June 17, 2005
Bringing the total to 41

Being sick is good for one thing -- reading. Since falling ill, I've read five books in the times when I'm unable to sleep because I'm busy hacking up a lung.

I've been trying to keep my reading light and fun and things I don't have to chew to hard to get (because honestly, when I'm reading these days, there isn't a lot of brain power to do the chewing!). These five books all fit the bill and were a lot of fun. And this brings me to a 2005 total of 41 so far.

The Hidden Family
Charles Stross
hardcover from Tor, June 2005

I have to be good and not issue spoilers. Suffice to say... better than the first one. And it has an ending, so it is safe to read the two together. The only thing I *will* say? While it *did* end... I still screamed at the ending.

If you don't want to buy hardcover, go get it from the library. *grins* Interlibrary loan if you have to. And enjoy!

Urban Shaman
C.E. Murphy
trade paperback from Luna, June 2005

This is Murphy's first book, and I'm very much looking forward to more from her. I enjoyed this story of a shaman who didn't know she was a shaman, trying to save the world one city at a time (we'll start with Seattle). Because it's a Luna title, I kept looking for who Joanne would hook up with romantically, but honestly, I didn't find that doing that looking stole anything from the story for me.

And I loved the male characters. I can't wait to see more of both Morrison (the boss!) and Gary (the 73 year old AMAZINGLY flirtatious and buff cab driver).

Bet Me
Jennifer Crusie
St. Martin's Paperbacks, August 2004

Oh, I think this is one of my favorite Crusies. I loved the different theories of love, and the way the interwoven love stories flowed. It had a decent bit of meat and tangling, and a good bit of confusion and befuddlement on the part of both male and female leads. If you're a romance fan, pick this up. But then again, Crusie is almost always a winner.

The Royal Treatment
Mary Janice Davidson
Kensington, February 2005

Derik's Bane
Mary Janice Davidson
Berkley Sensation, January 2005

Davidson is also the author of the chick-lit vampire series which began with Undead and Unwed (one of the MOST hysterically funny vampire novels I have EVER read). I think The Royal Treatment is one of her meatiest novels so far, and perhaps the one I've enjoyed overall. The story revolves around Christina, an American in an alternate world where Alaska was never sold to the US and instead became it's own kingdom by revolting against Russia. And King Alexander has decided that this commonor from the US is the perfect bride for his son, David. The story is less romance and more about fitting into a strange world, and the differences between customs, and exploring what royalty in a world that isn't quite ours might be like. And all told in the chick-lit voice and very funny.

Derik's Bane, on the other hand, is the lightest of her pieces so far. I finished it in about an hour last night while I couldn't sleep. This is a werewolf story, and an end of the world story, and a story about how prophecy can be twisted to do the things you want it to do. Fun and silly, and well perfect for when one has a coughing fit and can't sleep despite desperately wanting to.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 01:30 PM
June 12, 2005
12 More Books (well, 16, but...)

Yes, I'm cranking through the books. Physically, I read 16 books in the last 6 weeks, although I'm choosing to count the Amber novels as only one book. This brings the 2005 total to 36 books read, and we're 5 1/2 months completed. If I can continue at this rate, I will not only smash the goal of 52, but should make my internal goal of 75. Yay!!

Mini-reviews below the cut.

Wizards Ward
Deborah Hale
trade paperback from Luna, April 2004

This was the first Luna novel that I've read which was written by an author from the romance side of the fence, as opposed to the fantasy side of the fence. And it read more like a romance than a fantasy. The plot wasn't as gritty, the twists weren't there. It was fairly straight-forward (I called the twist from the beginning). But that doesn't mean it wasn't enjoyable. I enjoyed the ride it took me on, even if it was more swan boats than rollercoaster, and I will buy the second one. On the other hand, I will probably recommend this to romance readers, but not to straight fantasy addicts.

The Mountain's Call
Caitlin Brennan
trade paperback from Luna, 2004

Caitlin Brennan is a pseudonym for Judith Tarr, which didn't surprise me entirely since Tarr isn't the sort of style I'd usually think of for Luna. I *loved* this book. It had strength and grittiness and it kept me going. It broke the rules of standard romance novels and worked really well, I thought. This is one of the Lunas I have loaned to my boss and she has loved (Anne Kelleher's Silver's Edge being the other). I'd tell people to go read this. It isn't just a horsey book (although it is, indeed, a horse book).

Hello, Gorgeous!
Mary Janice Davidson
trade paperback from Brava, March 2005

Think Six Million Dollar Man done in the style of chicklit, where the heroine is a brainy ditz and has a bit of a potty mouth. Add romance and snappy dialog and you've got this novel. I didn't like it as much as her Undead series, but it was still a lot of fun.

Nine Princes in Amber
The Guns of Avalon
The Hand of Oberon
Sign of the Unicorn
The Courts of Chaos

Roger Zelazny
ancient paperbacks (available now as The Great Book of Amber)

This is not only a comfort reread, it was a requirement for understanding and setting up more backstory in the Amber DRPG game I run which takes place right after the end of The Courts of Chaos. I didn't try to zip through them quickly, and in fact, I tried to take notes on timeline stuff for my game. Although that failed when I realized it was causing me not to read the books at all!

Anyway, these are always fun for me. Every time I read them, I see things that are dated, things I don't like, and things that make me go WOW Zelazny is amazing. Not everyone likes them, and that's fine. But I always try to share them.

Memory of Fire
The Wreck of Heaven
Gods Old and Dark

Holly Lisle
paperbacks from EOS, May 2002 / April 2003 / April 2005

This isn't a trilogy!!! Argh!!!! I bought these, and read them, and loved them, and got to the end and realized it's the World Gate Series, not a trilogy, and there's still more to come. Argh. *sighs* They're good. I need to go buy more Holly Lisle. And I will definitely buy more of these when they are out.

Dead Beat
Jim Butcher
hardcover from ROC, May 2005

Serious congratulations to Jim for making it into the first edition in hardcover world for his Dresden novels!! So now my books won't match. *sighs* Ah well!

It was well worth the purchase. The Dresden novels are ALWAYS a fun read, and this one was no exception. The world goes on, Dresden advances, and things change. We get in a little deeper this time, and start digging into internal motivations. We learn more about Bob, which I just utterly loved. And the scene with the cloak... OMG just about flattened me. Woohoo!

If you haven't read the Dresden novels yet, why not? Go buy them. The first ones are in paperback. Go. NOW. Buy!!

The Family Trade
Charles Stross
paperback from Tor, May 2005
[looks like the HC date was December 2004]

This has been on the husband's to-buy list for a while, but I wasn't sure. I've heard excellent things about Singularity Sky but wasn't sure it was really my type. Then Paul sent me a copy of The Family Trade and I read the back cover and the intro. And realized it was a Must Read for any Amber DRPG gamer.

And damn, I'm so glad I read it. If every girl in America daydreams about "what if I were adopted and I'm really a princess" then THIS is the book for geeks who daydream "what if I were adopted and I'm really a child of an Amberite". Yes, really. My only concern with the books was that something in the writing style held me distant from the characters. I loved them, and was drawn onwards consistently, and I wanted to know what happened. I was fascinated by the love interest and the intrigue. But I never felt like I was fully in Miriam's head, and that disappointed me. I wanted to have that experience of getting to be her, and getting to be whisked away to this amazing strange scary family like she did. Did it ruin the book for me? Gods no! It was good enough that we picked up book 2 in hardcover yesterday, and I'm already reading it today. And if I'm lucky book 2 will END (unlike book 1, which SO did not end) and then I can tell Kev it's safe to read them. *grins*

Sex and the Single Vampire
Sex, Lies, and Vampires
Katie MacAlister
paperbacks from Lovespell, March 2004 & February 2005

Hard Day's Knight
Katie MacAlister
paperback from Signet Eclipse, January 2005

Why yes, I've gone on a Katie MacAlister kick. This started because my mom emailed me and said "I've never laughed so hard" about reading The Corset Diaries. And then followed up immediately with "do you have more that I can borrow?" I looked at my collection of what I'd already read (You Slay Me, A Girl's Guide to Vampires, and Men in Kilts), and the three still on it left to read and figured, sure, I can read those by the end of June. Not a problem!

Katie's a fun read. I like her Dark Ones, and I like her heroines. I've noticed that sometimes she does use very similar wording and events in her sex scenes (these are romances, of course they have sex! *grins*) which bugs me, but I've also found the newer books to be less like that. I think she's growing. Of the recent three, I think that Hard Day's Knight entertained me the most with it's combination of SCAdian event and RenFaire and all the jousting. It kept me amused, and seemed to have a bit more meat to it in some ways. Not to say that these are much more than really excellent cotton candy in general. ADDICTIVE cotton candy.

Yes, I will buy the ones I don't own. And the YA ones. When I get to it!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 12:40 PM
May 28, 2005
Flights of Fantasy Book Buying Binge

Today we went over to Flights of Fantasy for a mini book buying binge, because I knew if we waited for Albacon, we'd end up spending $600 on books at one shot AND we'd miss out on getting things we wanted.

This also worked out because I've now set it up so that Maria is ordering the four Lunas I need, plus she'll get me a copy and set it aside for me to pick up for each new one which comes out. Yay!! She'll call me when the four are in, and then I can read Urban Shaman and Silver's Bane both of which I'm very much looking forward to.

Oh, and we learned that Lois McMaster Bujold will be a guest signer/reader at FoF on July 6th, so we are SO there. Yay!

So... today's binge?

Saint Vidicon To the Rescue by Christopher Stasheff
paperback from Ace, April 2005

Cagebird by Karin Lowachee
paperback from Aspect, April 2005

Dead to the World and Dead as a Doornail
by Charlaine Harris
hardcover from Ace, May 2004 and May 2005
Signed and numbered editions (#292/500 and #369/800)

The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold
hardcover from Eos, 2005

Gossamyr by Michele Hauf
paperback from Luna, May 2005
Sequel to Seraphim which I haven't read yet.

For Camelot's Honor by Sarah Zettel
paperback from Luna, April 2005
Sequel to In Camelot's Shadow

The Tyranny of the Night by Glen Cook
hardcover from Tor, June 2005
Book one of The Instrumentalities of the Night
(Yes, Glen's starting a Brand New Series!!!)

The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey
hardcover from Luna, January 2004

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
hardcover from Roc, May 2005
the latest Dresden novel
(and yay to Jim for going hardcover!!)

