Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
“But, Mfitz’s SF reviews go up on the fourth THURSDAY, of every month, why is this one showing up on Wednesday?”
I will be traveling and may or may not have Internet access over Thanksgiving weekend so Kimber An said I could post my November review a day early.
Now, before people start to think I’m the some sort of weird stalker fan of Tobias Buckell, Kimber An asked if I would review Ragamuffin so that all three Caribbean space opera books would have reviews on this site. Buckell is a bang-up writer, and a great guy so I had no problem at all with posting a review of his second book. Since I have been up to my eyeballs in home remodeling, trying to make sure we would have floors in our house before the holiday season arrived, I’m pulling up this review originally posted on my personal blog last year when Ragamuffin first came out. Buckell had a serious health scare last week, so if you like his work check out his blog and send him some get well wishes.
Enjoy this review and have a great Thanksgiving!
Ragamuffin is a rollicking big Space Opera. There is a great sky-hook scene early on in the book with the most haunting mental image of a sky-hook I ever come across. The sky-hook is throwaway as far as the plot goes. The character could have used a other way to get off the planet, but I think Buckell chose a sky-hook just for the pure coolness factor. The whole book is like that, with little bits and pieces of cool ideas crammed in all the nooks and crannies and a non-stop roller-coaster plot. Some reviewers have complained the book is cluttered, but I didn't think so. It was like eating rocky road ice cream, there was something yummy in each bite and no two were the same.
Things like wormholes, aliens, sky-hooks, and giant L5 habitats, exist in this universe and are no more exciting, or unusual, to the characters than cars, or condos, are to us. They are part of the landscape not important parts of he plot. This use of SF standbys without stopping to fill in nuts-and-bolt technobabble is part of what makes the book so fun. The other part is the cast of quirky multiethnic characters many of who, even the familiar characters from Crystal Rain, aren't what they seem at first glance. Ragamuffin is not so much a sequel to Crystal Rain as another story set in the same universe. Some characters from Crystal Rain do show up in the book, but the main action happens elsewhere, outside Nanagada
Another interesting thing in the book is humanity's place in this universe. Humans aren't the bright shining conquering heroes, nor are they feisty rebels fighting evil alien overlords, the standard default positions in most SF. In this book humans are marginal, most of what they do doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, except to other humans. They are, for the most part, pawns, bottom feeders, or shady dealers, living on the fringes of civilization because they don't have the political, or technical, clout to take control. This isn't all that cheerful a situation, but it's not completely bleak either. By the end of the book there is some indication that the status quo in the universe is about to get shaken up, and that humans are going to play a part in that, even if they aren't leading the overthrow.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Cwen’s fury and grief led her to curse the Norse warriors, turning them into shadow beasts. Half man, half animal, each taking the form of his fylgja, or spirit companion whose image he wore on a chain, they were also made immortal so their torment could last forever.
Centuries later, Ivar Graycloak, now known as Ivo de Vassy, has the favor of William Rufus, son of William the Conqueror. He has won many battles for William despite spending his days in the form of an eagle. Ivar has been lonely, and he’s growing tired of his nomadic existence. He longs for a hall of his own- good friends and a good woman in front of his own fire. He gets his wish when William grants him an estate, complete with a wife.
Ivar has two friends from the Viking days; Brand, their leader, who spends his days as a bear, and Ari, who spends nights as a raven. They think Ivar’s crazy- his secret will surely be discovered and it will end badly. But Ivar longs for the warmth of companionship and a home, and is willing to take it for as long as it lasts.
The estate is given with a command to marry the granddaughter of its’ former owner, one Lady Alaida. She isn’t thrilled at being given to some usurper, and plans to take her saved coin and run for a nunnery and pay for sanctuary. Her grandfather has been imprisoned, and she has been besieged by suitors hoping to gain the estate and her. She just wants to work to see her grandfather freed and reinstated as the Lord of Alnwick.
