogs for a little while and then they begin to triumph over evil, you know? Zarq pretty much stays oppressed and powerless throughout this novel. Any triumphing is being saved for sequels.


Posted by Preeti @ 09:32 PM ET [Link]

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Do you love Sharon Lee & Steve Miller's "Liaden" stories but hate those flimsy, hard-to-shelf chapbooks? Introducing LIADEN UNIVERSE COMPANION, VOLUME ONE - the first in a series of collected Lee and Miller short fiction. Volume One contains all of the stories from the first five Liaden chapbooks plus a story - "King of the Cats" - that appeared in an anthology. SRM Publishers (Lee and Miller's small press) sold out of the pre-ordered hardcover, but the trade paperback is still available at $15.95 through SRM.

The stories:
-Where the Goddess Sends
-A Choice of Weapons
-To Cut An Edge
-King of the Cats
-A Spell for the Lost
-A Day at the Races
-Breath's Duty
-The Wine of Memory
-Certain Symmetry
-Pilot of Korval
-Balance of Trade

Posted by rebekah @ 09:33 PM ET [Link]

Monday, October 17, 2005

Dresden Files to be TV show

Sci-Fi Channel and Nicholas Cage's production company have announced a pilot movie based on the "Dresden Files" by Jim Butcher. The series is about a detective in an alternate Chicago where magic is real but few people believe in it. From the Jim Butcher website: "[I]t's a first-person tale told by an irascible wizard named Harry Dresden, who regularly gives the magical establishment indigestion and the police, the same. Take Sam Spade, your Average Joe Underdog Action Star, and toss in some spellcraft, and you get Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden." The movie is scheduled to begin shooting in November, with Toronto standing in for the Windy City, and is due to premiere next summer. If it does well enough, Sci Fi has an option to pick it up as a series. Hans Beimler ("The District") and Robert Wolfe ("The 4400") will be writing the script for the pilot which will introduce Dresden and the unique way he works. The script will be based on the novel STORM FRONT, but will incorporate material from the whole series.

--STORM FRONT (The Dresden Files, book 1) at Amazon

Posted by rebekah [Link]

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Our QUEEN OF THE DARKNESS comments, recovered!
Queen of the Darkness

Blast from our past here. I had managed to delete our comments on Anne Bishop's QUEEN OF THE DARKNESS by accident a couple of years ago, leading to this sorry-looking review page. Today my brother sent me some files from a computer I gave to him in May 2000, which included the site database up to that time. (If any comments were added after that time, they're still lost, though.) Here they are for your enjoyment. This is from an era when we were more chatty and informal.

Guess what! Despite some losses and sacrifices along the way, there is definitely an HEA for the brothers and Jaenelle. Ahh, Daemon.--Preeti (10 Jan 00)

Thank God. I'll tell you, Daemon's (how do you pronounce that?) character is one of the sexiest I've ever read. I just re-read the first two this weekend. Every scene with him and Jaenelle just gave me that Oh! reaction that the best heroes always do--half lust and half tenderness. I feel like that Bujold character who says "I want that one, Da!". I'm really having a hard time waiting for the new book.--Shelly (11 Jan 00)

So was it everything you were expecting? Did you heave a huge sigh of satisfaction when you close the book?--Isabel (11 Jan 00)

It was a very good book. The first is still my favorite simply because of the impact it had. This didn't mesmerize me quite enough that I didn't stop to mentally make comments on the writing, but the story was terrific. The best stuff is the relationship between the four main characters. Heart-stoppingly good moments there.--Preeti (11 Jan 00)

I agree with Preeti, this didn't have me quite as enthralled as the first book (but the 101F fever didn't help with my concentration) although it's still great! We *finally* have the HEA for everyone. I could have wished for a little more on Lucivar's romance but I'm not complaining. Go read it!--Isabel (15 Jan 00)

I read QUEEN OF THE DARKNESS by Anne Bishop on Friday and really loved it. It was not as gripping as DAUGHTER OF THE BLOOD, but I felt Anne Bishop did a good job of resolving everything. I would not mind finding out in other books what happened after (well, "the end" so I do not include any spoilers ). But I could happily hear the answer to that as a history lesson or legend in another novel.

One of the things I do enjoy about Anne Bishop is that although she creates really dark realities she also has flashes of humor. I really enjoy the way her characters interact with each other and the dialog. I am looking forward to THE INVISIBLE RING.--Shelley (18 Jan 00)

I didn't like the book as much as the first two, but I was expecting an awful lot. The main reason was that we'd been teased by the Daemon/Jaenelle romance for two books, so I want more of it. It was in the background far too much. And so was Lucivar's! Geez.

That aside, it was very entertaining. I wish I hadn't known about the HEA, because that made me guess a lot of plot twists in advance. That's a big disadvantage by the way of our only allowing HEA books the the database, but I digress.