Posted by Deb Atwood at 02:21 PM
May 01, 2005
Catching up on books

It has been almost two months since I last recorded books, and in catching up, I have eight (not including the reread of the Zelazny Amber novels which I am doing, and which will merit their own entry when I am done with them). This also includes the first non-fiction of the year that has actually been completed and noted (as opposed to the ones that sit next to my computer desk and I read in bits and pieces and with any luck I'll eventually remember to blog them!).

And oh yes, the 2005 total is 24. Which is almost halfway there, and certainly less than halfway through the year!

Spirits of the Earth
Bobby Lake-Thom
paperback from Penguin Group, 1997

This is one of the books I picked up at the Native American museum while down in DC the first weekend in March. Bobby Lake-Thom has a style of writing that lets me hear a cadence in my head of his speech as I read. It is uncomplicated, and my daughter is even thinking of reading it.

The book talks about the Native American view of natural symbols and nature in the world around us. It has changed the way I view seeing a hawk circle above me, or finding animals in unexpected places. There was just something about it... it really made me think. I love the symbolism and am looking forward to also using it in writing going forward.

A Choir of Ill Children
Tom Piccirilli
paperback from Bantam, 2003

Lyrical. The first word that came to mind as I started reading this novel, because of the way the words flowed together. It is very beautiful writing, very pretty. Very disturbing. I found the book hard to get into, but fascinating once I did. Pieces of it lingered with me, most especially the first line -- "We move in spasms." -- which is repeated throughout the novel, becoming something of a theme. Will I investigate other of the author's books? Not sure yet. It was excellent, but it was hard for me to read. And sometimes I need the mind candy. *sighs* But sometimes I need the gourmet food too.

A Stroke of Midnight
Laurell K. Hamilton
hardcover from Ballantine Books, 2005

Guilty pleasure. Loved it. Can't believe how little time has passed since this story began and there've already been four books! Right now, I like this story better than the Anita Blake novels. Perhaps because the eroticism is better integrated with the plot and there are no apologies made for it being a part of the plot. Which I can deal with.

Shattered Mirror
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Dell Laurel-Leaf, 2001

Midnight Predator
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
paperback from Dell Laurel-Leaf, 2002

Two quick YA reads, both enjoyable, but... I found I liked Midnight Predator better than Shattered Mirror. She is growing as a writer, and even though I can still see plot holes, the book was stronger. More interesting, drew me forward more. Better stakes. Shattered Mirror was good, but felt more derivative (and didn't entrance me as much as earlier books I had read by the same author).

On Fire's Wings
Christie Golden
paperback from Luna, 2004

Mm, a Luna novel! This is one where I'm looking forward to the next novel in the series. I liked the stakes in the story for the heroine. I liked that as a reader, I could see the trainwreck coming and the author didn't shy back from it and the train did indeed wreck. I know there's still a lot more of the world to be revealed, and more for the characters to learn, and I look forward to seeing them get there. Good setup, good first story revelation. Fun stuff.

Through Violet Eyes
Stephen Woodworth
paperback from Dell, 2004

First novel and damned good stuff. Drew me in, pulled me forward, kept me interested. And damn I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, which follows one of the main characters from this first. The concept? There are those with violet eyes who have the ability to invite in the dead (or the dead invade their minds) and then the dead speak through them. A difficult person to be, but so valuable to the criminal justice system. All sides presented, and a wonderful mystery to go with it -- who is killing the violets???

A Girl's Guide to Vampires
Katie MacAlister
paperback from Love Spell, 2003

*giggles* More fun. The only problem? I have no discovered that Katie MacAlister recycles wording / scene styles. Eek! There were things I recognized, things I knew were the same from previous books I'd read. Still, I loved the book overall and had a lot of fun with it and pretty much just sucked it down. Er, pun intended!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:12 PM
March 11, 2005
Three Books

Ran the gamut this time, from YA to Dark Romantic Fantasy, to pure Romance.

The total for 2005 is now 16. Not quite two books per week, but I'm trying!

When the Beast Ravens
E. Rose Sabin

I've read the first two in this series. The first started slow but encouraged me to come back. I liked the second better, where she went back into a past story of the school. This book returns to follow the first in time, but I was so far removed from it that I had trouble keeping up.

At times it felt like she had too many characters, and I wasn't getting a close enough view of each of them. I couldn't keep track, couldn't gain sympathy for any one of them. Of the three, this is definitely my least favorite. Will I buy the fourth? I'll have to figure that out when I get there.

Dreams Made Flesh
Anne Bishop

Ohhh... Mm.... *purrs* Lovely!! Four stories by Anne back in her world of the dark jewels and they are just WONDERFUL. I loved the way the stories were singular, yet also woven together in a perfect tapestry. Love stories. Dark stories. Both at once. Anne rocks. Anne just rocks.

If you have read the trilogy, go buy this now. If you haven't read the trilogy, go buy that, and buy this, and read them all. NOW.

Men in Kilts
Katie MacAllister

*giggles* I like Katie MacAllister, for pure fun and silliness. A mystery writer goes to a convention in England and finds herself soon in the Scottish Highlands and getting married to a sheep farmer. It's a rollicking romance that just flies along, and again, she has the best seduction scenes!!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:44 PM
February 22, 2005

Five books this time, bringing the 2005 total to 13. Although one doesn't really count since it's a silly romance I just found on my to-read pile and figured I'd read it while walking it downstairs.

The Corset Diaries
Katie MacAlister
paperback from Onyx Books, 2004

I laughed and laughed. One of the funniest (and funnest) seduction scenes EVER. Wonderful wonderful stuff. Romantic. Silly. Comedic. Tart. Bright. Fun.

Sudden Fire
Elizabeth Oldfield
paperback from Harlequin Presents, 1993

Cheesy little romance, but not nearly so stiff and annoying as most of the European ones (which all assume that women are wilting violets who want overbearing pompous ass men). Quick and enjoyable and didn't leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Weather Warden Series
Ill Wind
Heat Stroke
Chill Factor
Rachel Caine
paperbacks from Roc (2003, 2004, 2005)

Oh, go get these!!! Hot!! Fun! Sarcastic! Adventure! They just rolled right on through and dragged me along with them. I read the first two just before Boskone and was thrilled to pick up the third there (and read it by the end of the night last night). I really truly enjoyed these, and heartily recommend them to someone who likes a bit of magic with their mundane, and romance (with twisted entanglements) with their adventure.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:58 PM
February 21, 2005
Boskone Book Buying Binge

This past weekend we were at Boskone. As some of you know, we are obsessive book buyers, and we go on binges two-three times per year (Boskone, Worldcon, Albacon). This year, since we're not going to Worldcon, we're rather expecting to go to Readercon for a day membership just to keep up with Larry's stock!

from Small Beer Press
Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #13
Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #15
Family Reunion (a comic from the novel A Perfect Circle (free)

The Autumn Castle by Kim Wilkins
Orphanage by Robert Buettner
Less Than Human by Maxine McArthur

All three of these freebies look interesting to me, and I was only allowed two at the beginning (one for me and one for Kev) and at the end of the con I went back to see if there were still more so I could beg for the third (which I successfully did). The other two books they had for freebies were both of Karin Lowachee's, which since I owned them already, I simply told everyone else to pick them and read them NOW.

from Larry Smith's table

[the hardcovers]
Bolo! by David Weber
The Family Trade by Charles Stross
Banewreaker by Jacqueline Carey
The Hero by John Ringo and Michael Z. Williamson
When the Beast Ravens by E. Rose Sabin

[the trade paperbacks not from Luna]
Dreams Made Flesh by Anne Bishop
Hello, Gorgeous! by Mary Janice Davidson
"Wicked" Women Whodunit (shorts, including Mary Janice Davidson)

[the Lunas (all trades)]
Elphame's Choice by P.C. Cast
Guardian of Honor by Robin D. Owens
Shadows of Myth by Rachel Lee

I'm apparently missing one Luna book, which Larry didn't have in stock. I'm trying to own all of them (silly me!). I need to figure out which one is missing and get Maria over at FoF to order it for me.

[the paperbacks]
Chill Factor by Rachel Caine
Derik's Bane by Mary Janice Davidson
The Royal Treatment by Mary Janice Davidson
Hard Day's Knight by Katie MacAlister
A Girl's Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister
Sex and the Single Vampire by Katie MacAlister
Sex, Lies, and Vampires by Katie MacAlister
Men in Kilts by Katie MacAlister
Human Resource by Pierce Askegren
Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong
Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong
Memory of Fireby Holly Lisle
The Wreck of Heaven by Holly Lisle
Gods Old and Dark by Holly Lisle
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
The Scoundrel Worlds by Chris Bunch
Star Risk, Ltd. by Chris Bunch
The Doublecross Program by Chris Bunch
Storyteller by Amy Thomson
The Blind Mirror by Christopher Pike
Kris Longknife Deserter by Mike Shepherd
Burden of Proof by John G. Henry
Any Man So Daring by Sarah A. Hoyt
The Nimble Man by Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski

Note, I've now noticed that Katie MacAlister writes YA novels as Katie Maxwell, something which I must investigate!

And I'm sure you can see a trend in the above. MOST of the books bought are for me... *grins* I have got a TON of reading to do!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:40 AM
February 12, 2005
Three Books

Three books to add to the list today, bringing the 2005 total to 8 so far.

Ann Brashares' The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Sarah Zettel's In Camelot's Shadow
Jim Butcher's Furies of Calderon

Possible spoilers behind the cut...

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Ann Brashares
Hardcover from Delacorte Press, 2001

This book has been on my to-read list (but not the to-read pile) for a long time, ever since another YA-addicted reader at Flights of Fantasy recommended it to me. I had no idea what it was about, but when I saw it at Barnes and Noble in a display with the second and third books... I finally managed to pick it up.

This is not fantasy or SF or mystery or romance. This is a book about four girls who find this pair of thrift shop pants which fit them. All of them, despite the fact that they are all very very differently shaped. They decide the pants are magic, and vow to send them to spend a week with each of them while they are separated for the first time for the coming summer vacation.

At the end of the summer, each of the girls has grown and been transformed and learned something about herself. The style of the novel was hard getting used to at first -- it skips very quickly from girl to girl and makes it hard to settle into any one viewpoint. But by the middle I loved the girls and ached for their decisions. By the end I knew I'd be buying the next book, because I want to see how they turn their lives next.

