Tuesday, February 27, 2007

4 Mysteries

The Bastard's Tale
Written by Margaret Frazer and published by Berkley in 2003, TBT is a historical political thriller set in the town of Bury St. Edmonds. The Duke of Gloucester's wife has been held by the King on trumped up charges for the past five years. His Grace, naturally, would like to get her back. Since the King (Henry VI) and his entire court has descended on Bury St. Edmonds, Gloucester travels there from Wales with a retinue to try and win her back. Sister Frevisse is in Bury too- with her cousin Lady Alice de la Pole, Marchioness of Sufflok, trying to woo gifts of land and property for her priory St. Frideswide's. Joliffe, the player (actor) who also has his own book series, is there too. His company has been hired to help keep the court entertained.

The Bastard's Tale has much more of an edge of your seat, urgent feel to it. There are many threads in this plot- Alice & Frevisse's kinship, Joliffe & the players, Joliffe Frevisse & the Bishop's plans. The King, his advisors & the war in France. Best of all, though, was Alice's young son John who strongly reminded me of Nephew #1 down in Richmond.

The Hunter's Tale
Written by Margaret Frazer and published by Berkely in 2004, this story had a dark, melancholy tone the deeper I dug into it. Sir Ralph & Lady Anneys Woderove had two sons & miscellaneous daughters, plus Ralph had a son form his first marriage. Ralph is a violent & brutal man who stops at nothing to terrorize his family & the serfs attached to his land. Unsurprisingly, he is found dead in the woods one day following a hunt. It is declared murder, but no one seems overly inclined to find the murderer. Lady Anneys and Ursula retreat to St. Frideswide's priory to gain some quiet & ease. Too bad for her, one of her sons is murdered while she's there. Frevisse is sent back to Lady Anneys' manor to help & begins digging around for the truth, much like a terrier after a fox. She finds her quarry, but not before asking herself difficult and painful questions about the essential nature of truth. About emotional pain and healing and justice. Excellently done. Highly recommended.

The Widow's Tale

Written by Margaret Frazer and published by Berkley in 2005, this title is similar to The Bastard's Tale above in that it is a political thriller & has an urgent edge of your seat tone. At least- the last half does. The first half is alot of setting the stage for later action & drags a little. Lady Christiana is imprisoned under false pretenses at St. Frideswide's. Later, under duress, she is freed but two of the nuns accompany her home as they lack authority to simply free her. Family issues arise, as well as an unexpected visit from the now Duchess of Suffolk, Sister Frevisse's cousin Alice. Oh yes- the King & Queen are coming too. And- who keeps spying on Christiana & her brother? Will the evil brother in law succeed with his nefarious plot? Can Christiana save her daughters before it's too late?? And how can Alice come to terms with the awful, powerhungry, amoral man her husband has turned into? This is the only book in the series I figured out before the end.

The Merchant's Partner

Written by Michael Jecks and published in 1995, second title in a long series that starts with The Last Templar. Sir Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King's Peace, and Simon Puttock, Baliff of Lydgate Castle, are buddies. Puttock & his wife are visiting Furnshill at his manor when an old woman is found murdered at the edge of a meadow. Furnshill falls in lust with a young Frenchwoman married to a local, wealthy merchant. Puttock's wife is preggers & grouchy & likes to meddle. Another person is murdered, in the same manner as the first. Unfortunately for both victims, someone has confessed, but there's no real proof he did it. Gossip complicates matters, as always. Neatly done. Much better than the first.

Friday, February 23, 2007

February: Thinking of Flowers
by Jane Kenyon

Now wind torments the field,
turning the white surface back
on itself, back and back on itself,
like an animal licking a wound.

Nothing but white--the air, the light;
only one brown milkweed pod
bobbing in the gully, smallest
brown boat on the immense tide.

A single green sprouting thing
would restore me. . . .

