Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fantasy Books That Made it to the Big Screen

I've written about comic book movies, so it's the logical next step to talk about my favorite novels that have made their way onto the big screen. The last few years have been big for fantasy lovers like me. From Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, there has been a lot of choice for people like me who love to see this on the big screen. Especially since most of these movies have had, or will have many sequels... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_lord_of_the_rings The Lord of the Rings was a huge undertaking by Peter Jackson. Based on the books by J. R. R. Tolkien, the Lord of the Rings is classic fantasy and adored by many. The risk Jackson took by making the movies was that they would fail big, especially since the first book, The Hobbit (not included in the movie trilogy) has been around since 1937. The Lord of the Rings was published in 1955, having been read by millions before Jackson's movie hit the screen. Over the years there have been many adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, none as successful as Jackson's. Changes had to be made to the original story to make it work for the big screen, though Jackson has been credited for being very faithful to the original. Filmed in New Zealand, the three movies: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King are lushly beautiful and create a mood so appropriate to the story that it is easy to get lost in the movies. I was captivated by the first movie and didn't find the 3 hour running time an issue. It was harder for me to sit that long in the later two, though I think it had more to do with the intervals between the release dates than the movies themselves. Jackson has done a great job in creating an atmosphere for the movies that make them seem otherworldly. Not an easy feat. However, I was impatient at the end waiting for Frodo to throw the ring into the lavas of Mount Doom as watching three 3 movies that all run 3 hours can be a big movie-watching task. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_potter Harry Potter is my absolute favorite fantasy series that has been made into a movie. Known more for being a children's series they have nonetheless been extremely popular among adults as well. The movie experience varies from film to film due to a change in directors. The first two were directed by Christopher Columbus, known mostly for directing Home Alone back in 1990. Columbus is a director who stays as true to the books as possible. It's never an option to put everything from a book into a movie. Peter Jackson, for example, had to cut liberally from Tolkien's books even though he had 9 hours of screen time. The amount of material available always necessitates making changes and combining elements of the story. Columbus does an admirable job of keeping as many of the major elements in place and never seems to deviate from the books. If you're a purist, then the first two movies will definitely satisfy you. The third movie, The Prisoner of Azkaban, was directed by Alfonso Cuarón and is less true to the exact storyline of the book. The movie is good, but takes more liberties with the story and I also believe injects more humor than we've seen up to this point. But if you've read the books faithfully, you will find yourself missing certain elements. I wasn't sure if I liked the movie when I left the theatre because I kept waiting for certain scenes that never appeared. But my husband, who had never read the book, enjoyed it more than the first two. The last movie to be released was The Goblet of fire, directed by Mike Newell. This one is the best in my opinion. I don't think this movie had a misstep from beginning to finish. The hardest thing for a director to do is to make a movie suspenseful when the audience already knows how the story is going to end. I think this is the difficulty Chris Columbus had with the first two and what Cuaron was trying to avoid in the third. Somehow Newell delivers. I don't know specifically what he did differently, but this one is the one to see if you only pick one. Despite the success of the fourth movie, there is yet another director, David Yates, is scheduled to take the helm on the fifth installment, The Order of the Phoenix. The thing these movies have going for them the most, despite the constant directorial changes, is the cast. The kids who started as Harry, Ron and Hermione are still in the character roles they created. As long as that is the case, I will probably keep watching. Unfortunately, Richard Harris, the original Dumbledore, passed away and had to be replaced by Michael Gambon. Though Gambon stepped into the role nicely, a feat that would be nearly impossible for the three lead roles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronicles_of_narnia The Chronicles of Narnia is another fantasy series that made a big impression recently. C. S. Lewis wrote the first book, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, upon which the first movie is based, in 1950. The series of books has often gotten a lot of controversy over what is considered Lewis' Christian allegories. There is definitely a Christ like element to the character of Aslan, the great lion. But Lewis also brings many pagan elements into the story, such as the White Witch, dwarves, fawns, satyrs and other talking animals. I don't believe you have to pay too much attention to the religious overtones if you don't want to. I enjoyed the books quite a bit as a child, and found the movie to be beautiful and involving. As a work of fantasy, it's definitely a worthy effort. The sequel, Prince Caspian is due for release in 2008. It has been good for fantasy lovers recently, and may continue for a time to come. Eragon, the novel written by a young Christopher Paolini is due for release this December. The books have been called derivative of the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, but the movie may be quite good, we'll have to see. I have always loved fantasy novels and get excited every time they make it to the big screen. The movies don't always deliver as I hoped, but I'm always happy the filmmakers make the effort. From the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland to the Princess Bride, I have enjoyed seeing my favorite books brought to life. The question is, what next? Once we've run through the Harry Potter's, the Narnia's and the Eragon's, what will we have to look forward to? I'm trying to think of fantasy series' that would fit the bill, and there are a few, but I haven't heard of anything else that's expected to be turned into a movie. Have you? What are your favorites? What would you like to see? And what have I missed? Let me know, I'd love to hear what others have to say.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Requests

This is a new blog, so mostly I am having fun... tweaking the format. I've been putting up posts to have something to talk about, so hopefully they don't seem lame. But if there's anything anyone would like me to put up, let me know. I wouldn't mind having something up that people want to talk about.

Comic Book Movies

My favorite sci-fi/fantasy movies by far are comic book movies. I drag my husband and anyone else I can get a hold of and see most of them right when they come out. Some are better than others, as I am sure most fans would agree. So I thought I'd mention some of my favorites and see if anyone else wanted to share theirs... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_begins Batman Begins is the best to come along in a long time in my opinion. The earlier Batman movies were a bit campy. Obviously not as over-the-top at the TV Series, but Jack Nicholson can overact with the best of them. Michael Keaton wasn't terrible, but he never fit the part the way Christian Bale does. Again, only my opinion. I'm also pleased to see that Christian Bale will be coming back in Batman 6: The Dark Knight, which also stars Heath Ledger as the Joker, due for release in 2008. The best thing overall about the movie is the way they develop the character. We really see for the first time (at least in a major motion picture) how the Batcave came to be, how the Batmobile was developed and most importantly, how Bruce Wayne came to be Batman. I loved how they delved into Bruce's character, showing us his anger and his focus; not to mention where he got his fighting skills. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_Man_(film) Spider-Man is another comic book franchise that has done very well in recent years, and with good reason. I appreciated the fact that Tobey McGuire was cast as Spider Man instead of someone who might look more musclebound, but not really fit the part of Peter Parker. McGuire is believable in the role of the shy Parker which makes the movie more true to the comic book. I know there have been complaints about some of the tweaking the movie did with the Spider-Man story, such as Peter now having the innate ability to create the webs instead of having created a mechanical web-shooting device. I admit, I am not a complete purist, so this didn't bother me. But I don't read comic books as much as fantasy novels, so I don't have any particular expectations when I go to see a movie like Spider-Man. I don't know if that makes me less of a fan, but comic book movies still rank at the top of my movie lists. What I personally liked best about both the movies that have been released so far is that they show Peter's personal conflicts. His guilt over his uncle's death, and the difficulties in trying to maintain a normal life while trying to be Spider-Man. I did read the comic strip a bit when I was a kid, so I know that comes from the Spider-Man story, and I'm glad they included it. It adds a lot of realism to the story and gives us the illusion that this could, maybe, really happen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman_returns Of course, you can't talk about comic book movies without mentioning Superman. I grew up on the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve and the TV show with George Reeves. Superman is probably the ultimate comic book hero with more lives on TV and movies than any other comic book hero. Smallville is also very good, though at this point I am going to just mention the movies. I loved the original movies, at least the first two. I don't remember the third being that good and I don't believe I ever saw the fourth. I'm a fan, but I do have my limits. I was a little disappointed the newest movie, Superman Returns didn't seem to make the impression I had hoped it would. I thought it was great, and Brandon Routh was an excellent choice as a new Superman. He often reminded me of Christopher Reeve in his Clark Kent moments, but maybe you have to be a little older like me to appreciate how charming that can be. I've heard from younger viewers that they didn't really like it as much as those of us who really remember the original. Fortunately, there has been enough interest to generate enough profit to ensure a sequel, which is due in 2009. I also enjoyed Kevin Spacy, Kate Bosworth and Parker Posey in their respective roles. Lois, as played by Bosworth, is harder edged and angry compared to Margot Kidder. But there is a lot more to the Superman/Lois history in this movie, which does change the relationship between the two characters. I look forward to seeing how the story is further developed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Men_film I wasn't familiar with the X-Men story until it came to the big screen. Of course I went right out to see it, it's my kind of movie after all. And I wasn't disappointed at all. I think the story line is one of the best that I am aware of in the comic book arena. Starting the original movie with scenes from the Holocaust really brings the new holocaust being shown in the movie to sharp focus. To me, the storyline is pretty sophisticated in that it not only gives us spectacular special effects and a multitude of amazing characters, but it deals with bigotry and fear in a way that makes the movies stand out. I found myself thinking about the movie beyond the theatre and not a little tempted to go pick up some of the comic books as well. I haven't been able to see the third one yet, but it's coming out on video in October and I look forward to it. Though I understand I should keep my expectations low due to the change in directors. I think I am especially looking forward to the new Wolverine movie. I am a little smitten by Hugh Jackman and won't mind seeing more of him in the role. It would be so easy to go on and on and... you get the picture. There are so many good comic book characters, though the quality of the movies vary. Daredevil had its moments, though Jennifer Garner was super annoying as Electra and Ben Affleck as a super hero? Well, I'll leave you to make that call for yourself. I thought Catwoman with Halle Berry was fairly awful. I love the idea and the character, but I haven't enjoyed a Catwoman since Michelle Pfeiffer took on the character in Batman Returns. Other's that I thought had potential were The Punisher and Hellboy. I know a Hellboy sequel is scheduled for 2008, and I hope it a bit better than the original. I can't put my finger on why the original didn't work for me as well at some other comic book movies, but I'd be willing to give a sequel a chance. I haven't heard of any other Punisher movies coming out, but I hope they do one, it's a story that can be continued well.Obviously, I've only given very brief thumbnails of only a few comic book movies, if I did anymore this post would go on forever. No doubt I've left out some very significant movies, so if there's anything that needs mentioning, by all means, mention away. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Punisher_(2004_film) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellboy_film http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catwoman_film http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daredevil_(film) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_Returns