In Camelot's Shadow
Sarah Zettel
Trade paperback from Luna, 2004

I'm working my way through that stack of Luna books I have, especially since I'll be catching up on those I don't own yet when I get to Boskone. This book of Zettel's is different from the other pieces of hers that I've read, but then again, those were SF and this is fantasy. It was good, but not great. I'm probably not going to put it in Kev's to-read pile -- I don't think it breaks enough out of the fantasy mold for him, although he'd like the Arthurian parts. This follows Gawain and his new ladylove (who *is* a strong character). I like the way it casts Morgan, and I'm looking forward to a sequel (which I assume is forthcoming) to see what happens next. It was, perhaps, a bit lighter and sweeter than I was expecting, which while not unpleasant, just wasn't what I thought I was getting.

Furies of Calderon
Jim Butcher
Hardcover from Berkeley, 2004

Mm, Butcher. Yum! Need I say more?

This is NOT the Dresden novels. But the characters still pop. They still rock through the book. His worldbuilding is wonderful, and I love what he's done with magic and Furies. I definitely want to see more in this world. Adventure, mystery (and I'm still *knowing* there's stuff I have guesses on but no definites yet... he weaves that curiosity well), and a bit of romance as well. Politics. War. All good, all wonderful really.

Just go buy it already.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:27 AM
January 25, 2005

Again, not book reviews. And not even in any particular order. I read four in December, and the other five since the new year, and honestly, I can't remember which were which. Two were Christmas presents (thanks!!!!).

So... the final total for 2004 was 56 books.
Total so far for 2005 is 5.

Trickster's Choice
Trickster's Queen
by Tamora Pierce
hardcovers from Random House (2003, 2004)

These are Tammy's latest YA novels. And wow... these are not merely YA. I didn't like the very opening, when it seemed like she was trying to get past it in a hurry so she could get to the meat. But once she reached the story, they were just lovely.

A Taste of Blood Wine
Freda Warrington
trade paper from Meisha Merlin (2002)

This has been on my to-read pile for 2 years, and I'm glad I finally picked it up. Think romance plus vampire novel in the good way. I had a fun time with this and loved the twist on the vampires. It was actually a little sweeter than I expected (the last book of hers I read was a bit darker) but I still enjoyed it.

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Lemony Snickett
hardcover from Harper Collins (1999)

This is Dani's book. My copy is somewhere or other. Dani received it from Aunty Jenn for Christmas, and we read the first four chapters together. Then she ran off and devoured the rest on her own, leaving me to finish it myself. When she gets book 2 out of the library I wonder if I'll have time to read it too before she returns it?

Elizabeth Bear
paperback from Spectra (2005)

Eee!!! I can say "I knew her when" but as she says, I can also say "I know her now." *grins* The main character of HAMMERED has special memory for me, since I first heard of Jenny while walking to dinner with eBear on the first time we met face to face years and years ago. And the book is well worth the read -- go get it now. Then read it. Then scream because you have to wait until June for book 2. Then be happy that you only have to wait until June.

A Crack in the Line
Michael Lawrence
hardcover from Greenwillow (2004)

Ooh, twisted and wonderful. I was out driving after reading this and came to a point where I made a conscious decision whether to do (or not do) something. And I thought to myself... crack. There's a crack.

Luck in the Shadows
Stalking Darkness
Traitor's Moon

Lynn Flewelling
paperbacks from Spectra (1996, 1997, 1999)

Ooh... lovely. Best part is, Lynn says it's not a trilogy, it's a series. Worst part is, Lynn writes slowly and book three of the other series is next I believe. But I do adore Alec and Seregil and everything she has done with them.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:39 PM
January 03, 2005
50 Book Challenge

So, there's this 50 book challenge. I saw it last year, too, and made my own mental goal to average a book a week. I finished 2004 at more than 57 books.

And yes, this year I will be doing the same. I'd love to make 100, but I think aiming for a nice even 52 is good.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 05:12 PM
December 04, 2004
Book Review: Three Books

Three books for today:

"Dog Warrior" by Wen Spencer and the two "Undead" books by Mary Janice Davidson

Dog Warrior
by Wen Spencer
paperback from Roc 2004

I've enjoyed the world Wen's built up around Ukiah Oregon, so naturally soon as this book was out, I picked it up. I was expecting a Ukiah story. What I got, was an Atticus Steele story. This wasn't a bad thing.

I adore Atticus. We see more of the world, more of the Ontongard, more of what's going on. And best of all, we meet Ukiah's brother, also one of Prime's after Prime was killed. Atticus is funny. He's both more centered than Ukiah and more confused all at once. He's the same, but different. Like twins raised in different families which have all these spooky, quirky similaraties but are fundamentally two different people on the inside.

This isn't a book you can pick up if you haven't read the rest. But if you like Wen's world and her characters, this is a definite keeper. I loved getting to meet Atticus, and look forward to getting to see more of him in the future!

Undead and Unwed
Undead and Unemployed
by Mary Janice Davidson
paperbacks from Berkley Sensation 2004

OMG these are a riot! They are billed as chick lit meets vampire fiction. At first, I had a bit of trouble getting into Betsy's head. She struck me as whining, annoying, and talked to much (as she comments herself, she has that effect on people). Once I started rolling along, I couldn't wait for more. These came out in March and August, so I was hoping there'd be another one along soon, but nothing's listed on Amazon. On the other hand, there *is* other stuff from her, all with a 2004 release date, so I'll need to investigate.

Imagine a vampire who just doesn't get it. She didn't expect to be a vampire. And worst of all, she's the long foretold Queen of the vampires who just *isn't* a normal vampire. She wears a cross. She says God without flinching. And she has a thing for designer shoes.

Betsy's an unusual vampire story heroine, and the antics as she tries to deal with undead politics, telling her family (why yes, she does) and new roommates are a riot. I had a lot of fun with these and will be handing them over to Audrey for a fun read.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:13 AM
November 21, 2004
Five books

Been doing some reading while in the moving process. All behind the cut, along with possible spoilers.

We're lacking in publication information this time around, because all the physical copies of the books aren't with me.

I Thirst For You
by Susan Sizemore

I've read a lot of vampire romances. This is the first one where I was like "yup, rape fantasy" right off the bat. I read the book, I finished it. But I wasn't enthralled by it. I just couldn't get into the "he takes her blood by force, they're destined to be together, she realizes she must be his mate" whole thing. It was too... contrived.

You Slay Me
by Katie Macalister

Oh, this was just lovely fun. I've already loaned it to Audrey. I saw men reading it at Albacon. Aisling Grey discovers all kinds of things about herself, and her relationship to the demon world (a demon is summoned and he's a Newfie with attitude!!). It's a romance, it's a mystery, it's spec fic. It's just plain fun.

Dead Witch Walking
by Kim Harrison

I've heard both good and bad about this one, and personally, I had fun with it. i liked the main character, she kept me interested, and I read it pretty damned quick. I loaned it to Audrey.

The Witches of Karres
by James H. Schmitz
hardcover (re-released)

The Wizard of Karres
by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, Dave Freer

Normally I wouldn't pick up a sequel to a book I've loved since forever that was written by people who are okay. But this one came recommended by someone I trust, a person who would've hated it if it wren't done right.

So I reread Witches first. And loved it as much as I ever loved it. And was left wondering whether it could ever be published new today, as pulpy and wonderful as it is.

Then I read Wizard. Ohhh... such wonderful Karres yumminess! They captured the essence and style of the first so nicely. And set it up for a third novel (just like the first always sounded like there should bea second). And yes, I'll buy it because they did SO good and it's buying into me wanting to see Goth grow up. Would I recommend it? Yes. It didn't break the original. It added to it, and grew it, and addedto the mythology and only in good ways. Lovely, lovely stuff.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:34 PM
October 31, 2004
Book Review: Silver's Edge

Silver's Edge
by Anne Kelleher
trade paperback from Luna 2004

Wow. Probable spoilers behind the cut...

I am impressed. The book started slow, which for me isn't usually a very good sign. She drew me into the characters and their lives. She made me believe in them. And then when she started making changes, started showing that the world wasn't just black and white but oh so very very grey I was utterly hooked.

Anne Kelleher does a wonderful job of creating a three dimensional world where I'm not entirely sure who to root for all the time, and not sure what will happen next. But it is all plausible and dark and terrifying and wonderful all at once.

The only problem? While the story of the one night of Samhain ends, the overall story does not, and I am left aching for the next book in this series.

Silver's Edge is the story of the Silver Caul, which was Made to bind the Mortal and Faerie realms away from the Goblins and keep them safe. And of the consequences of that action, and of actions against it. It is the story of Nessa and Delphinea and Celia, all of whom act in the best interests of their homes. It is a series of love stories, as well as stories of passion and the fascination that exists between Faerie and Mortals.

I loved it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:10 AM
October 23, 2004
Book read

Incubus Dreams
by Laurel Hamilton

Can't put up the publishing info because the book got packed today, but I wanted to record it before I forget. As usual, it was fun, quick, and pulled me along. I could see a zillion things she does wrong, but honestly, she still tells a fun story that just kept me involved. I continue to love the characters, and they grew into their own skins more, which I liked.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:36 PM
October 16, 2004
More books!

Of course, a few more books! I'm in the middle of Incubus Dreams now, and that's just whipping along. I know, I know, Laurel doesn't write literature. But I do enjoy her characters and the interactions and I'm a sucker for relationship based plot, y'know?

The count, since mid-February, is now 42 books. Figure I prob read 4 before that that didn't make the list. I'd like to make an average of 1/week this year. I wish I still read like I did as a kid!!

Anyway, the four books...

Blood Rites
by Jim Butcher
paperback from ROC, 2004

Harry Dresden. Ooh... *happy smiles* I just love Jim's stuff. I just adore Harry. And it only keeps getting better. If you aren't reading this series you SHOULD. Really.

This Magic Moment
by Patricia Rice
paperback from Signet, 2004

A fun ghost story romance novel.

Jacob Have I Loved
by Katherine Patterson
YA paperback from Scholastic, 1990
(originally published in 1980)

Thanks to Katie for sending me this to read. I was partway through when I noticed the list of other books and realized that this same author wrote "Bridget to Terrabithia" which was one of my favorite "crying novels" when I was younger. Don't recall how young -- somewhere between 10 and 12. I recently scored a copy of that book and was thrilled to have it, although I haven't reread it. Anyway, there were stylistic issues in Jacob that I didn't always like. And I had a lot of trouble sympathising with Louise for so much of it because it seemed like so many of her problems were brought on by herself. But in the end, she redeems herself, and comes to understand those around her who have loved her all along. And yes, that made me snuffly.

