Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Let’s take the media tie-in issue first.
A few years back I read City of Pearl the first book in Karen Traviss’s Wess’Har series and was immediately hooked on her writing. I read all the other books in that series as soon as they came out. They are fist rate SF pumped full of action, cool aliens and big ideas. They are what SF can be when it is at the top of its game, fun to reads without being fluffy, with the sort of ideas that make you stop and think about your lifestyle without being preachy. You should give them a try too, but that's not today's topic.
While looking around for more books by Traviss to read I stumbled across a website where she talked about how she had put just as much blood and sweat into writing Republic Commando – Hard Contact for Lucas Arts as she did into the books she wrote in her own universe. I sort of let that roll off my back. How good could a Star Wars tie-in book based on characters from a soot-em-up video game be? Well a few months later I was off work with a wretched sinus infection and hanging around Kroger’s waiting for my anti-biotic prescription to get filled and came a cross a copy of Hard Contact. I got it on a whim. Took it home and read it almost in one sitting and was hooked. It was every bit as good as Traviss said it was. Since then I have eagerly waited for the rest of the books in the RC series and none of them have disappointed.
Why is this series so good? Traviss has created one of the most interesting takes on being a clone that I have ever read and for that alone this series stands out. She is a bang-up writer, who has personal experience in the military and as a journalist, which gives her work a very real edge. She creates engaging characters and puts them in powerful situations, and the folks at Lucas Arts gave her all the room she needed to tell the sort of story she tells best.
Trraviss sets the SW Universe on its ear. How can the Jedi be all that is right and pure and at the same time have no qualms about talking control of what is essentially a slave army of men born to be nothing but cannon fodder? Who is Human? What is the duty of a society toward the people fighting and dying for it? Does your duty as a soldier out way your rights as a human being? Can you really have a democracy when rule of law is enforced by a small elite religious order? Does having a special genetic trait the rest of the population lacks make you a natural ruler? What is the average citizen’s duty when a government becomes corrupt? What is family? Does duty to family top duty to any government? Does love make you strong or weak?
On top of questions like those there are great characters. I’m a woman of a certain age, not into Mil-porn style guns and guts SF but I fell in love with the guys in Omega Squad, Darman, Niner, Fi, and Atin. The team of Special Forces commandos made up of survivors of the massacre on Genosis so they all come to the start of the series with psycological wounds and other issues that make them stand out. Fi especcialy got to me. His yearning for the real world outside of the very narrow bounders of life in the GAR is so strong it hurt to read about. I wasn’t sure if these guys needed a roll in the hay, or home baked cookies to be happy but really wished I could offer both. There is also Kal Skirata a hard-boiled Mandalorian mercenary who lost all ties to his family when he went onto the secret program to train the clone army. He fills that hole in his heart with every clone he trained, and takes on heaven, hell , and everyone in-between for the chance to build real lives for his boys. All the characters aren’t military types. Etain, is a confused young Jedi tossed into a situation over her head and outside her training. Maybe my favorite character in the series is Besany Wenman. She is a government forensic auditor, who when she uncovers corruption and a massive cover-up does what is right instead of what is easy. There is even a Romeo and Juliet sub-plot running through all four books in the series. As to HEA, that is there too, sort of, if you look at it from the right angle. No big pink spun-sugar bow, but for the most part the right thing happen to the right people.
The next time you are looking for something different to read give this series some thought. You’ll never think of Star Wars the same way again. Sex happens, always off stage. There are many fight scenes and battles. People die. People you like die. Part of the point of the whole series is that in war people die, and every death is a tragedy not a statistic.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
The brilliance of the creator and owner of this bookstore is stunning. I didn't learn his or her name because I didn't want to be biased. But, let me tell you why I think he or she is brilliant. *He or She knows her local patrons extremely well and puts that knowledge to work.*
I think I mentioned in my last bookstore review for Title Wave Bookstore (an awesome independent) in Anchorage, Alaska that there had been a Big National Chain Bookstore in a nearby mall. It failed and it's failure came as no surprise to me. Why? Because the majority of the people living and working in the neighborhood in which it was located was African American. Not only did this Big National Chain Bookstore segregate the African American authors, but there was only one pathetic little shelf for them. Well, Pandemonium is the exact opposite.
To begin with, Pandemonium is situated in the parking lot of Home Depot. Who goes shopping at Home Depot? Mostly men. And not just any men. *Married Men with Families.* Women go shopping there too and women are also the largest segment of the book-buying public.
Husband: "Uh, Honey, I need to go to Home Depot and pick up some..."
