Sunday, November 30, 2008

Best Science Fiction Romance Covers

Do you remember the cover on the latest book you read? Many times covers have no effect on why I choose a book, but occasionally I see a cover that just begs to be picked up. The covers on Kristin Landon’s two Science Fiction Romances do just that. Ace Publishing has chosen covers for The Hidden Worlds and The Cold Minds that make you reach for the books. These books could have been over looked but the cover Ace uses keeps that from happening. Go on line to Amazon and see if you agree.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Fallen by Claire Delacroix

Science Fiction/Dark Fantasy Romance

This is the first time I have read a book by Claire Delacroix. Looking at a list of her previous books The Fallen is a change of pace for this author. Set in a post-nuclear pre-Apocalyptic time The Fallen is the story of Adam Montgomery (Munkar) and Lilia Desjardins. In the first chapter we meet Munkar, an angle, as he is undergoing the painful surgery to remove his wings and receive his human name, Adam Montgomery. He has volunteered to go to Earth on a mission to help humans. In chapter two Lilia Desjardins, a shade hunter, is introduced. She is going to Gotham, a radiation hot spot, to find out how her husband died. The book starts with a bang and does not slow down. This is a very well written and gripping tale filled with wonderful characters. The plot development and pacing kept me hooked from the first page. According to Claire Delacroix’s blog this is the first of a trilogy. I am looking forward to the next two. I gave The Fallen five thumbs up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Downbelow Station by C. J. Cherryh

Science Fiction

Downbelow Station was published in 1981. I recommended this book for the Science Fiction Book Club. The book is the anchor for C. J. Cherryh’s science fiction universe. I remember reading the book in the 1980’s and not being able to put it down. I think we all know that we change with time. That includes reading tastes. I found the book to drag this time and I had to force myself to continue reading instead of picking up a book I had not read. Those of us in the club that are fans of Cherryh agreed that to understand the universe Cherryh created this was a must read. Those who were not Cherryh fans did not care for the book. Although there was a lot of action in the book we all felt that the book was passive when compared to today’s science fiction. Looking back I realized why I loved the book so. This book was the first time I had seen a female starship captain. I was a commercial pilot flying charter and corporate when I read the book. Female pilots were still rare and I loved having a female in charge of a starship. If you love C. J. Cherryh’s books and have not read Downbelow Station, pick it up and read it. It sets the stage for her other science fiction books.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land is the story of Michael Valentine Smith. Born of human parents on Mars and raised by Martians, he comes to earth with different powers and no understanding of humans. This is science fiction about humans and what it means to be human, and change and what causes change. The book has never been out of print and is considered a classic. People who would never read Science Fiction have read this book.

The original copyright to Stranger in a Strange Land was 1961. I probably read it soon after it was published. I included it on my list of favorite books for a long time. When I first read the book I loved the story and I loved the strong women. Today, the women are still strong, but limited by the restrictions of the time. That if nothing else dated the story. However the elements “of individual liberty, self-responsibility, sexual freedom and the influence of organized religion on human culture and government” from Wikipedia that are the heart of the story have kept it relevant. This book caused more discussion than Journey to the Center of the Earth. Again we read different editions of the book. Some people read the original version which was 160,000 words and others read the uncut version which had 220,000 words. All of us who read the uncut version agreed that it needed editing. The extra did not add anything and made the reading drag.

This is a different take on Science Fiction and worth the read even today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas Gifts for the Book Lover

What do you get for the book lovers on your Christmas list? What have people given you? I have gotten gift cards to book stores, books, and different items of clothing that show my love of books. Do you have some different suggestions? IF so post your gift suggestions here. If it is something you can buy on the web post a link. Let’s give everyone new gift ideas for the book lover this Christmas season.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

We wanted to start with some of the earliest science fiction and agreed that one of the novels written by Jules Verne would be a good place to start. Because a new movie based on Journey to the Center of The Earth was just being released we choose it as the book to discuss at our next meeting. None of us had read the book previously. I did not want to buy the book so I went to Project Gutenberg to see if it was available.