Staying Dead
by Laura Anne Gilman
trade paperback from Luna, 2004

Yay Laura Anne! I'd been waiting to read this book for a month after I bought it (my mom borrowed my copy at worldcon, and then Audrey read her copy and just loved it... and I waited *sighs*). I love Wren and Sergei and the interactions, and am really looking forward to more. I bumped into a few stylistic things that weren't my taste, but the story took me past it and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:21 PM
September 25, 2004
Books Read

Yet another entry of books read in the past month or so, but without more than a mini-review. 7 books in this entry.

Wren to the Rescue
Wren's Quest
Wren's War
Sherwood Smith
YA paperback from Firebird Books, 2004

I've been waiting for this trilogy to come back into print ever since I read Crown Duel and Court Duel by Sherwood Smith. They were as much fun as I was expecting.

Kissed by Magic
Gloria Harchar
paperback from Lovespell, 2004

It was a romance, and it was fun. I rather liked the heroine pretending to be insane and talking to pixies. *giggles* We're not talking great literature, but it wasn't bad either.

The Glasswright's Master
Mindy Klasky
paperback from Roc, 2004

I think this is the end of the Glasswright's series. There are some tough moments in this set, tough things for the characters to get through. In the end, they ended up rather where I expected them to be, which I liked. Overall, a good series, although I think the first one's still my favorite of the lot.

His and Hers
Pamela Bauer
paperback from Harlequin, 1987

Hey, I was working my way through reading large junks of my random romance collection. Not really all that much one can say.

Owl in Love
Patrice Kindl
paperback from Puffin Books, 1993

Wow. Go read this one, just for the voice of the main character. Owl is so amazingly, believably alien and teenager all at once, it works perfectly. I have been told Patrice Kindl has written a second book -- I have to find it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 03:00 PM
August 28, 2004
4 More Books

Why am I writing these all down without reviewing them? So I can track what I've read!!

Four books this time, all part of Patricia Wrede's wonderful dragon series for young adults. If I can find another set, I'll be buying them for Audrey at Worldcon next week.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
all published by Point from Scholastic

Dealing With Dragons (1992)
Searching for Dragons (1992)
Calling on Dragons (1994)
Talking to Dragons (1995)

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:47 PM
August 08, 2004
Not Book Reviews, but...

Again, not reviewing books because my brain just ain't cooperating. But I do want to keep track of what I've finished, so the list is behind the ...

It's been about six weeks again, and this time the count is 7 books. Again. Although this time I've put in some time with one book that took me a while (Confidence Game) and several that were quicker (the YA novels).

The Keeper of the Isis Light
Monica Hughes
paperback from Aladdin, 2000
[original pub date 1980]

Confidence Game
Michelle M. Welch
paperback from Bantam, 2003

Bitter Sweet
LaVyrle Spencer
hardcover from G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1990

Petals on the River
Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
trade paperback from Avon Books, 1997

The Witches of Worm
Zilpha Keatley Snyder
paperback from Dell Yearling, 1986
[original pub date 1972]

Fortune's Journey
Bruce Coville
hardcover from BridgeWater Books, 1995

Absolutely, Positively
Jayne Ann Krentz
hardcover from Pocket Books, 1996

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:38 PM
June 23, 2004
Catching up on Book Reviews

So... it looks like I last posted a review back on May 8th. It is now about six weeks later, and I've got 7 books in the queue for reviewing. Hopefully I'll get those written up sooner rather than later. If you want a sneak preview, do the clicky thing. Titles behind the MORE...

Spirits in the Wires
by Charles DeLint
hardcover from Tor, 2003

Believing is Seeing
by Diana Wynne Jones
hardcover from Greenwillow Books
a collection of previously published short stories

The Broken Citadel
by Joyce Ballou Gregorian
paperback from Ace 1983
originally published by Atheneum in 1975

by Joyce Ballou Gregorian
paperback from Ace 1983
originally published by Atheneum in 1977

The Great Wheel
by Joyce Ballou Gregorian
paperback from Ace 1987

The Wolf of Haskell Hall
by Colleen Shannon
paperback from LoveSpell 2001

The Lone Wolf's Child
by Patricia Rosemoor
paperback from Harlequin Intrigue 2000

Posted by Deb Atwood at 12:25 AM
May 08, 2004
Book Review: Hamlet Dreams

Hamlet Dreams
by Jennifer Barlow
Aardwolf Press, 2001

Picked this one up off of a review table because the artwork and the description appealed to me. I love the cover art by Frank Wu. Something about the color and flow truly appeals to me, and obviously it did its job.

The back blurb included the quote "psychosexual ambiguity" which just tweaked my interest.

Spoilers behind the cut...

I have reached the point in my writing career where less polished writing does detract from the read for me. I read through this fairly quickly. I liked the concept -- a man who discovered a whole other world long ago, and now that he has fallen in love, the world fights to keep him.

The story is interesting. The concept is interesting. But the writing fell flat. While it read quickly, it was more because there wasn't something that really grabbed me. I could skim it, and grab the parts I liked. I wanted something meatier. THe topic almost begged for a greater depth of intensity.

So, in summary -- idea: good, but execution: not so great. I'd very much like to see the author grow further into her ideas, because I really really like the idea.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:29 AM
April 26, 2004
Book Review: Three Romance Novels

Three Dog Knight
by Tori Phillips
paperback from Harlequin Historical, 1998

Kissing Frogs
by Laura Marie Altom
paperback from Love Spell, 2004

Absolutely Captivated
by Kristine Grayson
paperback from Zebra Books, 2004

[spoilers behind the cut]

Three Dog Knight

Oh, this one was just so cute, and such a quick read. I expected it from a Harlequin, of course. But it was entertaining. The story centers around Alicia, the lost daughter of dead King Edward, who hides in plain sight. In order to make her safe, her adopted father engages her to the youngest son (Thomas) of an old friend, and when her family is gone, Alicia shows up to claim her husband.

But Thomas is no longer simply a youngest son -- he is now the Lord, and thought strange by everyone. He is a quiet man, preferring the company of his dogs to people, because dogs cannot betray him. And yet Alicia fits into his life, and disrupts it utterly as her secret is revealed.

There is a happy ending, of course. And it was just fun getting there. I liked Thomas... he was a sweet man.

Kissing Frogs

Out of the trio of romances, this is the one I liked the least. The concept was cute... a biologist makes a fool out of herself trying to make a name for herself in the world of studying frogs. She wants only to be someone her father can be amazed by, and she keeps failing him. So when she finds a new species of frog, she is so amazed that she kisses it.

And gets the centuries old prince.

The reason I didn't like it? I didn't like Wolfe. He was an ass. Admittedly, he fit into the right way of the world for his time. And he did change, which was cute and sweet, but I got tired of someone screaming "wench!". The characters tripped me up. I'd give it to someone to read, but I don't think I'd say go run out and buy it. Although I would try another one by the same author.

Absolutely Captivated

Take one 150 year old mage, with a prophecy that she will find love near the entrance to Faerie. Add one man who never knew he was a mage, along with a son with more power than he should have. Add in the three fates, who no longer have magic and have been replaced by a trio of teens.

Quick paced and entertaining, I loved this one. Zoe Sinclair was snappy, with great dialogue. There was a strong mythos behind how magic worked, and the rules of human magic versus faerie magic. Gods were explained. Myths were explained. And it all seemed somehow plausible. Within a romance novel! I'm definitely picking up more by Kristine Grayson -- I think she did a bangup job with this one, and I look forward to seeing more by her.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 07:17 PM
Book Review: Mage Heart

Mage Heart
by Jane Routley
hardcover from Avon, 1996
paperback from Avon, 2000

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this one up. I had bought it on a whim at a con, in hardcover, off a used book pile. It seemed interesting, but I'd never heard of the author or the title.

Starting it was difficult. The writing style and I didn't get along -- it has an almost formalized style that was difficult for me to get into. But then, once I did, we just rocketed along.

[spoilers behind the cut]

The book centers around Dion, the only female mage. She has heard of others, in other lands, but where she grew up, only the men are mages, and even her tutor (who selected her in order to prove women could become mages) never quite believed in her.

This leaves Dion at the beginning of the story as a young mage who has no belief in her own power, and a bit of a prude from a foreign land who has no idea how to fit into how things are done here. She is terrified of witch hunts. Terrified and yet fascinated by demons. And afraid of her new employer, who is the mistress of the Duke, and claims a necromancer wishes to kill her.

Throughout the story Dion grows, learns to trust, learns how to function within society. She learns that not everything she was told as a youngster is true, including about herself. She comes into her own with her power.

Once I really got into it, some of the politics reminded me of shades of Carey's works, like I was reading a distant predecessor of the style. Yes, this is a complement. The shades of romance, seen through the eyes of a 17 year old girl, become stronger throughout the novel, but I will tell you only that this is no mere romance novel. And if you expect it to be such, you will be surprised at the end.

Was it knock my socks off amazing? No. But it was fun, and an enjoyable read, and I'm glad I worked through the beginning rather than just set it aside and go on to something simpler. It was worth it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 06:55 PM
Book Review: The DaVinci Code

The DaVinci Code
by Dan Brown
hardcover from Doubleday 2003

Everybody has been telling me to read this book. We bought it for Kevin, and once he got started he kept telling me I had to read it. Then Audrey read it, and *she* kept telling me.

So I started reading it. And yeah, they were right.

[spoilers behind the cut]

It isn't the writing that wowed me in this book. In fact, I had a real hard time getting into it at first because the writing is very simple, and had a sort of Dick & Jane feeling to it. Simple sentences, simple ways of speaking. I felt a little like I was being talked down to.

But the subject material. WOW. This is amazing. It isn't what he did wrong, but what he did right. And what he did right is fantastic.

I loved the story, loved the subject matter. The mix of Catholicism and paganism is totally up my alley. Looking at the Christian mythos from the point of view of history, and how religion worked to become what it is today. Seeing the different ideas, and the concept of how the grail is not necessarily a chalice, but a symbolic chalice instead. Absolutely lovely.