Wife (leaping up): "The one in Wasilla next to Pandemonium Bookstore? Round up the kids!" (skips merrily away, grabbing her purse)
I'll start at one end of the store and go to the other. On the immediate left as you walk in is the conference room with a long table and comfortable chairs. My husband said it was being used by a religious group yesterday. There's a local Bible college nearby and many churches in the area.
Beyond that to the far left is the children's section. Naturally, they have all the best titles, but what they also have is *Homeschool Supplies.* Homeschooling is HUGE in Alaska! Even the Governor's eldest daughter is finishing her high school education at home. Some of you may have heard the erroneous rumor that she'd dropped out. Absolutely not true. Homeschooling has always been huge in Alaska because educating children who live waaaay out in the Bush has always been a challenge. Many of them simply live too far from a regular school to attend. I know of at least one village in which children fly back and forth in an airplane to attend a school. For the poo-pooers, you should know Homeschool kids continue to win top honors at the National Spelling Bee and Geography Bee and get into nearly every college in the nation, including Harvard and the Air Force Academy. Homeschooling can work beautifully. But, I'm on my soapbox here because educate our children at home too. I was thrilled to be able to examine curriculum in person which I'd only ever read about in homeschool supply catalogs.
Besides the homeschooling area, they had a playhouse and antique desks set up for children to leisurely read and parents to collapse in exhaustion with their own books while they did so.
There's a good sized adult section with gifts, non-fiction, and fiction sections. The Science Fiction & Fantasy aisles were decent. Considering how appealing this store is to the female population (even the bathroom was a girl's delight) I was surprised there weren't more Romance novels. The Romance genre accounts for about fifty percent of all books sold, you know. But, I guess it was a space issue. This store is small, but extremely well-organized, and I predict will expand at some point. Remember, our economy is a lot better here in Alaska than it is for you Lower 48ers.
The coffee shop is glorious with a fire place and a delightful selection of treats and sandwiches. We had Italian sodas, the first ones we've had since our favorite coffee shop went out of business when we were newlyweds.
The coffee shop seemed to be a well-populated hang-out for the early twentysomething crowd, all of them polite, enjoying the company of friends, and/or doing their homework, probably for that nearby UAA extension campus, or that local Bible college. I did say the patrons were well-served at Pandemonium, right?
1) Know your patrons (or readers, in the case of authors.)
2) See a need, Fill a need.
3) Respect and appreciation go a long way.
When I got home, I wasn't surprised to discover this bookstore also has a well-organized, pleasant website- http://www.akbookstore.com/;)
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
*THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES helps couples understand how their spouses communicate their love.*
If you've lived long enough, you probably realize that romance and passion doesn't just happen in real life, especially if your real life is full of work, housework, and children and/or grandchildren. You have to make it a priority and make it happen.
I've compiled a list of good self-help books. If you're married to someone who doesn't read, buy the audio-book version.
For the love nest-
Management advice from Kathy Peel-
Because you can't make love if the kids are destroying the house-
1-2-3 MAGIC (we use this one)
KEEPING THE LOVE YOU FIND
Here's a bonus for the busy family who needs to get healthy-
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
With February 1st being the release date for Invisible, my second contemporary romance, I didn't have the time to do the reading I wanted to in January. I must have read, oh, about 20 romance novels. One of them was the superb Seduce Me At Sunrise from Lisa Kleypas and another was The Warlord's Bride from the always reliable Margaret Moore (shivering with delight) but you readers KNOW those two books rocked it. The other books I read were so-so.
So I thought I'd go back in time and pick an oldie but a goodie. The Naked Marquis from Sally MacKenzie is one of the funniest regencies I've ever read. I loved it so much, I've bought it four or five times (I keep leaving it on planes and buses).
I know what you're thinking. If I read the title The Naked Marquis today, I would peg the book as erotica also. However, this Naked series started in 2005 and the publisher's Zebra (notice the lack of naked men on the cover). It isn't erotica. People do get naked (as they do in most full length historical novels) but that is seen as shocking, rather than… well… stimulating. There are also a few very funny sex scenes but nothing too graphic.
Here's the set up…
Second son Charles finds himself in an enviable position. He is now the Marquis of Knightsdale. The thing is… he doesn't want it. He loved his brother (issues and all) and he liked the life he was leading. But duty calls so he trudges home to his new house and his two small nieces. He realizes he's responsible for the kiddies and aware of his own mortality decides to marry. Right away. As in… he proposes to the first eligible female he meets, his former childhood friend Emma. She responds to this romantic proposition by throwing a ceramic dog at his head.
Although The Naked Marquis is the second in the series and the first book's characters do make an appearance, you don't need to read them in order. I didn't and I followed the story perfectly.