For those of you not familiar with Project Gutenberg the website states and I quote; “Project Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books, or eBooks. Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, invented eBooks in 1971 and continues to inspire the creation of eBooks and related technologies today.” At last count there were over 25,000 free books in Project Gutenberg’s online catalog and over 100,000 more available at affiliates. There is no copyright violation on any of the books listed. Journey to the Center of the Earth was available as a free download. I downloaded it to my computer and the moved the book to my ebook reader.

Jules Verne wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth in 1864. All of his novels have been translated from French to English and we found difference as we each had different editions. One of the first was that the characters had been given new names in the later editions. None of us found this to be an exciting book. Written in the first person it was long on description and short on action. Verne filled the book with facts about the geology of the earth. In some ways the book was like geology textbook. The characters were observers. There are only three main characters, Professor Lidenbrock, his nephew Axel and Hans Bjelke their Icelandic guide for the journey. You quickly learn that the Professor is impatient, his nephew does not like adventure and Hans is stoic. Axel is the narrator in the book. Any danger is always at a distance and never seems to threaten the characters. We all agreed that this book would not be a best seller today. Everyone commented on the difference in social norms between 1864 and 2008. Most notable was the role of women. You know they are there but only in the background. Their role is to stay home and keep the fires going. No journeys to distant places for them.

Journey to the Center of the Earth has been made into a movie several times. Women and children have been added to the script. There is a lot more tension in the movie. The actors are participants in threatening situation instead of observers. In many ways the movies bear little resemblance to the book.

None of us would have read this book had we not chosen it for the book club. While the book was very poplar when it was written, no one felt that it had stood the test of time. It was slow moving and did not hold anyone attention. There was not a “I have to keep reading to find out what happened” feeling while reading the book. We knew from the beginning that everyone came home. The consensus was that Journey to the Center of the Earth was a classic only because it was among the first Science Fiction books written.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Science Fiction Book Club Members

There is a great variety in all writing. You have fiction and nonfiction, novels and short stories, narrative stories and poetry. We all have our favorite. Within fiction you have further classifications; mystery, romance, adventure and science fiction are just a few. I read across the classifications but my favorite is Science Fiction. Within the area of Science Fiction there are further unique divisions. Those divisions range from fantasy to hard science fiction. Many readers roam between the different areas but some like only one division. In our book club we have both kinds of readers. I tend to roam between different divisions with space opera my favorite. We have one member who loves paranormals, another likes alternate history, still another member likes cyber punk, one member is a hard science fiction fan and one just loves book clubs and had never read Science Fiction before joining. A group this diverse makes choosing books to read and discuss a challenge. We started with a Stephen King book. Not an author I would read, but hearing the thoughts of his fans was interesting. We decided that we would continue by concentrating on some of the classics in Science Fiction. For the next few days I am going to share some of the group thinking on Journey to the Center of the Earth, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Downbelow Station. If you have read any of these books post a comment and add to the discussion.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bella Vista Public Library

You will hear about book club members tomorrow.

I think the Bella Vista Public Library deserves it own post. After all this is where the Science Fiction Book Club meets. It is a unique public library. No tax dollars or public funds were used to found the library. Volunteers and donations have allowed the library to exist for many years.

When I moved to Bella Vista it was a retirement village governed by the Property Owners Association. Bella Vista Village was started as a vacation and retirement community in the 1970’s. Located in Northwest Arkansas on the Missouri border the founder envisioned a community of around 10,000 made up mostly of retirees. Until the late 1990’s that was the bulk of the residents. Retirees have lots of time and when not playing golf (we have multiple golf courses) they wanted to read. Some of the ladies of the village started a library in one room of one of the clubhouses. That was the start of the Bella Vista Public Library. It was run entirely by volunteers. More people moved in and more space was needed. A grant was obtained to build a library building to serve a population of 10,000. Anyone who lived in Bella Vista could get a free library card; after all it was a public library. Because Bella Vista was located in an unincorporated area of the county we had no tax base for the library to draw on. The POA and several groups contributed funds to buy books and hire a library director. The Bella Vista Public Library had to rely on volunteers and donations to stay in business. Things in Bella Vista Village changed when Northwest Arkansas experienced a large growth in population. While there were still a large number of retirees in the Village, the population began to shift with younger families moving in. The population grew rapidly from 10,000 to 26,000. The library adapted to the meet the changes in population. The funding for the library did not change. The library still depended on volunteers and donations to survive.

