Thursday, January 29, 2009

Clockwork Heart - Dru Pagliassotto

Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotto is one of the best books I've read in ages. It deserves to be a bestseller, and not just in the SF/Fantasy niche market. I want to run through book stores thrusting copies of the book into unsuspecting shopper's hands.

It is just that good.

It is also a book that is hard to categorize. Is it SF? Is it Fantasy? Is it Romance? Is it intrigue? Is it all of the above rolled into one with great big steampunk ball? Yes, but don't let that spook you. All the elements are balanced just right.

This is the story of Taya, an icarus, or courier who uses wings made of the mysterious lighter-than-air metal, ondinium, to soar over the city of the same name. Ondinium has a rigid cast esystem, children are placed in their caste at a young age, after being evaluated by the Great Engine that is the City's heart, literaly as well as philosophically. Those with the temperament and constitution to become Icarii move freely around the city, and live outside the caste system. Taya has aspirations toward becoming a diplomat. One day she rescues a young high caste woman and her son from a terrorist bomb, and her plans for her future are forever changed. Things are not as placid in Ondinium as it would seam on the surface. Taya is thrown together with two highborn brothers, one handsome, brilliant, and charismatic politician, the other a quiet surly, but earnest, outcast. Both brothers have radical ideas about the future of the city they love. Both, might kill to see their ideas become reality.

That just scratched the surface of the storyline in this book. Pagliassoto's world-building is super. She shows us this world from unexpected angles with well rounded secondary characters ranging from an aspiring couture dress designer who's only goal is life is snaging an upper caste patron,, to elite Engine programmers dipping their fingers into radical politics. She does a fantastic job of putting the reader into the city of Ondinium, but unlike some writers she does not stop with world-building. The plot twists and turns enough to keep any reader guessing what will happen next, and the end, although not a big pink spun-sugar bow, is satisfying enough for a Romance fan looking for a HEA.

I think the strength of this book is it's straddling half a dozen genre. It is a prime example of literary hybrid vigor. Unfortunately that may also scare strict genre readers away, andit makes the book hard to market. It will probably keep the book from both the sales and the award nominations it so richly deserves. I read all the Hugo nominees for 2008, and I like several of them very well, but when it comes to texture, storytelling and originality Clockwork Heart blows them all out of the water .

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Electronic Publishing News from Dear Author

You all should pop over to Dear Author every Sunday for the latest news on electronic publishing. The articles are always so excellent. I sooo want my own eBook reader for my birthday!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Soldier and the Rose

The Soldier and the Rose by Linda Barrett is one of my favorite kinds of stories. It's a love story, that spans many decade, but centers around World War II. It's told through flashbacks and letters, so we that in the end Rose and Charlie have a long, loving marriage, but the mystery is how - when Rose was so heartbreakingly in love with her husband Joe, the father of her daughter, who died in the war.

Charlie served under Joe and heard her beautiful letters because Joe would read them out loud, proudly, when they arrived. When Joe dies, Charlie goes to see about Rose, and falls in love with her.

The rest of the book is about their journey, how she moves on, how the create a life together. It's wonderful for a book to celebrate enduring love and not just the spark of romance and the heat of passion.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book. If you enjoy it, you may also like Love Stories of WWII - a different genre all together, but it's similarly uplifting and warm.

Friday, January 16, 2009

YA SciFi Updated and Warlord's Daughter Giveaway has been updated.


Also, pop over to for your chance to win a free copy of Susan Grant's upcoming release, WARLORD'S DAUGHTER.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What Kimber An Wants

Kimber An is happily knocked up these days, which means she's thrilled to be expecting a new little blessing, but she's also tired, spewing into a bucket, highly emotional, and expects to be this way for the duration because she always is.
The good news is she has more time to read.
What Kimber An Wants

I've never been into Contemporary Romance, but Karen Templeton, Kara Lennox, and Gwyneth Bolton can send me whatever the heck they want, so long as it's not Erotica. Otherwise, don't email me, I'll email you. Check out the cover art of PREGNANCY SURPRISE by Kara Lennox. The Hero is wearing glasses! And he's an accountant! Can it be true there's finally a Beta hero in the Romance genre again? Oh, please, God, let it be so.
Science Fiction
Since I started a couple of months ago, I've been constantly on the lookout for excellent YA Sci Fi which doesn't sink into stereotypes which assume all teens are depressed, hate their parents, and want to sleep with blood-sucking dead guys. I've asked for COMET'S CURSE by Dom Testa, but haven't heard back yet.