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Can I legitimately be called a fan of Sci-fi if I haven't seen Revenge of the Sith?

I'm a big fan of Star Wars. Really. But I am a fan of the "old school" Star Wars. I saw it in the theatre when I was a kid. When we got there, the theatre was packed and we had to sit way up front. I hate doing this as an adult, but somehow it seemed appropriate that such a revolutionary film be viewed up close. If you're too young to have seen it in the theatre when it was first released, then I can't begin to explain how big this movie was at the time. It wasn't a movie, it was an event. And like Star Trek, it became a kind of lifestyle for some. I do need to qualify my fan status though. When I say I am a fan of fantasy and sci-fi I mean it........ I love everything to do with it and will always pick books, movies and TV in the genre over everything else. But I don't do conventions. I have never dressed up in a Star Trek uniform or as Princess Leia, and I probably never will. And maybe that's part of the problem. Perhaps I haven't given the whole series the chance it deserves. My favorite will always be Star Wars episode IV, no question. The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi will always be favorites too, and I'm sure I'll watch them over and over in the coming years. But the newer trilogy? I'm almost ashamed to admit I haven't finished it. I was really excited when The Phantom Menace came out. My husband went and saw it first and he went on and on about how good it was. Caught up in his excitement I was expecting something really spectacular. The movie delivered on a special effects level, but it never got to me on a personal level. The only character's I liked never seemed to have a chance to develop much. Liam Neeson's character, being killed off so early was disappointing. And while a young Anakin was fun to watch I never really took a liking to the later Anakin as played by Haden Christensen in the later two films. Attack of the Clones was less satisfying for me. I agreed with a lot of critics that George Lucas paid too much attention to the special effects and not enough to the characters. The relationship between Anakin and Amidala seemed forced to me and Natalie Portman seemed very stiff in the role. But what disappointed me the most was that Anakin never had the transition from innocence to evil that I had hoped for. Like everything else, I felt it was forced and not allowed to develop in a natural fashion. In the end, I just didn't care about the characters the way I did with the original trilogy. I am told, repeatedly, that Revenge of the Sith is the best one of the later trilogy and that I should see it. But I just haven't been able to dredge up enough interest. I think I am afraid of being disappointed. I know it's only a movie. But the kid that went and saw the original Star Wars in the movie theatre has a hard time remembering that. In many ways I think that movie is responsible for the love I have for fantasy and sci-fi today. I don't know that I would read the books I do or watch the movies I do if it wasn't for Star Wars. So to not really like any part of the series was kind of heartbreaking to me. But maybe I'll feel a little better by watching the last movie. I'll have to screw up my courage and just watch it. I hope it's good. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_wars

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Popularity of Occult Fiction

As I was putting together some author links it occurred to me how many of today's most popular authors are writing occult fiction. When Anne Rice came out with Interview With a Vampire, there weren't nearly as many authors who were writing about vampires, witches, werewolves or demons and everything else associated with the occult. But now, there are tons of authors coming out with books on all these subjects. I like most of them quite a bit. I read Anne Rice back when the original Vampire books came out, and I read other authors like P.N. Elrod who had the great Vampire Files series about a vampire P.I. But I can't remember any other mainstream authors who wrote in the genre. But if you go to the fantasy section nowadays there are tons of books that fall into the occult fiction category, and they're as different as night and day.......... Take Charlaine Harris and the Sookie Sackhouse novels. They are an absolute treat in my opinion. You have a main character who reads minds, who has a vampire as a boyfriend and a shape-shifting collie for a boss. The books have lots of humor, but enough action to satisfy anyone. Like most books that deal with the genre, there is more than a fair share of violence and blood. But Harris manages to balance the books nicely with Sookie's Southern sensibilities and wit. Mary Janice Davidson writes very similarly funny books in the Undead series about Besty Taylor, the Queen of the Vampires. She is incredibly powerful, has a sister who is the daughter of the devil and a shoe obsession. Both series' of books are funny in the Bridget Jones vein, but with vampires and werewolves thrown in. Laurell K. Hamilton goes a different route in writing about the supernatural. Her books are much more of the sensual type, with lots of sex and erotica. Her two series of books, the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series and her Merry Gentry books have many of the same fantasy elements. The Anita Blake books deal more with vampires and werewolves as the supernatural characters while the Merry Gentry books have the Fae and the Unseelie Court as the main backdrop. Her books are also dark and often violent, but instead of the humor of Harris and Davidson, Hamilton seems to prefer a much stronger sexuality in her books. I haven't read Sherrilyn Kenyon, but I believe she also writes about vampires in a romantic context. In fact, her books are sold in the romance section under Paranormal Romance. Barb and J.C Hendee have become popular with their series of books based on the Dhampir, a half-human, half-vampire character. Their books are set more in a fantasy setting than the previous books I mentioned, which are all set in the context of the "real world." I featured Anne Bishop a few posts back, and she is also well known for her books that also have occult characters in a fantasy setting. I could go on and on about authors who write in the genre. Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison are also well known and worthy of a look. I also loved Patrica Brigg's novel Moon Called, another book about werewolves and shape shifters. For some reason, most of the occult fiction I am aware of is predominately written by women. I don't know if it is mostly aimed at a female audience, though I would guess that authors like Laurell K. Hamilton are much more popular with women. I have known many men to read Anne Rice and P. N. Elrod, and I would expect that the Dhampir series could also appeal to men. But most of the other books and authors I mentioned probably make it to many more female bookshelves than male. But mostly I wonder why there is such a current surge in occult fiction? We've always had the vampire and the werewolf legends and Dracula comes in and out of vogue pretty regularly. But I've been an avid reader of fantasy for about 20 years and I can't think of a time in my memory when occult fiction has been so popular and so available. I wonder why? Is the traditional sword and sorcery version of fantasy just getting old and stale to aspiring authors? Or perhaps it was just thought that most of the fantasy on the shelves was getting too similar. I admit, there are only so many stories one can read about a Prince trying to reclaim their throne or quest fantasies without wanting something new. I also wonder how long the pendulum will swing in the occult fiction direction? I wonder if it will remain popular or if the market will become so saturated that book readers will start looking for something else. Makes me wonder what the next trend might be. All in all, I like a lot of the occult fiction. But I admit I am starting to reach my limit. I'm already looking for something else to entertain me. Though I won't rule out reading any new, good occult fiction, it will have to have some new elements to get my attention. So what do you think? Is occult fiction here to stay or is it a phase? And are there any aspects of occult fiction that haven't been explored that you think we'll see in the near future? Are there any books I haven't mentioned that just need to be added to the list? Let me know, I'll only be too happy to check them out. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Rice http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.N._Elrod http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlaine_Harris http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurell_K._Hamilton http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelley_Armstrong http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barb_Hendee http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_Briggs