Two years ago there was initiative to change the status of Bella Vista. The initiative passed and Bella Vista incorporated. We still have the POA for all the recreational amenities but we now have a city government for other services. Both the city (with public funds) and the POA donate but as yet there is no dedicated tax base for the library. The funds from the POA and the city are not guarantee from year to year and are not enough to run the library. Bella Vista Library still depends on volunteers and other donations to exist. Visit the Bella Vista Public Library site to see this unique library.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Science Fiction Book Club (not the one where you buy books)

Our library started a Book Club devoted to Science Fiction. We have been meeting for 5 months and are still a small and select group. At our last meeting in addition to the book we were reviewing we talked about was why we were staying so small. The library has a large number of people checking out Science Fiction books and a high percentage are women. That was the main reason the library started the book club. After sharing our experiences as Science Fiction readers we came to some conclusions about why we are not attracting more members.

First; Science Fiction readers hide their addiction. I know in my case I never talked about what I was reading. I discovered Science Fiction around the age of 9. I found The Trouble on Titan in our library, read it and was immediately hooked. However, I quickly found that sharing what I read caused people to look at me like I had 2 heads. I quit admitting my favorite books were Science Fiction. To this day when my Mother sees me reading Science Fiction she says, “Oh, you are reading one of those books!

Second; Science Fiction readers are loners. Being a loner means you do not join groups. Does that fit you? To a certain extent it is a fit for me. I do join some groups but I don’t want to commit too much of my time. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a hermit. I like to be around people but I also treasure my time alone. After non-stop socializing I like to find a good book and spend time reading. I had rather spend time reading than join most groups. I can disappear for days at a time. I don’t miss other people because I am reading and my friends are in the book. After all that time alone with my books I come up for air and want to see people again. I join friends before I disappear again to read.

So our book club is staying small because people do not want to admit they read Science Fiction and Science Fiction readers would rather read than join a group.

Even though we are small we are dedicated to keeping the group going. Tomorrow I will share a little about the group and how we choose the books we are reading.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen


This is the first book in a new series by Agatha winning author Rhys Bowen. The series features Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie. Lady Victoria is 34th in line to the British throne explaining the title of the book, Her Royal Spyness. Her bother has cut off her allowance and there are plans to marry her off, so she decides to strike off on her own. Leaving her brother’s home in Scotland, she travels to London where nothing in her education has prepared her for work. After a brief and unsuccessful job as a store clerk she comes up with the idea to start a cleaning service. On her first job she finds a body and plays a part in solving the crime. There are a wide range of characters in the book. Some are fictional and some are historical. The two blend seamlessly to move the story forward. This is a gentle little mystery. There is not a lot of violence or blood. The story is characters rich and character driven. While a lot of the book helps set the scene for the series there is enough plot to hold a readers interest. Rhys Bowen gives us a fascinating glimpse into the world of British Royalty in the 1930’s. In this setting Lady Victoria should have ample opportunity to solve mysteries. If you like mystery and enjoy historical settings you will love Her Royal Spyness. I look forward to many other books in this series.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Starship: Mutiny, Book One by Mike Resnick