Ari finds her as she runs, convincing her that Ivar is a good man and will be a good lord and husband. She returns to wed Ivar for the sake of her people. She still wants a bit of her own back, though. She shows up to the wedding in the habit of a nun. Rather than show anger at her cheek, he laughs. He likes her spirit.
The wedding night is more than she expected. Ivar is considerate and passionate, treating her gently but seeing to it that she enjoys herself. Ivar has been kind, humorous, and protective of her and the estate. She starts to see all sorts of possibilities for her new life until she wakes the next morning to find her husband gone.
As he is gone every morning, riding out with Brand, never returning until after sundown. Ari becomes her friend and companion during the day, but what she really wants is to spend daylight hours with Ivar. He won’t confide in her his reasons for going out, which infuriates Alaida.
He also hasn’t touched her again. Ari is also a seer, and has had a horrible vision of Alaida screaming over an empty cradle, through the eyes of one who has just flown out the window. Now afraid that a child of his would also have his curse, Ivar has to content himself with talking alone. Alaida knows he has affection for her, and the wedding night proved he has passion, so what is wrong with the man she’s growing to love?
One time proves to be the charm, however, as Alaida learns that she is pregnant.
If you’re like me, you thought of a great old movie, Ladyhawke. The similarity ends with the animal by night, human by day, though. Ivar and Alaida really get to know each other, and you can see their love grow- even though Alaida has to deal with mounting frustration at her husband’s daytime disappearances. Ivar is just adorable, pining for his wife and demanding to know how to care for the baby, including changing nappies. He’s afraid he’ll have to take the babe and leave if it turns into a eagle, so he must know everything about his child’s care.
Lisa Hendrix has written a wonderful fantasy, the kind you want to dig into, not skim. Her characters have believable motives and reactions, and the relationships are as satisfying as the magical setting. The heat level, what there is of it, is highly sensual. It made sense, though. That one night has to start them on the road, so to speak, and provide a lot of impetus for Alaida’s willingness to put up with Ivar’s eccentricities. It’s as much about their emotions as their bodies, and I appreciated it. Thanks, Lisa!
Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Hello Blog Buddies!
Up for today is In The Dead of Winter by Nancy Mehl. It's a cozy mystey that I found thanks to the great people on the DorothyL list - a wonderful resource for talking about mysteries and finding great books!
This is also considered inspirational fiction. I don't typically read inspirational fiction, so I don't know if this is standard for the genre, but basically there are references to God and the main character is a Christian so occasionally prays, etc. It felt very seamlessing integrated into the story to me.
So, the setup - Samantha "Ivy" Towers returns to Winter Break, Kansas when her beloved Aunt Bitty dies. Aunt Bitty lived above the used book store that she owned and ran. It was a place of warmth and comfort for Ivy, the most home she ever felt. But soon it seems to Ivy that Winter Break isn't as safe as she assumed. The story of her aunt falling from the book store ladder doesn't add up and Ivy needs to find out the truth.
If you love winter and Christmas and cozy mysteries in front of cozy fires this book is for you! Some others you might enjoy along these lines are Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Maillet and Christmas at Cliffhanger Inn by Christine E. Collier.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
This USA Today best-selling author now has some 75 published novels, with more than ten million copies of her books in print. Her books have won numerous awards, including the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA. Merline is especially honored to have been named the University of Oklahoma’s Writer of the Year and the Oklahoma Female Veteran of the Year.
features Maggie & Adam’s grown-up daughter Gillian, who goes undercover with Mike Callahan, aka Hawkeye. Sparks fly as Mike stubbornly refuses to see her as the woman she’s become while trying to shield her from the danger inherent in their profession.
Recently, I reread Lois McMaster Bujold’s CORDELIA’S HONOR. It’s actually two books in one, SHARDS OF HONOR, and the 1992 HUGO Award Winner, BARRAYAR. It’s been some years since I first read it. I liked it then; and I like it now, more than ever.