Then think of the tall delphinium,
swaying, or the bee when it comes
to the tongue of the burgundy lily.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Play of Isaac; M. Frazer

Yes, I'm glomming Margaret Frazer's backlist. This is a newer series featuring a former Oxford scholar turned itinerant actor Joliffe. The feast of Corpus Christi is nearing and Joliffe's company has been hired to perform several features for a wealthy merchant and another play, Abraham & Isaac, on the feast day itself. Meantime the company will be housed & fed by the merchant. Old heresies, hidden friendships, Down's Syndrome (referred to as being an Eden Child, a phrase I really love), marriage and inheritance problems each take their turn. Joliffe is an observant loner who uses his classical education to help him solve problems by asking irritating questions others might hesitate over.

The reputation of the players and culture of the time means that the acting companies are often outsiders, openly reviled & blamed for many things (much like tinkers)- giving Ms. Frazer an opportunity to showcase a view of medieval life from a viewpoint vastly different than the more commonly written of Lord of the Manor. A more intersting and varied one, IMO. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

2 Reads

The Clerk's Tale

Written by Margaret Frazer and published by Berkeley in 2002, this is part of an ongoing mystery series featuring a nun, Sister Frevisse, as the sleuth. This particular book is pretty much in the center of the series, but is a standalone. TCT is set in the town of Goring in the year 1446. The king's crowner (official who investigates deaths) has been found murdered in a garden in a convent. His son Christopher steps into his shoes & is forced to investigate his own father's death. Sister Frevisse is pulled into this by virtue of being at St. Mary's with her Domina (Mother Superior) to visit the Domina's elderly cousin Sister Ysobel, dying of tuberculosis. Sometimes justice delayed isn't in fact justice denied. Features greed, lust and legitimacy issues. Plus- just how long can one hold on to grudges from their youth? Apparently quite a long time. Excellent. Longer than Ellis Peters, but shorter than Michael Jecks. Deceptively light in tone. Very well researched.

To the Castle

Written by Joan Wolf and published by Mira in 2005. Set in the early 12th century in England. Ms. Wolf has brought the feud between King Stephan and Empress Maud (or Matilda, I don't remember) from earlier times for plot purposes. Ordinarily it might not have bothered me so much except that I am an avid fan of Ellis Peters, whose Brother Cadfael books are all set in the 9th century & prominently discuss this feud. So that was the first problem. Eleanor de Bonvile (2nd problem- I continually thought of her as vile instead of ville which is the more common spelling of this name), anyway, has been removed from the convent after 9 years & is er..persuaded to marry Roger de Roche for dynastic purposes. Only 6 months away from her final vows, Nell feels angry, betrayed and abandoned by her parents. Roger, OTOH, is merely happy that she is attractive enough to bed & 'get children on' as his grandpa puts it. They are both of an age, she 18 & he 22- so that worked. This was well done, and normally I love medievals, but somehow TTC simply didn't grab me. Nell & Roger are a cute couple facing arduous political and personal circumstances. Their characterization was well & realistically drawn.

Friday, February 16, 2007

My Wicked Fantasy; K. Ranney

Written by Karen Ranney and published by Avon in 1998, at left is the original cover, but I believe there is another, newer one too. I think the title is weird & totally unrelated to the story. There were a couple of other odd quirks about this book, but in the end I liked it. More than I liked the last Karen Ranney book I tried. This one is set in the early to mid 1790's. The hero, Archer, changes & opens quite a lot by the end. The heroine was a stock character, comprised mainly of cliches, despite the odd events in her life.

Archer St. John, Earl of Sanderhurst, shuns & is shunned by the Ton because his wife is missing. Everyone who is Anyone presumes he killed her, supposedly because theirs was an arranged marriage & Alice made good time with her version of happenings. Personally, I didn't see that there was any 'real proof' of his bad intentions, other than gossip. However, St. John has spent good money on lawyers who are supposedly hunting for the missing Alice.

Mary Kate Bennett, abused orange haired Irish orphan cum governess' foster child cum early married-early widowed young woman, is en route to the tiny village where her enormous group of sibs lives. Due to lack of provisions in her lawyer husband's will, she is pretty much penniless and in need of a post. The farmer's cart she's riding in & St. John's coach are caught in a horrific crash. Mary Kate suffers a terrific blow on the head & is rendered unconscious.