Science Fiction and Space Opera

Starship: Mutiny, published by Pry in 2005, is the first military science fiction novel by veteran writer Mike Resnick. Mike Resnick created the Birthright Universe over 25 years ago and had been writing stories set in that universe ever since. This story is set in the Birthright Universe during the Republic era, 3000 years in the future. The Republic is at war with the Teroni Federation. Wilson Cole has won two victories for the Republic, but in doing so he has disobeyed orders and lost two ships to secure the victories. For his efforts he has been sent to the Theodore Roosevelt as the ship’s second officer. The Teddy R, as it is called by its crew, is not a happy ship. Old, ready to be retired but kept in service because of the war, the Teddy R. is posted in the Phoenix Cluster, on the Rim and away from the main battles. This set-up is ripe for all kinds of problems and conflicts. Cole is very likeable, the Captain is not. The war comes to the Phoenix Cluster and the story moves from there. The entire story is told with snappy dialog that keeps the story moving. If you need to know something, one of the characters will tell you. The pace is fast moving and I did not want to put the book down. This is military science fiction and space opera at its best. I would give Starship: Mutiny 5 thumbs up. There are two additional books already out and a third due out this month.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Strength and Honor, A Novel of the U.S.S. Merrimack, by R.M. Meluch

Military Science Fiction, Space Opera

In a previous post I talked about the Tour of the Merrimack series. I just finished Strength and Honor, A Novel of the U.S.S. Merrimack by R.M. Meluch. Like the other books in the series this was published by Daw. The copyright is November 2008. The fact that I have already finished this book helps explain my large “to be read” pile. The third book in the series, The Sagittarius Command, could have been the last but it left some large unresolved issues. Strength and Honor, the fourth novel, brings the story to a conclusion. The military and personal themes are woven skillfully into the novel. There were some places where I would have liked a slightly different resolution, but all in all by the end of the book I was a satisfied reader. If you like Science Fiction and Space Opera, read this series. R.M Meluch has written a series with great characters, and a plot filled with unexpected twists and turns. I highly recommend the U.S.S. Merrimack series.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My “Too Be Read” Pile

Every now and then instead of sharing a book I will share some of my thoughts about books. Today is one of those days. I love books and pick them up at a variety of places. One of my great fears when traveling in my RV is that I will run out of books to read. As I prepare to leave I stockpile books and leave with a large supple. Then I buy books all along my route. I buy new. I buy at used book stores. One of the best and cheapest places to buy is at library book sales and library run book stores. I am unable to pass up a book that looks interesting. I always have more unread book coming home than I had when I left. I don’t stop buying when I get home. I follow several writers groups and blogs and when I hear a recommendation that appeals to me I check it out at the library or I go buy the book. As a result I have a huge “to be read” pile at home. My children have threatened to do an intervention. I have a goal to finish most of my “to be read pile” in the next six months. I have to finish a book every 2 days in order to do that. I also have to resist buying books for the next six months. That should still leave me with a large stockpile to take on my next trip in April. So do any of you think I have a problem? One good thing, I am unlikely to run out of books to share in the next six months

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

Alternate History

His Majesty’s Dragon is a new twist on two old themes. It is a fantasy novel about dragons and it is an alternate history novel about the Napoleonic Wars. This unlikely combination works. Dragon’s play a big part in the Napoleonic wars and both England and France use them in aerial combat. Dragon’s are also rare and any new dragon that hatches is welcomed. Will Lawrence is a sea Captain in His Majesty’s navy. He captures a French frigate that is carrying a dragon’s egg. The egg is about to hatch and the dragon will bond with one person. Somce England is in great need of more dragons and Will cannot get the ship to land before the egg hatches lots are drawn to see who bond with the dragon and become part of the aerial corp. Will lot is not drawn but the dragon when he hatches makes his own choice and Will is who he wants. Thus begins a life change for Will. In spite of their value, the Aerial Corp is not a respected arm of His Majesty’s military. Will must adjust to like away from the sea and to life as a partner to the dragon Temeraire. The story is a new look at a well known part of history. The addition of dragons and aerial combat changes this part of history. Temeraire the dragon is a rare breed of dragon and an interesting character. Dragons are intelligent and full of personality and Temeraire no exception. Temeraire is also a rare breed of dragon. This is the first book in a series about Will and Temeraire. If you like alternate military history His Majesty’s Dragon is a must read.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Airs Beneath the Moon by Toby Bishop