Aside to the reader: In addition to the cover illustration of CORDELIA'S HONOR, above, which I do like, but which I don't feel fully reflects the characters, I have included, one of the original cover illustrations of SHARDS OF HONOR. I think that it clearly reflects the characters, and one of the episodes in the book. Neither hero nor heroine are young, gorgeous, or perfect; but they are wonderful.
If there were one word that I would use to describe CORDELIA’S HONOR, it would be complex. Don't mistake that for confusing. It's simply that the more you think about this book, the more you see. Ms. Bujold has created three diverse ecological systems, two distinct socio-political organizations, and a study of evil that is magnificent, and all too real. All of the events in the exceedingly strong plot lines serve to reveal aspects of the characters and their conflicts. Layers upon layers lead to lots of, ‘Oh ho! So that’s what is going on!’ These are subtle moments of discovery that delight the reader. .
Commander Cordelia Naismith and Captain Aral Vorkosigan come from planets with antithetical cultures: his, reminiscent of a violent cross between Victorian England and Imperial Russia; and hers, a supposedly peaceful, advanced, constitutional, free, and politically correct society. They are first thrown together in SHARDS OF HONOR, on a hostile alien world, which quickly reveals their true natures. They are complex, flawed, and, above all, honorable. Each brings a starship load of life experiences with them, which, strangely enough, mirror one another. They have both had painful failures in their pasts; and I found their shy efforts at sharing their pasts to be particularly endearing. When Aral asks Cordelia to marry him by listing all of the terrible consequences to doing so, I lost my heart. Quick, woman, marry the man! Ah, but what can they do, when they are on opposite sides of a coming war, and they are both bound by duty and honor?
Since CORDELIA’S HONOR covers so much, I will review BARRAYAR in a future post. Thanks for your patience.
Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future
Sunday, November 9, 2008
There's an excerpt and other cool stuff at Ms. Worth's site- http://www.sandraworth.com/queen.htm
Here's the blurb:
Some are destined for greatness, few more so than Elizabeth of York. Yet, while she was the only English Queen to have been a wife, daughter, sister, niece and mother to English Kings, the legacy of her noble spirit and love of country far outweigh her impressive bloodline.
“Meticulously researched, exquisitely written, here is a rich, magnificent novel of the Tudor court evoking a once forgotten queen, now impossible to forget.”~ Michelle Moran, author of the national bestseller, Nefertiti: A Novel.
Fiercely devoted to her beloved father and King, seventeen-year-old Elizabeth of York trusts that his dying wish has left England in the hands of a just and deserving ruler. With a young successor not ready to reign, the power is passed to Elizabeth’s uncle, Richard of Gloucester—a man her mother has never trusted. It isn’t long before Elizabeth fears that her own faith was misplaced. Upon Richard’s rise, her family experiences one devastation after another: her late father is exposed as a bigamist, she and her siblings are branded bastards, and her brothers are taken into the new king’s custody, then reportedly killed. How could her father have believed in a man capable of such treachery? But one fateful night shakes Elizabeth to the core and leads her to question all of her prejudices. Through the eyes of Richard’s ailing queen she sees a man worthy of respect and undying adoration. His dedication to his people inspires a forbidden love and ultimately gives her the courage to accept her destiny, marry Henry Tudor and become Queen. While her soul may always secretly belong to another, her heart forever belongs to England . . .
GAMER GIRL by Mari Mancusi
I was aware of Mari Mancusi, but didn't really check her books out until recently. You see, the previous ones had blood-sucking dead guys and such in them and you know how queezy I am about such things. Then, I noticed young people were having trouble finding the Science Fiction they'd love. Like Science Fiction Romance, the publishers lose track of their best readers while trying to win new readers. It's the biggest marketing backfire I see. So, I started a blog as sort of a hub to collect Science Fiction young people love, regardless of labels. http://youngadultsciencefiction.blogspot.com/ Girls are the most neglected YA SciFi reader, so I made a special effort to find books with girl heroes. And that's what led me back to Mari Mancusi. I have three of her novels on the way, including her newest release, GAMER GIRL. Granted, it's not exactly Science Fiction, but a lot of my younger friends are into gaming. A lot of young gamers also love Science Fiction. So, there you have it.