From there, Archer ends up holding her hostage at his estate believing Mary Kate to be in cahoots with Alice to bilk him of money or a divorce proceeding or some such dreadful scheme. When St. John discovers Mary Kate's deceased husband was a) his lawyer & b) had done nothing despite recieving plenty of $$ to find Alice? Well, St. John is more & more convinced Mary Kate is not being honest.

My thoughts are complicated, honestly. As linked to above, the last Ranney book I read was a DNF & left such a bad taste inmy mouth it has been over a year since I've tried to read her work. In MWF the 'paranormal' element left me totally cold- but Archer &, to a lesser extent, Mary Kate, had hooked me. Setting aside MK's stock cliche-ness, her dialogue & interior life fascinated me. Her devotion to what remains of her family. Her desire to be independant & accepted for her own worth on her own terms resonated with me.

As I've mentioned previously I love emotionally tortured, damaged heroes, so Archer was fine. I loved that his secret passion is hothouse gardening. The ending, however, was not at all what I expected when I began this book. I was surprised, honestly, because I totally fell for the red herring. In the end, as a complete package, this books goes a long, long way to restoring Ms. Ranney to readable status but it isn't a keeper.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thursday 13 #26- Winter bad behavior rant

Bookwormom's winter bad behavior rant. All I really want to do is live somewhere where life *gasp* goes on pretty much as normal if & when precipitation falls out of the sky in winter.

Click title above to see a list of other Thursday 13 participants. Leave a link here & I'll link back to you. The purpose of TT is for bloggers worldwide to get to know each other better.

1. That road crews would plow the major roads from shoulder to shoulder not one lane down the middle giving drivers half a lane per side of the yellow lines & thereby forcing drivers to play chicken.

2. That road crews would make multiple passes along highways and major local roads. One pass per road simply isn't cutting it.

3. That road crews would apply sand or salt or whatever more than once- especially if the forecast is for heavy sleet & ice.

4. That the local authorities would pass & enforce ordinances mandating public right of ways, ie: sidewalks, be cleared within so many hours of a snowfall & mandating application of sand or salt to the same. Don't laugh- these announcements were made over the tv & radio news when we lived in Colorado. From my observations, citizens were generally compliant & I know at least one person who was cited for noncompliance.

5. That developers/owners of large businesses contract snow plowers to clear the entire lot before the business opens. Having your car plowed around, leaving it stranded in a tiny island of snow & ice & slush past your ankles is not fun. The eldery lady parked beside me was furious.

6. That utility companies should not claim 'storm related damages' as a reason for days long power outages while in the same statement claim 'many improvements on the power distribution system had already been made' before the storm. Luckily this did not happen with our utility company, but one over the river. I feel sorry for their luckless customers.

7. That service stations place actual windshield washer fluid- the nonfreezing kind- on the islands outside. Usable squeegees & paper towels would be nice too. Frozen water & lack of squeegees are not helpful to the driving public who might like to see the vehicles they are forced to play chicken with.

8. That parents should be responsible enough to purchase hats, mittens & scarves for their young children before the weather turned bitter. The number of parents ranting & raving about the lack of appropriate snow gear amazed me. Little tiny ones bundled into blankets- but no coats, hats, mitties, etc. is appalling. "But this is the SOUTH," one mum whined. "It isn't supposed to get cold here." Well, it is. Your lack of forethought penalizes your child.

9. That drivers would allow ample space between vehicles & not continue to drive as though the roads were dry & clean, ie: total insanity.

10. That family members or neighbors would assist the elderly living near them. Being a compassionate human would be nice.

11. Related to #8. Parents should always know where their children are, no matter what their ages are, and NEVER allow them near bodies of water. Ever. You do not want to plan their funerals.

12. If all of the hype and hysteria that goes into reporting 'weather events' went into, say- allieviating hunger or tutoring adults to read or something else equally helpful- the world would be (could be) a much better place.

