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Showing posts from February, 2008

Not a Bookstore in Sight

Awhile back I mentioned a work trip I took to Orlando and the ill-fated journey I made in search of a bookstore while there. My mission was simple. I had just finished the first book in Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series and was in desperate need of the sequel(s) to last me my final night in Orlando and for the duration of my trip home. Even though I didn't have access to a car, it seemed a simple enough task.

What follows still haunts me.
(Cue scary music)

Friday night, about 5:30pm
I stop in at the hotel desk to ask for directions to the nearest bookstore.

"A bookstore?" the clerk asks me blankly.
"Yes, a bookstore," I say, nodding and smiling gamely. "You know, a Barnes & Noble, a Borders. Anything will do, really."
"Um, no. I don't know of any bookstores in the area," she shakes her head several times.
Shoving down the beginnings of panic, I press on. "Perhaps a smaller, independent bookstore?"
"No, ma'am. Can I d…

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

So I hadn't read any actual Sci-Fi in awhile and was looking for something fresh and good. I read a blurb Sharon Shinn wrote for Ann Aguirre's Grimspaceand eagerly picked it up the day it came out. Space opera meets urban fantasy, Grimspace is, justifiably, being compared to the most excellent Firefly and Serenity. In other words, it completely rocks.

Sirantha Jax, known simply as Jax, is a rare J-gene carrier, which means she is able to "jump" into a parallel kind of hyperspace known as grimspace and serve as navigator for ships traveling across copious distances in a short time. Each jumper has a pilot and the bond between them is incredibly complex and intense, to put it mildly. Only problem is Jax's pilot is dead, killed in their last flight along with everyone else on board except Jax. Now she's locked up in solitary confinement, deep in the bowels of The Corporation. Under intense psychological "therapy," Jax is forced to relive the moments le…

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

In the fairy tale mood, I was looking for something to follow up Master of Shadows. Jessica Day George's Sun and Moon, Ice and Snowlooked like just the ticket. A retelling of the East of the Sun, West of the Moon fairy tale, I was both excited and nervous. For various reasons I have a hard time getting into retellings of this fairy tale and, though I did enjoy Edith Pattou's East, I've been hoping ever since to find a version I liked better. And I found one. I first loved the cover. I like the profile shot. This girl looks like she's ready to take on the frozen tundra. The story follows a girl called "the lass." The last of nine children, she had the gall to be born a girl and, out of spite, her mother refuses to give her a name. The family refers to her as pika, or little girl. Her oldest brother Hans Peter is the one who calls her "the lass," and the two of them are the closest of all the siblings. The story follows the fairy tale pretty closely, …

Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer

After reading (and loving) Liza Palmer's second book, Seeing Me Naked, I had high expectations for her first novel. Conversations with the Fat Girlwas not a disappointment. It follows lifelong "fat girl" Maggie who works at a coffee shop even though she has a masters degree in art restoration. Maggie is also hopelessly in love with Domenic--a 28 year old coffee shop busboy who moonlights as a doll maker. But she's afraid to let him get too close for fear he will see her "Area" and lose what interest he seems to have.

At the same time, Maggie's best friend and former fellow fat girl in crime, Olivia, is getting married. One gastric bypass surgery later, Olivia is now a size 2. As they plan the wedding together, Maggie begins to realize that after dropping all those dress sizes there is very little of her formerly witty and fun loving best friend left. As opposed to Elisabeth from Seeing Me Naked, Maggie has a wonderfully supportive family around when she…

The Cullens

Summit Entertainment has cast the entire Cullen family. And here they are.


I like them. I particularly like the third one of "the kids." The four of them are protecting you from a fuzzy background Jasper who is going to eat you Right Now.

Master of Shadows by Janet Lorimer

I am very partial to fairy tale retellings. I love the unique ways modern authors come up with to treat such old stories. In particular, I have a difficult time turning away a Beauty and the Beast retelling. My favorites (Robin McKinley's Beautyand Rose Daughter) tend to be traditionally set versions of the tale. Although Alex Flinn's recent Beastlyis a wonderfully modern retelling of the tale set in present-day NYC. Master of Shadowsresides in a rather odd place somewhere between the two. Set "Once upon a time toward the end of the 20th century," the story is definitely set in our modern world, but Lorimer keeps places and details purposefully vague so as to retain that timeless fairy tale feel.

And it works. A bit too well. I got the feeling this book wasn't sure what it wanted to be. Fundamentally a cross between The Phantom of the Opera and the tale of Beauty and the Beast, it works really hard to be a rather creepy murder mystery as well, with the result that…

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Magic Studypicks up right where Poison Studyleaves off. Yelena is on her way south to Sitia on a journey to learn how to control her magic, find her family, and try not to run screaming back to Ixia when, having been in country for only a few days, several rather largish men want to kill her. And one of them turns out to be her brother. Not much love lost between these long lost siblings.

