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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Debut Showcase – Two Historicals and a Fantasy

I have some historicals and a fantasy for you this week.

Historicals


The Sergeant’s Lady
by Susanna Fraser
Carina Press

ebook

Highborn Anna Arrington has been “following the drum,” obeying the wishes of her cold, controlling cavalry officer husband. When he dies, all she wants is to leave life with Wellington’s army in Spain behind her and go home to her family’s castle in Scotland.

Sergeant Will Atkins ran away from home to join the army in a fit of boyish enthusiasm. He is a natural born soldier, popular with officers and men alike, uncommonly brave and chivalrous, and educated and well-read despite his common birth.

As Anna journeys home with a convoy of wounded soldiers, she forms an unlikely friendship with Will. When the convoy is ambushed and their fellow soldiers captured, they become fugitives—together. The attraction between them is strong—but even if they can escape the threat of death at the hands of the French, is love strong enough to bridge the gap between a viscount’s daughter and an innkeeper’s son?

I read this as part of my current historical fiction kick. Review coming in the next day or so.

~*~


The Wet Nurse’s Tale
by Erica Eisdorfer
Berkley Trade

Trade Paperback

Susan Rose is not your average Victorian heroine. She’s promiscuous, lovable, plump, and scheming. Luckily for Susan, her big heart is covered by an equally big bosom, and her bosom is her fortune—for Susan becomes a professional wet nurse, like her mother before her, and she makes it her business to know all the intrigues and scandals that the upper crust would prefer to keep to themselves.

When her own child is caught up in a family scandal, Susan must use all of her street smarts to rescue her baby from the powerful mistress of the house. The scheme she weaves is bold and daring, and could spell ruin if she fails—but Susan Rose has no intention of failing.

This looked familiar to me and I thought I had already covered it, but I haven’t. The hook had me at “her bosom is her future.” It looks fabulous.

~*~

Fantasy and Science Fiction


The Native Star
by M. K. Hobson
Spectra

MM Paperback

It’s 1876, and business is rotten for Emily Edwards, town witch of the tiny Sierra Nevada settlement of Lost Pine. With everyone buying patent magicks by mail-order, she’s faced with two equally desperate options. Starve—or use a love spell to bewitch the town’s richest lumberman into marrying her.

When the love spell goes terribly wrong, Emily is forced to accept the aid of Dreadnought Stanton—a pompous and scholarly Warlock from New York—to set things right. Together, they travel from the seedy underbelly of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast, across the United States by train and biomechanical flying machine, to the highest halls of American magical power, only to find that love spells (and love) are far more complicated and dangerous than either of them could ever have imagined.

The author hyperlinked several elements from her cover copy, which I thought was pretty cool so I left them in place. This novel looks like a lot of fun.

~*~

Any float your boat? Discuss in the comments.

Classic Reread: Dragonlance


Regarding my classic reread, I decided upon Dragonlance for a couple of reasons. First and most annoying, the omnibus edition of The Deed of Paksennarion has print about the same size as my huge study Bible, and I don’t think I’ll be able to read it until I get some subscription reading glasses. (I’ve tried bifocals and they aren’t for me. I decided I do enough reading to merit a dedicated pair of glasses.) I haven’t checked to see if The Deed is available by ebook, mostly because Dragonlance is calling my name. And that was the second reason.

I read the first few chapters of Dragonlance and it is just what I need right now. It’s funny and engaging and wonder-filled. It’s also completely unlike anything published these days, unless you buy something from the Dragonlance shared world.

The story centers on a large group of adventurers, the likes of which you probably once placed D&D with in the past (if you were ever geeky enough to play). It starts with Tanis the half-elven fighter, Caramon, a human fighter, Raistlin, a human mage, Tasslehoff, a hobbit (er–kender) thief, Flint, a dwarven fighter, Sturm, a human fighter (it’s a fighter-heavy group), Goldmoon, a human cleric (although not yet) and Riverwind, a human . . . fighter. Or maybe a ranger.

And I don’t think I left anyone off.

Although the early point-of-view centers on Tanis, the main character really is the group, itself. The viewpoint floats from character to character as you advance from paragraph to paragraph. And this works better than you might expect.