Friday, September 15, 2006

I Miss Firefly

I'm sitting here thinking about what to add to the blog and instead of thinking about books, I find myself thinking about the TV series Firefly. Like a lot of fans of fantasy novels, I also like sci-fi movies and television. I am totally hooked on the new Battlestar Gallactaca, I think it's one of the best shows on TV. And Firefly was special too in my opinion. I noticed if I look around online there are still several sites devoted to the series, even though it has been off the air for several years. Wikipedia even has a page on it.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefly_(TV_series) So what makes Firefly special?......... Well, it was written by Joss Whedon, who also created Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, both great shows in my opinion. So Firefly has Whedon's wit, which is always a plus. But it's different than most other sci-fi that you see. It's almost like a western/sci-fi combo. Kind of an old west feel set in space. Another thing Whedon does well is that he doesn't create characters that are one dimensional. The good guys always have a bit of bad in them, and mostly I think it makes everything a little more fun. Mal, the Captain of the ship Serenity (a Firefly class ship--hence the title of the show) ends up on the losing side of the war and ends up doing a lot of smuggling to get by. When the story begins he takes on two passengers by the names of Simon and River, a brother and sister who end up being on the run from the Alliance-- the organization of "core planets" that coincidentally won the war that Mal was on the losing side of. Mal ends up allowing Simon and River to stay on the ship in hiding from the Alliance, but it's never an easy ride for anyone. River is a genius, but an unstable one due to experiments done to her by the Alliance. This ends up putting the ship and the crew in danger on a fairly regular basis. Other characters include a loyal first mate by the name of Zoe, her husband Wash, Inara-- a Companion, which in this context is a kind of Geisha styled courtesan, Kaylee-- the very likable ship mechanic, Derrial Book-- a Shephard, which is the equivalent of a minister or priest, and Jane-- the hired muscle. I don't even know why I am spending so much time writing about the show, other than I really liked it. Fortunately, if you like sci-fi, you can buy the series on DVD and the movie Serenity is also available. The movie is quite good too, and it answers a lot of questions the show never got to. If I had my way, they'd bring the show back, but that doesn't seem likely. The wikipedia site did mention that books and comics based on the series are in the works and soon to be published, so that might be worth a look. But if you haven't seen the series, you might rent it on netflix and give it try. So it dawned on me that I should add a TV/movie section to this site, it only seems appropriate. I'll probably have to fiddle with the layout of the blog, but I've got nothing but time and really, there's no traffic to the site (yet--hopefully). If you happen to read this, and have any sci-fi television shows or movies you'd like me to add, chime in.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The David Eddings Dilemma

First and foremost I am a fan of fantasy fiction. I started this blog for no other reason than I love to read and discuss authors I have enjoyed for many years. I have also said that I am not a literary snob. And I don't think I am. But David Eddings does present me with a dilemma. I really enjoyed his first series The Belgariad and I moderately enjoyed the related series The Mallorean. But I didn't really like anything he (and his wife) wrote after that. At all. So do I recommend his books?........ I recommend the first series, the second with some qualifiers, and the rest you read at your own risk. The Belgariad is a good coming of age story. The main character, Garion, is developed really well. We get to see Garion grow up and come into his own. We are kept in the dark with him and can understand his frustrations, fears and successes. The supporting characters are pretty darn good too. The God's also take a hand in Edding's books and I feel it's well done in the Belgariad. All in all it's a well constructed and enjoyable read. I also think the 'villains' in the Belgariad are the best that Eddings ever manages to come up with. His later books really have characters of one dimensional evil. You can almost see them going "mwaahahahah" as they rub their hands together in stereotypical glee. But in this first series there is a sense of misplaced loyalty and regret about the characters that are cast as the enemy. Nothing is fully black and white in the first series. The pacing is pretty good and you care about the characters enough to want to know what happens next. The Mallorean is a continuation of The Belgariad. It's after Garion has grown into his inheritance and started his own family. This series is also pretty good and brings back many of the original characters and fleshes out some minor characters we met earlier. I think it's worth reading, but I feel it's a much more predictable series than the first. There is some good action and a lot of humor. But the characters have become kind of precious in this series. They smirk and say "be nice" an awful lot, which can get a bit old. There is very little development of the villain in this series and we're basically just along to enjoy the interplay between the characters. It's fun a lot of the time, but not nail biting. I have read that Edding's believes he has discovered the "formula" for writing fantasy fiction. As I understand it, he's a big believer in the "quest" story in the Tolkien mold. And if you read his books, this does seem to be the case. The Belgariad is very much a quest novel, as is just about everything else Eddings writes. It works in the first series but the formula wears thin in the rest. If you decide to read more Eddings and move on to The Elenium and The Tamuli, you'll see incredible similarities between the second group of books and the first set. The second series also has a group of hero's on a quest, the interest of the God's, mysterious characters and secrets hidden from the main character. I have tried to read some of the later series' he has come out with, but the preciousness that I mentioned earlier only seems to have intensified in the later books. I just haven't been able to slog my way through them. If you've read Eddings, tell me what you think. Do you think I'm being fair and accurate in describing Eddings? If not tell me why. For more information and lists of all Eddings books check out the wikipedia link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Eddings

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Anne McCaffrey

For some reason I seem to be stuck on the Anne's this week. I recently re-read Anne McCaffrey's Dragonrider's of Pern series though, and it's one of the best classic series of sci-fi/fantasy books ever in my opinion. It always surprises me how many people haven't read it. If you like sci-fi or fantasy it is a must read. The Dragonriders of Pern is undoubtedly McCaffrey's best work. There are quite a few books in the series. If you haven't read any of them, you should start with the first trilogy Dragonflight, Dragonquest and The White Dragon........... The main story deals with the dragonriders and their dragons. There is a telepathic bond between the humans and their dragons who have human intelligence. The dragons are meant to be the protectors of Pern from thread, which is a deadly spoor that falls to the planet destroying anything organic. As the story begins the role of the dragonriders is questioned when thread hasn't fallen in 400 years and it is doubted it will fall again. The best characters of the series are introduced in the first book, though later books also bring some very likable characters into the story. I think McCaffrey does an excellent job in creating realistic challenges and personalities. She manages to make even mundane sequences entertaining, which is I think, the mark of a very good writer. McCaffrey has written several series', including The Ship that Sang, Killishandra and the Acorna books and has been overall a very prolific writer. Her son is now taking over the franchise, though I don't think his books are nearly as good. I will be surprised if the series continues with Todd McCaffrey as the author, though fan loyalty might keep the Pern series afloat. Mostly I am a fan of the Pern series. I have read several other books, but I don't think anything is as good as her original series or as well developed. When it comes to world building, the Pern series is as good as it gets. It starts out as what seems like a straight-forward fantasy series but over time develops into a really good sci-fi story with fantasy elements. I don't know how long it took for McCaffrey to develop the whole story, but it is so detailed and layered that I think it must have taken a long time to flesh out her ideas. She even goes back several hundred years to the early beginnings of the story and shows you how the planet was settled and the dragons came to be. McCaffrey is also smart in that she has done several interconnected trilogy's based on different characters. She keeps the main characters from previous series' around so you don't miss them, but changes the focus in a way that keeps it fresh and interesting. She has also dedicated several books to characters that are not dragonriders, and in this way manages to further flesh out the world she has created. For a more complete list and description of McCaffrey's work, here's the wikipedia site. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Mccaffrey

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Anne Bishop

If you are someone who objects to the use of witchcraft in the Harry Potter books, then Anne Bishop is not for you. Really really not for you. But if you're intrigued by authors who use character names like Saetan, Luciver and Daemon and use Hell as a location in the story, the The Black Jewels Trilogy might interest you. I came across Anne Bishop a few years ago. Another favorite author of mine, Lynn Flewelling, had a recommendation for Anne Bishop on her website. I went to Amazon, read a few reviews, and bought the first book the next day. Am I glad I did........... I'm not saying the Black Jewels Trilogy are the best books ever written. But they are very satisfying. They have a dark, sensual feel to them and Bishop brings a very inventive twist to the common conception of Hell. Some feel that Anne Bishop writes books that appeal to women more than men, and that may be true. She often uses witchcraft as a main theme in her books. The Black Jewels Trilogy is populated with witches, warlocks, demons and priestesses. These titles are not meant to invoke Satanism or the occult. It is merely the construct that Bishop uses for her stories. But so many authors have chosen to use the occult in today's fiction, Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison and Laurel K. Hamilton come to mind, that Bishop's work will appeal to fans of these other writers. But Bishop's books were published a bit before the current slew of occult fiction made it too the shelves, though it could be argued that Anne Rice truly invented the form. But if you're a fan of occult fiction, then I highly recommend Anne Bishop. Her books have a very emotionally satisfying element to them. Bishop puts her characters through the requisite challenges and she can be brutal with them. But for those who like a happy ending she does deliver and she doesn't stint on the retribution dealt to villains either. I admit, I am a sucker for books that do deliver a kind of predictable emotion payoff. I like fantasy because it isn't real. I don't like lasting suffering or "realistic" endings. So if you're like me, these books will appeal to you. For more in depth descriptions of Anne Bishops books, check out the wikipedia link to Anne Bishop. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Bishop