13. Receptionists or other front line 'coping with the public' type employees need to be coached that prospective guests/patrons/patients do not wish to be attacked for having the nerve to enter your business & wish for friendly, respectful service despite the horrible, life threatening (she really did say that) weather. Shouldn't I just turn around & go home now?.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

For My Valentine

My Funny Valentine, Linda Ronstadt

Frank Sinatra, Stangers in the Night

Time in a Bottle, Jim Croce

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Wind Dancer; Iris Johansen

Originally published by Bantam in 1991, The Wind Dancer is the first book in a trilogy (the other titles are Storm Winds and Reap the Winds) written by author Iris Johansen. Link to her site is in title above. Ms. Johansen has now moved on to write thrillers. This book is set in 16th century Italy & centers around one man's obsession with a legendary family statue called, naturally enough, The Wind Dancer.

This book reminded me strongly of The Shadow of the Lion by Mercedes Lackey, et al. which I read last fall. The Wind Dancer, though, is truly a romance novel in that the relationship takes center stage despite the strong current of menace that runs through the novel. Lionello Andreas, sometime Lord of Mandara and hopeful shipbuilding magnate, must steal back his family's precious statue. To do this, he buys a 16 year old female thief named Sanchia. Sanchia, daughter of a slave, has accepted her fate as a slave, never to be a freewoman. Nevertheless Sanchia strives to protect those under her care- even if it means compromising what morals & ideals a slave can nurture in 16th century Italy.

Lion, confronted by Sanchia's honest assessments of life, loyalty, sex and duty as a slave, is newly uncomfortable with the thought of humans as chattel- expendable in his efforts to restore the statue to Mandara. Sanchia, meanwhile, resolves that Lion isn't half bad & at least he feeds her & clothes her & hasn't beaten her. Events overtake Sanchia and Lion. Events that cause Sanchia to change, much like pruning a rosebush will force renewed vigour and more blossoms. Lion struggles to figure out how to keep her, both literally and figuratively. Torn between familial duty and lust, Lion too must grow and change.

This novel has strong themes: slavery, violence, familial duty, devestating disease, vengeance, germ warfare, politics. The violence isn't stark, but it is there. The degredation of slavery & its fundamental inhumanity are discussed. Lion never accepts Sanchia's fundamental emotional & intellectual need to chose her own path- which trait I didn't appreciate. The May-December aspect didn't bother me as much as the slavery issue. Lion's age is not given, but it's probably safe to assume he's at least in his mid to late twenties or early thirties.

I bought these (Wind Dancer & Storm Winds) a while ago as part of a 'two-fer' sale. If the second is as gripping as the first, I'll have to hunt up the third as well. I do reccommend this one wholeheartedly, with the caveat that it isn't light or for the faint of heart. If you like your romances meaty, though, this is a good one.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ithaka; Adele Geras

Written by Adele Geras and published in 2005 by Harcourt, Ithaka is young adult fiction that tells the story of the Odyssey from the viewpoint of those left behind. I do recommend reading this summary if the original epic before beginning Ithaka. Odysseus' wife Penelope & son Telemachus & the royal household are forced to carry on without him as the war rages.

Years and years go by. The war ends. Still Odysseus doesn't return. Penelope & her father in law & their faithful servants continue day to day, month to month. Patiently waiting for Odysseus to walk up from the beach as though he'd gone for a swim. The children grow. Teenage worries & crushes & obsessions come and go like the tide.

How long can you maintain faith and hope in the face of impossible odds? How long can you stop your world from spinning in the hope that long ago promises can be kept? How long can you live in the past before you're forced to acknowledge that moving forward is in the best interest for all?

I enjoyed the first part of this book quite a bit. Youth, divided loyalties, crushes, lusts and personal growth fill the first sections of this book. I really struggled with Penelope starting in the middle when the suitors move in to their home. Penelope looses her focus, becomes distracted. Her involvement with Leodes I completely understood & was sensitively dealt with. However, she stops weaving the tapestry and focuses on Laertes' shroud. She dithers. Despite earlier promises & previous years of dedication- the tapestry barely makes progress.