And he teaches the symbology throughout the novel so well that by the end you're picking it up and going right along with Langdon (the central character) so that as he's figuring it out, you're figuring it out. I loved it. I didn't feel cheated because I was starting to guess things, but I felt like I'd learned something. Learned a new way of thinking. A new way of looking at things.

This book isn't for everyone. It isn't always complementary to the church, and it's theories rock the foundation of Christ. It fit in beautifully with my own views, and rooted a centuries old religion into a reality I could sink my teeth into.

It makes me want to go read more on the history it evoked, and see which of the works mentioned were real (if any). I know the Priory of Sion is real, and I'd like to find out more about this particular grail mythos. It is rare that a piece of fiction can make me thirst for more information the way this does. It is the sign of a well-written novel.

Would I recommend it? Highly. It is a quick and easy read, and highly enjoyable, and the puzzles in it are entertaining and fun to work through. Add in tension and a dash of romance, and it has it all.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 06:47 PM
March 19, 2004
Book Reviews: Two Books

by Wen Spencer
hardcover from Baen, 2003

Master of Ecstasy
by Nina Banks
paperback from Love Spell (Dorchester Publishing Co.), 2004

As always, possible spoilers behind the cut...

The only thing these two books have in common? Both were enjoyable, fun, quick reads. But there the resemblance ends.

Tinker is Wen Spencer's fourth novel, her first hardcover, and her first about Alexander Graham Bell, the petite 18 year old girl who is otherwise known as Tinker. [surprisingly, I never found a Tinker Bell reference!!]

I had a little difficulty getting into it at first. But that "at first" faded quickly. Wen puts you into the middle of the action, the middle of the world, but it *is* the beginning of the story. The hard part is trying to sort out how the world works.

You see, once upon a time this guy created a gate between the worlds. There was this veil effect, and suddenly all of Pittsburgh was sent to Elfhome,as long as the gate's active. On Shutdown Day, Pittsburgh returns to Earth.

And thus the story begins, on Shutdown Day, and with people chasing the Viceroy of the local elven government. Wen's elves are human and not human all at once. Tinker is sweet and innocent and naive and adorable, yet strong and fun and enjoyable.

This is a love story. A growing up story. A mystery. An adventure. It moves from one moment to the next and never quite stops until it's over.

It reminds me a bit of Laurel Hamilton, but better written. That same intensity of relationships, and that same innocence and confusion about the men around her.

If you want something light and fun and feeling good at the end of it, pick this up. I look forward to Wen's next book.

Master of Ecstasy, despite the title, is NOT one of the erotica novels I picked up at Boskone. It is a vampire novel, and a normal mass-market romance novel.

That said, this is one of the sexiest, funniest, smuttiest romance novels I've read in a long time and I just loved it. I giggled through the whole damned thing.

Take one demoness in the form of a white cat ("But white makes me look fat!") who can't keep her mouth shut and is *always* talking about sex and working on getting people together. Add in one demon who now does only good but really really wants to do bad. Then take a vampire, and a woman from the far future who works for Ecstasy and needs t ofind a way to make this oh so hot vampire happy... without using sex.

It has tension, and silliness, and some wonderful quotes and images. It was just lovely and a great break in the otherwise serious stuff. I need that once in a while.

If you like regular fantasy? Nah, this isn't your thing. If romance entertains and amuses you, and you'd like something that's just plain fun and silly and sexy, go for it. I had fun, anyway.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:12 PM
March 09, 2004
Book Review: A Wizard Alone

A Wizard Alone
by Diane Duane
paperback from Magic Carpet Books (Harcourt), 2003

This is the sixth volume in Diane Duane's Wizard series... I can't wait for the seventh to come out. I always enjoy these wonderful YA books and am looking forward to sharing them with my kids someday.

Possible spoilers behind the cut...

A Wizard Alone continues the story of Kit and Nita, with Nita and her family still in mourning after her mother's death (last book). Kit is asked to look into the apparent disappearance of an autistic boy (who hasn't actually *disappeared*) who is still on his Ordeal after several months. Meanwhile, Nita stumbles onto the same boy while she grieves.

The story explores the process of grief, autism, and as always, the fight against good and evil. It is a page turner, and enjoyable, and excellent for almost all ages I think. Not every topic is easy, but they aren't told in a way that would terrify a child. It's good stuff.

If you like YA novels, I highly recommend this series. I can't wait for the next one.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 07:30 PM
March 01, 2004
Book Reviews: Three Books

I've finished up three books in the last couple of weeks since Boskone. Yes, I know, my reading speed is a dim reflection of what it once was, but at the moment, I'm feeling actually pretty quick. *smile*

Paper Mage
by Leah R. Cutter
paperback from ROC, 2003

Seduced by Moonlight
by Laurell K. Hamilton
hardcover from Ballantine Books, 2004

A Perilous Power
by E. Rose Sabin
hardcover from TOR, 2004

And possible spoilers in the mini-reviews behind the cut...

Paper Mage

I can see why this one made the Locus recommended reading list. It was different. It was well written. It had a consistent voice which was articulate, pleasing, and didn't bog down even though it had some wonderful descriptions. I loved the way the two stories (which were all one story really) wove together through the book, as chapters alternated between past and present, allowing us to see the clues as they became important.

The best part? It didn't go for the predictable happily ever after ending. I wondered, I really wondered throughout the novel if it would go that route, and when it did not, I was pleased.

Seduced by Moonlight

In reading this, I was reminded of the oft-quoted advice on OWW. When you read a published work, don't ask what is wrong with it. Ask what the author did right.

I've grown as a writer. I can tell, because as I read Laurell's latest work I can see things that I consider errors. Yet I still find myself drawn forward, turning page after page in a quick read that at the end of it, I truly enjoyed.

So what does she do right?

I love her characters. I love the woman who can't quite figure out how to do what she's doing, trying to balance all these men in her life and about as twisted a set of relationships as it gets. I love the fact that it is fast-paced and never stops for a moment. A day passes in this novel. A day. I figure she might get to the climax of the dinner in the Seelie Court a couple of novels down the road.

Laurell's writing might not be perfect. But I can set it aside enough to be drawn along the (very sensual) romp and enjoy myself. I just have to set aside the crit hat for a while.

A Perilous Power

This is the second novel by this author -- I think I might've reviewed the first one as well. I liked the first one, well enough to buy this one. I found this one stumbling. I didn't like the main character, Trevor, although I liked his best friend Les. I found the writing style to be a little *too* YA for me.

But I liked the end. I liked the sacrifice. I liked the tone. And I liked the way it tied into the other novel -- it made me sniffle at the end and then it made me smile. Average book, but enjoyable.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:00 PM
February 16, 2004
Book Review: Something Unpredictable

Something Unpredictable
by Barb Chepaitis
Hardcover, from Atria Books, 2003

As always, Barb's writing is enjoyable and quick reading. I love the way she draws her characters, the way they live and breathe. Her last book, These Dreams made me cry. Through half the book. When this one came out, and I picked it up at Albacon, I asked Barb if it was as serious. She said no... after the depth of These Dreams she wrote something light and uplifting and fun.

She was right.

(possible spoilers behind the cut)

Delilah always knew her mother was adopted. She grew up in a slightly off-kilter family, where her mother brought home people and causes, and Delilah was the odd one when she went into science. It wasn't a perfect life, losing her twin brother when they were ten, to lieukemia.

And then she found out her mother had found her birth grandmother. By accident. And Delilah was elected to go see her and make contact.

Barb's writing is fresh and sometimes comic. Delilah's mistakes are painted without embarassment, and her triumphs bring joy. The book isn't all happy (yes, she still made me cry) but it *is* a story of happiness and love and finding what you need when you least expect it. And where you least expect it.

I love that about it. I always say... stop looking for something, and you'll turn around and it will be there for you. And in many ways, that's what this is about.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 05:13 PM
April 07, 2003
Book Review -- Ill Met by Moonlight

Ill Met by Moonlight
by Sarah A. Hoyt
paperback from Ace, October 2002

And now for something completely different... and I don't mean that in the funny sense, either. This book is a breath of fresh air, a complete change from what I usually read. And if you love Shakespeare, you'll love it.

Ill Met by Moonlight speculates upon what might have inspired Shakespeare in his more mystical elements in his plays. It is a lovely story of what happens when Will's wife is stolen away and Shakespeare must treat with the elven folk in order to win back his Nan.

The story is delightfully told in the style and speech so reminiscent of the works of Shakespeare. There are many quotes within it that are instantly recognizable from his plays. For anyone who loves his work, it is a lot of fun to read it and spot the quotes, and see how his works influenced this story, which in turn is showing how Will was influenced himself. Twisty goodness there.

There is a next novel, which I'll need to check out when it finally makes it into paperback. It was quick, pleasant, and entertaining. All good things.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:32 PM
March 24, 2003
Book Review -- Warchild

by Karin Lowachee
Aspect, April 2002

Wow. Okay, let me say that again. Wow.

I picked this book up in part because she's an OWW graduate. And I'd heard some really good things about it. So I started getting curious and decided I'd give it a whirl. And I'm damn glad I did.

I stayed up way too late last night because I hit the point of no return and then I still had to put it down because I just couldn't keep my eyes open. Then I was almost late this morning because I picked it up while getting read. I tucked it into my bag and during lunch break at work (which it turned out later I shouldn't have taken because Ry got sick... again...) I ran outside and enjoyed the spring air as I gobbled down the ending.


Karin Lowachee has an interesting style. The first part is in second person -- it is difficult to read because we're just not used to seeing it. But it was intriguing the way it was presented, and I was sure it was done for a reason. Which I did figure out later.

After the first part it snaps into first person past, and then later, it switches to present tense. All the tense changes have a definite meaning, and show the story in a very different light.

The story revolves around Jos Musey, a boy whose world is destroyed when his ship is raided by pirates when he is 8, and his parents are killed. He is taken by one of the pirates, and then escapes with the alien enemy. His loyalties shift and change as he grows through learning what is right and what is wrong. The tense changes and vague descriptions show how even in first person, the main character can hide the details from himself.

This isn't an easy book to read. Jos's life is harsh, and Karin doesn't flinch from it. Rather, Jos himself ducks away from what has happened to him, couching it only in the vaguest of terms, but clearly enough that *I* knew what had happened even though he hadn't said it. Even though, in fact, he had flatly denied what others knew to be true. I thought this to be remarkably well done, showing how a person can psychologically skitter away mentally from things that they simply do not wish to remember or believe. And this was when I realized how wonderful the opening with the second person was, distancing himself from the memory and placing someone else in it, yet making them feel it. Wonderful.