Monday, September 11, 2006

Items Received

In the interest of disclosure, and a looming threat by the FTC to fine bloggers who do not disclose items received for review purposes, this blog will list all items received (from October 2009 forward) for review and/or giveaway on this site. The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay Atlanta: it's the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil.... Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She's recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.'s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim -- but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined? Burn Me Deadly by Alex Bledsoe From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Proving that 2007's The Sword-Edged Blonde was no fluke, this sequel gives every evidence that Bledsoe's combination of sword and sorcery with hard-boiled detection will have a long and successful run. Eddie LaCrosse, a former noble who gave up his title and now works as a freelance sword-jockey, is flagged down by a damsel in distress, Laura Lesperitt. Before LaCrosse can get Lesperitt to safety, they are ambushed, an encounter that leaves her dead. When he recovers, LaCrosse's search for those responsible for the murder brings him into contact with powerful thug Gordon Marantz, the king's Special Office of Domestic Security and a dragon-worshipping cult. Bledsoe effortlessly draws readers into his created world and manages to stay true to both fantasy and mystery traditions. Beyond the Wall of Time by Russell Kirkpatrick The wall of time has fallen and the Gods are free to ravage the world. The few that know of their escape into mortal lands are under the control of the malevolent Husk. Stella, a queen in hiding, makes a deal with the Undying Man even though she knows his agenda comes first. Noetos seeks revenge for the deaths of his loved ones, not yet realizing the enemy is closer than even he can imagine. And the unconventional cosmographer, Lenares, is the only one with the power to prevent the Gods from destroying the world - if only the others would believe her. The queen, the fisherman, and the cosmographer must travel to Andratan to confront Husk. But whether they can break free of his hold on them, and defeat the Gods, is another matter entirely. Flesh Circus by Lilith Saintcrow The Cirque de Charnu has come. They will clean out the demons and the suicides, and move on. As long as they stay within the rules, Jill Kismet can't deny them entry. But she can watch--and if they step out of line, she'll send them packing. When Cirque performers start dying grotesquely, Kismet has to find out why, or the fragile truce won't hold and her entire city will become a carnival of horror. She also has to play the resident hellbreed power against the Cirque to keep them in line, and find out why ordinary people are needing exorcisms. And then there's the murdered voodoo practitioners, and the zombies. An ancient vengeance is about to be enacted. The Cirque is about to explode. And Jill Kismet is about to find out some games are played for keeps... Full Circle by Pamela Freeman Saker's ghost army is slaughtering those of the new blood, fueled by an ancient wrong. But while he'd thought revenge would be simple, he's now plagued by voices foreshadowing a calamity beyond his comprehension. Ash and Bramble raise the warrior spirit of Acton, mighty in life and powerful in death. Only he can stop Saker's rampage. But is Acton, Lord of War, murderer or savior? And why would he help strangers protect a world he's never known? Bramble has been marked as Saker's nemesis, but will be challenged by deeper powers than Saker can command - as well as by her own feelings for Acton. As the living fight the dead, strange forces will shape an uncertain future from pain and suffering. Plague Zone by Jeff Carlson Product Description After surviving the machine plague and the world war that followed, nanotech researcher Ruth Goldman and ex-army ranger Cam Najarro discovered that a new contagion is about to be unleashed. Review "Gripping. Jeff Carlson concludes his Plague trilogy with an epic struggle among desperate nations equipped with nano weapons...This book is an object lesson in my we'd better learn to get along before the next arms race." -Jack McDevitt, Nebula Award-winning author of The Devil's Eye "Jeff Carlson's Plague Zone is a high-octane thriller at the core-slick, sharp, and utterly compelling. Oh yea, and it's frightening. SF doesn't get much better than this." -Steven Savile, international bestselling author of Silver Sword of Avalon by Diana L. Paxson Marion Zimmer Bradley's legendary saga of Avalon's extraordinary women continues with a tale of fiery visions, a lost king, and a forthcoming destiny. Epic in its sweep and peopled by the remarkable women who have always inhabited Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword of Avalon expands the legendary saga that has enchanted millions of readers over the years and is sure to please Bradley's loyal readership and anyone who loves wonderfully told stories of history, myth, and fantasy. A boy raised in secret after traitors kill his parents will return to Avalon-and when he does, he'll be faced with a formidable task: to prove his worth as a son of the kings and priestesses of his land and lead his followers to victory, wielding the newly-forged sword Excalibur. Except the Queen by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder From award winning authors Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder comes a tale of two worlds-and one destiny. Sisters Serena and Meteora were once proud members of the high court of the Fairy Queen- until they played a prank that angered her highness. Separated and banished to the mortal realm of Earth, they must find a way to survive in a strange world in which they have no power. But there is more to their new home than they first suspect. A sympathetic Meteora bonds with a troubled young girl with an ornate tattoo on her neck. Meteora recognizes it as a magic symbol that will surely bring danger down on them all. Serena, meanwhile, takes in a tortured homeless boy whose mind is plagued by dark visions. The signs point to a rising power that threatens to tear asunder both fairy and human worlds. And the sisters realize that perhaps the queen cast them from their homes not out of anger or spite- but because they were the only ones who could do what must be done... The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas From Bookmarks Magazine Fantasy readers can be a bit, well, snooty about how they take their dragons (fans are rarely ambivalent about the works of George R. R. Martin, Anne McCaffrey, and Naomi Novik, for instance), and Stephen Deas takes a chance by making those most misunderstood of fantasy elements the focus of his debut novel. Although Deas gives his imagination free rein in The Adamantine Palace and his short chapters (70 in a relatively brief book) keep things moving, critics call into question his world-building skills, as well as the SF/F penchant these days for trilogies, which only guarantees that nothing much will get resolved in the first installment. Still, there’s enough here to whet a fantasy reader’s appetite (the sequel, King of the Crags, is due in 2010), and we hope that experience will only make Deas stronger. Shalador's Lady by Anne Bishop Return to the "intense...erotic...and imaginative" (Nancy Kress) world of the national bestselling Black Jewels novels in this sequel to The Shadow Queen. For years the Shalador people suffered the cruelties of the corrupt Queens who ruled them, forbidding their traditions, punishing those who dared show defiance, and forcing many more into hiding. Now that their land has been cleansed of tainted Blood, the Rose-Jeweled Queen, Lady Cassidy, makes it her duty to restore it and prove her ability to rule. But even if Lady Cassidy succeeds, other dangers await. For the Black Widows see visions within their tangled webs that something is coming that will change the land-and Lady Cassidy-forever... Spells of the City Edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg Venture into Spells of the City, where a troll may be your toll collector on the George Washington Bridge...Harry the Book will be happy to place your best in a spellbinding alternative New York...a gargoyle finds himself left to a lonely rooftop existence when he's forced to live by his creator's rules...and leprechauns must become bank robbers to keep up with the demand for their gold. Changing the World by Mercedes Lackey In March 1987, a young author from Oklahoma published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. This modest book about a magical land called Vademar was the beginning of a fantasy masterpiece that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles. Now sixteen of today's hottest fantasy authors-including Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Fiona Patton, and Judith Tarr-visit the world of Valdemar, adding their own special touches. Bitter Night by Diana Pharaoh Francis From Publishers Weekly Francis (Path of Fate) begins her high-energy, gritty new Horngate Witches series by introducing Max, a magical warrior forced to serve her ex-roommate, witch-bitch Giselle. When the ancient Guardians of Earth decide to destroy the mortal world and recover its magic, Max discovers that she has been prophesied to save both her coven home and all humanity, and she must put aside her anger at her servitude to soothe coven rivalries and lead her fellow Shadowblades against powers much bigger than themselves. Emotions run mercurial, flashy and unsubtle throughout, and Max's near-invulnerability, self-healing and possession of an unrestricted wishstone make her more of a superhero than a woman dealing with real internal conflicts. The tough, feel-good, grand-scale supernatural fights, however, will keep action fans coming back for book after book. Indigo Springs by A. M. Dellamonica Indigo Springs is a sleepy town where things seem pretty normal . . . until Astrid’s father dies and she moves into his house. She discovers that for many years her father had been accessing the magic that flowed, literally, in a blue stream beneath the earth, leaking into his house. When she starts to use the liquid "vitagua" to enchant everyday items, the results seem innocent enough: a “’chanted” watch becomes a charm that means you're always in the right place at the right time; a “’chanted” pendant enables the wearer to convince anyone of anything . But as events in Indigo Springs unfold and the true potential of vitagua is revealed, Astrid and her friends unwittingly embark on a journey fraught with power, change, and a future too devastating to contemplate. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends as Astrid discovers secrets from her shrouded childhood that will lead her to a destiny stranger than she could have imagined . . . Makers by Cory Doctorow From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. In this tour de force, Doctorow (Little Brother) uses the contradictions of two overused SF themes—the decline and fall of America and the boundless optimism of open source/hacker culture—to draw one of the most brilliant reimaginings of the near future since cyberpunk wore out its mirror shades. Perry Gibbons and Lester Banks, typical brilliant geeks in a garage, are trash-hackers who find inspiration in the growing pile of technical junk. Attracting the attention of suits and smart reporter Suzanne Church, the duo soon get involved with cheap and easy 3D printing, a cure for obesity and crowd-sourced theme parks. The result is bitingly realistic and miraculously avoids cliché or predictability. While dates and details occasionally contradict one another, Doctorow's combination of business strategy, brilliant product ideas and laugh-out-loud moments of insight will keep readers powering through this quick-moving tale. The Good, the Bad and the Uncanny by Simon Green Things were going so well for P.I. John Taylor, that it was only a matter of time before everything hit the fan. Walker, the powerful, ever-present, never to-be-trusted agent who runs the Nightside on behalf of The Authorities, is dying. And he wants John to be his successor-a job that comes with more baggage, and more enemies, than anyone can possibly imagine. Boilerplate by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett Meet Boilerplate, the world’s first robot soldier—not in a present-day military lab or a science-fiction movie, but in the past, during one of the most fascinating periods of U.S. history. Designed by Professor Archibald Campion in 1893 as a prototype, for the self-proclaimed purpose of “preventing the deaths of men in the conflicts of nations,” Boilerplate charged into combat alongside such notables as Teddy Roosevelt and Lawrence of Arabia. Campion and his robot also circled the planet with the U.S. Navy, trekked to the South Pole, made silent movies, and hobnobbed with the likes of Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla. You say you’ve never heard of Boilerplate before? That’s because this book is the fanciful creation of a husbandand-wife team who have richly imagined these characters and inserted them into accurate retellings of history. This full-color chronicle is profusely illustrated with graphics mimicking period style, including photos, paintings, posters, cartoons, maps, and even stereoscope cards. Part Jules Verne and part Zelig, it’s a great volume for a broad range of fans of science fiction, history, and robots. Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson In war everyone loses. This brutal truth can be seen in the eyes of every soldier in every world… In Letherii, the exiled Malazan army commanded by Adjunct Tavore begins its march into the eastern Wastelands, to fight for an unknown cause against an enemy it has never seen. And in these same Wastelands, others gather to confront their destinies. The warlike Barghast, thwarted in their vengeance against the Tiste Edur, seek new enemies beyond the border and Onos Toolan, once immortal T’lan Imass now mortal commander of the White Face clan, faces insurrection. To the south, the Perish Grey Helms parlay passage through the treacherous kingdom of Bolkando. Their intention is to rendezvous with the Bonehunters but their vow of allegiance to the Malazans will be sorely tested. And ancient enclaves of an Elder Race are in search of salvation—not among their own kind, but among humans—as an old enemy draws ever closer to the last surviving bastion of the K’Chain Che’Malle. So this last great army of the Malazan Empire is resolved to make one final defiant, heroic stand in the name of redemption. But can deeds be heroic when there is no one to witness them? And can that which is not witnessed forever change the world? Destines are rarely simple, truths never clear but one certainty is that time is on no one’s side. For the Deck of Dragons has been read, unleashing a dread power that none can comprehend… In a faraway land and beneath indifferent skies, the final chapter of ‘The Malazan Book of the Fallen’ has begun… The Dragon Book Edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois Never before published stories by New York Times bestselling authors Jonathan Stroud, Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix, Diana Gabaldon, and others. Whether portrayed as fire-breathing reptilian beasts at war with humanity or as noble creatures capable of speech and mystically bonded to the warriors who ride them, dragons have been found in nearly every culture's mythology. In modern times, they can be found far from their medieval settings in locales as mundane as suburbia or as barren as post-apocalyptic landscapes-and in The Dragon Book, today's greatest fantasists reignite the fire with legendary tales that will consume readers' imaginations. With original stories by New York Times bestselling authors Jonathan Stroud, Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix, Diana Gabaldon, Tamora Pierce, Harry Turtledove, Sean Williams, and Tad Williams as well as tales by Naomi Novik, Peter Beagle, Jane Yolen, Adam Stemple, Cecelia Holland, Kage Baker, Samuel Sykes, Diana Wynne Jones, Mary Rosenblum, Tanith Lee, Andy Duncan, and Bruce Coville. The Silver Mage by Katharine Kerr The Horsekin are assembling along Prince Dar's northern border, and the Deverry alliance simply does not have the men and resources to prevent their enemies from moving into the wilderness areas known as the Ghostlands. But suddenly, the Dwrgi folk and the dragons come to Dar's aid, tipping the balance in their favor and offering Dar's people a chance to defeat the Horsekin once and for all. Time Travelers Never Die "The logical heir to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke" (Stephen King) takes readers on a science fiction adventure tour through time. When physicist Michael Shelborne mysteriously vanishes, his son Shel discovers that he had constructed a time travel device. Fearing his father may be stranded in time-or worse-Shel enlists the aid of Dave MacElroy, a linguist, to accompany him on the rescue mission. Their journey through history takes them from the enlightenment of Renaissance Italy through the American Wild West to the civil-rights upheavals of the 20th century. Along the way, they encounter a diverse cast of historical greats, sometimes in unexpected situations. Yet the elder Shelborne remains elusive. And then Shel violates his agreement with Dave not to visit the future. There he makes a devastating discovery that sends him fleeing back through the ages, and changes his life forever. Elegy Beach by Steven R. BoyettA publishing event twenty-five years in the making: the long awaited sequel to the unforgettable post-apocalyptic fantasy, Ariel. Thirty years ago the lights went out, the airplanes fell, the cars went still, the cities all went dark. The laws humanity had always known were replaced by new laws that could only be called magic. The world has changed forever. Or has it? In a small community on the California coast are Fred Garey and his friend Yan, both born after the Change. Yan dreams of doing something so big his name will live on forever. He thinks he's found it-a way to reverse the Change. But Fred fears the repercussions of such drastic, irreversible steps. Deadtown by Nancy Holzner First in a brand new urban fantasy series that's "fresh and funny, with a great new take on zombies" (Karen Chance) and "full of dangerous magic and populated with characters so realistic, they almost jump off the page" (Ilona Andrews). If you were undead, you'd be home by now... They call it Deadtown: the city's quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders-but Victory Vaughn, Boston's only professional demon slayer, isn't exactly human. The Sapphire Sirens by John Zakour Zach Johnson, the world's last freelance detective, has been man-napped by the beautiful sapphire-haired Amazon Kiana. She's brought him to her home island of Lantis-where the women dominate men with their words-to discover who killed her mother, the Queen. But to save the day this time, Zach and his holographic A.I. sidekick HARV have to tangle with not just one gorgeous superwoman, but four. Each of Kiana's three sisters could have the motive and the means to pull off the crime-and now that you mention it, Kiana could too... Confessions of a Demon by S.L. Wright After accidentally stealing the life force of a dying demon, Allay became the only human-demon hybrid in existence. Demons feed on human emotions, so Allay decided the safest way to satisfy this need-and still retain some semblance of her humanity-was to open a bar. Here she can drink from, and ease, her patrons' pain, which has helped her to stay under the demon radar...until now. When Allay is attacked and nearly killed by another demon, a human comes to her rescue. Theo Ram is tall, handsome, and mortal-and Allay feels a connection to him she didn't think she'd ever know. But that bond is tested when the demon community in New York begins to rise up, and two opposing clans fight for power. Now Allay is caught in the middle, and she must decide where her loyalties lie. Torn by Julie Kenner Lily is in trouble of the deepest kind. Having been tricked by the forces of evil, she killed what she thought were "demons" at will. Now, she knows better, and with a little help from half-angel, half-demon Deacon Camphire, she must try to take down the bad guys from within as a double agent. Tainted by Julie Kenner Lily Carlyle has lied, cheated, and stolen her way through life. But in death, she'll really get to be bad... When her little sister is brutalized, a vengeful Lily determines to exact her own justice. She succeeds at the cost of her own life, but as she lies dying, she is given a second chance. Lily can earn her way into Paradise by becoming an assassin for the forces of good. It's the job Lily believes she can really get into-but she doesn't realize that she may not be able to get out. Keyholders #4: The Wrong Side of Magic by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones When Penny, Luke, Natalie and their links return home after rescuing Mr. Leery from the clutches of the evil Queen of the Boggarts, they find a lot of changes in Morgantown. Mrs. Bender, the principal, has decided on longer school days with no recess. The cafeteria ladies are serving up some extremely yucky food (even more than usual). And their teacher, Mr. Crandle, is giving them twice as much homework. What is wrong with all the adults in town? Could it be another scheme from the Boggart Queen? It’s up to the apprentice Keyholders to find out. Keyholders #3: Inside the Magic