.Learn more at http://www.marimancusi.com/
Here's the blurb:
ZOMG, IT ROX TO BE A GAMER GIRL!
Maddy’s life: not so rockin’. Her parents split, she’s stuck in a new, small town at a school full of Aberzombies and Haters, she has a crush on someone she really shouldn’t like, and she’s stuck with the nickname Freak Girl.
Sometimes it’s enough to retreat into her drawing – her Manga is totally important to her – but when she gets Fields of Fantasy for her birthday, she knows she’s found the one place she can be herself. In the game world, Maddy can transform from regular outcast high school student to Allora, a beautiful Elvin Princess with magical powers to take down enemies with a snap of her fingers and wave of her wand.
As Allora, Maddy can totally be herself. She spends a lot of time questing with Sir Leo, a brave knight who seems to really like Allora, and maybe even the IRL (In Real Life) Maddy. Allora’s virtual life is perfect, but a real gamer girl understands that real life comes first – Maddy knows she can’t escape from her IRL problems. She has to find ways to kick back at the Haters, rock her manga and find the new, real life friends she knows she deserves.
MISSION: CHRISTMAS by Lindsey McKenna & Susan Grant
Susan Grant is a Science Fiction Romance favorite here at Enduring Romance and Lindsey McKenna is just riding shotgun for this one. However, you might also like her story, so I encourage you to learn more about it. But, let's face it, I picked this one up because of Susan. As a writer, I have dozens of stories in my head from a dozen different genres, but have you noticed most authors only write in one, or two at the most? The logic behind doing that on purpose is to establish an author's brand and build up a readership, but some authors only want to write in one or two genres. It all made me wonder if there are authors who write in one genre/subgenre, but have stories nagging them to go elsewhere. Little surprise that the most original SFR storyteller I know would try a Romantic Suspense story for a Christmas anthology. Doesn't hurt that the protagonists are pilots, because, you know, I married a pilot and started breeding more. MISSION: CHRISTMAS is on the shelves now.
Pop over to Susan's website to learn more- http://susangrant.com/books/missionchristmas.htm
You can read an excerpt of Ms. McKenna's story here-
Here's the blurb:
During an unprecedented cold wave causing death, injury, and extensive damage to property throughout most of Northern Europe, Major Kat Wallace volunteers to fly a humanitarian Christmas drop to assist those affected by record-breaking snow. Stranded in bad weather, she soon finds herself battling off hostiles.
Kat’s reason for taking a mission so close to Christmas is quite sentimental. While serving as a young pilot training instructor, she met Prince Alek, crown prince to one of the oldest, unbroken lines of royalty, second only to the Danes, who is attending pilot training at her base. Despite her attraction to the impossibly cocky prince, when put in the position to pass or fail him on a check ride for which he’d obviously not prepared despite his undeniable, natural flying skills, she busts him, causing him to meet a review board to determine whether he stays or goes. Recognizing his potential that he doesn’t seem to see or accept in himself, she recommends that he get a second chance. But it’s too late. He’s called back home to face revolution, never to be heard from again. In the years since, she’s often wondered what happened to him.
Alek is anything but dead. For years he’s been fighting as a rebel leader, determined to restore the monarchy in his homeland as well as his people’s freedom and honor. He’s made many mistakes, not the least of which was refusing to accept that there are consequences for bad behavior. From the bastard son he fathered when he was a teen to his not educating himself on the problems of his kingdom, he has made many mistakes. Now he’s set out to right those wrongs, even if it means losing his life in the process. He owes part of his epiphany to the gorgeous, fast-talking, and (to his confusion and dismay) totally unaffected by his charms USAF pilot Kat Wallace, who (rightfully so) bounced his ass out of pilot training. She changed his life, even if he didn’t yet recognize it. Somehow she saw in him what he didn’t, or couldn’t, but what he hoped to God he could call on now in the battle for his homeland, his people, and the chance to reverse his failing them.