Bishop continued her used of humor and I enjoyed it although sometimes it felt out of place. This is a crummy review, just some impressions. I really liked it more than it sounds, and the trilogy will remain one of my favorites.--Shelly (26 Jan 00)

I did read QUEEN OF THE DARKNESS by Anne Bishop, and enjoyed it. I was already a bit disappointed in the second, so I guess I wasn't expecting more. It worked, but I think I know what bothered me. A few minor spoilers (about direction of the trilogy) in the following paragraph:


In the first book, the characters were more in danger. After that, Jaenelle and the others don't really seem to be in the same place. Jaenelle was so powerful that, for the most part, she wasn't under any real threat. And Daemon and Lucivar were no longer slaves, even if Daemon had to escape the twisted kingdom. I guess I would have preferred to see something a bit darker, a bit edgier. Maybe some more action in Terreille, or more specifically in the courts. I guess I kind of wanted to see more of a revolution from within.--Lori (15 Apr 00)

Well, after a somewhat lackluster start the final third of Anne Bishop's QUEEN OF DARKNESS really moved me and made it worth reading. I agree with Lori's assessment, though; it was lacking in powerful action and I was expecting more. Still, the emotion and darkness in the last third and the closure to Daemon and Jaenelle's relationship made it worth a read and brought the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion for me. I'm really looking forward to see what Bishop comes up with next.--Laurie (19 Apr 00)

--DAUGHTER OF THE BLOOD review page (Book 1)
--HEIR TO THE SHADOWS review page (Book 2)
--QUEEN OF THE DARKNESS review page (Book 3)
--DREAMS MADE FLESH review page (Book 4, collection)

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Friday, October 14, 2005

Julie Czerneda's MIGRATION (Species Imperative Book 2) (Linda)
There will be spoilers if you haven't read Julie Czerneda's first book in the Species Imperative series, SURVIVAL, yet.

MIGRATION begins with the heroine, Dr. Mackenzie Connor (Mac), back at her original job at the Norcoast Salmon Research Facility. She has to live with knowing too much and not being able to tell anyone. She's out of the loop and kept in the dark about what is going on in the world.

There is a terrible threat to all species of the world. The alien Dhryn, thought to be friends, had all left on a journey that seemed to include consuming all life in their path. And the alien Ro, originally thought of as enemies and found later to have been trying to help, had totally disappeared. Mac has recovered from most of her injuries but is still grieving for the loss of her friend, Brymn, and Emily, who had gone with the Ro to try to change their minds.

If you can get through the first 120 pages (which is very slow going) of MIGRATION, things improve. The introduction of a few aliens Mac meets while on a forced vacation add some amusement and eventually danger to the story.

Mac is invited to join a Gathering of the highest and most intelligent of the species as they try to save life and stop the Dhryn. The group's major hope is to find a way to recontact the Ro for help in making a weapon that can destroy the Dhryn. Mac leads a group of fellow scientists to try discovering what is driving the Dhryn to kill all life. She is the only one who still has doubts about the friendship of the Ro, wanting more investigation before they are welcomed with open arms.

I give MIGRATION a moderate recommend because of the the extremely slow beginning. The good part, however, was worth the wait. Nobody does aliens like Czerneda. The descriptions can sound very repulsive, but she gives aliens fascinating and sometimes amusing personalities. And once the action actually starts, it is gripping.

There is a romance that started in the first book, SURVIVAL, though it is unspoken most of the time. Mac and Nik both have important roles in saving the world that don't allow them to be together much. But Mac does think of Nik often. :-) You definitely shouldn't try to read this book without reading the first. It doesn't leave you with a cliffhanger but all is also not won. I look forward to the next book. --Linda

--MIGRATION at Amazon

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

News from October 2005 Locus

The October 2005 Locus features interviews with writers Jack McDevitt and Benjamin Rosenbaum and thorough coverage of this year's World Science Fiction Convention, InterAction, including color photos of the spectacular masquerade winners.

News which caught our eye:
--Suzette Haden Elgin has terminated her March 2002 contract with Wildside Press for reprint publication of her four "Coyote Jones" novel.
--Terry Pratchett sold WINTERSMITH, latest of the Discworld YA novels featuring witch-in-training Tiffany Aching, to HarperCollins Children's. Doubleday will publish in the UK. JOHNNY AND THE BOMB is being adapted as a three-part television series slated to air on BBC One in 2006.
--Vicki Pettersson sold THE SCENT OF SHADOWS and two more supernatural novels to Eos.
--New writer Brian Slattery sold SPACEMEN BLUES: A LOVE STORY to Roc.
--Kit Whitfield sold debut novel BAREBACK and a second book to Del Rey.
--British rights to Lois McMaster Bujold's THE HALLOWED HUNT sold to BCA.
--Rudy Rucker turned in MATHEMATICIANS IN LOVE to Tor.

Posted by rebekah [Link]

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Forthcoming Books -- Covers and Excerpts
Irresistible Forces

I updated the forthcoming books page a bit. It looks like the IRRESISTIBLE FORCES anthology--a must-have for the Lois McMaster Bujold story--is finally being released in mass market paperback format. I remember liking the tone of Jo Beverley's story too. Another cover added is for Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's CRYSTAL DRAGON. I still haven't read CRYSTAL SOLDIER (although others of us have), and here's the sequel listed at Amazon already. Actually, it's already available as an e-book. Read an excerpt from CRYSTAL DRAGON at Embiid books.