It starts when this old adventuring party is meeting again after a five-year separation. They meet at an inn that is built in a tree. (In fact, the entire town is built in the trees, except the forge.) They don’t know Goldmoon and Riverwind at this time, but Sturm meets them on the road and escorts them to the inn. There, an old man has sort of set them up to all meet, to fall afoul of a crime (that he accuses them of) and to go off on a quest together. And no one knows what the old man is up to. Right now in my reading (chapter 5), they are fleeing town.

If you’re going to read along, let me know!

Preview of This Week at D&R

Posts this week will include:

  • A Debut Showcase, which is already written (unless I discover more debuts)
  • A review of a historical romance
  • Progress on my Classic Reread, which will be multiple posts

I’d also like to do a round-up of reviews of THE SEVENFOLD SPELL, and I intend to include both the good and the bad. So far, along with some unrated reviews and some five-stars, it has received one two-star review. I’ll tell you why in a few days.

One thing about those big romance sites is they’re way out ahead of most science fiction/fantasy sites when it comes to the reading of ebooks. They are all perfectly willing to do so. Even Dear Author, and it’s kind of scary to contemplate getting a review at Dear Author. A few of you have consented to read it (thank you!). If you run a decent-sized fantasy blog and you’re willing to read an ebook, please let me know. (I’ll tell you up front that my target audience for THE SEVENFOLD SPELL was women. It is somewhat racy and has a happily ever after.)

I am now willing to read ebooks because it would be awfully hypocritical of me not to, but I am still very picky about publishers. Even so, I’m more likely to buy the books I read because I am unable to commit to reading by release dates at this time.

And finally, my feed numbers have taken a small but noticeable jump, so to all my new subscribers, welcome!

Paks Vs. Dragonlance

Wow, this was close! I counted 5 Dragonlance votes and 6 for Paks (including one person who voted for both). I was leaning toward Dragonlance, so now we have a tie. And looky here:

That’s right, pristine and unread omnibus copies of both novels. How the heck did that happen? Well, I wore out my original Dragonlance omnibus, plus a set secondhand individual paperbacks, which I replaced with this omnibus, and which I have yet to read.  As for Paks, I originally had another copy of this omnibus, but the plastic started peeling off the paper almost since day 1. After a whole bunch of readings, the curl of plastic started driving me to distraction. When I saw this omnibus reappear in the bookstore, I grabbed a copy.

So what am I going to read? I’m going to read the first chapter of both and see which one I’m most in the mood for. Dragonlance is more fun, but I’ve always wanted to review Paks. So we’ll see!

Recharging – Reread of an Old Favorite

I need to recharge. I’m having difficulty reading fantasy these days, and I have been reading historical fiction instead. When I finish with that novel, I’d like to reread an old favorite before tackling anything new. This is something I do every now and then, but I haven’t done lately because I’ve been reviewing books.

And as I recharge, I’d like to blog on the books as I read them. Therefore, I present to you, a poll. Which old favorite should I reread? I’ll toss out some candidates for you, and why I think they would help me recharge:

  • The Dragonlance Chronicles. I’m talking about the original trilogy, which I have in an omnibus edition. This helps me recharge because the characters are so lovable and because it makes me laugh. I’m leaning heavily toward this one unless you convince me otherwise.
  • The Deed of Paksenarrion. Paks is one of my all-time favorite characters. And I like this series because the world is gritty, but the characters are not.
  • The Once and Future King. It’s been years since I’ve reread this, but I read it at least ten times during the 80s and the 90s. It has been at least fifteen years since my last reread. It’s also fodder for a Christian novel that I’ve been working on.
  • Rendezvous with Rama. I gotta throw some science fiction in there, even though my present reading malaise does not extend to science fiction. I love this one because the sense of wonder in it is, well, just wonderful. And it’s been so long since I read it that it will probably feel new again. I’d have to obtain a copy of this one.

Which one should I read? Or, should I not read any of them and read something you suggest?

Debut Review: Shadow Bound


Shadow Bound

by Erin Kellison
Dorchester Publishing

Mass Market Paperback – 7.99

Imagine if your father was what the world fears most. Imagine if your father was Death.