Kat is more than wary of the wannabe prodigal prince’s intentions. She’s not entirely convinced he’s done playing with life as if it were a silly game. But with communications cut off, weather moving in and her own crew to protect, Kat forms a way-outside-the box (not to mention protocol) alliance with Alek. With forces joined, and their fiery attraction melting the wintry ice, Kat and Alek wonder if trust alone will be enough to survive the dangers looming ahead.
THE SACRIFICE by Kathleen Benner Duble
This one sparked my interest because it's a Young Adult Historical and I'm totally into that right now. In fact, the next novel I polish up for submission will probably be a YA Historical. SACRIFICE is set during the Salem Witch Trials and explores the primal instinct of herd terror. That's when normally rational and intelligent human beings get together, one freaks out, and pretty soon the whole herd is stampeding. Tragedy always results. Here in the 21st century, we like to think we've evolved beyond that. Think again.
You can read a first chapter excerpt at Amazon.com-http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/0689876513/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books
Here's the blurb:
In the year 1692, life changes forever for ten-year-old Abigail Faulkner and her family. In Salem, Massachusetts, witches have been found, and widespread fear and panic reign mere miles from Abigail's home of Andover. When two girls are brought from Salem to identify witches in Andover, suspicion sweeps the town as well-respected members of the community are accused of witchcraft. It isn't long before chaos consumes Andover, and the Faulkners find themselves in the center of it all when friend turns themselves in the center of it all when friend turns against friend, neighbor against neighbor, in a desperate fight for the truth. At the heart of this gripping story are Abigail and her sister, Dorothy, who together must find a way to persevere during a period marked by terror, adversity, and ignorance.
Told from Abigail's point of view and based on actual events in the author's own family histoy, The Sacrifice offers a unique perspective of the Salem witch trials by delving into the devestating effects the trials had not just in Salem but throughout Massachusetts.
***That's it for this month, Blog Buds! Now, repeat the Enduring Romance Oath: "I (insert name here) do solemnly swear to always buy my favorite authors' books new." Remember, when you buy new you keep your favorite authors in the business of creating the stories you love.***
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Marian made a choice five years ago. She rescued a child from certain death by claiming her as her own. For an unmarried medieval lady, that decision brought with it serious consequences. She was branded the Robertson Harlot and brutally banished from her clan. Now she and her 'daughter' Ciara live on the outskirts of society. Marian has changed her appearance and stays to herself, determined to give Ciara a normal life.
This is challenging to do when Duncan, peacemaker and negotiator for the neighing clan, takes notice of her. Marian's brother, in an attempt to assuage his own guilt, forces a marriage between the two. During the wedding night, Duncan, of course, realizes that the Robertson Harlot is no harlot and Ciara can not possibly be her daughter. He's stuck. He can't trust Marian without the truth but Marian won't share the truth without trust.
I'm a couple months behind on my Harlequin Historical reading and was kicking myself for leaving this wonderful August release so long. Possessed By The Highlander (silly title, great story) by Terri Brisbin is a story of what one woman will do for love. And we're not talking simply the love between a woman and a man. Marian would die (and almost does) for her child. She sacrifices everything for her family.
Sweetly, the smooth talking Highlander falls in love with the child first. Ciara plays an integral part of the story. She is never more than a page or two away from her adoptive mother and new father. She isn't a perfect child but she is a normal one.
Stories of adoption are rare in Medieval romances. That alone would get some notice from me (as the hubby and I can't biologically have children). However, the story is so enticing, the characters so engaging and unique, it now ranks as one of my favorite Highlander romances.
This is a Harlequin Historical so there are some sensual scenes but nothing too spicy. There isn't much violence at all.
For an excerpt from Possessed By The Highlander, visit Terri's website at http://www.terribrisbin.com/ .
Note: I'm not a fan of the excerpt. The hero is not himself during it (can't say more, a spoiler) so his actions and speech reflect that.
Sunday, November 2, 2008