Crystal Dragon

And here are links to excerpts from forthcoming books on author web pages:
--Anne Bishop's SEBASTIAN;
--Kelley Armstrong's BROKEN, which goes back to Elena's point of view;
--Rachel Caine's WINDFALL;
--a synopsis of Jacqueline Carey's KUSHIEL'S SCION;

Release dates are all on the forthcoming books page. This should help you kiill some time!

Posted by Preeti [Link]

Thursday, October 6, 2005

A Question for our Readers: LK Hamilton Vectoring

The first question went well, so here's another question:
Your friend loves Laurell K. Hamilton - who else do you suggest?

Posted by rebekah [Link]

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

In the Coils of the Snake

I'm annoyed that this book I've been looking forward to for a year didn't wow me. Clare Dunkle's IN THE COILS OF THE SNAKE started off great, but too much within me instinctively strains against Dunkle's society of elves and goblins in rural 19th century England. That, and the absence of a character as charismatic as Marak from THE HOLLOW KINGDOM didn't help. Oh, and the end seemed rushed. If I dwell too much on this book, I'll probably end up divesting it of any worth in my mind when, in fact, I thought it was a good read with huge problems.

Miranda is a human molded by the old goblin king to marry his son and heir Catspaw. Now that she's 17, she's been allowed to leave the human world and enter the Hollow Kingdom--the goblin land--where she's looking forward to the respect and status she'll get as the King's Wife.

However, this is not to be. Goblin kings marry elves, who had been thought to have all but died out. But appearing shortly before Miranda's wedding is a band of elves. Their leader, Ash, is willing to trade with Catspaw -- an elf wife for the books of elvish magic that have been in the goblins' keeping. Ash is determined for the elves to thrive again.

The practical Catspaw throws over Miranda--who is furious and hurt--and means for her to marry some high-ranking goblin. She demands her freedom instead, leaves the goblin kingdom, and is promptly magically entrapped by the elf lord, who is driven to act by his magic. This infuriates Catspaw, despite the fact that he's taken an unwilling 17-year-old elf-bride of his own, and the two sides look to be headed for battle.

So where do I even begin listing the things I didn't like? I think I'll have to resort to bullet points. Spoilers abound, so beware!


Posted by Preeti @ 01:28 AM ET [Link]

Monday, October 3, 2005

Serenity - A movie for all SF lovers

This is outside of our normal area, but I have to tell people about the fanastic movie Serenity! While it comes out of the tv series "Firefly", you don't have to know anything about the TV show to enjoy the movie. Serenity is for people who like their science fiction movies to have action and special effects, but also to have intelligence, real plot and incredible characters. There are a couple of minor romantic threads, including one "It's about time!" moment. For more info, go to the Serenity website.

Posted by rebekah [Link]

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Justine Musk's BLOODANGEL -- Wrong Genre for Me (Preeti)

The title of Justine Musk's BLOODANGEL intrigued me. When I got it in my hands and realized it was a true horror novel, my expectations for the book plummeted. I'm generally not looking to be seriously horrified in my escapist entertainment.

It turned out the story was fine, even good, but I didn't love it. Maybe it was because I only actively connected sympathetically to one viewpoint character.

An evil woman from an ancient race of magic-wielders has somehow become freed from her prison of 700 years and is bent on world domination once more. Asha has a nasty habit of eating people. Her sinister ruse involves sucking in a lot of vulnerable young people through her goth-alternative music band.

Opposing her is another long-lived member of the same race, Kai, who originally helped put Asha and her cohorts away. I forget if there was a reason given as to why these enemies weren't just killed. Anyway, Kai recruits a descendent of one of his fellow Sajae whom he's secretly kept tabs on since she was a child. Jess is unaware of her magical heritage.

Jess seems connected to a boy she keeps painting. Turns out the boy is the key to defeating Asha, and both sides are looking for him. Kai needs Jess to tap into her latent Sajae powers immediately so she can find Ramsey first. In the meantime Kai and Jess fall into bed on the way to love.

The boy is the character I liked. Ramsey is a good kid with a troubled family history trying to do the right thing. Kai's backstory--the sketches of the ancient city in the desert where he ruled as a prince over an increasingly corrupt society--left me wanting to know more, but nothing about his present self was all that interesting. Ditto with Jess. Asha was scary as advertised, but I didn't quite buy the rock band milieu. I don't know why rock and horror seem inherently campy to me.

Musk may have a poetry background because besides including some lyrics, her writing is the kind that often enough tries to draw attention to words, as opposed to the story they're meant to tell, in a way I find distracting.

I liked the mythological aspects of BLOODANGEL, e.g., demons and angels and rituals and ancient struggles played out again in the modern day, but I didn't warm up to the blood'n'gore and most of the characters.

Lastly, there were some insinuations made on the connection between the wasted musician in Asha's band and Jess that totally went over my head and made the epilogue (my last taste of the book) incomprehensible and frustrating.

This was apparently Musk's debut novel. It's one I wouldn't recommend to anyone who doesn't already enjoy the horror genre.--Preeti

--BLOODANGEL at Amazon
--BLOODANGEL review page

Posted by Preeti [Link]


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