Any Science Fiction will do, so long as it's also appropriate for my younger friends. Huge bonus points for *Fun & Adventure!* I am so sick of *Dark & Sexy* I could just puke. Of course, I could just about puke over anything these days, but you get me drift.
I'll make an exception for Science Fiction Romance, but only if the Heroine actually gets knocked up from all that Hot Nookie in Outer Space. I don't suppose I can ask Susan Grant here if THE WARLORD'S DAUGHTER qualifies without giving it away. So, if she happens by today, she can just email me.
Ditto with the Fantasy genre.
When's THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS by Lisa Shearin coming out? When will my copy of THE KING'S DAUGHTERS by Nathalie Mallet get here? And who left the dang lid off the toothpaste again?!!!

Regular Historicals, Historical Romance, and YA Historicals are all welcome, though I really do NOT want to see anything set during popular time periods, like Regency. Check out the blogging schedule. K does an awesome job with those and she prefers eBooks. Ancient History, Medieval, and World War II are my favorites. I've already got THE KING'S DAUGHTER by Sandra Worth waiting in line.

YA Fantasy Historicals! Love 'em! Can't get enough! Yes, Marissa Doyle, this means you. Where's my copy of BETRAYING SEASON? While you're at it, if you have a copy of BEWITCHING SEASON I'd appreciate it. Getting out of the house to the library and/or bookstore right now is really hard. Besides puking my guts out, it's been averaging 20 degrees Below Zero Fahrenheidt here in Alaska these days.

Well, okay, that's it. Except maybe a cinnomin roll. Anyone got a cinnomin roll they can send me? Can't eat chocolate right now. Makes me spew. Cruel, hmm? Happy Sunday, Bl0g Buds
P.S. I can only accept print copies now. I don't have an eBook reader yet and my time on the computer is even more limited. Sorry. I really want to! Hey, my birthday's coming.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

MAN OF THE HOUSE by Ad Hudler sends me ARCs sometimes. That's where I get most of my books which start out as hardbacks in the stores. Many months ago after passing on several they offered me, I emailed them and said I was ready for a new Women's Fiction novel. However, it couldn't be about a Bitter Divorcee or Never-Married Baby-Hater. Women's Fiction seemed to be in that Trend Hell at the time, but that was my point of view and it could have been skewed. Then, in November, I think it was, they emailed me about MAN OF THE HOUSE. It's Commercial Fiction, officially, I think, but I consider it Women's Fiction because it takes issues which are traditionally assigned to women and turns it on its head. Well, you know I love it when things get turned on their heads. I bore easily. I'm a buffet kind of girl.


Linc's mother was a dedicated feminist and he grew up to marry a dedicated feminist, a hospital administrator. When they had a child, he gave up being a landscape architect to become a Stay-At-Home Dad. Now, if he'd had other stay-at-home parents as friends, they could have given him great advice which would have enabled him to avoid all the difficulties he goes through in this book.


Linc's daughter, Violet, is 13 years old and attends school full-time. If he was my friend, I would have gently told him he'd outlived his usefulness as a stay-at-home parent and needed to either have another child, become a homeschool parent, or *go back to work!* For those of you who have no experience as a stay-at-home parent, I should tell you it's scary to stay home for several years and then face the prospect of returning to the work force. Staying home is a radical lifestyle change and going back to work is another radical lifestyle change. It can be terrifying. However, it is essential or you'll end up like Linc, obsessing over the proper names of decorator fabric colors because you need a way to still feel useful in the home. Thank God I'm not to that point yet because I'm working on Baby #5 and I educate our children at home. The only time I worry about my carpet color is when someone barfs on it and I hope the stain blends in. I don't have time for anything else.


So, if only Linc realized and accepted that he needed to get his flabby butt back into a paying job outside the home, he would have had it made. But, he doesn't and his wife, Jo, is too preoccupied with her own work to notice. And Violent hasn't known life any other way.


Linc has been an excellent stay-at-home parent. Violet is confident, healthy, and has a wide range of interests not typical of 13 year olds who are left to their own devices by parents who are too self-absorbed to spend any time with them. In some ways, he may have been too excellent, because he left little mothering for his wife to do and she emotionally disconnected from the job. I did that as a Certified Professional Nanny without realizing it too, so I knew not to do it as a parent. Sharing the care and building the other parent's confidence is so important.


Anyway, the story starts with Linc dropping Violet off at her new school. They've just moved to Florida and the new school is one of the best private schools there. Kudos for making Violet's education a financial priority over sending her to a public school and buying a sailboat instead! Unfortunately, finances are not the only sacrifice Linc must make for Violet's education. There are no other stay-at-home dads among the students' parents. He only sees the mothers and they're all too self-important to befriend him. Like I said, if only he'd had some fellow stay-at-home parent friends...


Linc and his family moved into a house in need of remodeling. They could have stayed in a condo while the work was done, but he insisted they live in the construction zone. No doubt, he needed to do it in order to feel useful. Having to live with sawdust and no working kitchen and such for long periods of time soon takes its toll on the family. Worse yet, seeing all those macho men working on his house reminds Linc that he hasn't done anything manly in a really long time. Pretty soon, he's following the guys around and learning how to pee standing up again.