Talia O’Brien doesn’t have to imagine in Erin Kellison’s Shadow Bound. Hunted by inhuman monsters all her life with no knowledge of why, regarded strangely for her unique combination of white-blone hair and jet-black eyes, and with the ability to manipulate shadows, Talia is alone in a world that doesn’t understand her–not that she understands herself. But she won’t be alone for long, because Adam Thorne is looking for her.

After reading Talia’s dissertation on near-death experiences, Adam believes Talia is the key to destroying the monstrous, soul-sucking wraith he keeps in the basement of Segue Institute–a monster who was once his brother. But when he discovers Talia’s strange talents and past, he believes she is much more–not just the key to destroying his brother, but putting an end to all wraithkind.

I’m having trouble finding criticisms for this book. I’m not a big fan of urban fantasy, but I really, really, really liked this one. First of all, it’s a breath of fresh air in a subgenre where vampires and werewolves rule. I know the fey are filtering into urban fantasy, but Shadow Bound still keeps it fresh, finding new twists and introducing characters who break the stereotypes for characters in urban fantasy books. If you’re getting tired of sassy, bad-ass urban fantasy heroines (the main reason I don’t read much urban fantasy), Shadow Bound is one to try. Talia isn’t the norm, and I love her for it.

But having unique twists, characters, and concepts isn’t enough. A novel like this need suspense, and Shadow Bound is indeed riveting. The author knows just how to push the characters into the impossible, then pull a miracle out of thin air and make it completely believable. There were several times where I thought, “Oh, they’re never going to get out of this,” and then to my complete surprise, they made it out alive. This wonderful ability to keep suspense high and tension boiling is what truly makes this book such a success.

If you’re turned off by racy scenes, let me go ahead and warn you that one of these appears very early in the book. But–and I know this may sound strange–it’s such a beautiful scene, and it really sets up the entire story; I don’t see how the author could have written things any other way. So while I warn you that it’s there, I’m also recommending that you not let this deter you. This is a book well worth reading.

Shadow Bound‘s sequel, Shadow Fall is already on shelves, released only a month after its predecessor. Both books are part of Dorchester’s Guaranteed Read program, which means that if you don’t like Shadow Bound, if you return it by 8/29/10, you’ll get a full refund from the publisher. So if it sounds interesting, you still have a little bit of time to try it risk-free. (Wow, I sound like an info-mercial!) But even with this guarantee, plan on making room for this one on your shelf, because it’s a compelling read.

Myself, I’m looking forward to reading Shadow Fall, so plan on that review coming soon.

Reviewed by Superwench83.

Katie Lovett, better known around these parts as Superwench83, is an aspiring novelist and published short fiction author. She blogs about writing, books, and the fantasy genre at her website, www.katie-lovett.com.

Up This Week

I have filled up my debut calendar with guest posts! I hope you will find these authors interesting in the upcoming weeks. I also am arranging for a Writer Wednesday!

Tomorrow we will have a review by Superwench, and later in the week we’ll have the usual debut showcase. I’ve also been reading a historical novel, and I hope to finish it up in the next few days. In the meantime, I will have question for you on which fantasy classic should read to recharge my fantasy energies. Oops, I guess I already asked that question. But on Wednesday, I’ll give you a list of possibilities for you to select from. I’ll host a good, old fashioned Classic Reread and maybe some of you will want to join in!

So it looks like it will be a full week!

This Week in Research

Sorry about the sporadic blogging. The heat here has been unbelievable, and we’ve now had a record number of 90 degree + days. Last summer, we were all talking about how mild it was, but this summer appears to be trying to make up for it. It has me downright lethargic.

Anyway, I find myself researching some oddball things while I’m writing, and I thought it would be fun to blog about what I’ve researched lately.

I’ve set my story in a post-Renaissance era, in a “French-speaking country that’s not France.” For a fairy tale retelling (Cinderella this time) I’ve been researching a surprising number of masculine things:

French Ship Names. My hero is a 1700’s era entrepreneur, and in that era instead of buying tech stocks, you bought shares of a ship. So what to call my ship? I researched French ship names, and I discovered that the French loved to name their ships after either saints or women. So I called my ship le Belle Jeanne.