So I started to wonder about the depth and truth of her devotion to Odysseus. In other words- why did she stop weaving the tapesrty when she was warned that as long as she wove it Odysseus would be safe and would return to her? Has her dithering actually delayed Odysseus' progress towards home? Penelope turns into both someone I could identify with (as a woman whose husband goes to war and must wait at home) and someone I felt needed to continue weaving that damn tapestry no matter how lost I felt- forcing Odysseus and the Gods to push on towards Ithaka.

In the end I enjoyed this book quite a lot. All of the central characters were normal, everyday, flawed people muddling their way through a difficult situation. Penelope, both dithering and dedicated. Telemachus angry yet loyal. Melantho, now, she deserved a fate worse than she got, IMO. There was truly a scheming, faithless..Never mind. Read Ithaka if you really want to know why I think Melantho got off light. This was a library book, but I may look for one to keep. I already have Troy by Geras & it'd be nice to have the set.

Friday, February 09, 2007

10 Weird Things About Me

I was tagged by Holly. I have to tag 10 people: Tara, Jenster, Marg, Angry Woman (from Random Ramblings), Aikoinuzuka, Road Called Life, ag, EAP, Fiona, & Meaganomics.

1. I absolutely hate the phone & almost never answer unless the caller starts to leave a message. Even then I always think, "Nah. I'll catch up with them later."

2. I name all of our fish. Frick, Frack, Dino, Saladeen, Cake, Imperial, Sol, Lune, Hector, Caesar, Aragorn & Achilles (those last 4 are Bettas & thus the warrior names). Plus 5 Tetras who are impossible to differentiate, and thus remain nameless.

3. I collect Tasha Tudor & Jan Brett children's books.

4. I've a large collection of souvenir tourist spoons- most given to me by other travelers since we're hermits. Furthest away spoon- New Zealand. Closest- Skyline Drive (part of Shenandoah National Park).

5. I HATE spiders

6. Homemade macaroni & cheese requires catsup & worcestershire sauce.

7. Diet Dr. Pepper & coffee are my favorites, but not at the same time.

8. I talk to the computer. Also- my cell phone & books I"m reading.

9. I love electronica, house & other club music.

10. I want to learn how to make soap & lotions.

Once A Knight; C. Dodd

Written by Christina Dodd and published by Harper Torch in 1996, this is a medieval set in Henry III's England. Click link in title above to read an excerpt from Ms. Dodd's website. It is a little unusual in that the heroine, Lady Alisoun, is a wealthy widow and the hero, Sir David, is a poor minor baron. A rare circumstance in Romanceland.

The set up- Lady Alisoun needs a real knight to defend her people from a threat she refuses to specify or explain. Sir David desperately needs money to support the people on his minor holding because two years of drought have rendered the people (& him) in terrible need. There are problems. Lady Alisoun has an older male steward who resents Sir David. David was defeated in a tourney by a prominent knight & has issues Alisoun isn't initally aware of.

Alisoun spends much of this novel emotionaly unaware and isolated- as well as smug and condescending. David has his fair share of loutish moments I must admit, but what endeared me the most was his overriding concern for his people and his daughter. Mostly, Alisoun and David are well rounded adults whose relationship develops amid stressful happenings.

ETA~ I had some problems warming up to this at first, but in the end I was very involved and glad I'd stuck it out.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thursday 13 #25- Books in my TBR

The newest 13 books in my TBR, all are an early Valentine's Day gift from Hubby. He took me to my favorite UBS & let me splurge a little. Twelve books have some type of paranormal element. Listed in random order.

Click title above to see a list of others who participate. Leave a link here & I'll link back to you. The purpose of Thursday 13 is to get to know other bloggers around the world a little bit better.

