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Books, Books, Books

August seems to be a good month for books. I've got a number of friends with releases this week.

First up, we have A Stranger to Command [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] by Sherwood Smith (sartorias). This is the prequel to Smith's book Crown Duel. I had the opportunity to start reading this one earlier this year. Unfortunately for me, the timing was bad. The book arrived just as my own novel-in-progress crashed and burned. Argh!!! I got through about 1/3 to 1/2 of the book, and was very much enjoying it. From the description, "Vidanric Renselaeus, fifteen-year-old Marquis of Shevraeth, finds himself sent across the continent to a military academy in Marloven Hess, a kingdom known for its violent history." Smith clearly knows every last detail of her world, and I enjoyed watching Renselaeus deal with the contradictions and confusion of this new culture. I'm looking forward to finishing this one.

Review of A Stranger to Command, by Samantha Ling

Next we have Hotter than Hell [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] by Jackie Kessler (jackiekessler). Jackie offered a few free copies of this one, so naturally I pounced :-) This is the third book in her "Hell on Earth" series, and I started reading it two nights ago. I'm about 4 chapters in, and I'm ... troubled. These are, in Kessler's own words, "dark, sexy stories about demons." So far, Daunuan has used his power as an incubus to override the objections of two different women. It's written as Daunuan unleashing the woman's inner desires, but given my own issues, it's uncomfortable reading. On the other hand, he's a demon. He's supposed to be evil, right? I confess I haven't read the first two books in the series, so I'd be curious to hear other people's thoughts on these. The writing is good, the book is certainly spicy, and Kessler does a nice job of portraying an interesting version of hell and demons and such. So Kessler fans, what have you thought of this series?

Note: There was a bit of an ISBN mix-up on this book. I guess these things happen when you're playing around with demons. For an explanation, check Kessler's blog: http://www.jackiekessler.com/blog/2008/07/28/want-drama/

Interviews: Kessler's succubus Jezebel interviews Daunuan (lots of fun). Interview with Jackie Kessler, over at Simon Haynes' blog.

Kat Richardson's (katatomic) third Greywalker book Underground [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] also comes out today. I've read and enjoyed the first two in this series, but haven't yet gotten around to posting reviews, because I suck. Both were enjoyable reads. I found the second book to be the stronger of the two, mostly because the first one, while good, spent a little too much time on the origin story for my taste. It's like the difference between Spider Man 1 and 2. Both were good movies, but the second one is able to jump into the action faster. (Please note that I trust and expect Richardson to do much better with her third book than Hollywood did with Spider Man 3.)

Interview with Kat Richardson, at Mike Brotherton's blog.

Also out this week or last, Lord Tophet [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] by Gregory Frost (frostokovich). This is the second book in Frost's Shadowbridge series. Shadowbridge is a world dreamed into being, as its creation story--included in the first volume--makes clear. It's an accretion of our myths, legends, folk and fairy tales but they've all altered in the translation somewhat, and taken on lives of their own. Everything in Shadowbridge thus sounds familiar and alien at the same time.

Interview with Gregory Frost, over at Wyrdsmiths.

So, who have I missed?


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
I loved HOTTER THAN HELL--it's one of the best books I've read all year, if not the best. I liked that Kessler had the guts to keep Daun evil while still making us root for him. It's a daring book, no doubt, but I think that's part of what takes this book to another level beyond your run-o'-the-mill urban fantasy/PNR. That and the beautiful writing.

I've read the other two Hell books, but this is by far my favorite. Maybe I just prefer a male protag, or maybe she was able to give him freer rein to be a demon because he was male. (Readers put up with a lot more bad behavior from men than women--it's a major pet peeve of mine when I see female characters get raked over the coals in reviews for every bit of imperfect behavior.)

Also, Daunaun felt like an ancient demon to me, whereas Jezebel usually felt like a regular contemporary gal-- I had trouble buying that she was millions of years old. Daun had that Byronic hero aspect--an old soul, if you will.

Off to read Jez's interview with Daun. Thanks for the link!
Aug. 5th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
I'm planning to read the rest of the book, and I'll be curious to see what she does with Daun. From talking to Jackie and reading her blog, I had gotten the sense this wasn't going to be a "Redeem the evil demon" book, which definitely makes it more interesting.

I don't mind reading things that make me uncomfortable, but I'll be curious to see how it plays out over the course of the book.
Aug. 5th, 2008 11:39 pm (UTC)
I've only read the first in the series, but in that one, Daun actually rescues the female protagonist from a case of drug-and-rape, then proceeds to have sex with her even though she's still got head trauma and is likely still not wholly free of the drug. She seemed to find this okay, but is also a female sex-demon and firm on being different from humans -- I was decidedly of mixed feeling.

I think the discomfort is deliberate, and not unconsidered.
Aug. 6th, 2008 02:38 pm (UTC)
A big part of my question, and one reason I want to read more, is to get a better sense of how deliberate and conscious the choices are. I also find myself wondering how readers process the story as they're reading ... how much awareness is there that this is a demon vs. the level on which he's just a hot, horny man.

If nothing else, it's one of the more thought-provoking books I've picked up lately.
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)
You forgot me! "Harmony" by C.F. Bentley comes out today from DAW

See icon for cover art or email me for a scan.
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
D'oh! I'm sorry. I'm going to blame it on you having too many names. Except that doesn't fly, because I forgot ebear's latest, too.

Apparently I just suck :-) But I'll try to plug them both tomorrow.
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
You don't suck. You're just overworked and stressed, like the rest of us. There are days I can't find my fingers to type.

Having a new agent helps immensely.
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
Who is the new agent, by the way?
Aug. 5th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
Linn Prentis in NY. I interviewed your agent and he liked my work. But he couldn't see my characters as his best friends for life. He needs to do that. I can respect that.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 5th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
::Grin:: Thanks. I've got two more who will be going up in an "Oops" post tomorrow.
Aug. 6th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
I've read Kessler's previous 2 books, and will probably not be reading more. While I think the universe built was interesting- I am not convinced she's really thought through a lot of the implications of it, including the moral/ethical as well as the practical.

And honestly- the "rules" for an incubus in her world creep me out. I really don't see a way in which they, as described, give the targeted woman a chance. And I'm not going to read stuff like that.
Aug. 6th, 2008 04:38 am (UTC)
Tanks for the wonderful mention of Sherwood's book, Jim! :-)
Aug. 6th, 2008 04:38 am (UTC)
And thanks too! (sound of tanks retreating) Hehehe!
Aug. 6th, 2008 06:06 pm (UTC)
Why don't writers want to offend editors? Because the editors get freakin' tanks!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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