Early Organized Sports. Hunting and shooting were the big sports for that era, but what did teenage boys do while at school? It didn’t seem practical to put a gun in their hands and pack them off to the woods. So I researched football, rugby and cricket (I knew a bit about the origins of baseball from high school history). And it appears that the term “football” is safe to use going back at least a few centuries.

Vehicles. What kind of vehicle would a young man like to drive in the 1700? I remembered from my Jane Austen that they liked two seat open carriages. So my young man drives a landau.

French Endearments. I almost got sucked into the hazards of the French language here, and I still want to run my manuscript by someone who speaks French to make sure I haven’t done anything stupid. I was looking for an endearment and I discovered that the wording changes depending on whether you are talking to a man (mon chéri),or to a woman (ma chérie). Yikes!

Some things that are still flagged as needing research: the likely contents of a ship coming back from the new world (so far I’m going with silver, the knowledge of which I piked up from playing Pirates! years ago) the likely contents of a vegetable garden (not going to spend too much time on that one), and how usury worked–the common terms of a loan and stuff like that.

I love research and the Internet does make it fun. But sill, I have fond memories of libraries, encyclopedias and microfiche viewers, so it really is the research that I enjoy, and not just the Internet. Do you enjoy research, and if so, what is your favorite research memory? I’ll share mine in the comments.

Debut Showcase – Week of August 15th

This is a quick post during a busy week for me, but I did want to let you know about these two debuts in particular.


The Last Page
by Anthony Huso
Tor Books
Hardcover – 25.99

(Complementary hardcover provided by Tor Books.)

The city of Isca is set like a dark jewel in the crown of the Duchy of Stonehold. In this sprawling landscape, the monsters one sees are nothing compared to what’s living in the city’s sewers.

Twenty-three-year-old Caliph Howl is Stonehold’s reluctant High King. Thrust onto the throne, Caliph has inherited Stonehold’s dirtiest court secrets. He also faces a brewing civil war that he is unprepared to fight. After months alone amid a swirl of gossip and political machinations, the sudden reappearance of his old lover, Sena, is a welcome bit of relief. But Sena has her own legacy to claim: she has been trained from birth by the Shradnae witchocracy—adept in espionage and the art of magical equations writ in blood—and she has been sent to spy on the High King.

Yet there are magics that demand a higher price than blood. Sena secretly plots to unlock the Cisrym Ta, an arcane text whose pages contain the power to destroy worlds. The key to opening the book lies in Caliph’s veins, forcing Sena to decide if her obsession for power is greater than her love for Caliph.

Meanwhile, a fleet of airships creeps ever closer to Isca. As the final battle in a devastating civil war looms and the last page of the Cisrym Ta waits to be read, Caliph and Sena must face the deadly consequences of their decisions. And the blood of these conflicts will stain this and other worlds forever.

I’m going to be giving this one a try in the upcoming weeks. It looks very suspenseful. I’m intrigued by a heroine who is trying to do something evil  but doesn’t seem to quite be able to do it. I just hope the characters aren’t too dark. On Tuesday, John Scalzi had the author as a guest for a Big Idea post .

~*~


I’ll become the Sea

by Rebecca Rogers Maher
Carina Press
ebook – 3.99

Contemporary Romance

Jane Elliott has found peace. By all accounts, she’s a success story: a survivor of childhood abuse who has dedicated her life to teaching. She’s also engaged to marry Ben, an ambitious documentary filmmaker.

But hers is a false and fragile peace. Focusing on her students at an urban Jersey Shore school and maintaining a relationship with an absentee fiancé conveniently keep Jane from feeling much of anything at all.

This safe existence is threatened when she meets David, a musician who runs an afterschool program for at-risk kids. Because of her commitment to Ben, Jane can deny her attraction to David and convince herself they are just good friends.

But an accident, a death, a grim family obligation and her own intense desire force Jane to overcome the past, rethink the present—and take a genuine risk on love.

I don’t normally feature contemporary romance, but this book is getting some awesome reviews so I wanted to bring it to your attention. Romantic Times gave it 4.5 stars.