1. Storm Prince- Terri Lynn Wilhelm; historical, mythical creature

2. Virtual Desire- Ann Lawrence; contemporary alternate reality

3. Stolen Magic- M.J. Putney; historical, Wicca type practices

4. Magic at Midnight- Sandra Heath; Trad. Regency, mythical creature

5. The Haunting of Henrietta- Sandra Heath; Trad. Regency; ghosts

6. Snow in Summer- Tess Farraday; contemporary, ghosts

7. The Ruby Ghost- June Calvin; Trad. Regency, ghosts

8. Shadows of Camelot- Quinn Taylor Evans; medieval, alternate reality

9. Daughter of Camelot- Quinn Taylor Evans; medieval, alternate reality

10. Private Demon- Lynne Viehl; contemporary alternate reality-vampire

11. Spell of the Highlander- Karen Marie Moning; contemporary alternate reality

12. Another Chance to Dream- Lynn Kurland; medieval

13. The Midnight Work- Kassandra Sims; Contemporary alternate reality- vampire

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

If Angels Burn; Lynn Viehl

Written by Lynn Viehl and published by Signet in 2005, If Angels Burn seems to me more urban fantasy with strong romantic elements as opposed to paranormal romance. Whichever label you hang on it, whatever subgenre you care to place in in, I really love it.

Scotchopping across the eastern US, IAB pairs an emotionally wounded & prickly plastic surgeon heroine with a 700 year old Darkyn Suzerain (a leader of a group of Darkyn) in New Orleans. Alexandra Keller must literally remake Michael Cyprien in to the man he once was. Michael resorts to kidnapping her to force her into operating on him.

Never once does Ms. Viehl, whose blog can be found here, insult the readers intelligence by waving her magic wand and erasing Alex's intelligence or suddenly making Alex succumb to the magic of Michael's l'attrait (the scent that marks all Darkyn, unique to each individual) or, worse, wiping her personality blank as soon as they have sex.

Michael isn't used to human women except as er.. mobile blood banks or as easy to control sexual partners. When Alex enters his life permanently, Michael seems as much confused by this new & different relationship as Alex wonders what in the hell is happening to her. Luckily, Philippe, a member of Michael's jardin in New Orleans convinces Michael to give Alexandra some space & time & eventually Michael & Alex come to an understanding.

Now, by preference I'm leaving alot of things out. Alex's brother is a weirded out Roman Catholic priest who has some serious sexual & psychiatric perversions. The Catholic Church, like many old bureaucratic institutions, is full of odd perversions & hides many old & venal sins. I was a little uncomfortable with this, but the Church as enemy works under Ms. Viehl's pen. I wish more attention had been paid to Alex and Michael's relationship, specifically, I wish he'd courted her more. This is marked as paranormal romance so I expected it to be heavier on the romance side than it was. One other quibble, the scene at the small church near the end wraps up a few too many loose ends in a neat bow- a few loose ends would have added to the sense of foreboding.

Overall If Angels Burn is tightly plotted, with a modern heroine I feel is realistically drawn, a Darkyn any red blooded woman would like to meet in a New Orleans cemetary and an evil menace worthy of late night shivers.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

30 Things Stressed Women Say

Stolen from an email sent to Hubby. This has been around once or twice, but I need a laugh today.Gotta say I like 'em all.

1. Ok, Ok! I take it back. Unfuck you.

2. You say I'm a bitch like it's a bad thing.

3. Well, this day was a total waste of makeup.

4. Well, aren't we a damn ray of sunshine?

5. Don't bother me I'm living happily ever after.

6. Do I look like a people person?

7. This isn't an office. It's hell with flourescent lighting.

8. I started out with nothing and I have most of it left.

9. Therapy is expensive. Popping bubblewrap is cheap. You choose.

10. Why don't you try practicing random acts of intelligence and senseless acts of self control?

11. I'm not crazy. I've been in a very bad mood for 30 years.

12. Sarcasm is one more service I offer.

13. Do they ever shut up on your planet?

14. I'm not your type. I'm not inflatable.

15. Stress is what you have when you wake up screaming and you realize you haven't gone to sleep yet.

16. Back off! You're standing in my aura!

17. Don't worry. I forgot your name too.

18. I work 45 hours a week to be this poor.

19. Not all men are annoying. Some of them are dead.

20. Wait..I'm trying to imagine you with a personality.

21. Chaos, panic and disorder, my work here is done.

22. Ambivalent? Well, yes and no.

23. You look like shit. Is that the style now?

24. Earth is full. Go home.

25. Aw. Did I Step on your itty bitty ego?

26. I'm not tense. I'm just terribly terribly alert.

27. A hard on doens't count as personal growth.

28. You are depriving some village of an idiot.

29. If assholes could fly this place would be an airport.

30. Look in my eyes- do you see one ounce of gives-a-shit?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Public Service Announcement

Below is a request from Karen (link in the title above & in the text below), which I'm happy to pass along.