The book doesn't end, yet it completes itself. It comes to a place of both beginning and closure, where the relationships are still just as tangled, and in many ways, Jos is still confused. I would love to see another book about Jos and the Warboy as they build forward into the new world that they have worked to create.

As for the rest of you, go buy this book!! And if you are nominating/voting for Hugos & the Campbell, remember her name. I know I will!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:31 PM
January 05, 2003
Book Review -- Dancing with an Alien

Dancing with an Alien
by Mary Logue
hardcover from HarperCollins 2000

When I see an intriguing looking YA genre book on sale, I tend to pick it up, without really paying attention to much else about it. I picked up this one on sale at Media Merchant for $3.99 (rather than the cover price of $14.95).

It is told in a style which seems common, almost, in "literary" YA genre novels. The chapters switch between Tonia (a 17 year old girl in St. Paul, MN) and Branko (an alien who has come to Earth to find a female to bring home). each chapter is told in the first person, so we are able to get inside the heads of both protagonists.

This works really well for Branko. His style matches well with someone who doesn't know our culture except for training, with someone who is somewhat alien. But for Tonia, her style of speech seemed choppy in writing. I didn't like the way the sentences seemed to always cut short and talk down. I have never liked the idea of making writing too simplistic -- I have more faith in our childrens' reading capabilities than that.

The basic plot is an old one. On Branko's planet a virus wiped out the female population. They have been surveying nearby worlds and discovered Earth and that they could interbreed with our woman. So they come and court them, and return home with them and turn them into precious baby-producing commodities.

Despite the style and the standard plot, this is a decent book. I wouldn't say its great. I didn't regret reading it, and it was certainly a quick read (perhaps a half hour to an hour, tops). Its short.

The story focuses on the relationship between Branko and Tonia and on the decisions that they face. And in the end, the decision that is made is not necessarily the easiest one, but in Branko's mind, it is the best. There is no happy ending here.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 02:45 PM
January 03, 2003
Book Review -- Kushiel's Chosen

Kushiel's Chosen
by Jacqueline Carey
hardcover from Tor 2002

Oh. My. God. Jacqueline has done it again. And this time, I hope she gets the Hugo nod she well deserves.

Kushiel's Chosen is the sequel to Kushiel's Dart. And again it is lavish, with a beautiful setting and wonderful characters. Jacqueline is an amazing author, and I will be anxiously awaiting more from her.

Phedre no Delauney is an anguisette, an incredibly rare woman for whom pain creates near blinding pleasure. She is chosen of the god Kushiel, and bears his dart, a red mote in her eye. In the land of Terre D'Ange, where the god Elua declared love as thou wilt she is an accomplished courtesan. She is also a spy.

Phedre is certain that Melisande, the woman who betrayed the crown, is still alive. She is obsessed, and when she receives a sign, she heads to La Serenissima to find her.

This is a story of love, and of understanding what love means and how love can change. We see those around Phedre changed by knowing her, and by becoming a part of her world. Phedre inspires an emotion like no other. And she is not simply beautiful and sensual, she is also intelligent, ferreting out plots and saving her queen and her homeland.

This is a long book, yet in reading it I only wish it were longer. It reads quickly, flowing from sentence to sentence, from chapter to chapter, pulling the reader along in a whisper wind of sensation. I craved more and hated to pause in my reading.

I highly recommend both novels to anyone who is interested in a novel with deep history, a rich world, and emotionally vivid characters. There is sex in these novels, but it is not overdone nor too explicit for those who would not care for it.

Jacqueline writes like a dream. This is a woman to watch for. I eagerly await more.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 03:37 PM
December 25, 2002
Book Review -- Dark Salvation

Dark Salvation
by Jennifer Dunne
paperback from Hard Shell Word Factory 2000

Once again, an author I met before I read her work. *smile* Isn't that the way it always seems to go for me these days? Jennifer Dunne writes paranormal romances, fantasy, and science fiction, still publishing more on the independant and e-book market than on the mass market so far.

My first thought when I began "Dark Salvation" was yup, this is a romance novel. It has the candence, the word feel to it of a romance novel. You can sense it, with how the characters are drawn, and with the conflict.

Does it escape that mold? Yes, and no. And I mean that in a good way.

It is, just that. A good romance. The characters do come together, as we know they are meant to, across adversity. Secrets are told and overcome. Jennifer's characters are well drawn -- I particularly like their conversations. They come across like real people talking. Which IMO is good -- I'm a real fan of characterization through conversation.

Would I recommend it? It depends on what you are looking for. Do you like romance novels with a supernatural twist? If you do, you'll love it. Its excellent at being just something wonderful (and quick) to read and enjoy.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 04:30 PM
October 07, 2002
Book Review -- The Mediator: Shadowland

The Mediator: Shadowland
by Jenny Carroll
paperback from Pocket Pulse 2000

I collect Young Adult books. Generally genre fiction, although some non-genre fiction does creep in as well (and I still have all the books I've bought over the years, including those from when I *was* a Young Adult myself!).

I'm not sure where I picked this one up -- whether I picked it off of Glen's table last Boskone (Glen Cook always has such *good* YA books to buy on his table in the dealers' room) or whether I just bumped into it on my own. Its the first in a series, and according to Amazon, there are a total of four books out so far. I can't tell by just looking if its an open-ended series. But I do know I plan to buy more of them.

This isn't a kids book written for adults. Most adults probably wouldn't have the patience for the writing style, although the style is one of the things I like about it. The book is written in first person vernacular, like Suze is talking to the reader directly. Its the style I use, all too often, and I have a fondness for it. It reads like I could be reading it out loud and I can hear her voice in my head. I like that.

The style of the book definitely trades on the popularity of Buffy. There's this girl -- Suze -- and she's a Mediator. That means she can speak with the dead. Hells, she can talk to them, touch them, and even "kick ghost butt" when necessary. What she's supposed to do is help them find their way to the other side. But Suze (rather like Buffy) has gone all alone for the first 16 years of her life. She had no help, no one to teach her how to deal with this gift. So she's developed her own techniques.

Now she's moved from New York City to San Jose, because her mother has gotten married. And suddenly there's a priest at her school who knows exactly what she is. And three step-brothers becoming involved in her life. Not to mention Jesse, the *really* cute ghost with the amazing six-pack who just happens to reside in her room. Suddenly life is different for Suze, but the ghosts are still there. And Heather, who died not long before Suze arrived at the Mission school, can't stand her.

The book reads quickly, and I can see the episodic nature (meet ghost, fight or fix with ghost, get them to the other side) and the relationships forming. There's Jesse, the ghost. Her step-brothers (I rather like Sleepy, even with the little we've seen of him, and I especially like Doc). The not so popular kids at school, and the popular ones. Yes, very reminiscent of Buffy. But in a good way, and enjoyably done. Now I just need to go get the rest of them.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:11 PM
October 02, 2002
Book Review -- Desire

by Amanda Quick
paperback from Bantam (Historical Romance) 1994

Okay, so I'm on a romance kick for the moment -- you'll need to either put up with it or just skip over these book reviews if you find romance novels disgusting. *smiles*

I discovered Amanda Quick (a pen name for Jayne Ann Krentz) a few years ago, at the recommendation of the owner of Flights of Fantasy. Yes, the bookstore does cater to SF & Fantasy, but it also includes other genre fiction, such as Horror, Myster, and yes, Romance. Why? Because she likes them. And that's one of the reasons I love that particular store so much.

So I've read some of Krentz/Quick's work, and now when I bump into them in the used bookstores, or on a discount rack, I snap them up. And then when I go on a romance binge (like now) I really enjoy tucking into one or two of them.

Amanda Quick writes romances that have heroines with guts -- no simpering ninnies here. The story revolves around the Lady Clare of Desire (that being an island) and Sir Gareth of Wyckmere (The Hellhound). After Lady Clare's father dies, she soon realizes that she cannot protect her island and its valuable perfume business alone. And that her overlord will expect her to wed. So she sends a "recipe" for the perfect husband to him.

What she gets is The Hellhound -- too large, too serious, but he *can* read, thus fulfilling one of her three requirements. Of course, there is intrigue, there are dangers, and eventually, there is (surprise surprise) love. Yes, it is a romance novel, and yes, in many ways it is predictable.

But the characters are fresh and alive, and the conflicts are enjoyable. There is nothing that sets my teeth on edge, grating against my sensibilities (as so many heroines in romance novels do) and there are no saccharin coated phrases (heaving bosom anyone?). It is a pleasant story, enjoyable, and entertaining. Enough so that I'm happily reading another Amanda Quick book now to follow it up.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:34 PM
September 29, 2002
Book Review -- The Ferryman

The Ferryman
by Christopher Golden
paperback from Signet Horror 2002

Christopher Golden made a splash when he entered the writing scene with the publication of his Bram Stoker Award winning non-fiction book, "Cut!", and then the first of his amazingly different vampire novel, "Of Saints and Shadows". His fiction created a new vampire mythology that was unusual and a breath of fresh air. The second book came out. And then... it seemed like silence.

Thankfully, I knew better than that. Chris wasn't truly silent, still working hard, still writing (and publishing various work for hire novels). He was our guest of honor at Genericon in 1996, which gave us a chance to get to know him. And we were thrilled a few years later when we heard that the third vampire novel was coming out, to be followed soon by new horror novels.

I was excited as each book came out, and have loved every single one. "The Ferryman" is no exception.

The story centers around Janine, who nearly died when she lost her son due to severe complications from preeclampsia. I had to start the book twice -- the first time the tale of Janine's near death and the situation around it gave me the shivers as I remembered my own scale up the bloodpressure and down in platelets when Ryan was born. But when I came back to the book, starting again from the beginning, I found it to move very quickly.

Janine left David Bairstow when her first love came back -- she needed to know if she had a future with Spencer. But when she discovered she was pregnant, Spencer left her and she nearly died. Afterwards, her true friends, David and Annette, were there to help her.

But something isn't quite right. Janine is having dreams of her dead son suckling at her breast, and of a cold something who desires her. And David is being stalked, and threatened, by people long dead in his past. And when one of his ghosts shows up with a new name and falls in love with Annette, things can only go from bad to worse.

Jannine, Annette, and David must face that there is truth in the myths of the Ferryman, and that they must find the truth and a way to defeat it in order to survive.