Yelena manages to reach the Citadel alive and begin training with the governing council of mages there. But before long she's neck deep unraveling a plot to kill the Commander and recapture the throne of Ixia. Add to that a rogue mage who is systematically kidnapping and murdering young women across the country, stealing their souls to feed his power. At this point, Yelena and I are both thinking it would be just super to have Valek at her back once more. Where's a deadly assassin when you need him? Fortunately, Yelena's growing abilities come into play. Drawing on her own experiences as R…

Notorious

On this Valentine's Day I find myself with a craving to watch one of my favorite Hitchcock movies, one I haven't seen in years--Notorious. Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant team up to infiltrate a Nazi spy ring. Complete with lots of uber-creepy Hitchcock goodness and a particularly smooth, particularly sinister Claude Rains.

Alicia: This is a very strange love affair. Devlin: Why?
Alicia: Maybe the fact that you don't love me.
Devlin: ...When I don't love you, I'll let you know.
Alicia: You haven't said anything.
Devlin (kissing her): Actions speak louder than words.

Sigh.


And lastly. My favorite movie kiss for your Valentine's Day viewing pleasure. Now it's hard to single out just one.

For instance, while I am very partial to this one:

This one is also lovely:

And there's always:


But in the end, I think I'll have to go with this one. For the sheer hotness of it all.


The Cybils: 2007 Winners

The Cybils winners have been announced and you can find the complete list of winners here. I served on the Graphic Novels judging panel and I can tell you it was not easy settling on the two winners in the Elementary/Middle Grade and Young Adult categories.

Elementary/Middle Grade:
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel
written by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin
illustrated by Giovanni Rigano and Paolo Lamanna
Hyperion
The comics format proves a good match for Eoin Colfer's tale of war between fairies and an obsessed young genius, already popular around the world in novel form. The energetic, manga-influenced drawings capture the book's technologically heavy action and many magical creatures. The book's creative team uses comics techniques from character profiles to changes in lettering to lead readers through the novel's shifting points of view and sympathies. A truly over-the-top adventure.Young Adult: The Professor's Daughter
written by Joann Sfar; illustrated by Emmanuel Guib…

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

I remember seeing Poison Studyon the shelves when it first came out, but passed it up several times because of, yes, I admit it, the cover. It was this older mass market paperback cover and not the lovely new trade paperback one I've posted here. The girl on the old cover looked just a little too haughtily seductive for me. And I knew that Luna was the fantasy division of Harlequin and so I was suspicious it was a romance thinly disguised as fantasy. So when the new trade paperback came out, I went and read a few dozen more reviews just to "make sure" and decided to go ahead and give it a shot. I'm so glad I did. You'd think I'd have learned by now not to judge a book by its cover. Archangel, anyone?

Poison Study opens with a young woman named Yelena imprisoned for murder. A murder she freely admits to committing. When a pair of guards yank her from the dank dungeon she's languished in for almost a year, Yelena is certain she faces imminent death. She even…

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Elena Michaels is determined to go it alone. She doesn't need the pack. She doesn't need Clay, the werewolf who misled her, made her believe he loved her, and then turned her into one of them without her permission, without even telling her what he was. To make matters worse, it turns out she's the only female werewolf in the world. That's right. Elena's the Only One and so not interested in dealing with the inevitable "attention" this brings her way. So she leaves the pack and moves to Toronto where she gets a job as a journalist and finds a nice, normal boyfriend to cuddle with. Problem is, she can't outrun her past and she can't escape the call of the wolf.

Her troubles intensify when the pack needs her help and Jeremy, the Alpha, calls her home to help them solve a string of grisly murders. They suspect some mutts (rogue wolves) of causing the mayhem and Elena's specialty just happens to be tracking mutts. Unable to refuse Jeremy's summ…

Star-Crossed by Linda Collison

Linda Collison's Star-Crossedreminded me of a mixture of The Witch of Blackbird Pondand a more matureThe True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Like Kit and Charlotte, sixteen-year-old Patricia Kelley is forced into a radically new life, but remains stubbornly determined to shape it to her will. Orphaned, illegitimate, and penniless, Patricia stows away on a British merchant ship bound for Barbados. She was born there and is certain her father left her his sugar plantation before he died. She is soon discovered by bosun's mate Brian Dalton. But instead of exposing her, Dalton gives her a set of sailor's clothes and helps keep her presence a secret. In the dead of night, he spirits her up onto the deck and teaches her how to climb the rigging and track their progress by the stars.

Their secret is soon revealed, however, and she is only allowed to stay in the capacity of assistant to the ship's doctor, Aeneas MacPherson. Patricia gets through her days learning how to set a …

Butchers Hill and In Big Trouble by Laura Lippman

Butchers Hilltakes place several months after Charm Cityconcludes. Tess has actually rented office space and hung out her shingle. Her first couple of clients are most interesting: a convicted murderer whose served his time and is interested in becoming an anonymous benefactor to some missing children, and a successful businesswoman intent on finding the daughter she gave up for adoption years ago. Against the advice of her lawyer, the local homicide detective, and sometimes her own better judgment, Tess agrees to help these clients. The intertwined mysteries unfold as Tess once again plumbs the gritty, familiar neighborhoods of Baltimore searching for the lost children. What's wonderful about this growing series is Lippman's shrewd ability to keep the drama real and close to the vest as far as her heroine is concerned. This is Tess' story as much as it is the story of the disenfranchised lower classes of Baltimore and the two worlds collide and mesh in wholly unexpected w…