by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones Oh, no! Mr. Leery has been kidnapped by the evil Queen of the Boggarts. It’s up to the apprentice Keyholders Penny, Luke, and Natalie to rescue him. Together with their links, a unicorn named Kirin, a dragon named Dracula, and a rat named Buttercup, the three Keyholders cross the border to the land inside the magic—a place where anything can happen. Will they find Mr. Leery in time? Vampire Taxonomy: Identifying and Interacting With the Modern Day Bloodsucker by Meredith Woerner Vampires are all around-books, movies, TV, comics- infiltrating our culture like never before. But what happens if one should run into a real vamp on the street? Vampire Taxonomy is the best defense against a fatal encounter in the dark. For the reader's protection, Meredith Woerner reveals the truth about: •Sunlight sensitivity-Do vamps venture out in the day or stick solely to the evening hours? •Physiology-When ready to feed, do they change appearance or simply lure with the seductive flash of a fang? •Dress-Are they decked out in leather with aspirations of becoming the first vampire rock stars or do they cling to Gothic robes and ruffled collars? •Diet-Are they waging a never-ending struggle against the temptation of human blood or do they view the world as their personal blood buffet? Magic in the Shadows by Devon Monk Allison Beckstrom's magic has taken its toll on her, physically marking her and erasing her memories-including those of the man she supposedly loves. But lost memories aren't the only things preying on Allie's thoughts. Her late father, the prominent businessman-and sorcerer-Daniel Beckstrom, has somehow channeled himself into her very mind. With the help of The Authority, a secret organization of magic users, she hopes to gain better control over her own abilities-and find a way to deal with her father... The Trouble With Heroes Edited by Denise Little These 22 all-new tales pay tribute to the true heroes-the people who enable and put up with heroes. From what it's like to be Hercules' wife )complete with an appearance by Hercules in drag) to the trials of H.P. Lovecraft's housekeeper, from the perils of being King Kong's girlfriend to the downside of dating a shapeshifter, this anthology turns heroism on its head, revealing the behind-the-scenes drama, as opposed to glorious rescues. From the Pied Piper's power trip to David acting like a giant you-know-what after slaying Goliath, these stories show heroes in all their ignominy and shine a light on the unsung faithful standing in their shadows. Dawnthief by James Barclay SOLATED, BETRAYED AND FACING THE END The Raven: six men and an elf, sword for hire in the wars that have torn apart Balaia. For years their loyalty has been only to themselves and their code. But, that time is over. The Wytch Lords have escaped and The Raven find themselves fighting for the Dark College of magic, searching for the location of Dawntheif. It is a spell created to end the world, and it must be cast if any of them are to survive. Dawnthief is a fast paced epic about a band of all-too-human heroes. Kris Longknife: Undaunted by Mike Shepherd Kris Longknife encounters some peaceful aliens who have come to warn humanity of an unidentifiable force that is roaming the galaxy, obliterating everything in its path—a path now leading directly toward the human worlds. The Clone Betrayal by Steven L. Kent Lt. Wayson Harris was born and bred as the ultimate soldier. But he is unique, possessing independence of thought. And when the military brass decide to blame the clones for the decimation of the U.A. republic, Lt. Harris decides to stop being the scapegoat, with all the firepower he can muster. Fade Out by Rachel Caine Without the evil vampire Bishop ruling over the town of Morganville, the resident vampires have made major concessions to the human population. With their newfound freedoms, Claire Danvers and her friends are almost starting to feel comfortable again... Now Claire can actually concentrate on her studies, and her friend Eve joins the local theatre company. But when one of Eve's castmates goes missing after starting work on a short documentary, Eve suspects the worst. Claire and Eve soon realize that this film project, whose subject is the vampires themselves, is a whole lot bigger-and way more dangerous-than anyone suspected. Imager's Challenge by L. E. Modesitt Jr. Imager’s Challenge takes up immediately after the conclusion of Imager. Still recovering from injuries received in foiling the plots of the Ferran envoy, Rhenn is preparing to take up his new duties as imager liaison to the Civic Patrol of L’Excelsis. No sooner has he assumed his new position than he discovers two things. First, the Commander of the Civic Patrol doesn’t want a liaison from the infamous Collegium, and soon has Rhenn patrolling the streets of the worst district in the city. Second, Rhenn receives formal notice that one of the High Holders, the father of a man Rhenn partly blinded in self-defense, has declared his intention to destroy Rhenn and his family. Rhenn’s only allies are the family of the girl he loves, successful merchants with underworld connections. In the end, Rhenn must literally stand off against gang lords, naval marines, Tiempran terrorist priests, the most powerful High Holder in all of Solidar, and his own Collegium—and find a way to prevail without making further enemies and endangering those he loves. Servant of a Dark God by John Brown The launch of a towering new fantasy series introduces an elaborate new world, a strange and dark system of magic, and a cast of compelling characters and monsters. Young Talen lives in a world where the days of a person’s life can be harvested, bought, and stolen. Only the great Divines, who rule every land, and the human soul-eaters, dark ones who steal from man and beast and become twisted by their polluted draws, know the secrets of this power. This land’s Divine has gone missing and soul-eaters are found among Talen’s people. The Clans muster a massive hunt, and Talen finds himself a target. Thinking his struggle is against both soul-eaters and their hunters, Talen actually has far larger problems. A being of awesome power has arisen, one whose diet consists of the days of man. Her Mothers once ranched human subjects like cattle. She has emerged to take back what is rightfully hers. Trapped in a web of lies and ancient secrets, Talen must struggle to identify his true enemy before the Mother finds the one whom she will transform into the lord of the human harvest. Zombie Raccoons and Killer Bunnies Edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes From a farmer at war with Nature's creatures, to dangerous doings when the henhouse goes on-line, to the hazards of keeping company with a book wyrm, here are ingenious tales that will make readers laugh or cry-or double-check to make sure that their windows and doors are firmly locked against the things that prowl the night. Quatrain by Sharon Shinn Four original novellas, all set in the fantastical worlds of national bestselling author Sharon Shinn. National bestselling author Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses books have fascinated readers and critics alike with their irresistible blend of fantasy, romance, and adventure. Now in Quatrain, she weaves compelling stories in four of the worlds that readers love in Flight, Blood, Gold and Flame. Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey Gwenhwyfar moves in a world where gods walk among their pagan worshipers, where nebulous visions warn of future perils, and where there are two paths for a woman: the path of the Blessing or the rarer path of the Warrior. Gwenhwyfar chooses the latter, giving up the power that she is born into. Yet the daughter of a King is never truly free to follow her own calling. Acting as the "son" her father never had, when called upon to serve another purpose by the Ladies of the Well, she bows to circumstances to become Arthur's queen-only to find herself facing temptation and treachery, intrigue and betrayal, but also love and redemption.. Friday Night Bites by Chloe NeillTen months after vampires revealed their existence to the mortals of Chicago, they're enjoying a celebrity status usually reserved for the Hollywood elite. But should people learn about the Raves-mass feeding parties where vampires round up humans like cattle-the citizens will start sharpening their stakes. So now it's up to the new vampire Merit to reconnect with her upper class family and act as liaison between humans and bloodsuckers, and keep the more unsavory aspects of the vampire lifestyle out of the media. But someone doesn't want peace between them-someone with an ancient grudge... Unleashed by Jack Levitt Mason is an enforcer, keeping magical practitioners on the straight and narrow. His "dog" Louie, is a faithful familiar who's proven over and over that he's a practitioner's best friend. But this time, Louie's in the line of fire when practitioners in San Francisco accidentally unleash a monster into the world. Bite Marks by Jennifer Rardin Jaz Parks here. But I'm not alone. I'm hearing voices in my head - and they're not mine. The problem, or maybe the solution, is work. And the job's a stinker this time -- killing the gnomes that are threatening to topple NASA's Australian-based space complex. Yeah, I know. Vayl and I should still be able to kick this one in our sleep. Except that Hell has thrown up a demon named Kyphas to knock us off track. And damn is she indestructible! On the Edge by Ilona Andrews The Broken is a place where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is nothing more than a fairy tale. The Weird is a realm where blueblood aristocrats rule and the strength of your magic can change your destiny. Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, the place between both worlds. A perilous existence indeed, made even more so by a flood of magic-hungry creatures bent on absolute destruction. Ariel by Steven R. BoyettIt's been five years since the lights went out, cars stopped in the streets, and magical creatures began roaming Earth. Pete Garey survived the Change, trusting no one but himself until the day he met Ariel-a unicorn who brought new meaning and adventure to his life. The Mermaid's Madness by Jim C. Hines What would happen if a star writer went back to the darker themes of the original fairy tales for plots, and then crossed the Disney princesses with Charlie's Angels? What he'd end up with is The Mermaid's Madness-a whole new take on The Little Mermaid. And with Jim C. Hines, of Jig the Goblin fame, penning the tale, you canbet it won't be "They lived happily ever after." Hunting Memories by Barb Hendee Eleisha Clevon has begun a correspondence with fellow vampire Rose de Spenser. Both reluctant predators, they venture outside only when the hunger becomes unbearable, trying not to draw attention to themselves-and feel guilty when ending human lives. But Eleisha has learned a way to draw blood from her victims without killing them. She wants to share this knowledge with like-minded vampires and create a haven where they can exist together-and forge a united front against Julian Ashton, a vampire who has been hunting down and destroying his own kind... City of Fire by Lawrence Yep Sure to appeal to fans of Rick Riordan and Eoin Colfer, this action-packed tale takes readers on an unforgettable journey through an alternate version of our world in 1941—a world filled with magical beings such as dragons in human form, tiny “lap griffins,” reincarnations of legendary Chinese warriors, Japanese folk creatures, and goddesses in disguise. When her older sister dies trying to prevent the theft of one of her people’s great treasures, twelve-year-old Scirye sets out to avenge her and recover the precious item. Helping her are Bayang, a dragon disguised as a Pinkerton agent; Leech, a boy with powers he has not yet discovered; and Leech’s loyal companion Koko, who has a secret of his own. All have a grudge against the thieves who stole the treasure: the evil dragon Badik and the mysterious Mr. Roland. Scirye and her companions pursue the thieves to Houlani, a new Hawaiian island being created by magic. There, they befriend Pele, the volatile and mercurial goddess of volcanoes. But even with Pele on their side, they may not be able to stop Mr. Roland from gaining what he seeks: the Five Lost Treasures of Emperor Yu. Together, the treasures will give him the power to alter the very fabric of the universe. Red Claw by Philip Palmer. Philip Palmer turns science fiction on its head in this breathtaking thrill ride through alien jungles filled with terrifying monsters and killer robots. Space marines and science heroes! Gryphons and Godzillas! It's all here in this gripping tale of man versus nature. Archenemy by Frank Beddor Discover the fate of Wonderland- and imagination itself- in this riveting conclusion to the New York Times bestselling trilogy. The Heart Crystal’s power has been depleted, and Imagination along with it. The people of Wonderland have all lost their creative drive, and most alarmingly, even Queen Alyss is without her powers. There is some comfort in the fact that the vicious Redd Heart seems to be similarly disabled. Amazingly, she is attempting to team up with her enemy, Alyss, in order to reclaim Wonderland from King Arch. Alyss might have no choice but to accept Redd’s overtures, especially when she begins to receive alarming advice from the caterpillar oracles. Xombies by Walter Greatshell When the Agent X plague struck, it infected women first, turning them into mindless killers intent only on creating an army of "Xombies" by spreading their disease. Running for her life, seventeen-year-old Lulu is rescued by the father she has never known and taken aboard a refitted nuclear submarine that has one mission: to save a little bit of humanity. Playing With Fire by Derek Landy In this sequel to Skulduggery Pleasant (HarperCollins, 2007), 13-year-old Valkyrie Cain and her mentor, the living skeleton detective, are faced with the return of the evil Baron Vengeous, who has been freed from prison. Vengeous is trying to reanimate the Grotesquery, a monster made up of pieces of a variety of evil creatures. If his scheme is successful, the Faceless Ones, "the terrible dark gods, exiled from this world," will return. Faced with treachery within the ranks of good magicians, Valkyrie and Skulduggery must rely on their own Elemental magical powers and a few trusted allies to confront Vengeous's magic and helpers, such as the vampire Dusk and Billy-Ray Sanguine, who has the ability to tunnel underground. One magical action sequence follows another as Valkyrie must find the courage to face what seem to be insurmountable foes. Humorous conversations between Valkyrie and Skulduggery add flavor to this generally dark and often-violent novel, as does the girl's appreciation of the dichotomy between her evil-fighting life and that of a quiet student lived by her reflection while she's off saving the world. Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy When 12-year-old Stephanie's eccentric Uncle Gordon dies, a mysterious man bundled in an overcoat, scarf, sunglasses, and a hat shows up at both the funeral and the reading of the will. This man, as it turns out, is Skulduggery Pleasant, a walking, talking skeleton who rescues Stephanie when she is attacked while alone in the house that she has just inherited. It seems that a particularly evil person named Serpine is trying to obtain a scepter that will allow him to rule the world. Stephanie is swept into a world of magic, secrets, power, and intrigue as she and Skulduggery try to keep one step ahead of Serpine and various other nefarious folk. Deadly hand-to-hand combat, nasty villains, magical derring-do, and traitorous allies will keep readers turning the pages, but it is the dynamic duo of Stephanie and Skulduggery who provide the real magic. The girl eagerly jumps into this new, dangerous, action-packed life, but she isn't sure that she has the guts or the power to pull it off. The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy Valkyrie screamed, sprinting toward Skulduggery. He looked up and reached out to her, but it was too late. If you've read the other Skulduggery books by Derek Landy (and you really should have read them by now), you've seen it all before: Some bad guy wants to bring about the end of the world, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie fight valiantly to stop it from happening. A few people get hurt, sure, but everything's all right in the end. Well, not this time. At Empire's Edge by William C. Dietz In a far-distant future, the Uman Empire has spread to the stars and beyond, conquering and colonizing worlds, ruling with a benevolent-but iron-fist. The Pax Umana reigns, and all is well. But on one planet, the remnants of a violent, shape-shifting race called the Sagathis are confined, kept captive by xeno-cops, who have been bio-engineered to be able to see through their guises. Still, sometimes one manages to escape. Zak Cato is a xeno-cop. He's returning a fugitive Sagathi when things go horribly wrong. Cato- the only survivor after the rest of his men are slaughtered-must now figure out who betrayed them and bring the alien in, whatever the cost. Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre It’s not easy to tread lightly wearing steel-toed boots. Sirantha Jax isn’t known for diplomatic finesse. As a “Jumper” who navigates ships through grimspace, she’s used to kicking ass first and taking names later—much later. Not exactly the obvious choice to sell the Conglomerate to the Ithtorians, a people whose opinions of humans are as hard as their exoskeletons. And Ithiss-Tor council meetings aren’t the only place where Ambassador Jax needs to maneuver carefully. Her lover, March, is frozen in permanent “kill” mode, and his hair-trigger threatens to sabotage the talks—not to mention their relationship. But Jax won’t give up on the man or the mission. With the Outskirts beleaguered by raiders, pirates, and the flesh-eating Morgut, an alliance with Ithiss-Tor may be humanity’s only hope. Which has Jax wondering why a notorious troublemaker like her was given the job… Vigilante by Laura E. Reeve Amidst an uneasy peace between the Autonomists and the Terrans, Major Ariane Kedros and her partner, Matthew Journey, have discovered alien ruins on a remote planet-ruins that bear evidence to an ancient and highly advanced technology. But their discovery has drawn the interest of high stakes players from every corner of the universe-including that of the rogue leader of a fringe Terran sect. Ari must find a way to stop him, before they all become ancient history... Blood Bargain by Maria Lima Keira Kelly has settled in with handsome Adam Walker, but happy-ever-after is not so easy when your vampire lover seems determined to deny his true nature. With Adam starving himself of blood and growing weak, Keira needs to work out how to persuade him to take care of himself, something she's fi nding diffi cult to do -- even with the advice of her brother Tucker, a millennium-old ex-Viking shapeshifter. And people have started disappearing in the Rio Seco area, making Keira worry about what this could mean, both for her friends in Rio Seco and to the community she and Adam have been creating at the ranch. But her investigation only seems to bring more trouble, especially when a clue leads her to an abandoned cemetery that Keira knew well when she was younger...one that has always been extremely important to her magical family. Evil is defi nitely walking once again in the Texas Hill Country. Can Keira discover where the danger lies...before danger discovers her? The Dame by R. A. Salvatore The vast road network of Honce, completed a decade before, had brought great optimism to the people of the land. Commerce could travel more freely and so could armies, and those armies, it was hoped, would rid the land at long last of the vicious, bloody cap dwarfs and goblins. For the first time, the many individual kingdoms, the holdings of Honce, would be brought closer together, perhaps even united. For the last few years, those promises had become a nightmare to the folk, as two powerful lairds fought for supremacy of a hoped-for united kingdom. Bransen Garibond, the Highwayman, held little real interest in that fight. To him the warring lairds were two sides of the same coin. Whichever side won, the outcome for the people of Honce would be the same, Bransen believed. A journey north, however, taught Bransen that his views were simplistic at best, and that some things--like honor and true friendship-- might truly matter. In The Dame, Bransen’s road becomes a quest for the truth, of Honce and of himself, a quest to put right over wrong. That path is fraught with confusion and fraud, and a purposeful blurring of morality by those who would seek to use the Highwayman’s extraordinary battle skills and popularity among the commonfolk for their own nefarious ends. Traitor's Gate by Kate Elliott In Spirit Gate and Shadow Gate, Kate Elliott took readers to the fascinating world of the Hundred, a land teeming with an array of cultures, gods, and conflicts blighted by the shadow of chaos and destruction. Now, with the same intensity and dramatic sweep that has brought this epic to life, Elliott returns to the exquisitely crafted cities and landscapes of the Hundred, in a thunderous conclusion to the saga. In the darkness of war and destruction, forces gather to reclaim the peace: Those immortal Guardians who still serve justice seek a means to end the devastating reign of one of their own; a hired outlander army struggles to halt the advance of the horde that has