The characters are wonderful -- real people, true people. Christopher doesn't make a big deal out of what people are -- they simply are themselves. Annette -- the lesbian who works for St. Matthews, sparring verbally with the priest. David, loving Janine and feeling guilt for the ghosts of his past. And the characters make the story, make it readable and enjoyable -- a real page turner.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:44 PM
September 21, 2002
Book Review -- These Dreams

These Dreams
by Barbara Chepaitis
hardcover from Pocket Books 2002

Barbara writes both "mundane" fiction and science fiction. Her first three novels were SF, and I would say that's how I discovered her... but I'd be lying. Barbara is a Capital District local area author, and I had already met her several times long before her first book was published. I picked up her first novel in part because I knew her. I passed it along, recommended it to others, and bought the second because I loved it, and the third because I loved both that came before.

That said, when Feeding Christine, her first non-genre novel, was published, I immediately snapped it up. Loved it. Therefore when my husband was at Flights of Fantasy (which carries Barb's stuff, genre or non-genre) in March, and asked if I wanted anything, my answer was simply, "Barb's new book." Of course then it took me months to actually get to READ it.

It was worth the wait.

As I've already blogged, I cried a lot while reading this book. It begins with Cricket, meeting a strange man in the grocery store and being asked the question, "If you were going to live as if you only had one year to live, what would you do?" This starts Cricket thinking, and she is a dreaming, so it starts her dreaming as well.

We follow Cricket into her life... a middle-aged mother of two daughters (Janis in high school and Grace just 13), with a sister (who's husband might be having an affair), and a husband she loves and is comfortable married to. But she is thinking, and starting to re-evaluate that life. She looks around her, at her husband (would he have an affair? who would want him?), at the man she works with over at the bird sanctuary, at her sister's marriage...

And for the first part of the book, it seems as if it will be a midlife crisis novel. A book about Cricket's learning about her life, and what may change and what may not.

And then, abruptly, it changes. There is a shooting at the mall, where Cricket's daughter Janis has gone for the day while Cricket is at the bird sanctuary. She goes home in a panic to find that Janis is safe, but then she learns that Janis took Grace with her... and that Grace is not safe. She lies in the hospital, undergoing surgery for a bullet which struck her.

Everything changes in that moment. Cricket's life spirals seemingly out of control around her, and she struggles to adapt to the changes. This is much more than a midlife crisis. This is a true crisis of life itself. And no one in Cricket's life is immune from the ramifications.

The book is emotionally heavy. And difficult at times. But it is worth it. Barbara's characters are so believable and true, and you *want* to see Cricket heal from her emotional injuries. You want to see her survive to find her life again by the end of the book. And so I kept reading, with the tears pouring down my cheeks, and sometimes with great gulping sobs of feeling Cricket's heartbreak.

And yes, in the end, it was worth it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 05:13 PM
September 14, 2002
Book Review -- The Wizard of Seattle

The Wizard of Seattle
by Kay Hooper
paperback from Bantam Books 1993

I was looking for something light and fluffy... something I wouldn't have to think much about as I read it. It had been a long week, and I was looking forward to a busy weekend. So I went to my little pile of romance novels and picked out this one -- "The Wizard of Seattle". I figured it combined romance and genre, and would probably be an enjoyably campy little trip into a silly genre romance, and should be exactly what I was looking for.

What I *got* was a pleasant surprise.

Many romance authors who crossover into genre fiction (sf or fantasy) tend to get pretty campy. The fantasty names no one can pronounce. The really hyped up strange plotlines.

This one didn't. Yeah, its still a romance novel. I wouldn't go saying its great high fantasy. But it was good, and it wasn't campy.

Serena shows up on Richard Merlin's doorstep in Seattle when she is 16 years old. She's running and terrified and something has drawn her to him -- his power as a Master Wizard calling to her own innate power that she doesn't understand. And Richard... despite that he knows that the laws say that women should not be trained as wizards... accepts her as his Apprentice, and keeps her secret for the next 25 years.

When her presence is discovered by the Council of Wizards, Richard chooses to take the two of them back in time rather than strip Serena of her powers. He knows that she would never survive being normal -- her powers are too much of a part of who she is. So instead they go back to Atlantia, before the city was destroyed, in order to find out why females were banned as wizards.

As always, it does precede as a romance novel, and for that, it is fairly predictable, including the antagonist (the overly libidinous Varian) and the heroine's near misses with being caught by him. But the thing that makes it different is that throughout it all, the fantastic parts are taken as a matter of course. Serena doesn't make a big deal out of being a wizard, nor does it suddenly seem somehow strange and mysterious. Serena simply *is* a wizard. And the matter of face attitude is what makes it a good book.

The ending is happy, of course. Aren't all romance novels supposed to end happily? But more importantly, I didn't want to put it down... I wanted to keep reading, and in fact, kept sneaking in a page or two until I was done today, despite having company. And *that* means I liked it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:54 PM
Book Review -- Bunnicula

by Deborah and James Howe
paperback from Aladdin Paperbacks 1999

I had never read Bunnicula, the classic children's tale of a vampiric bunny. But then my mom picked up a copy, and I spent an enjoyable little while reading this wonderful story.

The tale is told from the point of view of Harold, the family dog. The story begins when his family goes to a movie and returns home with a quivering bundle carried in the arms of the children -- a tiny bunny. The bunny -- nammed Bunnicula because he was found during a Dracula movie -- quickly overtakes the affections of the family from both Harold, and Chester the family cat.

And shenannigans ensue. The cat is determined to find out what Bunnicula's secret is, and once he realizes that the bunny is behind the strange white vegetables, drained of all their juice, he is then determined to destroy the little furry one. What he does, and how the dog participates, is hysterical to read.

Of course, it is a children's story, so it has a happy ending. But it remains a cute read, and was an enjoyable little respite from the adult world.

There are many books in the Bunnicula series (and I have been told that the entire series is equally good) and hopefully someday I will own these myself. And will be able to read them to my children!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 07:40 AM
September 09, 2002
Book Review -- The Dalemark Quartet

The Dalemark Quartet
by Diana Wynne Jones
paperback from HarperTrophy 2001

Book 1: Cart and Cwidder
Book 2: Drowned Ammet
Book 3: The Spellcoats
Book 4: The Crown of Dalemark

Don't let the date above fool you -- that's just the date of the HarperTrophy edition. The first copyright date of Cart and Cwidder is 1975 -- the first book has been around for nearly 30 years. Can you tell? No. And there's the most telling part of the review.

These books are supposedly children's books, or at least Young Adult novels. But they are not written to talk down to a child. Nor are they light and fluffy, with simple morals and an easy lesson to learn. What they *are* are gritty books about the North and South Dales, who are sort of at war, and about extraordinary children and what they do in these trying times.

The main character of Cart and Cwidder is Moril, an eleven year old boy, along with his thirteen year old sister Brid, and 14 year old Kialan, a passanger in their cart. Moril sees his father murdered, and discovers the magic of his father's Cwidder. This makes him face truths about himself and about his parents... things that are not easy for a boy of 11 to understand. And Moril has to make difficult choices as his life continues on down the rocky path it has been set upon, and in the end he isn't sure that he made the right choice at all. Or if it is the right choice, that he made it for the right *reason*. The ending is an ending, but I would not consider it necessarily happy. But it is the right ending for Moril's story at that place.

The next book, Drowned Ammet, focuses on Mitt, who has the full name Alhammit Alhammitson, because so many in the South are named Alhammit, which is a bastardization of Old Ammet. In this book, the Undying become more of a focus, as Mitt makes his way North with the help of two young noble children -- Hildy and Ynen -- and finds his way to the Holy Isles. Again, Mitt is still young, only 14, yet he has seen his father disappear and others killed in the freedom fighting. He himself tried to kill an earl, only to fail and find himself on the run. He experiences things far beyond his ken, even talking to the Undying, and discovers that he has power with their names. Again, there are difficult choices made, and Mitt has difficulty coming to terms with his role in this world. In the end, he still isn't sure of himself, but he knows he is in a better place than he began his travels.

The Spellcoats takes place in the past -- I believe a couple of hundred years, if not more, before the other books. Tanaqui is weaving two Spellcoats during the course of the story, and the entire writing style has changed to reflect this. Suddenly instead of third person the reader is plunged into a very choppy, succinct, yet still expressive first person style... which you quickly realize is because this is the way the legend has been woven into the coat. Not written, woven. Much more of the legends of the Undying becomes obvious, and the beginnings of the endings are laid, pulling together the threads that were shown in the first books by writing their history here.

And then finally, in The Crown of Dalemark, it all comes together. Moril is back, now 14, as is Mitt at almost 15. Everyone from the earlier books (including those in the third book who are of The Undying, and therefore still survive into the present time) is present and accounted for, and the plot all falls together neatly. A new main character of Maewen, a girl from the future, is introduced, and become a central piece of the puzzle of how the Dales will be reunited under a single crown again, as they were in the past.

The story ends tying up the threads neatly, yet still leaving room for the reader to make their own ending images within their mind. The final lines are beautiful, yet I admit, left me craving more.

The setting is wonderful, the prose easy to read. These are books for adults or children, and I hope my children will read them someday and love them as much as I did. Hells, I hope my husband will love them as well! (They are now in his to-read pile!) I am planning to search to see if someone has already distilled the world into a gaming sourcebook, as it has such a rich feel to it that I know it could be used for a great fantasy RPG. With the focus between the Undying and the children, it would make a great game for both kids and adults mixed. And being not all sweetness and light, and with the focus on children making decisions and learning from their mistakes, and learning to *THINK* and not just follow, it also is the sort of thing I could happily run as a game. Its a complement I would love to pay someday.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:05 PM
August 25, 2002
Book Review -- A Rebellious Bride

A Rebellious Bride
by Brenda Hiatt
from Avon Historical Romance 2002

Yeah, so I like romances. So sue me. And Jenn brought me presents which I just totally inhaled. And loved.

This is one of those romances with a peppy heroine and a sensitive hero.

Quinn Peverill is the sort of girl who just doesn't fit in with society. She's new to England from the States, and she just can't seem to get the hang of how it all works. Nor does she feel comfortable with the poverty she sees in London. So she decides to do something about it, and heads out, dressed as a boy, to try and help a young girl and her brother.