Racism In Publishing, How Does It Affect You?

Are you an African American author who’s been published for at least one year? If so Karen Scott wants to hear from you.

She’s conducting a survey based on the racism within the publishing industry, and whether or not it’s as prevalent as some believe. She’s looking for black or African American authors who have been published for at least one year.

She would like to know about your specific experiences within the industry thus far. She wants to know how AA authors feel about the current shelving policies, and niche marketing. She wants to know who you feel is to blame for the problems that you face. She also wants your suggestions on how things can be improved upon.

In all, there are twenty questions in the survey, and all that she asks is that people be as honest as possible. Confidentiality is assured if requested, but for the findings to yield more weight, she would request that she be granted permission to directly quote from the answers given by the authors.

She’s hoping to poll at least 100 AA authors, in an effort to ensure that a fair representation is achieved.

If enough authors agree to partcipate, (and depending on the findings) the results may well be sent to representatives within media and press. No promises that Oprah will hear about it, but all efforts will be made to get the message out.

If there are AA authors out there interested in participating in this poll, please e-mail Karen at hairylemony @ gmail. com (without the spaces) with the subject header ‘Please send me the survey'.

The deadline for the survey to be completed and returned to Karen is March 1st 2007

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Sharing Knife: Beguilement

This is the first in a fantasy duology, written by Lois McMaster Bujold and published in 2006 by Eos. I've spent much of the fall and winter glomming Ms. Bujold's backlist, Vorkosigan etc., & I've enjoyed nearly all of it. This book is no exception.

Ms. McMaster gives the reader tantalizing glimpses of a fascinating and destructive distant history of the world where these books are set. Large tracts of wasteland. Ruins of cities submerged in water. Legends and myths surround the long lost peoples. Mysterious beings who suck power, life and vitality out of the very soil. Sorta like The Force in reverse.

Golem like creatures who terrorize, kidnap and murder the peasants. Mysterious & despised protectors called Lakewalkers who use unusual weapons & live itinerant lifestyles- similar to the Rangers (ie: Strider) in Tolkien's fiction. Anyone who isn't a Lakewalker is called a Farmer no matter what their actual occupation. Much mutual animosity & little inclination to dialogue.

Into this comes a confused young woman running from an unhappy home life. A widowed Lakewalker physically healed but nonetheless only half alive since the death of his beloved wife many years ago. Together they defeat a vicious foe. Both wounded, they depend on each other to survive. Thus, intimacy (not sex, mind you) breeds understanding.

In this unlikely secenario is set one of the most touching and deeply felt love scenes I've read in many a book- more's the pity. An unusual May-December road/adventure romance, but one that works. For me, the characterization is roundly written & believeable. The couple can be observed happily riding off lost in the mutual lust of early love.

This is only book one, so much of the plot is left hanging. I wonder if Dag & Fawn will be allowed the luxury of a romance genre HEA. Even if it is dearly earned. The mysterious golem makers, called malices among other names- where do they all come from? What is their ultimate goal? Will Dag's people accept Fawn? How does beloved Aunt Nattie have such a rare Lakewalker gift & how did she become mired among the Farmers? How is all of this tied into the past history of their nation?

All of these questions and more will have to be answered in The Sharing Knife, Volume 2: Legacy due out in July 2007.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

You're Kidding, Right?!

According to several articles, one linked here, McDonalds' coffee has been chosen as the best coffee available from a national chain- apparently including such giants as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, etc. McDonald's!! I just can't believe it.

However, if this article is to be believed, McDonald's gets its coffee from Starbucks. Which possibility can't be double checked on the McDonald's website- at least not so that I found. I didn't really dig much though. I'm still in shock, truth be told.

McDonalds. Horrifying.

Friday, February 02, 2007


Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

Ella Fitzgerald sings Melancholy Serenade

A favorite