Winged horses are not new in fantasy and Airs Beneath the Moon published by Ace follows the same path many other stories trod. In spite of that, the story held my attention. Larkyn Hamley of Deeping Farm finds a starving horse and takes her home. The horse has a winged colt but dies in a difficult birth. The colt bonds with Lark, a bond that is for life. Winged horses are at the heart of the Duchy of Oc. They can only be flown by women and the Academy of the Air chooses a noble girl to bond with each colt. Lark has to leave home and try to survive in the hostile environment of the Academy. That is just the start of the story. There is danger to the Academy from the new Duke, a secret discovered by Lark, and surprising friendships in the making. While the book has a conclusion it leaves many things unresolved. It may be the first book in a series. If you like winged horses and strong heroines read Airs Beneath the Moon by Toby Bishop.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Myriad, Tour of the Merrimack #1 by R.M. Meluch

As you can guess from the title (The Myriad, Tour of the Merrimack #1) this is the first book in a series about the U.S.S. Merrimack. Daw published the first book in this series and the first book in ten years by R.M. Meluch in 2004. I don’t know what the M stands for but the R is Rebecca. The Merrimack is captained by the magnetic, fearless, energetic John Farragut. The ship includes a Marine detachment lead by Lt. Colonel, T.R. Steele. They are on the trail of the Hive, an alien life form that can live in the vacuum and destroys everything in its path. Joining the crew of the Merrimack is Augustus; a Palatine Empire genetically and cybernetically enhanced patterner, on loan to help in the search and destruction of the Hive. The Palatine Empire were former enemies but the Hive has made them reluctant allies. The Merrimack stumbles on a group of three colony worlds that the Hive has overlooked. This group of planets is a paradox that no one can explain. The result of this discovery leads to some unexpected events. There is never a dull moment in this book. There are enough twists and turns to keep anyone’s attention. The interaction between the characters keeps the plot moving at a brisk pace. Start this series for a thrilling story that is hard to put down. I recommend The Myriad to anyone who likes space opera and military science fiction.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Heart Duel by Robin Owens

Paranormal Romance

Heart Duel is the third book in Robin Owens Science Fiction Romance series set on Celta. Celta is a planet where physic powers replace the tech of our world. Flair is the physic power and everyone has it to some extent. For some flair also reveals their heartmate, the person they are destined to be with for life. A person’s flair develops strength during a series of passages. It is during one of these passages that a heartmate is usually revealed. The fact that Holm Holly and Lark Collinson are Heartmates was not revealed during a passage because Holm Holly had to grow enough to be Lark’s heartmate. They are an unlikely pair of heartmates. Lark’s flair is for healing and she hates the street dueling that takes place on Celta. It was in a street duel that her healer husband was killed. Holm Holly’s flair is for fighting and he is a member of the premier fighting family on Celta. While Holm accepts the attraction between he and Lark, she refuses to accept that the attraction is anything other than a passing fling. It is certainly a romance, but the actions of Holm and Lark lead to some unexpected results. There are 7 of the award winning Heartmate books. I had read all but this one. I knew the result of Holm and Lark accepting that they were meant to be together but I was unprepared for the dark nature of the book. I would not recommend that anyone start with Heart Duel, but if you read the series this is a must read.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days by Susan Grant.

How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days is the third book in Susan Grant’s Otherworldly series and it is one of my favorites. It takes an unlikely hero, Reef, and a suburban housewife, Evie, on a series of desperate adventures. Reef stands for Robotically Engineered Enemy Fighter. Reef is the villain in the first book in this series. He is a cyberpowered assassin who has been programmed and sent to Earth to kill Earth’s connections to one of the extraterrestrial powers. He was not successful and found himself with his internal computers turned off and his programming no longer working. It turns out he was not anything like his programming. Enter, Evie, as divorced suburban housewife with family connections to that same representatives Reef was sent to kill. Evie has her own set of problems. Someone thinks her chocolate business is laundering money for the mob, and her ex-husband want to take their two children. What Evie needs is a bodyguard and Reef ends up with the job. Evie gives Reef 10 day to prove he can do the job and thus the title; How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days. Evie and Reef both have issues and the solution for both makes this an exciting read. I recommend you read How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days. This book is a recent Prism Award winner.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Charm School by Susan Wiggs

