Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Julie-Kenner

Dear Author

REVIEW: Starstruck by Julie Kenner

Dear Ms. Kenner:

I haven’t tried many of your non-paranormal contemporaries so when Harlequin had this back-to-backer, I thought, “why not?”. Let’s see how you do with no demons or Greek Gods. This will be just plain, ol’ normal people from Texas.

Alyssa Chambers has visions of sweet temptation dancing in her head. Should she choose the hot playboy who can give her everything she’s ever wanted? Or indulge in some holiday cheer with her good friend Christopher Hyde, a man who’s turning out to be everything she’s ever wanted?

Once she shares some amazing holiday, ah, spirit with Chris, the choice becomes even harder. How can she risk their longtime friendship-’even for the best sex of her life?

Alrighty, then. A nice heroine and a nice hero with no villain in sight leads to most of the action centered on Alyssa and Chris and the reasons you manufacture to keep them apart. One of the reasons is good, though drawn out, and the other didn’t work too well for me. But what irritated me is that both seem to originate with Alyssa while poor Chris appears ready to do anything to get the woman of his dreams.

Reason one is based on Alyssa’s childhood with a father who loved to travel and who managed to avoid a steady paying job. As a result of a childhood spent worrying about money and listening to her parents fight about it, she wants job security that is iron clad, a retirement package that rivals a US Senator’s and a husband who’s home every night after his nine-to-five job. Okay, childhood events often shape us in ways far beyond most things in adulthood so I can believe this. I did, however, get tired of her questioning Chris at every turn about money, worrying about his rent, and making comments in public when he tries to buy her a little present up until the end of the book. The man has stated more than once that he’s not about to be evicted from his apartment and he seems to have enough to eat so lay off lady.

The next issue revolves around the fact that Alyssa and Chris have been friends (not BFFs, mind you) for years and Alyssa has just broken up with another man who also started life as her friend. So no way, no how can a friends–> lovers relationship work. Alyssa won’t risk another friend but she will risk a fling. She’s willing to use Chris as a fuck buddy but no way, nothing more. Hmmmmm. I got tired of this too, especially her “so called” verbal contract that Chris must adhere to in order for their relationship to remain even just physical with no romance or emotions involved.

Chris, on the other hand, seems totally open to a relationship with Alyssa and is willing to go for it when he realizes he might just have a chance to win her. I like this about him. He’s also willing to risk himself more to get what he wants in life, namely to be an author. And he’s also the one who comes up with the possible resolution to Alyssa’s problems with her job and her issues with his. He seems to be the font of all wisdom and mediation in this duo.

I think I would have liked the book more if one of the conflicts had originated with Chris instead of Alyssa being saddled with both of them. The sex is hot, the locations were well described, both main characters are certainly nice with few vices but the issues weren’t evenly balanced enough for me. C+

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

This book was provided to the reviewer by either the author or publisher. The reviewer did not pay for this book but received it free. The Harlequin Affiliate link earns us an affiliate fee if you purchase a book through the link and the Sony link is in conjunction with the sponsorship deal we made for the year of 2009. We do not earn an affiliate fee from Sony through the book link.

ACE/ROC Holiday Giveaway

ACE/ROC Holiday Giveaway

Welcome to Ace and Roc’s fabulous forthcoming books giveaway, just in time for the holidays!

Thanks again to Dear Author for giving me this opportunity to let you know about some of our terrific upcoming titles. As always, there are too many great books for me to mention all of them, so you can look at our site (http://us.penguingroup.com/static/pages/specialinterests/scifi/index.html) to see everything we publish.

Read the bottom of the post for the giveaway details.

December

0441017975.01.LZZZZZZZ TORN by Julie Kenner

This is the second book in Julie’s "Blood Lily Chronicles", an urban fantasy trilogy we’re publishing back to back. (This means very little waiting for the next installment, which is a good thing with such a fast-paced and exciting story.) Lily Carlyle has always lived on the edge. But after she died while avenging her younger sister, she came back to life as someone else-’and was recruited as an assassin for the light. At least that’s what she thought-. Now Lily is in trouble of the deepest kind, since it turns out the bad guys she was killing actually weren’t the bad guys at all. With a little help from half angel, half demon Deacon Campshire, she must try to take down the enemy from within as a double agent.

0451462920.01.LZZZZZZZ MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY’S SWORD OF AVALON by Diana L. Paxson

Many of you will be familiar with Marion Zimmer Bradley’s powerful female-centric retelling of the Arthurian mythos, THE MISTS OF AVALON. After its publication, Marion wrote a number of prequels. When Marion passed away, Diana Paxson, her long time collaborator, completed PRIESTESS OF AVALON and went on to write more beautiful historical fantasy novels set in this world. SWORD OF AVALON is the origin story of the forging of Excalibur. It includes fascinating historical detail and tells of the love between a girl training to be a priestess and the young man who is destined to wield the sword.