She ends up bumping into Marcus Northrup, the youngest son and a rake (of course, its a romance!). He puts her back to rights and sends her off back in a woman's clothes. But she is seen by gossips, and her reputation is ruined. Next thing she knows she is engaged and then quickly married to this man she barely knows!

And so begins the usual round of shakespearean style of comedy, wherein each member of the married couple doesn't know the truth about each other, and tries to fool the other so that they can safely hide the truth. But only by discovering the truth can they live in safety... and find their true love.

Yes, its a typical plot. Yes, when I say usual, I mean usual. But its fun. Its enjoyable. And the characters come alive well and keep me interested. Its really a great read and fun mind candy. Neither of the main characters simper nor whine (which is always a relief to find in a romance). I *like* them and I wanted it to work out. Which for me, is the sign of a good romance novel.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:24 PM
Book Review -- Dragon's Bait

Dragon's Bait
by Vivian Vande Velde
paperback, from Laurel Leaf 1997 (c. 1992)

This is a YA book. I try not to force my choice in YA books on people because well, I've found that what I find to be an enjoyable read often times is seen as simplistic and/or childish writing to others. That said, I still like to read YA. Its one of my favorite genres, and this was a fun, quick book. I'd certainly buy another one by the author.

There is a certain type of YA novel that isn't quite just a genre novel, but is also a backwards sort of romance. Actually, this is a typical sort of romance novel, where the novel tries to focus on everything but the attraction between the characters, but it keeps slipping back in, and the characters themselves never quite understand it. This falls into that cartegory.

Fifteen-year-old Alys is falsely accused of witchcraft and then staked out on a hillside and left as the sacrifice to a dragon. But he isn't at all what she expects of a dragon. And when he offers to help her take revenge on the wrongs against her, she can't help but agree.

The relationship between Alys and the dragon is confused and interesting, especially since the dragon is as alien as one would expect -- part boy, part something other than human. The story moves quickly (I read it in about an hour one evening), and has a satisfying ending. The author has also written a vampire novel, Companions of the Night, which I'm definitely going to try to find.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 03:46 PM
Book Review -- Living Dead in Dallas

I'm jumping the gun in my reading order to review this one. But since I borrowed it from my mom I want to make sure I can return it next time I see her! *smiles*

Living Dead in Dallas
by Charlaine Harris
paperback, from ACE Fantasy 2002

This is the sequel to Dead Until Dark, also starring Sookie Stackhouse, Sam (her bartender boss) and Bill the Vampire (her boyfriend). Once again, I found this southern mystery series to be a highly entertaining and quick read.

After Dead Until Dark I heard comparison's between Charlaine Harris' novel and Laurel Hamilton's Anita Blake series. At the time, I totally discounted it. Now, with the second novel, I *can* see the comparison more clearly. This does not mean that Sookie is an Anita Blake carbon copy -- far from it. Just that there *is* indeed a similar flavor, especially in the way that Sookie attracts interest from males, and falls into the strangest bits and pieces of relationships.

Harris' world is one in which Vampires recently came out of the closet to live among the mortals. They survive on synthetic blood, and are trying to reintegrate themselves into society. Or at least, most of them are. Of course, this means that there is the occasional cult that believes that vampires are evil and should be eradicated...

And vampires aren't the only supernaturals. In the first novel we met a shapechanger, and of course, Sookie herself, who isn't entirely human. She is telepathic, and to her, the silence of Bill's mind is a refreshing change.

In this novel, Eric, the sort of head vampire of the area, is loaning Sookie out to Dallas to help the vampires there. It is her first assignment, and Bill goes with her to protect her. And she *needs* it. Watching her go through her assignment, meet another telepath for the first time (I *hope* he comes back again in another novel), and deal with her interactions with all of the men in her life, is enjoyable and intriguing. And its a quick read, which right now, is a high recommendation for me -- I don't have the mental capacity to really THINK when I read these days.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:32 AM
August 22, 2002
Book Review -- Season of Sacrifice

Season of Sacrifice
by Mindy L. Klasky
paperback, from ROC, 2002

I picked up this new book by Mindy because I am utterly in love with her Glasswright's series. I really like her writing, and the way her characters have faults, but seem real -- they don't superficially overcome the faults, nor wallow in them.

This book is no exception.

Possible spoilers ahead...

The book begins with the kidnapping of twin children from the People, from a place where their lives are very different than that of those in the rest of the world. The customs are different, and certainly, their religion is different, worshipping the Great Tree.

And Alana Woodsinger is the one who can speak to the Tree, and use the Bavins the Tree creates to reach through to her people. But there are things she does not know... skills which are long lost... which she must rediscover as things go from bad to worse.

One of the children has a Bavin, and through that she watches and sees what happens to them, and tries to direct them. And one of the rescue party has a Bavin as well, and through that she tries her best to aid them, despite the failings of humanity. And when she cannot help them from afar, she rides to their aid.

This story is one about people. It is about the fears, and about what people will do to get what they want. And it is about growth and change, and the acceptance of that change. Each of the adults shifts and changes throughout the story, growing and sacrificing in order to get what they want.

I really enjoyed this book. I found it readable, and fast paced. There are parts that are difficult to get through -- including the treatment of the kidnapped twins -- but in the end, it was very much worth it. Of course, I don't pull back from dark writing, so it didn't deter me, either. But there are those that might find it difficult to read.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:20 PM
July 30, 2002
Book Review -- Kushiel's Dart

Kushiel's Dart
by Jacqueline Carey
(from Tor Fantasy)

Wow. It is just amazing that this is a first novel. A part of me is craving the second one desperately, so I can learn what happens to Phedre. Another part of me simply wishes to bask in the glow of finishing this tale. The book is 925 pages long... I was captured before page 100, and could hardly put it down after 200 pages.

Let me warn anyone who reads this book -- there is a point near the end where you simply cannot stop. I read through a haze of tears for many pages, but was desperate to continue, to find a place where I could rest for the night and continue it again in the morning.

In the end, it was only that I was passing out, and had finally found a moment where it began to move into the endgame of the story, that allowed me to rest last night.

Possible spoilers ahead...

Phedre is a true anguisette, the first known in Terre D'Ange in three generations. Pricked by Kushiel's Dart, a tiny red mote in her eye, Phedre fits in nowhere in the Night Court. But Anafiel Delauney recognizes her for what she is, and takes her as one of his two students, to train not only to be a Servant of Namaah, but also to listen, to learn, and to understand what is seen.

She is a courtesan of a rank to be presented to Kings. She is one who knows pleasure, and how to give pleasure, and she takes pleasure from pain. But she is also so much more.

The characters bring this book to life. Alcuin, her "foster brother" -- the other student of Delauney's. Hyacinthe, her Tsingano friend whom she met the first time she ran away to Night's Doorstep. Joscelin, the Cassiline bound to guard her, though he despises what she is. They all come alive, and are so much more than we think upon first meeting. And they only continue to grow throughout the novel.

This is not an easy book to read. It has its sorrowful moments -- I have cried more in this one novel than for the last several I've read. It has its erotic moments (but if you are bothered by masochism or same sex relationships, this is not for you). It is a romance. It is political. It is magical. It is a little of everything, and yet, those pieces entwine together beautifully to create one solid tapestry.

"That which yields is not always weak." That single statement defines Phedre.

Kushiel's Dart called to the Bethany in me. I look forward to reading Kushiel's Chosen.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:20 PM
June 25, 2002
Book Review -- Alien Taste

I happened to meet Wen Spencer at the Other Meeting on Sunday. Wen, for those who don't know, is a Campbell Award Nominee -- an award which will be given at the World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose this August.

The Other Meeting is a NESFA function, held in a casual environment so everyone can get club business done and get some serious socializing done. Other topics of conversation for the day included my children (of course!), gardening, and Pittsburgh. The latter would be one of the things Wen and I talked about -- as we realized we knew people in common.

So we talked for a while. I hadn't realized she was a Campbell nominee at first, although I knew she was an author. Then I found out her books were part of the Roc line. To which I immediately responded, "I don't have to worry -- I'll like your writing. I like Laura Anne's taste." Which has been SO true. If Laura Anne recommends something, I love it. If Jenn recommends something, I love it. If they BOTH recommend something, I *totally* love it.

Sometime in the conversation about conventions and all I found out that Wen was a nominee. Which means I just have to read the books as soon as I can, since voting is due by July 31st!

This morning, in the few minutes before I had to leave for work, I gulped down the last few pages of Alien Taste, Wen's first novel. And oh, I loved it. I was frustrated that I couldn't start the second book (Tainted Trail) until tonight!

Wen's not writing a trilogy. She's writing a series of books -- a detective series with an sf/fantasy twist. The main character is Ukiah Oregon, a private investigator who was found living in the wild with wolves and was taken in by his two new moms.

Ukiah is the biggest draw in the series to me. He is likeable, confused, off-kilter, intense, curious, honorable, and altogether *interesting* to read about. As the book went on and he learned more about his own truths -- pieces of his past long lost to him -- I came to want to *know* more and to want to see him gain his understanding of what was going on around him. I came to respect him for his morals, and to be entertained by what seemed to be a very direct naivete.

And in the end, the best recommendation is, I wanted more.

If I had to make a complaint, it would be that at times I wanted more while it was happening. What was there was wonderfully drawn, and very vivid imagery. But there were pieces I would have liked to see more of. A bit more time around Ukiah and his developing relationship. I'd definitely like to see more of his mothers (Mom Jo and Mom Lara). I got somewhat of a feel for them through Ukiah's eyes, but I'd love to get the chance to see them more for myself.

But that's being selfish. The book isn't short, by any means, and to have fleshed out anything more would have both interrupted the story and made it just too long. As it was, it was the perfect length for a rolicking quick read that was thoroughly enjoyable.

There are some authors I love but read slowly. And while I always enjoy their writing, I leave it sitting on my "to-read" shelf and wait and wait for the right moment to pick it up, simply because I know its going to take some mental work on my part to get through it. I'll love it, but its not going to be easy.

Wen, however, is one of that class of authors that I enjoy reading, and am likely to grab when I want something I can just sink into, enjoy the life vicariously for a while, and then drop out of with a wistful sigh of when will there be more? Its a good class to be a part of!

I'm starting Tainted Trail tonight, and am very much looking forward to the third book!

And for those who get the chance to meet Wen, take it. She was fun to talk to, and I enjoyed our conversation. She's a down to earth person. Yes, authors are people too. *smile*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:39 PM