despoiled vast lands and slaughtered countless people in its murderous wake, while still guarding against a burgeoning threat from an aggressively expansionist empire; and the eagle reeves who have long been the only law enforcers of the Hundred struggle to reorganize after a devastating massacre has decimated their numbers. But even as these forces give hope to those who would live in peace, a terrible danger looms: a traitor with Imperial ambitions, the most dreaded, least anticipated threat of all… The United States of Atlantis by Harry Turtledove As England tightens its control over the Atlantean colonies, Victor Radcliff and his band of revolutionaries resolve to make the English pay for each and every piece of land they dare to occupy and will stop at nothing to preserve the liberty of their people as a new nation is born—a nation that will change the face of the world... The Empress of Mars by Kage Baker When the British Arean Company founded its Martian colony, it welcomed any settlers it could get. Outcasts, misfits and dreamers emigrated in droves to undertake the grueling task of terraforming the cold red planet--only to be abandoned when the BAC discovered it couldn't turn a profit on Mars. This is the story of Mary Griffith, a determined woman with three daughters, who opened the only place to buy a beer on the Tharsis Bulge. It's the story of Manco Inca, whose attempt to terraform Mars brought a new goddess vividly to life; of Stanford Crosley, con man extraordinaire; of Ottorino Vespucci, space cowboy and romantic hero; of the Clan Morrigan, of the denizens of the Martian Motel, and of the machinations of another Company entirely, all of whom contribute to the downfall of the BAC and the founding of a new world. But Mary and her struggles and triumphs is at the center of it all, in her bar, the Empress of Mars. Based on the Hugo-nominated novella of the same name, this is a rollicking novel of action, planetary romance, and high adventure. Fish Out of Water by MaryJanice Davidson Fred the Mermaid has taken the bait and chosen to date Artur, Prince of the Black Sea, over human marine biologist Thomas. And just in time. The existence of the Undersea Folk is no longer a secret, and someone needs to keep them from floundering in the media spotlight. Fred has all the right skills for that job, but has a hard time when her real father surfaces and tries to overthrow Artur’s regime. Crystal Healer: A Stardoc Novel by S. L. Viehl Genetically engineered interstellar surgeon Dr. Cherijo Torin, her husband Duncan Reever, and a handpicked crew journey to the planet oKia to locate a strange black mineral that is the source of an intergalactic epidemic. When one of the crew members becomes infected, his body slowly begins to crystallize. While Cherijo races to save the crew member, mercenaries arrive in the oKia system, wanting Cherijo's genes-and her near immortality. It will take all of her abilities to elude the mercenaries and discover the black crystal's secrets before it's too late. Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called “the touch.” (Comes in handy when you’re traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie.) Then her dad turns up dead—but still walking—and Dru knows she’s next. Even worse, she’s got two guys hungry for her affections, and they’re not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whatever—or whoever— is hunting her? Cape Storm by Rachel Caine Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin and her new husband, the Djinn David, are running from a malevolent hurricane bent on destroying her. Joined by an army of fellow Wardens and Djinn onboard a hijacked luxury liner, Joanne has lured the storm into furious pursuit. But even their combined magic may not be enough to stop it—nor the power-mad ex-Weather Warden controlling it... Demon Inside by Stacia Kane Hanging out with demons can be hell....It's been three months since psychologist Megan Chase made the stunning discovery that the world is filled with demons, and once more the situation is too hot to handle. Ironically, Megan -- the only person in the world without a little personal demon sitting on her shoulder -- has become the leader of a demon "family," but now some unknown arcane power is offing her demons in a particularly unpleasant fashion. And while her demon lover Greyson Dante is still driving her wild with desire, he's also acting strangely evasive. Then there's the truth about Megan's past -- the truth she's never known. Caught between personal problems and personal demons, Megan is having one hell of a hard time. Will the help of her Cockney guard demons and her witch friend Tera be enough so that Megan can finally resolve the past, survive the present, and face the future? Brimstone Kiss by Carole Nelson Douglas From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Filled with kisses and kick-ass action, the second installment of this campy series (after 2007's Dances with Werewolves) finds paranormal investigator Delilah Street taking on her first case in an alternate 2010 Las Vegas. When Delilah and her boyfriend, ex-FBI agent Ric Montoya, find the bodies of two teens killed in Sunset Park in 1946, the girl's ghost appears and claims the killer was her father, werewolf mobster Cesar Cicereau. Vampire mogul Howard Hughes hires Delilah to learn the identity of the girl's vampire companion, and she also comes under pressure from albino vampire rocker Snow; television producer Hector Nightwine; and the Invisible Man, a zombie merged with Claude Rains's black-and-white film character. Douglas's dishy style compliments the twisty plot, and she helpfully includes references for the numerous nods to the silver screen, Egyptology and cocktails. Matters of the Blood If you thought your family was strange...Try being Keira Kelly. A member of a powerful paranormal family, Keira elected to stay among humans in the Texas Hill Country when the rest of the clan moved (lock, stock, and grimoire) to Canada. But family duty means still having to keep an eye on cousin Marty — a genetic aberration who turned out 100% human, poor guy. And recently Keira's been having violent dreams — or are they visions? — featuring Marty as the victim of a vicious murder. Something sinister seems to be brewing in little Rio Seco. Can Keira get to the bottom of it all while avoiding entanglement with her former lover, Sheriff Carlton Larson? And what does she plan to do about the irresistible and enigmatic Adam Walker? When this old friend shows up as the new owner of a local ranc and wants to get better acquainted, Keira is more than happy to be welcoming...until she suspects that Adam could be intimately connected to the dangerous doings in Rio Seco. The Stars Blue Yonder by Sandra McDonald Chief Terry Myell died and became a god. Now he’s back to life, careening around space and time at the behest of a voice that told him to save all of mankind. Helping and hindering this quest are his elderly wife, his young wife, grandchildren who haven’t been born yet, romantic rivals he hasn’t even met, a descendant from two thousand years in the future, and an alien nemesis who calls itself the Flying Doctor. Life in the military has never been so complicated. Commander Jodenny Scott would agree. She’s seven months pregnant and trying to come to peace with her husband’s death. When Myell reappears with tales of time travel, she’s not sure what to believe. But with an invading army bearing down on Earth’s last fleet of spaceships, there’s not much time for debate. When the dust clears Jodenny is stranded in an Australia she never imagined, and Myell’s more desperate than ever to rescue her—from aliens, from treachery, and from history itself. Intelligent Design by Denise Little (Editor) These ten original stories explore one of the most heatedly debated topics today. From a tale that examines whether life on Earth is an out-of-control science project, to one which reveals which species will inherit the planet, to a portrait of a scientist determined to discover the truth about God, the stories in this anthology tackle the big questions in ways that range from startling to satirical—and are always entertaining. The Sword of the Lady by S.M. Stirling The New York Times bestselling author continues his "epic of survival and rebirth" (Library Journal), chronicling a modern world without technology. Rudi Mackenzie has journeyed far across the land that was once the United States of America, hoping to find the source of the world-altering event that has come to be known as The Change. His final destination is Nantucket, an island overrun with forest, inhabited by a mere two hundred people who claim to have been transported there from out of time. Only one odd stone house remains standing. Within it, Rudi finds a beautifully made sword waiting for him-and once he takes it up, nothing will ever be the same... Land of the Dead by Thomas Harlan It’s a small change in our history: imagine that the Japanese made contact with the Aztec Empire. Instead of small-pox and Christianity, they brought an Imperial alliance, samurai ethics, and technology. By the time of these books, the Emperor in Mexico City rules not just the entire planet Earth, but a growing interplanetary Empire. But the Galaxy is not a hospitable place, and there are other powers, both new and very very old, who would stop the spread of the power in Anuhuac. A weapon of the Old Ones, from the time of the First Sun, has been found in a region of space. It must be investigated, then tamed or destroyed to keep it from the hands of opposing powers. Gretchen Anderssen, freelance archeologist and specialist in First Sun artifacts, has been hired by her old mentor Green Hummingbird, agent of the Mirror Service, to join him in the study. They will be joined by old friends, and some old enemies as well. The Storm Witch: A Novel of Dhulyn and Parno by Violette Malan The new fantasy adventure featuring Dhulyn and Parno. Mercenary Partners Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane have returned to their Mercenary House to clear themselves of accusations of kidnapping and murder. But before they can resolve these charges, old friends are taken hostage by the Long Ocean Nomads, and they are forced to come to the rescue. And as they set sail, Dhulyn is convinced they are journeying to Parno's death, which she has foreseen in numerous visions of a drowning at sea. Flight of the Renshai by Mickey Zucker Reichert Prejudice against the Renshai is growing rapidly, fueled by their old enemies in the Northlands, who have convinced a faction in Erythane that the Renshai lands were stolen from them, forcing the King to banish the Renshai from the Westlands. Shunned by Westerners and hunted by Northmen, the Renshai will face many trials before rallying together against a common enemy determined to destroy them once and for all.