January

0441018130.01.LZZZZZZZ DEADTOWN by Nancy Holzner

We wouldn’t be Ace and Roc if we didn’t have a fabulous new urban fantasy series for you, and this one is fresh and fun and worth a try for Vicky’s hapless zombie apprentice alone. DEADTOWN features shapeshifter Vicky Vaughan, professional demon-slayer and dreamwalker, who keeps Boston safe from nightmares of all shapes and sizes. While single-handedly saving Boston from destruction won’t be easy, it gets harder when Vicky’s got a foolhardy zombie apprentice to worry about, a mysterious demon-plagued client (who keeps firing her), and a shifter-niece kidnapped by a “research facility” (which is really more like Dr. Moreau’s island for paranormals).

0451463110.01.LZZZZZZZ THE SPIRIT LENS by Carol Berg

Carol writes complex, character-driven fantasy, the kind of book you can curl up and get lost in, and THE SPIRIT LENS is no exception. The first of her new Collegia Magica trilogy, it’s set in a kingdom on the verge of a renaissance, where natural science has supplanted sorcery. For Portier de Savin-Duplais, failed student of magic, sorcery’s decline into ambiguity and cheap illusion is but a culmination of life’s bitter disappointments. Reduced to tending the library at Sabria’s last collegia magica, he fights off despair with scholarship. But when the King of Sabria charges him to investigate an attempted murder that has disturbing magical resonances, Portier believes his dreams of a greater destiny might at last be fulfilled.

0451463072.01.LZZZZZZZ BLOOD CROSS by Faith Hunter

Vampire hunter and skinwalker Jane Yellowrock is back in the sequel to urban fantasy SKINWALKER. But this time she finds herself on the other side, working for the vampires. Jane’s been hired by the Vampire Council of New Orleans to hunt and kill one of their own, who has broken ancient rules. With the help of her witch best friend and local vigilantes, Jane finds herself caught between bitter rivalries-’and closer than ever to the secret origin of the entire vampire race. If you’re still not convinced, don’t forget: Jane’s love interest is a hot Cajun biker!

February

0451463099.01.LZZZZZZZ UNKNOWN by Rachel Caine

I really love Rachel’s Outcast Season series. It’s set in her Weather Warden universe, where certain humans have the ability to control the powers of weather, fire, earth, but from the point of view of one of the djinn. And not just any of the djinn, but Cassiel, one of the most powerful (and aloof). But when she defied her ruler, she was cast out and forced to take human flesh as punishment. As a being that has spent millennia viewing humans the same way we do ants, becoming mortal really puts her through culture shock. Especially when she starts falling for one of them-

0451462734.01.LZZZZZZZ EXCEPT THE QUEEN by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder

It’s funny, I didn’t notice it until I was putting this together, but EXCEPT THE QUEEN has a similar theme to UNKNOWN, except it has fairies getting cast out instead of djinn. This is a wonderful contemporary fantasy novel, from authors who are highly regarded in the field. Two sisters are proud members of the high court of the Fairy Queen-’until they discover a secret Her Highness would like to keep hidden. Cast out from court and stripped of their powers, they are banished to the mortal realm. There, each bonds with a troubled mortal: one with a young girl bearing an ornate tattoo, a magic symbol that will draw evil to them; and the other with a homeless boy whose mind is plagued by dark visions and nightmarish creatures. The sisters know that these signs point to a force whose power is rising-’one that threatens both the fairy and human worlds.

Anne Sowards is an executive editor at Penguin Group (USA) Inc., where she primarily acquires and edits fantasy and science fiction for the Ace and Roc imprints. Some of the great authors she works with include Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Anne Bishop, Ilona Andrews, Karen Chance, Jack Campbell, and Rob Thurman. When she’s not reading, she listens to Chinese rap and spends way too much time playing video games. Follow her at http://twitter.com/AnneSowards.

*******

  • TORN / Julie Kenner – 2 ARCs
  • MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY’S SWORD OF AVALON – 2 ARCs
  • DEADTOWN / Nancy Holzner – 2 finished copies
  • THE SPIRIT LENS / Carol Berg – 2 ARCs
  • BLOOD CROSS / Faith Hunter – 2 ARCs
  • UNKNOWN / Rachel Caine – 2 ARCs
  • EXCEPT THE QUEEN / Jane Yolen & Midori Snyder – 3 ARCs

We are giving away one book to 15 random commenters. Please leave a comment identifying your first and second choice AND your own ACE/ROC recommendation.