The Charm School by Susan Wiggs is set in the period before the Civil War. The book is a reprint. The Charm School was originally published in 1999. Isadora Peabody is the ugly duckling in a wealthy Boston family. Ryan Calhoun is a charming handsome southerner who is captaining one of the Peabody ships. Behind Ryan’s carefree exterior there is a serious and vital duty he feels he must perform. Isadora manages to secure a place on Ryan’s ship and finds a freedom she has never know. Both experience a life changing experience on the voyage. The fun is in the journey. It is wonderful to watching Isadora shed her stays and proper clothing as she loses her shyness and becomes the beautiful swan. As Ryan notices Isadora he finds in her someone who will help him make good in keeping his promise to his best friend. Together they overcome the problems that face Ryan. This is the first of two stories about the Calhoun brothers. Ryan and Isadora appear briefly in The Horsemaster’s Daughter, another reprint from 1999. Isadora, Ryan, and all the sailors on board keep the story lively and fun. Ryan's ship is Isadora's charm school.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

Slave to Sensation, a paranormal romance, by Nalini Singh is set on an alternate Earth where the human race is divided into three distinct types. There are the normal humans like you and I, the Psys who have mental powers, and the Changelings who are part human and part animal. The Psys embraced Silence, the removal of all emotions many years ago, because of the high incidence of insanity and serial killing. The Psys became the leaders in government and business living apart from humans and Changelings. The Changelings live with their own kind removed from both humans and Psys. There is little interaction between the three groups. This first story in the Psy/Changeling universe sees Lucas, a Changeling whose animal is a leopard, reacting to Sascha, a Psy who feels emotions. In Slave to Sensation there is a Psy serial killer who has killed one of Lucas pack mates, a big attraction between Lucas and Sascha, and a psychic web that Sascha must escape in order to leave the Psy. The book has great pacing and tension and interwoven as part of the story are characters that will be featured in later books. I recommend Slave to Sensation to any of you who like paranormal romances.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Wives Tales By Lara Santiago

Be warned.  The Wives Tales by Lara Santiago are erotica.  If you do not like hot sex do not read these books.  However if you like a well written story with lots of hot sex and great characters try any of The Wives Tales.  There are four.  They are The Miner's Wife,  The Executive's Wife,  The Lawman's Wife and the The Mercenary's Wife.  I read The Miner's Wife first.  This is the story of Hannah and Brutal.  The Miner's Wife  had a great plot and was well paced.  What impressed me the most was that the sex was a logical part of the story.  Both Hannah and Brutal are characters that I liked and I was glad to see both of them in later stories.  The stories fit together and make a great read.  The books are published by Siren Publishing and are available in print and  ebooks.  I bought  all of The Wives Tales in the ebook form at

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair

As I promised this is another book where time travel is used as part of the plot. Gilliaine Davre’ (just plain Gillie) wakes up after a battle to defeat the Fav’lhir and finds that she has been sent 350 years into the future. To complicate matters the the accident that sent her into the future is seen as a divine sacrifice and she has become a goddess. Simon, her sentient crystal ship is badly damaged. The Fav’lhir have finally recovered from the defeat Gillie handed them 350 years ago and are back for another try at conquest. There is also space station commander that Gillie very attracted too. Gillie just wants to be blend into the background but events conspire against her. Linnea Sinclair calls this a Science Fiction Romance. I call it a Science Fiction Space Opera with a romance thrown in. This is one of my favorite books by Linnea. It is a keeper. I have reread it several times and loved it every time. If you like Accidental Goddess look for other books by Linnea Sinclair.