Once again, Jo is too distracted to realize where all this is going. Violet realizes something weird is going on with her great dad, but she's never known him any different and is, therefore, hardly in a position to help. Linc starts going to a manly gym and lifting weights. Pretty soon, one of Violet's teachers gets the hots for him. Between hurricane season and the construction zone, Linc starts muddling his way back to manhood. But, when that teacher's interest starts to get more than a little creepy, the poo really starts to fly. By then I was thinking, "Hang in there, Linc! Don't be an idiot! You've almost found your way!" But, remember, this is NOT a Romance novel. You are not promised a happy ending. If you want to find out how it ends, you'll just have to read it yourself. I found the ending believable and satisfying, so it's definitely worth your money unless you only read Romance novels.


I always enjoy Commercial and Women's Fiction for one reason besides how engaging the story is. It seems to me authors have a lot more freedom with it than genre fiction, like Science Fiction or Romance. Violet, 13 years old, gets her own point of view in this story. I double-dog dare you to find a Kick-Butt Heroine in the Romance genre who ever even gets knocked up from all her graphic nookie. It's so...bizarre and unbelievable. Reading a story without a child in it is like drinking decaffeinated coffee, even if it tastes fine there's no kick. But, I've whined about that before. A lot. MAN OF THE HOUSE was a very welcome change.


The violence level in this story bearly registers and the sex happens behind closed doors.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

WHAT A LADY WANTS by Victoria Alexander

I am in a bit of a pickle. I held off buying newly released print books (what I usually review on this site) because I tend to receive them for Christmas presents (nothing makes my dear Mom more irritated than me having already bought the books she gives me). So I received a stack on the 25th, have read a dozen of them, and with the exception of A Wallflower Christmas (which I reviewed for you), all of them were… well… not special, not books I would recommend.

So I thought I'd talk about a book released in 2007 that I read for the first time in December. That book is What A Lady Wants, book 2 of Victoria Alexander's Last Man Standing series. The series is about four bachelors swearing to remain exactly that… bachelors.

Nigel Cavendish thinks he's dallying with a married woman in an open relationship. However, when the irate and armed husband comes home, he discovers… ummm… not so much. He high tails it over a wall into Lady Felicity's garden. That young miss has seconds previously wished on a star for an adventurous man. Well, Nigel is certainly that. Felicity, certain he is her destiny, is determined to marry Nigel and he is determined to remain a bachelor.

Felicity is downright hysterical. She is so determined, so honest about her intentions, that I laughed during the entire book. Nigel doesn't know what to do with her. He knows exactly what she wants (because she tells him every five minutes and is busy planning their future together) yet can't for the life of him avoid her. I don't blame him. The woman is entertaining.

This is also a tear jerker. I felt for Felicity. I felt her frustration and finally her acceptance that she wasn't going to get her heart's desire. I was a sobbing mess by the end of that bit.

My only problem with What A Lady Wants is I didn't think what happened to Nigel's father was necessary. I was emotionally drained by that point and thought it was a bit over the top.

'Course this means I have to go back and read the other 3 books. Sigh. The things I do for Enduring Romance.


I know, I know this is a Christmas romance and it is after Christmas but gosh, this book is so very good that I had to talk about it. I'm a BIG, HUGE, SUPER Lisa Kleypas fangirl. One of my fave novels ever is Devil In Winter.

Well, a buddy asked me if A Wallflower Christmas was better than Devil In Winter and I actually had to think about it. It is THAT good.

The story isn't that special. American Rafe Bowman (Daisy and Lillian's devil may care brother) has come to London to find a wife. The woman, his demanding, blackmailing father has decided upon, is the beautiful and very proper Natalie Blandford. The problem is… wooing this paragon of virtue may be difficult. The girl is in demand. So they (the Wallflowers and Rafe but mostly the Wallflowers 'cause Rafe doesn't really care) reach out to Natalie's companion, Hannah, in an attempt to gather some inside information.

You can guess what happens. The passion between Hannah and Rafe sizzles. And that is when they're fully clothed (most of the 216 page novel – there's a naked bit at that end though). They only have to look at each other and we feel it. As Rafe puts it, Hannah makes him "want to be very, very bad." The fast, witty dialogue sparkles. The Wallflowers are interwoven as richly developed secondary characters. A Wallflower Christmas is a wonderful Regency, now residing on my keeper shelf.

Now, this hard cover shorter work is a bit pricey (full retail is $16.95 U.S.) but for Lisa Kleypas fans, it will be worth it. If you haven't read a Lisa Kleypas novel, start with the lower priced Devil In Winter. It is my favorite.